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.

 

Three Weird Sisters: A Conceptualized Shoot

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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!

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

Planning Your Platinum Senior Session

It’s your senior year and there is so much to do!  One of the biggest things on the list is taking care of your senior portraits.  Here are a few tips to make your platinum session amazing!

1.  Plan and book EARLY.
      The perfect time to have your session is in the early fall when the weather isn’t too hot or too cold.
The thing is you can’t wait until early fall to book your session because fall is a very busy time for photographers, so it’s important to get in the books early!
     Come in for a consultation about a month before your session so we can discuss the plan for your day.  This is when we can decide on colors, backgrounds, locations, props, and anything else you are worried about.
2. Decide on hair and make up styles. (Guys, you can skip this part. )
     Do you want your portraits to be ultra glamorous?  Do you want them to be simple and casual?  Do you want to look like you or do you want them to look like a fashion model version of you?
     With the Simply Me Studio Platinum session you can have the best of both worlds actually.    You can have a hair and make up session , come to the studio for glamour shots, then brush through your hair, restyle it, tone down your make up, and head outdoors.  OR you can come to the studio for some casual simple shots with your own hair & makeup style, then see my stylist before going out on location for the rest of your session.
3.  Decide on clothing. (Guys, you are welcome to wear the tulle gowns, too, but if that’s not you, we have suspenders, ties, newsboy caps, and other things you can borrow as well.)
 This is the hard part.  What do you wear?  Do you want to wear tulle gowns, lace, and jewels?  Do you want to wear your ripped jeans and favorite T-shirt?
There’s no reason you can’t have it all.  Pick a couple of casual outfits  and pick a couple of high-end fashionista outfits.  With the platinum session, your options are practically endless.
Most importantly, consider your colors.  Remember neon colors don’t photograph well.  Soft, solid colors are most flattering.  Wild patterns can be a huge distraction in photographs. Avoid graphic tees unless there is a specific reason to include it in your session.
4.   Be prepared. Make a list of everything you need to bring with you on the day of your session.
Your class ring
Your letterman jacket
Your props (sporting gear, hunting gear, musical instrument, favorite book, etc.)
Your undergarments (the right color panties, bras, socks, tube tops, wifebeaters,  etc.)
Your shoes (boots for this outfit, sneakers for that outfit)
Your dog
Your make up (for touch ups)
Your chapstick/lip gloss
Also, make sure your hands are freshly manicured.
Avoid spray tans just prior to your session.
Avoid getting sunburnt and tan lines…especially multiple tan lines.

Be sure you put on plenty of lotion in the days before your session.

5. Relax and have fun!
Seriously.  Don’t stress out. Just chill.  You will be amazing!

Take a Tour

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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. 🙂