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!

Friday, August 28, 2009

What it's all about

I find meaning in everything. The way I see it, everything happens for a reason. I believe in karma, the power of positive energy, and that all of life's bumps in the road lead to greater things.

This past weekend, I attended an INTENSE 2-day workshop conducted by the Professional Photographers of America on starting a photography business. Over the course of 16 instructional hours, I learned just about everything you need to know about how long, and how much (in dollars, effort, and sweat) it will take to establish myself as a full-time photography studio. So much of it seemed like common sense or things I had heard before, but that never really sank in until this seminar. Our instructor told us of previous attendees who, at the end, gave her a big hug and thanked her for showing them that this path was not theirs to travel and it was best they found that out now. Not even halfway through the first day, I wondered if I would be that attendee in this seminar. But the best part was walking away from it with a new perspective and the knowledge I need to make this a reality for me, aside 20+ other photographers in the same boat as me. Prior to this experience, I really felt alone, and intimidated by all the others I read about on blogs and in magazines. Instead, I found people with the same fears, the same dreams, and the same desire to share our successes and failures with each other.

When I got home, I still toyed with the question of "is this really what I want to do?" and "how much am I willing to sacrifice for it?" I figured I'd let it stew a few days, but when I checked my e-mail upon my return, I saw an e-mail from my oldest friend (as in years of friendship, not age). The subject was simply: Picture. The body: I really should have sent you a copy of this a long time ago. Miss you! Hope you had a fun weekend. The image:

I felt the tears well up. Not just for what this image means in terms of our friendship, but for what it meant in relation to the two days I spent sitting in a windowless hotel meeting room. This picture is from the Cutten Green neighborhood 4th of July bike parade (circa 1990). It marks what Nichole and I remember as the beginning of our lifelong friendship and whenever we tell people how long we've been friends, we always mention this picture. I hope she doesn't kill me for posting it, after all, I'm the one who looks homeless.

In the instant I read this e-mail, I felt my two days in that Dallas hotel meeting room had been validated. Because this is what it's all about for me. This image, (like so many stuffed away in albums, photo boxes, and now my hard drive) represent more than just the fraction in time it captured. Looking at this picture, I remember the entire bike ride, the effort I put into decorating my bike, and how cool I thought I looked in my acid wash denim shorts. It even brings back all the memories of Nichole and my friendship through the years: the falling-out-fight in 8th grade, the Christmases spent together dating twins, even the "pedi-cab night" on 6th Street in college. Yes, this is what it's all about for me. And why I want to pursue this career. Because I want to give that feeling to other people. I want to provide the fraction-in-time image that says so much more.

I know business is more than passion and emotion, but for now it is my driving force. Thank you PPA, for scaring the crap out of me and for giving me a new perspective on it all. And thank you, Nichole, for showing me just how bad I do want this, even though you had no idea that's what you were doing. You could have sent me that picture a million times over the past 20 years, but it came at just the right moment.

Everything happens for a reason.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Another baby outtake: glowing teeth

I'm excited to post the rest of the session from the weekend once I get through them all, but I couldn't resist posting this one for now. I was just about to throw this one out for its poor cropping and bad timing, and then I noticed the sparkle coming from the side of Jonathan's mouth. I zoomed in closer and sure enough, his teeth are shining THAT much. I just had to share.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Baby April's Baptism

April is growing up right before my eyes. She was the original baby star of my blog before cutie Claiborne showed up to battle her for the title. I photographed her baby shower and her newborn pictures just one week apart, and then also photographed her own private portrait session at my sister's bridal shower in March. She was baptized last Sunday and it was the best excuse to use my new 85mm lens. I stood at the very back of the church, but was still able to capture all the action, and without my flash to boot.

I love all of the piercing blue eyes

Afterwards we went over to Gretchen's house to visit and ooh and ahh

My Uncle stood behind me intending to get the baby to laugh, but whatever he was doing must have been funny enough to send Gretchen and Jeb into the giggles.

My mom gave April these adorable baby Crocs:

Thursday, August 13, 2009

When it rains, it pours

It seems we've gone the entire summer without any rain in Houston, then all of a sudden right at evening rush hour for the past two days, it has POURED. I happened to have my camera on me at the office today, so I snapped a few photos from the office, on the drive home, and once I got home.

From the 12th floor of my office building on Allen Parkway across from the bayou:

Out my window while waiting in line to drive through one of many flooded sections of Memorial Dr. on the way home:

I love when the sun comes out right after it rains, there is such gorgeous light! This one is from my patio:

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Baby Claiborne on Sensory Overload

I wanted to at least give Cassie the CD of pictures before blogging my favorites, but judging by all the comments left on the teaser post, I thought she and her family would love to see the rest sooner than later!

I first photographed Claiborne in May for some Mother's Day photos and shortly after approached Cassie to see if I could come back on a regular basis and use Claiborne as a test model for various lighting scenarios, new lenses, etc. Who doesn't like free pictures? Of course she agreed.

We started at their home where he'd be more comfortable and his personality definitely came through! I love these faces:

Then I suggested we go to the nearby park where I knew there were some fun bold colors at the playground. To say Claiborne was on sensory overload would be a gross understatement. He was in A-W-E. It was his first time at a playground. Cassie tried her hardest to pull the giggles and smiles out of him, but I thought the looks he made were priceless and snapped away! This one on the slide is my favorite.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Teaser: Baby Session Outtakes

I have two baby sessions I need to blog about, but I seriously need to catch up on a logo design tonight, so the baby session photos will have to wait. In the meantime, please enjoy these two outtakes, one from each session. On the left, my cousin's 10-month-old learning to pick her nose; and on the right, baby Claiborne lecturing me on the meaning of life. Well, that's what his face and hand position say to me, at least.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

A press printed family heirloom

I grossly underestimated the amount of time it would take me to complete this project, so when a friend asked me to scan in oh, say, 8 pages of an old newsletter and turn it into a book in three weeks (including production time), I said sure thing! I found out sooner than later that 8 pages was really 24 double-sided legal sized pages. Which is larger than my scanner. Which meant 2 scans per side = 4 scans per page = 96 scans. Which also meant Photoshop work to merge the 2 scans per page together. In 3 weeks for a family vacation, you say? Lucky for him, I'm a sucker for family history stuff and dove in head first.

The book is a collection of newsletter pages written by my friend's grandfather on the USS Saratoga during WWII. My final photojournalism assignment in school involved interviewing and photographing WWII veterans, and I've had a deep interest in the history of "the greatest generation" ever since. The newsletter pages fascinated me, not only for the historical significance and sense of nostalgia, but for the connections these documents held to the men who published them, and to those who read them aboard the ship. There is a great sense of pride, comaraderie, and patriotism within these pages. I can't imagine the character it took to take on the challenge of boosting morale and maintaining high spirits through the pages of a newsletter. It's easy to see just how important these pages are to this family, and why it was so important to preserve them.

The pages were originally bound on a clipboard and flipped vertically to read (you can see the original hole punches on the tops and bottoms of some of the pages), so I chose to keep the vertical orientation. This is the first press-printed book I've designed and printed through my new photo lab, and I was very impressed with the quality- just like a book you'd pick up at the bookstore.

The black leather cover with the title of the newsletter foilstamped on the lower right corner. The final book measured 14 inches wide and 11 inches high.

For the title page, I used several of the pages in a background collage behind the vintage styled portrait. On the other side of the title page, I designed a dedication page to look like a V-Mail, which is what sailors used to communicate to loved ones back home.

This boxing bulldog was one of my favorite illustrations

Sunday, August 2, 2009

This is our new beer girl

During a period of mourning the loss of a loved one, most people will recommend purging his or her home of all of that person's personal belongings (clothes, collections, etc.). In the case of my father, this is much easier said than done. I've taken it upon myself to help my mom clean up the house, because the task is much to much for one person (and in our case, even an army). A collection made up of junks and jewels gathered over the course of 40+ years took over our home, and while it's easiest to just chuck it all out, I hear my father in my head insisting that every piece of his collection has value and can be sold for XYZ dollars. He always told us it would be our college education, so I suppose he'll have no problem with me selling it all to pay off my personal student loans? I kid. But it would be nice.

I know this will be a long process but I must start somewhere, and for now, that's in a small case at Grace Hart and Co., an antique mall on 19th St. in the Heights. The title of this post comes from my introductions to all the other dealers. Most of them are middle aged or in retirement and resell antiques and collectibles for extra cash or just for fun, so when I walked in saying I wanted to sell beer collectibles, everyone was surprised and all of a sudden I became the "beer girl." I worked at the shop yesterday, part of my agreement to set up as a dealer, and the owner walked me around and introduced me as "this is Kelly, she's our new beer girl." Dad would be so proud.

I set up our case today and snapped a few pictures. If you're ever in the Heights, go check it out!

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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