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


Co-Parenting: Remembering the Best Interests of the Child

Bowman 1
Bowman 3
Bowman 4
Bowman 1
Bowman 2

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!

Ashlyn ottoman
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!

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!

How I Planned MY Family Portraits

  I’m embarrassed to say this, but there was about a 12 year gap between our most recent family session and the previous one.   I run a photography business and I didn’t have a recent family portrait on my walls that included my son-in-law of almost 9 years and my grandchildren, ages 2 and 4 at the time.   It’s more than an embarrassment…it’s a tragedy.
   So last fall I began planning my own family session with none other than Heather Bookout of Bookout Studios.   This was a one shot deal for me.  My youngest daughter would be home from Canada for Christmas.  We would all be together for a few short days.
    Family sessions are always a challenge to plan, but we were facing a few additional challenges: 1) Our window of opportunity was during the holidays, a time when many photographers are completely booked and families are frazzled and exhausted. 2)   I needed a large family photographed looking their very best–a challenge all on its own 3) two small children were involved 4) one of the children is a special needs child 5) coordinating clothing for that many people who all have very different personal styles and personalities.  It was a tall, tall order.
     I carefully explained to Jordan, one of Heather’s assistants, what I needed to get out of my family session: one large print of our entirely family, a shot of me and my husband with our two adult daughters, a shot of me and my husband with our two grandchildren, a shot of my daughters together, and a shot of me and my husband together.  Everything else would be icing, but those were my “must have” shots.  And in my perfect world, my large family shot would have my special needs granddaughter smiling.  I just knew I was asking for the impossible.  The planets would all have to align in my favor in order to pull this off.
         Jordan scheduled a date and time for me to come to the studio to plan my session. She assured me that Bookout Studios could make this all happen.
        For the next couple of weeks, I began building an inspiration board on Pinterest. As a photographer myself, I knew that the best way to help Heather help me build the perfect family experience in her studio was to search HER images for the things I liked , so I scoured the Internet looking for Bookout Studio images that appealed to me.  I chose some for the lighting, some for the posing, some for the editing style, some for the furniture that was used, and some for some indescribable appeal. I captioned each one explaining why I chose that particular image.   This is my inspiration board for my session.
    When I went to Heather’s GORGEOUS studio in Huntsville, Jordan met with me and showed me around and  asked me some very pointed questions about my personal clothing style and make up preferences and asked me questions about what I envisioned for my session.  She took very careful notes and then I showed her my inspiration board, which she also noted and then forwarded to Heather.     Next she helped me look through the gowns and dresses to find a piece for me to wear during our session.   I chose this dress with a muted dusty rose lace cardigan.
This was going to be the basis for selecting all of the other clothing for the rest of my family.   There weren’t any other dresses in the wardrobe that would coordinate in style and color and be in the correct size for my two daughters, so shopping trips would have to happen.   I took that picture of the dress so I could refer to it as I shopped with my girls to find their clothing and clothing for the guys and my grandchildren.
     During this planning session, Jordan and I discussed Tyley Sue’s needs.  I explained that it can be very difficult to get Tyley Sue to smile  and that we may have to settle for her serious face. Jordan asked me about the things Tyley Sue likes and the things that could make her happy or content.   She assured me that Heather and the rest of the staff would do everything they could do to get a smile.    Next, we worked out a timeline so that my daughters and I could come in for hair and make up and begin our portion of the session before the guys arrived with the children.
Our session would take place on December 29th…just in time for us to have our viewing session of all the images before my youngest daughter, Mikaila, had to return to Canada.
     The first thing I did after booking and planning our session was take my husband shopping.  Randy is a Jeans and T-shirt kind of guy, but for this session, I wanted his clothing to coordinate with mine, and being the husband that he is, he was will to let me dress him up for the day.   In my perfect picture, he would be wearing a newsboy cap, a cream colored button up shirt with suspenders, but that wouldn’t have been “him”, so my next choice was a nice button up with a tweed vest and some khaki pants.
     The hardest part was going to be finding clothing for my two girls that would fit their personalities, go with my color scheme, and coordinate with the style of the dress I had chosen.  To top it off, Mikaila wasn’t going to arrive until just before Christmas, so our shopping spree was going to take place during the after-Christmas chaos that happens in the retail world. We spent several days just shopping and purchased several possible outfits, knowing we might be returning any or all of them if we ever found THE outfit.   We finally found a tunic she liked, in a color that worked, that would allow her to wear a splash of color to reflect her personality.  We then found a tunic and leggings  for my other daughter, Ashley, and an outfit for Tyley Sue, and finally coordinating outfits for my son-in-law Tyler and my 2 year old grandson, Elijah.
This was the final result: