All Roads Lead to the Royal

A photo studio, a Greek diner and a win-win for Matt Pellerito and Jovana Colic

I shot a royal wedding recently.

To be fair, Royal should be capitalized, it didn't involve anyone named Kate or William, and its origins, at least as far as I'm involved, can be traced back to a basement in Arlington, Virginia. As always, allow me to explain.

For a long time, the nerve center of Matt Mendelsohn Photography was located about eight feet below my kitchen sink. And when I say nerve center, the emphasis is on the nerves.

You see, like many home offices we had converted the basement of our home into a a place where Maya and I could do all our post-processing, album layouts and scheduling. We thought it would be incredibly convenient, never having to leave our house and all. And with a little effort, what once was a scary place with water heaters and cobwebs had been transformed into a cozy little office space. Things were swell for a while.

But like like many home offices, the part about never leaving the house anymore--you wake up in sweat pants, go downstairs to work in sweat pants, and then retire upstairs many hours later, still wearing sweat pants-- meant we were also going a little stir crazy. Computers would occasionally fail, hard drives would crash, and right about 1:30 in the morning you could--if you happened to be walking your dog past my house, let's say--hear me yelling things not fit for a family blog.

That's when we decided it was time to move out.

We are obviously a small operation and finding the right kind of studio space was harder than we thought. Artist lofts used to be in abundance in D.C but not anymore. One particular building downtown housed scores of creative folks I knew. Unfortunately it also happened to be smack in the middle of the parcel of land being turned into a little venue called the Verizon Center, and that was the end of that.

So when I dialed a number advertising an office in Old Town Alexandria, I assumed the person answering the phone would be a professional landlord, a person who might have a host of spaces to look at. For that reason, when he started to speak I pretty much cut him off and said, "We're not looking for storefront retail. I'm pretty much looking for the junky space above a restaurant." I figured it might focus the search a bit.

Chris Euripides, who was on the other end, laughed a little. And then he said this: "Actually, all I have is the junky space above a restaurant."

And that, as they say in "Casablanca," was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. For ten or so years our studio--the "junky" part was solved with some nice furniture and paint--has conveniently sat atop Old Town's best breakfast, the Royal Restaurant. Eveyone knows the Royal--it's where you go to get a burger and shake. Given that my wife grew up in Athens, I thought a studio above a Greek restaurant sounded like a good idea. Now, all these years alter, I know it's so.

I know the folks in the kitchen, I have long talks about Greece with Chris' dad, Charlie, and I'll often take a break from editing, especially when I know there's a big sporting event on, and sit in a booth with a nice plate of Athenian chicken.

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