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!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Slice of Life Sunday: there's no place like home

I woke up today at 2:30 pm. In my own bed. And it was more amazing than I had imagined. I returned home yesterday after 3 flights and 24 hours of travel from Australia. For the past two weeks, my sister and I traveled around Australia- to the beaches, the cities, the desert, and the outback, and I had an incredible time. I am not looking forward to returning to normal life and the 6:00 alarm and workdays included in that "normal life", but I am so happy to be home. Yes, Australia is a lot like the US, but it's still another country, on another continent thousands of miles away and it's just so nice to be home.

I have a TON of photos to go through, but today is for sleeping, laundry, baking cookies for my neighbor who watered my plants, and trying to accept the fact that I have to go to work tomorrow. So here is a very brief look into what I was up to over the last two weeks.

Cottesloe Beach, Western Australia:

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Giving thanks

At the beginning of September, I started a gratitude journal, as I am a firm believer that you may not be able to control what happens to you in life, but you can control your perception and attitude. I had nothing to lose by simply jotting down three things each day that I was grateful for. There were no rules. It could be cliche. It could be minor. It could be leftover Barnaby's hot dogs. I just wanted to take 5 minutes each day to focus my energy on what put a smile on my face that day.

On September 5, I wrote that I was thankful for sleeping in, my mother, and the support I felt from my friends. No reason why. I just felt thankful for those things that morning. That day ended with my mother being taken in an ambulance to the medical center after a routine MRI sent us to the emergency room. In the weeks following, the love and gratitude I felt for sleeping in, my mother, and the support I felt from my friends was overflowing. I wasn't getting much sleep, the thought of my mother being ill made me ill, and my friends amazed me with their thoughts, words, and gestures.

Now my mother is in the best of health and spirits that I've seen her in recent years, and I feel I have a million people to thank for that. My entries in my gratitude journal stopped halfway through September, because every day seemed a repeat of the last, just in different words. Well, it's about time I picked it up again! Below, a few entries from my rollercoaster September, and a few new ones. The photo is Mom, me, and my sister, circa 1985.

I urge you to start your own journal!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Slice of Life Sunday: all holidays were not created equal

The week before Halloween, I had trouble locating a witch's hat at Target for my Halloween pumpkin. It was obvious that this was due to a lack of Halloween merchandise, which was undoubtedly caused by the rows and rows of Christmas decorations and wrap already taking up the shelves. I was a little peeved. The stores start earlier and earlier every year! But I still hold firm to the "not until after Thanksgiving" rule. Which means I will not start decorating or shopping until after Thanksgiving, but since I already designed my holiday card, I thought I could at least share a sneak peek of the elements I used to create it. I decided to recreate the wheel and opted not to buy a photo card template. No, instead I went back and forth between which vendor I would use, what size card I would order, what stock it would be printed on, what photos to use, and so on and so forth. But I got it done and they should be in the mail in December!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

My first Australian vacation

When my sister moved to Australia in 2006, we all thought it would be for one year. So I just had to go see her sometime in that 12-month span because when else would I ever have an excuse to go? I planned a trip for July 2007 and at the eleventh hour decided to finally buy the digital SLR camera body I had been coveting: the Nikon D80. This was a huge purchase for me during my first year in the real world after college, so I sat on the fence for quite awhile. I was so excited to be able to take it with me to photograph all the beautiful scenery I knew I'd see. But I cut it close with my online order and decided against upgrading the shipping to avoid extra costs. Well, wouldn't you know, I had to leave for the airport at 6:00 pm Friday and UPS delivered it at 7:00 pm Friday? What can brown do for you? Not a whole heck of a lot, apparently. I was SO disappointed. A weeklong vacation in Australia and just a point-and-shoot camera? Please. I was devastated. But I saw the silver lining - that was one less bag I had to transport halfway around the world, and one less thing I would be complaining about carrying everywhere. And who would have guessed my little point-and-shoot did the job just fine.

Well, three years after my sister quit her job, left her dog (with me), and moved out of her apartment to move to another continent with her then boyfriend; and she and Nick are still over there, now married, and living happily ever after with the dog (thank goodness!) I'm warning you, in a few weeks, you'll be staring at blog post after blog post of photos from my second visit to Australia. I know, there's nothing worse than going through somebody else's vacation photos, but I promise to restrain myself from going overboard!

Here are some photos from my 2007 trip:

From our sandsurfing expedition:



On Rottnest Island


A close-up of a Sydney Opera House "sail"

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Slice of Life Sunday: laughing at myself

Just about every month at the office, I assist two of my coworkers with photographing all the newest financial advisors at our company. I do a fine job as the reflector extraordinaire (I use it more to block the hair-light on the follicly-challenged than I do as an actual reflector). But I also serve as the test model for the first couple of shots. At first I wanted to get perfect pictures, so I made Alex delete the ones where I didn't think I looked good. But then we started to make it fun and kept all the "bad" ones. I mean, how many perfect pictures do I need of myself, anyways? And this is definitely helping me with my goal to not take myself too seriously.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Meals Family Photos

Sarah and Cory hold a special place in my heart. Not only for the bond between Sarah and I that was built living together our senior semester of college, also for the fact that they were the first of my friends to come to me and say "Hey, if we paid you, would you take our pictures?" Um, yes! I took their engagement pictures in the spring of 2008 and already looking back on them, I can see how much I've improved (in both my skills and my lens arsenal!) I was honored to take their photos for their Christmas cards a few weekends ago and can't wait to see which ones they pick. Little Norah (a Brussels Griffon and Shitzu mix, also known as a Shiffon) was on her best behavior right up to the very end and she quite enjoyed her solo close-ups.




Norah was easily distracted.



Of course, she needed some by herself:



My favorite.


Sarah has the heartiest, most genuine laugh. And I'm so glad I could catch it on camera!



Norah didn't like being tied to the railing, so I had to give her some more attention:

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Slice of Life Sunday: can I please live in the Heights?

There are so many reasons why I love the Heights. It's a cozy neighborhood, it's historic, the people are friendly, it's close to my office, it's close to downtown, I work at Grace Hart & Co. once a month, good friends of mine live there, it reminds me of the neighborhood I lived in during college, and it's just got a whole heck of a lot of character. Oh, did I mention it was expensive? I know I just wrote the other day that I wouldn't set myself up for failure, but I think I have a very realistic goal of moving there in the next year or two.

I met up with some friends last weekend to shoot their Christmas card photos, and we wandered the Heights for some great spots. These were taken at Stude Park. Photos from their session will be up next week!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Ashley & Chris : Engagement Portraits at Texas A&M University

A few weeks after I shot engagement portraits of Ashley and Chris in Houston, I drove to College Station for part two at Texas A&M University where they met their freshman year of college. They showed me around campus, since I had never been before (I graduated from rival UT) and while I tried my hardest not to accidentally capture the upside-down-longhorn-hand-gesture on camera, somehow I managed to find one while editing pictures! Sorry Chris, it will not be gracing the blog today.

But I do want to share a few of my favorites from the oh-so-beautiful day. We actually had to reschedule because we got rained out the previous weekend. It was worth the wait! There were so many other people taking pictures on campus that day, also. We waited for those steps forever! Another couple was taking engagement portraits and I ogled over the photographer's lens.

Thank you Ashley and Chris for another fun and wonderful session!



Chris has quite a sense of humor





I asked them to kiss a lot, who doesn't like a sweet kiss photo?




Thursday, November 5, 2009

My 26th year

By now, I’ve matured enough to realize that life never goes as planned. That opportunities present themselves in the scariest of ways. And despite the propaganda I’ve heard my entire life, I am not special. Meaning, I am not the only person to ever suffer the loss of a parent, to ever fear becoming an orphan before the age of 30, or to wonder if the path I’ve chosen will lead to disappointment further down the road. No, I am not special – pain, like love, is universal. It does not discriminate or choose favorites. So while I may not be special, I am also not alone. And knowing this and feeling the warmth and love from others has helped me through this past year.

Today is the first day of my 26th year of life. Today is also the first anniversary of my father’s passing. And, according to my adoption papers from the SPCA, today is also the third birthday of my pup Barley. The universe works in mysterious ways, and I’ll say it again: I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason and has meaning.

My mother also celebrated a birthday yesterday, a milestone I wanted to make a big deal about. Not only is there a new number as the first digit of her age, but she plowed through her own health scare this year with flying colors. I can only hope that her strength is a genetic trait I inherited and is hidden somewhere deep inside of me. Yes, we have a lot to celebrate this November. A lot to reminisce about. And a lot of love to share. Last year, I was devastated at the thought of ever forgetting how Dad sounded, or looked, or moved, or the things that made him smile. And yet everyday, something is there to remind me. Today I will blast Cher in my car as loud as the speakers will allow, just for Dad.

I welcome this 26th year with open arms and will not make the same mistake as last year to say “next year can’t be any worse.” Because then I found all the comparisons to make to last year and found that it was almost just as bad. Looking for and emphasizing the horrible moments in my life is not how I want to live. I will not look back to where I thought I would be at 26 and focus on all the things I haven’t accomplished yet. No one wants to think that they could have done more with their life, but what’s the point if you’re keeping a scorecard and measuring your failures? I learned so much from Dad and have so many wonderful things to remember about him. Unfortunately, one of the last things I learned from him is that if you are determined to be miserable, you will be, despite what anyone else wants for you instead. We may not be able to choose or control what happens to us. But we can choose how we perceive.

This is the month of Thanksgiving, and I hope to recognize all that I am thankful for each and everyday. Because while it’s easier to lose sight of the beauty right in front of your face and focus on all that you’ve lost or will never have, that focus is still a choice. And I will choose to see the beauty, with just a little more effort.

One of my all-time favorite things about Dad was how he danced. It just always made me smile. That's him in the glasses with the plaid jacket. One-of-a-kind, he was. :)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Slice of Life Sunday: my creative coworkers

My favorite part of my "day job"? My coworkers, hands down. I love learning from the other graphic designers, and the e-mails that the copywriters send, simply crack me up! There's always laughter on our floor and the creativity runs rampant when given the opportunity (we're pretty restricted, being a retirement services company). But I love when the creativity lets loose.


This is the refrigerator on our floor:



And these are the winners of the VALIC MarComm pumpkin carving contest. See how I made mine here.

Photos by Alex Averette

Most Creative Pumpkin:

First place. I know what you're thinking. "Did he carve that out of the side????" Yes, yes he did. And this was his first time! The little one was his "practice" pumpkin. And yes, he is a fellow graphic designer.



Second place (left), and Third place (mine on the right!)



Scariest Pumpkin

First place, from another fellow graphic designer:



Second place (left) and Third place (right)



And here are some of the other creations. I personally love the mirror ball, it was on a lazy susan and actually spun. I was just waiting for "Do the Hustle!" to start playing somewhere.

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: http://www.kellytarleton.com/.

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