Erica Land Photography

Focusing the Lens on Everyone’s Inner Beauty

Article by Marie Robey Wood

Photography by Erica Land

Originally published in Potomac Lifestyle

Erica Land didn’t start out as an award-winning photographer. Initially, she spent 13 years working as an attorney, with photography as a hobby she loved and practiced in her spare time. However, with three young children and the need for more flexibility in her life, she decided to turn her passion into a profession. She took classes and began her career as a portrait photographer.

Soon Erica was photographing a variety of subjects in all types of situations —from preschoolers to professional actors, dancers, and athletes. Her work included photographing her daughter’s teenage friends and then high school seniors. This led to her starting three separate programs, or teams, to fill gaps she noticed: for teens — The Teen Model Ambassador Program; for high school seniors —The Senior Influencer Team; and for dancers —The Fierce Images Dance Team. All the programs are unique but contain similar characteristics. 

The Teen Model Ambassador Program involves a year-long experience with the goal of empowering teens through photography. Team members focus not just on building a photographic modeling portfolio, but also serving as positive role models in the community, with an emphasis on kindness and compassion for others. The program runs from June to June, beginning with an individual filling out a questionnaire and then spending time with Erica so she can get to know their likes and interests. Next is an individual portrait session. After that session team members are eligible for group photo sessions and community service activities. Some of her teen model members want to be professional models and several have competed in the Miss Teen USA program. 

The Senior Influencer Team offers high school seniors connections with other seniors in the area, along with group photoshoots throughout the year with the members of the teen group as well as their fellow seniors, both in Erica’s studio and in different locations. The students cooperate in choosing the subject of their monthly photo shoot. These themes include special holidays such as the Fourth of July, Christmas, and Hanukkah. Additionally, she offers members special sessions with their families, prom sessions, cap and gown sessions, college gear sessions, and friend sessions. 

Another unique aspect of Erica Land Photography’s program is that she offers her team members leadership positions —photo assistant, writing assistant, and fashion assistant.

In 2022 Erica formed her third team, The Fierce Images Dance Team, with the goal of helping dancers build their own unique photographic portfolio while meeting and forming friendships with other dancers. During the team’s first year, she took photos in her “fierce” studio, her regular studio, in the city, and in a rain machine she built. This team will no doubt grow in 2023. All three teams will have the opportunity to be featured internationally in the many photography magazines where Erica regularly submits images.

Erica’s three teams are involved in many charitable causes. This year, through her 501(c)(3) nonprofit “ELP Gives Back,” Senior Influencers and Teen Model Ambassadors put on a fashion show to raise funds for The Arms Wide Open Childhood Cancer Foundation and DanceHopeCure. Additionally, team members have opportunities to raise funds and provide food for a food pantry, as well as clothing for a homeless shelter. All three teams can participate in “Project Beauty,” where Erica photographs students who aren’t wearing make-up with the goal of redefining true beauty versus beauty portrayed on social media. She uses the project to raise mental health awareness. Last year they activated a campaign for an organization to help prevent teen suicide. Details can be found at ericalandphotography.com/project-beauty.

At the end of a busy year, Erica Land Photography offers team members something unique in today’s digital world: an heirloom-quality photo album and ready-to-hang wall art, precious mementos of a special time in their lives.

"I recognized my skill is with people, interacting with them, bringing out their smiles, and showing their inner beauty."

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