Thursday, March 31, 2011 was created by our amazingly talented and generous photographic community. Founded in Wilmington, NC, its mission is to keep our military families at the forefront of our consciousness for all they sacrifice on a daily basis.  It's a way to keep deployed families within an arm's reach of each other, even while serving overseas.  At the crux is a set of bi-fold photos, taken by some of the most well-respected, highly sought-after photographers in our nation.  These bi-folds fit neatly in the deployed serviceperson's uniform pocket. The photos are of immediate family: children, and spouses.  The inside of the bi-fold is an intimate, "for their eyes only" shot of the other spouse.  The wallet-sized, plastic-coated set of folded photos means the world to the  person carrying it.  It means s/he has family at their fingertips when they are half-way across the globe.

I'll never forget the day that Charleston photographer, Diana Deaver, asked me to be involved with this project.  She was the local photographer who was asked to photograph a Charleston Air Force family before the husband/dad's deployment.  Although I did not know much about this organization at the time, I did know Diana.  She possesses one of the most giving, generous hearts of any one I've ever met.  There was no "let me check my calendar. . ." it was only, "tell me where and when, D. . ."  As you can see from the resulting photographs, she got what she was aiming for with this young military family.

The icing on the cake came in the form of a Brownie.  Harris, that is.  I was set up in the kitchen of our studio for the day, and I heard a voice I'll always have locked in.  That mellifluous, genteel voice of Brownie Harris.  I had no idea he'd be popping in during the day, nor that he was involved in this at all.  But as a matter of fact, Brownie is one of the visionaries of this organization.  He has helped grow into something so much more far-reaching than was ever imagined.  He spoke glowingly of Diana and said what a gifted photographer of women she was; that she had an especially sensitive way of helping women let their guard down, and then REALLY capturing them with her camera.  I found this to be the highest of compliments, but having seen Diana work previously, I already knew it to be true.  It was simply phenomenal to hear Brownie articulate it.

This is one of the most worthwhile projects I've ever been involved in.  Thank you, Universe, for allowing me to see this first hand.  And thanks to the following:

The Kihn-Hurt family. . . for letting your family's light shine on us all, and for the sacrifice you make every day., for such a magnificent undertaking.
Diana Deaver, photographer of souls.
Brownie Harris, for your insight, direction, and worldly experience.
Collette Mruk, for your supreme organizational skills and kind heart.
Mike K., for the use of your home and space.
And to anyone else whom I've unwittingly left out. . . thank you.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Michele. With one L.

Meet Michele.  From Seattle.  She's as all-that as the peacock feathers and blue/violet streaks in her hair.  She's as unique as her impeccable, font-like handwriting; she is Michele with one L.

Michele who begins her wedding day with a cocktail reception.  Then moves into the ceremony.  Then has the party.  Michele who comes to Charleston's magnificent Magnolia Plantation and knows she need not look any further.  (It was the absolute perfect backdrop for her wedding).

Venue: Magnolia Plantation & Gardens
Photos by Torrence Photography (of Charlotte, NC)
Hair by Tanesha Dupree (here we go, gurl!)
Makeup by mee.  With two e's ;)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Quintessential Nude Lip

This is it; look no further.  If you are a fan of the "nude lip", get thee to a MAC counter!  Viva Glam Gaga 2 will keep your lips in the most understated, perfectly au naturel lip shade.  And 100% of the $14.50 cost goes to the MAC AIDS Foundation.  Just for kicks (and total perfection), I like this lipstick and lip gloss with either MAC's Subculture or Dervish lip liner.

Friday, March 4, 2011

My New Obsession. . .XTreme Lash Extensions

My natural lashes; no makeup.
Me after my first lash extension application; no makeup.

I. Love. Lashes.  Whether mascara'd, false, uber-fake feathery, or this:  XTreme Lashes!  

Ask any of my previous or current clients: I'm a Lash Gurl.  Lashes are the difference-maker, whether in photographs or just running out of the house for errands.  If you were to ask me what's the one makeup product I can't live without, in a heartbeat, I'd tell you, "Mascara."  As long as I have my XTreme Lashes, I have no need for mascara.  I'm here to tell you that I haven't worn mascara in 4 weeks!  That hasn't happened since I was 14 years old.  

The backstory:  I met Bonnie Mitchum of Aesthetispa a few years back when she was the go-to expert on airbrush tanning here in Charleston.  Bonnie had expanded her tanning, massage therapy, and permanent makeup business to include eyelash extensions.  Fast forward to this past January, when we reconnected at a sweet soiree hosted by our friends at Belle Couture Bridal.  I was asked to do makeup demos, and Bonnie was there to demonstrate an eyelash extension application.  That was it for me: heavenly clouds parted, and a chorus of Lash Angels sang.  I knew this was my lash-destiny.

You can see from the pictures above, how short my natural lashes are.  Then, pow!  You can see the difference the Xtreme lashes make.  There's no need for mascara.  I'm a real softie when it comes to the care of these.  And I knew I'd be a good candidate for extension-longevity: I'm not an eye-rubber, and I'm very careful when I remove any makeup from my eyelids.  I'm gentle with these, and they've lasted quite a while.  I've had one fill-in and I'm going back today for my next one.  

What to expect: for the first application, allow yourself around 90 minutes.  This is a detailed project.  Each lash is applied individually to one of your lashes.  The glue is mighty: it bonds the Xtreme lash to your individual lash.  During my initial application, I had 62 lashes applied to each eye.  My favorite thing about this is the slight flair-out at the edges of my eyes.  It really gives that doe-eyed effect that's very soft, and quite natural.  Bonnie (and her team of Xtreme-trained lash technicians) spend time figuring out what length and volume will look best on you.  Lots of things are taken into consideration such as how much space there is between your lash-line and your eye brow.  I have plenty of room between mine, and when I open my eyes, the lashes still don't touch my brows.  I was most surprised by how weightless these felt.  I literally could not feel any heaviness or any difference between the extensions and my normal lashes.  There are several products that this line makes to help ensure a long life. . . my favorite is the brush-on liquid, applied daily, that helps strengthen the glue's bond.

I tried doing my lash application along the same timeline as a bride.  I had them applied, wore them for a couple of weeks, had a touch-up or fill-in (I retained most of my lashes, so I didn't need that many) to get them back to the full-status as above.  THEN, I went on vacation. . . and I put these to the test with swimming and snorkeling.  I'm proud to say they are still here, minus the few that are shed according to my own natural lash cycle.  They are quite natural looking, and sooo beautiful!  For me, these lashes make it easy to have a pulled-together look in no time: dab on a little concealer, blush, and lip gloss on and I'm out the door!

Not only will I recommend them for my bridal clients, but for any girl-on-the-go who wants to bump it up a bit.  I love my Xtreme Lashes!!!  Bonnie and her team of lash specialists can be reached at 843.478.8586.

Thanks to Jeni Rone at Sea Star Arts Photography for capturing Bonnie at work!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Karma. Katie. Southern Weddings Magazine.

I have a love affair with Southern Weddings Magazine.  As its website says, "ILoveSWMag."  My love of this magazine began last year when I was a participant in a photo shoot for its Volume 3 cover finalist (see previous post).  This magazine manages to capture the essence of weddings in the South.  From the most spectacular venues to, Mason jars filled with Fire Fly concoctions (and lightning bugs, too;) to the finest regional cuisine and all things Southern in between.  You simply need to put your hands on it to understand how it oozes Southern magnificence.  But if you can't get your hands on a copy, check out their website.

Now, meet Katie.  My May 1st bride.  Also a Southern Protocol bride.  I don't usually write about clients before their wedding day, but this is a first.  Katie is the first featured Bride of the Month for SW magazine.  Please be sure to read her story on the SW blog, as well as her own personal blog at Koala Chique.  

Congrats, Katie and Southern Weddings Mag (for your excellent choice of inaugural BOM).