Master Photographer

Post by Stephanie

The Professional Photographers of America (PPA) created the Merits and Degree program in 1937.  Those who choose to progress in their art and attain a degree show they have met PPA’s standards of excellence and service.  Only about 4% of members have earned a degree.  Working toward a PPA degree helps you grow as an artist and your work improves.  To earn a degree you have to earn merits by advanced education, service to the industry, and excelling in photographic competition.  Most photographers work toward a degree for numerous years.  And they continue to work on improving their craft beyond earning their degree.

I am honored to finally have earned my Master of Photography Degree.  The Master of Photography Degree is awarded in recognition of superior photographic quality.  It is a rigorous process of submitting your images in international photographic competition and being awarded based on 12 elements of a merit image.

PPA President Tim Walden, M.Photog.Cr., F-ASP, describes photographic competition, “Competition is like exercise.  You don’t jog to jog; you jog to get healthier and stronger.”

As I have gone through the process of earning my Master of Photography Degree, my images have become better.  I continue to improve as an artist and that in turn benefits my wonderful clients.  I love creating beautiful images for my clients and going through this processes has allowed me to give them only the best.

DA4_9692DA4_9698Images by Don Aittama

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Thank you to all who have supported and encouraged me through this process.  It is a long, hard process and I could not have done it without you.  And especially thank you to my wonderful husband who has been there when I thought I wouldn’t ever achieve this goal and who always encourages and believes in me.  It is wonderful to have you by my side.

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How To Make the Perfect Snowman- By Haley Roberts

I LOVE snow! Growing up in Virginia snow is a magical, rare sight to enjoy! Not to mention,  the whole world shuts down for relaxing and fun family time. I have so many fond memories of playing in the snow, building forts, making snow angels, and eating snow cream! One thing I was never able to master was how to make a snowman. I have tried picking up and patting the snow in order to form one (that didn’t work) and I have tried rolling the snow into balls (THAT definitely has never worked for me. ) So I did a little research on how to make the PERFECT snowman so next time the snow decides to grace us with its presence, we will be prepared. As you can see, Stephanie is a snowman expert!



1. Don’t use powdery snow. As with anything you make, if the materials are not right the likelihood of success diminishes. In order to easily make a beautiful snowman, the snow should be slightly wet (NOT icy- which can be a problem in Virginia). This makes it easy for the snow to pack together and stay together. If the snow is too powdery, you can lightly spray it with small amount of water from the hose or a spray bottle. 3-4 inches of snowfall on the ground at a minimum is needed to roll snow into balls.

2.Roll snow rather than pack. Start by making a compact snow ball with your hands. Then take the ball and roll it on the ground, picking up the snow around it to form a larger ball until it is the desired size. (This is where the 3-4 inch snowfall comes in handy!)

3. Flatten the top of the stacked snow balls. For the the bottom and the middle snow ball, make sure you flatten the top so the next snow ball can rest securely! Pack additional snow between the balls once stacked, if needed for support.

4.Be creative with accessories. Truly make your snowman your own and  pick original  items for facial features, arms, and legs. Don’t use items that will blow away easily or rot quickly. Try your hand at an upside down snowman or a snow bear! Have fun!



Baby Series:Infant Skin Care

One of my favorite things about cuddling little babies is their super soft, sweet skin! Our goal as moms is to keep it that way as they continue to grow. With so many products on the market today, how can one know which is truly best for their baby? Here are some helpful tips we have researched to help you as you product your baby’s skin. The great thing is this also applies to us as adults!

Stephanie's Portrait Design

  1. Avoid Dangerous and Harsh Chemicals. One of the best things you can do for your baby is avoid dangerous and harsh chemicals. Be sure to look at the ingredient list on the back of the product before you buy and apply. Even “organic” products may contain potentially harmful ingredients. For a full list of what you should be watching out for see our harmful chemical list at the bottom of this blog post.
  2. Avoid The Bugs and the Bug Sprays. Living in Virginia we know bugs, particularly mosquitoes are a huge problem. But I  have yet to find a bug spray, even ones geared for “babies or children” that does not have questionable or potentially harmful products. If it’s not harmful, it can cause rashes or itching. The best advice I can give is avoid places where they will come in large contact with bug exposure, particularly as a brand new infant ( younger than  2-3 months.) If you cannot avoid it, purchase a bug net to cover the car seat, or equip your area with bug off  scents (don’t place too close to the baby). If you are interested in high rated infant bug sprays you can research them for yourself. CLICK HERE for Consumer Reports information on safe bug sprays.
  1. Avoid Harmful Sun Exposure. Always avoid direct sunlight on your baby’s soft, sensitive, skin. Rather than lather them with suncreen, it is better to cover up babies younger than 6 months with shade, more shade, and a hat. As they get older apply a small amount of sunscreen. Find recommended sunscreens HERE.
  2. Go Dye and Fragrance Free. I would be totally lying if I said I followed this one. Some of the babies fragrances are so yummy I cannot help it, and if you read the labels some natural fragrances are just fine. When in doubt though, it is always safer to go for the non-scented products. Many can contain “Phthalates, chemicals used to stabilize fragrance and increase absorption, are absorbed through the skin and enter the bloodstream.” www.healthychild.org It is always very important to avoid dyes and fragrances when using soaps; whether that be for direct body contact or the washing machines. Dyes and fragrances can cause harsh, itchy rashes on a baby’s soft skin.

For your information here is a link to EWG Skin Deep Cosmetics Database’s list of safe and natural diaper rash creams. CLICK HERE

List of Chemicals to Avoid in Skin Care For Infants

  1. Parabens & phthalates
  2. Deet
  3. Ceteareth
  4. Octinoxate
  5. Oxybenzone
  6. DMDM Hydantoin
  7. Fragrance
  8. Triclosan
  9. Sodium Laureth/Lauryl Sulfate
  10. Formaldehyde/quaternium-15
  11. FD&C Color Pigments
  12. PEG (Polyethylene Glycol) & Propylene Glycol
  13. Talc
  14. DEA (Diethanolamine), MEA (Monoethanolamine), TEA (Triethanolamine)

For more information check out www.healthychild.org.