Kelly Tarleton's portrait

Welcome to my blog! I am a Houston portrait and wedding photographer,
and I also custom design wedding and special event stationery.
This is where I share photos of my latest portrait sessions, design assignments,
and personal projects. Take a look around to see what I've been up to and
be sure to let me know what you think. I love comments!

Thursday, December 31, 2009

What a year, what a decade!

Ten years ago, on the eve of the new millenium, I was curled up around the toilet throwing up whatever I snuck out of my parents' liquor cabinet while my high school partner in crime shouted from the back room "10! 9! 8!...." Yes, I started off the decade with my head in the toilet. I'm not proud. But it is what it is. My parents were just down the street at a neighbor's party, and it was just one of my girlfriends and I sneaking into the who-knows-how-long-this-has-been-in-here Crown Royal, Jack Daniels, and wine coolers. We were 16 and thought it would be a great idea! Thank goodness that night and what I was doing at 12:00 am didn't set the tone for the next 10 years.

I am excited to welcome in a new decade, but I don't look back with a "good riddance" attitude. My character was tested a lot through all the trials and tribulations, but whose wasn't? I am grateful for the situations in my life that have shaped my personality, integrity, and outlook on life. I studied photojournalism in school because I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, but I sure was going to enjoy my major in college. Last year I decided to fully pursue portrait and wedding photography as an alternate career path, and I am so excited about the possibilities. I try to plan almost everything in my life, but every blessing I've ever received came about when I wasn't looking.

2009 was a roller coaster year for me- personally, professionally, and everywhere in between. Thank you to my friends, family, clients, and blog readers, whoever you may be, for the support, well wishes, and the sometimes well-deserved "you're doing WHAT?" I need that sometimes.

Here's a little overview of some of my favorite images from 2009 - for their significance in building my business over this past year, or just the fact that they make me smile.


Monday, December 28, 2009

Sneak peak babies

Now that I'm done with the blog play-by-play of my Australian vacation, I need to catch up on blogging other people's photos! Here are two previews of posts that will be up in full in the next week or so.

The first is from a session I did in early December. This baby was so stinking cute, and was determined to stare me down. I managed to capture quite an array of facial expressions though!

And this, again, is picky little April. She wouldn't let me hold her, or really photograph her for that matter, but I still managed to get this shot!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Happy Holidays from Giggles (the poodle)

My mom and her miniature poodle, Giggles, spent Christmas Eve and Christmas morning at my apartment, and I just had to whip out my camera when he showed up with this festive bandana wrapped around his neck.

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday weekend!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

May your day be filled with sleeping in, spending time with those you love, and filling your stomach with delicious treats! I know my day will be.

From my 2009 Christmas card:

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Australian vacation, day 12: Great Ocean Road

This is the final Australian vacation related post, I promise! I know there's nothing more exciting than looking at someone else's vacation photos, but I feel really impelled to share.

We departed from the Travelodge on a Go West tour bus at 8:00 am wearing the clothes from the previous day and watched out the window as an unmarked van pulled up in front of the Travelodge. We saw a man pull open the back doors and start to pull something out, but our tour bus turned the next corner before we could determine if he was pulling out our lost luggage. We got over it and tacked it on the list of things to laugh about later.

The bus ride was a long one, we didn't return to the Travelodge until 10:00 pm that night. But it is a tour you must take if you ever make it to Melbourne. You travel past beaches, breathtaking cliffs and rock formations, a rainforest, and the greenest hills I've ever seen. I imagine it is what Ireland might look like. The views are stunning and the stories you hear along the way are quite comical, although that may have just been our tour guide. Di had just finished touring pretty much the whole world. Did she say she was gone 10 months? Something close if not. She talked with Kim and I about her tour through Texas and I'm pretty sure she's seen more of my state than I have.

The first stop on the tour is Bells Beach, which was littered with surfers when we stopped by. It's famous for the waves there, so that could explain it.

I wish I had kept an official count of how many times Di said, "And, now the official start to the Great Ocean Road!" It was at least 3. Maybe 4. But, this is the official start:

On the next stop, we fed these wild birds. All you have to do it put seed in your hand and they swoop down out of nowhere into your hand. It's quite a sight. I had one dive bomb my hand with a another bird sitting on my wrist.

Can you find Waldo? The trees that the birds swoop out of are also home to koalas.

Another coastline stop:

And then the rainforest. I've decided I like photographing trees so much because I love texture!

Two sides of the same tree:

Further up along the road, the most photographed spot on the tour- the 12 Apostles

The next spot was my absolute favorite! The Loch Ard Gorge is the most peaceful and beautiful place I've ever been. You really have to see it in person and experience the sounds and the breeze to get the full effect.

At the end of our journey!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Slice of Life Sunday: Stranger Danger, me?

My family got together last night for our extended family Christmas get-together and gift exchange since about half of us, including relatives from Louisiana, are unable to be together next weekend. Of course, baby April had everyone's attention and she received constant requests for kisses, hugs, and holding duty. She isn't talking just yet, but she made sure we all knew that she could distinctly pronounce "NO." Her mommy explained to all of us that she was a little shy and feared "Stranger Danger." To which I responded to little April that we were family and she couldn't choose not to like us, she was stuck.

This is what she thought of me taking her picture:

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Australian vacation, days 9-10: Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park

Ok, this post is huge. I just couldn't narrow it down because I have so many stories to tell about our 2 days in Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.

We arrived on Sunday afternoon and after we flew into a teeny tiny airport in the middle of nowhere, we were driven by bus to the Voyages Ayers Rock Resort in Yulara (the resort is the town pretty much, there is nothing out there.)

And THIS is what $200 AUD (about $190 USD) a night gets you:

Then we headed out on a sunset tour of Kata Tjuta (the Olgas). Uluru, also know as Ayers Rock, is the more easily recognizable of the two, but Kata Tjuta is stunning in its own right and serves as a sacred sight for Aboriginal men. On the drive out (it's 45 km from the resort), we drove past this little guy, a thorny devil.

The tour stops at a photo viewing area. This vantage point makes it look so small!

Photos taken walking in (left) and out (right) of the Walpa Gorge. Kim is on the far right, annoyed that we are so far behind the group because I keep stopping to take pictures.

After the walk, we gathered at the sunset viewing area for champagne and a gorgeous view.

My point-an-shoot takes nice pictures, too.

The following morning, we woke up at the crack of dawn for a 6:00 am bus pickup for the sunrise hike around Uluru. I say sunrise, but it was 4 hours and 10 km long. This was our reward for the early wake up call:

There is original Aboriginal artwork all over Uluru, another sacred sight for the Anangu people.

Okay, so you see the shiny line leading up the slope on the right side? Look closely. There's a chain link leading up the side of Uluru- this is the climb location. You couldn't pay me any amount of money to walk up that! First, it is highly frowned upon by the Anangu- this is their sacred sight after all, and second, it's so dangerous! It's a "climb at your own risk" type of attraction. There's no guide, no harness, nothing. Yeah, crazy people do it. I personally loved the story of the man who climbed wearing Crocs during midday. The Crocs melted and he got second-degree burns on his feet and body from the heat of the rock.

This cave is located next to a "kitchen" cave and thought to be where the children played while the mothers cooked.

The photo on the left is at the water hole at the bottom of the water fall on the right.

Okay, Kim and I should be rewarded for making it 3 hours chugging water with no toilet. You see the handicap logo in the top left with the words Mala Walk? That's where we started. And walked clockwise. You see the toilet icon under the words Punu Walk on the far left? That's where the only toilets were. I know.

After our hike, we took a well deserved nap and later rented a car to drive back to Uluru at sunset. Kim's a fan of silly photos.

When the sun starts to set, it happens fast. The second photo was taken 14 minutes after the first and the third, 8 minutes after the second. It's absolutely stunning to see in person. The rock literally changes colors right in front of your eyes.

Kim made a comment on the hike about my obsession of photographing trees. I didn't realize the extent of this until I sat down to edit my photos. These are just a few!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Australian vacation, day 5: the Pinnacles

I first visited my sister in Australia in July 2007. I went with such high hopes and enthusiasm. And it all went down hill from there. The theme of the vacation became "what are the odds?" What were the odds that both of my checked bags would be lost on two different flights on my journey to Australia? What were the odds that one would be returned to me missing two wheels? What were the odds that I would miss one of the three flights on the way over and on the way back? What were the odds that it would be raining and freezing on our bridge climb in Sydney? The list goes on. So this time I went with hopes of a new theme: no expectations. You can't have disappointment with low standards, right?

Silly me. I didn't think that a beautiful sunny day at the beach in Australia would be an expectation. That's a given, right?!?! Nope. Not for me. It rained and rained and rained. Everywhere we went, rain. I heard from everyone how unusually cold and wet the weather was for this time of year. Even a tour guide mentioned that Perth doesn't have a cloud in the sky for 9 months out of the year. You get the point.

So you can imagine my devastation! I lugged all of my camera gear half way around the world, and I wasn't giving up. Kim and I drove 7 hours round trip to see the Pinnacles desert and the second we drove through the park entrance it started to pour. We sheltered ourselves in the brand new million-dollar interpretive center for awhile and decided it wasn't going to pass, so we ran back to the Jeep and started the drive through the Pinnacles.

They really are an amazing sight in person, even through a dripping car window. They are so tall! The pictures just don't do them justice. Of course I didn't get the photos I went to take, but I love the ones I got because they showcase everything I felt about that day. Kim and I couldn't help but laugh through the whole thing.

Scientific research shows that cheesy photo ops make the time pass much quicker on a dreary road trip:

I'm laughing so hard because it is pouring rain. We actually heard other tourists laughing at us from the safety of closed car windows.

Just after getting back in the car:

The back seat of Kim's Jeep is actually a great spot for photo taking:

Monday, December 14, 2009

My Australian Adventure: hits and misses

The biggest “miss” from my Australian adventure? Catching the flu on the plane flight home and falling ill for 10+ days. I was snotty, groggy, and full of cold meds for almost as many days as the length of my Australian vacation. I didn’t even get to enjoy the post-vacation bliss I usually feel after an amazing trip. So now, I will attempt to relive it, through the Cliffs Notes version:

Saturday, November 14 through Monday, November 16

  • Flew Houston to LA, LA to Melbourne, Melbourne to Perth
  • Watched 5 movies and 6 TV episodes in 24 hours (thank you onboard on-demand entertainment!)
  • Crawled over a sleeping 15-year-old in desperation to get to the “lavatory.” Thrice.
  • Showers in the Qantas lounge = priceless. Having a guest pass to the Qantas lounge = heaven.
  • Laid down for a “nap” at 4:30 pm Monday afternoon and woke up the following morning

Tuesday, November 17
  • “Brekky” in Cottesloe, followed by a walk on the beach, followed by more napping

Wednesday, November 18
  • Drove 7 hours roundtrip to see the magnificent Pinnacles desert, only to see them through the rain-spotted Jeep windows
  • Watched the Australian movie Kenny and forever now see toilet paper as “poo tickets”

Thursday, November 19
  • Small bus tour of the Swan Valley wine region: 5 wineries, 1 microbrewery, and one chocolate factory. Drunk by 2:00 pm.
  • Shared a sip from a port pipe with a Wales tourist traveling alone. She was cool. Had I caught the flu that week, I’d be cursing her name

Friday, November 20
  • Shopped the Fremantle markets and tried to shake the “ooh! Titties!” comment made in my direction. Can a girl not wear a low-cut beach cover-up in a beach town anymore?
  • Went to Cicerello’s in Fremantle for fish ‘n chips. The kind fried in batter that tastes like funnel cake and literally melts in your mouth. Amazing.
  • Crashed a happy hour hosted by my brother-in-law’s office where I met a Scottish guy who told me he had 5 Scottish friends: one bald, one blonde, one dark-haired, one short, and one tall. Which one would I be interested in? Yes, please.
  • Discovered a better “drunk food” than Austin’s Roppolo’s pizza: the kebab; could not figure out who the strange man was that came and sat at our table and rambled about only being in town from a Sydney flight layover. Hmm.

Saturday, November 21
  • Enjoyed the $31 per person breakfast buffet at the Indiana teahouse on Cottesloe beach. We paid for the spectacular view.
  • Joined one of Kim's Aussie friends for a "champagne lunch." 3 hours and two bottles of bubbly later Kim had volunteered me for a 7:00 am photo shoot in Kings Park

Sunday, November 22
  • Randomly selected by airport security to have my carryon luggage tested for explosives. Tested negative.
  • Frustrated that my moisturizer exploded all over my toiletries bag during the flight to Ayers Rock
  • Watched a beautiful sunset over Kata Tjuta

Monday, November 23
  • Hiked for 4+ hours around the base of Uluru, the big red rock in the middle of the Australian outback; total length = 10.4 km.
  • 4-hour-hike + 2 Tarleton sisters + 2 small Tarleton bladders + fear of dehydration + 1 toilet = agony
  • After being told there was only 1 toilet (at the end of the trail), we were also asked to tell a buddy if we went off-path to “pick flowers”
  • (Over)cooked and ate crocodile for the first time
  • Watched as a European tourist stole Kim’s used utensils from her pile of discarded and dirty plates, just 6 inches in front of us, then proceed to sit down on the other side of the picnic table and use them to eat her food. NOT KIDDING.

Tuesday, November 24
  • Took the coldest shower of my life in a community bathroom
  • Randomly selected (again) by airport security to have my carryon luggage tested for explosives. Tested negative (again). I must look scary?
  • We managed to make our second flight with only a 40-minute layover. Sadly, our luggage did not.
  • Consolation prize for arriving in a foreign city with no luggage? Qantas pajamas.
  • Learned that playing the blame game with someone who has 26 years of ammunition against you is a losing battle.

Wednesday, November 25
  • 8:00 am tour bus departure + no luggage = wearing the same clothes 2 days in a row; leaving the hotel just as the Great Ocean Road for over 12 hours on a tour bus named Priscilla driven by Diana Spencer. She asked that we call her “Lady Di”
  • By the end of the day, officially saw 5 times as many Australian national parks as I have seen in the US.
  • Tried to ignore the crazy Chinese tourist singing Celine Dion to herself one row over
  • Saw the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen on this great Earth: the Lock Ard Gorge

Thursday, November 26
  • Rode the tram to St. Kilda and got caught in the rain (do I sense a theme here?)
  • Picked up an afternoon snack at Lord of the Fries
  • Discovered the Australian version of Forever 21; told by Kim if I wore the dress I bought there to dinner that night, I would look like a "high class hooker." Thanks Kim
  • Dined at Rockpool where I wanted to lick the bowl of mac ‘n cheese, but was embarrassed to have to ask where the toilet was (it was too nice of a restaurant, but that’s what they call it!)

Friday, November 27
  • Shopped ‘til we dropped, literally- from 11:00 am to 6:00 pm we walked to the Queen Victoria Markets, then to Lygon Street and to Brunswick Street; felt just as long as the 10.4 km walk around the base of Uluru.
  • Became street shopping road kill when an Amazon woman dressed in denim capris and ankle boots ran over me; well her ugly boots at least scraped the heck out of my ankle
  • A fine day for dining: brekky in the alleyways with the most delicious fresh squeezed juice and dinner along the river with a fresh ‘n fruity Pimms

Saturday, November 28
  • Wondered where all the muscle aches and joint pains were coming from and attributed them to air travel ☹
  • Made it back home to my own bed with my cuddly puppy after 30 hours of travelling

About Kelly Tarleton

I've always been a creative person, and the one who always had a camera on-hand at a moment's notice for any occasion. Photography and graphic design dominated my life in school and I loved every minute of it. I miss that constant creative outlet and want to share more of it with my family and friends through this blog.See more of my work at my website:

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