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!

Take a Tour

I had been drooling (sinfully, enviously drooling) over other photographers’ studio spaces for a very long time.   I was ever so grateful that my sweet husband had helped me repurpose my youngest daughter’s abandoned bedroom into a little studio space, and goodness knows I wore that space out over the next couple of years, but I wanted MORE.
I wanted more space, more light, more height, more privacy…just MORE. But it wasn’t going to happen any time in the foreseeable future….especially not with the prices I was charging.  Studio rent, insurance, light bill, and all the other expenses of having an external space just weren’t going to be a possibility unless I quadrupled my prices or my workload.  Neither of which were options for me.  So, I just drooled and continued on my way.
Meanwhile, I had been stashing away my photography money for months.  I didn’t really have a specific goal in mind.  I didn’t really even know what I wanted to do with it… it was kind of mad money.  Money stuck back just in case…just in case Tyley Sue needed more therapy, or Mikaila needed new softball gear or a plane ticket home, or one of any number of things that could possibly come up… and then my husband announced he was planning on purchasing a new camera as a Christmas gift for me…  THE camera I had been talking about for a year…the Canon 5D Markiii.  Without hesitation, without a real plan in my head I replied, “That’s great, but I’d rather have the money.  If I put it with the money I’ve been saving, I could buy a cabin shed and turn it into a studio!”
Studio 3
And that is exactly what we did.   I started a secret Pinterest board full of inspirations and I studied all the Tiny Home/Little House projects I could find.  This is how it turned out. ( There is a video tour of the space at the end of this blog. )
This is where we started.  When they said “Sold as is”  they really meant it!    Luckily, there were a couple of useable pieces in there.  The wooden dresser in the before picture ended up getting a makeover and now has a home in the back room of the studio.
The building was wired, framed out, and fully insulated before sheetrock was installed.
The sidewalls in a shed are shorter than in a house, making standard French doors impossible, so our handyman fabricated  a 5×5 glass door for the sidewall.
The floors went down and then the waiting got really hard!  The two special doors I had requested took FOREVER to get the bugs worked out of.  
 You can see the other special request door resting against the back wall behind Tyley Sue (who was kind of impressed with the tall ceilings).
My sweet husband and partner made the wrought iron sign hanger for me. Goodness, I am spoiled.
This is how the studio turned out.  The furniture moves around a lot depending on what kind of session I am working on so I invested in some felt slider pads to put under the feet.  Best investment ever!   I can move that red couch all by myself. 🙂
 One of the things I wanted this studio for is so I can offer modern women’s portraiture.  I call them Beautiful You sessions.  And I’d LOVE for you to call me to discuss this kind of session for YOU!  These are the clothing racks I built from pallets and copper tubing.  I was really impressed with myself over these!
 Behind that wall is the changing area with bathroom and the stairs into the half loft.
One of my favorite things about this space is that I have room to display many of the props and options available to clients for use in their sessions.
Here is a video I made for some of my photographer friends touring the studio space.   I talk a LOT, so you might want to turn the volume off. 🙂