Team Isabel & Peggy Sue

I did a two-part shoot for the dynamic team of Isabel and her trusty four-legged sidekick, Peggy Sue. These are girls are non-nonsense, give no quarter, watch out world types who enjoy nothing more than racing around barrels in an arena at a speed that would make the rest of us fall flat.

I enjoyed working with Isabel. She is bright and patient, mature for her age but not above a little clowning around. I like kids like that because they know what they want and if you give them an ear, they will give you some wonderful images.

The first part took place in the Winter, and the facility where Isabel rides, SM Performance Horse, LLC in Oliver Springs, TN. Shana Miller does wonderful work with both kids and horses, and is worthy of consideration if you have a young rider. There is a large indoor training rink and it was an excellent setting for this portrait session. I was pleasantly surprised to find Peggy Sue was more interested in whether my camera might be a carrot than scared at the camera flash - I can only attribute that to the excellent training by Shana, as this horse has a job to do in competition and cannot be distracted by lights and noises.

I did want to capture Isabel in a more serious mood, as these are part of my “sand lot” series in children’s portraiture; the concept is that when children have a passion - baseball, soccer, barrel racing, dance - it is very serious business for them. Instead of always demanding, “Smile!” let’s instead allow them to express that tenacity and drive that fuels them in their activity. I prefer such images in black and white; for me, black and white photography takes away any distraction from the moment. Look at the image below - this is a member of a team letting her human captain know how much she trusts and respects her.

And this is the face of a barrel racer. A girl, yes, but one able to guide a thousand pounds around obstacles at a gallop.

In short, do not underestimate her.

The portraits looked great in color, and any children’s portrait session needs to have some images that capture the combination of innocence and playfulness that define childhood.

For the second part of our portrait session, we waited until Spring came to East Tennessee, when the world is pretty and green. This part was less about showing the grit of Isabel as a barrel racer and more about showing Isabel’s natural beauty. Her parents, Kelly and Tim, have a treasure in her!

Let’s Bring the Studio to You

Once again, I did this session under the concept of “studio anywhere” - yes, this is studio photography but where the studio comes to the subject. I would rather take the time and effort to bring the necessary gear to the where my subject is going to be most comfortable, in “their happy place,” as it means better images. This is especially important when dealing with small children since the familiarity of the setting will help to put them at ease. This same concept is perfect for business portraits to minimize the disruption to a person’s day, as well.

Show Them They Are Valued

If you are the parent of a toddler, on some days it is hard to keep from screaming when someone says, “Enjoy these days - they go by so fast!” But as time passes, there is this creeping feeling that time IS flying by and your child is changing rapidly, each new phase bringing a different person.

A portrait helps to stop time. It allows you to revisit those moments and all pictures do that - providing they are seen. A portrait posted on social media garners “likes’ and comments from well wishers. A portrait professionally printed and displayed in the home also gets attention from others but it does something else. It serves to tell your child they are valued, that they are important enough to have their image in a place of honor.


Reach out - let me know if you have any questions or are ready to book a portrait session!

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