Hi there, I'm Manali! A wedding photographer & educator serving Charlottesville VA & DC. Click through for all my favorites from recent sessions, adventures and travels, as well as tips & tricks for clients! Grab a cup of coffee, relax, and feel free to connect with me elsewhere as well! Cheers to you!
Manali is a wedding photographer & educator based out of Charlottesville, VA. When she's not making couples laugh or teaching other photographers how to save time & grow their business, you can find her at a vineyard with wine & cheese in hand with her friends & fam!
UVA Graduation Portrait Inspiration for UVA Class of 2020!
Congratulations to UVA Class of 2020, my Hoos, it’s finally time to take your UVA graduation portraits!!
Cheers to you, pop some bubbly, it’s YOUR year to walk down the Lawn & you’ll be graduating before you know it! As you start your final semester, you’ll start marking your “lasts.” The last first day of classes, the last class you’ll take for your major, the last time you cram for an exam, the last meal at the Pav with your friends, SO many lasts! Although the nostalgia will start to hit in full swing, my best piece of advice is to cherish every. single. second. Singing the good ‘ol song, cheering on the Hoos with your Hoos, the ugly crying to yourself in Alderman stacks over your stone-cold coffee swearing you’ll never finish your thesis. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. But take heart, it’s the end of one chapter and the beginning of a new one. And friends that you make on Grounds will always be there cheering you on, no matter how far apart you end up. Before you walk down the Lawn one last time, balloons in hand, waving & trying not to tear up at your family that’s yelling your name, put on your grad gowns and your cap, buy a bottle of bubbly from Kroger, grab your very best friends that have survived the highs and lows with you over the last four years, and take some time to celebrate amongst the chaos that is your very last semester at UVA.
Here are my very best tips for making taking grad pictures one of the greatest memories you’ll make on the Lawn!
Bring a friend!! I can’t tell you how much more fun it is!
If you have your family in town, definitely bring them along for pictures!! They’ve been the backbone that got you to UVA and the ones that’ll be there for you after as well
Bring props! A floral crown, a little UVA banner, a bottle of bubbly or some confetti go a long way! More on these all in the other tips
Bring an extra pair of shoes if you want multiple locations! The Rotunda steps and the Lawn are NO easy feet in a pair of high wedges or heels!
Think outside the box for locations, pick something that means a lot to you! Some of my past grads’ favorite spots have been the Amphitheater, Drama Building, Corner Coffee Shop, Downtown, Jefferson Vineyard or Pippin, Engineering Way, I could keep going forever!
Steam or Iron your gown! It’ll help to get some wrinkles out
Bring bobby pins to make sure your grad cap stays attached to your head! Also, a mirror always helps but if you forget, we can use my phone or the windows on the Rotunda 🙂
If you’re bringing confetti, get the larger kind and bring a lot! Sometimes it takes a couple of tries to get the perfect shot. Same goes for champagne, having a backup bottle is always a good idea. Plus there’s more to drink for you, usually a good champagne spray will take up an entire bottle! We’ll make sure to do these at the end so that JUST IN CASE you get some champagne on you, it won’t ruin the rest of your pictures!
If you’re taking pictures in the height of grad season, don’t get worried if we need to wait around for a good spot! I never mind spending some extra time with you if we need to wait for that perfect location
Bring two outfits! It’ll help you get a variety out of your pictures. Pastel colors always photograph really beautifully against the Rotunda and the Lawn but I always recommend my clients wear something that they feel their absolute best in!
Don’t be nervous!! I tell AND show you what to do and never take a picture until you’re totally comfortable. Trust me, I know just how nerve-wracking it can be having your pictures taken!
YAASSSS that champagne sprayyy, what a pro!!!
These two girls are SO much fun!!! They’ve been inseparable for almost the whole time I’ve known them and I was not at all surprised that when Erika reached out she told me Julia and her wanted pictures together because obviously roomies need pictures together!! I first came to know Erika through Bhangra (are we even surprised about this) but actually got to know her better and meet Julia through A.O.E.!! You would always find them together giggling just like below during chapter and even while working on problem sets (that would make my head hurt if I stared at them) in Nau hall on any given day. Although the engineering curriculum is super tough and I hundred percent attest to this, it’s kind of amazing because at the end of the day, you end up with not just an engineering degree but a best friend for life. I’m speaking about this from personal experience but if you don’t believe me Erika & Julia are my picture example seen below hahaha 🙂
I actually met Joumana on the day of her shoot and THIS GIRL is the sweetest soul you’ll ever meet!! And not only is she so sweet, she is so fun as well <3 Look at that laugh!! I had been following her on Instagram and got the sense that she was super artistic and this was confirmed within seconds of her shoot when I saw her grad cap!! It is an actual piece of art, I told her to frame it hahahaha I’m SO glad she had me take her pictures and it was amazing to meet her in person finally!! I asked her what she considers her style and she said elegant and polished and she could not be more accurate!!!
Best cap ever award goes to her, she made that guys!!
I met Jontell about two years ago at a random coffee date at Pigeon Hole after emailing back and forth a bit realizing that we were both photographers with kind of similar styles that went to UVA! What I thought would be a quick conversation over coffee turned into sitting for TWO HOURS at Pigeon Hole talking about literally everything photography related! She was immediately someone that I looked up to since she had her business registered and was shooting weddings on her own might I add AS a college student! Can you say girl boss?? I got the opportunity to second shoot a wedding with her and that’s when I really started to become good friends with her and after that it’s been hundred of messages back and forth on Facebook, Instagram, and text about all things photography and business related. She is my number one go to for any kind of advice or questions or venting or throwing ideas out there. These last couple of months would have been so much more difficult and lonely without these and honestly I don’t think I’d be as far into my business and making as much progress without the help of this girl. I could go on for days but I’ll just leave it that I LOVED coming full circle getting to take HER graduation portraits about a year after she took mine!! I’ll you at graduation but I am literally SO excited for you to take on this next chapter of your life as you find a job, then go to grad school and then go full time with your photography business!
We started off Jontell’s senior session at Jefferson Vineyards which was THE MOVE!! We got some cute pictures in the mountains and by this gorgeous tree <3 And I got to surprise her with a little gift fitting for a vineyard session!!
And of course we got some of those classic shots on the Lawn in her cap & gown!
She decorated her champagne bottle, how cute is that?! AND she had a sign for her parents, soo thoughtful!
I ended up taking Alivia’s photos on Sunday morning last minute and I am SOO glad that I was able to!! I actually met Alivia when she came to an information panel about A.O.E. and I remember immediately knowing that she was just the perfect fit for the sorority and I knew she was going to get in!! What I didn’t realize at the time was that she would end up becoming my LITTLE!!! And I am SO lucky to have gotten her because even though she’s wayyy smartier, funnier, spunkier than I am, she’s my height so I always borrowed her clothes because obviously she has the better sense of style!! She always kept it real with me (my favorite quality of hers), comforted me when I was freaking out about internships and finding a job, shared a deep love of food and coffee (duh), and was there to give me hugs on E-Way and tell me to go home and get some sleep on those rough days. I was so happy to be able to hang out with her to take her graduation portraits and catch up after so long <3
^ If there had to be ONE picture to describe this girl I’m pretty sure this would be it
And of course we ended on E-Way because we all know that’s where we actually spent 99% of our time, not on the Lawn hahhaha 😀