Clarissa + Jack | Norfolk Virginia Maternity and Baby Photographers

I’m reviving our blog for the first time in a year (!!!!) to share a few sweet photos of Clarissa + Jack’s at-home maternity session. Apologies for lagging behind on our blog game, but after giving birth to Ellie (follow my personal insta @dailyelliejoy for baby photo spam!) last year then doing a big office and house move/renovation at the same time, social media and other administrative duties for DCPG definitely fell by the wayside. We’re all moved into both home and new studio and FINALLY back in the saddle shooting regularly and devoting attention and love back to DCPG :)

Clarissa and Jack have been repeat DCPG clients since 2012; we’ve photographed two of Jack’s deployment homecomings and their tiny wedding in Norfolk:

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I remember  chatting with Jack’s mom back then and she said, “Maybe you can photograph their baby when the time comes!” And so, I am! I’m so happy Clarissa got back in touch in order to sign up for the Baby Steps plan :) She opted for one of our more popular combos – Maternity, Newborn and One Year. We decided to do at at-home session for maternity. I absolutely love doing at-home sessions for any baby steps shoot because not only does it add a layer of uniqueness to the portraits that can never be duplicated, when these photos are viewed by their future children, they’ll get to see the first place their new little family called home.


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I love that she chose to rock a glamorous, sequined dress!


She requested these poses and although their dog Rob was hilariously uncooperative, I loved the quick interaction I was able to capture:

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To book a consultation or a session under our Baby Steps plan, click here:

@dcpg on Twitter and Instagram






Wedding Wednesday | Nico + Wesley | Newport News Wedding Photographers

I knew I liked Nicolette from her first cheery, upbeat e-mail, but even more so when I spoke to her on the phone and chatted with her excitedly about how, even though she was initially wary of spending extra money on a tiny wedding, she was really happy and relieved knowing she would have beautiful photos to show the family that wasn’t able to be there. When she burst into my office the day before her wedding, in sweatpants and those crazy pedicure flipflops talking animatedly and dropping f-bombs everywhere (I do love when people are instantly that comfortable with me!) I knew right then her elopement would be fun and full of laughter.

Since their elopement was a true one, consisting only of her and her fiance Wesley, they opted for our 2 hour rate. We had some time before the ceremony, so we met them in front of the restaurant where they were planning on having their wedding dinner, Circa 1819. We shot a few photos outside on the quaint street, then the staff at Circa 1819 was kind enough to let us set up inside so we could all warm up and shoot a few documentary style shots.

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We headed over to the lions outside of the Mariner’s Museum for the ceremony, but the officiant was running a bit late so we squeezed in a few more portraits. There was also a jogger couple occupying the waterfront area they intended to the ceremony on, so we gave them some time to see if they would leave (Nico & Wesley ended up having to gently usher them out, but the jogger couple was super nice about it) and photographed them with some Mr & Mrs. props they purchased.


Susan Turner was their officiant and not only was she a super sweet lady who let us set up their position however we wanted; she also had the greatest Christmas cat sweater on, ever.  The ceremony was performed on a slab of concrete that jutted into the water, so their backdrop was beautifully simple; just the water of Lake Maury and the softly setting sun. We opted against lighting the ceremony; the concrete wasn’t huge and since both Mendell and I were shooting, I had this fear of tripping over each other and/or lightstands and falling into the water.

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Nico and Wesley were such a sweet couple and were such troupers because it was FREEEEZING cold out the entire time we were photographing! Even though it was a last minute job and we had to drive straight to Washington, D.C. right after, I am so happy we were able to photograph their fun little wedding. I really, really love elopements!

To see more photos, check out their full wedding set here.

Vendors + Details

Photographers | Ciesther + Mendell dela Cruz of DCPG

Officiant | Susan Turner

Hair | Yudy of RicaSha Salon, Yorktown

Venue | near the lions at the Mariner’s Museum, Newport News

Dress | H&M (on sale for $13, she says!)

Shoes | NineWest

Make-up and Flowers | Friends and family :)


Throwback Thursday | Cabatit Family Portraits turned Proposal!

Did you miss yesterday’s amazing Wedding Wednesday post? Click here!!

For Throwback Thursday, I dug up our old blog and am reposting one of my all time favorite shoots/posts – a family session that ended up being a sneaky premise for a proposal! One of the most fun sessions we’ve ever had.  Disclaimer: this was back from August 2009, so our style of shooting and editing has changed a bit since then.  Read on below!


August 27, 2009

A few months prior, I did a Malaya shoot of super nice, aspiring photographer Pam.    So pretty!


She really dug our style, so she asked to book family portraits for herself, her boyfriend Chris and their 6 year old daughter Paris.   Due to Chris’ insane travel/work schedule, it took another 3 or 4 months before we were able to coordinate a shoot day.

The day of their shoot rolls around and I wake up late, due to a gig the night before and see that I missed eleventy billion phone calls from Pam and Chris.  I panicked, assuming an emergency came up, but when I finally got in touch with Chris, he told me he had a BIG surprise planned that he wanted us to capture.  And so, through a few more sneaky phone calls,  we devised a loose plan which included a series of signals and semi-code phrases to use when the time/place was right.


Btw, huge style points to all of them!  They were a perfect example of coordinated yet fashionable outfits that didn’t need to resort to that whole white shirts and khaki pants standard.   I honestly don’t know how Chris wore a sweater vest with a long-sleeved shirt in that heat, but it worked out well!

Such a beautiful family.  They were so fun to shoot too; willing to try anything and not taking themselves too seriously:



Here’s their satire of those uber-serious family portraits.  Little Paris is a pro, she went w/ the flow of whatever her parents were doing and pulled it off perfectly.  She was a total sweetheart too:


They wanted a fair amount of real moments and ended up buying this next photo as a huge canvas wrap.   I heart their choice because it’s definitely reflective of how they are as a family and it’s an unusual (in a good way) pick for an enlargement.  It’s pretty sweet having clients who think out of the box…or frame, as it is.  Oh and I believe what led to Paris’ laugh in this photo was her dad asking, “Hey, remember that time you farted on your mom’s neck?” Classic.


This was the last location on our photoshoot, so it was time for the “big show”.    Chris gave us the signal and we responded in affirmative with our code phrase, “We’re going to change our lenses” –  we actually did change lenses, to buy a little bit of time and get everyone in place.  Meanwhile, Chris nervously chain smoked cigarettes while Pam and Paris were completely oblivious.  Finally, we got all of them into position and stood there awkwardly for a moment (I honestly wanted to yell, “Do it now!!” but thankfully, refrained) and then, to Pam’s complete and utter shock…


I remember her being so caught off guard, she asked him, “Why are you doing this here?” not realizing that we were all totally in on it the whole time and it was set up.   She hugged me twice afterward.  And look how cute and stoked Paris is for her parents…this photo was so precious, they chose it as the cover to their engagement album:


So CONGRATULATIONS to Pam and Chris on their engagement and big ups to Chris for having the foresight to do it during a photoshoot.  Not many people get their proposal caught on camera, let alone professionally, so I thought this was a pretty awesome way to put a ring on it.   Here they are, freshly engaged:



We were super excited for them to see their photos, so there’s a quickly edited slideshow up I did the day of, if you’d like to see more:

– Cies

Tips and Tuts Tuesdays | First Look

DCPG is starting a series of daily themed blog posts! Let’s see how long we can keep this up! Did you miss yesterday’s Meet DCPG Monday? Click here to meet Carrie!

Our Tuesday blog series will be tips and tutorials! I’m hoping the “tutorial” part will get the dudes more involved w/ the blogging, but for now, we will start with just the tips. (Side note: ew.) Today’s topic:  First Looks

I am thankful that the First Look is becoming a frequent wedding trend.  We LOVE them so much and have been trying to get people to do them for years! For the uninitiated, a First Look  is when the bride and groom see each other for the first time prior to the wedding and, if time permits, take a few couple portraits before all the wedding madness begins.

Why should you do a First Look? Your personal reasons may vary, but here are the advantages we’ve observed from both a photography perspective and yours:

  1. Typically, a wedding timeline has both parties arriving to the ceremony venue an hour or two prior to the ceremony.  If you do a First Look, we can make the most of that idle time.  Aside from your couple portraits, since you won’t have to be separate, we can also photograph some family portraits and bridal party portraits as well.  This way, post-ceremony won’t have to be so packed with picture taking and you may actually get to breathe a bit before diving into the reception.
  2. Addendum to the item above: Photographing the bridal party in particular prior to the wedding means they are less antsy (bridal parties have a “school’s out for summer!” mentality the second the ceremony is over) and probably/hopefully not drunk yet.
  3. A lot of anxiety can build when you are nervous, but can’t seek comfort from the one you love most on your big day.  A First Look gets that nervousness out of the way and gives you both a chance to talk together, touch, laugh and settle your nerves.
  4. A wedding is a whirlwind where you are surrounded by people for 12 hours straight, so a First Look gives you a truly intimate moment for just the two of you to look into each others eyes, embrace and quietly reflect on the enormity of the day without a 100 people watching you. Like a pre-game huddle with two people!
  5. Hair and makeup is at its’ freshest point here, which is great for photos :) Also, if you were secretly worried about ugly crying face in front of your guests, a First Look allows you get that out of the way privately and still leave you time to wipe your nose and/or touch up your makeup before the main event!
  6. From what we’ve seen; a First Look doesn’t diminish the emotions of seeing each other walking down the aisle.  If anything, we’ve noticed the smiles are bigger since neither of you are nervous anymore.

As my lovely recent bride/sister from another mister April Mac said,

“In what was sure to be a busy day, we knew that the moments where it was “just us” would be few and far between. Doing a first look gave Ken and I the opportunity to steal a moment that was just for us. And I am so glad we did it. It set the tone for the rest of the event…intimate, warm, and full of love.”

A First Look might not be for everyone, but we hope you at least think about it for your wedding day! Either way, we are happy you chose DCPG.   Thanks again for reading and stay tuned for tomorrow, which is Wedding Wednesday.   This Wednesday we are blogging April and Ken’s beautiful, intimate Hawaiian wedding.

Stay warm, friends!

DCPG New Pricing and Fall Portrait Specials | Norfolk Virginia Beach Family and Baby Photographers

DCPG has some brand new pricing and some fun fall incentives, PLUS the magical return of Family Portraits!! We are making a big move toward all-inclusive pricing, which means more photos, faster!

For on location portraits, we have a few options:

On-Location Portraits

We’re only offering Family portraits til the end of the year; but this pricing will be good in the future for any on location portraits (engagement, senior, etc)

Psst…scroll past the family photos for a studio kids special!

But wait! There’s more!

Simple Studio Mini-sessions (kids + babies only)



Here’s what you may be thinking: Can we still buy large prints, canvas and albums? Please and thank you!! We love to see our photos on your walls! High-end wall and album products are still a major part of our product lines; in our opinion, photos are meant to be printed and displayed outside of a computer! We will would like you to come in to view your photos in person that way we can discuss wall displays and albums. The switch to an all digital delivery system was meant to make access, sharing and gift printing much easier for you, but we still would love you to come by* and talk about products! Here’s a quick sampler on our most popular products:


  • 25 Photo cards $75
  • 25 Flat cards $125
  • 25 Folded cards $200

Canvas Wraps

  • 16×20 Canvas Wrap $450
  • 20×40″ Panoramic Canvas Wrap $875
  • 20×24 Canvas Wrap $575
  • Canvas Clusters (groupings of 4 or more canvases) starting at $750


  • 6×6″ Press Printed Album $400
  • 8×8 Flushmount Album $675

Bonus Discounts!

If you come in for an in-person purchasing appointment, you get 20% off whatever you buy that day. Every time!


Earlier I mentioned all-inclusive pricing, what does that mean?? This means:

Your photos fully edited and  sent in a week or faster

New policy that benefits everyone!  This also includes a brand new Baby Steps w/ several different package levels – email me for info.

Gorgeous new online gallery

called PASS that not only looks amazing, but is highly responsive, looking/working exactly the same on your computer, phone or tablet.
Here is a sample of a PASS gallery:

Inexpensive small prints

Your PASS gallery also gives you the ability to purchase very inexpensive (seriously, between $1 and $4) prints up to 8×12″ from your phone or computer directly from your gallery.

Instant Access

No more USB drives or discs! You will be able to view and download your photos from PASS and the downloading will be restricted to your email or Facebook login so no randos are downloading your kid’s photos.  If you change computers or lose the photos, you have a place to re-download them.

How big can we print the digital files?

Up to size 11 x 16.5″, which is large enough for small canvas wraps, prints and even albums. If you require a larger print, we would love it to be purchased through DCPG for the highest print quality.

What if I’d rather do the 5 or 10 image rate for an on-location session?

We want to make on location sessions worth the while for everyone since we will all be traveling and and bringing along our equipment (and most likely an assistant). Plus, we tend to shoot in more than one part of your location, so 15 or 25 images will give you the best from every setups. Also, it never hurts to ask – we are always open to discussing payment plans if need be.

What if I am getting a studio session, but want more than 10 digital files?

Easy! Just upgrade to our on-location rates. :)

Why only kids and babies for the studio rate?

Our studio size is better suited to kids, plus we believe family portraits look so much nicer outdoors. Hampton Roads has so many pretty parks and waterfronts to take advantage of!

Chrissy + Scott | Virginia Beach Wedding Photographers

It’s no secret that we heart quirky, personal weddings; Chrissy and Scott’s was definitely no exception.   In a sea of Pinterest, mason jars and cotton fields, Chrissy and Scott’s black and white Día de los Muertos-inspired wedding was refreshing and a visual pleasure to photograph. Hand painted tattoo-style lettering on the girls shoes, black feathers, glittery pumpkins, skulls on beer coozies; so many amazing details!

Their wedding weekend was actually pretty eventful for DCPG as well! Mendell went to the ER two days prior to the wedding thinking it was just a gallbladder attack and he’d be in and out, but he ended up being admitted to the surgical floor for a serious bile duct obstruction.  By the time the wedding rolled around, I was running off of very little sleep, and dealing with having to charge batteries, organize and clean lenses in a hospital room then having to leave him to go shoot the wedding.  Big shoutouts to the 5th floor nursing staff at Sentara Princess Anne hospital for taking amazing care of him (and me!) for the 4 days we were there and to the friends and family who kept him company when I couldn’t. (P.S. It’s his birthday today; wish him a Happy Birthday on our Facebook!)

Luckily, Lester and I have teamed up on weddings before as a duo – one of the best advantages of the DCPG squad is that there are so many of us, it creates a nice built-in backup system.  Adding to our good fortune was a wonderful team of vendors, beautiful weather and a schedule that ran very smoothly. We couldn’t have asked for more! A few highlights/shoutouts to keep in mind as you look through the photos:

  • I’ve already mentioned it, but the details and decor! Amazing.
  • Their recessional song was “Here Comes Your Man” – it’s not often you get to hear the Pixies at church! They had really great music the entire wedding.
  • Chrissy’s vintage chic look.  Loved her lace dress offset by the black feathers/ribbon.   She also had the dream team on hair and makeup; Kechelle Hadley on hair and Sarah Rillon painting her face.  Beautiful, talented ladies!
  • Local music staple Jesse Chong singing and playing guitar during cocktail hour and some of dinner.  He has such a great voice and it was nice and relaxing to listen to while, as a bonus, being a welcome change from Kenny G instrumentals that normally dominate dinner music.
  • Gorgeous lighting by the always on point Blue Steel.  Loved how the dark purple lighting provided a rich background to show off all the black and white details.
  • Met/worked with Jeremy Mitchell Cinema (and Nick) for the first time; very nice and funny dudes and I can’t wait to see the final film.
  • Malissa Murphy and the CMT Events team holding it down; thank you again Malissa for helping coordinate/wrangle during the aftershoot!
  • All the groomsmen making speeches during the toast, but my absolute favorite was the guy who sang the “Queen to Be” song from “Coming to America”.  It was glorious and I’m honestly baffled as to why this doesn’t happen more often at weddings.
  • Older white-haired gentleman who was GETTIN’ it during the Wobble.  I took photos but they did not do him justice; that guy had moves for days. Days, I tell you!
  • The parents of the couple surprising them with a vintage Rolls Royce as their getaway car.  Baller time.
  • And of course, a beautiful, fun and madly in love couple who honored us by choosing DCPG as their wedding photographer.  While Chrissy and Scott grew up here, they currently reside in Seattle so to do your wedding planning over the interwebs from 3,000 miles away shows a lot of trust.   We are so thankful to have clients like them.





Flowers | Trellis & Bloom
Tuxedos | Maya Couture
Bridal Dress | La Belle Elaine (Seattle, WA)
DJ | John Rabulan “DJ John Rab”
Graphic Design | Yeri Yun Designs (Seattle, WA)
Hair | Kechelle Hadley and April Manganti
Make-up | Sarah Rillon
Live music | Jesse Chong
Venue Lighting |  Blue Steel
Wedding Film | Jeremy Mitchell Cinema
Event Coordination | Malissa Murphy with CMT Events
Photography | Lester & Ciesther dela Cruz with DCPG Photography + Design

Thank you for making it through this long blog post :)

– Ciesther

Melissa + Chris | Norfolk Engagement Photographers

When Melissa and Chris came in for their initial consultation, they said they were planning on having a Rat Pack/vintage-themed wedding and then went on to talk about how they’d be willing to do a “First Look” session; when the bride is revealed to the groom BEFORE the wedding and we capture the moment.   Between their wedding plans and them being such a sweet couple,  I was sold on taking them on as clients.  Luckily, they liked us too and we’re shooting their wedding this summer :)

Our first attempt at an engagement shoot was a bust; it ended up raining that day and so we canceled last minute.  I honestly HATE doing that to people, but I didn’t want them to be disappointed by a sub-par, last-minute indoor location.  Since we weren’t bound by any deadlines or time constraints and the fact that I really wanted them to have a nice setting, we put it off for another week.   The day of their make-up session, there were thankfully no clouds in the sky;  it was drenched in gorgeous sunset light.

We decided to stick around the Pagoda on Tazwell; it was walking distance from our Granby Street office plus that area is a great combination of gardens, water and cute brownstones.  Here are a few photos from our session!




Kamillah + Renald Part One | Virginia Beach Engagement Photographer

Ren proposed to Kam inside the lovely waterside restaurant, Steinhilbers, so they chose that as the site for their engagement portraits.  It was a supremely awful day, weather-wise, which nixed the outdoor portrait ideas we had.  However, the restaurant was pretty, Steiny’s staff was gracious and Kam and Ren are such a fun, happy couple to photograph.   More photos and more on their love story will be in a future post after we do the outdoor part of their shoot (engagement shoot 2: electric boogaloo), but for now here is a quick sneak peek of their restaurant engagement portraits:



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Andrea + Jerome | Chesapeake Maternity Photography

Andrea and Jerome are the latest parents to join the Baby Steps portrait program.  It’s such a small world amongst our clients; Jerome’s brother Gabe was one of our recent grooms and Andrea’s cousins with two couples who are also in Baby Steps (as well as coworkers with two OTHER Baby Steps moms!!).  We love it!  For their maternity session, we traveled out to their home in Deep Creek.  It’s been a while since I’ve been out that way because I miscalculated our travel time by a full 45 minutes.  Yikes! Luckily, they were very cool about it and it ended up timing well with the sunset.  They live in an adorable new construction neighborhood, so although greenery was a little sparse, I can’t wait to see what the neighborhood will look like when its time for Lily’s one year old portrait next year!

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Ashley + Jason | Raleigh NC Wedding Photography