maria seniors 2015

here she is- beautiful and talented maria.

maria is not only drop dead gorgeous, but she is so super sweet, and from what i hear, sings like an angel.  she is a talented actress, and has aspirations to perform on broadway one day.

its crazy, when i photograph someone, i get such an intimate "peek" at who they are and what they are made of.  and ultimately, that is what i strive to bring across in images. 

for maria, i saw such a soft, kind, sweet spirit, but also a strong driven woman who will not stop until she accomplishes what she sets out to do.  this said, maria, may i have the honor of broadcasting that i took your first headshot? :)

(oh, and maria's mom and sister jumped in for some pics too!)

xoxo darling!

standing naked…before & afters

in life, at some point you begin to realize that there is a process.

sometimes you get things right - like magic - right out of the bag, no adjustments, or maybe just minor tweaks needed. 

other times, you get the concept, and the big picture, but in order for it to be a winner, and to have all the right qualities to make it work the way it should, you need to put more work into it - more art into it - more time into it.

the same is true with photography.

as a photographer, the more you learn, the more you grow, and the tricks (for lack of a better word) that you learn, help you develop and stand on your own as an artist more and more. 

for instance, i used to say to people that if i let you see one of my images straight out of the camera, no editing involved, it would be like standing in front of you naked.


but again, just as with life, not only can i now show you my images socc (straight out of the camera), and allow you to see how i can nail something straight on WITHOUT much retouching, but  i can also show you how i am able to envision a concept, an ending picture, and shoot from the beginning in order to have the end result that i am able to obtain.  

does that make any kind of sense?

as you grow…in life…and as an artist, you are able to release fears in staying perfect, or in my illustration, staying fully clothed.  

you are able to show the imperfections because the imperfections are not always mistakes…are not always flaws…but a lot of the times, are just the process of obtaining the beautiful image and the masterful end result that you had envisioned from the very beginning. 

and what does this mean for YOU, this mid monday morning as i sit here blogging away, after a week of fighting illness and fatigue.  the monday before my baby sister gets married…the week i get to see family that i have missed for too long…the week that i'm sure will hold moments of wonderful memories, but crabbiness :), nerves, and still life, appointments, deadlines, and shoots as normal?

it means to remain focused.

to hold on to the foundation of what you know.  to keep growing.

to keep your eye on the vision and the dream you have before you.

to know that the bumps in the road, that if you remain focused, are tweaks and adjustments that will make your final goal even more beautiful than you could have imagined.

it means to go ahead and get comfortable naked.  that your clothes only hide what you think that they hide, and that there is freedom in showing your flaws, and beauty in revealing the steps of a process.

and before and afters?  they don't show the imperfections of an image, they now show the depth of my craft.

and now i love sharing the big picture.

enjoy ashley & cory's entire pregnancy photoshoot here...

Romans 8:28-29 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

the secret that i knew, in miss america's top ten...

yes, there was a hidden secret in the miss america top ten last night.  

it's a secret that i'm sure many others from around our area know, in their own ways, but to me and my family, i will reveal our part.


Mackenzie Victoria Bart, formerly of brockway, pa, landed herself in the top ten, at the miss america pageant last night, as miss ohio.  I know members of my family, and so many people in our area were excited to watch this great accomplishment.  

but for me, as i watched mackenzie (Miss Ohio), make it to the next round, to the next round, to the next round, the secret I refer to began to unfold in my head. 

i met mackenzie years ago. 

her mom, worked with my brother in law at the pa state police barracks.  i remember him talking about her (mackenzie and her sister, gabrielle), and the talented girls that they were.  my mother in law and he, would go to the different places that she was performing and would come home raving about this special girl. 

some years later, as my own sisters were getting older, they ended up in a few pageants.  my sister shannon landed herself a spot in the miss pennsylvania pageant.

the road to miss pennsylvania was certainly not a cheap one.  and most of the girls there had years of experience, training, and preparation for a competition such as this.  

the beginning of the miss pennsylvania road for shannon, actually started in brockway, pa.  

the pageant held there was organized by mackenzie's mom, janice.  

mackenzie was a preteen at the time, and janice saw potential in my sister shannon.

janice took shannon completely under wing…helping to purchase her dresses, finding her the pageant swim suits that she needed…prepping her, (janice was learning the ropes herself), and literally holding her hand and walking her through the whole way.

it was a gracious, beautiful act on janice's part.

however, that is not the secret.  

the secret is, that at this same time, janice and mackenzie started their own journey that ultimately landed them to where mackenzie stood last night.

(this is mackenzie and shannon at one of the pa pageant evenings).

(this is mackenzie and shannon at one of the pa pageant evenings).


and this night, was the beginning of where my family began to see the goals and dreams that janice and her mom would work tirelessly to fulfill. 

the secret that time, rejection, hard work and a never ending vision of attaining a goal, would be lived out for all those around them to see. 

i speak from experience, and as an adult:

it is not easy to keep focused on a goal. 

it is not easy to not be caught up in life itself and the responsibilities it brings. 

it is not easy to be a GREAT mother to all of your children.

it is not easy to keep your head up when your goal takes YEARS to attain.

but  the secret in that miss america's top ten last night, is that you CAN DO IT.  

if you remain focused on the goal that you KNOW you are being called to, it can happen - it does happen.  

mackenzie and her mom showed us all.  

maybe never even knowing they were revealing this secret in so many ways.  

but those that have watched this journey…those that know janice…those that know their family…we are privileged and honored to have watched this often great life mystery, unfold and be revealed.

so from a dreamer…a parent…a sister...

congratulations mackenzie, and the entire bart family.  

the crown you wear is one that you have shared with us all.  

and the sparkle of it has and will reach more than you may ever know. 

you are truly a beauty darling!



where is your family now?

i know so many of us are reflecting on this day. 

remembering where we were when we heard the news…unsure of what was happening…or why

myself, i remember that i was sitting at a women's gathering breakfast at what was the ramada inn, at the time, and i was 9 months pregnant with our first child, jonah. 

i had a cell phone, but had it on silent for the breakfast.  

i pulled it out to check for messages, and saw 2 messages form charlie...

"baby…you need to call me….a plane just flew into the twin towers in nyc.  call me."

then, the next..

"baby…why aren't you picking up the phone?  call me!"

i heard the urgency and fear in his voice.  

it was a tone i had never heard before.  

i ran to the hallway and called charlie.  he wanted me to get home quickly. 

and on my home, i remember checking off my list of where all of my family members were right at that time. 

i needed to call my mom, my sisters, my brothers, my dad in arkansas…dang why he did he have to be so far away? and where was my mother in law?

i quickly made the phone calls…making sure each of them was safe.

i'm sure this story, though different in ways, is one that many of you can relate to in terms of the feelings you felt concerning those you love most.  

this time of year always makes me think-

and i'll tell you, this is not a guilt dripping…get your photos down now post. 

this is a post about reality. 

this past year has held far too many deaths of those close to me or of those close to ones that i love most in this world.  i have found myself saying on more than one occasion - "this dying needs to stop!"

young people...

brides to be...

those just entering the retired years of their lives...

just old enough to see grandchildren….

the fact is, the dying doesn't stop. 

we have no idea what holds our tomorrows.

and just as september 11, 2001 shocked us and hurt us to the core, we are never guaranteed that feeling never coming again. 

this year, i have also had the honor once more of photographing individuals and families that i have for many years.  once small children, are now entering into adulthood.  my BABY sister just had her third child, and my other BABY sister will be married in two weeks.  

and just yesterday, the sweet infant that i walked the floors with as she screamed with her acid reflux, looked up to me and said…"mom, i think you waxed your eyebrows unevenly…you may want to fill in the right side a little more!"

time doesn't stop….

babies grow up….

families expand and unfortunately grow smaller because of circumstance too. 

my point?

dont' wait.

this is the time. 

stop for this moment. 

relish the moment and the blessings that you have right now.

and think about preserving them for all time. 

the moments will not come back, and lost memories will not have a price tag attached to them.

but a picture of the moment will keep its worth in gold.