MBK Photography

Building A GradNation: America's Promise Alliance

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The Building a GradNation Summit occurs annually in Washington, DC to promote students graduating high-school nationally. Since the 2010 launch of the GradNation campaign, America’s Promise Alliance has brought energy and focus to the national graduation rate challenge through research and data analysis, community-level investments, and convenings at the national, state, and local levels. Their incredible work focuses on keeping the Five Promises to young people: Caring Adults, Safe Places, A Healthy Start, Effective Education and Opportunities to Help Others.

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I felt so honored to photograph this extraordinary event, which joins more than 800 leaders in education, politics, business, and nonprofits with youth and community leaders from across the country. I am excited to share highlights from the GradNation Summit, and hope to raise awareness and encourage people to take action for this great cause. From individuals to national organizations and all in between - there is a way to make a difference and impact the life of a young person!

What we have here is not an education challenge, it is an American challenge”
— Mrs. Alma Powell
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America’s Promise Founding Chairman General Colin Powell and current chair Mrs. Alma Powell presented at this event, followed by a special announcement from Mrs. Laura Bush.

GradNation aims to increase the national graduation rate to 90 percent by 2020 and put millions more young people on the path to adult success. It is so inspiring to see the huge accomplishments America’s Promise has made over the last several years, and thanks to their unmitigated passion and commitment, these goals are now tangible.

With hundreds of national partners and their local affiliates, America’s Promise Alliance is uniquely positioned to mobilize Americans to act. We have made improving high school graduation rates our top priority, and we are on track to achieve the nation’s goal of a 90 percent graduation rate”
— Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education

The 76th Annual WSWA Convention & Exposition

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This year’s keynote speakers were Ice-T (actor, musician and author), Bruce Himelstein (former Chief Marketing Officer, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company), and Bill Newlands (CEO, Constellation Brands).

In the newly developed WSWA Supplier Leadership Series, answers were provided to some of the most pressing distribution-related questions including: brand building, how to stand-out in a sea of similar products, alternative 3-tier compliant routes to market, finding venture capital, and navigating compliance and state laws.

One of my favorite parts of the WSWA Convention was the Brand Battle, which is their version of Shark Tank, and puts brands with impressive pitches and compelling stories in front of a panel of decision-makers to compete live on stage. At the conclusion of the Brand Battle, the panel’s scores are combined with the audience scores to determine a first and second place winner. Contestants are judged on presentation, brand viability in the marketplace, taste, marketing innovation and overall appeal. I really enjoyed learning about these startup brands, and the inspirational stories behind their creation. For the first time ever, two brands tied for first place, which was very exciting to see! The two winners were Boukman Botanical Rhum made in Haiti and Seaside Grown Bloody Mary Mix, which also got my vote.

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It was very fun and exciting to see my many photographs blown up and used in all of the amazing wall displays that were featured in the main exhibit hall at the convention.

The WSWA Annual Convention & Exposition is the only event that exclusively links wholesalers, importers and exporters with suppliers and service providers in the most value-packed event in the wine & spirits industry. Held in Grande Lakes, Orlando Florida, the WSWA Convention is the premier event where distributors seek out new and exciting beverage products, meet with existing partners and look for services to enhance internal operations. This event unites more than 3,000 suppliers, distributors, influencers and a record number of industry media attendees under one roof for three days of networking and deal making. I have been photographing this event for the last six years, and each one is better than the next. Every year, I leave the convention in high spirits (pun intended)!

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Another notable event was the Wholesaler Iron Mixologist Competition, which showcases the best mixologists in the business, and is judged by a panel of highly respected experts. They take part in a timed competition where they have to create cocktails that incorporate surprise ingredients, which are unveiled to the competitors at the very beginning of this creative challenge.

Foxhall OB/GYN Associates

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I really enjoyed working with the Foxhall OB/GYN team to take new headshots for their company website. Providing new, and great images for professional’s businesses is something that I take a lot of pride in, and love doing. The businesses always vary, but the end result, which is beautiful portraits, will remain constant.

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

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!