Raising the Bar

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March Madness officially starts today! In honor of the 2019 NCAA tournament, here is a fun Bar Mitzvah photoshoot I did for Dean Rush, a future rising basketball star.

These images were shot with the idea that many of the pictures would be used for display at the Bar Mitzvah Reception with very inspiring quotes. The concept played out incredibly well, with the entire event space being turned into his very own “Dean Dome”, which even included a basketball court dance floor! The décor was magnificent, and I was very happy to see how each picture was incorporated into the basketball theme so well. I loved working with Dean Rush and his family to bring his passion for basketball to life for his Bar Mitzvah Celebration.

For all you other basketball fans, Happy March Madness, and good luck on your brackets!

Mallory Pugh: Soccer Superstar

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Mallory Pugh, the forward for the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team, is the youngest player to make her debut in the last 11 years. Pugh was named the 2015 U.S. Soccer Young Female Player of the Year. She was voted as the 2017 Washington Spirit Most Valuable Player. In 2018, Pugh scored six goals in 13 appearances for the USWNT senior squad, including a brace against Denmark in January. The explosive and creative attacker has endorsement deals with Nike, Gatorade and Neutrogena. The fact she was able to skip college and turn professional after high school is an example of how the growth of women’s soccer is providing opportunities for female players that previously didn’t exist.

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I was very excited to shoot Mallory for her feature in Colorado Health & Wellness Magazine. Due to how busy Pugh is with soccer, we had a very tight timeline for this photoshoot. I went to meet with Mallory at six in the morning before her practice began. I had a great time watching her showboat some of her favorite tricks. I was very impressed with her incredible ability to use one foot to scoot the ball up her leg, then kick it with her opposite heel so that it propels the ball forward, and arcs neatly over her head. I was told that this flashy move is called the “rainbow flick” (pictured below). Talking with Mallory and getting insight into her passion and commitment to soccer was very inspiring, and I learned that she will do absolutely anything to fulfill her dreams. I look forward to watching Mallory Pugh in the 2019 Women’s World Cup.

Calling from Colorado to find the right Maryland photographer was an exhausting search. That is until I called MBK Photo. I knew Michael was the guy within five minutes of speaking to him. And he delivered. Michael made our cover feature with soccer superstar Mallory Pugh pop! His rapport helped her feel relaxed and comfortable. Michael captured Mallory’s natural beauty and personality under the pressure of a tight timeline and rising sun. Our designer had several wonderful images to choose from. I’m so proud of this publication and Michael’s images anchor it.”
— Peter Solveson, Publisher of Colorado Health & Wellness Magazine

International Leadership Reunion

Group shot surrounding Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, Ruth Bader Ginsburg (in red).

Group shot surrounding Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, Ruth Bader Ginsburg (in red).

The International Leadership Reunion (ILR) was held at the Cannon Caucus Ballroom in Washington, D.C. This was a very exciting photoshoot because the ILR is known to be the most prestigious worldwide Jewish event, gathering the highest level donors. These important fundraising organizations work with the Jewish communities throughout the world for social and education programs and the support of refugees. The conference is in line with the Foundation’s goals since it aims to encourage the integration and peaceful cohabitation of nations through meetings that address issues they have in common.

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In partnership with the global Jewish community, the ILR works to further the national priorities of the State of Israel and Israeli society, with special emphasis on advancing weaker communities; nurturing disadvantaged and marginalized youth; encouraging aliyah; implementing rescue operations; and connecting young Diaspora Jews to Israel and Jewish life.

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In addition to Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, there were many other notable attendees at the International Leadership Reunion. William Daroff, the Senior Vice President for public policy and director of the Washington office of The Jewish Federations of North America. As the principal spokesperson on public policy and international affairs for 148 Jewish Federations and more than 300 independent communities, Daroff ensures that the voice of Jewish Federations is a prominent force in the nation's capital. He guides the Jewish community’s advocacy efforts on the Federation movement’s key domestic policy issues, from health and human services to elder care, homeland security to strengthening charitable organizations.

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Another high level donor at the event was Natan Sharansky, an Israeli politician, human rights activist and author who, as a refusenik in the Soviet Union during the 1970s and 1980s, spent nine years in Soviet prisons. Sharansky served as Chairman of the Executive of the Jewish Agency from June 2009 to August 2018.

The night was filled with prominent donors and speakers, and incredible entertainment by Doc Scantlin & His Imperial Palms Orchestra. For over a decade, dapper Doc Scantlin has kept the 1920’s, 30’s, and 40’s alive for Washington, DC and others internationally. The performance was incredible, immediately transporting the audience to the high life immortalized by F. Scott Fitzgerald in the Great Gatsby the moment they took the stage.

Femsplainers

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The Femsplainers podcast with Christina Hoff Sommers and Danielle Crittenden first came out in May 2018. Their weekly girl’s night out includes some of the most fascinating and fabulous women on the planet. They dish on everything from #metoo and sex to, well, doing the dishes. No topic is off-limits — unless it’s boring.

Christina and Danielle have been best friends for over two decades. They don’t agree on everything, of course. But they love meeting new, interesting people and exploring ideas as friends do, with respect, humor and over a cocktail (or two). Guests include Tina Brown, Bari Weiss, Julia Ioffe, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Mandy Stadtmiller, Emily Yoffe, Caitlin Flanagan, Jonathan Rauch, and many more.

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I always have a great time working with Danielle and Christina. We’ve done many projects together, and they never fail to make me laugh. I am so impressed with the rapid following they’ve been able to develop.

Their 5-Star rated podcast is the gossipy, smart, witty conversation you’d have if all of your girlfriends (and some of your guy friends too!) were experts on the hot topics of the moment. High-spirited and high-minded, they don’t argue or whine, but seek to get to the heart of the matter, over cocktails (or wine). I would highly recommend following the conversation by subscribing to the Femsplainers Podcast!

Pinstripes North Bethesda

The strategic vision of Pinstripes is to “offer people an alternative way to connect with others and have fun.” With this concept in mind, Pinstripes was created to allow people to combine fun (bowling/bocce) with exceptional food/wine (bistro), while connecting with others in the community. Their main idea is to accentuate the duality of bocce and bowling, Italian and American cuisine and wines, and gelato and ice cream. Furthermore, they combined the standard open-play of bowling/bocce/dining with a substantial focus on private events.

The new Pinstripes location at Pike & Rose in North Bethesda offers a unique variety of entertainment and events every day of the week. Everyone can enjoy the delicious made-from-scratch Italian-American cuisine during Sunday Brunch with the family, happy hour after work, or a night of bowling and bocce. Pinstripes is one of the few spots that provides the best of both worlds: great food along with fun group activities!

Mac & Cheese, Redefined

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The Macallan hosted the “Mac & Cheese” event at the Marriott Corporate Headquarters in Rockville, MD. The Macallan was one of the first distillers in Scotland to be legally licensed. Since then they have built a reputation as one of the world’s leading single malt whiskies. The creation of The Macallan draws on the vital contributing influences of Spain, North America and Scotland - and of their respective natural raw materials, combined with traditional methods and craftsmanship.

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“The Mac & Cheese” is all about two iconic indulgences, rooted in tradition. Both whisky and cheese making are sophisticated arts defined by institutions and time-honored processes. Complex to master, but easy to enjoy - especially together - The Macallan’s range of flavor notes are the perfect complement to the rich creaminess of artisan cheeses. The Macallan National Brand Ambassador, Nicolas Villalon, introduces the concept--and wisdom--behind pairing whisky and cheese.

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At this incredible event, Macallan provided a scotch tasting, which they paired with various cheeses (hence the name)! The idea behind the event is to educate the food and beverage team at the Marriot Corporate Office about the variety of products they offer, and how to elevate your drinking experience with The Macallan. They taught about understanding the specific scotch they were tasting, and explained which cheese should be paired with The Macallan’s classic single malt whiskies.

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For the maximum experience, they stressed the importance of tasting both elements separately first so that you can better understand the magic a pairing creates for your palate. For a full tasting, first you should taste the Scotch, then the cheese and then taste both together. Throughout the event, they raised the caliber of scotch, starting with a standard light and fruity scotch, and finishing with The Macallan Rare Cask, a very high-end scotch that goes for over five thousand dollars a bottle!

ICCF Gala

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Each year, the U.S. Congressional International Conservation Gala offers an opportunity to recognize the outstanding work being done by government, non-governmental, and business leaders in furtherance of good conservation. This year’s International Conservation Caucus Foundation (ICCF) Gala included the President of Botswana, who delivered the keynote address, members of the United States Congress, international policymakers from Botswana, Colombia, Gabon, Kenya, Malawi, Mexico, Mozambique, Namibia, Peru, and Zambia, diplomats, global business leaders, and leaders from the international NGO community. 

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The Global Environment Facility CEO, Naoko Ishii, was one of the main speakers at the gala. “What unites us here is our conviction that protecting nature is a good investment,” said Ishii. In further remarks at the event, she stated, “It is one of the most cost-effective investments we can make to fight poverty in the developing world. Protecting nature also ensures that we have a healthy planet for our societies to thrive, for generations to come.” Ishii continued, “We have partnered with ICCF to build conservation caucuses in parliaments across Africa and Latin America, which was built on the remarkable experience of the U.S. Congress. The result of this work is stronger anti-poaching laws that protect park rangers who risk their lives on the front lines fighting against poaching day after day.”  

WCG Event at Air and Space Museum

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The WIRB Copernicus Group (WCG) hosted this incredible corporate event at the Air and Space Museum. The highlight of the event was listening to Buzz Aldrin speak about being the first of two humans to land on the moon. He shared many interesting and funny anecdotal stories from his experiences as lunar module pilot on the Apollo 11 mission. Buzz Aldrin talked about taking the first “selfie” of himself with the moon. This was back in 1969 so way before the selfie stick phenomenon swept the nation!