Humans of Calvert County, Sarah Merranko & Anita Santoyo

“We were both invited to attend a party in Virginia. I was with a close friend of mine and Cal just happened to be there with some friends of his.

Turns out Cal was my friend’s husband’s cousin. I saw him from a distance and asked who he was. She introduced us and he didn’t seem to show much interest. He lived here in Maryland (for work) and I was there, in VA. He grew up there. After the party was over he went back to MD and I started a Facebook search. After some convincing from my friend, she gave him my phone number and he asked me on a proper date. Our date was to a dance for New Year’s Eve. And our first kiss was at midnight.

We dated long distance only 3 months before I got a job in DC and moved up here. Ethan, my son, and I had an apartment in Prince Frederick for a year and then we got married. I left my DC job for something closer in St. Leonard and had Thea. Once Thea was born we decided childcare costs were outrageous and it would be best for me to stay home. That’s when I went full time. I’ve done photography since November 2010. But went full time in 2013.

Image courtesy of Humans of Calvert County

Raising a family and owning a business both have their own sets of challenges. There are business “things” that would be easier if I didn’t have children – and family “things” that would be easier if I didn’t have my business. But I think that any working mother, business owner or not, could say the same thing. I wouldn’t trade it for anything else though.

Eleanor was born almost 11 months ago. And since she’s so little I’ve decided it would be easier to limit booking weddings this year. Painting has become a hobby to fill the time I’m not shooting. I need a creative outlet. So painting has filled the void. I wish I could say I studied it before because I’m so drawn to it, but it’s never too late to start!

Image courtesy of Humans of Calvert County

Yes, people have asked me to do personal commissions but I haven’t sold anything I’ve done yet. I like to give them as gifts for now. Our daughter paints with me. When I start working on a piece she’s almost always sitting next to me working on her own. She is very creative. She loves to dance, singing, and painting.

Neither of us has family here. We’re 5 hours away from them. Both of our parents live within 30 minutes of each other, in Virginia, but I’m so happy to have found myself planting roots here. We’ve made dear friends who have become our family. Our neighbors are wonderful people who love our kids. And our daughter’s ballet studio has enriched her life beyond anything we could have dreamed.

We were once just Virginians trying to find our place. But now – we’re home.”

David M. Higgins II, Publisher/Editor

David M. Higgins was born in Baltimore and grew up in Southern Maryland. He has had a passion for journalism since high school. After spending many years in the Hospitality Industry he began working in...