Non Profit: Dinner For Divas Gala

I had the honor of photographing the Dinner for Divas Gala last weekend and it was an amazing experience. This outstanding event honors women and men who were survivors of domestic violence. These survivors have the opportunity to be pampered from head to toe and made up to be runway ready! The women looked absolutely amazing and they didn't have to pay a single penny thanks to the wonderful work this non profit does. The Alma G Davis Foundation offers more than just this event. To learn more about the fight against domestic violence click on the link below.

An event like this takes months of planning and hard work and seeing it all come together from the makeup to the designs of the event was absolutely beautiful. To top it off they had Mikki Taylor editor at large from Essence Magazine deliver a speech that was heartfelt and absolutely inspiring. This Gala also included celebrity Chef Rodney LoveJones who hosted the VIP gala. His food was amazingly delicious and yes I got a chance to taste the food he prepared for the VIP guests!

I want to give a special shout out to all the survivors! They stood up and can finally say they are free from the negative past. It was very touching to see these women go on stage, be vulnerable, and share their pasts. These powerful stories have made them become stronger and are now taking an active role in educating others. Thank you to all the volunteers I met for showing up for a great cause and also making it fun in the process.  Enjoy some of these moments captured from this lovely affair. 

Monica NwaigweComment

Professional relationships are significant, but they're even more so when they are complementary. For instance, my friend Katina is a writer, and I'm a photographer. From time to time, we collaborate on articles and it's such a great experience.

A while back, I got a call from Katina saying that she'd met a fantastic self-published author at a book launch event, Jonathan French, and he'd been recently picked up by a major publisher. She just had to write a story about his journey. Of course, she called on me for quality photos to go with her article. Pitching stories to magazines can be tricky, and it's essential to have the content professionally package and ready to go—that means professional photography included.

Per the author's suggestion, we scheduled the shoot and interview at Oakland Cemetery. I had never been there, and I worried that it would be a dreadful place to take photos, but the author assured me it was a picturesque location, and he was right!  As you will see in the pictures, Oakland Cemetery is brimming with character; long walkways framed by arching trees, weathered sculptures, wild flowers—the place just has a timeless quality to it. Other photographers were out there photographing wedding parties, taking family portraits, etc. It was interesting to see how much life was celebrated in a place where loved ones had been put to rest.

Katina and Jonathan spoke for over an hour about how he went from being an indie writer to scoring a two-book deal with a major publisher. They talked about how much he invested in his dream, and how a contest changed his life. In the end, not only did Katina write an excellent story about Jonathan's path to success, the article (and my photo) got picked up by Writer's Digest!

Congratulations to Katina for successfully pitching her story and to Jonathan for his amazing book deal. I'm also quite happy that my photos are on a national platform.

Curious about how Jonathan French made it to the big time? Click here

Want me to shoot for your magazine? Click here

Do you write and want feedback on your writing? Click here to join Katina's critique group.

Wedding: Atlanta Airport Marriott Gateway

It was such an amazing time photographing Kimberly + Andrew's wedding story. These two are truly a real treat to spend the day with! They have such an amazing chemistry together which you can definitely see it in their pictures. Andrew's expressions towards Kim absolutely made me smile and completely reminds me that love is truly the most important thing we can have in our lives. No matter if things are crazy or calm, love is what keeps it all together! This why I absolutely love documenting love stories. Great photos have a way bringing it to life! Here is a little snippet of their of day.

 I want to thank the Fowler's for choosing MNJPHOTO to capture their wedding story. The beginning of a new, exciting chapter for these two begins. Cheers to many more happy, healthy years of LOVE! Shout out to my assistant/second photographer Heather! You were amazing! Love you sis!

Monica NwaigweComment
Family-Extended Family Session

 I had an opportunity to capture photos for my good friends extended family. It's one of my absolute  favorite families I enjoy getting in front of the camera because they are naturals!  It was 3 generations of fun, energetic, and loving personalities! Photographing a big group of people can be intimidating, but when you have a crowd like them it just flat out more fun! It is so amazing to witness the connection between siblings, mother, and then to see the generations all in one photograph. These are the memories families must hold on to forever. The sweetest moments are watching the pure love the grandparents have in photos with the grandkids. Funny enough, those heartfelt photos always make great gifts too. Thank you to Maldonado, Harris family and of course to Mr & Mrs. Walker for the booking the session with MNJPHOTO! You all ROCKED!

Family: Malone Love

Today's photo shoot took place on a hot and humid Sunday evening. Humidity is a photographer's sworn enemy. It makes hair misbehave, causes people to sweat through their beautiful clothes, and can zap the energy out of the most willing subjects. So it goes without saying that I left that shoot with a tremendous amount of admiration for the Malone family. 

They stayed in good spirits the entire time, which can sometimes be a challenge for kids, and posed their best for the camera. No one could ever know by looking at these photos that the sun tried to cook us alive.

I'd like to also give credit to my 9-year-old for taking the "behind the scenes" shots. She is a mini professional in the making.

Many thanks go out to the Malone Family for choosing MNJPHOTO to take their family portraits! I look forward to seeing them again.

Commercial Photography: Allergy Reality

Today I had the pleasure of photographing Heather Parker for the cover of her new album, Allergy Reality. The album is a compilation of groovy tunes that educates children how to find and identify allergens in their food. I gave the album a listen, and I have to admit it, the songs are catchy!  I couldn't help but hum and sing them as I cleaned my house the other day. 

For this session, the key to photographing Heather was getting the lighting right. When working with a solid color background, the lighting has to be perfect. I'm happy to report that her pictures came out great.

If anyone is interested in checking out Allergy Reality...

Thanks again Heather for choosing MNJPHOTO. I look forward to working with you again!


Milestone Photos: Bella & Beau Turn 1

Remember these two cuties from six months ago? They came back for their one-year milestone pictures. They have grown so much since their 6-month session. They were laid back, and I found them entertaining to watch. My favorite photo from this session was when they dug into their cake. 

I want to thank their mom and dad for sticking with MNJPHOTO to capture their milestone photos. I look forward to seeing them again.

Monica NwaigweComment
Wedding: Cherry Hollow Farm

Heather and Adam both have family and friends who know how to have fun! Photographing this wedding was a joy. As with most weddings, the star and co-star of the show are the bride and groom, but there was another great performer at this event, one that deserves an honorable mention; the location! Photographing vibrant people, in fine clothing, against the weathered barn added an earthy texture to the images and gave them a timeless quality. I love it!

Engagement Photos: Andrew and Kimberly

Kimberly and Andrew are due to get married next year. We had planned to shoot at Centennial Olympic Park, not realizing that the SweetWater 420 Fest was in full swing. I had to improvise. Sound is not an issue where photography is concerned, but crowds are, so we walked around until we found a spot that wasn't saturated with festival goers.

Kimberly and Andrew were great sports, and they were impressed with how many great shots came out of our photography session. Challenges come up, but they're not impossible to overcome. I appreciated having the opportunity to demonstrate positivity and deliver great photos in spite of the obstacles we faced that day.

Family: A Celebration of Sons

Cindy has plenty of reason to celebrate her two sons. In April, Eddie came home after being in Mexico for two years on a Mormon mission, meanwhile his brother Jackson recently graduated summa cum laude from UGA with a bachelor’s degree in science and mathematics. It was the perfect time to capture a mini family reunion between this mother and her two amazing sons.

Eddie left the U.S. speaking only English and came back fluent in Spanish; Jackson got a perfect score on his graduate record examination and is off to Cambridge; and Cindy, well she is my idol!

Meeting families from all walks of life is what I love best about my job. I cannot emphasize what an honor it was to photograph this family, each member looking to do good in the world through their gifts and talents. My hat goes off to Cindy for raising such remarkable young men, and my sincerest thanks goes out to this family for trusting MNJ Photography to capture their reunion.

Graduation Portraits: Lexi

In the world of milestone photography, graduation portrait sessions simply buzz with positive energy. The pride, and sense of accomplishment, that my subject feels come through in every shot. 

I am honored that Lexi's has chosen me to record a significant achievement in her life, and I pray her hard works continues to pay off for years to come.

Vinings Lifestyle Magazine Cover (March 2017)

Willow Green Flower Shop

This is it folks; I've officially stepped into the world of commercial print photography. I've been contracted by Vinings Lifestyle Magazine to shoot their covers and provide photos to pair with their articles. I am super excited! I've wanted to flex my muscles in commercial photography for a while, and this local publication is the perfect platform to show what I can do.

Vinings Lifestyle Magazine March Cover

Vinings Lifestyle Magazine March Cover

Of course, there is something to learn from every shoot. In this particular session, generating movement was key to capturing the right look for the cover. The model, Renee Rayles, wore a vibrant yellow dress, which looked great on her, but for some reason, it sat in the photos as an overpowering blotch of yellow. Then it hit me. "Twirl around and pause so I can take the shot," I told Renee. 
Sure enough, the twirl gave her dress enough lift to form a proper A-line shape and breathe life into the photograph.

I'm proud to say that these pictures will go straight to my #NailedIt! folder, a.k.a. my portfolio.

Couples: The Pattersons

I just love, love, love working with longtime couples. The Pattersons have been married for 20 years, and their chemistry is just as strong as the day they met. They were a breeze to photograph, and I enjoyed hearing their perspective on what it takes to make a marriage work long-term. No one is perfect, but these two are certainly perfect for each other! 

Vaughn Family

Today's photography session was near and dear to my heart. For starters, I took these pictures back in my hometown of Albuquerque. The weather was a little nippy, but nothing beats going back home to reconnect with familiar landscapes and old friends. The wife in these photos is a woman I've known since middle school. 

The second perk of this session was meeting her family! Time flies. We grow older and apart, start families, etc. It was an absolute joy to become acquainted with her beautiful children and meet their amazing father. My heart was particularly touched by the love flowing between this couple. To be honest, every family photography session I shoot leaves my heart feeling warm and bubbly with happy vibes―this one was no different. I find family photography so rewarding!

In the end, I left Albuquerque wishing them well and looking forward to meeting baby #4.