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How I felt about my own before and after


How I felt about my own before and after

One of my gifts, as a photographer and a human is that I am able to see everything beautiful in you and everything that you maybe, aren’t super happy about, too. So, how did I feel about my own before and after?

When I first entered photography professionally, I was immediately drawn to modern portraiture. As a college student (a hundred or so years ago), I loved the edgy, black and white aesthetic. it was the 90’s. Everything was edgy, then, haha! As my photography grew and I was able to hone my skills, contemporary glamour was easily where my heart burst with joy. There is something so simple, yet so magnificent about stripping away everything you don’t like or hate about yourself and lighting everything that is beautiful. Defining that in a magazine style portrait that just, well, it sings.

Recently, I’ve been on a bit of a rampage in purchasing new pieces for our studio wardrobe. Beautiful satin and lace dresses for anyone to wear during their photo shoot here in Asheville. Elegant pieces to go that extra mile in ensuring you feel beautiful for your photo shoot. You might come in thinking, “Oh I just need new head shots” or “I’m more of a casual girl” but, having that extra piece of drop dead gorgeous never hurts anyone.

So, what better time than to test the waters myself? So, I donned one of the new pieces and called a photographer friend over, hung my black velvet backdrop and put on a face and stepped in front of her lens.

“What are you doing, Cat? Why on earth do you NEED a portrait? You just had a full on beauty session a year and a half ago with another photographer. Do you really need another one? Do you even really DESERVE another one? God, this looks horrible on you. Your makeup looks awful and you haven’t touched up your hair color and you could use to lose more than just a few pounds. You’re almost 40. There’s no way these will be even remotely resemble the you, you remember…”


“OK deep breaths, Cat.”

All the voices, I acknowledged their existence. Always in the voice of the 12-year-old me. She was constantly berated so, I can’t really blame her for being scared. It’s her job to protect me from suffering that kind of attack…oh wait…

Be careful how you speak to yourself. You are listening after all.

I took my “Before” picture in my kitchen, after a single cup of coffee in front of a window. No makeup, I don’t think I’d even brushed my hair. A real “before”, to say the least. Yup, that’s me in the morning. How did I feel about the before? Seeing the truth sometimes can be jolting. I got to see all of my flaws in the cold light of day, and then I was going to put it out there for all the interwebs to see. Haha! The dark circles under my eyes, the scowl lines in between my eyebrows from spending 20+ years in the Florida sun, my growing chin (what’s THAT about anyway, jeez) and the list goes on. The point is, that is my face. That is what I look like. In a normal day, I might throw on a little moisturizer and some eye makeup. I might even go so far as lipstick if I’m feelin sassy. I’m a pretty good lookin gal, curves and all. A little face can go a long way.

In editing the footage we shot that day, we were very careful to only go as far as we would for any client. I am very meticulous about retouching. As much as I wanted to wave my magic photo shop wand to get rid of everything I see, it was very important that I remain my beautiful self and, not some idealized version of myself. My portraiture is based on highlighting everything beautiful about my client and if I went the “extra mile” on my own portraits, it would have defeated the purpose.

Having the strength to step in front of a camera can be challenging. You’re faced with all of your flaws and “I’m not good enough”, right then. You ARE good enough. everything about you is perfect. You are valued.

Having the strength to step in front of a camera can be challenging. You’re faced with all of your flaws and “I’m not good enough”, right then. You ARE good enough. everything about you is perfect. You are valued.

So, what do I see staring back at me?

  • a woman who loves her work
  • the courage to let all of the voices have their say, and then move forward to embrace this moment
  • a woman with doubts and fears, just like everyone else
  • a woman who is loved
  • a woman who has worked tirelessly to build her business
  • a beautiful portrait, now part of my legacy

I put this image out on social media yesterday. Clicking the “post” button definitely took a minute…or two but, here’s the thing, if I can’t share my very own before and after, how on earth could I ever expect you to come into my studio, let alone experience your very own transformation with us?

Our service, our process is not one of turn and burn, wham bam thank you ma’am. I want you to be able to envision yourself having your portraits made with us. I want for you to see that my purpose here is not to just photo shop everything away, it’s to showcase everything wonderful about you, right now. It’s to help you see past all of the little things you hate seeing in the mirror: all of the shoulda, woulda, coulda, all of the when I lose 15 pounds, all of the when I get to the salon or the gym, all of the maybe one days, all of the “I’m not good enough”. You ARE good enough. You DO deserve beautiful portraits. Your family and loved ones deserve beautiful portraits OF YOU.

They are your keepsakes. They are your heirlooms.

In the words of Sue Bryce, “You are beautiful. I want to capture you for All time.”

I would love to photograph you.


I got the news on Saturday evening {A personal post}


I got the news on Saturday evening {A personal post}

I got the news on Saturday evening. Andy was a childhood friend with my friend, Mary. He came to Asheville to connect with her on his cross-country journey. What a light this man had! Wow…I met him in our restaurant on a karaoke Sunday. He was lively and shooting stills and video of the day. What a great day it was, too. He then stayed on for a few months. He, of course spoke about his “Embrace Your Awesome” and videoed us brewing sake and danced and played. We were following our passion and it thrilled him. Around Andy, you always felt as though he had a magic that was out of reach for so many of us. What I’ve learned since then though, is that you attract what you are. What you see in people is simply a reflection of yourself.

I was never close with Andy but, somehow his passing has had a major impact. When I heard about his passing on Saturday, complete and utter shock. I can’t stop crying. Is that crazy? When I open my facebook, my newsfeed is riddled with so much love for this man and it begins again, the tears come. On his personal page, you could scroll for days with all of the images and stories he created with people. There have been groups created in memorial and for sharing and celebrating his life in grief. Even a worldwide dance party was shared last night in his honor.

He really, really would have loved that.

One of the things I loved most, was that he loved to document, everything. EVERYTHING. As a photographer and videographer he understood completely how impactful imagery is. When someone is gone, you pour through photos to remember that moment with clarity and depth…and love. This was the image that he stated “If ever were there a picture to memorialize me, I want it to be this one.”

Photo courtesy of John Shim. John, thank you for capturing such a perfect moment.

Photo courtesy of John Shim. John, thank you for capturing such a perfect moment.

Andy, dear sir, I don’t know that you ever truly knew what kind of legacy you have created through this terrific web of people you have connected. It is astounding to me the outpouring of love so many are sharing. You never did get to compile and share all of your imagery and cinematography as you’d planned. I can only imagine how fantastic a story it truly would have been upon completion. In fact, if anyone in his family is interested in putting this documentary together, I am more than happy to help in any way. Please, feel free to reach out to me directly ( to discuss the details. That legacy, his dream deserves to be shared.

I know that I am sharing this on my professional blog. Perhaps I should create a personal, I don’t know. I needed to write. To get this out of my system and into the ether, as it were. I can only imagine how those closest to him are feeling. I knew him only a few short months and I am heartbroken for his passing.

My hope is that everything he brought to every. single. person Andy ever met was that, that love that he spread like wildfire illuminates the sky. Every day he made the world a better place and we are all richer people for having known him. Burn bright my friend.

“There are no happy endings because nothing ever ends.” – Peter S Beagle, The Last Unicorn

Now, I have to go and put together my “Notes to Self”. You probably should, too.