Oct 29, 2015

Being a Special Needs Parent and a Photographer

I'm a special needs parent. Though I don't blog about it often, each of my days revolves around this fact. Every week has its challenges: cystic fibrosis treatments, medication for CF, ADHD, and mood, doctor's appointments, psychiatry and therapy sessions, plus all the necessary wrangling with insurance and pharmacies to make them happen.

Then there's my complicated little engineer, Peter, who has flummoxed teachers, therapists, and special education professionals. His behavior vacillates from exuberant, sweet, and charming to distracted, angry, and destructive in a matter of seconds when he is triggered. I think I may be on speed dial at the school, and I've been to the principal's office more times than I care to admit.

Through the years, I have adapted to parenting my son as best as I can, though, when my husband and I separated and I became a single parent, it got harder. The meltdowns and the instability of my son's behavior mean that I am always on call, at work, on a shoot, or on vacation.

Yesterday, Peter's dad and I received the results of an extensive battery of neurological and psychological tests that we had done to give us a better direction on treatment options. The evaluator said, "I won't torture you by waiting until the end of the appointment. I see Asperger's disorder and also bipolar." Then, we spent the next two hours going over the data and examining how these diagnoses explain the what's going on with our child. The puzzle pieces finally had names, and although I'm still processing the results, I know it's going to make a big difference for our future.

I took this portrait last Saturday of my son at the Southeastern Railway Museum in Duluth, one of our favorite places to go because my son is obsessed with trains, really, obsessed. And though I know that it's a beautiful picture, it means so much more to me because it encapsulates my son in ways that aren't obvious to the casual viewer.

First there's the trains, a fixation that Peter has had since he was 3 and which we now realize is hallmark of kids with Asperger's. Then there's the stuffed puppy, who, like the dozens of other stuffed animals at our apartment, is a comfort to Peter who deals with overwhelming emotions everyday. I was in charge of the engineer outfit, but my quirky boy decided it was also appropriate attire for church the next day, and yes, I let him wear it because we were already late and my Mormon church family loves Peter however he dresses. Then there's the smile, which doesn't tell the story of the tantrum that occurred only 15 minutes beforehand because he was done taking pictures, but I wasn't. Fortunately, the mood shifted and this was one of the last frames of the day.

Making portraits like this is kind of like having a lifeboat in an ocean of special needs, at least for me. It's my way of holding on to the best, most beautiful moments, even though many of the other moments are challenging. I've got a lot of research to do now, and learning, and earning to do as we embark on new treatments for Peter's diagnoses. But for now, a train, a kid, and a stuffed puppy is enough. Good night.

Sep 17, 2015

The Duston Family | WindScene

This vibrant, friendly family was featured in the WindScene this month. Both parents are busy professionals but also involved in their girls' lives. And yes, the girls were just as adorable in person as they are on camera.

I connected with the family on lots of levels because as a working mom myself, I know how challenging it can be to juggle home, kids, and career. One of the ways this family makes it work through the help of the kids' grandparents on both sides. I'm sure these girls are going to have some pretty incredible memories of their grandmas and grandpas because of the extra time they've spent with them.

I'm always looking for new Windward area families to feature in the magazine, so if you have someone you think would be good for an issue of the magazine (including yourself!), contact me

Sep 15, 2015

The Kipniss Family | Our Milton Neighbor

Milton GA Photographer Shares Images from Lastest Issue of Our Milton Neighbor Magazine

It's been my privilege this year to write and and photograph families for two magazines, WindScene and Our Milton Neighbor. This are images from the latest issue of Our Milton Neighbor.

Besides creating beautiful portraits, working for the magazine has given me a chance to know each of our cover families on a personal level. This gorgeous family, the Kipnisses, was no exception. I was particularly inspired by their dedication to making a difference in the lives of families with diabetes (one of their daughters has Type I diabetes) and supporting other charitable causes in the community, including FOCUS, a charity close to my heart. Mike Kipniss, a financial advisor, has recently become certified as a Chartered Special Needs Consultant as well. 

I'm always looking for new Milton families to feature in the magazine, so if you have someone you think would be good for an issue of the magazine (including yourself!), contact me. I can't wait!

Aug 26, 2015

Happy National Dog Day!

Dogs are such an important part of my clients' and my own life! I really didn't know how much a pet could love you until I got a dog. Turns out, dogs can teach you a lot about how to live a better life too.

Here's our sweet 3-year-old cockapoo, Jack. Love you, boy!

Aug 20, 2015

When to Have Your Family Portraits Taken | Alpharetta GA Family Photographer

When is the last time you had your family portraits taken? My rule of thumb for young families is  every 1-2 years, and the best times of year are usually the spring and the fall, but if you do early morning or late evening in the summer, that's also a great way to go. If you have adult children who are out of the home, take portraits whenever you have the chance to get together! As your family gets older, those times will be fewer and farther between.

I recently talked to a client who booked a session for her family because her son would be home from college for a short window of time. She thought about going with a discount photographer, but picked me because she didn't want to risk having less-than-professional portraits taken. Her words were, "They're family pictures. They're important! It's worth hiring you to make sure they are done right." (I'm blushing now.)

If you need your family portraits taken and live near Milton, Alpharetta, Roswell, or Johns Creek, now is the time to schedule your session for holiday cards, presents, and wall portraits before I am booked for the season.

Enjoy some darling portraits taken this summer!

Aug 19, 2015

Retouching Time Lapse Video | Three Sisters

It's about time I put together my own YouTube channel. (I've been a YouTube fan for years.) My son is drooling over having his own YouTube channel for Minecraft videos, so I know I'm going to be busy learning the ins and outs for both of us!

Here's my first official video: a time lapse of my editing process of a portrait I took of three sisters. They were adorable and this image that I edited was a result of a last minute decision to do some studio-style black and whites outside.

What I hope you'll notice about my retouching process is its similarity to painting. Yes, it's pixels I'm working with, but building up layers, adding contrast, shadow, and painting details is something any fine artist does. Enjoy the video--it's only 2 minutes!

The finished image: 

Jul 8, 2015

Friends | Backyard Portrait

Wow, it's HOT this summer, so outdoor shoots are short and sweet, but I made some beautiful portraits this week with these two beauties. And no, you don't need a fancy setting for a beautiful portrait. This was taken at my client's home.

My favorite part about being a photographer is creating pieces that become a part of personal and family history! I hope this image will become one of those special mementos. Enjoy, gals!

And here's a look at my editing process -- before and after. It's pretty subtle because I try to shoot as cleanly as possible, but stray hairs, skin, and some background issues always require some touch up. Oh, and I wanted the coral shirt and necklace to match!

May 22, 2015

Last Day of School! | Alpharetta Children's Photographer

It is so fun to see how my not-so-little-guy has changed from the beginning of the school year to the end. I love this tradition and it's an important part of my own family history. 

Here's today's results. Somebody grew! (Oh, and it is total coincidence that he wore the same shirt!) 

Mar 30, 2015

Family Means Everything | Alpharetta Family Photographer

How long has it been since you had a family portrait made? A year? Two years or more? Never? My family was in the "Never" category for a long time until, and then, we had a beautiful professional portrait taken of the whole family--all seven of us--my last year at home. That picture is one of the reasons I became a photographer. It is literally the only one I have of my entire family in my youth, and it is a precious piece of our family legacy. We have only ever been all together again only twice since then, and you can bet I took our family portraits!

When kids grow older, there are windows of time when family is all together--graduations, holidays, weddings, and holiday breaks. These are the times when I am called to create images of a whole family to preserve both the memory and the legacy of these amazing people. Oh, and dare I mention that it's fun too? 

This family--personal friends as well as clients--had a blast at their portrait session. There was ample goofing around behind the camera, but we came away with beautiful family portraits that will last for generations.

Contact me for more information about family portraits this spring . . . it's getting beautiful out there!

Mar 18, 2015

Your Online and Offline Headshot | Atlanta Headshot Photographer

When I create professional headshots, I'm always considering the personal branding, message, and feeling that those headshots have to convey to a client's customers. I don't do "assembly line photography." Instead, my portraits are custom-made. I show your personality, reliability, and professionalism in your portrait, and that can go a long way in attracting customers.

This was definitely the case for Tamay Shannon who owns Where 2 Start Marketing, a social media firm for small businesses. (By the way, Tamay has guest posted for me about creating a social media plan. You can read it here.) Because Tamay is online all the time, we wanted a variety of poses and looks she could use throughout the year. During our extended session, we had a blast choosing from accessories and outfits. Plus, it was all on location at a friend's home.

What does your headshot say about you? Both online and offline? If you are in need of some new headshots, I'd love to be your photographer. Contact me for more information.


Mar 10, 2015

Family Expecting | Maternity Portrait Photographer

One of my favorite ways to celebrate maternity is to photograph the whole family. This little mama and her family is a good friend and I loved incorporating the ideas they had into our session. Enjoy!

Feb 24, 2015

Snow Dog Day | Atlanta Portrait Photographer

My sweet cockapoo (in full winter coat) often has this somber introspective look, but he is lovin' this snow! After lots of sniffing and investigation, I could barely get him back inside after taking pictures. Enjoy your snow day!

Feb 9, 2015

Spa and Image Consultant Headshot | Professional Business Headshot Photographer in Alpharetta GA

I love photographing headshots, especially for small business owners like this wonderful BeautiControl spa and image consultant. A polished, professional headshot on your business card and website says so much about how seriously you take yourself and your services/products. 

This shoot was especially fun because I got a complimentary spa and beauty treatment before the shoot. Now that's how you pamper a photographer! 

Interested in headshots like these? Contact me and we'll talk! 

Jan 24, 2015

When Family Comes Together | Alpharetta GA Extended Family Portrait Photographer

Every year, I reserve the weekend of Thanksgiving for sessions because often, it's the only time an extended family will be together--and the only time a family can have portraits taken.

This family was a delight to photograph. They were comfortable in front of the camera and easy-going -- my kind of people!

As a family photographer, I have a passion for creating something families will treasure, especially when multiple generations are being photographed. So, if you have family coming to town for a birthday, holiday, or other special occasion, contact me. Portraits are memories you can keep!


Check out the Facebook album for a few more from this session/

Jan 14, 2015

Families Rock! | WindScene Magazine Photographer

Alpharetta Photographer Marchet Butler Joins WindScene as Content Coordinator and Photographer

If you are a Windward resident, then you've probably seen these images in your mailbox in the January issue of WindScene, a local magazine by Best Version Media. Fortunately, it's a job I can do in addition to my regular photography work, plus it gets me doing some writing as well. (That's right. That English degree comes in handy too!) I'm thrilled to showcase my photography plus I get to meet some pretty awesome people.

This family is headed by a mom and dad who are both school teachers. They describe their family as a "party in a box" and the weren't kidding. We had a super time goofing around, posing, and getting pictures of their big family -- even though it was a cold day in December.

So, if you or someone you know is a Windward resident with an interesting story, contact me. I'm always looking for my next "cover models."