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Soulful Sessions

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

To Smile or Not to Smile, That is the Question

For me, there is just no question at all.  There is nothing I love more than a soulful, non-smiling photograph of a child.  I think when children are not smiling, and just looking or engaging in whatever they are doing, they are at their most beautiful.  The beauty of their faces, plump and soft, skin as smooth as cream is more apparent.  Their beautiful clear eyes are at their largest, and their beautiful, plump lips are at their fullest when not contorted by a smile. Their gaze is mysterious and the viewer of the photograph is left to wonder what they are thinking and feeling.

Who can argue that photographs of smiling and laughing children are not precious also? Who doesn’t want to see their children joyous and happy? I love shots like these also. In fact, Classic Kids was built on joyful shots. Nonetheless, for me, the photos I hang of my own children in my home, are the soulful ones. They aren’t unhappy, they are just neutral.  Like my children are most of the time.  Just natural.

This month, we are introducing a new studio look that features soulful expressions. We love it because it’s fresh and modern yet still so very timeless.  We are hoping you love these as much as we do!

It’s all about the eyes………

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Julie

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Tutu Excited

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

We are Tu Tu Excited!

Last year when my phone rang, I had a funny feeling picking up the call.  It was my beautiful older sister Diana calling to tell me that she had recently discovered a lump under her arm and that the biopsy had come back with grim news.  It was breast cancer. I was a bit shocked because we have no family history of breast cancer in a family of mostly women. I had pretty much, stupidly, thought we were immune. My sister was stage 2, and, with a double mastectomy, had an excellent prognosis. She is very lucky. We are cautiously relieved!

Almost everyone has been touched by breast cancer at some point in their lives.  If you are lucky enough not to get it yourself, you most surely know someone close to you who does.  That’s why we are thrilled to select the Carey Foundation’s “The Tutu Project” as the beneficiary of donated funds raised in this years “Rock Your Tutu.” This is our 5th annual Rock Your Tutu event, which in the past has benefited St Jude Children’s Research Hospital.  All sitting fees from this event in our studio’s nationwide will go directly to The Carey Foundation.

To understand why we chose the Carey Foundation, look no further than the foundation’s website.  www.careyfoundation.org. On the home page, you will see the back of a middle aged man at the end of a long dirt path (symbolic I am sure) leading up to the top of a hill, with nothing but sky and clouds beyond.  Some of the clouds are white and others are gray. He is standing with his arms open to the heavens.  He is wearing nothing but a pink tutu.  Yep, a pink tutu!

©Bob Carey, George Washington Bridge. Allison Park, New Jersey. 2013

©Bob Carey, George Washington Bridge. Allison Park, New Jersey. 2013

That man is Bob Carey, who along with his wife Linda, established the Carey Foundation to raise funds to benefit men and women with breast cancer. Linda, you see, has been living with later stage breast cancer.  Why the tutu? Because Bob found that it made Linda laugh!  It not only made Linda laugh, but it made other people suffering with breast cancer laugh too…..a lot! So The Tutu Project was born.  Bob, a photographer by trade, has photographed himself all over New York City in front of many iconic landmarks, wearing nothing but his pink tutu. Bob’s extreme gesture to Linda and other people living with and fighting cancer has become a media sensation.

Bob and Linda are amazing people.  Their foundation is doing great work.  That is why Rock Your Tutu will, for the first time this year, be benefiting the Carey Foundation! It is a perfect fit!

 

Click HERE to watch a short video about The Tutu Project & Bob and Linda Carey (it’s simply heartwarming!).

 

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-Julie

 

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Thank YOU for Making 2014 Magical.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Wow, what a year it’s been!

As we wind down our busiest time of the year (yes, so busy that we were ordering lattes and pizza well past your bedtime), we find ourselves taking a deep breath and reflecting on the year that is behind us… and we’re pinching ourselves! Boy, are we lucky!!! We made many memories for families. We were a part of some of life’s greatest milestones and moments. We helped to capture a piece of your family’s very special history. We witnessed growing bellies and babies. We’ve been given dozens of wet, slobbery kisses from the furriest family members…. and we created countless heirlooms that will be cherished for years to come. We really, really, really love what we do.

Thank you to all of our dear friends, clients and families for making this year one of our very best! Join us in looking back on just what made 2014 so magical….

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow

Here’s to 2015!

XOXOX,
The Classic Kids Family

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The Making of Our Holiday Windows

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Oh What Fun and Laughing All the Way

We’d love to share some outtakes with you! These are from our recent efforts to build our holiday windows around a “sparkle and shine” theme…as in “Spread a Little Sparkle this Holiday Season.”

Our images often appear effortless; like the moment captured just happened and we were there to push the little button. But as all child photographers know, that could not be further from the truth! When our little family of CK photographers gets together, we laugh at each others stories until our faces literally hurt from smiling. Behind all the great photos are all of us big goofballs, doing all kinds of crazy things to make the perfect shots happen…and boy do some crazy things happen!

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Sarah Dickerson, head photographer of our Chicago studio, got an amazing shot last year of a family with four kids perfectly blowing confetti out of their hands at the camera. It does look completely effortless. We assure you it wasn’t! Then someone (…ok…me…) got the brilliant idea to build this year’s holiday windows around a confetti theme. All we needed were maybe 6 or 7 more perfect confetti shots to go with it. Oh boy.

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We found out fast how difficult it is to take great shots of little ones playing with confetti! In the end, after expending our own blood, sweat and tears (literally) we got our shots, but it was NOT easy and we are all still finding confetti in the strangest of places!

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Our biggest fear is that all of our holiday families will come in looking for great confetti shots for their holiday cards because it looks so fun and easy! Oh boy!

In the end, it’s all worth it to get the perfect shot, like this one (our original inspiration) from our Chicago studio!

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– Julie

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Yesterday, I helped pack up my first born son for his move out of state. He has been living at home for the past year, saving money while working for his company that is now transferring him. The week before last, I moved sons two and three to the East Coast to college, one as a senior and one as a freshman. I am feeling pretty smart right now that I saw the “hand writing on the wall” 8 years ago and had another baby at 43. He was literally my last good egg.

My previously CRAZY home life has instantly become much more civilized, albeit with a few pangs of heaviness, springing from deep within, several times a day. Glad I still have one little boy at home, and he still loves hugs.

Just weeks ago, on our annual Lake Tahoe summer vacation, amidst groans from all, I assembled boys big and small for the family Christmas card photo. They dutifully lined up, knowing that protesting would be a waste of energy. When your mom is a photographer, there is just no argument that is going to win. I am one tough bird…..when it comes to photos.

Someday they will thank me?

Starting with our very first year as a couple (25 years now), my husband and I have been doing photo cards each year. My sister-in-law gave us a holiday memories scrapbook when we were first married and I have been nearly religious about writing about where we were, who we were with and anything special or mundane about each Christmas ever since. Each entry always includes the holiday card. Little did I know what a treasure I would have one day!

The holiday cards tell my family’s history. Each new birth, each new milestone is there for all to see and admire. Some of the cards are funny, some are silly and chaotic, and all are just plain beautiful! It’s fun to page through the book and see the gorgeous babies turn into scruffy grade schoolers then awkward teens and finally into full grown men. My goodness. So interesting to see my husband and me go from young inexperienced parents to slightly graying sages who have seen just about everything. Priceless.

My family's Christmas memories book.

My family’s Christmas memories book.

 

One of my very favorite clients of all time started coming to me for annual photographs of her daughter many years ago when she was a just a 6 month old baby. She plans her sessions at about this time of the year and has us design and produce her Christmas cards. While at her house one day, planning a wardrobe for an upcoming session, I noticed that she had framed, in the most beautiful way, every holiday card, every year, since her daughter was born and they were lining the hallway to her daughter’s room.

The frames for the cards are the same, simple, silver bead pattern, creating a gorgeous visual display. My jaw just dropped, seeing all those gorgeous shots done over the years and literally seeing that little girl grow up right there on those hallway walls. I got goose bumps looking at them all. What a fantastic idea! My wonderful client says she never, ever tires of looking at them. She has been careful to leave more room for the ones to come. I wonder when they will stop? Hopefully never.

My client's holiday card hallway leading to her daughter's room.

My client’s holiday card hallway leading to her daughter’s room.

 

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Every year of my client's daughter's life is captured in holiday cards, simply, but elegantly framed.

Every year of my client’s daughter’s life is captured in holiday cards, simply, but elegantly framed.

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Holiday cards are fun to send and fun to get. Beyond simply being seasonal greetings, your holiday cards are telling your family’s story, year by year, person by person. Preserve them. Treasure them.

 

-Julie

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In my crazy everyday life as a mother of four and as a full time photographer running multiple studios, I sometimes get lost in the “crisis of the moment” and forget why I fell in love with photography to begin with over 20 years ago. Every now and then something always happens to make me rediscover that love in its purest form.

Yesterday was one of those moments.

One of them made me a paper crane while patiently waiting for his turn in front of my camera, and then, as a thank you, proudly thrust it into my hand. Another hugged me so tightly and for so long that I couldn’t move nor breath very well… but I wasn’t going to be the first to pull away! Yet another made me the loveliest of crayon drawings depicting a beautiful house with a green yard and a bright yellow sun.

These were the kids of the Primo Center for Women and Children, the Chicago area’s preeminent and pioneering shelter for homeless women and children. They visited me in my Winnetka studio to work on a very special photo project. We are attempting to put a face on child homelessness in Chicago. Our goal? To create 15 beautiful 30 x 40 canvas art pieces for display at Primo’s annual gala showcasing the beauty and reality of these vulnerable little people. We hope to create a traveling exhibit of the pieces after the gala in September.

Everyday we hear that there are people in need. Living in Winnetka, Illinois, I almost never actually run across them. My ardent belief is that once you do, there is just no turning your back. This is especially true with these little darlings. They truly are the most beautiful children with the most tender hearts. They are so completely innocent and in such dire circumstances. Even though most people will never actually get to meet these special kids, my hope is that my photos will be enough for viewers to make that critical connection. I am hopeful that the shots I have chosen will give the viewer a window to their souls.

The kids were so incredibly grateful for the attention paid to them. The photo shoots made them all feel special, highly valued and like key contributors to a special cause. Just wait until they see their gorgeous portrait hung proudly on the wall!

Photography is love.

That is why I love photography.

-Julie

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Free To Be Me

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

 

We can’t believe it’s finally here! Our biggest photo event of the year has arrived!

Free To Be Me has been in the works since last year and we have had too much fun working on it. Think FEEL GOOD, IMAGINATIVE, EMPOWERING, WHIMSICAL, STYLIZED and just plain FUN. The event is our first ever six week long charitable event created to encourage kids, big or small, to be just who THEY want to be. Does your little guy want to wear his cape every day to school? Do you begrudgingly have to tell him he can’t? Well, now’s the time he can not only wear it but rock it out in front of the camera, too! Bring on the superheroes and tiny dancers! Bring on the kids who want to dress up as what they’d like to be when they grow up. Come rock your tutu! This is a time where a child’s special character and individuality can shine bright.

 

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FTBM was inspired by a school project we did for a preschool class last year. All of the kids dressed as they wanted and we created the most adorable class photo. The class was made up of football players, doctors, magicians, fairies and pajama wearing storytellers. Parents, kids and teachers LOVED it. The character and individuality shown in this piece stayed with us in a really meaningful way.

Kids should be empowered to be whoever they want to be! They are unique and special in their own way. That should be proudly shown off and put on display!  Free To Be Me mini sessions are specially priced and 100% of this benefits PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center . Bullying is a serious community issue that many kids and families face in our local schools.  Pacer is committed to bullying prevention in school and the community and to promoting individuality in children of all ages.

Founded in 2006, PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center, actively leads social change, so that bullying is no longer considered an accepted childhood rite of passage. PACER provides innovative resources for students, parents, educators, and others, and recognizes bullying as a serious community issue that impacts education, physical and emotional health, and the safety and well-being of students. http://www.pacer.org/bullying/

 

 

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We also created a special product that will inspire your kids long after their photo shoot – our Free To Be Me art pad. Choose an image from your shoot along with an empowering “I AM _______ “statement and create a special journal or drawing pad.

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Look out! Big, beautiful, hand edged FTBM window pieces will be installing in all of our studios next week! We have created over 70 large display prints for our storefronts. We love that these images are quirky, magical and full of unique expression.

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 “Before you can be anything, you have to be yourself.” – E.L. Konigsburg

 

-Tera

 

 

 

 

 

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we smell so good.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

We’re pretty happy that we are smelling especially good these days. We have a NEW signature scent! Say hello to Leila Lou by Rosie Jane. Step into one of our studios and see (ahem, smell) for yourself.

And before you ask, yes, we’re selling it for you, too. It’s the perfect little treat for yourself (you deserve it)… or as the item to complete the perfect CK gift.

Careful though – it’s totally addicting.

-Tera

 

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Woohoo! June marks the one year anniversary of our conversion to digital technology from our beloved film. Like I have previously said, this is something that I thought our little company would never do. I have also said that I would never turn my back on a superior technology. I just never thought that digital would ever surpass good old film. That is where I was wrong! Oh, so wrong…….

Digital has allowed us to make our images into fabulous new large sizes. With 35 mm film, we maxed out for quality reasons at 16 x 20, and that was pushing it. Now we are making the most glorious 20 x 30’s and 40 x 60’s, and all with cameras no heavier or more complicated than our old 35 mm film cameras. You just cannot imagine the beauty of the prints we are now able to make!

photo-109_sizedOur lab master & head digital artist preparing a custom canvas for stretching.

We are now making more beautiful coffee table art books than ever before. Because we no longer have to scan film to make the books, the images are “first generation” and flawless. We are also able to provide a custom photo app for smartphones containing every single image ordered by every client. This would have been impossibly expensive if we were still shooting film, again due to scanning issues.

Most retouching is now a breeze and something we do not have to charge extra for! Retouching used be done painstakingly by hand and was very expensive for our customers.

Really though, the very best things about going digital have been:

We did not use 10,000 rolls of film last year! That means we did not use 10,000 metal casings, 10,000 chemical laden plastic strips or 10,000 plastic containers and boxes for the containers!

We did not use the usual BUCKET LOAD of chemicals (film developer, stop bath and fixer) that we needed a toxic waste company to dispose of properly. We did not use the tons of clean water needed to wash the film after processing.

We did not use the 10,000 plastic sleeves or the 1,000 film storage boxes.

We did not make 10,000 contact prints from the negatives.

We cut in half the number of proof prints we printed from 500,000 to about 250,000, because we are now able to see and choose which images are printed before printing.

We did not use 30,000 sheets of wood based fiber paper to make our custom prints and all the chemicals necessary to make those prints. Instead we made 30,000 prints out of the part of the cotton plant that would otherwise be thrown away. No trees were consumed in making our prints this year and the prints are still 100% archival, warm and exhibit a beautiful tonal range.

We are so excited about our digital conversion and are thrilled that our customers see it exactly like we do. We have IMPROVED the quality and range of the products we offer and have done all of this while radically decreasing the environmental footprint of our business. This is a big win for us, our customers and the planet!

– Julie

studio-4-2[1]Finished custom canvases (sized 40×60!) hanging in one of our newly renovated studios.

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DAD, WE LOVE YOUR STYLE.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

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Dads are too often the man behind the curtain. He is the secret keeper of cool and the humble rock star that prefers to sit backstage. Without protest, Dad turns dust into gold and broken things into fixed things. He teaches his children by example. Fatherhood turns a rather ordinary man into so, so much more. We think fatherhood gives a man a certain zest for life. It softens him and opens his heart to the world. Being a Dad turns him into a SUPERHERO, a STORYTELLER, ADVENTURER and SINGER of SONGS.

Inspired by our own Dads and our life experiences with them, we wanted show just how special Dads truly are. They’re gentle, kind jungle gyms… tender hands to protect their newborns; they are grandfathers telling stories of a world gone by. They are a little girl’s knight in shining armor. They are funny tickle monsters… and, simply, men full of love for their children & family. Make no mistake, Dad, we like your style!

We want to capture this. Now through Father’s Day, we are offering  special mini photo sessions for Dad & his kids. After all, with everything he does, he shouldn’t be behind the curtain but in front of the camera.

-Tera

We created this very special movie dedicated to some of our favorite images of dad & his kids.  Enjoy!

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow

BLOG_BOARDS_SIMPLE_10_web 1. Jessica and her Dad on one of their many adventures together…exploring the wild west! Her Dad always taught her to seek out the adventure in everyday life and  that things are not always what they seem. A little beauty and love is everywhere if you just take the time to look. 2. Julie and her Dad 25 years ago. “I’ve been married to a beautiful saint for 50 years, have 6 successful kids (not a jail bird in the bunch!) and have had all I ever needed.”  His reason for not being sad or afraid when he found out Lou Gehrig’s disease would take him at 72. 3. In Ashley’s words, “here’s a photo of me and my ultimate hero.”4.  In Sarah’s words, ” My dad is my champion! Our hero who taught his boys how to be men and his little girls what to look for in a man. We always had him to turn to for advice, hugs, tickle fights or just an ear to hear about our day.  His family is the most important thing to him  and we all knew that growing up. Thank you, Dad, for all that you do! “5.  Jamie asked, “Like this, Dad?” He replied, “That’s perfect, Jamie!” She always wanted to be his mini-me. Still does!6. Lindsay’s Dad taught her to understand that love makes your life special… In his words, ” If you love what you do—it’s not a job, it’s something that gets you out of bed in the morning.  If you love your soulmate—you’ll always have a partner that can help you and make you laugh. If you are surrounded by love—even the toughest days will end in happiness.”

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Way Beyond Spring Cleaning

Friday, May 2, 2014

Wow, what a big week I had last week!  I am still recovering!  I spent the week in Manhattan renovating the Upper East Side Studio.  We basically gutted the place.  I have to admit, it was an absolute blast and so oddly cleansing.  Our neighbors on the street kept telling me I was crazy for renovating.  They thought the studio was lovely, but it just looked worn and so “yesterday” to me.  It looked cluttered and needed a fresh new look. We painted, tiled the floor and put in new carpeting in the camera room.  We got rid of all stand-alone shelves and put absolutely everything up on metal rails on the walls in our new design room. We covered our frame sample wall in gorgeous belgian linen drapery to further reduce the cluttered look.

CK went green last year in going from film photography to digital. In doing so, we were able to cut our environmental footprint in half!  So for our new furniture, we wanted to choose environmentally responsible furnishings. Our new desk, credenza and 8 foot long communal design table are all made from salvaged wood.  The rugs and draperies are made from natural fibers and all of the metal pieces are made from salvaged metals.  Distressed and salvaged goes well with kids!

New in this studio is our emphasis on very large canvas art in gorgeous simple and modern framing.  When you see the artwork in person you will see the truth in our motto “Your Kids are Art.”  Children are one of the planet’s most spectacularly beautiful things and they are a natural for featuring in signature artwork for your home. We still also love multiple photo sets and those remain featured on the rails in the design room.  It is amazing how a small wall with a very large print on it can be absolutely stunning!  I tend to like my art either really big or really small. Next up?  Our Greenwich studio starts renovations in 10 days!  Woo hoo!

-Julie

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Here is our redone design room.  This 8 foot long counter height table is a dream!  It comfortably seats 10! Everything we need for our design work is within a step or two from the table….including a great glass of pinot grigio or a cup of steaming Nespresso!

 

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This gorgeous 8 foot long credenza made of salvaged wood has sooooo many wonderful drawers, perfect for all of our price lists, brochures, etc.  The industrial towers are reclaimed metal and wood. See the large Great Dane?  His name is Sir Lexington.  Kids are loving him!  We’ll see how long he stays white!  The newborn portrait is one of Lindsay’s favorites and is 40 x 60!

 

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This is our little reception table with tufted armchairs in natural belgian linen. Portrait is 40 x 60 and one of our favorites!

 

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This is what you will see when walking in!  No computers, no phones, no cables or wires, just a gorgeous open space with cool art.  We hope our clients will feel so wonderful in our new space they won’t want to leave!  I know I didn’t.  When it was time to return to Chicago, I felt like I had a really long labor and gave birth to a beautiful baby and then had to leave it behind in NYC!.  Let me know how you like it!

 

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Keep It Classic

Thursday, April 10, 2014

classic (`klaesik)–adj.

“…of the highest class, especially in art or literature,…adhering to an established set of rules or principles in the arts….characterized by simplicity, balance, regularity, and purity or form…of lasting interest or significance….continuously in fashion because of its simple and basic style…”  -World English Dictionary

 

Whew! The last 12 months have brought lots of change to our little company! In May of last year, we converted to digital after swearing for at least 18 years that we would never do it! What happened? Technology kept progressing to the point that digital’s benefits could no longer be ignored. The quality of the digital printing processes and papers began exceeding what we could do with film and film printing. We can now do larger prints in higher quality. We can more easily make books and greeting cards with our images. And, best of all, we reduced our environmental footprint by 50%.

Although we have changed our processes, we haven’t changed much about our look and style in 20 years. In the early ‘90’s, I was a newbie family photographer with a vision to produce photographs which would stand the test of time. I named my company “Classic Kids” because I wanted our photographs to be classic, “characterized by simplicity and continuously in fashion because of their simple and basic style.” You won’t see many props or fabricated fantasies in our work, just simple, beautiful photos in which the beauty, sweetness and energy of our young subjects shines alone.

Digital technology has produced a bazillion new techniques for altering photographs. You see it everywhere, especially with color….the super saturated, the vintaged, the hazy, the metallic, the digitally implanted clouds and sky. All those Instagram filters come to mind. Any photograph can now be jazzed up with a snowstorm, sunrays and sorbet skies. And some of it is beautiful and intriguing and we confess to indulging in that from time to time. Whether any of it will stand the test of time, though, is doubtful. Trends come on strong, and tend to go out with a thud.

With the launch of our new web site and this blog, I have done a lot of reflecting on how we have been so lucky to have survived in this wonderful business for 20 years.

I think it is because we have truly lived up to our name.

-Julie

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This photo was taken approximately 20 years ago. Pure, timeless beauty.  Raw natural light, 3200 speed film.

 

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Bare skin is timeless. It has been & always will be beautiful on a child. Another 20 year old gem that looks like it could have been photographed yesterday. 

 

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These two must be in college now.

 

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The artwork on the left and right is 19 years old. The center piece was added just a few years ago. Looks like they were shot together!  

 

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