Ms. T

The first of the 2 part shoot was held on the campus of Lamar University where she is graduating with her RN, see here.  For this session, we rented a fabulous studio in the Heights (Houston), with exposed brick and stunning light, where we cranked up her favorite tunes and had a grand time.  You’re not limited to a particular geographic area with Ms. Studios, being a South Texas Photographer, we are happy to serve a variety of areas and we love to travel!

I asked Taylor, as I do most of my female clients, “what makes you fierce?”  I loved her response, “I’m fierce because I am confident.”  I don’t know about you, but I see her confidence in every one of these images.  Her confidence, her playful side, her softness, and her #FiercelyFeminine side – all rolled into one amazing young woman – came out in this shoot.

I love Taylor’s reason for wanting to do this glamour session because it epitomizes the mission of Ms. Studios, “empowering women through the art of photography.”  She wanted to do this session for HER, she didn’t do it for anyone else, she did it to celebrate HERSELF and her success.  I am honored and delighted that she allowed me to capture this time in her life and to help her tell her story.

If you would like to enjoy a custom Ms. Studios experience for yourself and let us help you tell YOUR story, click here to learn more and see if we’d be a good fit.  Or feel free to call (936-463-5893) or e-mail (tammy@msstudios.net) to speak to me directly.  Looking forward to hearing from you soon!
x’s and oooh’s,
Tammy

 

Remembering daddy at Easter

Easter is a bittersweet time for me.  It’s an important and joyous holiday for all Christians as we celebrate the risen Christ and His victory over death.  Death could not hold Him and it has no power over me either because He paid the price for my sin.  I, and my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, have been washed clean by the blood of the Lamb.

It is said that, ‘justice’ is getting what you deserve, ‘mercy’ is not getting what you deserve, and ‘grace’ is getting what you don’t deserve.  As a child of God, I have been given the ultimate gift of His holy grace.  Christ was crucified and died to give me, and you, that gift of grace.  There is no greater blessing.

36961_1151037953610_1384408_nChrist is not the only great man that died on Easter weekend.  Unlike Christmas, Easter doesn’t always fall on the same day each year.  I can’t tell you what day Easter fell on in 1998; my memory of that weekend is full of holes.  I have only spotty recollections of moments here and there from that time.  I remember a call from my sister-in-law, I remember singing ‘Torn’ with Tina as she drove me from… from somewhere to the church with a detour around the ‘Y’, and I remember saying goodbye to the greatest man whoever loved me.

While there isn’t a day that passes that I don’t think of him and miss him terribly, I take solace in knowing that my beloved daddy was also a blessed child of God and because of that he was a recipient of that gift of grace as well; death holds no power over him either.  He too lives and I rejoice in knowing that he is with the Father and one day I will see him again.

Ms. K

I love being a photographer, capturing precious memories for people and freezing moments in time, but there is one aspect of photography that I love more than the rest and that is being a Boudoir photographer.

Every woman deserves to feel confident and beautiful but all too often we’re so busy taking care of everyone else that we forget to take care of ourselves.  It’s hard to feel beautiful when you’re exhausted from nursing a sick family, or putting in 60 hours on the job, or BOTH!

I love the dichotomy that women can be both fierce and feminine.  There is nothing more beautiful than a #FiercelyFeminine woman, but when she’s in the middle of fighting her battles she feels battle weary and war worn, anything but beautiful.   I love helping women remember how beautiful they are by making their outside match their inside and allowing them to see themselves the way I see them.  Make no mistake; I am not ‘making’ them beautiful.  These women are already beautiful.  I’m just reminding them that there is beauty in their strength, and that they should carry themselves with the confidence of the #FiercelyFeminine creature that they are.

The stunning, Ms. K was not immune to this conundrum.  She is a wife, mother of four, a supportive friend, and she holds down a day job.  She is, to me, as beautiful as they come. Deep down she knows her strength and beauty aren’t tied to external trappings but her fierceness was waning and she recognized the empowering value in getting it back.  She needed to, as Barney Stinson would say, “suit up” and find that #FiercelyFeminine creature that still resided within.  I think she did!

NILMDTS SA Appreciation Dinner

I love ‘Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep’, I love the families we photograph, and I love my team of *Rock Star* volunteers who serve alongside me.  I’m proud to be an Area Coordinator for such an amazing organization, with an awesome team, in one of the greatest cities in the U.S.

Webster’s defines a ‘volunteer’ as a person who performs a service willingly and without pay.  Our volunteers are so very important; we simply couldn’t exist without them.  They give their heart, time, and talent, taking time away from their own families, to come to the aide of complete strangers on the spur of the moment.  And the only compensation they get is the reward of knowing that they have given a family a priceless treasure.  Knowing that is most definitely a beautiful thing, don’t get me wrong, but this work takes an emotional toll on the volunteers and their families and that must be acknowledged.  No one can truly understand what it takes to do this kind of work except another volunteer so I feel it’s important to give them opportunities to connect with one another.

I’m a relatively new Area Coordinator still, I’ve only held the position for less than ten months, so I’m still kind of ‘charting my course’.  I set several goals for myself, but one of the most important to me was to make sure my team felt loved, heard, and appreciated for all their hard work.  To that end, last month I held an ‘appreciation dinner’ for them.  I reserved the private room at a local pub and decorated it with balloons and little pails filled with candies in NILMDTS blue.  We had a great turnout, only a few couldn’t make it.

CollageWhen they arrived I bought everyone’s first drink and some appetizers for them to munch on.  Most had encountered each other on our local Facebook page but had never actually met in real life.  There were hugs all around.  We had dinner, we shared stories, we covered a little bit of business, we connected like only people who have ‘been there’ too can, and we laughed, and we laughed, and we laughed.  A great time was had by all.  Oh, and I managed to snag enough door prizes from local businesses – ranging from a small gift certificate with a high-end salon to a $100 gift card from a print shop – that everyone went home with something.  And everyone won the right gift for them, it was utterly uncanny… the pregnant volunteer who can’t see her feet anymore won the salon GC and can now get a pedicure, the assistant who is working her way up to photographer won a free class at the local photography school, etc.  It was a totally random draw, but everyone got exactly what they needed.  I love it when things like that happen!

I intend to have appreciation type social events at least twice a year, once in the summer and again around the holidays.  For the holiday social, our families that we have served will be invited as well so that we can see them again under better circumstances and they can share their journey with other families who are on the same path.  We will honor their angel babies, support our families, and celebrate our volunteers.

In addition to appreciation which is a big part of retention, recruitment was another goal of mine and our team is growing by leaps and bounds.  We’ve more than doubled the size of the team by going from 5 photographers and 0 assistants, to 9 photographers and 5 assistants (all of whom wish to work their way up to photographer).  And as of this writing, I have 4 more potential photographers and 1 more assistant whose applications are pending.  We have a relatively new and amazing orientation program now to get them fully trained and started on the right foot.  This gives them an opportunity to address any questions and/or concerns they may have and helps them to feel confident well in advance of their first session.   I’m proud to say everyone on my team has gone through the orientation with flying colors and I’ve gotten nothing but great feedback on it.  They all have said that, even though they had read the materials and watched the training videos, they feel like they were much more prepared to actually take a session after the in-person orientation.  Such a small investment of my time on the front end gives them a much greater chance of success and our team a much greater chance of retenetion.  I’m so lucky to work with absolutely amazing people that I respect and admire.

Like I said at the beginning, I love this organization, I love our families, and I love our volunteers, and since they are the lifeblood of this organization, it’s vitally important to me that they know how much I appreciate them.  I’m so glad they had a good time at our event, I definitely did (as I think you can see by the huge grin on my face).  Here is (some of) my team and these are some of the smiling faces that I work with and adore.  Jennifer D., Chelsea, Cassie, Jennifer H., Karen, Brandi, Jená, Jesse, Ryan, Melissa, Tawnya, Holly, and Kati… you are a blessing to the families we serve and my life is richer for knowing you!

Cilantro Lime Chicken & Rice with Black Beans

It’s been a while since I blogged about my kitchen adventures, so I thought it was high time (and my BFF practically demanded it – hey Tina!).  I came across a recipe the other day on Cooking Classy’s website that looked too yummy to pass up.  I figured I’d give it a try, snapping pics along the way, and then I would decide if it was blog worthy after the taste test, so here are the step by steps and my thoughts on this delicious dish.  So read on, my good people, because it was DELISH!  This dish is light, and bright, and aromatic, and did I mention it’s delish?

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Ingredients:

  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, diced into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 Tbsp canola oil
  • 4 green onions, chopped (keep lighter and darker portions separate)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1.5 cups chicken broth
  • 1 (4 oz) can chopped green chilies
  • 2 tsp lime zest
  • 3 Tbsp lime juice
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can black beans, rinsed and well drained
  • 2 cups minute white rice (don’t use regular rice!)
  • 1/3 cup chopped cilantro
  • Salt and pepper to taste

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3U5A1621Tips:  For the lime zest, a microplane works best, but if you don’t have a microplane, you can use the smallest side of a cheese grater. Just make sure not to go so deep as to get the white part, that is bitter and unpleasant.

3U5A1626As for the cilantro, I love my herb mincer.  Be sure to remove any stems, you only want the leaves.  The herb mincer will also work on the garlic if you don’t have a garlic press.

3U5A1620First you’ll need to prep a large skillet by heating the Canola oil over medium high heat.  When the oil is hot add the chicken pieces and sauté until cooked through (about 6 minutes), if you like a bit of a sear like I do, add a couple more minutes to sauté time until you see sear on the outside of the pieces.  Add in the lighter portions of the green onions and the garlic for the last minute or two of cooking the chicken and sauté them all together.

3U5A1623Next stir in the broth, remaining green onions, green chilies, lime zest, lime juice, black beans, and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Stir well, increase heat to high, and bring mixture to a full boil.  Once boiling, add rice, stir to fully saturate rice in mixture, turn off heat (but leave skillet on the hot burner), cover with a tight lid and let rest for at least 10 minutes.

3U5A1627Last, add cilantro and toss, then let rest uncovered for an additional 3-5 minutes.  If you would like, garnish with additional fresh cilantro and a slice of lime.  I served it with a side of fresh guacamole and chips.

The next time I make it, and there will be a next time, I might try a little tequila in the mix.  I’ll let you know how that turns out.

Enjoy!