Friday, December 19, 2014

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Photo follow up: Idina Menzel Meet and Greet with USO Military Families

Last week I wrote a bit about my recent trip to USO NYC to film an Idina Menzel performance, interview and special meet-and-greet with local military families.

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

Shooting Idina Menzel's USO Meet-And-Greet with Military Families in NYC

So I've had to keep this under wraps for a while, but a few weeks ago, I interviewed a big big star.

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?

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

Behind the Shoot: Snaps for Grip the Mat

DC is a really, really small town. Trust me on that one.

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

--The Prof: A Eulogy to Professor Mike Shanahan

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.

Thank you.

Friday, December 5, 2014

My Fiterazzi latest: Tights Review, HIITs & Tips for Staying Healthy this Holiday Season

Happy Friday! For some reason, weeks after holidays always feel the longest. It's not like anything bad has happened -- I love my job -- but something has had me looking forward to a low key weekend all week long.

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

Behind the Shoot: Fiterazzi Leggings Test Photo Shoot

One of the best parts about writing for a new magazine like Fiterazzi is the chance to involve my friends and acquaintances in my work, and my latest project was no exception.

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?