Happy New Year, friends! I hope you had a safe and relaxing start to your 2013. We are still getting over how quickly 2012 went by and looking forward to exciting things to come….


We thought we’d start off the new year in the first of a new series for photographers. Part of the reason we love being a part of this community is the continual sharing of knowledge – most photographers are extremely generous with their experience and advice, which we were grateful for when we first started behind our cameras.


When I thought about how we could add to the discussion, the first thing that came to mind is the challenge of tough clients. Let’s face it – there’s no such thing at 100% satisfaction. Even the most outstanding photographers can often achieve close to that – but keeping everyone happy is just not possible. So what do you do when you have a client who is upset with you?


Tough Clients - Washington DC Portrait  & Boudoir Photographers

Tough Clients (via Veer) – Washington DC Portrait & Boudoir Photographers


Here are the top three ways we’ve found to deal with less than satisfied clients…*hint* – these methods, if applied correctly, can work with almost anyone.


1. Listen first. It’s tough when someone is criticizing you to truly listen to what they’re saying. Most of us feel defensive immediately – and when that happens, our ears shut down and our brain starts rehearsing what we’re going to say next as a rebuttal. In doing so, we often miss the root cause of why they’re upset – and then we never really address the problem. Try to listen completely to what they’re saying, and wait until they’re finished talking to formulate your own response. That’s how you’re going to execute the next step, which is….


2. Summarize. The best way to ensure you’ve understood someone is to summarize what they’ve said. It’s also the best way to show them that you’re really trying to solve the problem – by repeating back to them what you’ve heard. By doing this, you also take control of the tone of the conversation – even a client who is really upset and raising their voice will begin to back down if you can calmly repeat back to them your understanding of the problem.


3. Empathy, empathy, empathy. I can’t overemphasize the importance of this when you’re trying to solve a problem with someone who’s upset. It doesn’t matter whether or not you agree with them – if you can put yourself in their shoes, you can begin to communicate their point of view. When someone who is upset feels that you understand them, you’ve both accomplished something – they feel that you’re on their side, and you’ve learned something about how you can improve your services in the future.


It’s important to emphasize that these techniques work best when applied through direct conversation – either by phone or in person. Email can exacerbate misunderstandings because of its lack of emotive transparency – even if you’re being completely polite and empathetic, it’s hard to communicate that through grammar alone. Pick up the phone and call, or suggest meeting the client at your studio or for coffee to discuss the issue.


I hope this helps! Have a prosperous and happy New Year…


Xo, Bethany


* All content copyright True Story Studios, LLC 2012-2013. All rights reserved. Content may not be republished without permission.

Merry Christmas, all! We hope you had a wonderful and relaxing week surrounded by your family and friends. We absolutely did, in the mountains of New York….hence our major slacking off in the blog world.

As I was trying to think of today’s post, my thought trail went something like this: “It needs to be good…I haven’t blogged in a couple weeks…New Year’s Resolutions maybe? My resolution is to blog more, duh. Oh, and to cook more healthy meals, before Mike starts thinking my name is “Bertolli.” And run a marathon….I’ve really slacked off on running lately. And….” Wait – what? How is it that at the end of this year I can only think of where we’re lacking? That’s human nature, I know – we pick up easily on what needs to be improved, and often gloss over our successes. It’s great from the standpoint of getting better, but not as good at creating a realistic perspective.

So without further delay, here’s a quick breakdown of our 2012 wins & losses…but mostly wins, because we have plenty of time to focus on losses when we write our our resolutions.

1. Georgetown.

 Georgetown - Washington DC Portrait & Boudoir Photographer

I graduated from the Georgetown McDonough School of Business in July. This was a HUGE win for me personally, and for my family & friends who patiently stood by me through long nights of studying, evenings in class, and other stressors brought on by working full time while going to school. The Georgetown program is amazing…I met many great people and really discovered what I’m good at (and what I’m not good at….um, finance?). Most importantly, I discovered a love for entrepreneurial work, where before I never saw myself as a business owner. I remember how grateful I was to be accepted in 2009, and that feeling hasn’t faded even one bit.


2. The Knot Best of 2013.

The Knot Best of 2013 - Washington DC Portrait and Boudoir Photographers

When it’s your first full year in business, you don’t expect to be honored by The Knot. You’re just trying to get yourself on the map, let alone on THE website for brides. To be recognized among the top 4% of The Knot vendors was HUGE in our world. The Knot ratings come entirely from customer reviews, so we’re incredibly fortunate to have clients who gave their time and energy to saying positive things about us. This win was all you guys.


3. Runnin Fools.

Runners - Washington DC Portrait & Boudoir Photographers

I beat myself for not running enough, but the truth is we ran plenty in 2012. My first half-marathon was in March, among a few other 10 milers, and Mike ran his best time ever in the USMC 10K in October.


4. Hanging with friends & family.

Friends & Fam - Washington DC Portrait & Boudoir Photographers


This was by far the best part of our year, and we know it will be the best of the next one too. I could cover this blog every week with the awesome people we get to spend our time with. You all know who you are….thank you for your endless support and ideas for us as we grow our business.


So what’s in store for 2013? We’ll have more on that to come, including a big announcement about a new line of business that True Story Studios is adding to our current offerings.  Thank you for staying tuned this year & have a safe and wonderful New Year!



*This content may not be republished without permission of True Story Studios. Copyright True Story Studios, LLC 2012. All rights reserved.

I do feel that this is one of our most dramatic makeovers. Because as it turns out, the warm and funny Joanna, who claims a hoodie and jeans as her favorite outfit, is a rockstar standout beauty disguised as an unassuming girl-next-door. Intelligent and funny, she radiates positive energy and confidence, and I wanted to see her strut out of our studio in her hot red dress and go paint the town the same color….








* This content may not be republished without permission of True Story Studios. All photos and text copyright True Story Studios, LLC 2012. All rights reserved.

Ready for some holiday fun? We are Announcing True Story Studios’ 12 Days of Christmas Giveaway! This is so exciting….giving gifts is the best. :) (Do I sound like the movie ‘Elf’? Maybe a little.)


In celebration of the Holiday season, we’re giving back to all of our fans and customers with our first ever 12 DAYS of CHRISTMAS GIVEAWAY! For this contest, we will be giving away a prize each day for 12 days including a FREE MAKEOVER AND PHOTO SESSION!

All you have to do is ‘like’ TRUE STORY STUDIOS on Facebook and complete the form on Facebook for your chance to win. Registration will open THIS Wednesday, December 5 and prizes & winners will be announced everyday on the 12 days before Christmas on our Facebook page. Click on this link to enter!


Good luck, and a special THANK YOU to all of our fans and customers!


* This content may not be republished without permission of True Story Studios. All photos and text copyright True Story Studios, LLC 2012. All rights reserved.

Emi is an earnest and diligent woman, energetic on the phone and in email. She is already a nurse while simultaneously learning photography in her *spare* time. With her Canon…so we can still be friends. ;)

When I think I am tired during the course of my day, I think of people like Emi. I think of anyone who is working to learn something new while also earning a living. It’s not tiring – it’s exhausting. You question yourself, your goals, your future. But you have to remember that it will come if you love it enough to work for it. And love yourself enough to know that you can do it.








Here’s hoping that you dream, do, and create the life you want, one day at a time!


* This content may not be republished without permission of True Story Studios. All photos and text copyright True Story Studios, LLC 2012. All rights reserved.

A girl walks into a studio. (This sounds like the beginning of a good story, right? A rabbi walks into a bar…)

She is bright, energetic, and sweet – it shows right away in her radiant smile and gracious hello. She’s excited for her shoot and ready to try anything. But after her makeover, after we’ve talked through her wardrobe and planned what would look beautiful, she is still bright, energetic, and sweet – and also confident, radiant, and gorgeous.

This is my absolute favorite aspect of photography – the ability to see yourself from another lens, and how transformative an experience that is.

Halfway through the shoot, I almost forget I am shooting the stunning Neka and wonder how Gabrielle Union found her way into our studio.



This woman will light the world up with her smile and energy…



Here’s hoping that Thanksgiving was as memorable for you, and gave you joy and anticipation to enjoy the rest of the holiday season!


* This content may not be republished without permission of True Story Studios. All photos and text copyright True Story Studios, LLC 2012. All rights reserved.

One of the very best things about living in DC is the city’s easy access to the rest of the eastern seaboard. New York City is a prime example of that – it’s only a bus/train/car ride away and we spend a ton of time there. (So much, in fact, we don’t even charge a travel fee for portrait customers in NYC).

We were in the city again this fall to photograph the stunning Jen in Central Park. On location shoots will always keep you guessing – between the wind, the chill, and the unexpected photo bomb from a cute jogger-by, we had our work cut out for us! But as you can tell, Jen easily pulled it off.







* This content may not be republished without permission of True Story Studios. All photos and text copyright True Story Studios, LLC 2012. All rights reserved.

When Lucie came into the studio for her portraits, I knew we were going to have a great session. Besides being a knockout, Lucie is fun, warm, and energetic. (She is also a certified physical trainer, so if you are looking for someone gorgeous to motivate you and/or kick your a** into shape, this is your woman).

As much as anyone I’ve ever known, Lucie is also loyal to her friends and family. So I wasn’t surprised when, out of more than a dozen images of her looking like a Vogue magazine cover model, she eventually chose this clean and lovely portrait. To send to her mom overseas.



I loved this pick – not because it was the most glamorous of all her options, but because it spoke volumes about the power of photography and the quality that intrinsically connects all of us with our images – the ability of photos to connect us to people, places, and experiences. And especially people.  A simple and beautiful portrait of a daughter, far away but always in mind and in heart.



* This content may not be republished without permission of True Story Studios. All photos and text copyright True Story Studios, LLC 2012. All rights reserved.