Every Woman Needs To Do This – Katy Houston Photographer

Ladies, I’m going to ask you a very important question.

When is the last time YOU took the time to have photographs taken of yourself?

I don’t mean just a quick vacation snapshot or a bathroom selfie.  I mean, when is the last time that you put the effort into it and worked with a photographer who would consult with you on wardrobe then bring in a  hair and makeup artist to enhance your very best features — a photographer who would take the time to coach you on posing and who would light you beautifully?

2014-10-07_0002

Chances are it’s been a very very VERY  long time if EVER!

After all, you’ve got other things to worry about.  The kids are growing up and about to leave the nest. You work full time and then you volunteer for umpteen organizations that push you and pull you every which way.  Or,maybe you think  a special portrait session would be nice, but you’re uncomfortable because this would be pampering in the ultimate form — and you would feel a little bit  narcissistic going in.  And of course there are those extra few pounds that you want to drop first.   — Yep.  I know. I’ve heard it all.

But think of it another way.

What would you give to have a collection of lovely photographs of your own mother or your grandmother at the age you are right now.  Being photographed at your best — at the age you are NOW is probably one of the greatest gifts that you can give to yourself AND to the people who love you the most.  HECK!  If you’re fortunate enough to still have your mother or grandmother, wouldn’t you love to have a collection of beautiful portraits of them NOW?

So…  let me tell you a story about something that happened not too long ago in my studio.

Thanks to the social media phenomenon, I reconnected by Facebook over the past few years with some people that I had not heard from in a long time. Among them were people that I went to high school with.

One night I received a private message from one of my classmates asking if I would take pictures of her.  Honestly, I didn’t think it would happen.  We went to high school together in Midland, graduating about 35 years ago.  She’s a nurse, living and working in Fort Worth.  My studio is in Houston.   Texas is a huge state y’all.  That puts us at about a five hour drive apart.

We talked, and she confided that she was nervous about the whole concept but  that she felt like she could TRUST ME with her image.  Like so many women, Tami is very good at caring for other people  as a critical care nurse.  She has spent countless years putting  the needs of her patients and her family before her own. She had not been good about treating herself with the respect she deserved.  She was one of the myriad of women who struggled with body image and with not feeling pretty — OH MY does that sound like YOU?  I can certainly identify!

We scheduled an appointment, and consulted further by phone.

AND THEN –

IT DID HAPPEN.

Tami took my  advice. She shopped for new clothes and accessories. She had her hair cut and colored and she got a manicure too.  She made arrangements to come to Houston and to stay in town the night before and the night after our session so that she would be rested and relaxed the morning of our appointment.   I cleared my schedule so that we could preview her portraits before she had to go back home.

AND THEN She drove from her home in Fort Worth to Houston.

BEFORE — well sort of. This was actually a snapshot of a happy Tami the day AFTER our portrait session. This is how she looks on a normal good day. Don’tcha just love that sweet smile?

A huge part of our Elegance portrait sessions at SPCcreative Photography  is a professional hair and makeup session, and one of my favorite makeup artists is  Rachael Elise Walker, owner of Elise Artistry.  Rachael comes right to my studio where she brings her sweet calming personality, her airbrush makeup tools and her arsenal of colors and brushes  and hair tools and her amazing skills.  Her work is nearly magical!

2014-10-07_0003

2014-10-07_0004

As we previewed the photographs the next day, I caught a tear sliding out of Tami’s  eye, and my own heart danced as I reached for the Kleenex box.   — YES!  Tami finally saw how beautiful she really is and THAT is the most joyful part of my job.  THAT is what I strive for every day.

2014-10-07_0005

2014-10-07_0007

2014-10-07_0008

2014-10-07_0009

2014-10-07_0010

2014-10-07_0011

It was so much fun catching up with Tami after all those years. Yes, we both still have remnants of our 17 year old selves, but we both have developed deep rich character traits that only come with age and experience.  I learned about her family, and how much she absolutely ADORES her neices.  We caught up on mutual friends — and decided that the folks who grew up with us in Midland, Texas back in the 70′s are genuinely a special lot — and that we are indeed blessed.

Looking at these images makes my heart happy.  I want to do it again but this time I want to do it for YOU.  Give me a call. Let’s talk!

Wedding Week for Hollie and John-Katy Houston Photographer

This is such an exciting week!

Hollie and John are getting married on Saturday, and I can hardly wait for their big day to get here.

2014-10-06_0001 8F9A9754

 It rained on us when they came to town for their engagement session, so we caught a few quick images at the park with umbrella and boots, but the skies really opened up, so we skedaddled back into the studio to finish up.

They say that rain on your wedding day is good luck, so we’ll go ahead and claim that luck from the engagement shoot as even more good luck to come.

8F9A0072

 This wedding is very super special to me — and NOT just because Hollie is a stunning redhead like yours truly.  It’s special because Hollie was my very first senior client EVER!

I had met Hollie and her mom through the Taylor High School Cross Country team when she was a senior and my son was running as a Freshman.  I attended every cross country meet that year with my camera and photographed the runners as if there was no tomorrow. That was when all that stood behind my photography business was a name, a sales tax number,  and a dream in my heart — I had a WHOLE LOT to learn about photography and about the business side of the art.

Cross Country meets take a long time, and you wander around with the rest of your team parents a LOT … so we got to be friends. Then, in the springtime, Hollie’s mom, Sarah, actually hired me — did you hear that???? HIRED ME!!! – for money — to take senior portraits for Hollie.   I don’t think I netted  $40 on that job, but I DID get paid!  It might as well have been a $4000 session as excited as I was.   To be honest, though,  I am very disappointed in those senior portraits when I look back at them today because –well, I was a beginner. Like so many people,  I had a great eye and a lot of passion, but I had barely started honing my skills.  Still, I will ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS be grateful though,  that Hollie and Sarah put enough  faith and support behind my dream to start my baby steps.

Now HERE’s a flashback!

Hollie and the other senior girls on the team started a tradition that lasted for several years.  They would run in the last “extras” race but would drop out somewhere along the course to get muddy before running in together.  OHhhhhhh how I loved their spirit!

 

2014-10-06_0002

Hollie still plays in the mud, but in a serious way — now she wears coveralls and a hard hat as an oilfield engineer with Schlumberger.   I STILL love her spirit and sense of humor — oh and she snagged herself one of the sweetest guys EVER while she was studying in Kansas.

8F9A0002

They’ll both definitely be rocking a more formal look on Saturday, but I’m sure there will be plenty of spirited antics with these two — and I’ll be there to capture the whole event.

Did I say that I can hardly wait?!?!?!?

8F9A9892

 

 

 

 

 

 

Angel Gowns for Angel Babies Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep

Last week I met up with a lady  in the parking lot of a bank.  She opened the trunk of her SUV to reveal baskets of beautiful tiny silk and satin treasures — baby outfits.  Whoah, they were GORGEOUS , with lace and pearls, and elaborate embellishments, even tiny bow-ties . . . and the BONNETS!  Oh Swoon!

angelgown-107

Angel Gowns by Diane donated a supply of handmade gowns to photographers who volunteer with Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep. From left: Emily Crump, Affiliated Photographer; Renae Carr, Area Coordinator; Pamela Schwarz, Community Volunteer; Pamela Contreras, Area Coordinator; and Shelly Chetty, Area Coordinator

I hope and pray that nobody reading this post EVER becomes the recipient of one of these gowns, because they were sewn for babies who don’t get to go home with their families and grow up.  But if you should ever go through an infant loss,  and see one of these gowns or use the services of a Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep photographer, please know that your baby will be wrapped in LOVE!

You see, these aren’t just beautiful baby dresses. They have been lovingly crafted from wedding dresses by a newly-formed group of volunteers in the Katy area, Angel Gowns by Diane .   Their concept is to use memento from a happy and joyful day to help ease the sting of sadness and grief when a baby dies.  This specific supply of gowns in preemie to newborn sizes is going to the local professional photographers who serve with Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, a worldwide nonprofit organization that provides bereavement photography at no charge to families The Angel Gowns group also contributes their gowns directly to hospitals in the area.

Want to get involved?  Want to help?

First – NILMDTS is in DESPERATE need of more qualified professional photographers, both in the Houston area and throughout the United States.  In Houston we ask our photographers to be on call and  available to go  to the Texas Medical Center just one day a month, and to help with suburban cases near their homes or studios on an as-needed basis. If you know a photographer or if you are one, I  (or one of the other two local NILMDTS Area Coordinators) will help get you through the application process.  You will receive training, and one of us will actually accompany you on your first shoot  and walk you through the process so that it’s not as intimidating  the next time around.

It’s just SO STINKIN’ SAD when a hospital calls us, and we do not have a photographer available to create beautiful images for the grieving family. There are SO MANY TALENTED photographers in this city, and I believe that just about anyone who wants to can find a way to schedule one non-appointment day a month to  be available provide this gift of healing.  Please check out the NILMDTS Web Site to learn more about our organization.

If you’re not  a photographer,

you CAN still talk to photographers you know and encourage them to get involved.

Also, I know that NILMDTS operates on a shoestring.  Tax Deductible financial contributions will help keep the organization’s website and resources up to date and to provide training and support for volunteers.  

And if you’d like to  to get involved with Angel Gowns by Diane.  They need

  • wedding dress donations
  • people to dismantle the dresses, cut patterns and/or sew the gowns
  • people to help coordinate with area NICU’s and with NILMDTS.
  • People to pick up and deliver donated dresses

Just check out their facebook page (I understand that a full website is in the works) for more details.

 angelgown-102

 

A Long Weekend in L A

My favorite boyfriend, (the one that I married) and I just got back from an exhausting but wonderful long weekend in Los Angeles.  This is purely a vacation snapshot blog post, so if that’s not your cup o tea, just come back later.  If you want to travel along with us . . come on!

I traveled with only one camera and one lens — my 16-35 2.8.  It provides a  wide and different, sometimes warped, perspective on things.  Oh yeah …. and we also threw in a few phone pictures as well.

We started out at the airport after driving through POURING rain to get there.

After a good breakfast at home, we launched into vacation mode with airport french fries (don’t tell our trainers) and by turning our electronic media into RELAXATION mode.  It was also Mike’s birthday, and things just fell  into place for us all day long — like being seated in the first row with nobody in front of us.  GET A LOAD of that legroom.  Miracles do happen. 20140918_154446

We wanted to stay someplace close to our kids, so Hotel Amarano Burbank was to be our home for the next four nights.

I’m always a fan of smaller boutique hotels and this one did not disappoint — EXCEPT we don’t understand why hotels have quit putting at least one comfortable chair in the rooms.

IMG_1223

Other than the missing chair, the hotel was lovely,  with waffle-weave robes and very courteous service.  Our favorite person of the week though just had to be Harvey the Bartender.  He’s everything you expect in a bartender.  Funny and friendly, he mixed us up a couple of good stiff and very refreshing drinks then served up a delectable Ahi Tuna Poke appetizer.  Before long we were  ready to roll . The kids were off work and meeting us for dinner.

Another thing about Harvey …. he even remembered our names the next day! Call me impressed! — oh, no …. he called me Shelly!

On Friday we were on our own to play tourist, so we headed out to the Gene Autrey Museum of the West where we thoroughly enjoyed their Route 66 exhibit.

IMG_1228

Arriving shortly before the exhibits opened, we met clusters of school children in matching t-shirts as well as seniors with sensible walking shoes waiting for their tours.  Those ladies with wheeled

walkers can make TRACKS!  Still, the groups all spread out nicely, and we never felt over-run or crowded. IMG_1232

So, the Route 66 Exhibit had plenty in store for both of us. Mike enjoyed the mapping and road construction portions — especially the collection of  asphalt pavement pieces from different areas. He  promptly analyzed  them all to explain why they had failed.  (That’s road construction talk for why the road fell apart) And  I got a big charge out of all the advertising and signage.  BRING ON the KITCH and COLOR!

The entire museum was very well planned and entertaining, covering all things western — especially Hollywood Western!

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED if you are in the area.

IMG_1234

After the Autrey, I could hardly contain my excitement as we went in search of the old abandoned Los Angeles Zoo.

VERY COOL!

20140919_123100

I was wearing a sundress and flats, so was hardly equipped to crawl around on the ground or climb into some of the hidden areas like I wanted to, but exploring the old exhibition facilities was fascinating — and a little bit creepy.

I couldn’t help but stay on the alert for a forgotten lion or gorilla to creep around the corner.  They didn’t; but we did see a deer, several squirrels, a BIG honkin’ lizard and a couple of photographer/model sessions.

IMG_1243

SOMEBODY was on the wrong side of the fence….. Hmmmmm. Wonder who?

IMG_1258 IMG_1291

Lots of fun monkeyin’ around . . . but don’t GOOSE me when we’re taking a selfie!

IMG_1252

Always the tourist, I fell in love with the hot pink building and signage ot Milt & Edie’s Laundry and Dry Cleaner near our hotel.

From their lighthearted approach to warnings — offenders will be forced to wash clothes — to the public acknowledgement of their entire staff with years of tenure and country of origin flags — these people must  be brilliant!

IMG_1330

Just a little more local color!

IMG_1314

And a stop for Pie!  Mmmmmmm Coconut Cream!

IMG_1311

The REAL reason for our trip, though, was that we are about to welcome a new daughter in love to our family, and there was no way we wanted to wait until the wedding before we could meet her parents.    On Saturday morning we all drove down to Orange County where she grew up.

A day of driving and eating and drinking and walking and eating and drinking and driving ……Oops….. that didn’t quite come out right — but you know what I mean.

This is our Sarah with the lucky duck that she got from her grandmother’s estate.  How can you NOT love a girl who carries a brass duck in her bag?  She’ll fit RIGHT in!

IMG_1341

We also had a chance to visit the Newport Harbor (in the midst of the Big Boat Show) to see  the boat where the nuptials will take place next spring.

It just happened to be at the dock and in between events so we even got to take a little tour.

That’s the galley, the reception area, and of course, the front (or maybe it’s the back) of the boat.  This thing isn’t just a boat!  It’s a  blinkin’ 3-story floating building with glass walls. STUNNING!

IMG_1342

We also walked out to an area  of beach called The Wedge . I can only imagine growing up in such a lovely place.

IMG_1352

Capping off our trip on Sunday we headed out to the  Getty Museum.

Oh my!

 First…. I didn’t even take my camera on this outing because I know that I would have been obnoxious.  The following are all just phone pictures — mostly by Mike because I can hardly figure out how to work my phone camera.

 This place is not to be missed. We WILL be back!

Aside from  a parking fee, the entire attraction is free.  After a tram ride up the mountain, the building, the gardens, the exhibits, and the views are all beyond outstanding.

We took the architecture tour with a delightful docent who has been involved with the museum for 17 years,  and we learned not only about the structure itself, but also about  Getty’s philosophy in establishing, building, and running the museum.  Surprisingly, and maybe it’s because we went early in the day, we  were the  only four people on the tour. Can’t beat that!

20140921_103832

So after a big lunch and an afternoon of hanging out and playing board games with the kids, it was time to return to our hotel and rest up for the trip back home.

What a wonderful trip!

Senior Portraits for Keenan – Taylor High School – Houston Katy Photographer

For some high school seniors, the year is so hectic and crazy that they get all the way through the year and past graduation without ever slowing down enough to complete a senior portrait session. Keenan was one of those busy kids, so we took his portraits in the summer AFTER graduation — and that is absolutely okay.

 After all, the images we created represent him at this particular stage in life — and when you’re looking at heirloom photography that will last a lifetime, what difference is just a few months?

Still, to avoid that crazy rush at the end of the year, it’s a very good idea to go ahead and schedule portraits NOW so that you’ll be ready to play by the time Senior-Itis kicks in. 8F9A2911

Of course any senior fortunate enough to drive an shiny red BMW like this one would want to include it in his portraits, so we shot his entire session at a local park  rather than in the studio.

Keenan is a musician who was a member of the Taylor High School Band, but he really excelled and was happiest playing his guitar alone and with the THS Jazz Band!

8F9A2943

Of course, I asked him to play for me just a bit while I photographed him. I always do that , and the TALENT kids have never ceases to amaze me.

THEY. ARE. GOOD!

8F9A2949

I talked to his mom just  the other day, and learned that he is already moved in and settled in his dorm at Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colorado. That’s  just up the road and on the other side of Table Mountain from the neighborhood where I lived with my boys many lifetimes ago.

I know that if he ever gets a chance to look up from his books, he will love the laid-back Rocky Mountain Lifestyle that Colorado has to offer.  I have a feeling that several ski outings are already on his agenda.

8F9A2982 8F9A3064

 

8F9A3046 8F9A3004

Happy Trails to you Keenan!  Enjoy your time in college and study hard.  You are very smart, and you’ve got a good head on your shoulders.  YEP — YOU’VE GOT THIS! 8F9A2998

Visit Us On TwitterVisit Us On Facebook