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Durham Belle, Showcasing the South

We love good southern photography here at and our latest BSB feature, Rhea Reid has made it her mission to do just that. This DC based photographer has strong southern roots and it shows in the clients she works with and the work she produces. Today we feature her personal story and her beautiful work. Take a break and enjoy her beautiful images of the south today!

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Your Name:

Rhea Reid

Business Name:

Rhea Whitney Photography

What You Provide:

Wedding and Portrait Photography

Southern Roots: 

I was born and lived in Durham, NC. All my family is from North Carolina as well – my mother’s side from Clarkton, NC and my father’s side from Elizabeth City, NC. I also live in Columbia, SC, Savannah, GA, and Frankfort, KY – so my southern roots are deep! LOL 🙂

Where are you based?

Washington, DC

Why did you decide to start a business?

 I decided to start my business when I learned the amount of joy, comfort and lasting memories I’m able to provide my clients through pictures! I never really considered being a photographer until I really saw the value in my visual craftsmanship.  Being able to have the best opportunities to meet new people and capture their special moments that will last forever is the one of the best parts about being a photographer!

What is your favorite client story?

Oh! This is a hard one! LOL I think one of my favorite client stories is my last wedding in New Orleans with Jason and RaShandra. They were a Howard referral from a past client and I could tell from their engagement shoot that we were going to be a good fit together. Their friends came and surprised them during our engagement shoot, which was so much fun and helped to make my job easier by making them laugh and providing an extra layer of comfort during their session. Their wedding was absolutely BEAUTIFUL! Everything was planned out so well and they really allowed me to take the creative lead on their wedding day, trusting me to capture their love story, while also requesting special shots they wanted to recreate. I think what added the extra layer of fun was the New Orleans southern charm feel. The music, food, drinks, decor was so pretty and colorful and full of that beautiful southern charm. I loved working with them and capturing their beautiful day!

What is your website?

Who are some of your business idols?

Kwaku Alston is amazing! His work speaks for himself and having met him, his creativity behind the camera is unmatched. I’m always in awe of his images. I also love the creative and business acumen of Beyonce and the brand that she’s built for herself. She is one of my ALL time favs!

Do you have any mentors?

 Yes! I learned the technical side of photography from Derrel Todd-owner of Foot Print Fotos. His teaching really gave me a great foundation for understanding photography techniques and manipulating lighting. My other photography mentor is Elle Danielle, an amazing photographer based out of Alabama. I’ve been following her work for about 3 years now and finally met her 2 years ago. We immediately connected and she invited me to have a 1-on-1 mentorship with her learning more about the business side of photography. Having these photography mentors in the early stages of starting my business was such a smart and critical move for me because their knowledge and expertise opened my eyes to the industry and all that it had to offer. With their help and some internal evaluations, I’ve been able to identify what I love most, my style as a photographer and how I want Rhea Whitney Photography to be perceived by others.

What is your favorite thing about being a photographer?

My favorite thing about being a photographer is easily the connections I’m able to make with people that once were strangers and then became my clients. I really value my clients’ experience and want to make sure they leave feeling confident and trusting in my ability to capture their special moments.  Seeing my clients so happy after their shoot and even more ecstatic upon receiving their images is one the best feelings in the whole world! I truly value the connections I have with my clients.

What do you love about shooting southern brides?

Their aesthetic for beauty and nature and incorporating the soft southern charm that’s special to them in their wedding day.

What is your favorite item to see on a wedding menu?

I think it would be a nice beef roast or turkey roast at a carving station. YUMMY!

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What is your favorite thing about being southern?

The FOOD! DUH! HAHA Seriously though, my mother is a true North Carolinian and has always cooked amazing home cooked meals for me and my family everyday. I still go to her house every Sunday for Sunday dinner, and never leave without a nice to-go plate 🙂

What is your favorite southern dish?

Another hard question! LOL I think it would have to be Turkey Wings and homemade macaroni and cheese. I want some NOW!

What is the most important thing you have done to build your business?

 Ooo – that’s a hard one! I think outside of learning the technical side of photography (manual and lighting), I believe one of the most important decisions I’ve done to build my business is taking the leap of faith to pursue photography full-time. This decision was more-so forced on me at the time, but I know it was a sign from God and pretty much perfect timing. I ran my business part time for the last 3 and a half years and was very fortunate to be successful. During that time I built up a great amount of clientele and now that I’m full time so many doors have opened, more than I ever would have imagined..  We are all given a purpose in life and when you’re able to find your purpose and make it profitable, you have to live in that gift! I’m living it and LOVING it!

What are your favorite southern brand    This one is hard for me! I love a Publix grocery store, Bojangles breakfast, and Parisan’s Department store. All so random!

What is your favorite item or piece of clothing to wear/use while doing business? I love to feel super comfortable while shooting, but also cute enough to take a selfie with my client after our session. A nice cool cotton t-shirt with skinny jeans or shorts or a long maxi dress is what I’d wear for a portrait or family session. For a wedding, I like to wear either pants, a long skirt, or a jumpsuit of sorts that allow me room to get down low and stand high above others but also be classy and chic while shooting. Oh! I also have to have on some lipstick too!! It adds the extra pop to my outfit and outlook!! LOL 🙂

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Michiel Perry

Michiel is a Black Southern Belle living a lowcountry life. I love all things fashion, home decor and southern! When I am not running around doing fun stuff for Black Southern Belle, I live in antique stores and have a minor obsession with historic homes 🙂

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