Friday, December 19, 2014
Tuesday, December 16, 2014
Now that these photos are on the USO blog (which you should go check out!), I can post them on here and talk a little bit about my shoot.
As many of you know, whenever I'm out on shoots for the USO, usually, my main priority is shooting video and interviews. However, I've started shooting more and more stills - partly for practice and partly for logistical reasons for publishing - and I, personally, think I'm really stepping up my photography game.
Shooting events is hard. Shooting events where there's famous people, loud music, busy children and other factors in an unfamiliar town is even harder. And that was this shoot.
The lighting was bad. I was exhausted. And yet, I managed to turn around some great shots don't you think?
*** NOTE: I've had to take down a few images to protect privacy rights of individuals. ***
Wednesday, December 10, 2014
Think music. Think dance. Think...FROZEN.
Yup, you guessed it. I got to interview the amazing Broadway superstar Idina Menzel for the USO! I know, I know. So cool, right?
A photo posted by Sandi Moynihan (@sandimoynihan) on
Even though Menzel's been running around promoting her new holiday album, she took a few moments of her time to sit down with three New York military families the morning before she performed at the 2014 Bloomingdale’s Holiday Concert & Window Unveiling in NYC.
I asked Menzel to talk a little bit about this experience, since it was a really special memorable moment for the military families she met, and also because it was the first time she'd ever worked with the USO.
Here's what she had to say.
I'll post a little bit later about the awesome, jam-packed day of fun the military families had in NYC after meeting Menzel, but those photos aren't quite ready yet :)
Tuesday, December 9, 2014
While living in so small of a town can be a drag sometimes, it does have it's perks -- namely knowing someone who knows someone who knows someone almost everywhere you go.
This past Sunday, a dear photographer friend of mine, Sara Snyder, asked me to be her double at a wonderful Bendy Brunch social yoga event hosted by Grip the Mat -- a company co-founded by a GW Alpha Delta Pi sorority sister of mine, Christy Skarulis.
See what I mean? Small town.
The event was at a wonderfully colorful venue, Blind Whino, which is a refurbished church-turned-into-art-gallery in Southwest DC.
Sara warned me that I was going to love taking pictures here, but she didn't do the place justice. The painting, the stained glass, the moody stained glass lighting -- it was a photographer's paradise!
Add a bunch of synchronized yogis into the mix and you'd be hard pressed not to get a fabulous shot.
Here's a slideshow of my Flicker gallery with all my shots.
Yeah... I'm totally going back here to do a shoot for Fiterazzi.
Monday, December 8, 2014
Death is hard, always.
A few weeks ago, a dear mentor and friend of mine, Mike Shanahan passed away. He was an amazing professor, mentor, friend, father and husband known and loved by many.
I was honored to speak at the George Washington University's School of Media and Public Affairs celebration of his life event this past Saturday, and wrote these remarks.
I think in life we know some people will die. Friends. Family members. Parents. But nobody prepares you to say goodbye to your mentors. So I did the best I could.
Good morning everyone. For those of you who don’t already know me, I’m Sandi Moynihan, and I was a student of Professor Shanahan's from 2009 to 2013, but I’ve been lucky to have had a really special friendship with The Prof for more than just the four years I was a student at GW.
At SMPA, our professors train us to tell stories for a living about politics, science or whatever interests us most. But besides teaching us how to be storytellers, whether they know it or not, they also leave us with stories about them.
I still remember the first time I met Professor Shanahan. I was a junior in high school and was visiting GW on a softball recruiting trip (I played for the Colonials). Because nobody on the team had ever graduated from SMPA, the coach arranged a informational meeting with me, my mom and a “well-known SMPA professor” — who just happened to be Professor Shanahan.
I don’t remember anything specific about what we talked about, but what I do remember is leaving the SMPA conference room feeling like Professor Shanahan was somebody that I really wanted to get to know during my time at GW, whether he liked it or not. Lucky him.
As fate would would have it, in my freshman year, Professor Shanahan was assigned to be my academic advisor and our relationship and friendship, albeit initially forced, began.
I can’t really put my finger on why Professor Shanahan and I hit it off so well — maybe it’s because I reminded him of his daughter, Claire, who also played college sports. Or maybe it’s because I was a pest and just kept showing up in his office. But over four years, fifteen minute required advising meetings about schedules and course selections became impromptu 45 minute conversations about everything and anything.
Not many professors would be willing to let you drop in on them in the middle of a busy day and talk about personal day-to-day things, like how your softball coach was driving you crazy, or how you can’t figure out the right lede in to a story or you how you really missed your mom’s cooking — but Professor Shanahan did. I think that most of his students will agree that he really took joy in making us all feel important, especially when we needed it the most.
Like many other students before me, I feel privileged that Professor Shanahan took a special and personal interest in me and made me feel at home in his little office when I was so far away from my family.
For me, Professor Shanahan was more than just a professor or adviser - he was a mentor, a father figure, a friend.
One of my favorite memories of Professor Shanahan didn’t happen in the classroom or his office or anywhere near SMPA, but actually at the GW softball field. In my junior year, when I had decided that I was going to graduate a term early and therefore ending my softball career after three seasons, Professor Shanahan promised me that he would come and watch one of my last games, and he did.
My family happened to be in town to watch me play that weekend too, and I told my dad that he should introduce himself to Professor Shanahan at the beginning of the game.
While I expected the two of them to chat for a few minutes at best, what I didn’t expect was to look up in the middle of the fifth inning, almost an hour into my game, and see the both of them were standing together on the outfield fence, talking away. Seeing my dad talking to Professor Shanahan, who I sometimes called my DC-dad, kind of made me feel like everything had come full circle. My dad still talks about the conversation that he had with Professor Shanahan that afternoon, and how much he enjoyed talking to one of my mentors and a fellow father who understands what it’s like to raise a house full of girls.
It hasn’t really sunk in that I won’t see another email signed by the Prof pop up in my inbox, or spend a long two hour lunch chatting with him about my career, our families, or whatever. I’ll really miss Professors Shanahan’s warm smile, his wise advice and the witty sense of humor I grew to love so much — and I’m sure I’m not the only one of his students who feels this way.
Professor Shanahan influenced so many young lives during his time at GW, and while he might not longer physically be with us, his spirit will surely live on in his family, friends and all the students that he taught.
Friday, December 5, 2014
I blame the grey winter weather that's rolled in. Anyway.
Over the past few weeks, I've been doing a lot of photography, writing and organizing for Fiterazzi Magazine, who I moonlight for when I'm not working for the USO.
Just before Thanksgiving, my article all about the latest and greatest in workout leggings hit the web and has been doing fabulous!
I've gotten a lot of great feedback from readers about this article, so that's super encouraging. I think next time I'll try to keep the prices of the products I sample in mind. Some of my readers pointed out that the options were a little out of thier price ranges. Woops.
Anywho. Here's a sneak peak for you to read :)
You can read the full piece here.
Oh, and if you're feeling like you want to get a workout in, I also whipped up a fun Pre-Turkey Day HIIT.
I also wrote a fun little piece about a few easy tips and tricks to staying healthy during the holidays.
I think people can get caught up in the business of holiday festivities and forget to take care of themselves, so I thought it would be helpful to write up a little guide of how to keep yourself on track no matter how festive you might get.
Here's a peak at that story.
You can read the full piece here.
Monday, December 1, 2014
Last month, I released a HUGE review of 13 different fitness leggings brands to try, and, before doing so, hosted a wonderful afternoon photoshoot for the story at Union Station with two fab fit models and fellow Alpha Delta Pi - Pi Chapter sisters Pamela Fitzgibbons and Pavla Ovtchinnikova.
I hadn't caught up with either of these ladies in the longest time, so I was thrilled to have them be my models for an afternoon -- plus, who doesn't love taking pictures of their friends?
Not only did we shoot some fabulous pictures, but I got to hear all about their busy awesome lives and, let me tell you, they're both going to set the world on talent and look fit and fab doing it!
Besides the awesome company and fresh faces for this shoot, this was also one of the first indoor shoots I've done for Fiterazzi.
I don't normally host shoots inside for my fitness pieces because the lighting is so much better outdoors, but because the weather has gotten so cold (it was 30 degrees outside the day of the shoot), I've been scoping out more interesting indoor spots, and thought Union Station's bright but corporate look would be a nice change of pace for the shoot.
I think the shots turned out alright. Thoughts?
Monday, November 24, 2014
This, my readers, is one of the last type of stories.
Enter Reginald and Emmanuel Wright. Both men hail from the same household, and right now, are stationed hundreds of miles away from each other in the U.S.
But, as chance (and the Army) would have it, fate has reunited the two together again... in Bagram, Afghanistan.
I had the chance to Skype with the two men about their serendipitous deployments, thier realationship, and thier connection with the USO and was able to write up this awesome story.
Remember when you were a kid, and your parents wanted to show you off? Your report cards, your new clothes, your questionable singing abilities, all on display on command for the neighbors and their friends.Now imagine you’re a soldier in the most advanced Army on Earth and walking into a USO center in Afghanistan. And then you hear this: “There he is. Emmanuel, come over here and meet ...”Aw man, Dad.Like any proud father, Staff Sgt. Reginald Wright enjoys introducing his son to his acquaintances. But unlike most parents, the elder Wright gets to do it in a war zone.“You know, people here that come to visit, I get to like them, I get to talk to them, get to know them, and I say, ‘Hey, I want you to meet someone.’ I introduce my son to them. And they all stare,” Reginald Wright said. “They give that little look. And then they look at him, and they look at me, and I say, ‘This is my son.’ And they say, ‘Really?’”
Friday, November 21, 2014
While I enjoy the occasional dab of blush, most days, I'll admit, I'm 100% makeup free, and happy to be so!
To me, makeup is more of a costly, acne-causing early wake-up call than a fun part of my daily routine, so I choose to skip it on the regular.
In my latest story for Fiterazzi, I dish all about my non-makeup ways and give ten awesome reasons to skip the mascara and head out the door.
Here's a preview of my post:
Read the full article here!
Thursday, November 20, 2014
In a post I wrote earlier this week, I talked about meeting and following around a wonderful military family while I was working USO Operation: That's My Dress! (OTMD) in Jacksonville, FL on Sunday.
Well, now that my video is done, I thought I'd share the final project with you and tell you a bit more about their story.
Introducing the Ruud family! Meet mom, Vicky, daughter, Brooke, father, Jeremy, and a slew of four other siblings whose names, honestly, I forget!
The Ruuds were gracious enough to let me follow them around all day long on Sunday and film thier OTMD experience, as well as share their story with me.
See, the Ruud family is no stranger to military life. Jeremy has been an active duty service member for over 18 years in the Navy, and currently, is deployed overseas. Him and Vicky have five kids, and have seen it all over the years -- paycheck to paycheck living, holiday deployments, you name it. Luckily, the USO has been there for them in all lives ups and downs.
In fact, the USO, along with a few other sponsors, gave Vicky and Brooke an extra-special suprise last week that made thier OTMD experience that much better!
Watch the video to find out and enjoy!
Monday, November 17, 2014
Talk about jet-setting!
As you probably already know, the main reason for my travel and adventures is because of my job as a multimedia journalist for the USO. It's a great gig and I totally love it. I mean, who wouldn't want to be a professional, traveling storyteller for a living?
Am I right or am I right?
Anyway, my latest adventure took me to Jacksonville, Florida to cover the USO Operation: That's My Dress! event, which gives military teens the chance to choose a free prom dress, designed by Sherri Hill.
The girls also get free makeup, hair products, jewelery and the chance to enjoy a fashion show.
They could also meet Miss Teen USA representatives, watch the USO Show Troupe perform and get dolled up for the day. Teenage me would have totally loved it!
While I was at the event, I met a wonderful mother-daugher duo, Vicky and Brooke Ruud, respectively, who graciously let me invade their space for the day to capture their experience.
While I won't divulge too much on their story (check back for a video about them later this week!) I will share some of the photos I took of Brooke and Vicky yesterday afternoon.
They were so sweet -- really, I had the best time following the two of them on thier fairytale afternoon. Plus, Brooke picked out a dress most teenagers would die for. How lucky is she?
Stay tuned for more on this fabulous military family and their story later this week!
Thursday, November 13, 2014
Now, a few days later (hey, better late than never, right?) I give you my video wrap of the event.
Normally when I produce videos, I don't have too many techincal issues or logistical problems and am able to turn them around a lot quicker, but when it came to this peice, well, things didn't go so smoothly.
See, I wasn't allowed to bring a tripod into the NASCAR stadium (arena? track? area?) on the day of the race. While my interview with Trevor Bayne is beautiful and a steady shot, it was taken the day before the race when I had extra time to set up the shot and use a tripod.
The other interviews, well, aren't as pretty. Shaky footage = a headache in the editing room.
Novice video editors, if you're reading this, take some advince. Always, always use a tripod for your interviews unless you can't because of venue rules. Shaky b-roll is acceptable. Shaky interviews are not.
My solution to the shaky mess I created? The magical warp stabilizing tool that is part of Premier Pro CC. Although it bumps up the file size a bunch, and requires some fine tuning, this magic tool turned my unacceptable footage and made it average and acceptable.
Still, my advice. Always go for the tripod. It'll save you the headache.
Monday, November 10, 2014
Speeding to Arizona: Shooting NASCAR Race for USO, Interviewing Driver Trevor Bayne & Meeting Medal of Honor Recipient Fred Ferguson
Boy, was I wrong.
This past weekend I headed down to Phoenix, Arizona to cover the USO’s presence at the NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) event at Phoenix International Raceway and got a true education about all the complexities and strategy that goes behind the sport. And yes, I said sport, you read that right.
After spending a full watching all they do out there on the track and talking to the drivers and pit teams, my opinion on whether or not to call NASCAR a sport has changed. It is totally a sport that requires quite a bit of strategy, team work and physical preparation.
Chess, however, is still not a sport. Sorry.
Anyway, the entire reason why I had the wonderful opportunity to jet to Phoenix was because Trevor Bayne, who drives his No. 6 Ford Mustang for Rousch Fenway Racing, featured the USO logo on his vehicle this weekend in honor of Veterans Day this week. In addition to having the USO logo on his far, Bayne also had Medal of Honor recipient Fred Ferguson’s name on his passenger door — something that I understood is very, very special in NASCAR and doesn’t happen very often at all.
While the weekend was a total blur (I was shooting photos and videos — fellow media people know doing both at the same time is craaaazy), I honestly enjoyed my time on the track.
I was surprised at how friendly and down to earth almost everyone I met was, including Trevor, who’s my age. Plus, I think I got some awesome shots and captured some special moments for Fred and the other USO VIPs that were with the group on Saturday. I even got to sit down and talk with Trevor on Friday before the race and snapped this Instavid!
@roushfenway driver @tbayne21 took a moment to thank #troops before this weekend’s @nascar Nationwide Series (NNS) event @phoenixraceway. Bayne’s No. 6 @advocare Ford Mustang will feature the USO logo and the name of Medal of Honor recipient, Frederick Ferguson. #usomoments #military #militaryappreciation #nascar #racing #RFRdriven #phoenix #latergram
A video posted by The USO (@theuso) on
You know, I think that there’s always something special to be learned from veterans and older people in general. All too often, I think people discount the elderly and their tales, or only remember those who served twice a year.
Meeting Fred and seeing how much he enjoyed Saturdays events — meeting people, being honored by a standing ovation, seeing his name on the car — was a nice reminder to continually say thank you not only to veterans, but people in general, a bit more than we already do.
Monday, November 3, 2014
There's something about shooting a concert that makes me tingle with excitement, without a doubt, each and every time. Maybe it's the huge crowd of excited people. Maybe it's the music blaring in the air. Or maybe, it's the colorful stage lights that twinkle in the audience's eyes.
Whatever reason, I always look forward to covering concerts for the USO -- almost as much as I look forward to doing feature stories with military families, those are still my favorite things to shoot.
While I was busy running (literally running) around shooting video from the day's events and didn't get a chance to chat with any of the military families at the concert, I did get to chat with the USO photographer who was also covering the event, Fred Greaves. He was super nice and I had quite a fun time geeking out with him over photography. It's always nice to meet new people at these events -- even if those new people are working for the same company as me!
Bearing all this in mind, it should come at no surprise to hear that I had a blast while covering my latest assignment for the USO -- a free concert in Ft. Hood featuring Trace Adkins and Casey James. Not only did I get the chance to head back to the 'Great Place' and my home state, but I had the wonderful opportunity to sit down with both Trace and Casey and ask them about their respective histories of performing for troops around the world.
Both men have traveled overseas (Trace many, many times with the USO) to entertain deployed service men and women over the years and spoke very sincerely about their admiration for the work and sacrifices troops make by serving the country. I think that's one common theme that runs through all of the celebrity performer interviews I do for the USO -- they all seem so appreciative to be able to sing, dance, do whatever, for men and women in uniform. Often times, they feel like the troops are doing more of a service for them then they are for the troops. It's really moving to see such popular performers speak so humbly about their time spent with troops. I wish everyone could hear them speak so candily and from the heart.
That, at least, is a constant reminder to me that my job to capture these unique sentiments is just that much more important.
Saturday, November 1, 2014
I remember growing up and creating these elaborate tales in my head and trying to act them out with my friend Morgan using our extensive Pound Puppies collections which we further dressed up as wizards or princesses. A wizard stuffed puppy.
I don't apologize for my seven-year-old self's weird innovation.
Looking back, I should have known that I would keep telling stories years down the road. Now, I consider myself lucky to do it for a living and as a personal hobby. I really just can't get enough.
Part of my work at the USO is to write about the touching events that take place at our centers around the world.
All last week I was working on a special story about a young newlywed couple who, thanks to the help of USO San Antonio, was able to sneak in that perfect proposal moment before the big day.
Here's a snippet from my story:
When most girls dream about their perfect proposal, they imagine flowers, a ring and their future husband down on one knee — not a long-distance call from a boyfriend hundreds of miles away.
But for Pvt. Zoe Tunchez and Pvt. Emmanuel Aleman, who are stationed at different Army bases, a happy phone conversation seemed like the closest to a fairy-tale proposal they would get.
That is, until Aleman, his mother, Marita Maldonado, and USO San Antonio teamed up to give Tunchez the surprise of a lifetime.
(You can read the full story here.)I also had the awesome task of interviewing the multi-platinum country music artist, Trace Adkins, before a concert that his performing for military families in Fort Hood this Saturday, which I will also be attending and covering for the USO.
Adkins told me all about his history of working with the USO and traveling around the world to entertain troops and their families and talked about the strange sense of guilt he feels after performing for a military crowd. Here's an excerpt of my blog post:
When Trace Adkins steps off stage after performing in Fort Hood, Texas, this Saturday, he knows he will feel the guilt. It’s a guilt the eight-time USO tour veteran says he feels after every USO show.These are just a snapshot of some of the amazing work the USO does at its centers each and every day. It's just my job to share the stories of that work. And I love each and every moment I get to do just that.
“You’ll never find a more appreciative audience than the members of the military,” Adkins said. “Every USO tour I’ve been on, I leave there feeling a little guilty every time. I always feel like they gave me more than I gave them. And it’s always felt like that.”
The multi-platinum country artist, who previously performed at Fort Hood during the 2010 WWE and NBC ‘Tribute to the Troops,’ says there’s something special about entertaining troops and their families that he’s looking forward to experiencing again at Saturday’s show, sponsored by PenFed Credit Union.
(You can read the full story here.)
Friday, October 31, 2014
When I was down in Ft. Benning a few weeks ago shooting a few stories for the USO, I had the wonderful opportunity to sit down and chat with the October Sesame Street/USO Moment Maker of the Month, Elizabeth Gasper.
While Elizabeth has not won any wars or ever worn a uniform herself, she's played a key role in the web of support for those that do chose to put their lives on the line for our country. Elizabeth works for the Ft. Benning MWR, or, for us laypeople, the Ft. Benning Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation -- aka the people who help make sure troops and their families are happy and healthy participants their community.
While this might sound like any old desk job, the more I thought about the importance of Elizabeth Gasper's job to troops across Ft. Benning. Without people like Elizabeth, who would help plan fun family activities during the holidays? Who would ensure military families, and not just the troops, also receive the adequate care and entertainment they so desperately need during difficult times, like deployments?
It's for all these reasons that Elizabeth Gasper was awarded October's Sesame Street/USO Moment Maker of the Month Award, and the reason why I was able to do a video feature about her and her wonderful work with the Ft. Benning community.
Thursday, October 30, 2014
This past weekend I hosted the fall shoot for Fiterazzi Magazine with a few of my fit-minded friends. the idea behind this shoot, in comparison to the summer shoot was to capture some fall foliage/scenes and showcase some new fitness moves in the cooler autumnal weather -- andd talk about autumnal weather, we scored the JACKPOT on Sunday. 60 degrees. Sunny. What's not to like?
My four lovely models and dear friends -- Alisha, Sarah, Autumn and Sara -- donated their smiling faces and strutted their stuff on camera for me about two hours total.
It's funny, before the shoot, I don't think any of the girls new each other, but they all knew me, and by the end of the session, they were all laughing, smiling and getting along splendidly.
I met each of these ladies in a very different way and each at a different time in my life.
Autumn, the lovely African-American sporting the charcoal sweater, met me when I was 18 when we were both starting out playing on the GW softball team together
And the other Sarah, who's wearing my favorite pair of BODYPOP watercolor print leggings, was one of the first real-world friends I made when I was working with her at Post TV -- the video outlet of the Washington Post.
Thursday, October 23, 2014
I just loved working all all of these stories -- they're all very real and very personal for me. I think that's why I like writing for Fiterazzi so much.
Anyway, enough of my blabbering. Check out a few snippets from my Fiterazzi latests below & be sure to head to Fiterazzi.com for the full stories and more good healthy living reads!
Sports Bras 101: What Your Mom Never Told You
Boobs. Ta-tas. The girls. Breasts. Whatever you call them, if you’ve got two X chromosomes and survived puberty, then you’re familiar with the fabulous (and sometime annoying) experience that is having a pair of breasts to call your own.
While having breasts makes for a sexy silhouette, caring for them and keeping them under control can be a tricky task, especially for an active girl. Let’s be real — who ever invented tuck jumps didn’t do so with chesty girls in mind.
As fitness companies are evolving to cater more towards the needs of female athletes, so too are their sports bras technologies. Gone are the days of non-supportive and uncomfortable sports bras and in are the days of specially designed, high-impact sports bras tailored towards just about any cup size.(Read more here!)
This 12-Year-Old Girl’s Letter Sparked a Big Conversation about Female Representation in Fitness
When I was growing up, I remember dealing with this constant dilemma when I was looking for new sporting gear to wear while playing softball. Did I want to wear boy’s gear that featured an annoying baggy crotch? Or did I prefer some awkwardly cut, high-waisted women’s gear that transformed me into a pre-teen soccer mom? Why wasn’t there anything made just for me?
Only I was a teenager, circa mid-2000s, did I start to see a wider-variety of products tailored toward the tastes and styles of female athletes and fitness fashionistas like myself. Brands like Lululemon and Athleta popped onto the market and major sporting companies like Nike, UnderArmour and Mizuno started to create special lines tailored towards the growing female demographic.
However, as much as I love seeing more and more female sporting good products in stores, it’s hard to deny that the large majority of sporting good apparel is still tailored towards men.
It’s 2014, not 1964. The Title XI ruling was in 1972.
(Read the full story here!)
What can I say? I like staying busy!
Anyway, almost a year later, things as the DC VP of Digital Media for UWIB are in full gear for me and the organization is busier than ever.
This past Wednesday we had an awesome event focusing on the MBA application process and I had the wonderful opportunity to take pictures of the night, as well as live Instagram and tweet (check out the hashtag #womenmba) the entire event.
Between covering the event on social and taking pictures, I learned a lot about the MBA process (gulp, says the girl thinking about grad school for next fall). Resumes. Essays. Recommendations. GMAT scores. All those things really do matter.
Applying is definitely a lot of work, but the payoffs are, to me, 100% worth it.
If you live in the DC, Chicago and NYC chapter, consider visiting the UWIB website and signing up for our events. They're all free and meant for young, professional women looking for professional-based educational opportunities. I recommend it!