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!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

DIY: Wicked Witch of the West pumpkin

I had this fairytale illusion that my vision would come to life perfectly for my office pumpkin carving contest creation and I would photograph the process to document for a blog post. And then Murphy's Law commenced. Not only did my original idea not work, but I didn't find this out until 7:30 the night before the VALIC MarComm (Marketing Communications) pumpkin carving contest. So please learn from my mistake, and if you just skim the rest of this post for the photos, read this: if you want your pumpkin to be spray painted, CARVE IT FIRST. I thought it would be better to paint first, and then it petrified my pumpkin! I almost broke a knife trying to stab through it.

You may or may not know this, but I am VERY competitive, and I was convinced I had this one in the bag! There were two categories: scariest pumpkin and most creative pumpkin. I went for most creative with my Wicked PumpkWitch of the West creation. I mean, I made her actually melt! I hope the process I've outlined makes sense, I did freak out in the middle that it might not happen at all and just started doing random things and taking random photos. Enjoy!

These were the original pieces. I'll save you from all the photos I took of the spray paint process, since I didn't actually use this one, but it'll make an appearance later, so I thought I'd introduce you to piece-of-crap-pumpkin. It's named this for obvious reasons. You know, since it didn't tell me that spray painting it would make it unusable.The little gourds were intended to be the nose and ears. I didn't know which nose I would use, so I sprayed both. Barley also wanted to be in the picture:

While I let the spray paint dry, I started on the feet. I got these super cute striped knee high socks at Target, and I worked very hard throughout the process to preserve them so I could wear them after it was all over. First, I stuffed them with a little tissue paper to give them a little life:

Next, I took a sheet of black felt I bought at Michael's and free-hand cut out the shoes and belt buckles.

I then folded the "shoe" pieces in half length-wise and hot glued the edges together. The belt buckle pieces were also glued together. I stuffed the ends of the socks into the "shoes" and then glued the belt buckled on top. But I tried very hard not to get glue on the socks at all!

Now on to the face! This is where I skipped photographing a few steps. Not pictured: Cut a circle into the top of the pumpkin for the lid, making sure to cut at an angle so that the lid doesn't fall into the pumpkin. Then scoop out all the seeds and goop. Scrape the side with a spoon to get all the stringy nastiness out.

I downloaded a "dripping face" template (to make it look like her face was dripping off) from Better Homes and Gardens. I flipped the smiling face into a frown using Adobe Illustrator and then printed it out. Next, I taped the papers to a flat edge of my pumpkin. In the background is my failed attempt to poke through the stencil on the green piece-of-crap-pumpkin. It reminds me of Larry from Veggie Tales.

Next, I poked small holes using an awl, all around the outlines of the template (left). This takes some patience, but goes pretty quickly once you get the hang of it. When I was done I took the paper off (middle) and outlined the eyes and frown made by the holes with a fine marker (right).

Also not pictured- Kim's beautifully sculpted ears! My sister was a huuuuuge help during the process (including a panic trip to Lowe's at 8:30 for more spray paint) She cut a small sqautty pumpkin in half and scooped out the middle to make the ears. Before I spray painted this pumpkin, I secured the ears on the sides and the nose in the front with toothpicks. (I was able to salvage the nose spray painted the night before since it didn't require cutting).

Next, ready for spray paint! (I reused some of the paper from the night before as can be seen on the right wall). Piece-of-crap-pumpkin served as a mighty fine paper weight since it was really windy. Pieces of newspaper were put inside the pumpkin to protect the inside from being painted. I just noticed that it's pictures of Halloween candy. Eery!


Now we're in the homestretch! The following morning (morning of the contest) I woke up really early to add the final touches. First, I flipped the pumpkin over and stapled the socks to the bottom of the pumpkin. I figured stapling would still allow me to wear them later.

After that, I flipped the pumpkin back onto it's bottom to apply the "hair." I used Spanish moss for this, also purchased from Michael's. I just hot glued pieces to the top, just below the lid of the pumpkin, and then stretched the piece out to reach the bottom. This was done all around to cover the back of the pumpkin. I also used little pieces for eyebrows.

Now, to make her melt! I felt this was what made her the Wicked Witch of the West. I used two shades of melted green candle wax and poured it all over her face for the "melting" effect. It also made her smell nice, since one was a green apple scent!

And last but not least, because this is what makes her a witch, the hat! I got it for $1.99 at Target.

So, what do you think? I should have gotten second, right??!?!?! Haha, I am competitive, but I got over it. I won a free "jeans day" of my choice. I think the day I return to work from my vacation in Australia sounds about right. And the reason I say second place, is because my friend who won first soooooooooooo deserved it! I'll post the winners tomorrow, so check back to see what I mean!

HAPPY HALLOWEEN and be safe tonight!

Oh, and leave me a comment to let me know what you think!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Third place in the VALIC MarComm Pumpkin Carving contest

Just a quick post to brag about my third place win yesterday! I'm not going to lie, I was pretty bummed to get third place, but after seeing the competition, I gladly accepted my "free jeans day" prize. It was a pretty fierce contest. I'll post more from the contest later, and I also have a detailed post outlining my process, but until then, here is my "Wicked Pumpkwitch of the West" creation!

Photos by Alex Averette

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Sneak Peak: Chris and Ashley's engagements, part II

I'm taking a break from my creation for the office pumpkin carving/decoration contest (spray painting in a confined patio space is not fun!) and decided to post a preview of Chris and Ashley's engagement session at Texas A&M. It'll be a few more days for the whole session, because all of my energy is going into this pumpkin tonight and tomorrow. Even if you don't know me that well, you probably know how competitive I am!

I decided to get a little artistic with this one because I wanted to accentuate the light. This was a really sweet moment taken on the grounds of the George Bush Presidential Library.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Slice of Life Sunday: sweet kitty Dallas

I'm starting a new weekly series: Slice of Life Sundays. This is my attempt to 1. blog more and with more consistency, and 2. create an outlet for all the random photos I take that will most likely never see the light outside of my hard drive. I always enjoy Lane's Random Photo Wednesdays and wanted to do something similar, so I am offering little photo slices of my life as my spin on the same idea- one (or more) fresh random photo(s) served weekly.

My first edition comes from photos taken last weekend when I watched the family cat at my apartment (it's a long and awful story as to why I did this and where my dog was, that I really don't want to get into!) Dallas is 14 now and much sweeter than she ever was when we were growing up. My dad rescued her from a highway overpass in Dallas (thus the name) while on a business trip and brought her home. This wasn't long after our tabby Hobo's passing, so we decided to keep her. She was never very friendly, and only ever gave me any attention when she wanted to play with my hair. I welcomed this last Sunday night when she purred and rubbed against my head while I tried to go to sleep after a busy and stressful weekend. I wish my dog didn't think she was prey so that I could keep her.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Portraits in the pumpkin patch

I joined Cassie and Jules last weekend at a local church pumpkin patch fundraiser for portraits of Claiborne in his oh-so-adorable first Halloween costume. The weather was, pardon the pun, "picture perfect" and the colors were so vibrant! There was a wide variety of pumpkins to choose from, and also a craft fair and Barbecue cookout to enjoy.

As promised, more Claiborne cuteness and his adorable Halloween costume. (Cassie and Jules lived in Australia for a bit, so the outfit is perfect!)

Does anyone remember this pose? Claiborne giving another lecture:

SO stinking cute!

The pumpkin on the right was as big as he was!

A look behind the scenes- check out that tail!

Cassie and Jules did everything imaginable to get this child to smile and giggle. Who knew that hay would also do the trick?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Hello, fall!

pumpkin spice lattes. beer + college football. Thanksgiving. my birthday. brisk air. beautiful light. These are a few of my favorite (fall) things, and today could not have been a more perfect fall day! The Texas Longhorns won today, the air was crisp, and I took advantage of some gorgeous light out in the pumpkin patch today. I'm excited to post the rest of Claiborne's session, but for now, here are a few shots to welcome in the fall season, and a brief sneak peek of Claiborne. Check back next week for the rest, including a few in his first Halloween costume. (Trust me, it's to-die-for adorable).

Friday, October 16, 2009

The coolest wedding cake toppers

I shot a private backyard wedding ceremony a few weeks ago, and while I intend to maintain the privacy and intimacy of the ceremony by not blogging it, I can't let these photos stay unshared! Apparently, for many reasons (one being a lack of a blonde bride and groom cake topper set), it was decided that Superwoman and a WWE wrestler figurine were more appropriate for the depiction of the bride and groom. I love it!

Monday, October 12, 2009

2009 Houston Race for the Cure

The Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure route surrounds my office complex on three sides. My company is also a sponsor, and several of our employee volunteers participated in the event this year. For all of the above reasons, I was asked to photograph the event two Saturdays ago. Waking up early on a Saturday for work was no fun at all, but I loved photographing the event and people watching on the sidelines. The worst part was all of the mosquitoes! Over 30,000 people participated, so needless to say, I was stuck on campus for awhile since I parked my car in our garage. But I killed the extra time by going up to the 12th floor of my building to get a few bird's eye view shots.

American General posted 6 signs on campus, all visible from the race route

The live band set up right across the street from my office building, and were a lot of fun to listen to!

The photo on the right was taken exactly one hour after the one on the left. There were so many people! And the cheerleaders on the bridge had a ton of energy for all of them.

The view from a coworker's desk:

And the view from my boss's desk. A friend called it a "river of people."

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Ashley & Chris : Engagement Portraits at Rice University

Ashley and I grew up in the same neighborhood, and became closer the summer I NANNIED her and her sister. Can you believe that? Well, technically I am only 3 years older than her and I was more of a chauffeur than a nanny, since I had a driver's license. My sister nannied them for years until she went away to college, so I picked up where she left off.

Ashley has grown into a beautiful woman and it's so hard to believe she's the same girl I drove around the 'burbs in my minivan while jamming to Avril Lavigne on a rigged CD-Walkman plugged into the tape player. We were so cool pulling into Splashtown, let me tell you! It was so much fun to meet Chris, and I can't believe I asked him if he was shy at the beginning of the shoot. How wrong could I be? They wanted to shoot in Houston, where they will marry next summer, and also in College Station, where they are seniors at Texas A&M.

Congratulations on your engagement Chris and Ashley and I promise to leave my burnt orange at home for part two of your engagement portraits!

Chris proving that he is not shy in front of the camera:

I love, LOVE how they laugh so much with each other!

And this session just wouldn't be complete without all these different faces :)

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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