Summer Bucket List .... What's on Your List? Here's 10 Things to Check Out in Coastal Virginia

June 21, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

It's the First Day of Summer.... YAY!!!! The countdown is on to get as much fun in the sun and enjoy! While Summer itself can be defined as either meteorological summer versus astronomical summer most of us think of summer as the time between when school ends and school begins. Whether we are the parent, the child, or the teacher, that moment the last bell rings and the buses leave the ramp signifies a plethora of emotions and an internal clock countdown! As a mom, I constantly thought about how am I going to fill the days with memories without the big prep it takes to accomplish big huge moments. So little trips and events filled our days and even now that my girls are grown we still find these summer fun activities a nice addition to our summer.  We all know the beach, Busch Gardens, or Ocean Breeze may fall on that Summer Bucket List but what about some hidden gems or some things to take in out of the normal summer plans.  So here, I’ll share 10 activities to add to your Summer Bucket List, getting out to enjoy our LONG LONG days of Summer! And these will not take a day of planning and a full day of activity, you can accomplish most of them in just a couple of hours so plan one for each week of the summer to battle the boredom busters!


10 Things to do in Coastal Virginia for Summer

  1. Blueberry Picking at Cullipher Farms ....nestled in the rural beauty of Pungo. Cullipher has u-pick offerings all year but Summer offers a little time to turn those fingers blue…. Well purple actually and pick some fresh blueberries for yummy blueberry parfaits, shakes, pies and to top on that oh so yummy ice cream! Doesn’t ice cream just taste 1000 times better in Summer!


  1. Sunflower Fields at Goldpetal Farms, Greenbrier Farms and more…. While the weather and deer’s can change the season for Sunflowers when you have a chance to pick these majestic queens you GO! Coastal Virginia offers several opportunities from June to September to pick some Sunflowers or just walk thru and enjoy the scenes and see pollinators at work in full force.

DSC_3109Sunflower In Chesapeake, VirginiaGreenbrier Farms Sunflower Field

  1. Peach Picking at Mount Pleasant Farms….Mt. Pleasant Farms in Rural Chesapeake has a win win …. You can pick some peaches and makes my most favorite grilled peaches to place on a scoop of vanilla ice cream… yum yum… I can almost taste it right now! While you are there you can see goats, chickens, horses and more! Pick up some local honey from the Country Store and walk next store for an extra treat Bergey’s Breadbasket for more animals and yummy treats. And grab some blackberries while you are there!

DSC_6307-2Fun with Goats Girl with Goat at Mount Pleasant Farm

I mean who doesn't like making friends with goats! 


  1. The Virginia Zoo ….so summer days at the Zoo is like a given! A little tip when taking that trip the earlier the better. Lions and Tigers and bears oh my don’t care much for putting on a show during the HOT HEAT of the day. Now if you want a little Adult Fun check out the Zoo’s Adult ONLY 21+ Zoo Nights

Red Panda Sleeping Red Panda Asleep on Tree

  1. Bluebird Gap Farm … one of my daughters favorites when she was little! This little farm in Hampton offers a farm experience right in the middle of the City.


  1. Kayaking at the Lesner Bridge…. Dust that Kayak off and head over to the Lesner Bridge to experience the beauty of the Lynnhaven River. The wildlife, the water, the beauty! For a short day or long day on the water the ease of getting out to experience the beauty of the Coastal area this spot is great for a beautiful day  or hour on the water.


  1. The Dismal Swamp Trail… now this you can walk, run or kayak! Not gonna lie the dismal black water in a kayak is by far my most favorite way to experience this one. The tree lined black water tranquility is a moment everyone should take in as well as the history.


  1. Norfolk Mermaid Scavenger Hunt …. Now this one will keep you busy all summer long and cross the entire area. (Secret TIP Not all mermaids live in Norfolk). The Norfolk Mermaids have been celebrated for over 20 years. They started with 130 but have grown in popularity! I even know where a secret mermaid hides out at a private residence! Set aside to visit 1 a week and mark them off your list!


  1. Love Signs … can you find them all in Hampton Roads? Total there are over 275 love signs in the State of Virginia. The Virginia is for Lovers campaign dates back to 1969! And now you can take your own Virginia Love Pictures with signs all over the state but can you find all the ones in Hampton Roads? 

DSC_0546-2-2Labrador Retriever at Love Sign Chesapeake, Virginia Love Sign, Virginia is for Lovers, Labrador in Chesapeake, Va.

  1. Now after all this moving and on -the -go for the Summer you need a break and reward …so check out The Sweet Spot on Atlantic Ave. This adorable ice cream shop is more than just an ice cream shop, it’s a full experience! The ambiance flows right out the pinkalicious door to the sidewalk! This one is a perfect Selfie Moment with your absolutely delicious ice cream creation!


So while these moments may not skydive you out of a plane at 10,000 feet in the air’s the little moments that make life BIG! So go Little to make life BIG!


As always You Make ME Happy When YOU Choose When Skies Are Grey Photography by Denise !

Want to capture some of the small moments? Let's Chat!


Summer Photography Series for All Ages

June 15, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

Today is National Nature Photography Day so what better start to the Summer Photography Series! Summer is a great time to photograph nature. Capturing the beauty of outdoors is also quite peaceful.  For the Summer Photography Series I will focus on some fun photography that you can create your own Summer Memories with. This series can keep the kids busy and even create a few Rainy Day Activities but it’s actually good for all ages. So grab your camera or cell phone and let’s get started.

Coastal Virginia offers so many opportunities from amazing Sunsets, eastern wildlife, to beautiful flowers and insects. We will take a few parts of Nature to focus on that will bring a smile to your eyes (yes your eyes do smile) and memories of the beautiful outdoors!

  1. It’s a BUGS Life….. so I am not the biggest bug fan BUT I do have a few bugs that I love to capture. Probably because I love flowers and so do these bugs. Bees, Butterflies and Dragonflies oh my…. Now of course be careful when dealing with any type of stingy bug but don’t dismiss them entirely. Take a look at our beautiful bees legs…. You can see the pollen piled on! How cool is that! *** Pro Tip…. Did your know your cell phone is actually like a wide angle macro lens so you can get in nice and close to those beautiful bugs. Norfolk Botanical Gardens is a great place to visit and capture those creepy crawlies! 

DSC_0373-4Butterfly with Broken WingButterfly with Broken Wing DSC_3138Bee on SunflowerBee Pollen Sunflower & Blue Sky











Did you know that Nature Photography actually improves your overall mental health. It improves your mood, agility, and concentration. Having a bad day? Grab that camera and head out to capture nature.

DSC_8619DragonflyDragonfly with Pink Flower


  1. In Your Own Backyard…. whether it’s your trees, flowers, wildlife, or landscape. Get to know your own backyard. Plants and wildlife in your yard are vital to the ecosystem and that whole Circle of Life saying. Take the time to photograph and even log the different plant and animal species.  *** Pro Tip…. Crop don’t Zoom! When photographing your pictures crop in post production( meaning after you take the picture). Take a look at that deer… she was actually in a field and more than 400 feet away. IMG_7640Deer in the wildDeer in Field


  1. Summer Scavenger Hunt…. Want to have a little fun this summer with your photography? Make a summer scavenger list of what you want to capture to create a summer of fun. The list can include, a sunset, the beach, a squirrel, a deer, and on and on. Once you capture the list you can create a collection of Wildlife, Landscapes, Insects, Flowers, Trees,  etc…..  ***Pro Tip… If using your cell phone Organize your photography scavenger hunt list by creating a folder to send the images. Then if you decide to make a memory book or want to look back to see your progress, they are all in one place.


DSC_7138Chesapeake, VirginiaChesapeake, Virginia Greenbrier Country Club

All Summer long check out our Blog for more Summer Photography Fun, Rainy Day Photography Activities and Photography Fun for the Entire Family! Then take your pictures over to our  When Skies Are Grey Photography by Denise "In Focus" Private Group and share your photos with the group. If you haven’t joined yet send a request to join.

DSC_0271-3Sunset in Virginia BeachSunset, Chesapeake Bridge Tunnel

As always you make me happy when you choose When Skies Are Grey Photography by Denise !


Great Trails & Parks to enjoy in Coastal Virginia

June 05, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

Let's Hit the Trails!

The first Saturday in June celebrates National Trails Day. It's time to get out and enjoy the Summer temperatures! Whether you are traveling to Coastal Virginia for vacation or live here all year the area offers great trails and experiences for the entire family. The cities of Virginia Beach, Chesapeake & Norfolk offer great opportunities for easy family friendly trails to explore nature, see wildlife and capture great pictures to remember the moment. Some offer a unique opportunity to visit the trails and ocean all in one. Since June is National Great Outdoors Month a great way to get out is on the trails that everyone from the dog to the grandparents can enjoy! So let's take a stroll thru a view of what Coastal Virginia has to offer.

1. Pleasure House Point In Virginia Beach 

Talk about the best of both worlds. Here you get the trails with all the trees and brush, it's not too long and an easy trail for all ages and dogs. Plus, you get the beautiful view of the Lynnhaven River. It's 118 acres of tidal marsh, sandy shores and maritime forest and a highlight of beauty for photography.

DSC_7882Pleasure House Point, Virginia Beach, Va. Sandy Trails DSC_7859Sandy Shores of Pleasure House Point, Lynnhaven River Sandy Shores Trails of Virginia Beach
DSC_7889Pleasure House Point, Virginia Beach, Va. The Maritime Forest

Take DSC_7875Prickly Pear Eastern Prickly Pear Plant in Coastal Virginia Caution.... as with anywhere is nature be careful. Make sure to stay on the trails and wear proper shoes to avoid prickly surprises from the natural foliage. 

If you want to up the trails and have an Ocean View check out False Cape State Park.







2. Heading inland a little brings you to a pleasant family friendly trail thru Oak Grove Lake Park in Chesapeake, Virginia. Here you have a 1.5 mile circular wide trail with 65 acres of forest and wetlands. The path is large and extremely family friendly... well except you pass the playground immediately coming in which can be a struggle to get the little ones off of before hitting the trail. The trees offer wonderful shade along the path on hot summer days. The park is dog friendly for pets on a leash. Be ready for some wildlife adventures in this wooded and wetland environment. Want to have a little fun make play a game of I Spy or Go on an adventure or Play Nature Bingo to add a little more to this fun trail. If you are visiting or live in Chesapeake be sure to check out Chesapeake Arboretum for another short family styled trail.  DSC_2686Eastern Box Turtle at Oak Grove Lake Park The land turtle is native to the eastern part of the United States.
DSC_7901-2Brown Dog Tick Brown Dog Tick


Take Caution... as always when in nature be sure to protect against Ticks after taking to the trails. Always check yourself, your children and pets after trips to the trails. 





3. Now off to the city styled trail in Norfolk, Virginia. The Elizabeth River Trail takes you on over 10 miles total but you can pick and choose your choice of path and break it up. The Freemason Portion offers a waterfront area, views of the Battleship Wisconsin and Pagoda Gardens all with a family friendly path and ability to break up the total distance. A must is stopping by the Coy Fish Pond to feed the fish (bring some quarters).

DSC_0085-19Elizabeth River Trail, Freemason The Freemason District of the Elizabeth River Trail So Coastal Virginias' Beauty comes in all varieties.... from the sea to the suburbs to the city all within 30 minutes of each other! If you are a resident be sure to check out your own backyard and if you are a visitor WELCOME! 

DSC_7877Dog Friendly Trails in Virginia Beach Trails of Sandy Pleasure House Point in Virginia Beach, Virginia

Don't forget the dog either! Coastal Virginia offers many dog friendly places. Keep an eye out for our upcoming Blog Dog Friendly In Coastal Virginia!


As always " YOU make me HAPPY when you choose When Skies Are Grey Photography by Denise

If you are looking to capture your family moments, Senior Memories or Branding You & Your Business Schedule a Session for one of these great Virginia locations. 

You & Your Social Profile ..... How to brand yourself to compliment your Marketing Plan

May 25, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

Branding .... what is it? why are people doing it? and how does it affect my business? 

So Why photography? A photo brings you back to a moment and brings all the senses of that moment to you.  DSC_0028Yummy Dessert TreatsDecadent Ice Cream Treat

Think of a photo of you & your family at an Amusement Park... you can almost smell the funnel cake………..taste the soft serve ice cream in a waffle cone... feel the heat & humidity of the July sun….. hear the roar of the roller coasters…… and see the joy in your families’ eyes. 

The photo of your memories works just the same for your clients and customers..... you want their senses engaged and the memory of you made when they see your marketing on your social profiles and marketing channels. 

I'm A Beautiful Butterfly

Now don’t you want to be that beautiful butterfly in your social profile.


Photography is crucial to marketing 

Your Social Profile is who you are online. 

A Headshot profile photo is a necessity & Branding assists your overall marketing plan thru your engagement.

No matter what marketing channels you choose to be a part of your marketing strategy, you will need Quality Photography and Digital Media to represent you and your brand.

Whether it’s LinkedIn, your personal or business Website, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, Clubhouse, Twitter, YouTube or Google Ads. 

DSC_1352Professional Headshot Professional Headshot Sessions

You need content photography and digital media.

The Photography & Digital Media you use tell your story. Potential clients and customers can imagine themselves in the moment with the product or service that you offer ,your digital media needs to compliment your brand, color palette and style. 

Think of the Dog Trainer,  they need their Social Profile to market their training and compliment their image. One image represents a dog learning to catch a treat, the other image taken from a different perspective shows a Vicious Dog, same image, same dog but the photographer crafts this image to accurately represent their clients intention for the marketing.  

So unless they say I can turn your vicious dog into that catching the treat dog the creation of the second image would not be the brand the Dog Trainer uses for their marketing strategy….. it’s all how your photography presents you.  Vince and AvaDog Trainer ImagePhotos and Digital Media Tell Your Story

So what is the difference between a Professional Headshot and Branding?

The difference between a Professional Headshot Session and a Branding Session

  • A headshot session

Usually head and shoulders only, a few different angles, you receive 2 high resolution images of your choice

Great for LinkedIn, professional biographies & profile photos. These are often in Studio and I schedule 20 minute sessions. Check out my 

Lunch Time Headshots to schedule an in studio professional headshot session

  • Branding session 

Creates a portfolio of images that present you and your brand for all your chosen marketing channels

Gallery includes headshots, candid images, action shots, your business tools, and detailed shots representing you your brand & business lifestyle

My Post (72)Branding PhotographyBranding Photography Supplies Months of Media for your Marketing Channels This will provide you with months of content for your marketing channels, social media and website. These sessions typically are scheduled on location, include props I supply or you supply to accompany your brand, your image and your marketing plan. Once you accomplish your Branding Session I can supply you will digital media to compliment your brand and even social media management from my team. 

Recently, Road2College, published information on College Graduates and when is the best time to begin your LinkedIn. They offer great information on beginning your Professional Social Profile while in College based on data analyst. Make sure when scheduling your college graduation photography session or your high school graduation photography session you have your photographer incorporate a headshot in your session to accomplish the start to your professional social profile. 


As always "YOU make ME HAPPY, when you choose, When Skies Are Grey Photography by Denise" 

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Be Present? Observer versus Participant.... Why hire a photographer for your small event

May 06, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

Have you ever been at your child's game and been snapping away at photos and at the end they say Hey Mom did you see me do.... and your eyes get big and you say ummmmm I think so.... I was watching I was taking pictures I just didn't see that. MOM Fail... well not really but in the moment of trying to capture the memory you are just observing it thru the lens. You can't cheer and yell well you can but then the pictures would be out of focus so you don't. So in the moment while we are there and present we are  observing the moment not participating. 

So while it may not be feasible to hire a professional photographer for every soccer game there are moments we all want captured that we often capture ourselves and become the observer of the event instead of a participant. 


Think back to your family photos at an Amusement Park or Beach Vacation.... there was always somebody missing... the picture taker. 

DSC_4785Family Beach Photo Virginia Beach, VirginiaFamily Beach Photography at Lynnhaven Pier in Virginia Beach

People often don't think about hiring a Professional Photographer for birthday's but think about the party and the pressure that would be lifted off of you if you weren't trying to make the memory with photos and were actually in the photo?

As the photographer in my family I am usually the one left out ....I'm not sure who created the selfie but it was probably a photographer wanting to prove they were in their moment.    Sometimes we get quite creative to show we were there....

take a look into those glasses and you'll find the photographer in the moment! Apple Picking Apple Picking Reflection of a Photographer

As a participant you aren't just captured in the memories you also are emotionally involved. An observer is processing the moment from a distance so actually it's not just about being in the photo. You want the moment to be a memory but you also want to be emotionally involved in the moment. Paired together, the photo and the emotion, the memory takes that everlasting form so to have both it's time to hire the observer to capture all the participants to create the everlasting memory and capture the emotions. 

Now the benefit of a professional photographer is while they are observing your families event they capture the emotion. They seek out the moment thru their lens and tell the story. The photo story-telling accompanies the emotions the participants have and creates the emotional memories of our lives. That's the significance of valuing the photojournalism of your story ... your life... your moments... and your memories by hiring the photographer for those moments like Weddings and Family Photo Sessions but don't forget the other life moments like Strawberry Field Sessions, Sunflower Field Picking, birthday parties, Prom Night, Graduation Parties, Birth of Your Children, Family Homecomings and so many more small events that you end up as the observer in your own moment.  Birthday Party  during CovidBirthday Party during CovidChildren Birthday Memories during Covid-19


So, when you are planning an event and thinking of what you want for your memories think to yourself do I want to be a participant or will I be an observer? If you want to be a participant then it is time to look up your favorite photographer, fill out their Client Questionnaire of what you want captured, and let them create and craft the memories with their expertise and you engage in the moment, experience the emotions, and enjoy the memories.

As always You Make Me Happy When You Choose When Skies Are Grey Photography by Denise


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