I have a huge soft spot for art that is accessible.
It’s not the most expensive thing out there.
It’s available in your community.
Or maybe easy to buy online with easy shipping + return options.
It’s not something that you have to get up at midnight to wait in line for on Black Friday.
I think there are many ways to buy art and simplicity + ease is one of the ways that I appreciate dearly. So this year I'm highlighting just that. These local creators have great gift options at affordable prices without skimping on craftsmanship. Is skimping a word or am I making up words again?
I have no doubt one of these goodies will fit into your White Elephant, Hanukah or Christmas shopping list. Reach out to any of these folks on Instagram for more info!
Ornaments made from wood burning by Amanda of Odina Wood Art
Not everyone needs ornaments for a tree this time of year but I found these to be universally usable and a great option for many people! You could hang up a trio year-round above your desk, you could 1 include in a gallery wall, you and your best friends could each have one like a BFF necklace. Or you could buy one for your tree, garland or front door!
Get creative this year! Amanda is a wood burning artist located outside of Charlotte and is often in Asheville visiting family and selling goodies at our pop-up shops.
Custom wreaths by Joslyn with Lavender Fox Florals
Joslyn is ready to create your (or your mom's) dream holiday wreath! Fancy a tropical Mele Kalikimaka style like the one above? Or more traditional? She's got you covered either way with a standard 24" wreath. Hang indoors above the kitchen sink, on your front door to greet guests or above your bed for cheeriness in every room!
Now, go deck those halls.
“Will you Photoshop this out?”
A common phrase we hear often.
Cultural standards on appearance have skyrocketed with social media. We all sit around thinking others look perfect and put-together all the time (no way, not true!). We get down on ourselves for being human and real. This is a problem I have to address and contemplate a lot as a photographer.
I think it’s time to draw boundaries when it comes to how we edit and the impossible standards of Photoshopping + Instagram filters + weird apps that alter your face in a photo (WHAT?!).
Let’s get to it and break down the most common scenarios:
Well I edit out your freckles? No.
Will I edit out that blemish that’ll be gone in a week? Yes.
Will I edit out scars? Not unless you asked me to.
Will I edit out grey hairs? Sometimes! If it's clear you're going for your natural hair color then no and if it's clear that you color your hair to cover up the grey then yes.
Will I edit out wrinkles in clothing? As much as I can without making your clothing appear plastic!
Will I edit out that t-shirt stain that appeared after lunch? Yes.
Will I edit out the flyaway hairs? If they're distracting. If they're showing the wind blowing through beautifully, then no.
Will I edit out that piece of trash or water bottle near your feet? Yes.
Will I edit out that distracting tree branch, bugs flying by, stranger in the background? Yes. I have no problem editing out environmental distractions to an otherwise lovely photo.
Will I "fix" your stomach or arms? Only if it's my fault because I captured an unflattering angle or didn't direct you quick enough. Overall, I never plan to flatten a tummy or remove a bump in the nose in every single image I will deliver though. More below...
I will guide you into flattering poses under beautiful lighting. I will give clothing tips and recommend you only wear something that makes you feel HOT. That being said, not every image gets set up for flattering angles.
If your spouse makes you laugh out loud or if he/she says something so sweet that your cheeks flush, I’m not worried about you looking like a model. I'll make tweaks in editing to create the most flattering final result and I’ll be sending that pic your way because of that special moment.
How do I make those decisions and why does it matter?
1. I would have to charge twice as much to accommodate editing time for extensive and timely Photoshop requests. I'm not interested in offering that service but there are many out there that do!
2. I don’t want to perpetuate impossible beauty standards by making you look like anything other than you. We need to collectively work towards highlighting the beauty of all people, not highlighting the beauty of over-Photoshopped skin or mimicking celeb Insty posts. A light touch-up here and there is as far as I go.
It’s hard to define your role in this as a photographer because it’s my goal that you enjoy your experience and the results.
When you're 80 years old and showing your wedding photos to grandkids, I want you to recognize your beautiful self from so many years ago. I want you to be reminded of exactly how you felt that day. I don't want you to look back on a plastic figure.
Tips for a photo session you'll feel great about:
One final thought: You're great just the way you are, I promise.
This is a portrait session I did with Christa Briana for her to create a new website (coming soon!). She is a local illustrator who's work is similar to mine so we enjoyed created hauntingly beautiful images together in the woods of Asheville, NC.
Portraits of Asheville artist Christa Briana
Makeup by Serenity + Scott
Clothes are vintage
Props belong to Christa
My hubby Philip and I partnered to create a delicious + spooky Halloween drink for your festival cocktail party this month!
Philip enjoys getting creative with recipes at home and I love capturing food and drinks.
The Witch’s Apple
.75 oz bourbon or rye
1 tsp B&B liquor
.75 oz cognac or apple brandy
.75 oz sweet vermouth
2.5 oz fresh apple cider
2 dashes of Peychaud’s bitters
2 dashes of Angostura bitters
1/8 tsp activated charcoal (to make drink black, available at healthy grocers)
Dry ice is an optional and safe way to add some drama.
Combine all ingredients over ice. Stir well. Strain and pour over 1 large ice cube.
If you don't know the perfect spot to have your engagement or anniversary photos taken, how about at home?
Katelyn and Greg had me over for their engagement photos to bring in the fall season. They live in the cutest cabin tucked away in Black Mountain. It was lovely exploring their stomping grounds and hearing about their life together there.
We roamed around, stomped on leaves and visited the friendly neighborhood cow down street. This cow is more like a dog that comes to say hello when they go on jogs together. I had to see it to believe it.
Maybe you're wondering if you have enough fun spots around your home for an hour long session... think about how you spend your time at home. Let's brainstorm...
Cooking dinner together in the kitchen.
Swinging on the front porch swing.
Drinking wine on the deck after work.
Walking the dog.
Cozy by the fire.
Cuddling in bed after getting to sleep in.
Napping in bed after not getting to sleep in.
Dancing in the living room.
Setting the dining table for date night.
Planting or gardening.
Lounging in the hammock.
Still a no go? Plenty of public spaces we can find instead ;)
Sure, we all take photos of sunflowers. Sure, we see them all over Instagram. Sure, some folks are sick of 'em! And if you're sick of them, you may want to skip to another blog post...
Every portrait holds a new opportunity with the lighting, the model, the environment... sure, some things become repetitive but some things are classically beautiful and I'd throw flowers into the latter category.
As the sun set, we went from afternoon light to the golden hour quickly. I love getting a good variety when shooting!
Kristalyn and I created these portraits in under an hour. We both had some free time that evening and I've really been wanting to see the sunflowers. Heads up, Biltmore rotates these so you may want to do a drive by or call before planning a shoot around the sunflowers. They're located near Antler Village.
I also highly recommend the bright yellow canola field in the springtime.
For any clients interested in roaming the Biltmore Estate grounds for their session, I have a seasonal pass which allows me to bring guests in with me for free after 5pm. Some parts of the estate (including the house and rose garden) are closed at that time but there are plenty other spots!
When I first envisioned our trip to Ireland, I dreamt of olive greens on rolling hills. I imagined deep blue shores along the drive. I had it right, the countryside is just as I hoped. Early morning drives and late afternoon lunches let us see so much beauty in many different lights.
First up, the warm tones of olive green and gold that we often saw in mountains, farm land and around the happy farm animals.
Next we have the cool tones that surrounded us after a long rain, near the ocean waves and where the horses roam.
The blues were almost black, so deep and opaque in the shallows.
Love Ireland and want more? Check out these IG feeds:
As someone who spends a lot of time editing photos, I could never choose between warm or cool tones. They both have a special place in our travel memories.
When Aislin's mom Eliza (Aislin's 16) and I decided on a summer styled shoot many months ago, I began dreaming up ideas of how I see summer. If you've followed my work, I'm unlikely to have neon colors and bright light in my portfolio... for the most part ;) so my vision wouldn't be the standard summer scene.
I began imagining dreamy July nights of rolling around in the grass at dusk with fireflies floating around. I imagined eating popsicles on the dock of a lake as the sun set. I imagined how August days ended and the nostalgia of the last days of summer. Denim shorts, romantic dresses, tall grass, pool floats stacked by the shed, bug bites... I should add that all of this dreaming occurred at the end of winter when I was really in la la land.
At some point, the 1999 movie The Virgin Suicides popped into my head and I continued to run with this vision. I partnered with Eric Campbell of Cotton + Denim for styling 2 looks, Erika Stutz for feminine makeup and Natalie Webb for voluminous hair a la the 1970's brush-out. The team brought their A-game when creating a look for Aislin and we had a beautiful evening at Ivy Creek Family Farm for the shoot.
Top and dress: @Anthro_northcarolina
about the book The Virgin Suicides:
In a quiet suburb of Detroit, the five Lisbon sisters--beautiful, eccentric, and obsessively watched by the neighborhood boys--commit suicide one by one over the course of a single year. As the boys observe them from afar, transfixed, they piece together the mystery of the family's fatal melancholy, in this hypnotic and unforgettable novel of adolescent love, disquiet, and death. Jeffrey Eugenides evokes the emotions of youth with haunting sensitivity and dark humor and creates a coming-of-age story unlike any of our time. Adapted into a critically acclaimed film by Sofia Coppola, The Virgin Suicides is a modern classic, a lyrical and timeless tale of sex and suicide that transforms and mythologizes suburban middle-American life.
This book and movie are both very dark and not what comes to mind for most summer styled sessions but I was smitten. This styled session is not reflective of the plot, it is reflective of the cinematic feel Sofia Coppola created.
Being inspired by something shouldn't mean imitation. Inspiration should bring out fresh ideas you didn't know you had to create something new.
I always anticipated my 30s to be my favorite decade.
I'm thankful for this new freelancing career, family near and far, friends that grow closer daily and my favorite husband ;)
20s have been quite the ride so I'm thankful for them too. Graduated college, lived in 4 different states, traveled as often as possible, got married, bought our first home, adopted our first dog, fostered pups. The list goes on and on. I'm really just thankful and happy to be alive and to keep growing as an individual.
I can't imagine a better home to begin a new decade in, WNC has bought so much joy into my life. Hike after hike, kayaking in Lake Lure, playing in the creek, driving along the Parkway...
WNC has connected me with the best clients. Entrepreneurs working their ass off to build the career of their dreams. Couples who just want to get out into nature and breathe in the fresh air with on another. Repeat clients that I get to learn from and about each month on new adventures.
Enough about me. Let's not forget that April 22nd is Earth Day. Organizations that support the a healthy environment for people, animals and plant life need our support more than ever. A few favorites: The Nature Conservancy and World Wildlife Foundation. What small thing can we all do to help today?
Cheers to a new year and new summer season coming up!
Rust and concrete. Industrial style colors inspired by vintage dishes and one of my favorite backdrops.
I rarely hear people chat about the color rust but it's everywhere and is such a rich, one-of-a-kind color. I wouldn't consider it to paint my bedroom but in smaller doses it can be magical! There's hints of the color rust in food (cinnamon and spices), in nature (the last moments of a fire or a fox) and in actually rusting items such as an old ship. Rust is a strong, warm tone that isn't easy to pair with.
Concrete. I use that term instead of grey because there are many shades of grey plus concrete implies texture. Now, I'm not suggesting stripes of rust and grey but you can see how they complement one another. A black or white backdrop would be too harsh against the rust but the concrete contrasts just enough to not strip away the warmth. Concrete is popping up in plenty of home designs such as counter tops, shelving and flooring. The industrial look mixed with cozy tones is very popular for this decade of design.
If you're interested in more of this color combo, visit these beautiful IG accounts:
Want to explore similar themes? Consider these combos:
Concrete & gold
Slate & rust
Concrete & mustard yellow
Thank you to my mom. Thank you for letting me learn on my own, fumble and fall into lessons only understood through experience. Thank you for not smothering me and letting me live my life by moving to other states, catching up with you when it works for both our schedules, letting me travel, date, elope... Thank you for loving me through it all.
Thank you to my sister for always making time to be my sounding board. For laughing at my weird ways, not judging me. Thank you for being such a good example of what a sister should be. Taking me to Disney World when we were younger, sending anniversary gifts to Philip & I, treating Yeti like the special niece-dog that she is ;)
Thank you to my girlfriends for your laughter, your free spirits, your understanding and your forgiveness. Friendships go through phases and can be unpredictable. Thank you for not holding grudges or getting upset over minor things. Thank you for helping out when I need a favor and, also, feeling comfortable enough to ask the same of me. Thank you for being a cheerleader for my photography adventures. Thank you to those that are far away that still find time to touch base and check in with me. Thank you to those that are close for every invite and text. Regardless how small a gesture, I notice it and feel loved because of it.
Thank you to the women of the Asheville community for showing up. You are brave and smart. You are makers, artists and creatives working your butts off to achieve goals and support your family. You are light-hearted while finding the deep moments in life. You are changing the world.
Thank you to all the women who I have yet to meet that have or will influence me in some way. Your positive impact on other females is priceless.
This shoot was put together to play with the color combination of berry and taupe. As the sun set, I turned my focus to capturing Sarah in the last bits of sunlight.
I enjoy creating portraits that are dramatic yet classic. And although I usually reserve my blog for useful tips and insight, these were too fun not to share.
How rare is it for people to get their portrait taken?
On a wedding day, for a standard business headshot, a selfie when the lighting is good... when else?
Is this a missed tradition in our society?
I love looking back on memories. I hope to grow old and smile at my younger self.
How do I plan on doing that? I'm guilty of it myself, I'm rarely in front of the camera. I'm thinking it's time to change that.
February is here and surprisingly warm! At least here in Asheville. I'm soaking it up because I know it won't last! With February being the month of Valentine's Day, I had to pick a at least one color you may find in a beautiful bouquet of flowers or a love note on the 14th.
Berry is such a versatile color. Berry can be heavy with reds or purples and still be considered "berry". It's a flattering color for almost all skin tones when considering clothes or makeup. It can also be appropriate through all the seasons!
Jewel tones such as berry often look the most striking when paired with a more natural color. It takes the edge off of a strong color and brings warmth and approachability. One of my favorite artists I see utilizing color this way is Steve McCurry. He does not shy away from vibrant colors but he also incorporates muted or natural tones to set the mood of the image. A few of my favorites of his work below.
Taupe is also a versatile color. I think we could look at a few different shades of brown+white+grey and call them all taupe. It's a favorite for wall color when you're sick of plain white and can be sophisticated shade for clothing and shoes... a taupe suit for a groom in the warmer months for example.
What's the difference between beige and taupe? Beige has warmer undertones (orange) and taupe has cooler undertones (blue + grey). I consider beige stereotypically boring and doesn't create striking combinations with other colors. I consider taupe to be more modern and definitely pairs well with other colors. Also taupe can't be too boring if it made Sherwin Williams 2017 Color of the Year!
Berry and taupe. How do these colors make you feel when paired? These photos are heavy on the taupe with the detail of berry popping out from Sarah's makeup and butterfly crown. If they were switched, and berry was the dominating color, how would this image change?
A few Instagram feeds to follow that often play with similar combos if you want to see more:
Alternative color combinations that evoke similar vibes if berry + taupe isn't working for you:
Garnet & Grey
Blush & Grey
Burgundy & Taupe
Styled shoot contributors: Thank you to Ali Lawless for the gorgeous makeup & hair, my sweet friend Sarah as the stunning model, the talented Megan of The East Western for the slave bracelet & EtenIren shop for the whimsical butterfly crown.
See you next month with a new color combo to explore!
2016 was an interesting one. Emotional and exhausting come to mind when I think of worldviews. Progressive and meaningful come to mind on a personal level. As we walk into a new year, I'm ready to take a beat and think about how I want 2017 to look and what I'm going to do to make it happen.
First, a reflection of how I did on my 2016 resolutions.
Accomplished to some degree:
Didn't do so hot on these goals (it's important to be honest with yourself):
And now for 2017.
Where do I see myself growing? How can I achieve these things?
This is a fluid "agreement" with myself as I add more goals and as I give myself a break on inevitable setbacks.
Ok ok. 5 will do. A now, a quick word to the new year...
Please don't be worse than 2016. There are large numbers of us worried about the future.
This year I'm getting into the spirit before December 1st (gasp)!
I'm joining in the Shop Small Saturday fun with 3 offers (all UNDER $100!) that may be perfect gift options for someone on your list!
A big thank you to my lovely couples of this fall wedding season.
You were easy to work with, you were present in the moment during your big day, your family & friends were delightful.
Cheers to you!
I look forward to photographing many more small weddings & elopements in WNC next year!
For inquiries, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Click on over here for more wedding images. Small weddings, big love.
Let's talk about the real star of the show when it comes to iced tea.
Although often underwhelming, the ice plays an important role... It's why I love grabbing iced tea to-go from Green Sage Café here in Asheville (crushed ice perfection). It's why I monitor the amount of ice used so the tea isn't watered down or (GASP) not cold enough. And now I'm ready to upgrade my ice to fancy up my usual morning tea.
I'm looking at these gorgeous, fancy ice balls and cubes as an easy way to infuse your tea. Hear me out...
You will need ice trays that create oversized ice cubes or balls, these are often used for alcoholic drinks. Fill 1/4 of the way up with filtered water. Add in your favorite herbs such as mint, basil, rosemary, lavender. When adding herbs, put a lot! A small sprig won't cut it. Fill up with water to 3/4 full.
Ice will form over night then gently remove from the tray. Plop ice in your favorite glass/jar/mug/pitcher. Pour tea over (pick your favorite variety for an herbal infusion) and let sit over ice for an hour. A tea brewed a bit stronger works well here.
Once an hour has passed, the herbs have sunk their teeth into your tea and it's time to enjoy! So refreshing.
Got a sunny day coming up? Let's make some good ol' fashioned sun tea. It is summer, after all.
How does sun tea work exactly?
Tea will release flavors into any water, warm or cool. Hot water simply speeds up the process. So you're just taking the long road to a delicious pitcher of tea and avoiding turning on your stove on a hot day.
Fill a clear glass pitcher or dispenser with filtered water. Add 7-9 tea bags per gallon of water. I'm a fan of black tea, the flavors evolve nicely in the sun and you can add just about anything to it.
Set your pitcher out in the sun, unsweetened, for 2-3 hours of direct light.
Adjust the amount of tea bags added based on how strong you like your tea. Adjust the amount of time you leave in sun based on how dark you like your tea (and the strength of the sun).
Bring your pitcher indoors and sweeten as you like. I'd start with 1/8 cup of sugar/honey/agave because I'm conservative with how sweet I take my drinks. In fact, I drink my tea unsweetened but I know it's the south! Lemons or mint are also tasty additions.
From what I hear, sun tea won't last long so drink up with friends on a lazy Sunday afternoon.
Please know that there may be some images in this post unsuitable for those under 18.
Creating portraits with someone is such an interesting process. You get together and throw concepts around that suit both of you. The final images should represent the person in a beautiful light. Showing them when they're enjoying themselves and relaxed. Showing them when they feel confident in front of the camera or when they don't even notice it.
I love the idea of my clients looking back and being really happy to remember themselves in that moment.
Tristin and I had a blast shooting in the river. It was a hot evening and the water was the perfect temperature, although she could have done without the slimy rocks under her toes.
We'd be laughing and joking one minute then get into photo-mode the next and end up with a very serious image. I did manage to catch her cracking a smile a few times though.
A personal goal of mine was to capture movement with her dress(es) as the breeze blew by.
We found a little alcove to take some final shots before the sun set. They were final shots because she was about to be soaking wet too! It's always fun to stretch boundaries and get creative with portraits. No rules.
Thank you Tristin for having fun with me in the river and for just being yourself in these photos.
Contact me at email@example.com if you're interested in a portrait session.
This one is easy guys. Grab your favorite ice cream, see mine above!
I was craving popsicles likes none other this month and so happy to share these! My sister gifted the molds to me (easy find at TJ MAxx or BB&B), delicious strawberries are in season and Philip whipped up a beautifully simple recipe!
Plus it's the first day of summer? Perfect.
Happy summer to you all!
It starts with a strawberry. Smack in the middle of strawberry season.
I'm always drawn more to a fruit-filled dessert than a chocolatey one and strawberry shortcake is no exception.
It's simple to make at home which is wonderful since I've yet to experience any phenomenal restaurant versions.
Join me each week this June to indulge in favorite summer sweets, most will be southern and locally inspired.
Recipe by Philip Bollhoefer...
The biscuits (yields 12):
Cake flour 2cup
All purpose flour 2cup
Kosher salt 1tbsp
Baking powder 1tbsp
Baking soda 1tsp
Butter (cold) 2 sticks cut into 1/4inch cubes
Sift dry ingredients together. Mix sifted dry ingredients and butter. In 4 batches, pulse the butter flour mixture in food processor until butter is the size of small peas.
Transfer butter and flour mixture into a large mixing bowl and create a well in the middle. Using your hands combine buttermilk until incorporated. DO NOT OVER MIX. The dough should just come together and look ragged.
On a floured work surface roll dough out and fold over itself. Repeat 3 times. Once layers have been formed roll dough out approximately 1 inch thick. Cut into 2.5" rings.
Brush tops of biscuits with buttermilk. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes/until lightly browned.
Quartered strawberries 2cups
Sugar in the raw 2tbsp
Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur 1tbsp
Lemon juice 1tsp
Mix all ingredients together. Let strawberry mixture sit overnight or at least while biscuits bake.
Let biscuits cool then open them up. Scoop vanilla ice cream and place on bottom half of biscuits and top with strawberries and garnish with powdered sugar.
Chocolate is usually one of the last types of dessert that I order or bake. I reach for the blueberry filled crumbles, chocolate chip cookies or plain jane treats like shortbread.
That being said, these simple chocolate tarts are killer.
Philip created these with inspiration from his stacks of cookbooks and added his own touches, including a sprinkle of sea salt on top.
The tart dough:
All purpose flour 2cup + 3tbsp
Kosher salt 3tsp
Cold unsalted butter 8oz cut into ¼ in cubes
Ice water 1/4cup
Combine 1 cup of flour and the salt. Add flour and salt mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix with paddle attachment for approx. while adding the butter in 4 additions. Stir until well combined, approx. 1 minute. Add the remaining flour and mix until just combined and scrape the sides of the bowl. Add ice water and mix just until the dough comes together. There should be no visible pieces of butter left. Flatten the dough and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough chill for at least 2 hours.
Unwrap the dough a place between 2 sheets of parchment paper. Using a rolling pin pound the top of the dough to get the rolling process started. Roll the dough out to approximately 1/8 inch thick and cut for the desired tart mold (can us a muffin pan). Place tart dough into desired mold. Use parchment paper or a coffee filter to cover the tart dough once in the mold. Fill the coffee filter/parchment with raw rice. This will keep the dough from rising while the tart bakes.
Bake at 350 for approximately 20 minutes until the shells are golden. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly. Remove from mold and reserve.
55-65% cocoa dark chocolate 8oz
Heavy cream 8oz
Cold butter 1tsp
Place chocolate in a hear resistant mixing bowl. Heat cream in medium sauce pan over high heat. Once the cream bowls poor over chocolate and mix until completely melted. Add cold butter and stir.
While the gnache is still warm poor into tart shells. Finish with a pinch of fluer de see on top!