Favorite Memories from Hallmark Institute of Photography

By this point you already know how much I absolutely loved my college experience at Hallmark Institute of Photography. It was the best 10 months of my life and I would go back and do it all again if I could! I thought it would be fun to share some of my favorite memories from attending Hallmark. You’ll have to forgive me if you don’t think they’re funny. Most of my stories are the “you had to be there” kind.

Orientation – We had two and a half days of orientation before our classes officially began. For the last part of orientation we were paired up with a classmate and sent on a scavenger hunt. One of the pieces of the scavenger hunt was to pick a song and sing it while one of our instructors recorded it happening. I was paired up with a girl named Tracy, who we later nicknamed Dallas, as she was from Texas. I’m not one to sing in front of total strangers so while Dallas sang into the camera lens I awkwardly danced behind her weaving in and out of frame. I think I embarrassed myself more by dancing that I would have if I just sang with her! Yes I still have the video of us doing this and no, I won’t be sharing!!

5 photo students crammed into my little Nissan Versa on our way to another field trip!

Field Trips – For the first few months of school we went on field trips to different towns within about an hour of Hallmark. During these trips we were given two assignments and sent off in groups to go complete them. Let me paint a quick picture for you. We started school in January. In the middle of Winter. And it was COLD! We al bundled up and traipsed through the snow in random towns in Massachusetts and Vermont to accomplish our assignments.

Unplanned Matching with Ashley – For whatever reason, Ashley and I got really excited when we both showed up to school wearing fun black and white leggings. It was definitely a picture worthy moment! Fun Fact: I’m shooting Ashley’s wedding in Montana in June of 2021 and am bring one of my classmates and really good friends, Omar to shoot it along side me. It’ll be like a mini reunion and I CANNOT WAIT!!!

Prop Shopping – With the endless amount of assignments we were given we were also in charge of getting our own props. This meant countless trips to the Michael’s craft store and hour long drives, both ways, to Holyoke Mall which housed the closest Target. Sometimes we even needed to head up to Keene, NH for a few other prop necessities. As stressful as prop shopping could be at times we always tried to make it fun!

Lauren, my roommate, Omar and I thinking we were super cool with an OMG sign we found. The first time we took this photo we had the letter backwards lol

Having your photo on the big screen in the lobby – We were like kids in a candy store walking into school on Monday morning. The instructors would take some of the best work from the previous few weeks and display them on a large tv screen in the lobby where everyone walked by. This was my very first image on the big screen and I’m stoked, as you can tell! It was always fun to see what everyone else was producing. We gathered around this screen in a semi circle gazing at the talent that we all possessed!

Flight Day – One of our field trips was to a local private airport. We had two assignments during this trip. One of them was to photograph a specific building… FROM AN AIRPLANE! Although it was rainy, cold, and overcast we made the very most of it! Some of us tried to dress the part to do some portraits for our other assignment and to feel like we belonged on a private jet. If I’m being honest, there was no jet involved. Just a small prop plane that I don’t think four people should have been able to fit in…

This guy’s name is Brendon! He actually lived a few doors down from me at school and is originally from Louisiana! In 2018 Omar and I went to LA to attend his wedding and had a mini reunion.

Special assignment with Claire Rosen – We often had guest speakers come and visit Hallmark and talk to us about their field and what it was like out in the “real world”. Claire Rosen, an award winning fine art photographer, came and spoke with us about her style of photography. Then she gave us an assignment. Create an image that’s a mix of a fairytale and a current world problem. My group chose The Little Mermaid, my personal favorite, and oceanic pollution. It was a BLAST! We all worked together putting this shoot together and I actually was the one to do the makeup, which I had never done before but LOVED! The first two images are some behind the scene images and the last two below are the two final images we created. I’m still obsessed with how this turned out and can remember to vividly all the work that went into this.

A visit from my Sister – My sister came out to visit me once while I was in school and this trip was one we will NEVER forget. I had her model for me for an assignment I was working on in the portrait studio. Although she may not have loved it, she’d my sister and did it anyway! She didn’t stay too long and soon we were headed back to my apartment so I could say goodbye and she could head back to Albany. I sent her on her way with a hug and went back inside my apartment to gather a few things for a quick trip up to New Hampshire to help out a fellow photographer. I got what I needed and headed outside to hop in my car only to find my sister’s car taking up a few parking spots diagonally. To make a long story short, her serpentine belt snapped in her car and she was stranded. I had to go to NH while she dealt with her car situation. When I arrived back I was greeted by her standing outside my apartment with the contents of her car laid out along the parking lot. Poor thing! We then threw all of her things in my vehicle and met her boyfriend half way so he could take her the rest of the way home. What an adventure!

Our version of the Fab Four – The four of us, Omar, Brendon, Karraline and myself did EVERYTHING together! We prop shopped together, went on pizza dates often, always had each other’s back and became a part of each other’s family away from home. I miss each one of these humans every single day.

PIZZA – Pizza was all of our love languages at school. No one had money so we all chipped in and got pizza for dinner more times that I’d like to admit. I remember, clear as day, ordering our first pizza and waiting for it to arrive. We ordered a round pizza to share with ranch on the side for Omar. (On a side note, I always had to be the one to place the pizza order. You see, Omar is British and when he says “Ranch” no one knows what he’s saying. It’s kind of hilarious). Anyway, when our waitress places our pizza down on the table I thought it was a joke. You see, they took a round pizza and cut it into square slices…. How on Earth does this make any sense?! It must be a Massachusetts thing because a few places did it that way and I was always very confused by it.

It just dawned on me that the two men in this photo are now Fathers. It’s insane what can happen in 5 years.

Omar’s “Power Naps” – I have no idea how he does it but Omar is able to fall asleep within 30 seconds and can literally sleep anywhere. The four of us were shooting a video and in between two of our locations Omar decided he needed a quick 5 minute nap. These mini sleeps of his are hilarious to me but he always woke up a little more rested and ready to go. One time I was in the middle of talking to him and the next thing I know he was sitting under a desk sleeping. Must have been a pretty boring conversation…

Blowing after submitting our final portfolios – To celebrate months of really hard work a few of us decided to go bowling, with pizza of course, to celebrate! We had a blast this night celebrating and being able to breath for the first time in a long time. Fun fact: On my way home this night I got pulled over for the very first time. I was petrified and had no idea what I did wrong. Turns out, I didn’t have my lights on… PHEW!

Sleeping on the way to NYC – Remember those famous Omar Power Naps? Well sleeping on our trip to NYC with the rest of our class was no different. We didn’t know this until we both were away and finally pulling up to the Javits Center that we each took a similar photo of each other sleeping. I laugh so hard everytime I see these photos because neither of us had any clue the other one took that photo.

There are so so SO many other incredible memories I have from my time at Hallmark. But this blog has gone on long enough. If you made it this far, you’re a champion! I’ll just leave you with one more of my favorite memories and we can call it a day, sounds good?

Speaking at graduation – A few weeks before graduation our class had to decide on who we wanted to speak on behalf of our whole class doing the ceremony. After we all submitted out votes it turned our that it was up to me! This was a HUGE honor to me and I still get goosebumps every time I think about this speech. I remember practicing it a few days before our graduation ceremony and couldn’t get through it because I just started crying. I was filled with emotion from relief and happiness, and a little bit of sadness because our time at this magical place was up. I powered through for our actual ceremony but my whole body shook the entire time because I was so nervous! It was probably the best way I could say farewell and to close that chapter in my book.

I still have this dress and occasionally wear it while I’m photographing weddings! It’s a pretty special outfit!

Hallmark Institute of Photography, Class of 2015


  1. […] have so many incredible memories from my experience at Hallmark which you can read all about here! Some of them are quite hilarious if you ask me but most of my stories are the “you had to be […]

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