People of Note: Magnolia Matrimonies

People of Note: Magnolia Matrimonies

Another entry for People of Note, to introduce you to a business whenever I do a head shot. Earlier this year I photographed the crew from Magnolia Matrimonies, wedding officiants helping to spread the love in Knoxville. Colleen, its owner, and Nikki and Evan are bringing joy to all couples in our fair city!

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The Pelican Bar and Bistro - Knoxville's Intimate Eatery

The Pelican Bar and Bistro - Knoxville's Intimate Eatery

I photographed the Pelican Bar and Bistro, one of Knoxville’s newest eateries, for promotional purposes. Who doesn’t enjoy work that means a lot of food, a lot of wine, and a lot of fun?

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New Year's Eve at Candoro Marble

New Year's Eve at Candoro Marble

The new year came swinging in at Candoro Marble Arts and Heritage Center with a 1920's speakeasy.  Casino games, hot food, drinks and dancing kept the place jumping!  Here are some of the rogue's gallery I captured of the guests, all of whom received a souvenir picture to remember the night.

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Building a Cathedral

Building a Cathedral

The Diocese of Knoxville is building a new cathedral, Sacred Heart, under the leadership of Bishop Richard Stika and with the help of Merit Construction in Knoxville, Tennessee.  Recently, Bishop Stika went up some 100' to inscribe his episcopal motto on the beam of the cathedral's dome.  The workers of Merit Construction gave him great respect for this, but they deserve their own respect, too.

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The payoff is in the giving

Bishop Richard Stika gets newscaster Kris Farley of WATE-6 TV to lose her composure.

I received good news today from Catholic Charities of East Tennessee - my donation of photographic services at their annual dinner helped to raise $107,347 for the evening!  Wonderful!

Keynote speaker, local radio personality Hallerin Hilton Hill, delivered a powerful message of being your brother's keeper.

Good times during the pre-dinner cocktail hour.

This money means that Catholic Charities can assist thousands of persons across East Tennessee - regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, creed, or religion - in meeting their needs.  I am especially honored to know that I assisted in raising funds for Columbus Home, their program for children who have been abused or neglected.  We are approaching April, which is National Child Abuse Prevention Month.  That cause is dear to me: I hate seeing the vulnerable being abused and sadly children are all too often the victims.  I was fortunate to have two loving parents who raised us in a good home, but who also imparted on us the importance of giving back.

Kris Farley interviews Judge Tim Irwin on his program within the Children's Emergency Shelter during the event.

The audience is appreciative during the presentations.

In the Catholic faith, we often hear that stewardship is supported by our time, talents, and treasures.  For whatever reason, God gave me the ability to create an image with a camera.  The least I can do is to use it to serve His people.  I support Catholic Charities and I hope this blog post can get their message out there.  I invite you to visit their website to learn more about their work to bring charity to our area. 

I am always happy to run into my friend, Justin Cardinal Rigali, at any diocesan event.

ETC Cover Story: "Sharing the bread of Life"

I cherish my association with East Tennessee Catholic and its editor, Bill Brewer.  It allows me to see a unique side of humanity when he asks me to accompany him on a story for the journal.

Recently, we went to Claiborne county to visit the Claiborne Hunger Ministry.  You know, indulge me in a little political discourse here - recently, a presidential candidate said that if elected, she would work to put coal miners out of business.  The coal industry in Appalachia has already been severely hit and I would like her to come here and see the need of people, people who want to work but, unfortunately, cannot get $600,000/year positions with Wall Street firms like the candidate's daughter.  Maybe it would help put things in perspective for said candidate.

Ah, but let me go back to praising famous men - and one woman, Marie Noe.  At 88, she runs this ministry that makes sure the locals do not go hungry, especially the children.  This has been her work for the past 20 years.  I urge you to go and read her story.

My picture of her graces the March edition of East Tennessee Catholic.  As a member of the faith, I am challenged to find Jesus in the people around me.  With Marie, that is all too easy.

Here are some other images from our visit (click on any image to view in a larger size).

The Final Concert for The Dirty Guv'nahs

A friend of mine unfortunately came under a bout of poor health, and asked me if I would take her place to photograph the final concert of The Dirty Guv'nahs at Knoxville's Tennessee Theater.

You simply can't say no to an opportunity like that.  After nearly a decade, the band had decided that life on the road meant time away from family and decided to disband.  It saddened a lot of people because their following in the Southeast, and especially in their hometown of Knoxville, was dedicated.

And with good reason.  They are wonderful.

Here are some of the images I captured on September 25, 2015 at the Tennessee Theater on Gay Street (click on any to view in a larger size)

This was the final song that brought me to tears.

May His angels bring their graces to these guys and their families throughout their lives.

Let's Stop Bullying Now

A few months back, a mother whose child also attended my son's grade school, called me to ask about photography and whether I had a studio.  This parent also happened to be an officer with the Knoxville Police Department (KPD).

After chatting for a while, I realized she needed some pictures taken for the department for an anti-bullying campaign they were doing.  Now, for reasons that I will expalin below, I was compelled to volunteer my time to help.  In addition, I have family and friends who wear badges "to protect and serve" - I considered it an honor to lend my talents to the KPD.

A few days later I was at the KPD service garage.  It was then I found out the details - the photographs would be used in billboards around the Knoxville area.  In addition to the children of police officers and college students involved with anti-bullying campaigns, I would also be photographing Knoxville mayor Madeline Rogero, Chief of Police David Rausch, and Vol 4 Life  Sterling Henton.  Wow!  I had not realized the scope of this and I was excited!

Chief of Police David Rausch

Here was the plan:  I would be photographing these people in various groupings, which would be used by Lamar Advertising to create these billboards.  It was a loose plan, lacking some specifics in how we could group the people without taking too much time - after all, both the Mayor and the Chief of Police had tight schedules, as to be expected.  I quickly suggested that we first photograph each person individually and then try some pairings and groupings.  This way, the graphic designer at Lamar would have a number of images he could use to vary the billboards. 

"Oh my gosh, take my picture?"

And it worked!  I was able to deliver high resolution images.  Now while driving around Knoxville, I smile when I see one of these billboards:

Fernando Condarco at Lamar Advertising did a great job!

And, for the record, everyone was wonderful to work with!  It was a pleasure meeting the various officers, the Chief, Her Honor, and Sterling, as well as all the kids.  And I do not want to overlook the folks at Lamar Advertising, especially there graphic designer Fernando Condarco, who was a delight and a professional.

Now, why this project was important to me . . .

Before I became a professional photographer, I was - actually, still am - an attorney.  I practiced solely Family Law in Southern California.  When I applied to law school, I had to write an essay on why I wanted to be a lawyer.  I started it with this:  "I hate bullies."

In 2011, my husband and I moved our family to East Tennessee.  My daughter had just graduated from 8th grade and started high school.  One of the things we learned after leaving California was the extent to which she had been bullied at her grade school.  It was our Catholic parish school.  She faced daily insults and teasing, even racist comments (over 95% of the school kids were Hispanic and my blonde-haired daughter was a target, especially from the boys in her class).  But it was not something she talked about.  One of her teachers knew, but never mentioned it to us, and with a principal largely absent that year to complete his Ph.D. program and a pastor mostly uninvolved the school, who was to say anything?

Fortunately, our move brought both relief and the opportunity for good counseling.  But I learned a lesson - bullying can happen anywhere, to anyone, and you may not be aware of it.  Take a stand.  If you see it happening, don't assume kids will "grow out of it" or "get over it."  Don't assume someone else will say something.  Don't assume a child will tell you.

I sometimes had to remind my clients in Family Law that they could not ascribe a maturity to their children beyond what the children had.  So many parents wanted to "share" their "feelings" about the divorce with their kids, or expected their kids to "understand what was really going on."  No - children, even teens, have maturing minds.  Maybe some are further along than others, but they are still immature.  "Sticks and stones may break some bones" . . . but words CAN hurt.  And that hurt can last.

So, please - take a stand against bullying.  

I do!

Kids dreaming big and why NFL players rock

A group shot of the Smith & Smith Football Camp

Let me start by saying this:  God bless Harrison Smith of the Minnesota Vikings and Lee Smith of the Oakland Raiders.  And Chris White of the New England Patriots and Garrett Reynolds of the St. Louis Rams.

Know when to zig and know when to zag.

The two Smiths recently ran a football camp on the grounds of Knoxville Catholic High School.  Boys from kindergarten through the 8th grade with dreams of the gridiron came and spent three days - in some pretty damn hot weather - running, catching, throwing, jumping, all with the help of the four NFL players mentioned, as well as players from the University of Tennessee, and players and staff from Knoxville Catholic High School.  I was there to do pictures with the players for the kids, and grabbed these candid shots as well.

Almost had it!

Lee Smith playing a pick up game with the boys.

And check this out - Smith and Smith paid for it.

That's right, it was free for the kids.  I understand that this is part of the NFL's effort to bring philanthropy to its ranks and I applaud them for this.  I watched as these players cheerfully worked with the kids and when it came time for autographs, no one was slighted - time was made for each boy.  It was not easy work.  Talking to Garrett, he laughed at how much effort it took to keep kindergartners and 1st graders corralled and on-point.  It was a laugh watching a pick up game of shirts vs. skins with Harrison and Lee with boys of 4th and 5th grade age - fun for the guys, but both play and serious practice for the boys.

Nailing down the forward pass.

He knows what is coming up - and he is ready to get past it.

I hope the men who gave their time for this camp realize they gave the boys much more than tips on how to catch a ball or the techniques of the forward pass.  They gave them a lesson in that it take hard work to reach your goals, that there are real men out there who are willing to help you, and that it is right and proper to give back.  If the kids left with anything, I hope it was a sense of their are people worth emulating in life - like these players.

It's rough, but it's also fun.

It's almost football time in Tennessee and I am getting excited!

Watching the youngest boys was precious.


Make that tactical move to protect yourself

I do not hide, nor apologize for, the fact that I support 2nd Amendment rights.  I am a veteran of the US Army and I know that a firearm is merely a tool - and if you own a firearm, you take upon the onus of being able to use it responsibly.

That is why I am happy to collaborate with Tactical Advantage Corp. (TAC) in Knoxville.  This is Knoxville's premiere gun range. but it offers more than just a chance to fire weapons.  Their attitude is one of safety, first and foremost.  And that means safety not only on the range but also at 2:00 am when you are awakened by the sound of someone smashing your window to enter your house unlawfully - safety for you and for your family.

I recently took pictures at TAC's tactical shotgun training course.  This is a rigorous day of training, some 8 hours long, in which participants were not only shown how to fire a shotgun but how to use one tactically.  This means how to advance with one, how to fire from different positions, how to load one without taking one's eyes off the threat before them, and the choice of ammunition.  The course was designed to help one deal with a situation when a viable threat is before them, because the bad guys do not stand still like targets pinned to a stationary back board.  The hope is sincere that one will never have to face an intruder who means to do serious harm - as well as the hope a person will survive by knowing what to do. 

TAC offers a number of different courses for people of all ages.  Yes, guns can be dangerous . . . in the wrong hands.  But, as they say, "TAC's got your back.."  Even if you have never handled a firearm, they will be welcoming and understanding, and ready to teach you how to keep you and your home safe.