Vendor Spotlight: Monica with MJ Mendoza Photography
Meet Monica Mendoza, Owner and Photographer of MJ Mendoza Photography! Read how she got started, how much she loves Game of Thrones, and the important thing to know before getting married!
What makes you or your business stand out and why should a couple hire you?
The things I hear most often from my couples about me is how I’m the calm in the organized chaos that is a wedding day with the ability to make my couples feel natural and comfortable in front of the camera! My personality is bubbly and I love to laugh with my brides on the wedding day but when timelines get thrown off, or something goes awry, I’m cool and level headed to keep the bride on track and smiling while hustling behind the scenes to make her day perfect!
What’s a weird/unusual tip you tell your couples?
For my favorite poses that result in gorgeous romantic images, I’ll tell my groom to smell the bride’s hair or the edge of her eyebrow! They both laugh at the weirdness of the ask but it turns out to be such a sweet romantic portrait of them that they both LOVE!
What’s your favorite thing about what you do?
My brides become some of my close friends and I usually keep in touch with all of them after the wedding day. That’s the best part of the job. It’s not just serving a couple well but also gaining new friendships out of it! I see them again for updated family portraits, anniversary sessions and when they grow their family and we bond even more over our kids. It’s not just a day and that’s it, I’m my couple’s cheerleader years beyond the wedding day.
How did you get to where you are now?
I could say it started long ago when I’d follow my dad around with his camera and my little disposable one, but to cut it short and sweet, I went to college to major in Visual Arts & Photography, shot my very first wedding in 2015 and I was hooked. I absolutely loved it! But at the end of 2015, I left Virginia and flew halfway across the country to marry my husband who was in the military at the time. My husband encouraged me to pursue my photography and when we came back home to Virginia the following year, I hit the ground running and photographed a couple more weddings. In January 2018, I became an official LLC and haven’t looked back since. It took a lot of work, a lot of encouragement from my husband who was really the driving force behind me going full time just a few months ago (thanks babe!) and a lot of coffee.
What’s something every couple should know before getting married?
That a wedding is so much fun but it is nowhere near as fun as being married. The real fun is staying up with your spouse, eating ice cream, and rewatching Game of Thrones for the fiftieth time. It’s baking sugar cookies at 10 pm because you can and there’s no one else you’d rather do it with. It’s finding new things about each other that you love. So enjoy your wedding but remember the most fun you’ll ever have is in your marriage!
What’s your go-to spot to eat in RVA?
I love Greek on Cary in Carytown but my number one go-to is Mr. Pepe (used to be Don Pepe) in Chesterfield. I’ve been going there since high school and I love it there! Plus their white sauce is to die for!
What did you want to be when you were little?
I wanted to be a ballet dancer! My mom still has a photo of me wearing a pink leotard and tights, striking my best pose.
What was your first job?
My first job was at Office Max, which was also where I met my husband who was my then-co worker!
What did you eat for breakfast this morning?
A coffee with Cinnabon coffee creamer!
What do you like to do when you are away from work?
I like to just hang out with my little family. My son, Luca is now a fan of playgrounds and I love seeing his smile as he’s playing outside with our husky. My happy place overall is traveling. I love being at the airport, I love riding the train into DC, New York City is my favorite place closely followed by Washington DC!
What TV show are you currently binging?
My favorite tv show is Game of Thrones! I’m currently rewatching it from the very beginning again! I’m very much Team Stark and I have strong opinions about the final season haha!
What’s the coolest thing you’re working on now?
Researching and looking for the perfect film camera! I took film photography in high school and I love the look of it, the work and process behind every photo and I’m hoping to start some film photography back up again for fun in my personal projects
What would be in your dream sandwich?
You cannot go wrong with a classic cheesesteak. Favorite sandwich EVER. But if I had to get crazy, I’d throw some fries on there or even onion rings.
What about Nachos?
Yummmm some carne asada, salsa, sour cream, avocado, corn, beans, lettuce, more guac.
What’s your go-to dance move?
I’m the worrrrrst at dancing but I do enjoy a good Cupid Shuffle with the bridesmaids!