Archive for the Personal Category

Alicia’s Bridal Session

Posted in Bridals, Personal, Weddings on September 1, 2009 by sharizellers


I am so excited to show off this bridal session for my girl, Alicia!  All of our hard work and location scouting paid off!  The weather was perfect – not TOOO hot anyways, and all of the things we wanted to do went off without a hitch.


A few weeks before her session, we headed over to the campus of her alma mater, Agnes Scott, to have a look around for some nice locations.  I’ve been to the campus before but not with permission to shoot just about any where we wanted.  So on this scouting trip, we were just finding so many great looks and locations – without going too far! We also went next door to downtown Decatur since Alicia also spent plenty of nostalgic times there and wanted to do something with the mural at Johnny’s Pizza.

Since she needed to get into her dress in Agnes Scott Hall, we decided to start right there in one of the rooms off the main hallway.  There was a terrific red couch and we used a little off camera flash to create a butterfly spot effect.  She looks so glamorous here, like a Hollywood starlet!


There is also a great little gazebo and  this is one of my favorite close ups of the day.  Love her laughing here!  What was so funny?  I dunno but this is perfection to me…bensonbridal_0018

We headed over to Presser Hall next and used this amazing foyer with a gorgeous chandelier.  I had Alicia’s MOH, Lindsay, hold the off camera flash for some really dramatic lighting for this classic portrait.


As we wandered towards the front lawn, the sun was peeking through the trees perfectly illuminating the branches.  We stopped for some landscape images with this ethereal light and this was the image Alicia chose for display at the reception.  Perfect for a “Midsummer Night’s Dream” theme!


Now, for MY favorite shot of the day.  It’s amazing what little nooks and crannies you can find in the architecture.  This double staircase was sort of hidden behind the library.  I was immediately drawn to the marble and chrome as a backdrop for something vogue.  When we arrived that day, it was receiving some rather harsh sunlight but the effect didn’t bother me at all!  I LOVE this image.  It’s my absolute favorite of the entire session…and that’s saying a lot since I love so many!


Leaving Agnes Scott behind, we headed over to Decatur for a quick change of scenery…and a quick change of attitude!  Alicia saved her purple crinoline for this part of the session and exchanged her veil for a fabulous feather fascinator.  Way to rock it, girlie!  Gotta give Gene some love here…Man!  Can you say purple perfection?!


Last, but certainly not least is our John Lennon tribute.  Looking sorta pensive but loving the color infrared with Strawberry Fields.


I am like a proud big sister of Alicia!  She really rocked this bridal session and we had so much fun!  Please be assured, this was BEFORE her wedding and no wedding dresses were harmed in this photo shoot.  You can really do a lot of fun things with planning and patience and never have to worry about your dress.  We’ll take care of you!

To see Alicia’s Bridal Session slideshow, click HERE!


Ponderings on the 40th Anniversary of the Moonwalk

Posted in News, Personal on July 22, 2009 by sharizellers
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The ORIGINAL Moonwalk, that is.  Yes, here is where I get to admit to being somewhat of a space geek, NASA junkie, and all things related to men in rockets going to the moon.  I was watching the anniversary special on Discovery channel and realized that I still get so nostalgic about an event that I wasn’t even alive to see!  So, I give you a peek into my affection with  that which I’ve always loved and been proud of – our American experience and love affair – triumphant, rocky, and tragic at times – with the space program.

Growing up, my grandparents lived a “stones throw away” from Cape Canaveral in New Smyrna Beach, Florida.  Before I came along, it’s been said that the astronauts even jaunted down to NSB to play and race cars (they liked their cars like they liked their rockets – fast as they could be).  My grandparents had a front row seat to all the goings on during the “Space Race”, the global rush to be the first to the moon.  This means they also got to see the painful sacrifices made, too.  Some folks thought we were crazy to do what we were doing and spend money on such a venture when there were people to protect during the cold war…hmmm.

Any way, I heard the stories, the newspaper clippings and we had the local souvenirs and paraphernalia that came with the craze that swept the nation but particularly the small, once sleepy beach side towns that were on the east coast of Florida – what soon became known as the “Space Coast”.  There were even special stamps issued to commemorate the different Apollo missions that my grandmother collected – I own them now that she has passed.  So, I got swept up, too even though the race had been won by the time I was born just two years later.

What started with the race to the moon soon culminated in another space-craze as I became an elementary school student.  This was the beginning of the Space Shuttle program.  A reusuable space vehicle that would be able to do so many experiments and even complete the dream of the International Space Station – a joint mission of several nations.  While I never really envisioned becoming an astronaut (some how I knew I was an artist, not a scientist or pilot-type), I was fascinated with this extension of the space program that I could now watch play out during my time.  When I first remember visiting the Kennedy Space Center in the bicentennial year of 1976, the Space Shuttle program was very close to launch – literally -only five years away.  The program was something out of science fiction at the time we heard about it!  And then on April 12, 1981, the first Shuttle launched.  Like many of America’s school children, it became an exciting ritual when another launch was announced and we got to pull TV’s into our classroom to watch each one – it was an event!  An event we eventually took for granted…

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As I moved onto high school, the Space Shuttle program moved on, too.  Now, they were auditioning and interviewing for non-astronauts to become part of the Shuttle crew.  A school teacher was to go up on a mission and thousand (or millions?) of teachers applied for the position.  At our high school in Chamblee, GA, we championed our beloved art teacher, Mr. Dave Smiley, to be chosen to go on the mission. While he didn’t make it, we were still proud of the certificate he received in recognition and he hung it in his office.  Little did we know that later, we would be so glad he was not chosen.  As a nation, we suffered a loss that had not been experienced in 25 years.  It was not right.  It was painful and felt like failure. And we plugged onwards.

Then, as an adult, I was introduced to someone that worked at NASA.  I drove to Titusville several times to watch launches – daytime and evening.  This was post-911 and security prevented me from shooting the kind of images that I grew up seeing.  I had the knowledge and the equipment but just not the proximity I yearned for.  This is the price of freedom we pay.  I still enjoyed the entire event and the amazing effects that the shuttle contrail would leave in the sky for hours after launch.

At some point after Steven and I met, he mentioned that he had never seen a shuttle launch (or any launch for that matter) in person.  I, of course, dug out my film images that had been scanned and shared them with him. That led to a planning session (where he discovered that I knew waaaaay too much for a girl about when the shuttle launches each year, etc… ;o) ) and we decided to make the quick jaunt to the coast to see one of the last eleven launches of what we now know as the Space Shuttle.

This was last March and we got to see a pre-dawn launch of STS-123 at about 2:30 am, March 11, 2008.  A cloud bank rolled in right before launch that didn’t hinder the rocket but left us with not much to see after about 10 seconds or so.  I still love the effect – we should have video taped it now that I think of it!  It was still pretty amazing the way it lit up the clouds and then the clouds served as a giant diffuser casting an eerie glow all across the Indian River.


lift off!florida0308_0131florida0308_0129florida0308_0158

Only seven Shuttle Launches to go before this part of our history is gone.  That’s right – they’ve developed a safer, more cost effective way of launching the Shuttle Orbiter into orbit around the Earth so there will not be the glorious, although be it dangerous, rocket launches.  Manned launches may be just a part of our history that we will experience in video and photos much like I enjoy watching the historical moonwalk today.

I want to go see at least one more launch.  This time I will rent a bigger lens. ;o)

Allie Award – AGAIN!!!! 2009 Best Event Photography!!!!

Posted in News, Personal, Special Events, Weddings with tags , , , , , on March 17, 2009 by sharizellers
Alicia, Me, & Steven with the Allie Award for Best Event Photography!

Alicia, Me, & Steven with the Allie Award for Best Event Photography!

I am so honored…and was almost speechless because I really wasn’t too sure this year how the decision would go.  Here, 7 years from the first time I entered the Allies in 2002, I have won my fourth Allie Award for Best Event Photography!  This is a local recognition by our peers in the special events industry in Atlanta.   We have VERY specific rules and guidelines which any one can see at the Allies web site, but to summarize we can choose an event in the last calendar year (Jan 1, 2008-Dec 31, 2008) and only ten photos from that event that depict the event’s activities, decor, participants, catering, venue and have a “Wow” factor.   We also must do a written, two-page description of the event, our responsibility, our challenges & obstacles, and our client’s goals and expectations and how those were met (whew!).

This year I chose to enter two entries since I am now a member of NACE (you are allowed an additional entry for each membership your company holds) so I entered Brittany & Chuck’s wedding at Lake Rabun and Deborah & Tony’s wedding at the Fox Theatre.  It was Deborah & Tony’s that got the nomination!  I called it “Rockin’ the Fox”!

Me accepting my Allie and slightly stunned by the outcome

Me accepting my Allie and slightly stunned by the outcome

This year was a record year for entries in the Photography category.  We had seven entries from six companies (two of the entries were from me) and four nominees resulted due to a tie.  When we are notified of the nominees, all we know is the company’s name that is nominated.  Only at the awards banquet during cocktail hour, will we see the actual entries and lay eyes for the first time on our competitions’ entries.  This time like always, I was pretty nervous.  I can be pretty hard on myself and my work and I didn’t have very high expectations once I saw who I was up against.

Big Band entertainment for the evening

Big Band entertainment for the evening

I saw that the nominees with me were Mike Moreland, the Zenith Design Group (?  that one had us scratching our heads?), and my good friends Anna & Spencer Clark.  I really respect both Mike and the Clark’s very much so it was a honor to be nominated with them!  Both of their entries were fabulous so in my mind, it was a complete toss up as to the outcome.

The glam girls, Dames Aflame as awards hostesses

The glam girls, Dames Aflame as awards hostesses

I was not even nervous when they got to our category – third in the program that night so fairly early, during salads!  I was genuinely expecting someone else to be announced….and then they said the magic words “Rockin’ the Fox….” and Alicia just SQUEALED and started clapping frantically…it took several seconds for it to register because I wanted to make sure I wasn’t aurally hallucinating!

Me & Mark Brickman of BakersMan, Inc

Me & Mark's Allies

Me & Mark's Allie

I am also so glad that of course (of COURSE) my good friend, Mark Brickman of Baker’s Man Inc won yet again (what’s this, the sixth time Mark?  I lose track…!) for Best Cake Presentation.  I’ve said many times right here on this blog, he’s the BEST for a reason!

You might notice they misspelled my name on the award – I’m supposed to get a new one this week.  I get my name misspelled a lot so it wasn’t a big deal to me when I saw it that way on the nominations. But now I know better – I should have told them right away!

Alicia, Anna & Spencer Clark at our table

Alicia, Anna & Spencer Clark at our table

I also want to congratulate my other good friends over at Spectrum Entertainment for winning their FIRST Allie for Best Entertainment on a Shoestring!  Congrats guys!  You’re the best DJ friends a gal can have! ;o)

And to all the other Allie winners…AND nominees, congratulations!  We’ll see you next year, too!

Here are the images I used in my entry, “Rockin’ the Fox” of Deborah & Tony’s wedding:


Shuttle Launch

Posted in Misc, News, Personal on April 4, 2008 by sharizellers

Even though this happened last month, I wanted to blog about some personal work.  Yes, I get to do that occasionally even when it’s sneaked in between working jobs!  I went to Florida back in March and we decided to stay up late one night to watch the NASA shuttle launch.  Night launches are particularly spectaclar however, the general public is only allowed to view the launch from about 5 miles away in the town of Titusville, FL.  Despite being so far away, the lights of the launch pad can be seen lighting up the entire skyline of the “space coast”.  The bright orange building to the right is the Vehicle Assembly Building – a structure so large it has it’s own weather conditions inside!

The launch was scheduled for 2:30 a.m. on the morning of March 11.  We found a great spot just outside of the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge and I was just shocked at the tons and tons of people lined up to watch the launch.  We weren’t sure how many folks would show up but obviously there is still a lot of facination with the shuttle launch and there aren’t too many launches left.  Apparently, NASA will be using a new method of getting the shuttle out of the atomosphere by dropping it from a high-flying jet.  And, it’s a safer option, too.  One of the reasons there are so few night launches now is that they want to be able to watch and capture images of any debris that may be falling off the shuttle during the launch and potentially causing damage that is difficult or impossible to repair in orbit.  Night launches make this observation a little more challenging.

About an hour before the countdown an low cloud shelf settled in above us…I wasn’t sure what the launch would look like then.  All the launches I’d ever seen had been in nearly cloudless conditions!  So, we all speculated what we’d see and what it would look like.


I was blown away!  It was amazing but dissappointing that once it went up into the clouds, you could no longer see the orbiter or the fuel tanks being dropped.  Nothing, nada, zilch.  BUT I loved the image of the contrail going up into the clouds like the finger of God.  Very, very “Close Encounters” looking to me.  The clouds also provided this enormous bounce effect and the take off was much brighter than I remember from my last night launch I watched in 2002.  Lit up the whole world by bouncing that light back down even if only for a few moments.

And as always, I love watching the contrail and the launch pad sorta sizzle and glow afterwards…really cool light show for about thirty minutes after the shuttle is long gone.

I’ll post my St.Augustine images that I got on the way home soon!

Pups First Snow

Posted in Personal with tags , , , , on January 17, 2008 by sharizellers

What IS that stuff???

I didn’t even know it was snowing outside when I was at my office. I was sitting in my snuggly little cubical working on albums and completely oblivious to the white stuff whizzing by my huge picture windows. I stood up to go home and – WOW! I couldn’t even see the buildings across the street!

We just don’t get much snow here in Georgia and when it does snow, well, it’s actually quite funny because more often than not, it’s someone’s first time seeing snow. As I drove home, people were standing around outside with camera phones and taking shots of each other. Not to mention the cell phone lines were slammed and I couldn’t get a call to go through…

For us, it was the first time the fur babies, Sophie and Duncan, had ever seen snow. While it only lasted about two hours – and right at dusk – I was able to sneak out with them and grab a few quick shots in the dying light of the light dusting of flakes over our yard…and puppies.

duncan.jpgCatchin’ Snow!Eatin’ Snow!
The fun part was watching the dogs not only trying to figure out what was falling so strangely from the sky but to try to catch it and eat it! They also were perplexed by the kids across the street attempting to sled in what little snow there was.


As quickly as it came, it went. And by 10:00 it was just rain! Oh, well. I would have loved a real snow storm. We’re actually over due for one. Georgia used to get a real doozy every 8-10 years. Our last blizzard was in March of ’93…and it could happenagain at any time. Pretty Please? 😉snow011608_0002.jpgpots.jpgSnowglobe

‘Possum Drop ’08

Posted in Personal with tags , , , on January 11, 2008 by sharizellers

For the first time in three years, Stevie and I didn’t have a big ol’ blow out New Year’s Eve party at our house. You see, ever since 2004 we’ve been having a sorta family-neighborhood gathering to eat drink and well, shoot off a WHOLE LOTTA FIREWORKS! It was a lot of good, loud fun but also a lot of work and moola…I just wasn’t up to it this year with the workload I’ve had in my business.

SO, with no party – what ta do? And that’s what started the search. We didn’t want to go to a bar, we considered friends’ parties, we didn’t want to spend to much money…Google to the rescue! And that’s where we found the Tallapoosa ‘Possum Drop ’08. Yes, I’m serious – we decided to go to the little town of Tallapoosa about an hour west of Atlanta and watch them drop a possum to ring in the New Year.

Tallapoosa used to be known in the earliest settlement days as “‘Possum Snout”. Hmmm, not exactly a great header on the town letterhead so when they decided to incorporate, the town officials named it in the Native American tradition, Tallapoosa. Much nicer sounding, huh? However, the ‘possum is still the mascot critter of the locals and supports a thriving souvenir industry.


When we arrived, we found the site of the festivities pretty quickly. With one major intersection in front of the town hall, it wasn’t too hard to locate the folks and the doomed ‘possum. He was hanging in a glowing ball cage from a two-story building and with nothing fancier than a rope to release him at the magic hour.

Now, at first I wasn’t sure if the ‘possum was real, alive or what. Turns out, he (I guess, I didn’t check gender) died a natural death and was pree-zerv’d and mounted on his perch within the cage, gracefully hangin’ from his tail. Like he no doubt did in life once-upon-a-time. There was a band on a stage (which I think was a flatbed tractor-trailer?) playing cover songs- some rock, some country- and a refreshment stand. And a bunch of friendly townspeople of all ages just hangin’ out. That’s it!

We saw the mayor and several people wearing hats with signs reading, “WATCH FOR FALLING POSSUMS”. And I met the lovely lady that designed the Possum Snout t-shirts and hats. I wanted a hat but they were sold out! So, I ordered one 😉possumdrop08_0003.jpg

Stevie and I had fun just talking to people. I was asked several times if I was a reporter – funny! And when it got nearer and nearer to midnight, there was a definite tension in the air …I think we were getting some funny looks with our photos…possumdrop08_00431.jpgpossumdrop08_0046.jpgpossumdrop08_0045.jpg

When midnight approached, they….missed it! By our watches and cameras, they didn’t start the countdown until about 5 minutes after midnight…maybe they just got caught up with visitin’? The ‘possum was jerkily lowered down with the countdown while everyone cheered and sang Auld Lang Syne…

Upon reaching the bottom – about 8 feet off the ground – the crowd rushed to the ball n’ ‘possum to take photos and have their photos taken. Some children just stared in awe…

possumcmp22.jpgAnd just like that….it was over. By 12:45 a.m. the street was almost clear. They had come, they had visited, they had seen the ‘possum drop. As we walked back to our car across the railroad tracks, we heard the canon go off. MAN! The Mythbusters are right – you really FEEL that!!!!

Now, off to Waffle House for our first meal of 2008 🙂possumdrop08_0084.jpg

Better Late Than Never…

Posted in Personal with tags , , , on January 9, 2008 by sharizellers

pupsxmas07_00031.jpgWell, since I was not blogging around the holidays, I didn’t get a chance to share and post my Christmas card that I sent out this year. And of course that means I didn’t get to send out as many cards as I wanted, too :oops:. I feel comforted that I, too received some cards after Christmas and even know a few folks that sent out “Happy New Year!” cards…

Like some photographers, I feel more comfortable behind the camera so usually our Christmas card will feature a landscape, wintery scene, or art type image. However, the last two years I have had these adorable fuzzy lumps of love and they offer me the most photogenic opportunities: our dogs, Duncan and Sophie.

They are of course, some of my favorite subjects – ya know, being my “children” and all. We all LOVE our children and think they are the cutest, n’est pas? But I gotta say, everyone loves them and they get so much attention where ever we go. We even get invited to friends’ homes and they ask, “Oh, you’re bringing the babies of course?” 😀

They love food. Duh, they’re dogs, right? But you would think that we never feed them since any crinkling, crackling paper or box that contains the potential of being occupied with food will bring them running and sitting as close as they can get to you, looking up with those big brown eyes. Yep, those eyes you see in that photo. “Aren’t we so CUTE? How can you NOT give us some of that you’re eating – doesn’t matter that we don’t know what it is or if we would like it?”

So, I got the idea for this Christmas card photo. It was going to be a bit more elaborate set but sometimes, less is more, right? I thought to myself one day, “We could never put out milk and cookies for Santa ‘cuz you two would just gobble that right up and Santa would have nuthin’!” This led to the idea that Duncan and Sophie would even “sleigh-jack” Santa and go house to house under the promise of all those plates of cookiez and glasses of milk…

Here they are, showing up to your house in Santa suit and elf suit, trying to get yer milk and cookiez….

Merry Christmas!