Magic Hour|Happy Hour – September 16 – Board Room



Well, happy fall y’all!

While the summer was nice and we here at APA|DC enjoyed it from various places around the world, it’s refreshing to feel the weather changing and we’re all ready to get back to work– enjoying another Magic Hour|Happy Hour, that is!

Yes, let’s meet up and recount the beautiful days of summer– sharing our experiences and coming up with photography schemes for the cooler months. It’s time to meet your fellow shooter (and editor, and art buyer) and plan for things to come!


This September we’ll be back in the Board Room in Dupont Circle. There will be the usual assortment of drinks and food and an added bonus– board games, if we’re feeling oddly competitive.


Reconnect with old friends and meet the area’s newest transplants.

The When

September 16th, 6 pm to 8 pm (and beyond)

The Where

The Board Room
1737 Connecticut Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20009
closest METRO – Dupont Circle on the RED line.

The Why

September 16th comes but once a year.


JUNE 2014 FEATURED MEMBER – Robb Scharetg


If you’ve been in the DC photo scene for any period of time, odds are you’ve run into Robb. Or, perhaps he’s run into you pulling a nutty U-turn on G Street in his Mercedes wagon. Splitting time between DC and San Francisco, he has shot for a wide variety of advertising, commercial and editorial clients from Amtrak to Wyeth and just about every letter in between. In the last several years alone he has been recognized by the American Advertising Awards (a pair of silver and one gold in 2014), Luerzer’s Archive Top 200 advertising photographers (2012/2013) and One Eyeland’s ‘Best of the Best’ (2012-2014). He can now add ‘APA|DC Featured Member” to his CV.


Portrait and Interview by Erika Nizborski

Robb, you have been working as a professional photographer for 28 years now.  When you were right out of college you spent a very brief time working an office job, what made you decide to take the jump into a photography career, and what struggles did you encounter when you first started working as a photographer?

Like most answers to ‘life decision questions’, this one is a bit lengthy.  At the time I graduated from school (SFSU) I was still in a job I enjoyed – working at and helping to run a busy SF bar & restaurant. The bar (the key component of this equation) was located only three blocks from The New Lab, at the time one of the three best K-14 & E-6 film labs in the country. During my time working at the Supper Club I met and befriended many VERY noted photographers, who’d end their day shooting by dropping their film at the lab, come to the bar for a drink, and then go back to the lab/edit/walk to FedEx/ship/come back to the bar and have more drinks. This happened pretty much every day. I made a LOT of contacts.

My first and only ‘real job’ – working (in my education field) was doing research and analysis on energy resources (mainly petroleum/oil), its movements (rail/ship/pipelines) and then helping to plan for emergencies related to said oil. As you might imagine, being inside for 8 hours a day, in a cube, for a few weeks didn’t quite jibe with what I’d envisioned I’d be doing with my degree after school ended. At the least, I expected to be out in the field, ideally in some far-away land.

Around week three  I went to the principal partner of the firm and asked him ‘so, this work . . . the plan is to . . . be inside . . . mainly, staring at a screen?’. He seemed somewhat surprised at the question, thought for a moment and said ‘well, yes.’. I replied ‘like, everyday? All day long? Like, five days a week, 50 weeks a year?’. Again (looking even more puzzled) ‘um .  .  . yeah. This is mainly how analysis and research get done. By being inside. On the phone, the computer, and by going to meetings.’ I nodded and went back to my desk. After coming back from lunch, I went to the fellow, thanked him for bringing me on-board, and entrusting me with the responsibility I’d thus far been given. And then I told him ‘as important as this work is, and as much as I understand the need for it, I just can’t do it. I can’t be inside all day, every day. Just can’t’. And that was that.

As for ‘struggles’ . . . I’m not exactly sure I’d say I had any really tough spots per se’. I started to assist, for many of the people I knew from the bar. And then went full time with one fellow, a noted advertising & editorial portrait photographer, for two years. After that time I could pretty much pick who I wanted to work with, as he had a reputation of being quite demanding, and the theory seemed to be that ‘if I could work with him for two years I must not only be very good, but also very thick-skinned.’

Ironically, I ended up full-time again a few months after that, working with Dan Escobar, a great studio shooter and one with mad lighting skills. Eventually  I branched  out into production and quit assisting. I was a Location Scout and Producer for four years and about halfway through that time I also was introduced to casting by my late friend Loni Weholt.

Basically my plan was to learn and excel at every part of the overall process that makes an ad campaign shoot run smoothly; and at the same time as I was learning all the ins-and-outs, to also be paid well and bank that money for when I was ready to head out on my own.

I ended my production period working with Jim Erickson, who’s been a good friend for close to 20 years. Jim’s jobs were like graduate school – LONG hours, lots of work & stress, but an incredible experience.  At a certain point I knew it was time for me to go out on my own. Which I did.

Coming out of CA is like being part of a Fraternity or Club – I run into people I know, or those who know people I know,  all over the globe. It’s a great place to be from.


All of your photographs and multimedia pieces look like you had a lot of fun creating them.  What motivates you and what photographers do you admire?

One of my rules on set is ‘if we’re not having fun, we’re doing something wrong.’

What motivates me? I’d say visual challenges,  creating a tight & compelling narrative, conveying brands visually,  the opportunity to collaborate with other creatives, travel & light, and great food.

I’m more motivated and inspired by painters than by photographers! However to name a few photographers whose work I appreciate: Peter Henry Emerson, Irving Penn, Michael Kenna, my friends Andy Anderson, David Burnett, Lee Crum & Jim Erickson.  And also the work of Harry DeZitter, Koto Bolofo, Paolo Roversi (!), Simon Norfolk, August Sander, Dan Winters, Andy Mahr & Julian Calverley. I mean there are a LOT more, but that’ll do. [Editor's Note : Yes it will– that was about 10 minutes of hyperlinking!]


You spend a lot of time writing, what inspires you to write and do you feel that your writing goes hand in hand with your photography?

Reading, and writing BOTH work to help strengthen your skills as a storyteller. It’s simplistic to think that any of us is always (or even often) creating something ‘new’: rather we all follow on the shoulders of giants. Much the same as writers are inspired and fed by what they’ve read, the ability (or opportunity?) for photographers and other visual artists to actually step away from the ‘creative process’ of photography, and immerse oneself in reading & writing narrative only helps to hone our OWN skills as storytellers. But in the visual medium.

I’d challenge you to research any noted (and posthumous) photographer, and find that he or she was NOT a skilled writer. That ability, to create a visual narrative, is EXACTLY what our clients want, and why, in this ever-increasingly visual age, is why ‘a picture IS worth a thousand words’.

I can tell that you are very passionate about film photography and the craft.  When you show up to a shoot with your large format camera how do your clients react, and do you feel that your technique and tools help set your work apart?

‘How do they react?’ . . .  well, the older I get, the more puzzled they seem to be when they see a 4×5 or an 8×10. And the comments (priceless) range from – ‘wait, it’s broken! The picture’s upside down!!!!’ to ‘well, I keep looking at the back of this, where’s the “zoom in” button?

Seriously though, I don’t often have the opportunity to shoot film, esp. LF sheet film, on jobs anymore. Especially on ad jobs – the premise of ‘there’s not enough time’, and ‘well, if I can’t see it, how can I approve it?’ seem to be working against that. Now, if we COULD get LF Polaroid film back . . . maybe. But, that being said, I always bring a film camera along, and I’ll shoot a few sheets, and send them in along with the digital edit – I usually scan the film first. I must say though, that sending a FedEx package with a box of 4×5 or 8×10 chromes to an AD or AB (and photo editors too) who WERE skeptical when I was shooting with them on set . . . I can always tell when the FedEx has reached them, The phone rings, and they’re just in love with the tangibility, the look, the dimensionality – all of it. I have spent about the past 15 years collecting an array of unusual, rare and oft-times VERY fast old LF lenses that I LOVE to shoot with. And, I don’t care how much you muck about in post, you’re not going to get the same look. It’s just different. Plus the process of shooting LF slows things WAY down, which is a good thing, in my opinion.

You mentioned that it is very important to be able to work fast, and that much of your work is shot with one lens.  At what point in your career did you realize that “less is more” and in what way did your work change?

I think instead of ‘working fast’ I prefer to think that I work decisively. That comes from years of experience and practice. After being a location scout for about 18 months I found that I was submitting fewer & fewer locations to my clients. Same with my casting choices – you hone your eye, and just know instinctively – this will work, this is it – the location, the composition, the talent, etc. That’s part of it. And then, by using (primarily) one lens, usually the equivalent of the 50mm, I’m seeing like our eye sees – in terms of spatial relationships, DOF, scale, etc. My work on some level has always (according to clients and friends) been ‘very graphic’ and ‘almost simple’. But that’s HARD, not easy. It’s EASY to clutter up a frame, put in lots of visual detritus and hope for the best. The challenge is in making a simple AND powerful SINGLE frame. Every time. My goal nowadays is to do that – to take away every superfluous element until I’m left with something simple, graphic and compelling.

Personal projects keep you inspired, what are you currently working on?

I always have a few projects going on, always. I’ve been working on three books for the past . . . well, one of them was started back in 2004. Almost done with that one! The other two . . .  one will (should) be done in late 2015 and the other in 2016. Most of my projects start as simply things that I find interesting. And then, when I show them to others they tell me they feel the same, so I keep pushing.

I’m lucky, because I’ve been doing this a long time, and as a result it’s easier to get the work shown, and that builds (and sustains) momentum. Clearly paying jobs take priority; so keeping the momentum of personal work going takes discipline and focus. Ideally one finds a balance and if possible a way to combine the two! Incidentally I just started another project about three months ago – that one should be ‘done’ – by the time I’m 50? I hope.


What advice do you have for photographers starting out today?

First off, before anything else, be patient. And humble. Please.

I’ll never understand the belief that simply having a degree in photography or art, and owning/knowing how to use a camera makes one ‘a photographer’.  I mean, if you went to cooking school, and bought some knives – would you call yourself a chef? Does owning a full set of copper make you a better cook? Similarly, just because you went to law school and passed the bar doesn’t give you the qualifications to be a partner in a firm.  You EARN that.

Be nice- always be nice. Because, odds are, if you’re a jerk to someone, that someone will have more power over you than you’d ever expect. I watched a photographer I assisted for, who’d been a jerk to a janitor we met, suddenly have to contend with having no power in  the location he wanted to use.


•  Courtesy and hard work are two things that are ALWAYS appreciated and oft-times overlooked. 
•  Assist. And be prepared to work harder than you ever have.
•  Be early, being on-time is late.
•  Always have a grip bag, a watch (on your wrist), and a sharpie. Sharpies are key.


See more of Robb’s work at


MAGIC HOUR HAPPY HOUR – June 18- Liberty Tavern


Why, hello June. It’s been like what, a year since I saw you last?

Let’s go get a drink and catch up! The Liberty Tavern in Clarendon? The 18th? Why yes, that would be lovely.


Wednesday, June 18th, 6-8 pm ish.


The Liberty Tavern
3195 Wilson Blvd.
Arlington, VA 22201



Wait, if an APA member shows up and updates their “Find a Member“and Behance profiles on the spot they’ll get a free drink? Oh, and this includes any member who has already done it? (Because you’re probably missing six-figure assignments every day an art buyer can’t find you on our site.)  Heck ya!


May 2014 Featured Member – Erika Nizborski


 Portrait and Interview by Jim Darling

This month APA|DC is pleased to introduce you to one of our favorite Assistant-level members, Erika Nizborski. Erika earned a BFA in photojournalism from the Corcoran College of Art + Design in 2010 and has been cutting her chops assisting area commercial shooters and shooting weddings and events since leaving the photo retail space a little over a year ago. (You might recognize her from the rental department at Penn Camera.) Find out what makes Erika tick, below:


Photo and Interview by Jim Darling


What are your earliest memories of photography? Do you remember a specific photograph or the work of someone in particular? Or did you grow up in a family that took a lot of photos?

My earliest memories of photography are when I was about nine years old.  I started constructing still life’s with dolls and action figures in my parents basement.  When I was in high school I took my first photography class, my teacher introduced me to the work of Diane Arbus, Duane Michaels, and Ralph Meatyard- just to name a few.  I was instantly hooked and began collecting antique cameras and searching out rare nearly obsolete films to shoot them with.  I stated taking college darkroom classes my junior year of high school because my high school only taught digital photography.  Growing up my family took lots of snap-shots and family movies.  My father loves technology and I remember the day he came home with an early Kodak digital camera, it was 1.5 mega pixels. The photos it produced were terrible, that’s pretty much when the family photos stopped being taken.


We met when you worked at the rental counter at the former Penn Camera (RIP). I was new to the industry and you were extremely helpful and taught me something new every time I came in it seemed. How much did YOU learn from working there either from your colleagues or customers? And did many of the regulars share their experience or knowledge?

 I worked at Penn in the rental department for almost 3 years.  Jim, I think you were one of my favorite customers! I majored in photojournalism in college so, I had only taken a few lighting classes.  While working at Penn I learned an exponential amount about studio lighting and grip.  Mostly I learned techniques from my colleagues Anthony Herfort, Ken Hipkins, and the late Harrison Thomas.  Those guys really took me under their wing and I can honestly say that I wouldn’t be where I am today with out them.  The customers also provided me with a wealth of knowledge.  I got to see trends in rental reservations, I learned what the commercial photographers were using to produce their work, and I saw what the freelance wedding and event photographers where keeping in their bag.


You recently completed your first year as a full time freelance photographer. How did school (Corcoran School of Art) and then your experience at Penn prepare you to go out on your own? And how much have you learned on-the-job (if that’s even possible to quantify)?

The Corcoran College of Art + Design prepared me to think quickly in any situation; it was there that I learned how to be a photojournalist- a storyteller.  However, it was my first college The Delaware College of Art + Design where I learned my craft, developed a strong work ethic, and where my passion for photography blossomed. Working at Penn gave me insight into the real world and business of photography.  Now that I have been out on my own for a year I have found that I am still learning something new everyday.  I believe that it is important that we continue to learn in this industry because it is ever changing.  It is hard to quantify how much I have learned, but I still hear the lessons of my first photography professor playing over in my mind on a daily basis.


In your own personal experience how would describe the differences in your approach and/or thoughts and feelings toward photography as a profession and as an art form?

There are few people in this world that get to turn their passion into a career. I have seen photographers that have lost their passion for photography and just go through the motions, this for me is when it is no longer is an art form- it’s just a paycheck.  I hope I never lose my passion for photography. I see no reason why professional photography shouldn’t be considered art.  If the drive to create the work is there and the images convey something to the audience why wouldn’t that be art?


As a young person in an industry that’s highly influenced or motivated by technology and all things megapixels you are known to shoot and develop your own medium format film. Where does that desire/passion come from?

My first “real” camera was digital.  I am fascinated with history and learning how we got to where we are today. When I was 16 I began getting into film photography because I saw it as a challenge.  I wanted to learn why I was using certain tools in Photoshop. In elementary school I learned that I have dyslexia, I was constantly told I was doing things wrong.  The one class I never got told I was doing anything wrong in was art class.  When I got into the darkroom and began using a manual camera numbers made sense to me.  It was like everything just clicked and numbers suddenly had a purpose. Working in the darkroom helped me overcome my learning difference and gave me confidence.


Is there a style of photography that you admire and would like to try but haven’t yet? (Sports, wildlife, high end fashion, commercial…)

I have assisted a lot of studio photographers.  I feel confident in lighting and much of what goes into it yet, I have done very little of it myself.  I would like to someday shoot more in the studio setting whether it is product, food, commercial, or portrait photography is fine with me.  I find it all fascinating.


You can find Erika’s work on her website,


IT’S ALIVE! APA National Unveils New Website

apanational_intro_graphicAfter a year of behind-the-scenes work with design firm Studio Mister, APA is extremely happy to announce a new national website!

The first thing you might notice is that we’ve moved the site over to a .org, where it belongs.  This reflects our status as a 501(c)6 professional organization with a mission to help support professional photographers. With a completely new interface, this modern design is much easier to read and find out what APA is doing across all of our chapters. News, events, articles and more now appear in a tiled format to make browsing much faster. (We’re visual people, after all.)

It’s now easier than ever to find and take advantage of all your professional discounts and member benefits. Additionally, we have simplified and condensed our membership levels to make joining easier and to give our members the benefits that are right for them.

Another highlight of the new will be new a partnership with Behance to host enhanced photographer profiles. This will complement, but not replace, our valuable “Find a Member” feature and makes it easier for clients to find YOU.


But, as we all know from Uncle Ben, “With great power comes great responsibility.” All of these great new changes will require a teeny bit of work from you. If you’re a current member, you’ll have to log-in and update all of your information again. Think of it as some spring cleaning.

To do this, visit:, follow the instructions, and if you’re on the monthly plan, re-enter your billing info. (Need a little incentive? The monthly payment will now actually be cheaper than before!)



If you’re not already a member, now is the absolute best time to join. We’re offering a 20% discount for anyone who joins by May 16th! That means that the most basic level starts at $40 for the first year. That’s about the same as a large fancy latte at Starbucks. (Without tip, of course.)

As with any website launch, there might be a few bumps in the road. Please be patient with us as we work to make your membership a more valuable asset to your career. Feel free to email matt [at] if you need any help and let us know what you think.

Share the news on twitter with @apanational or #joinAPA and bask in the glow of an interconnected world.
Are you an APA Professional member with a story to tell? Let us feature you on our website. Email matt [at] to find out how.

Magic Hour Happy Hour – co-hosted with AIGA – May 13




They say that April showers bring May flowers. But what does April snow bring? The answer, aside from allergies, is a May co-hosted happy hour with the DC chapter of AIGA. Please don your fanciest shoes and get ready to rub elbows with one of the busiest chapters of THE trade group for professional designers. We’ll be getting our Gestalt on at The Board Room in Dupont for a relaxing evening of chitter chatter, probably followed up by an impossibly intense game of Mousetrap. (We can only hope that nobody loses their right index finger.)

This is a great time to meet other interesting and outgoing people in an adjacent creative industry. Pop in on Tuesday the 13th!


Tuesday, May 13th, 6-8:30 pm


The Board Room
1737 Connecticut Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20009
closest METRO – Dupont Circle on the Red Line.


Good times don’t have themselves.



About AIGA

AIGA advances design as a professional craft, strategic advantage and vital cultural force. As the largest community of design advocates, we bring together practitioners, enthusiasts, and patrons to amplify the voice of design and create the vision for a collective future. We define global standards and ethical practices, guide design education, enhance professional development, and make powerful tools and resources accessible to all.



Magic Hour | Happy Hour – Jackie’s Side Bar – April 16



So you have your tax refund in hand, right? Time to be generous and buy someone a drink at April’s Magic Hour|Happy Hour in Silver Spring. We realize we’ve been on a bit of an Irish pub bender lately, so we thought we’d go in a new direction. On April 16th we’ll be found at Jackie’s Side Bar, enjoying some of their delicious specialty cocktails. Join us for a drink, meet new people, and relax– summer is just around the corner!


Wednesday, April 16, 6 pm – 8 pm ish.


Jackie’s Side Bar
8081 Georgia Avenue
Silver Spring, MD 20910

Nearest METRO – Silver Spring on the Red Line.


Because I swear winter can’t last forever.

March 2014 Featured Member – Jim Darling

Darling, Jim for the APA 2/27/2014

March 2014′s featured photographer Jim Darling, is one of APA|DC’s newest members. A DC-based portrait, interior and wedding shooter, Jim comes to the photo industry with seventeen years of graphic design experience, including stints on both the board of DC’s AIGA chapter and the Art Director’s Club. Aside from his professional work, he has developed a reputation for his mobile phone photography and is a founding member of the International Mobile Photo Group, InstantDC, and has lectured on the subject locally and at the Apple Store in New York City. Jim sat down with February Featured Member Jon Goell recently to talk about the transition from design to photography and much more.




Interview by Jon Goell

Edited by Matthew Rakola


You got your start in graphic design – Where did you study?

I went to school at SUNY New Paltz in upstate New York and graduated in December of ’91. My sister and her boyfriend had just moved down to Maryland from New York so I followed them down here February of ’92 – just days after the Redskins won their last Super Bowl, actually, so it’s been a long time. But I didn’t get a design job for a couple of months.  I basically drove up and down from Gaithersburg to Rockville and Bethesda looking at graphics places and walking in.  That’s how I got my first design job but I don’t recommend that as a strategy anymore.



So what led to the switch to photography?

 I got a digital SLR in 2008 after joining Flickr in late 2007.   I had point-and-shoot for a couple of years before that and I was starting to really fall in love with photography again. I just always had this in my head that I was going to be a graphic designer even though I felt like I really liked photography and I was really good at it.  Ever since I first picked up a camera, I was drawn to taking portraits.  So, it was always something in the back of my mind, but I think photography changed so much from ’92 to ’08, and I went a long time without even having a camera.  But it was 2008 where I started to notice sort of a new passion arising.

 When I was laid off at the Mortgage Bankers Association in March of 2008 I started a personal project, shooting street portraits of strangers. I was still working as a designer and had a series of short-term contracts and freelance jobs over the next two years, but all the while my photography was getting better and starting to get noticed within the local community.  By the end of 2009 I noticed the imbalance between my passion for design versus photography – and photography was winning. I landed a part-time design job at the start of 2010 which allowed me the flexibility to also pursue work in photography, while still having the stability of a regular paycheck. The job ended last April and since then photography has been my only source of income. The relationships I had built with the design community over many years, as well as some exposure in local gallery exhibits, were integral in getting my foot in the door, especially with the designers that were now hiring me as a photographer.


So your connections came through? How did you build that network?

 When I got into graphic design, I joined the local AIGA chapter where I ended up being a Board Member for 5 years. Then I was on the board of the Art Directors Club of Metro Washington, which now, sadly, is defunct. But having those connections in the graphic design community really helped with doing photography and getting jobs by word-of-mouth.   But I didn’t really know about APA or ASMP or anything.  I joined a social group on Flickr and got to know other photographers, hobbyists and professionals.


You started through Flickr?

I guess you could say that, yeah. I realized very quickly that there was a social aspect to it. I noticed local photographers going out on photo walks, doing happy hours, and putting on shows.  I remember, after one of the DCist Exposed photo shows in the spring of ’08, sitting at the computer thinking, “Wow, I wonder if I could do that?”  “I wonder how they got into a photo show; that sounds amazing.”  Through Flickr I reached out to Kai Harth, one of the photographers I started following early on, and I asked him how I could get involved. He directed me to the ‘DC Social’ group and I went on my first meet-up with them in June of 2008.  Some of those people are my best friends to this day.”


And a lot of this was also mobile phone photography…

I didn’t start until 2010, but quickly became involved with the mobile photography/iPhone photography genre when it was first coming up  I was asked to join an international collective, the Mobile Photo Group, and I think that Flickr and Twitter got my iPhone work noticed. James Campbell, founder of InstantDC, actually tracked me down on Flickr because I was the only one shooting portraits on my iPhone in the area and that’s how our friendship started  We put on a show and through that first show I met Greg Schmigel who was the founder of MPG, (Mobile Photo Group). I’ve been profiled on Mashable and done two talks at the Apple Store in New York City– all on mobile photography.


In those years, when you were starting to make the switch, did you do any photo workshops or get any training?  Or are you mostly self-taught?

I guess you could say self-taught, or left over from high school and college. I learned 35mm and twin lens reflex and shot for my high school and college year books. I also studied some 4×5 view camera in college which I really enjoyed


That’s great.  I want to backtrack a little.  During any of these years that you were in design, either independently or working for other outfits, did you ever work with outside photographers?

I did.  When I was at the Mortgage Bankers Association we had a photographer come in to shoot a stock library for us, using our staff.  He did head shots and business lifestyle stuff and he probably shot over three days. Later, I worked with Thomas Arledge on an ad campaign that the MBA was doing. I learned the process of location and talent scouting, and was on the shoots with him and watched him light and art direct.  Little did I know that I was going to go down that road. But working with him helped me learn that there was so much more to it than just buying pictures.  That was really good. I’ve worked with him since and he remains a friend and mentor.


So, do you feel that your design background has a strong influence on your photography? If so, how?

I see my design influence in the way I compose a photo. Especially with environmental portraits, the space that the person is in and where they are in that space is very important to me. With fine art or landscape photography I’m constantly looking for interesting combinations of shape, color and texture.


Looking at your portraits now, you show a wide diversity of people in your personal work and an underlying feeling of sincerity and trust. How do you go about approaching a stranger on the street to photograph them?

I feel that one of my strengths is my sense of humor and my ability to connect with people, which is why I have always sought out portrait photography. [When approaching someone] I meet on the street, often times there is a brief interaction with the individual where I can quickly assess whether or not they’d be into having their picture taken. Even if there is hesitation in their approval you can usually tell that they are flattered at the same time. I’ll explain to them what it is I see in them that I think would make a great portrait. And I always give them a business card.. When I schedule ahead with the subject, like with corporate clients, they have time to prepare for the shoot mentally and I think that can make a difference. I do my best to explain my vision or scope and how long I think it will take. More creative shots, with people I know, we can be a lot more flexible and we take the time to try new things or just experiment with light, etc. And I can get their feedback while we’re shooting.


Who are some of the photographers, commercial or otherwise, who you admire and why?

 I love Noah Kalina’s work. His environmental portraits are moody, mysterious, and beautifully lit.  They have a Edward Hopper feel to them but can also evoke a slight sense of humor.

Also NY/San Francisco designer-turned-photographer Michael O’Neal. His work dispels any feeling that Instagram isn’t a place for real photographers.


How has the APA been helpful to you?  What have you learned?

It’s been helpful to create relationships. Sometimes just the emotional support that comes with belonging to a group of photographers, even though I am new at this.  I’ve learned a lot from different members, because they are open to helping me with questions that I have.  I can call Matt Rakola; I can call Jason Hornick.  Jason assisted me on a photo shoot with one of the Washington Redskins and that was really good.  He was basically my lighting guy and that helped me focus on communicating with the subject.  I’ve gone to them with questions about bidding and things like that. I think I learned through my involvement with AIGA and Art Directors Club that by belonging to a club you are supporting your industry, and that’s important to me.  I’ve always been an advocate for personal connections.  Even though you have followers on Twitter and Facebook, personal connections are still the most valuable to me.

So as you’re developing your own style you have to be thinking, at least a little bit, on where you want to take your photography. So the age-old question- “If you could get paid to shoot anything, anywhere what would it be?” 

I would love to get paid travel to new places and spend time with the people that live there and photograph them and their environment. I think I could deliver a nice combination of portraits and landscape photos that tell a story. Basically be sent somewhere and be told, OK, find some street/stranger portraits here and come back in a week.  Oh, And I’d like to photograph Tina Fey and come up with something hilarious but beautiful, like her.


Jim’s work can be found at and you can also find him on twitter, instagram, and Flickr. 

He’s always open to learning more and is available to assist.

Brown Bag Series: Lighten Your Load – March 27



On March 27th, APA|DC is happy to reintroduce everyone’s favorite educational series- the Brown Bag. For the uninitiated, the Brown Bag is a small informal evening focusing on a single photo-related topic. It’s a relaxed way to learn a little something new, meet some folks, and enjoy the photography community. This month’s BB features APA|DC Chair, Matthew Rakola, talking about compact location-lighting kits…

Photographers are frequently asked to complete editorial assignments that require multiple locations in a short amount of time– often without a budget line for an assistant. The key to making, well-crafted images in this environment is the ability to work quickly, flexibly and efficiently. Better low-light camera sensors and fast lenses allow the photographer to work with the ambient light, not against it. Add to this some new  technologies and a handful of good-old fashioned tricks of the trade and a compact kit can be incredibly versatile. This is not a presentation about how to shoot a job on the cheap, but an overview of some of the new sophisticated equipment available today and a few lessons learned the hard way. While there is no single way to pack for a shoot, this evening is about swapping ideas and strategies and re-imagining the tools at your disposal.

Some things we’ll hit on:

    • Ideas on packing with an emphasis on portability and flexibility and speed;
    • Getting the most out of every piece of equipment in your kit;
    • Canon radio-controlled Speedlites, Elinchrom Quadra Ranger, “dumb” strobes, and other battery-powered lighting options;
    • LEDs and other alternative light sources;
    • Grip and modifier options and hacks;
    • Manfrotto QSS (Stacker) stands and other space saving light support;
    • shooting wirelessly to an iPad with CamRanger.



Thursday, March 27th
6:30- 8:30 pm. (Presentation starts at 7:00 pm)


The studio of Renée Comet
2141 Wisconsin Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20007


Free for APA members/ $10 for the general public. No reservations required.

Light food and drinks will be provided.


Matthew Rakola is a DC-based photographer specializing in “real people” editorial, educational and institutional projects. More hustle than bustle, he believes that camera gear should never get in between the photographer and the subject. He’s spent the better part of 13 years figuring out how to bring the most amount of gear to a shoot with the least amount of sweat. His clients include corporations such as Fidelity Investments, publishing companies including National Geographic, non-profits such as the USO, and various universities around the country. His work can be found at and



March 2014 Magic O’Hour|Happy O’Hour – O’Sullivans



This O’March, in celebration of St. Patty’s Day, we’re taking our Magic O’Hour|Happy O’Hour to the quaint olde O’Sullivan’s Irish Pub in Clarendon.

[O'kay, the apostrophes are O'ver.]

For the uninitiated or forgetful, this is a relaxed evening to catch up with peers, meet new people, and figure out this crazy thing called photography. The happy hour starts at 6 pm and the hanging out usually lasts well past 8 pm. New to the area or want to introduce a friend to the community? This is the social event for you.


March 12, 6pm-8pm


O’Sullivan’s Irish Pub
3207 Washington Blvd.
Arlington, VA 22201
Closest Metro – Clarendon (Orange Line


Free bar napkins to the first 100 attendees!