This Spring, DC based fashion photographer and philanthropist Walter Grio (with Anna Wintour - left) of Shoot for Change & Fashiontographer launched District of Fashion, “an online fashion editorial that features people [in Washington DC] who are inspired by fashion, style, and philanthropy.”

Being that we are All Things Fashion DC, we obviously had to pick our Fab Five Faves (in no particular order). Click through slideshow below and rate our picks!

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All photos by Walter Grio


WEDNESDAY, JUNE 13, 2012

SHOOT FOR CHANGE PRESENTS “WHAT I LIVE FOR”

7 - 9 PM

L2 Lounge| 3315 Cady’s Alley NW; Washington, DC

Each photo in the  ”WHAT I LIVE FOR” photo exhibition is accompanied by a short essay written by each participant.  This event will support CrisisLink, a local nonprofit organization that brings immediate help, hope, and healing to empower individuals facing serious life challenges, suicidal thoughts, emotional or situational problems.

Click here to purchase tickets. Tickets can also be purchased at the door.

Fashionable Reads

June 12, 2012
  • Diane von Furstenburg will serve as the president of the CFDA for at least two more years. (Fashionista)
  • NYPost takes a look at the high cost of cheap fashion. (NYPost)
  • Maison Martin Margiela is rumored to be the next designer to collaborate with H&M. (Fashionologie)
  • Can ethical fashion really be fashionable? (Business of Fashion)
  • Six ways to wear your tee. (My Closet in Sketches)
  • Check out some Seersucker Social street style. Say that 3x fast: “Seersucker Social street style.” (Neon V Mag)
  • Washingtonian interviews Worn Magazine editor-in-cheif Nicole Aguirre. (Washingtonian)
  • Fashionista questions whether designers support Obama in hopes that the First Lady will wear their clothes. (Fashionista)
  • Georgetown Dish catches up with Shoot for Change’s Walter Grio. (Georgetown Dish)

Featured Photo Credit: Neon V Mag

MONDAY, APRIL 23, 2012

CHARITY IN CHOCOLATE…A DELICIOUS FASHION SHOW

6 - 9PM

National Building Museum| 401 F St. NW, Washington, DC

Join the Heart of America Foundation and local chefs for an evening of sweet treats, a chocolate fashion show and silent auction to benefit the organization’s Books from the Heart program. Click here to purchase tickets.

TUESDAY, APRIL 24, 2012

JOHNSTON & MURPHY, DC MAGAZINE, AND LABELS FOR LOVE PRESENT “PUT A LITTLE SPRING IN YOUR STEP”

6:30 - 8:30 PM

Johnston & Murphy| 1150 Connecticut Ave. NW; Washington, DC

Join Mary Amons, Founder of Labels for Love, Karen Sommer Shalett, Editor-in-Chief of DC Magazine and the Director of Women’s Product Development for Johnston & Murphy for an evening of cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and spring fashion. 15% of sales from the event will support Labels for Love. RSVP to rsvpdc@modernluxury.com

KIEHL’S TYSONS CORNER CENTER GRAND OPENING WITH THE NEWSBABES

5 - 8 PM

Kiehl’s Tysons Corner Center| 1961 Chain Bridge Road #105; McLean, VA

Join the NewsBabes (Angie Goff, Anita Brikman, Pamela Brown, Rebecca Cooper, Lesli Foster, Andrea Roane, Cynne Simpson, and Eun Young along with Kiehl’s Since 1851 president Chris Salgardo for the grand opening of Kiehl’s at Tysons Corner Center. The event will feature Georgetown Cupcakes, DJ Neekola, Kiehl’s gifts for the first 100 guests and a chance to win a $500 Kiehl’s gift box and NewsBabes lunch. The evening will benefit the NewsBabes 2012 charity, The GW Mammovan. RSVP: kiehls@brandlinkdcrsvp.com.

FASHION NETWORKING DINNER

6PM

Oya Restaurant & Lounge| 777 9th St NW; Washington, DC

Model and fashion blogger Pamela Par invites you to a Fashion Networking Dinner that will allow guests to dine and connect with DC fashion professionals and fellow fashionistas. Dress: to impress. RSVP is required, seating is limited. Click here to purchase event tickets.

CAPFABB APRIL MEETUP

6 - 8 PM

Urban Chic Georgetown| 1626 Wisconsin Avenue NW; Washington, DC

The April Capital Area Fashion & Beauty Bloggers meetup will be hosted by Urban Chic in Georgetown, just in time for some springtime shopping! Browse new merchandise, including the Shoshanna 2012 Resort collection, while chatting and catching up with your favorite DC area fashion and beauty bloggers, and enjoy 15% off purchases! Guests will be able to enjoy light snacks and refreshments. Click here to RSVP.

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 25, 2012

JIMMY CHOO “DISTRICT OF FASHION” SHOPPING EVENT

6 - 9 PM

Jimmy Choo| 5481 Wisconsin Ave # D1 Chevy Chase Village, MD

Hosted by JIMMY CHOO, Nival Spa & Salon, and Shoot for Change, this April 25th event will serve as the 4th “District of Fashion” event. Proceeds will benefit the Shoot for Change Scholarship at the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at American Ballet Theatre. Get your own editorial photoshoot - theme is high fashion - S/S 2012 style. Hors d’oeuvres and champagne will be served. $20 gets you 2 free photos and will be featured on Fashiontographer. Click here to purchase tickets.

THURSDAY, APRIL 26, 2012

THE WW CLUB: A DC STYLE SPEAKEASY

7-10 PM

3401 Water Street NW; Washington, DC

In an homage to the DC speakeasies of the past and present, stylist Elise Peterson and photographer Kate Warren bring you The WW Club, a speakeasy event to celebrate the rise of menswear and the ladies that love it as much as their gentlemen. But don’t worry, we wouldn’t have you get dressed up for no reason; get a little lush with a whiskey tasting served by a very sassy Whiskey Mistress. Click here for more event details and to purchase tickets.


FRIDAY, APRIL 27, 2012

GEORGETOWN FRENCH MARKET (until April 28, 2012)

10 AM - 5 PM

Bookhill Neighborhood of Georgetown

This event takes place along upper Wisconsin Avenue, NW, between P Street and Reservoir Road, and features nearly 40 Georgetown boutiques, antique shops, restaurants and galleries offering savings up to 70% off designer goods, art and antique home furnishings. Enjoy strolling mimes, children’s activities, live music and French cuisine from Georgetown cafes and restaurants. Click here for more information.

THE SPRING COLLECTIVE PRESENTED BY M&F X ALS

7 - 10 PM

Lotus Lounge| 1420 K Street NW; Washington, DC

The Spring Collective will feature live music, live art, and emerging entrepreneurs. Mila & Fire alongside Alexandra Smith wanted to come together to provide a platform for their creative peers to be highlighted and to share their crafts with others. The event will include everything from clothing & accessories, to cupcakes, live art, and beauty consultations.

SATURDAY, APRIL 28, 2012

GEORGETOWN FRENCH MARKET 

10 AM - 5 PM

Bookhill Neighborhood of Georgetown

This event takes place along upper Wisconsin Avenue, NW, between P Street and Reservoir Road, and features nearly 40 Georgetown boutiques, antique shops, restaurants and galleries offering savings up to 70% off designer goods, art and antique home furnishings. Enjoy strolling mimes, children’s activities, live music and French cuisine from Georgetown cafes and restaurants. Click here for more information.

WOWING AT WORK: DRESS TO IMPRESS WORKSHOP

12:30 - 4:30 PM

Hotel George| 15 E Street NW; Washington, DC

In today’s economy women need to use every competitive advantage to continue to stay relevant and up-to-date. This 4-hour interactive workshop is designed to teach you how to ‘wow’ at work so your presence is credible, modern, aligned with your career aspirations and authentic to you. Learn how to get dressed each morning with less effort whatever your age, career or style preferences. For all the details visit the ‘Wowing at Work’ Workshop page.  Spacing is limited to just 15 women! Click here for more information.

THE VINTAGE COLLECTIVE: VOLUME FOUR

12 -5 PM

The Reginald F. Lewis Museum| 830 E. Pratt; Baltimore, MD

Shop vintage, pre-loved, and indie designed clothing and accessories. This event is in collaboration with the current exhibit “Dandy Lion: A Re(de)fined Black Masculine Identity”

 

 

Shoot for Change will be working on a photography project with Crisis Link, an organization based in Virginia whose mission is to bring immediate help, hope, and healing to empower individuals facing serious life challenges, suicidal thoughts, emotional or situational problems.

The project is called “What I Live For” and will feature individuals with a portrait of themselves along with some of their favorite items.  For example, a few people are bringing their favorite pet, their loved ones, or their favorite food (a bucket of chicken), or their favorite hobby (skis, hockey sticks, pandas).  The “prop” could be serious, creative, light, thought provoking, or silly.  The photos will then be exhibited (date TBD) and also will be on display on the Crisis Link website (http://www.crisislink.org).  Participants will be asked to write a short paragraph about your item and the reason(s) they were chosen.
If you are interested in participating in this project, Shoot for Change will be having two “open house” sessions this weekend.  The photo session should last no more than 5 minutes, but to make scheduling easier, please let them know around what time you plan to arrive.  The photo session will be in Arlington, VA. If you are interested contact Walter Grio at waltergrio@gmail.com.
Saturday, 3/31, 9:30am to 2pm (Arlington, VA)
Sunday, 4/1, 9am to 12pm (Arlington, VA)
If you cannot make these dates, but are interested, then please let them know.  And feel free to send this email to anyone you think might be interested.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

7PM

L2 Lounge| 3315 Cady’s Alley NW; Washington, DC

Fresh from Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York and Berlin, Fashiontographer will setup a fashion photoshoot featuring all the fashionable people in the nation’s capital — YOU. All photos will be uploaded to the new District of Fashion section within Fashiontographer and you will have your own online look-book.

All the money will go to the Shoot for Change Scholarship, which will be awarded based on merit and need to a student attending the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at American Ballet Theatre. DJ Neekola will be spinning while we take YOUR photos.

You better Work It Washington! Now start looking for the perfect camera-ready outfit.

Click here to purchase your tickets and donate to the “Shoot for Change Scholarship Fund.”

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 14, 2011

FASHION’S FIGHT AGAINST MS

6-10:30 PM

The Liason Capitol Hill| 415 New Jersey Avenue NW; Washington, DC

Join The Liason Capitol Hill for cocktails, a runway show, and a rooftop after party. The 2nd Annual fashion runway event will benefit the National Capital Chapter of the National MS Society. Model, Shannon Rusbuldt will be hosting this event that will showcase the latest collection from NAHM.

Tickets: $75 (general admission); $200 (second row, runway seating); $300 (priority front row runway seating). Purchase tickets here

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 16, 2011

SHOOT FOR CHANGE PRESENTS “PROJECT INSPIRATION”

7-10 PM

L2 Lounge| 3315 Cady’s Alley NW; Washington, DC

Our November 2011 "Fashiontonian of the Month" Walter Grio proudly presents a very special black and white photo exhibition. Fifteen leaders from various nonprofit organizations were invited to participate in an “Old Hollywood” fashion editorial. This ONE-NIGHT-ONLY exhibit will be held at L2 Lounge on November 16, 2011. Theme and dress for the event is Old Hollywood Glamour.

Cost: $20

http://www.inspirethepossibility.com/pi/

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 17, 2011

ANNIE LEIBOVITZ BOOK SIGNING

7PM

Politics and Prose| 5015 Connecticut Ave 

In her new collection, Leibovitz pays homage to the places that have nurtured some of the iconic figures in the arts. Off-duty from magazine assignments, she lets her camera roam the New England landscapes of Dickinson, Emerson, and Thoreau; captures images of the studios of Matthew Brady and Julia Margaret Cameron; and follows in the footsteps of Ansel Adams in the Yosemite Valley and Georgia O’Keeffe in New Mexico. Author will sign books only, no memorabilia.

FELICIA HALADNER TRUNK SHOW AT CARBON

6:30-8:30 PM

CARBON| 2643 Connecticut Ave NW; Washington, DC 

Enjoy refreshments while shopping the fall collection of local jewelry designer Felicia Haladner. The capsule collection includes necklaces, rings in a wide range of hues, earrings, bracelets, and men’s cufflinks made of sterling silver and semi-precious stones handmade by master craftsmen in Lima, Peru. 

DRESS FOR SUCCESS CHARITY EVENT

6-8 PM

Urban Chic| 1626 Wisconsin Avenue

With your donation of gently-used professional attire, take 20% off your purchase at Urban Chic Georgetown and enjoy champagne and treats while you shop. local fashion and style bloggers will be on hand to offer advice on putting together chic office-appropriate looks. 

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 18, 2011

JIMMY CHOO CRUISE 2012 COLLECTION LAUNCH 

6:00-9:00PM

Jimmy Choo-The Collection at Chevy Chase| 5481 Wisconsin Avenue

Jimmy Choo and Hela Salon and Spa presents the launch of the Cruise 2012 Collection. This event is hosted by the reigning Miss Sinergy 2012, Lydia Hu. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Libby Ross Foundation. Purchase a pair of shoes and receive a 30 minute complimentary Red Flower foot scrub (to be redeemed at a later date).

RSVP: nicole.curry@jimmychoo.com| 240-223-1102

3RD ANNUAL GO GLAM AND GET GORGEOUS FASHION AND BEAUTY HOLIDAY BASH

7-11 PM

Aloft Hotel| DC National Harbor

Enjoy an evening of shopping, mini-runway shows, giveaways, live jazz, light fare, cocktails and more! Swag bags available to the 1st fifty guests. 

Buy tickets here

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 19, 2011

"A NIGHT OF STYLE" WITH VICE AS IF

6-9 PM

Invite only. Email contact@viceasif.com for event info and to request an invitation. 

HOBO INTERNATIONAL WAREHOUSE SALE 

10AM-6PM

Hobo’s Warehouse| 9025 Junction Drive; Annapolis Junction, MD

Guests can purchase leather bags and wallets at prices 50% off wholesale. 

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 20, 2011

HOBO INTERNATIONAL WAREHOUSE SALE 

10AM-6PM

Hobo’s Warehouse| 9025 Junction Drive; Annapolis Junction, MD

Guests can purchase leather bags and wallets at prices 50% off wholesale. 


Each month we will showcase a Washingtonian who works in a fashion related industry. By doing this we hope to show off the great talent we have in the Washington, DC metropolitan area.

Our November “Fashiontonian of the Month” is Walter Grio, Fashion Photographer and founder of Shoot for Change.

Walter with his family during a Shoot for Change event at BoConcept Tysons Galleria.


What sparked your interest in photography? 

I was actually very interested in videography and my brother-in-law and I even started a small company where we would edit videos.  We both took Final Cut Pro classes and I was hired to video a wedding in Philadelphia.  I’ve always been interested in composition and video.  But when I was assigned to my first international project in Calgary, I decided to pick up an entry level SLR, a Nikon D50 camera to capture the scenery.  Some of my first photos were from Banff National Park with Lake Louise and Moraine Lake in addition to the “World Cup” of rodeo that’s called the Calgary Stampede.

When did you decide that photography was something you wanted to pursue as a career?

Officially, I work as a project manager for a software company (Oracle).  However, the moment I realized that I truly enjoyed photography was right after a photoshoot in Stockholm, Sweden.  I was assigned there for an Oracle project and one night while being out with friends, a makeup artist asked me if I could help her with her portfolio.  I knew nothing about makeup or fashion, but I wasn’t about to turn down an opportunity to photograph three Swedish models.  After that day, I had about a thousand photographs and right there and then as I was looking at the photos, I knew that photography was something for me.

What kind of photography do you specialize in?

I don’t know if I really specialize in anything, but I do enjoy working with people and fashion photography is all about that.  It never ceases to amaze me how much time, effort, creativity, and teamwork are required to make a good fashion photograph.  It is never just about the makeup, the model, the hair, the dress, or the photographer.  It takes a whole team.  Regardless if you’re shooting a runway show or a fashion editorial, there is so much that goes on that’s not necessarily obvious in a photograph.  I always say that when you have a good team around you, as a photographer, all you’re doing is pushing a button.  I’m joking of course, but there is some truth to that.

I’ve also started photographing a lot of families and children.  It’s a challenge working with children, but somehow, there’s a completely different sense of reward when you capture a great photo of a child.  I compare it to the two-minute warning in football and you have no timeouts.  You’re on hurry up offense and you just have to go no-huddle.  You’re pretty much the model in that regards because you can’t tell the kids what to do most of the time.  So you have to be the one moving around and thinking on the fly.

Are you a native of Washington, DC?

No, I was born in the Philippines and we moved to Dallas when I was 10.  Go Cowboys. Before moving to Arlington, VA two years ago, I lived in San Francisco, Rockville, Seattle, and Nürnberg, Germany.

What makes Washington, DC a unique city?

Washington, DC is the “nonprofit capital” of the world.  I don’t know of any other place where you can find so many nonprofit organizations.  With that, there are hardly any events that doesn’t benefit a nonprofit organization.  And there are definitely no shortages of these types of events.  I think it’s great, but at the same time, it makes it more difficult to attend or host a unique event that captures people’s attention and money.

What are some misconceptions people have about the Washington, DC fashion industry?

I’ve had this discussion so many times and my opinions have definitely changed from one to another.  First of all, I think there is a plethora of talent in the area.  There’s no doubt about that.

But I don’t think there is a fashion industry in Washington, DC.  It doesn’t mean that there can’t be.  There are definitely people interested in fashion and are fashionable. Fashion shows have also become a trend in raising money for nonprofit organizations. But until more money is poured back to the people that make up the fashion industry such as designers, makeup artists, stylists, models, hair stylists, and photographers, then there will never be a fashion industry in this town.  For the most part, I think the general consensus is that some sort of cultural shift is happening - more people are open, more people are interested, and more people are willing to take part in fashion. But if there’s little money flowing back into the different artists, then this “shift” is not going to be sustainable.  Eventually, the most talented people in town will leave and go somewhere else.

I also think that with the nature of this town revolving around government, fashion in that context will be conservative.  I haven’t been here long enough to see the trend from previous years, but there is definitely a sign when stores like AllSaints, Rag and Bone, and Tory Burch are opening up stores in the area.  If they’re still here three years from now, then Washington, DC might be on to something.

Do you have any advice for someone trying to pursue a career in photography?

Take pictures.  Lots of them.  Ask questions.  Lots of them.  Then take more pictures. And don’t worry about your equipment.  It’s not about the camera.  Case in point:  how is it that with all the technology, equipment, lighting, and even weather forecasting tools that are available to everyone, NOBODY has come close to doing what Ansel Adams has done.

Tell us about Shoot for Change.

Basically, instead of taking money for a photo assignment, I ask the customer to donate the money directly to a charity of their choice.  In the first three years, Shoot for Change raised a total of $8,000.  But since I moved to Washington, DC two years ago, Shoot for Change customers have donated over $80,000 to various nonprofit organizations.  Part of that jump was because of the decrease in my travel schedule and I could take on more photography clients, but I know that living in Washington, DC played a major part. With Washington, DC being the “nonprofit capital” of the world, the Shoot for Change idea fits perfectly in this town.  I get very excited about raising that number and seeing how high it could go.

How did the idea for Project Inspiration come about?

In short, I wanted to celebrate and acknowledge the work of different nonprofit leaders in our community.  I also wanted to find out what inspires them to do what they do and what inspires them to keep doing it.  They deal with so many things and unlike my job, when something goes wrong for them, it might mean someone could lose their home, their health, or worse, their hope for living.  I was also fortunate enough to find people who were interested in this project and if it wasn’t for the talented group of people that were involved this couldn’t have happened.

This one-night-only photo exhibit is scheduled on November 16th at L2 Lounge, from 7pm to 10pm.  The exhibit features 15 leaders of nonprofit organizations who were styled in “Old Hollywood Glamour”.  The theme is also “Old Hollywood Glamour”, so I can’t wait to see what people will do with that theme.

Is there anything else you would like us to know about you?

After my freshman year in college, I was kicked out of Texas A&M University because of my grades.  I had to move back with my parents in Dallas, go to a local community college, and prove with my grades that I was more serious.  I made it back and graduated in time from the same school that kicked me out.  In the first three years after graduating college, I was laid off three times.  I moved to three different states and ended up in Seattle living with my sister and her husband.  I was 26 years old with no job and dealing with incredible financial debt.  After several months of unemployment, the only job I could find was a job that paid me half of what I was paid at my previous company.  I accepted and I stayed there for three years until someone called and asked if I was interested to work for their company.  I actually wasn’t even looking for another job and I wasn’t sure about taking the offer because it meant 100% travel and leaving the local life I was enjoying in Seattle.

I eventually accepted the offer because of the increase in salary and they said I would be going to Sweden.  I ended up being assigned to a client in Orlando and making cross country trips from Seattle every weekend.  After that, I was assigned in Canton, OH, during the fabulous winter months.  I seriously considered moving back to my old job.

A few months later, I was assigned to a project in Calgary and that’s when I decided to buy a camera.  I heard beautiful things about Banff National Park and wanted a decent camera with me.  Eventually, I made it to Stockholm, Sweden in the fall of 2006.  At this time, I had practically no personal expenses because I was traveling 100% and I moved everything in storage.  I got rid of my car and my debt was nonexistent.  As I’m sitting there in my room at the Sheraton Hotel in Stockholm, a friend back in Seattle emailed me about a photoshoot.  She saw the photos I took of the Swedish models and she told me to name my price.  I thought about it and that’s when Shoot for Change was born.  I typed it, debated it, and the more I thought about it, the more I knew that this was something I wanted to do.  Maybe it would have been a different story had I been sitting in a hotel room in Canton, Ohio.

Despite all the challenges I’ve been through, I am very fortunate to have my family there to support me.  I feel blessed to have them in my life and I would never be where I am today if it wasn’t for them.  I am grateful for all the places I’ve seen, the opportunities, and for all the people that I’ve met.  For me, Shoot for Change is more than just about photography.  It is about giving thanks.

Photo with Teresa Stark at the Sheraton Hotel in Frankfurt, Germany.

 Photo at the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week A/W 2011 in New York -Monique Lhuillier.

Photo with Nina Heckt and Theresa Plankenhorn at the Altstadt Hotel in Vienna, Austria. Hair and Makeup by Tanja Erhart.


All images courtesy of Walter Grio. 

Each month we will showcase a Washingtonian who works in a fashion related industry. By doing this we hope to show off the great talent we have in the Washington, DC metropolitan area.

Our November “Fashiontonian of the Month” is Walter Grio, Fashion Photographer and founder of Shoot for Change.

Walter with his family during a Shoot for Change event at BoConcept Tysons Galleria.


What sparked your interest in photography? 

I was actually very interested in videography and my brother-in-law and I even started a small company where we would edit videos.  We both took Final Cut Pro classes and I was hired to video a wedding in Philadelphia.  I’ve always been interested in composition and video.  But when I was assigned to my first international project in Calgary, I decided to pick up an entry level SLR, a Nikon D50 camera to capture the scenery.  Some of my first photos were from Banff National Park with Lake Louise and Moraine Lake in addition to the “World Cup” of rodeo that’s called the Calgary Stampede. 

When did you decide that photography was something you wanted to pursue as a career?

Officially, I work as a project manager for a software company (Oracle).  However, the moment I realized that I truly enjoyed photography was right after a photoshoot in Stockholm, Sweden.  I was assigned there for an Oracle project and one night while being out with friends, a makeup artist asked me if I could help her with her portfolio.  I knew nothing about makeup or fashion, but I wasn’t about to turn down an opportunity to photograph three Swedish models.  After that day, I had about a thousand photographs and right there and then as I was looking at the photos, I knew that photography was something for me.

What kind of photography do you specialize in?

I don’t know if I really specialize in anything, but I do enjoy working with people and fashion photography is all about that.  It never ceases to amaze me how much time, effort, creativity, and teamwork are required to make a good fashion photograph.  It is never just about the makeup, the model, the hair, the dress, or the photographer.  It takes a whole team.  Regardless if you’re shooting a runway show or a fashion editorial, there is so much that goes on that’s not necessarily obvious in a photograph.  I always say that when you have a good team around you, as a photographer, all you’re doing is pushing a button.  I’m joking of course, but there is some truth to that.

I’ve also started photographing a lot of families and children.  It’s a challenge working with children, but somehow, there’s a completely different sense of reward when you capture a great photo of a child.  I compare it to the two-minute warning in football and you have no timeouts.  You’re on hurry up offense and you just have to go no-huddle.  You’re pretty much the model in that regards because you can’t tell the kids what to do most of the time.  So you have to be the one moving around and thinking on the fly.

Are you a native of Washington, DC?

No, I was born in the Philippines and we moved to Dallas when I was 10.  Go Cowboys. Before moving to Arlington, VA two years ago, I lived in San Francisco, Rockville, Seattle, and Nürnberg, Germany.

What makes Washington, DC a unique city?

Washington, DC is the “nonprofit capital” of the world.  I don’t know of any other place where you can find so many nonprofit organizations.  With that, there are hardly any events that doesn’t benefit a nonprofit organization.  And there are definitely no shortages of these types of events.  I think it’s great, but at the same time, it makes it more difficult to attend or host a unique event that captures people’s attention and money.

What are some misconceptions people have about the Washington, DC fashion industry?

I’ve had this discussion so many times and my opinions have definitely changed from one to another.  First of all, I think there is a plethora of talent in the area.  There’s no doubt about that.

But I don’t think there is a fashion industry in Washington, DC.  It doesn’t mean that there can’t be.  There are definitely people interested in fashion and are fashionable. Fashion shows have also become a trend in raising money for nonprofit organizations. But until more money is poured back to the people that make up the fashion industry such as designers, makeup artists, stylists, models, hair stylists, and photographers, then there will never be a fashion industry in this town.  For the most part, I think the general consensus is that some sort of cultural shift is happening - more people are open, more people are interested, and more people are willing to take part in fashion. But if there’s little money flowing back into the different artists, then this “shift” is not going to be sustainable.  Eventually, the most talented people in town will leave and go somewhere else.

I also think that with the nature of this town revolving around government, fashion in that context will be conservative.  I haven’t been here long enough to see the trend from previous years, but there is definitely a sign when stores like AllSaints, Rag and Bone, and Tory Burch are opening up stores in the area.  If they’re still here three years from now, then Washington, DC might be on to something.

Do you have any advice for someone trying to pursue a career in photography?

Take pictures.  Lots of them.  Ask questions.  Lots of them.  Then take more pictures. And don’t worry about your equipment.  It’s not about the camera.  Case in point:  how is it that with all the technology, equipment, lighting, and even weather forecasting tools that are available to everyone, NOBODY has come close to doing what Ansel Adams has done.

Tell us about Shoot for Change.

Basically, instead of taking money for a photo assignment, I ask the customer to donate the money directly to a charity of their choice.  In the first three years, Shoot for Change raised a total of $8,000.  But since I moved to Washington, DC two years ago, Shoot for Change customers have donated over $80,000 to various nonprofit organizations.  Part of that jump was because of the decrease in my travel schedule and I could take on more photography clients, but I know that living in Washington, DC played a major part. With Washington, DC being the “nonprofit capital” of the world, the Shoot for Change idea fits perfectly in this town.  I get very excited about raising that number and seeing how high it could go.

How did the idea for Project Inspiration come about?

In short, I wanted to celebrate and acknowledge the work of different nonprofit leaders in our community.  I also wanted to find out what inspires them to do what they do and what inspires them to keep doing it.  They deal with so many things and unlike my job, when something goes wrong for them, it might mean someone could lose their home, their health, or worse, their hope for living.  I was also fortunate enough to find people who were interested in this project and if it wasn’t for the talented group of people that were involved this couldn’t have happened.

This one-night-only photo exhibit is scheduled on November 16th at L2 Lounge, from 7pm to 10pm.  The exhibit features 15 leaders of nonprofit organizations who were styled in “Old Hollywood Glamour”.  The theme is also “Old Hollywood Glamour”, so I can’t wait to see what people will do with that theme.

Is there anything else you would like us to know about you?

After my freshman year in college, I was kicked out of Texas A&M University because of my grades.  I had to move back with my parents in Dallas, go to a local community college, and prove with my grades that I was more serious.  I made it back and graduated in time from the same school that kicked me out.  In the first three years after graduating college, I was laid off three times.  I moved to three different states and ended up in Seattle living with my sister and her husband.  I was 26 years old with no job and dealing with incredible financial debt.  After several months of unemployment, the only job I could find was a job that paid me half of what I was paid at my previous company.  I accepted and I stayed there for three years until someone called and asked if I was interested to work for their company.  I actually wasn’t even looking for another job and I wasn’t sure about taking the offer because it meant 100% travel and leaving the local life I was enjoying in Seattle.

I eventually accepted the offer because of the increase in salary and they said I would be going to Sweden.  I ended up being assigned to a client in Orlando and making cross country trips from Seattle every weekend.  After that, I was assigned in Canton, OH, during the fabulous winter months.  I seriously considered moving back to my old job.  

A few months later, I was assigned to a project in Calgary and that’s when I decided to buy a camera.  I heard beautiful things about Banff National Park and wanted a decent camera with me.  Eventually, I made it to Stockholm, Sweden in the fall of 2006.  At this time, I had practically no personal expenses because I was traveling 100% and I moved everything in storage.  I got rid of my car and my debt was nonexistent.  As I’m sitting there in my room at the Sheraton Hotel in Stockholm, a friend back in Seattle emailed me about a photoshoot.  She saw the photos I took of the Swedish models and she told me to name my price.  I thought about it and that’s when Shoot for Change was born.  I typed it, debated it, and the more I thought about it, the more I knew that this was something I wanted to do.  Maybe it would have been a different story had I been sitting in a hotel room in Canton, Ohio.

Despite all the challenges I’ve been through, I am very fortunate to have my family there to support me.  I feel blessed to have them in my life and I would never be where I am today if it wasn’t for them.  I am grateful for all the places I’ve seen, the opportunities, and for all the people that I’ve met.  For me, Shoot for Change is more than just about photography.  It is about giving thanks.

Photo with Teresa Stark at the Sheraton Hotel in Frankfurt, Germany.

 Photo at the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week A/W 2011 in New York -Monique Lhuillier.

Photo with Nina Heckt and Theresa Plankenhorn at the Altstadt Hotel in Vienna, Austria. Hair and Makeup by Tanja Erhart.


All images courtesy of Walter Grio.