The Power of Motherhood



Today’s pregnancy isn’t like your grandmother’s pregnancy.

No longer do women hide their growing bellies beneath sheaths of fabric, tents really.   No longer do they avert their eyes and tiptoe about as if their “condition” is something shameful. Instead women are documenting and celebrating the miracle of their bodies as they  unleash the hidden power of the universe to create new life.

Today’s maternity sessions allow women of all shapes and sizes to feel good about themselves and what is happening to their bodies. We highlight that glorious baby bump using poses, dresses, lighting and settings that draw attention to a woman’s power , a power reserved solely for her.

No matter how meek or mild the girl, pregnancy changes her in ways she could never have predicted. She who was once shy, uncertain, reserved becomes bold and fierce as she discovers the power of being a woman. 

It is like the metamorphosis of a caterpillar to a butterfly. She will stretch herself and grow herself  until she is unrecognizable even to herself  as she changes from being a woman to a mother:  a new being, fiercely in love with her new creation, and daring the world to watch what her creation will become. 

This is a time worth documenting, a time worth celebrating, a time worth holding onto for all time: the time a mother was born and the world was changed forever.


Planning Family Portraits: The Importance of Location and Wardrobe

We’ve all seen those beautiful, artistic family portraits that are just out of this world and thought “I wish I had a portrait of my family like that!”

Generally there are three things that really MAKE a family portrait: 1) the family and their expressions  2) the location  3) the wardrobe.  When it comes to photographers, we can only do so much about the first one.  Either your family is THAT family and they can follow directions well and are willing to cooperate or they aren’t.   We can help with posing and we can guide your family with their expressions, but the rest really is up to the family and whether or not they can or will do it.   The other two, though, your photographer should definitely be able to help you in making the proper selections.

The first thing to consider when planning family portraits is what KIND of family portraits you want.  You have to consider the style of your home.

Is your furniture and decor high-end, rich, classic with lots of formal furniture? If so, you may want timeless, classic, formal portraits.  In that case  you will want to select a photographer who can offer in studio portraits and who has a selection of classic formal backdrops. The benefits of doing family portraits in the studio are that there are fewer distractions like passing cars, wild life, etc; there are no weather concerns like wind, heat, cold, rain, or snow to ruin your plans; and the portraits will be consistent with the same lighting,  a selection of coordinating or complementing backdrops, and a variety of seating arrangements.

Is your home ultra-modern with lots of sleek design elements, exposed brick, chrome fixtures and ultra-modern chic lighting?  If so, you have options.  You can choose a formal portrait session like the one above or you may want a location that blends with those elements such as a urban location. The benefit of choosing an urban setting is that the time of year doesn’t really impact the setting.  It won’t matter that the leaves have fallen or that the grass is rather dead.  Another benefit of most urban settings is that you have a lot of options within walking distance.

Maybe  your home is  more rustic, homey, with lots of wood and country accents?  Then you will want to choose a location that makes sense with that decor: a small field or little patch of woods.  Unfortunately there are a lot of down sides to these types of locations: insects, heat, wind, rain, season and more can affect the experience, but when it all comes together, you can get the look you want and have a portrait that will fit with your decor.

Then there are those homes that have a little bit of this and a little bit of that.   Those are the homes that have the most options because any of the choices above will work.

The final big decision that has an impact on the final look of the images is the choice of wardrobe. I get more questions about “what should we wear”  than anything else.  The answer to that question is complicated.  Your wardrobe style should reflect both your personality AND match your location.  Showing up for formal high-end portraits in an old university football t-shirt and a pair of plaid golfing shorts isn’t going to give you the look you are after.   That’s not to say you have to wear a tuxedo either, though. I can totally envision a formal portrait with the husband in a plain white tee, the wife wearing a long, red maxi dress, and the kids in classic polos with khaki slacks.

Look at this formal portrait by international superstar portrait artist, Sue Bryce. (see more Sue Bryce at

In addition to the style of clothing you need to choose, colors must also be considered.  The best way to decide on a palette for your wardrobe is to look at your home.  What colors are going to look best hanging on your walls?  That should drive your outfit choices. You want the clothing to compliment or coordinate with your home colors so your family portrait looks like an intentional piece of art.  If your whole home is a variation of oatmeal and cream, then maybe you want your wardrobe to continue that monochromatic theme.  Or maybe you want to add a pop of color to the room by choosing rich complementary jewel tones.   If your home is full of earthy colors, then you might want your wardrobe to have those same earth tones: mustard and sage and eggplant.

Here is my own family portrait from Bookout Studios in Huntsville.

I chose an in-studio photographer because I knew I needed as few distractions as possible for the small children, we had a limited time frame for portraits and couldn’t afford for them to be re-scheduled, and I didn’t want to deal with wind blown hair or sweat or flushed cold cheeks.   Our wardrobe was chosen based on our personalities, including my youngest daughter’s bold pop of color in her leggings.  The color palette coordinates with the colors in my home, which is primarily neutral. Again that pop of color in the leggings is exactly what my walls needed.

If you need  some inspiration, check out these Pinterest


No peeking

Ruha Tacey was breastfeeding her child in the daycare area of a local gym when a man peeked through the window and saw her feeding her baby. He complained to the staff who then asked her to feed her baby in the restroom. Ruha’s story ended up in a local paper (The Athens News Courier).  This is how Ruha and her sweet girl Artemis ended up in front of my lens for a special breastfeeding session.

A woman’s body is a miraculous thing.  It can not only create new life, but can nourish and sustain it.  It is a beautiful  ability reserved for women alone. Let women everywhere stand together for this one idea: the right to feed our children how, where, and when the mother sees fit.









Three Weird Sisters: A Conceptualized Shoot


Early in the summer I traveled to Idaho to take part in a conceptualized shoot with a wonderfully talented friend, Krista Melone of Five &Five Photography.  She had a vision for a female version of Indiana Jones,   and I got to watch her bring her vision to life and take part in the process.

Over the course of my stay there, we talked about my visions. I told her how much I had enjoyed the process and that I wished I could do something like that.  Krista assured me that I could. I timidly suggested a small project I might be able to pull together based on some Grimm’s Fairy tales, and we tossed around some ideas.

By the time I left Idaho, I was full of new editing techniques, new knowledge about shooting in different lighting and for different styles, and new confidence in myself as an artist.  My brain was racing with ideas for artistic conceptualized shoots I could put together.   I ended up bypassing the Grimm’s Fairy Tale idea because it was not the right season.  It would have to wait until the trees lost their leaves. Instead, I opted for a small single image concept embedded in a boudoir session.  One of the things I had learned in Idaho was about building my boudoir clientele through model calls. So I asked a model to allow me to do something drastic and artistic at the end of her boudoir session.
I started with a simple idea: gold and glitter.   That led to an idea for an almost steampunk lighting plan, and then the idea of free flowing fabric.   I contacted Babette Shedd, of Faces by Babbette, to help me get the make up right.  Babette was amazing.  She was able to help me express the idea in my head in words and then bring it to life using glitter, metallic body paints, and gold leaf.

Meanwhile in the back of my head a much larger project was brewing.  I wanted to bring the Witches of Macbeth to life. As a former English teacher who had reveled in the Scottish play for years,  I wanted to explore the kind of fierce beauty that might bring a man to his knees and make him abandon everything he knew to be good and true.

I connected with Glennis Black from the  Cosmetology Department at the Limestone County Technical Center to collaborate on hair and  makeup. I then contacted three women I knew would make the perfect Weird Sisters:  Maija Telley, Sharonetha Williams, and Angel Elliott and I set about making costumes and gathering props.

An old wash pot from the neighbor of another friend became our cauldron; some found bones in a back alley became part of the potion; a former student’s Halloween skull, Rupert, was drafted for the project; tarot cards and rope and PVC pipe and scraps of fabric all came together to create a witchy, creepy, spooky backdrop.

On the day of the session, Glennis Black brought three of her cosmetology students with her to help create the fierce weird sisters. My sister-in-law and mother were on board as assistants and my husband acted as grip setting up the cauldron and  hauling the witches’ hut from one place to another for the various scenes.

The models were incredible!  It was the hottest day of the year and there they were in leather corsets, long skirts with leggings, full make up and velvet capes!  We began shooting in the full shade behind the studio around 5 o’clock with intermittent breaks to bring the models back into the air conditioning.

We ended the shoot on the other side of the property bringing our the fog machine, the lighting system, and all the models at once, along with all the volunteer hands to help create the final images.

By the time it was over, I was both exhausted and exhilarated!  On a shoestring budget, with a little creativity, and a lot of help from friends, we had pulled it off and I had gotten almost all of the shots I had envisioned for the project.

Like any junkie, I am hooked on the idea of creating personal projects to keep myself inspired and fresh as well as constantly learning and growing.   Keep an eye out for future conceptualized shoots!

Co-Parenting: Remembering the Best Interests of the Child

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An Unbreakable Bond

“Once there is a child, the relationship with a partner never ends. Those partners will be forever tied together even after a break up. “

Family Portraits for a Healthy Child

Modern family dynamics are often complicated. Frequently children come from split families or blended families. It can be difficult for the adults and the children even when the break up is “friendly”.  Once there is a child, the relationship with a partner never ends. Those partners will be forever tied together even after a break up.   When the adults make a proactive decision to put the best interest of the child first, good things can happen.

When parents unite to present their children a stable parenting partnership, children are healthier and happier. According to  Liaise Divorce Solutions LLC, effective co-parenting produces 5 key benefits including an increased sense of security, a healthy model for resolving conflicts, a decreased risk of substance abuse and risky behaviors later, healthier relationships with both parents,  and reduced stress for both partners and children.

Meet Haygen’s Parents

When Hollee and Gabe were expecting little Haygen, I was honored to do their maternity portraits.   They were a sweet, young couple and their maternity portraits were beautiful.

Seven months later, Hollee inquired about family portraits.  We went out to a small nearby pasture for some golden hour family portraits.  Hollee and Gabe both took a few pictures with sweet Haygen , but Hollee insisted most of the shots include all three of them.   It wasn’t until the ordering session, that Hollee informed me that she and Gabe are actually not a couple.

In hindsight, there were several clues such as their  not wanting any pictures of just them as a couple, but I had dismissed each of these clues as just nervousness or a hyperfocus on the purpose of the session, capturing family connections with Haygen.

The reality is I was right.  They were hyperfocused on Haygen.  Haygen was the reason for these portraits.  They wanted pictures for her that show how devoted they are to her well-being. Hollee and Gabe have chosen to maintain a healthy relationship with each other and with the families on both sides for Haygen’s that will serve Haygen well her whole life.

While these portraits are already beautiful on their own and stand at the top of my list of some of my favorite works, knowing the story behind them makes them all the more lovely.

Schedule Your Family Portraits

If you would like to schedule family portraits for your blended families, send me an e-mail today!

Schedule Now

The Shape of a Woman

I have been dabbling in women’s portraiture in the form of “Beautiful You” sessions. I love them.  Women of all ages come in , dress up, and take portraits that make them look and feel younger and more beautiful.   One thing led to another and I found myself more and more drawn to boudoir sessions.  I am positively smitten!

In fact, I am so smitten I have opened a sister group to the Simply Me Studio brand called Simply Me After Dark on Facebook.   It’s a private group for adult women over the age of 21 where we can discuss boudoir portraits, share favorite lingerie links, and share some images of some of my gorgeous clients and models.

One of the things I’ve discovered  through this venture is that all women, regardless of size, shape, or age are self-conscious about at least one part of their bodies. Every single woman who comes in for a session invariably has something negative to say about her face, her butt, her arms, her belly, her knees, or her feet.  Without fail.

Here’s what I want you to know.  YOU are a woman, therefore you are inherently beautiful. You have the shape of a woman. The shape of a woman is beautiful… the soft curve of the lower abdomen, the swing of a full hip, the gentle rise of breasts… Then men who love you, they love ALL of you.  They love every square inch of you.  Their hands and their eyes adore you.  We as women need to learn to embrace ourselves the way they do…with wild abandon!  So when you come in for your portraits do not discount their adoration.  Love yourself as they do. Be confident in your own skin. Celebrate your femininity.

I have created a Pinterest board full of wardrobe ideas for every body shape and size.  There are beautiful, sexy options for hiding the areas of your body you are least comfortable with so that you can be confident in your portraits.

If you do not like your arms, there are gorgeous kimonos to drape off your shoulders. If you do not like your belly, there are so many sexy babydoll gowns,  teddies,  and camis to wear. If you do not like your thighs or think your legs are too short, there are long gowns that are sultry and hot!

With the right wardrobe choices, the right poses, and the right attitude, you will be a goddess in your boudoir session and the men who love you will have to pick their jaws up off the floor!




Fed is best!

The Internet can be an amazing tool.  Information is at our fingertips 24 hours a day. It’s what our parents’ generation dreamed about.  Sadly, it can also be an amazingly destructive weapon.  Every single person, whether well balanced or a little unhinged, can post anything…can make a website that looks pretty legitimate and use that website as a platform for promoting all manner of vitriol.  Even more sad is how many people get drawn into those sites or those posts to post their own opposing opinion.  And then there are the “shares”… every day our social media feeds are filled with rants and raves about every tiny aspect of our lives.

Parenting is a particularly hot-button topic on social media. Everyone and his mother has an opinion on how to parent best, starting with the moment the child leaves the womb.  Recent years have seen campaigns for breastfeeding.   It was an effort to make breastfeeding more publicly accepted…an effort to de-sexualize breastfeeding and have it accepted as just another aspect of parenting, but somehow these blogs, posts, and articles took a turn in the comments section.  There have been hundreds of comments on hundreds of posts either bashing bottle-feeding mommas for not choosing “the natural way of feeding a baby”  or shaming breastfeeding mommas as “attention-seeking exhibitionists”.

The reality is that fed is best.  Whether breastfed, bottle fed with breast milk, or bottle fed with formula, the best thing for every single baby is to just be fed. Whether a mom chooses to put cereal in her bottles when baby is 2 months old, or withhold all solids until the pediatrician gives the all clear at 6 months…whether a mom chooses to use whole milk, goat milk, soy milk, or breast milk…the only thing that really matters is that baby is fed and thriving!


So Simply Me Studio decided to spend a couple of days reveling  in the glory of motherhood!  We, as women, have enough maternal guilt in our lives without other women adding to our burdens with their judgment about our choices as mothers.  I invited 6 glorious mommas to come to the studio  to participate in a special session celebrating the diversity of decisions open to each new momma.   Every single baby, whether breastfed or bottle fed, was healthy and happy and thriving because their mommas chose to feed them in a manner that was best for their family.

Mommas, stand united and declare Fed Is Best!

(For more information visit the Fed Is Best Foundation’s website at


Happily Ever Thacker

I love all my clients, but my forever clients…the ones who have been with me from the start…the ones who come back to me time and time again….they own my heart!

When Savannah, my very first senior rep,  contacted me to let me know that she was about to announce her engagement, I was beyond ecstatic!  Once she chose me as her photographer, we went to work right away planning the details of her wedding.

We began her wedding experience with a bridal session in the studio.  Savannah wanted some very special images to give to her new husband and a beautiful, classic portrait for her mother. We spent a couple of hours in the studio crafting the perfect imagery for her and laughing ourselves silly in the meantime.

Savannah and Brandon chose to have their wedding at Oliver’s Barn, my favorite new venue!  Oliver’s Barn, which opened in 2016, is a fun venue that offered a variety of options on Savannah’s wedding day.  By day, it was a lovely place, but as the afternoon nodded toward evening, it became even more lovely!


The owners of Oliver’s Barn were unbelievably gracious and helpful, even mopping the front porch of the bridal suite for us so we could bring Savannah’s gown outside for a few shots.  They hurried around the morning of the wedding making sure that everything was perfect!


I spent the first part of the day inside the bridal cottage with Savannah and her bridesmaids as they got ready for the day.

Savannah and Brandon  opted for a first look  in order to maximize their time at their reception with their guests by having all of the formal portrait finished prior to the ceremony with the exception of some sunset portraits of the bride and groom.

After the first look, we took advantage of all the venue’s nooks and crannies when it came time to take the portraits of the bride & groom and their party.  Since the venue was bathed in full sunlight, we opted to take the pre-ceremony portraits inside the barn.


We finished the formal portraits just in time to get the bridal party tucked away as guests began to arrive and the ceremony began.

Savannah and Brandon chose to do a grand entrance, rather than an exit,  to include as many of their guests as possible in the fun.  After the ceremony, the recessional line went around to the side entrance of the barn, where Savannah and Brandon did their cake cutting, after which  they made their way back out to the ceremony location where guests lined up  to blow bubbles as the happy couple were received into their reception.

Following the grand entrance, Savannah and Brandon enjoy time with their guests before opening the dance floor with  the first dance and the father-daughter dance.

Once the sun had set far enough behind the trees to provide some soft, even lighting, we took the couple out for the bride & groom  portrait session.


Brandon and Savannah’s day was a beautiful success!  I wish you many happy years and look forward to seeing your family grow! <3

It’s Time To Plan For Your Senior Year!

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Why should you plan your senior portraits at the end of your junior year?
Here’s a short list a reasons you need to get on the move so your senior year will run as smoothly as possible:
1) Good photographers book up quickly…especially in the fall.  If you want to have pictures taken during the first week of September, you should find your photographer and get on their calendar now.  If you wait until July, you might not be able to get in with the photographer of your choice.
2) Yearbook deadlines for your senior yearbook are usually pretty early.   Many yearbook sponsors need those pictures turned in by the end of the first semester.   So what if your September appointment gets rained out?  What if your photographer has nothing else available until December?  (See #1)
3) Your senior year is expensive!  If you put off doing senior portraits until  your senior year gets under way, you are just piling those expenses on top of one another.
4.) Your senior year is busy.  Go ahead and get your portraits taken care of so you can focus on the important things like homecoming, prom, and graduation!
5) Starting your senior experience early is the best way to squeeze the most out of your last year of high school!
Contact me today to get started with YOUR senior portrait experience!

What to Expect During Your Newborn Session

Some of the most important pictures you can ever plan will be your newborn session for your precious new arrival.   Here is a guide on how to plan, what to expect, and how to get the most from your session.
     When planning your newborn session it is critical that you plan ahead.   Some of the best newborn photographers, specifically those who specialize in just photographing newborns, will require you to book up to six months before your baby is due.  So if you are wanting one of those high-end newborn photographers to capture your baby, you will need to contact them early in your first trimester.
   If you would like to book your newborn session with me, I would suggest booking at least two or three months in advance to be sure I leave space in my calendar around your expected due date. This is especially important if your due date is during the fall, which is the busiest time of year for most photographers.
    The best time to have your newborn photographed is during the first  fourteen days of life.   The absolute best time is between day three and day six.  Photographers prefer this time frame because babies seem to sleep more and be more “posable.”    Sometime after day six they decide that stretching and squirming is a lot of fun!  While it’s fun for baby to stretch and squirm, it doesn’t make posing baby in those squishy little balls very easy and it can really extend the amount of time it takes to complete the session.
     The best time of day for your newborn session is 10 A.M.   You should plan on your newborn session lasting approximately three or four hours.  Some babies will knock it out in two hours if they are good sleepers, but be prepared for three or four hours just in case.
 Tips for getting the most out of your newborn session:
1.  Try to keep baby awake for 1-2 hours prior to your session.  The best way to do this is to plan your last feeding two hours prior to the session, then bathe baby.  (No lavender bathwash though.  Lavender will just make baby sleepier.)
2. Loosen baby’s diaper and clothing about 30 minutes prior to session time to avoid the red marks in those naked shots we all love.
3. One the ride here, plan to sit in the back seat with baby so you can talk to baby and continue to prevent baby from slippping into a deep sleep.
4.  Once you arrive here, you will want to feed baby.  If you are bottle feeding baby, be sure you bring enough milk/formula for several feedings.   You will feed baby more often than usual during the session.  Milk drunk babies are the sleepiest and seem to be more content during their session.
5. If you have other children you want photographed with the new baby, we will do that during the first few minutes of the session.  You will need another adult to supervise the children and keep them quiet during the remainder of the session.  Ideally, you might ask grandma or grandpa to take the other children home for the rest of the session.  Keeping baby sleepy and calm is our top priority.
6.  The studio space will be very, very warm to help baby keep warm, dreamy thoughts.   You and your husband will want to dress for the warmth.  You can bring pretty clothes along for the shots with mommy and daddy, but you will want comfy, cool clothes for the rest of the session.
7.  Speaking of shots with mommy and daddy, plan on simple, soft,  solid colors. Cream or chocolate colors are  extra nice.  No busy patterns allowed. Make sure nails are clean and neatly manicured for those close ups of babe in mom or dad’s hands.
8.  Did you know that babies can smell their mothers?  They can!  Sometimes you may need to leave the room in order for baby to fully settle and not think about the next feeding.
9.  As for props, feel free to bring special outfits, hats, diaper covers, and blankets that you would like photographed.  I also have a selection of headbands, pant sets, blankets, bow ties, etc.
10.  Remember to bring a pacifier (even if baby doesn’t normally take one, it is often helpful to soothe baby….and don’t worry, baby won’t get hooked on a pacifier from using one during the session.)
11. Baby will pee and poop on everything during those naked shots.  Please don’t fret.  I’m used to it. Everything I use in our session is washable. 🙂
12. Most importantly, relax.  Babies sense stress and it makes them anxious.   Everything will be alright. If baby isn’t sleeping well, we will do some beautiful awake shots.   So just relax !