It’s Moving Day!

If you follow my blog, or if you just happened upon it for the first time, please head on over to

It’s my new virtual home, where you can keep up with my blogging, see new sessions, check out my wedding and portrait galleries, and learn a little more about me and my photography!

Thanks so much for all of the love you’ve given this blog, and I hope to see you over there!

{Tara . Melissa}


Collections: Cameras

I love to collect things.  China, glassware, silver, chairs (don’t ask…my husband says I have a problem…it’s not a problem…it’s a very “comfortable condition”), and cameras.

This week, my small camera collection grew by 3 Polaroids, all found at one of my favorite thrift stores, Lilypads (whose proceeds, btw, benefit the Illinois Valley PADS homeless shelter…awesome place).

One of these days, I do believe I’ll set up a proper photo shoot for the darlings.

It’s an odd little collection, but well-loved.  So far, it consists of a DI-4353 (second from left); a Brownie Starflash, by Kodak (second from right); an Olympia Big Royal View, which is hysterical, (not shown in the photo above)  it’s an Olympus rip-off…the kind you would imagine someone hawking on the street as a big name slr for a fraction of the cost – fortunately, I bought it for next to nothing, because that’s about what it’s worth lol; a GORGEOUS Anscoflex II (top center), which happens to be one of my favorite cameras based on style alone, though I love shooting through the lens as well; and my new additions, a Polaroid Spectra 2 (bottom center), a Polaroid 104 Land Camera (far right), and a Polaroid 230 Land Camera (far left).

In addition to a quick view of my collection, I thought I would share a couple images of my favorite Polaroid (style-wise) – the 230 – that I made while experimenting with an off-camera video light the other night.  I’m absolutely thrilled with the outcome, and I hope you enjoy it as well!

I adore looking at others’ collections, so I hope you enjoyed seeing a bit of mine. Do you have an odd or ordinary collection?  I’d love to hear about it!

**Will Model for Mice**

Milo is the newest addition to our family. I recently blogged about his adoption this past weekend.

Milo is one of the sweetest, silliest cats that I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. He makes no qualms about climbing up on your chest, right under your chin, to sleep; or meowing at you that it’s dinnertime; or grabbing your arm or a mouse for playtime. Although, one of our favorite Milo moves, is the “force pet” (yes…Milo is a Jedi). The “force pet” is a subtle, sneaky, Jedi move, in which you suddenly find yourself petting your cat (or dog, as it were), without even realizing you had started. We have some experience with this, because Baldwin, our Great Pyrenees, is also a Jedi…though Milo’s “force pet” seems to be a bit more advanced than Baldwin’s.

I, for one, believe Milo’s lack of an eye increases his Jedi powers.

Anywho, Milo has more than made himself at home, and we couldn’t be happier. He is also a willing model, so long as you have mousey bribes. So here are a few photos I snapped this evening of our handsome boy 🙂

Mr. Handsome

Have at thee, mouse!!

Yes…Milo reads as well. He enjoys spending time *in* the bookcase.


A Little Love Goes a Long Way

April 7, I had the pleasure of working with Safe House Animal Rescue League, of Mendota, IL.  I volunteered by photographing the new dogs they had coming in from high-kill shelters.  The pups, and their foster families were a joy to work with, and the experience was wonderful.  It seemed as though everyone had a good time, and the pups were naturals in front of the camera!

SHARL is a phenomenal rescue organization, focusing on helping those animals at greatest risk in high kill shelters and/or on euthanasia lists.  The animals they save are brought into loving foster families, who give them the love, shelter, and at times, rehabilitation that they so desperately need.  They also offer a low-cost spay/neuter program to owned and community cats, and have a wonderful barn cat program, giving feral cats a second chance at life by placing them in farms as working mousers.

They were established in 2008, and are currently fundraising to build a shelter facility.

So, how did I come to volunteer with SHARL?  Well, my husband and I had been talking for some time about adopting a cat.  We had a few opportunities arise, but it never seemed to be the right timing.  As I was perusing Craigslist April 6, I happened across one of SHARL’s shelter ads for a cat named Milo.  Orange and white, a couple of years old, and missing one eye.  Something told me I had to inquire, and Jeremiah agreed.  So, I contacted Monica, of Safe House Animal Rescue League, and we had several emails back and forth about meeting Milo, and in the process, she invited me to come out and photograph the new dogs they had coming in on Saturday.  It all seemed rather “meant to be”.  And was it ever.

Milo is now with us, in his forever home.  He is snuggly and playful, spunky and gentle, and the biggest love I’ve ever met.  And I cannot begin to express how grateful I am to the volunteers who helped Milo get where he is today.  When SHARL took him in, he had both eyes, but his right eye was swollen; the lens, cornea, and iris were all detached, he was in a great deal of pain, and he needed surgery to have the eye removed.  11 gracious souls donated to Milo’s surgery fund, and he is now pain-free, and loving life.  Safe House Animal Rescue League is truly a special organization, and I highly recommend anyone looking to volunteer their time, talent, or funds to a shelter, to give serious consideration to this one.

Here is a photo of Milo and Jeremiah…when we met him and fell completely in love.

And now, here are the pups that went home with their new foster families on Saturday!  If you are interested in any of these sweethearts (or others listed on SHARL’s website), please contact the Safe House Animal Rescue League by filling out an adoption inquiry form, link found on this page.  You can also scroll through the list of adoptable animals on that page, as well.

For more information on the Safe House Animal Rescue League, please visit their website or Facebook page!


Revamped Portrait Pricing for 2012

Please take a look at the new portrait pricing for 2012!

I’ve done an incredibly unpopular thing, and lowered my portrait prices (I’m sure I have a few friends who might want to hang me by my camera strap for this).  I know all the arguments for a photographer raising prices, or keeping them in competitive range with other photographers in the area.  Believe me, the last thing I intend to do is take business away from anyone else, or mislead clients into believing that there’s nothing to photography.

(Side note for current and prospective clients: there is far more to photography – good photography – than meets the eye.  Please don’t believe that every LOW priced photographer out there is worth it.  And don’t buy into the misconception that all you need is a nice camera; or that it costs nothing to be a photographer; and all we do is snap a few photos; or that boutique/personal photographers are overpriced…I can assure you, for the most part, they are not.

Please read this article if you’d like to get a clearer view of a photographer’s business.  Although truly, this only just touches the surface of what is typically involved.)

But the fact of the matter is…

  • I love photography.
  • My work is good and valuable.
  • This recession bites.
  • And there are too many bargain basement photographers putting out bargain basement work.

So, I’m doing the thing so many speak out against, and lowering my portrait prices.  I believe that I can provide beautiful photographs at more economically relevant and reasonable prices, and that’s what I’m setting out to do.


{Tara Melissa}