Coastal Savannah

Recently I was asked by a client if I would be interested in creating a piece for her foyer.  She wanted something coastal, something Savannah, something to complement the Jack Leigh piece also displayed in the foyer.  "Yes, I'm honored, of course."  Cue sound of a screeching halt.  "Jack Leigh?"  How could little old me create anything worthy of neighboring a piece created by Jack Leigh?  I imagined people walking through the foyer captivated by the mysterious and haunting image to the left and then mistaking my piece for a coat rack.  None the less, I accepted the job.   I chose two mornings to shoot.  One for the overcast weather and the second strategically in an attempt to get out of breakfast + carpool duty.

I wasn't exactly sure how this was going to pan out - but I learned a lot over the course of those two weeks.  One, marinas are really cool places to photograph!  The fisherman are welcoming and will talk to you about anything and everything if you'll listen.  They also seem more open to letting you photograph them if you've just come from the gym in your tiny gym shorts.  But most importantly this experience reminded me that putting aside your insecurities and trying something new once in a while is an important part of life.    It can be extremely difficult but if you trust in yourself - feeling secure is almost a guarantee.  And that's a pretty great feeling.   

In the end, my client is over the moon with her gallery and I even ended up with a piece for my own home.  And in case you were wondering, I did not get out of breakfast + carpool duty.  

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Follow Your Art - Dance Party Anyone?

In 2010 we moved from California to Savannah.  I launched my photography business quicker than you can say "Salt Life" and began to build my client base.  I placed an add through a local business called Southern Mama's and booked my first client at Butter Bean Beach.  Weeks before the session I "met" my client over a phone call where she explained she wasn't sure how this was going to go - her oldest daughter was extremely shy.  If you know me - you know this didn't scare me.  Kids are my jam, I love them, I love talking to them and most of the time I act like one.  But she went on - "No, like really shy.  She probably won't speak to you but it's not you."  Hmmmm. a challenge - and I was up for it - a bit nervous (this was my first family shoot) but totally up for it.  Reise's favorite color is purple - so the day of the shoot I showed up feeling a little like Barney.  I do not lie - purple pants, purple shirt and maybe even purple eyeshadow.  Reise did not say much to me that day - not a word in fact.  But we had a connection and it's something that has continued over the years.  

Purple isn't my color but it was 100% worth it because 7 years later I have the pleasure of interviewing Reise for my Follow Your Art Project.  My heart was so full as she looked me in the eye and quietly answered every question I had for her.  She said more to me in that 15 minute interview than she had that past 7 years.  It was a big day for both of us.  <3  

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Reise is a beautiful young lady - obviously (this is where i brag that I get to photograph her).  She is quiet and communicates mostly by whispering.  In school you might see her accept an award with her head down and shoulders slumped but put her on a stage and all of that melts away.

In a packed theater with hundreds of people watching  - Reise takes the stage with confidence, beauty and grace.  One might say she owns it.  And she does.  What's more is that Reise has been dancing for only 18 months and has excelled quickly.  Imagine finding something that makes you smile just talking about it.  Something that comes so easily to you because your whole heart is in it.  Something that melts away the day to day and no matter what - its never enough.  For Reise, that is dance.  And her happiness is contagious. 

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That's what I'm talking about.   Did you know  a recent study finds that when one person becomes happy, the effect can spread up to 3 degrees in a social network — reaching friends of friends. Researchers say this is evidence that because our lives are interconnected, so too is our emotional health.

Research also shows dance can improve your mental health by boosting your overall happiness.  It raises your heart rate causing a release of feel-good endorphins in the bloodstream.

So, if you're reading this - do three things for me.  

1. Go post something happy on social media.  

2. Find something that makes your heart happy.  

And 3....dance party anyone? 

 

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Here are a few questions I asked Reise: 

When did you start dancing?

"I was 9."

What is dance to you?

"A place for me to be happy."

What do you want to do with dance?

"Keep dancing.  Maybe teach."

What is your favorite thing about dance?

"Getting to see my friends."

What is the favorite aspect of your art?

"It gets me away from stress."

Do you have a favorite dance routine? 

"My duet with another Reese for the school talent show."

What inspires you to dance?

"My teacher Elyse.  And it makes me happy."

 

 

2 friends + a unicorn.

Each year I rack my brain on how to make their session better than the last.  This year we added friends and a unicorn.  That'll do it!  

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Summer Days

This week I have my girl all to myself.  BroKoe is at camp and she's on a bit of a hiatus before her next camp ramps up - so I'm soaking it all in.  We made a couple trips the bank, some exhilarating visits to the grocery store and topped it off with a doctor visit today.  I loved every minute of it.  <3  It hasn't been all business though, Dick's is around the corner from the doctor's office - and it was no coincidence I had my camera.  Thanks for being a good sport Sarah! 

See what I did there?  <3

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Keep Following Your Art

I have to begin with a sincere Thank You.  Many of you have reached out to me personally about "Follow Your Art" and that makes me...smile.  And most smiles start with another smile - so there's that.  We're already making a difference.  

I ran into a friend shortly after my first Follow Your Art post while out to dinner one night.  As she went out of her way to tell me how much she appreciated the project - I looked down at her daughter's big eyes looking back at me and made a promise to myself that night.  First, I will have her daughter over to swim (i never break a pinky promise) and that I will continue this project until it makes a real difference.  And I genuinely believe my next featured artist is on that path. 

Meet Ava.  This girl.  When I began this project, I knew immediately I wanted to work with her.   Before I brag on her amazing talent I have to let the world know that this girls' smile will light up a room.  Her positive outlook (on almost everything) is certainly something that sets her apart from the rest.  But her natural gift for illustration is something phenomenal. 

 

When I photographed her for this project it was the first time I actually watched her draw.  Before now I had only seen the end product - which is always superb.  However, I was so impressed with her brilliance I almost forgot to snap!  Her hands worked so fast, she drew, she shaded, she created.  And it was remarkable. 

I've known Ava for almost 8 years and I've watched her grow as an artist, a friend and into a beautiful young lady.  It's been nothing short of a complete honor to watch her journey and I'm looking forward to watching her generation change the world.  And be along for the ride.  <3

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 Here are a few questions Ava answered about her art:&nbsp;  What is your favorite medium?  "Watercolor, duh! Grafite."&nbsp;  Where do you find your inspiration?&nbsp;  "All around me!"&nbsp;  When did you begin drawing?  "When I was 2!"  Who is your favorite artist?  "Roy Tabora, she's a girl. &nbsp;Hawaiian landscape artist." &nbsp;&nbsp;

Here are a few questions Ava answered about her art: 

What is your favorite medium?

"Watercolor, duh! Grafite." 

Where do you find your inspiration? 

"All around me!" 

When did you begin drawing?

"When I was 2!"

Who is your favorite artist?

"Roy Tabora, she's a girl.  Hawaiian landscape artist."   

Follow Your Art

I do not think there is anything better than finding a hobby or past time that makes your heart sing.  For me, it's clearly my camera that makes me happy and there isn't a day that goes by that I am not grateful for the person that introduced me to the world of photography.  My Mom never pushed a camera in front of me.  Perhaps it was the hundreds of film canisters lying around the house or the National Geographic magazine I remember pulling from the mailbox every week.  Or was it my first Kodak Disc that ignited a fire?  My mom spared no expense on the disc film or the processing of the 24 exposures of sleepovers and playground photo shoots.  I took that camera everywhere.  You can ask anyone that knew me in 4th grade, 5th grade - and so on and so on.   A little part of me believes photography got me through the most awkward and difficult time in my life - adolescence.     

So, here I am 40 years later watching my daughter and her peers find their way.  Being a teenager is difficult, but that doesn't mean it shouldn't be fun.  

Cue - my recent inspiration, Sadie F.  "Follow your Art" is a personal project I am incredibly excited to be creating.  Sadie is just 13 years old and found a passion for art in makeup.  I realized this when I noticed her beautiful face one day at school.  She looked polished but simple.  Beautiful but natural.  Most importantly - she was glowing.  And it wasn't the makeup.  When I commented how beautiful she looked and asked if someone had done her make up she replied: "I did it!"  Her answer was confident, proud and her genuine smile was contagious.  It made me think about how I feel when I hold a camera.  

That day, Sadie inspired me to encourage other teenagers to follow their own art.  What are you good at?  What makes your heart happy?  Whatever it is, don't stop.  If it makes your heart happy and your genuinely good at it than other people will feel it too.  And quite frankly I feel like the world could use a lot more happy right now.  

Sadie is just the beginning.  Next week I hang with a budding artist.  Nevermind budding - she's straight up art and I can't wait for you to meet her!  

Do you know a teenager following their art?  Holla at stayce@staycekoegler.com - I'd love to hear from you!

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 Here are a few questions I asked Sadie about her art:  When did you first realized you loved makeup?&nbsp;  "When I was dancing. &nbsp;I had to learn how to do my own makeup and then I realized it was fun and I just kept practicing."  What do you enjoy most about doing makeup?  "I love art and for me makeup is art. &nbsp;I enjoy working on a 3D canvas."  Do you have a favorite brand of makeup?  "I don't have one favorite. &nbsp;If I had to choose - Huda Beauty or Fenty Beauty."  Where or who do you find inspiration?&nbsp;  "Very rarely I'll decide to recreate an image. &nbsp;I usually get inspiration from things like the weather, cartoons/TV characters, music and even just have an image in my mind that I need to recreate on my own face!   

Here are a few questions I asked Sadie about her art:

When did you first realized you loved makeup? 

"When I was dancing.  I had to learn how to do my own makeup and then I realized it was fun and I just kept practicing."

What do you enjoy most about doing makeup?

"I love art and for me makeup is art.  I enjoy working on a 3D canvas."

Do you have a favorite brand of makeup?

"I don't have one favorite.  If I had to choose - Huda Beauty or Fenty Beauty."

Where or who do you find inspiration? 

"Very rarely I'll decide to recreate an image.  I usually get inspiration from things like the weather, cartoons/TV characters, music and even just have an image in my mind that I need to recreate on my own face!

 

Sunday Morning Kaos

A few months ago Amanda asked me to be a part of this project.  Her excitement was contagious and I would NEVER pass up an opportunity to hang with her boys!  But then she began to explain her intent behind the project.  "Chaos is all around us, it exists in our everyday lives.  You can let it rule you or you can choose to have gratitude for it."  Her words sat with me all day and I began to look at things a little differently.

My life can definitely be chaotic at times.  But moving forward I realize that this is MY chaos.  

And I love it.  

So, Sunday morning, in the middle of the pouring rain (after the dog peed on me) I watched an exciting new clothing brand come to life.  Was it chaotic? A little.  But I loved every last minute of it and I can't wait to watch this brand grow! 

Bat Mitzvah Beauty

Many years ago my daughter invited a sweet little girl over that was new to town.  They played, sang, danced and the minute I heard "we're bored," I whisked them out to the marsh for a photoshoot.  Sadie was a natural in front of my camera that day and still is.  I'm so honored to document this major milestone in her life and of course love watching her grow into the beautiul young lady she is!

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Baby Wolf

Taking photos is obviously something that makes me happy.  But when someone invites me into their home to capture important memories like these - my heart sings.  No direction, no posing - just living their "now."  And their now is pretty amazing.  Thank you David + Lindsay for trusting me with these fleeting moments - it was an honor.  

School Portraits

I am incredibly excited that March is right around the corner.  Here is Savannah that means warmer weather, St. Patty's day celebrations (all month) and SPRING PORTRAITS!  This will be my 3rd year at St. Andrews School and I've grown to really adore these kids.   I pride myself on knowing almost all of their names, their siblings and even the names of their pets at home.   I have the best assistant which makes the day even more fun and one awesome faculty.  Who wouldn't be over the moon??!