The Gaines Group

Get to know “Jill Koeppen, Photographer Extraordinaire” Friday Featured Local Business

jill_picGive us some background on your company. What do you do and why do you do it?

Jill Koeppen Photography offers on-location portrait photography based on my clients’ photography needs. Living in the beautiful Shenandoah allows me to take advantage of the outdoors as my studio, using natural light for my photo sessions. I specialize in many types of portraits – from maternity photographs, to children, to families, to professionals looking for a great head and shoulders 13

While I offer my clients photos in both black and white and color, I admit I have a soft place in my heart for black and white. Portraits are so timeless and classic in black and white.

blog 10What I love about my business is that I can tailor the photo session to suit the personality of the client. If a client tells me that their favorite family activity is to go trout fishing, we head off to a gorgeous trout stream. I’ve done a mountain biking session in the woods with a very active family. Some clients prefer to stay in their back yard or on their front porch, and that is fine too. Photos from a session where the client is having a great time in a relaxed environment reflect an honest insight into that person.

I travel to my clients who live throughout the valley. Sometimes I even get to enjoy photo sessions on the beach where my family lives in the Tidewater area.

Give a brief summary of what your company does and who you are as a company.

I have been intrigued by photography since I was in my early teenage years. As a student at James Madison University, I studied photography and mentored under two amazing JMU staff photographers, Tommy Thompson and Diane Elliott. At the university, I photographed a wide range of university activities including sports events, ribbon cuttings, and even student life during the studies abroad program. Following college, I spent some years working in public relations and 11

blog8After years of photographic exploration, I discovered what I enjoyed most was capturing a portrait of a loved one that would be cherished for years to come.  In 2006, I opened Jill Koeppen Photography.

Getting to know my clients is one of my favorite aspects of my job. I feel very honored that they choose me to peer into their lives with my camera. I know sometimes it doesn’t feel so comfortable being in front of the lens, so I try to make the photo session fun and relaxed by talking and joking around. With kids, the joking around may even lead to some spastic dancing on my part to solicit a giggle or two. Parents, I apologize in advance if you witness that!blog 14

blog 3I work closely with my clients to get to know their personality and their goals before the photo shoot so that I am sure we all walk away feeling confident that we were able to achieve an end result the client will absolutely love. There is no feeling better than a client who gushes about the photos I took!

Do you have an ideal client? If so, what do they look like?

My ideal client has a goal in mind, but is also willing to try some different things and be flexible during a shoot in order to get a photo that pleases everyone. Working outside means that I have to constantly reassess if the light is tricky or the weather doesn’t cooperate. I love clients who don’t mind going to plan b if necessary. Who knows… plan b might even lead to an incredible photo.blog4

What is your favorite success story in the past few years?

The story that sticks out the most in my mind is a client who called me to say she had just been diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer.  Her future was uncertain and she wanted to have a family photo taken right away before she started her chemo treatments. We held her family photo session beside a small river and she was thrilled with the photos. I’m so happy to say that today she is cancer-free!

blog 12What do you like to do for fun? Favorite restaurant? Favorite place to spend a Saturday afternoon?

When I am not working, I spend my time with my husband, Jeff, and my daughters, Claire, 13, and Ellie, 10. We like to hike together at Big Meadows and other trails on Skyline Drive during the warmer months. Big Meadows has the most amazing light and I adore taking photos there in the tall summer grass.

We cook at home a lot since three of us are vegetarians. I love making homemade bread and homemade pizzas. As far as restaurants, my family loves ethnic food. When we go out, Thai Flavor and A Bowl of Good are favorites.

blog9What is on your (iPod, radio, phone) while you work?

When I edit my photos, I enjoy listening to Pandora because I can tune into some of my favorites like Mumford and Sons, Of Monsters and Men, or 5

What is your favorite book?

Historical fiction is always intriguing to me. I just finished reading World Without End by Ken Follett. Delving into medieval history gave me a keen appreciation of the modern conveniences we enjoy today.

 Where is your favorite place to vacation? 

Our favorite family vacation was to Providenciales, Turks and Caicos. I’ve never seen water as turquoise blue as the water is on Grace Bay. It was so interesting to see the pirate treasure maps carved into the cliffs there.

Our vacation this year will be spent exploring Quebec where we hope to learn more about our Canadian neighbors while eating our fill of French pastries!blog 7

What historical figure would you most like to have dinner with and why?

Sitting down to an Italian dinner of pasta and red wine with Michelangelo would make for an incredible evening. It is fascinating that someone can bring a piece of marble to life like he did. I would love to hear about life during the Renaissance in Italy.

blog6You can find more information on Jill Koeppen Photography on facebook at Jill Koeppen Photography or online at Call 540-560-4591.

Get to Know Schnitzhofer and Associates: Friday Featured Local Business

About:  Schnitzhofer & Associates, LLC provides structural engineering consulting services throughout Virginia, and West Virginia.


Jim, give us some background on your company. What do you do and why do you do it?

jamesOur Think Design Build philosophy ensures that our clients receive the best structural engineering services for their project. The idea is that our clients deserve the benefit of our experience, and each project we complete will be carefully planned well before the shovel meets the ground. Our commitment to our client is combined with our gold standard for professional practice and ethics.

What is your favorite success story in the past few years?

In 2010, S&A completed the structural catwalk framing for an existing pharmaceutical company in Virginia. Tolerances were extremely tight, facility congestion was intense, the schedule was lightning quick, and there is no road map for these types of projects. We resolved anticipated installation problems prior to construction, and completed the project on schedule.

What do you like to do for fun? Favorite restaurant? Favorite place to spend a Saturday afternoon?

I have been collecting vintage motorcycles for quite some time. I suspect it’s the challenge of bringing them back to life that draws me back to them.

I recently purchased a 1963 Chevy Nova from the original owner. It doesn’t need any work, it just looks like a classic. And I plan to drive it around whenever I can.

I had a lovely sushi dinner at Ten recently. The food was spectacular and the service was second to none.

I like to hit the antique shops or meet a friend for a wine tasting and a good chat.

I am the Virginia Ambassador for the Prostate Cancer Awareness Project (PCAP) out of Los Angeles, California. In this role, I help organize our annual Pony Express ride through Staunton up to DC each August/September.

What is on your (iPod, radio, phone) while you work?

Currently in a Counting Crows phase.

What is your favorite book?

For the last few years I’ve had my nose in dozens of business books – both classic and new. Fountainhead stands out otherwise.

What is your favorite app for your phone or iPod?

Sleep Time. This app uses your iphone accelerometer to monitor your sleep cycles, tracks and catalogs them for your review, and even wakes you up at the most ideal time, to avoid grogginess.

Where is your favorite place to vacation?

Most recently it is Savannah, Georgia. I love the history, architecture, and the sense of romance that lives in The City.

What historical figure would you most like to have dinner?

Sir Isaac Newtown is at the top of my list.

Modern Residential Addition

Modern Residential Addition

Historic Residential Addition

Historic Residential Addition

Structural Analysis, Commercial Barn to Retail Conversion

Structural Analysis, Commercial Barn to Retail Conversion

Commercial Renovation: Homestead Preserve

Commercial Renovation: Homestead Preserve