HS Photography Class Field Trip

March 28, 2018 Greensboro, North Carolina.     The high school photography class from Caldwell Academy in Greensboro spent half a day in our Studio on Wednesday. Photography is an elective for student in the Rhetoric program at Caldwell and the instructor is Natalie Carter Hyde.

Students spent time using soft box lighting for portraits of each other and then a walk around outside the Pembroke Road Studio experimenting with with textures and shapes. They finished up the trip with lunch and some exposure to our post production process with Jamie Dinkins.

Natalie Carter Hyde, photographer

By Dianne Stone, Published in January in Guilford Woman Magazine

when natural talent, serendipity, hard work and opportunity meet.

From stay-at-home mom to award-winning photographer and owner of Aesthetic Images Photography (AIP) of Greensboro, Natalie Carter Hyde’s professional rise is a fascinating and inspiring story of what happens when natural talent, serendipity, hard work and opportunity meet.

To meet Natalie Carter Hyde is to love her. Just ask any of her clients. Hyde’s laser focus on delivering the best photographs for her clients, tempered with a natural warmth that is under-girded with palpable strength of character makes her a force to be reckoned with in the photography world.

Whether a new or decade-old client, for a portrait or an event, Hyde is fiercely passionate about each of her “people.” And if you spend any time talking with her about her craft, words like “authenticity,” “discretion,” “love” and “relationship” pepper the conversation. These values, coupled with exceptional talent, have shaped the culture that she and her husband, Jeff Hyde, have worked to establish at Aesthetic Images Photography (AIP) since 2006.

And it seems to be working.

With four full-time employees who have been on board for eight or more years and more than 600 weddings under their belt⎯not to mention corporate clients throughout the Southeast⎯AIP is thriving. Their client list includes some of the most recognizable family names and company brands in North Carolina.

As she opens a folder for a wedding she’s preparing for, stacks of loose papers with intimate notes about her client’s family history are visible, representing hours of preparation. “This is what I do. It’s that important to me. I want to know about the table cloth that’s been handed down for generations on the cake table. I want to know about the loud, boisterous uncle who everyone loves. These are the things that represent you in that moment in your life. And that’s what I want to capture.”

“Photography is essentially documenting time and relationships. And today, there are lots of options to do that, from cell phones to plastic cameras and on and on. Cell phones are great for capturing spontaneous moments, but my greatest fear is that people won’t print those photographs and those photographs will be lost forever.”

Is she concerned about cell phone culture impacting their business? Not really. According to Hyde, she believes that it has made people appreciate what AIP does even more. “People come to us when they can’t do it themselves. And we love being the ones entrusted with that responsibility.”

While the details are important to her, her clients’ trust of her is even more precious. “We’re in people’s spaces … we’re in their closets picking out clothes for them. And we’re in their most vulnerable and important moments. That’s why things like discretion, judgment, sensitivity and old-fashioned good manners are critical to the work we do.”

What is her favorite subject? There isn’t one, says Hyde. She says the ideal photograph conveys emotion and movement. Similar to the literature she studied during her college years, “it tells a story; there’s a setting, beginning, climax and a conclusion to every photo shoot.”

Hyde is also a stark advocate for the fundamentals of photography, but not from a legalistic perspective. Hyde believes that “once a photographer has expertise in the basics, it frees them to let their creativity flourish to capture a moment in a way that only they can.”

Love of Photography Born at Home

Where was this passion for beautiful photographs birthed? In her childhood home in New Jersey, where coffee tables were full of her parents’ photography books, including the likes of Avedon and Karsh that now reside in her Greensboro home. It was born while helping her father as he developed photography in their home’s dark room. According to Hyde, spending time there was like being in a “secret, smelly dark world where the two of us were just creating and being together as these photographs came to life.”

Though a financial expert by trade, her father’s love for photography and cars couldn’t be bridled. His job with a Manhattan bank afforded him the opportunity to travel to Asia and Africa, among other continents, developing business. He would seek every opportunity to photograph the culture and cars.

Stepping out of her home office, Hyde pulled out an aged piece of paper about the size of a driver’s license and smiled a mischievous smile while shaking her head from side to side. Gazing at a quarter-size image of her strikingly handsome father, she explains, “He made this. It was a fake photographer press pass that allowed him to get into the inner circles of Formula One races and other social events to take pictures.” His creativity alone, much less the courage it took to pull that off, is just a glimpse of what made him a larger than life figure to many people who knew him.

Sadly, when Hyde was just 12 years old, her father died suddenly from a heart attack. Nevertheless, Hyde persevered and graduated from high school at St. Mary’s College in Raleigh, N.C. and continued her education at Ohio Wesleyan University where she received her BA in Literature. After college, possessing her parents’ zest for travel and adventure, Natalie was ready to explore.

Stirred by Family

Her next adventure landed her in the United Kingdom, where she completed her Master of Arts degree in Literary Theory and Criticism from the University of New Castle. During what was to be a brief stint in the States to see family, Natalie met her future husband, Jeff, and never returned to Britain. Within the year, they were married and Greensboro, her father’s childhood hometown, became her own.

In 1998 and 2000, Natalie and Jeff’s two boys, Joe and Henry were born, respectively, and Natalie embraced her next adventure: dedicating her time to raising her young boys. During that time, Natalie made a discovery that would once again spark a new venture.

While preparing to renovate her family home, Natalie came upon a trunk filled with her father’s most treasured photographs. As she devoured each photograph, memories of time with her father in his dark room came rushing back, igniting an untapped passion for photography. Her next step became clear. She wanted her own “real camera.”

It wasn’t long before Natalie was taking pictures for her sons’ Greensboro preschool and the accolades started rolling in. With her mother’s encouragement, she enrolled in basic photography class at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG) under Abigail Seymour. Later that semester, at her professor’s prompting and with her help, Hyde submitted some of her work to the prestigious 2003 Maine Media Workshop.

Summer in Maine was Turning Point for Hyde

Weeks later, Hyde learned she had been accepted to the Workshop, for which she received a full scholarship, and would be studying under the internationally-lauded commercial photographer Bobbie Lane. Soon after, with her husband and boys full support, this stay-at-home mother found herself on a plane to study photography under one of the industry’s most talented photographers.

Shortly thereafter, Hyde began working as an associate photographer for AIP. She immediately began pursuing certification with the Professional Photographers of America (PPA), which is the largest governing body of professional photographers in the U.S. Securing that certification, joined the ranks of only two percent of photographers in America.

In 2006, the Hydes purchased Aesthetic Images Photography (AIP) and in 2007, Jeff made the decision to leave the restaurant business to join her at AIP. His natural ease with people and operational strengths made him the perfect addition to the team. As Jeff led the business side, Natalie was freed up to do what she loved most, photograph.

A self-described introvert, Natalie’s favorite place in a room is in the background with her camera, archiving the moments living themselves out before her. Over the years, she has photographed individuals ranging from smock-wearing four year olds to Heads of State, including US Presidents Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Donald Trump. In addition, she and AIP have photographed for the likes of Vanity Fair, The New York Times and Town and Country magazines.

But one of her most treasured memories among all of this? That their business “allowed us to home school our boys in high school, so we could travel, learn, work and explore together,” says Hyde. Sharing her wanderlust with her children has been especially important to her, yet it’s clear that while she is traveling to do her work, her heart still resides in North Carolina.

Before homeschooling her sons, they both attended Caldwell Academy in Greensboro. Possessing a natural affinity for Caldwell, Natalie was thrilled to accept a part-time position there to teach her passion beginning in December of 2017. Hyde’s excitement about the position is evident, “I absolutely love it. I love the kids and everything about it.”

In addition, Aesthetic Images Photography cares about the communities where they do business. They do pro-bono work for organizations like Family Services of the Piedmont, The American Heart Association, Lawndale Baptist Church (where they are members) and Restoration Place Ministries. Outside of Greensboro, AIP provides pro-bono services for TAG in High Point, N.C. and the Sunday Supper in Raleigh, N.C. They believe in and support the causes in which their clients have an interest.

Her new venture into education will be joined in the first quarter of 2018 with AIP’s expansion into a new space in Raleigh. While Greensboro, High Point, and Winston-Salem remain the heart of their business, they have experience significant growth in Raleigh and Durham. While excited about this new space, Natalie and Jeff are equally enthusiastic about bringing on new photographers with new ideas and passions in the Triangle.

The Team is the Strength of AIP

One of the Hydes’ core principles is to play to their employees’ strengths, which naturally provides a broad spectrum of creativity. Jeff explained, “Every member of our team can do almost any role or task in the operation. However, our primary roles are in the areas we are most passionate about.”

For example, Jamie Dinkins, AIP’s Professional Photo Editor, joined the team as an intern in 2008 and has turned natural talent and passion into design expertise becoming a vital member of the AIP team. “Jamie, has actually been nicknamed ‘The Enhancer’ because that’s what she loves and where she excels,” says Hyde.

Likewise, Evan Greene, who has been on board for 3 years, “is brilliant at the technology side of post-production,” says Hyde. On the other side of the camera, you’ll find photographers Jon Eric Johnson, Dana Kanfoush and Scott Russell who work alongside AIP at weddings, corporate and political events and wherever AIP needs them.

Natalie and Jeff are quick to express how grateful they are to collaborate with such exceptional photographers and to have enjoyed such long-term relationships with each of them. “The photographers we work with have their own distinctive style” says Hyde, “and when we are covering an event, our clients benefit from the whole of that creativity and talent.”

Natalie’s wisdom for aspiring photographers? “It’s competitive and you have to love it to pursue it. Be prepared to work hard and know your craft. Master the fundamentals because that will actually free you to be your most creative self. And let your work be authentic. Because if it’s not authentic, then it just doesn’t matter.”

What does the future hold for AIP and Natalie Carter Hyde? “I see AIP growing and diversifying and adapting to new technologies just as we have for more than 10 years now. And me? I’ve worked with some clients now for over a decade archiving every important moment for their families, from christenings and portraits to weddings and anniversaries. I truly love my people, my clients. I will be 100 years old and photographing their grandchildren. That’ll be me.”

Restoration Runway “Together”

March 22, 2018, Greensboro, NC.

Restoration Place Counseling of Greensboro held their 9th annual fundraising event Restoration Runway, a fashion show and auction that celebrates the work RPC does through the year.  This year’s event was attended by more than 470 people at the Greensboro Country Club.

Restoration Runway Gallery

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Continue reading Restoration Runway “Together”

GMA hosts Annual Dinner featuring Cal Ripken, Jr.

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On Tuesday, February 27, 2018, Cal Ripken, Jr. addressed a crowd of nearly 800 at the 112th Annual Dinner of the GMA.  In a Q&A format lead by WXII Sports Anchor, Kenny Beck, Baseball’s Iron Man, spoke about his career, his family and charity.

For the past 112 years, GMA has been kicking off the new year with the Annual Dinner. Almost 800 guests enjoyed a cocktail reception where attendees mix & mingle with fellow GMA members and civic leaders,  a delicious sit down dinner, the passing of the gavel to our incoming Board Chair, Bart Lassiter, and then inspirational words from Cal Ripken, Jr.

Cal Ripken, Jr. is baseball’s all-time Iron Man. He retired from the game in 2001 after a hall of fame career that spanned over the course of 21 seasons, all with the Baltimore Orioles. While he’s best known for his incredible streak of 2,632 consecutive games played, he also redefined the position of shortstop.

Ripken humbly spoke about his career and accomplishments, emphasizing rather his family, and values. “What I am as a man and a ballplayer comes from the way I was raised.”  His organization, Ripken Baseball, works with young people to teach them to attain success by doing “the right things, the right way, The Ripken Way.


More on Cal Ripken, Jr. here from Wikipedia

“Calvin Edwin Ripken Jr. (born August 24, 1960), nicknamed “The Iron Man”,[1] is an American former baseball shortstop and third baseman who played 21 seasons in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Baltimore Orioles (1981–2001). One of his position’s most offensively productive players, Ripken compiled 3,184 hits, 431 home runs, and 1,695 runs batted in during his career, and he won two Gold Glove Awards for his defense. He was a 19-time All-Star and was twice named American League (AL) Most Valuable Player (MVP). Ripken holds the record for consecutive games played, 2,632, surpassing Lou Gehrig’s streak of 2,130 that had stood for 56 years and that many deemed unbreakable. In 2007, he was elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility, and currently has the fourth highest voting percentage of all time (98.53%).

“Born in Maryland, Ripken grew up traveling around the United States as his father, Cal Sr., was a player and coach in the Orioles’ organization. After playing at Aberdeen High School, Ripken Jr. was drafted by the Orioles in the second round of the 1978 MLB draft. He reached the major leagues in 1981 as a third baseman, but the following year, he was shifted to shortstop, his long-time position for Baltimore. That year, Ripken also won the AL Rookie of the Year Award and began his consecutive games played streak. In 1983, he won a World Series championship and his first AL MVP Award. One of Ripken’s best years came in 1991, when he was named an All-Star, won the Home Run Derby, and was recipient of his first All-Star Game MVP Award, his second AL MVP Award, and first Gold Glove Award. He broke the consecutive games played record on September 6, 1995, in his 2,131st consecutive game, which fans voted as the league’s “most memorable moment” in an poll; Ripken voluntarily ended his 17-year streak at 2,632 games, in 1998. He switched back to third base for the final five years of his career. In 2001, his final season, Ripken was named the All-Star Game MVP and was honored with the Commissioner’s Historic Achievement Award.

“Ripken is considered one of the best shortstops and third basemen in baseball history. At 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m), 225 lb (102 kg), he pioneered the way for the success of taller, larger shortstops. He is a member of the 3,000 hit club and is behind Derek Jeter and Honus Wagner for most hits by a shortstop. Ripken is a best-selling author and the President and CEO of Ripken Baseball, Inc., whose goal is to grow the love of baseball from a grassroots level. Since his retirement, he has purchased three minor league baseball teams. He has been active in charity work throughout his career and is still considered an ambassador of the game.

We were there!

Aesthetic Images Photography has a 5 year history with the GMA and documenting their Annual Dinner.  We have covered events with Sugar Ray Leonard, Archie Manning, Hershel Walker, and Johnny Bench. More on the GMA here. 


2017 Children’s Business Fair Celebrates Entrepreneurship

October 7, 2017,  Raleigh North Carolina.  Event Photography.

The Raleigh Children’s Business Fair was a big success and for the second year in a row AIP was on hand to document this event.

About the event, from the Carolina Journal:  

“The fair, sponsored by the John William Pope Foundation, is part of a national franchise led by the Acton Academy and The Acton School of Business. It’s the second held in Raleigh. Last year, more than 60 kids set up shop in the The Commons at Raleigh’s North Hills Mall, the site of this year’s event.

Young entrepreneurs between 6 and 14 came from Charlotte, Wilmington, and everywhere in between. Sixty-eight participants opened 45 businesses, with products from jewelry, to art, to pumpkin-flavored dog biscuits.

Other exhibitors proudly displayed crocheted scarves, paper airplanes, books, and dog toys. The children’s efforts in production and marketing impressed the Pope Foundation’s Blake Brewer, who organized the event.  Read More Here. 

Raleigh Children's Business Fair 2016 07

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Participants include students from traditional public schools, public charter schools, and homeschools.

In addition to allowing children to show off ideas and sell goods to customers, the fair hosts a competition — divided into two age categories — in which judges award prizesfor best business potential, best customer service, and best business idea. Winners get $50.

Chick-Fil-A partners with the Pope Foundation, offering a special grand prize for entrepreneurs who win the “shopper’s choice” award.

“The purpose of the fair is to instill in these kids entrepreneurship and the idea of free markets and free enterprise. We want to make sure they value that in their lives — and into the next generation,” Brewer said.

The Pope Foundation is looking for a grantee for the Raleigh fair next year, Brewer said. One other Acton fair is held in the greater Triangle area, but Raleigh’s fair offers a great chance for kids to stretch their business skills.

For many child entrepreneurs, business is more than just about making money.

A few dog biscuit purveyors donate proceeds to animal rescues. A young artist puts a large portion of her profits toward scholarships for Liberian orphans.

“I’m just totally beaming. They’re amazing,” said Kari Breed, the kids’ mother, and a co-founder of Oak City Academy.

The Breed children hatched the idea for Grow Green Essentials after losing a young classmate to cancer. The experience was a difficult one, said Leala. That’s why the business is about “healthy products for healthy kids.”

They donate 10 percent of their proceeds to their school, Oak City Academy. The money goes toward scholarships for low-income students.

“Our product is very important, because regular hand soaps have cancer in them,” Titus said. “therefore, personally, I want something that doesn’t [cause] cancer.”

Event Photography by Evan Greene

Greensboro Dance Day

The Fifth Annual Greensboro Dance Day was held on Saturday,  August 5, 2017, at the Salvation Army’s Boys and Girls Club.  Several hundred attended the event held in the Royce and Jane Reynold’s Salvation Army Corps Worship Center and Boys and Girls Club on Freeman Mill Road, Greensboro. The crowd consisted of children, business and community leaders, Greensboro Police Department law enforcement officers and families.

This year’s theme was Unity in Community Through Dance. According to organizer Carolyn Woodruff, “What better way to show unity, trust, connectivity, friendship, and awareness than through dance?” Woodruff Family Law has been the driving force behind the Greensboro Dance Dance since 2013. Other sponsors include, and Fred Astaire Studios Greensboro.

This year’s Greensboro Dance Day was used as a time of national healing to honor and remember global tragedies and unite the community through dance. Woodruff Family Law Group,, and Fred Astaire Studios Greensboro know the needs of our community.

“Dance is the universal language of the world,” says Carolyn Woodruff, Woodruff Family Law Group president.” Dance is a way of expression, an identity. Our country has been through so much hurt, anger, and sadness. We need time to heal. Dance Day offers that opportunity”

Dance Day Battles Featured

This year’s event featured eight award-winning dancers with The Underground Dance League performing dance battles with the children and members of Fred Astaire Greensboro.

“Keep in mind a dance battle is not about fighting, but is about love; we hug each other at the end of a ‘battle’,” says Tyler McNeil, who is a founding member of The Underground Dance League.  “It’s not about the movement; it’s about what the move meant.”

The finale, which included Greensboro Police and the Boys and Girls Club dancers, was to Juju On That Beat! by Zay Hilfigerrr & Zayion McCall.

Although relatively new to this area, dance battles have a long history. They began decades ago to provide a healthy alternative to gang fighting. In 1969, Afrika Bambaataa organized New York’s ghetto youth into a breakdance crew called the Zulu Kings. When a rival street gang challenged the Zulu Kings, Bambaataa suggested that the two groups fight with steps rather than weapons.

Sure enough, the rival gang was as ready to square off with dance steps as they were with violent weapons. Bambaataa’s followers grew into the Zulu Nation with 5000 members. The kids from Zulu Nation would rather dance than fight. After that, breakdancing became an integral part of hip-hop.

The group reaches over 60 active participants. Woodruff Family Law Group,, and Fred Astaire Studios Greensboro join forces to cover all costs of Dance Day rehearsals, including professional dance instruction, healthy lifestyle suggestions, and healthy snacks after each rehearsal.

Greensboro Dance Day Gallery

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