February 2009 Blog / Newsletter

Dear Friends,

I hope you and your loved ones are doing well. 2009 IS FLYING BY… and here we are close to Spring. The Bradford Pear trees which line our street are in full bloom and I love taking family walks after dinner to enjoy them. Spring is my absolute favorite season. There’s something exhilarating about seeing everything in full bloom. It gives me a spring in my step and a thankful heart.

I had the privilege of photographing several newborn babies this month. Every time I hold one in my arms I am reminded of the miracle that they are… so tiny and perfect, yet they turn our lives upside-down and teach us what it means to love, sacrifice and nurture a precious life.  We are the ones who are stretched and changed as we give our time, attention and care to our new little one.

My husband and I watched a wonderful movie on Valentines Day called “Fireproof” It was a movie about marriage that made us laugh and cry.  It showed the difficult times in marriage, but with a wonderful redemptive message. If you haven’t seen it yet,  it’s definitely worth your time. Just have a box of tissues nearby!

Client chooses Maternity Portraits over Having Baby Early

Something funny happened with a maternity client this month,  she was admitted to the hospital for some further testing and her doctor said “we can induce you today if you’d like.” But she wanted to  have maternity portraits taken, so she came for the photography session (with her hospital bracelet on) and the VERY NEXT DAY she had her baby. NOW THAT WAS A CLOSE ONE! We got some gorgeous portraits of her and her family.  But now she’s got a great story to tell to her daughter …. how she almost missed getting her portraits taken. A good time to schedule a maternity session is in the 7th & 8th month….just to make sure you don’t have any early arrivals.

ShadowBox Art

I just discovered an amazing product called ShadowBox Art in a recent tradeshow and I am very excited about carrying it! It’s an art piece customized with a portrait of your loved one with your favorite verse or scripture. This example shows a baby in a bowl with the verse, “Every Good and Perfect Gift is from Above” It’s very unique and will look wonderful anywhere in your home…. your sunroom, kitchen, family room, nursery, dining room or child’s room. Each piece is custom made, the frame will be in the same color family as the portrait. You can choose any portrait from our sessions and create a priceless heirloom.

Susie Received An Honorary Degree…. but Don’t Look At her Shoes!

I just returned from a wonderful 5 day Photography Convention  in RTP. It’s an annual event where Professional Photographers from all over North Carolina submit images for a print competiton & learn from the nation’s best photographers. It’s a wonderful time of fellowship, because we are all very close and it’s an inspiration to see the work of other talented photographers. This year out of 413 prints only 12% of photographers won awards and I was honored to be one of them. Also, I was thrilled to receive an honorary degree from the Professional Photographers of North Carolina (PPNC) because of the number of educational credits and award winning prints I’ve earned. The funny part of the story was that I was snowed in at the hotel and had to attend the  “FORMAL AWARDS BANQUET” with the casual clothes I was wearing including my old, comfortable, scuffed up shoes. To make matters worse, I had to walk all the way to the front of the banquet to receive the award and have my picture taken. Hopefully everyone looked at my smiling face and not my shoes! And next year I’ll pack a formal dress with Cinderella slippers just in case it snows again!

Mother’s Day is May 10th. Celebrate with a handbag and jewelry featuring your children!

Your favorite portrait from any of our sessions can be made into a handbag or jewelry which you or your mother will enjoy all year long. Sessions need to be scheduled by March 24th for Handbags and April 5th for Jewelry to arrive in time. Hurry, my calendar is filling up!

Kristi Walker

On a sad note, Kristi Walker, the young woman in my mothers group who I mentioned in the last newsletter, passed away on February 13th, leaving behind a husband, two boys ages 4 and 2, and a 3 month old baby. She was only 30 years old. Please continue to pray for her husband Chuck and the boys as they face life without her.


I consider everyone I’ve photographed to be a part of my “studio family.” I have photographed many wonderful and interesting people over the years and I wanted to give you a glimpse of their stories along with portraits we’ve created. So come meet the rest of the family! February’s featured client of the month is Jessica Augustine. She is dear to me because she is an old friend who has been coming to me since the early days of my photography career. Back then my studio was in my LIVING ROOM in our little home on Stonecutter Court. It would take me at least two hours to set up all the props and backgrounds and set the light ratios, then two hours to get the living room in some kind of semblance of order. I had props everywhere, and I barely had room to shoot. You can believe my husband was happy when we moved and I got the studio out of our living room!

I met Jessica at Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) at Colonial Baptist in Cary, NC.  We were in the same small group and she had a beautiful baby named Emily Kate who needed her 6 month portrait taken. Jessica is one of those classy people that seem to have it all together. She worked full-time, and still made time to scrapbook even though it might be midnight. I immediately liked her because she was a Type A personality (like me) and was very sweet, transparent, with a great sense of humor. She is one of those resource people who know the best place to buy everything… from clay hand prints of children to children’s clothing. She’s a wonderful person.

I love photographing Jessica’s children. They are always dressed in the finest dresses from Strasburg to Gymboree with matching accessories. I couldn’t resist creating a painting out of this pose from Emily Kate’s two-year old session. It was near a rose garden at the Arboretum in Raleigh, NC and the foliage was beautiful and of course she was a little princess.

Jessica has done an amazing job decorating her home with portraits of her children. I recently visited her beautiful home to get some snapshots of the portraits we’ve taken over the years and I was very impressed. I felt like I was walking into the “Susie Gilmore Gallery”. She had portraits from every session we had since Emily Kate was just 6 months old. She loves having a series of images from each session and especially loves the 9 image wall collages. She has invested in eight of them over the years! She has a lot of table top framed portraits, 3 small albums from Emily Kate’s first year,  Christmas cards,  3 photo handbags and a gorgeous Wall Portrait on canvas of her girls. The picture above decorates her home office.

Jessica is an accountant so symmetry is important to her, and you will find everything in her home perfectly framed and balanced. Each portrait tells a story about the stage of her children’s lives and it was special to me because it brought back memories of our sessions. From her first baby, her pregnancy, her second baby, her toddler and preschool age portraits. Her children are going to treasure the investments she made of beautiful portraits of them. And they will show them to their children and grandchildren one day.

It’s really important to me to photograph at least one parent with the children, because many times, the mother is the “main picture taker”, and she’s not in any pictures with the children. So I always try to get a few of mom and the kids. Jessica has been a great sport about getting portraits made with her children. She’s a beautiful person inside and out and it’s been an honor to photograph her and her children.

Here is Jessica’s story…

Chris and I have been married for twelve and a half years.  We were married in the mountains of East Tennessee; it was a beautiful place to get married given the amazing fall foliage in mid-October.  It is hard to believe that so many years have passed and now we have two beautiful little girls.

Chris started his own computer networking company Augustine Consulting about seven years ago. Chris actually comes from a long line of entrepreneurs.  His grandfather founded one of the oldest lumber companies in the country, Augustin Lumber in 1900 (there is no “e”; Chris’s dad’s name was spelled wrong on his birth certificate so he is the only child with an “e” on his name).  His dad decided to follow in his father’s entrepreneur footsteps and started his own business which was in the floor covering industry.  As a side note, each of Chris’s siblings have started their own businesses; so I’m pretty sure it is in their genetic make up. Chris holds both his bachelors and masters from the University of Tennessee. He is an avid lover of the arts.  You are more likely to hear classical music when you crank his car than any other genre.  He is a member of the North Carolina Symphony and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.

I received my bachelors from the University of Memphis and my Masters from the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill.  I have the privilege to serve as a senior manager with Ernst & Young, one of the largest professional service firms in the world. My role with the firm is in the Assurance practice, which essentially means I’m an auditor. And much to my parents dismay, I do not know the first thing about personal tax returns. As a matter of fact, my husband prepares our return every year. While I am married to a man who loves the arts, I rarely go to the symphony with him. What I truly love is being a mom and the fun that comes along with that.  I enjoy serving as the co-coordinator for Mother of Preschoolers at Macedonia Baptist Church as well as serving on the Board of Directors for Junior Achievement of Eastern North Carolina.  And of course someday I hope to get back to scrapbooking all of the pictures of my beautiful little girls…maybe when the kids head to college.

Chris and I have two beautiful little girls, Emily Kate and Mary Ellen. They each have double names because well, I’m a southern girl and two names is a requirement. I’m also of the opinion that they can decide what they want to be called when they get older. The girls really are the greatest blessing the Lord could have ever given Chris and I.  While they present us with more challenges than we ever thought imaginable, they bring us more joy than we ever thought possible.

Susie and I met in early fall of 2004 when we were assigned to the same discussion group in Mothers of Preschoolers, MOPS, at Colonial Baptist Church.  Susie and I were both starting new seasons in our lives hers as a professional photographer and mine as a new mom. After several years of trying, we had our first daughter, Emily Kate. She arrived in late April just one day after my birthday, what a precious gift from the Lord and such a sweet birthday present. Emily Kate probably thought that her mom was a camera lens for the first few months of her life because as a photography enthusiast I wanted every moment documented.  When it came time for Emily Kate’s professional six month pictures I knew that I wanted to use Susie because there was a spark about her. Something that told me she thought my child was as much a gift as I did. So in November I made the drive to Susie’s house with my precious baby girl, believing that Susie would capture this special time in Emily Kate’s life.

A few weeks later as I went through the proofs it hit me that Susie had captured the essence of Emily Kate, those big bright blue eyes ready to see what the world had in store for her. So when I think back to each of the sessions, six in all, each one has a special little memory.  Emily Kate’s first where we put her in all these cute little outfits and really just played and Susie captured her budding personality.  Then there were her first birthday pictures, which we took outside.  She couldn’t quite walk yet without help so this made for a rather fun photo shoot of propping her up against, benches and trees or just hanging on to my finger.

For her second birthday we went to the Arboretum and essentially chased her around until we thought we got the pictures we wanted. For her third birthday I was pregnant with sweet little Mary Ellen. While I adored all her individual pictures it was really the series we took together that captures my memory; it was such a special time my last fleeting moments of having just one child and the anticipation of knowing sweet little Mary Ellen would arrive in just a few months. Then along came Mary Ellen and it was of course back to Susie to capture more moments in time. Mary Ellen’s photo shoot was so precious. She did so great and was hanging in there like a trooper, but eventually she gave up and went to sleep at which point we just started posing her and snapping away. My favorite picture of all time is when Susie captured them in little tutus, with Mary Ellen laying on top of Emily Kate, which is something she loved to do when they were at that age and now that they don’t do anymore. I’m so pleased I have that moment in time captured forever. Most recently we took the girls pictures together. This was a tremendous amount of fun but a ton of work, it was the first time Susie and I have had to chase two little girls running in opposite directions. When I left that day I was so uncertain if we had even gotten “the picture”. But with typical Susie skill she had gotten the one I wanted.

I know Susie would never admit it but I’m probably her pickiest client.  I always come in with a preconceived notion of exactly what “the picture” is that I want. Given that I’ve spent some time behind the lens, I am very critical when it comes to the minute details of any photograph.  I typically send her pictures of the girls outfits a couple of weeks in advance so she can recommend a specific background, plus I like that she goes ahead and starts thinking about the right props for the session.  And yes I typically send her an email telling her exactly what “the picture” I’m going to be looking for is as well so she can strategize on how to get it since children are not always the most cooperative.

She always laughs when I come for my slideshow, because when it is time to start choosing I ask if “I can drive”.  She always precedes to hand me her laptop and I go through the deck choosing my favorites and making my selections.  I’ve even gone as far to show her exactly how I want them cropped or laid out in the nine frame.  When we are done I know I’ve gotten exactly the pictures I want.

So for the last five years I have been a Susie Gilmore loyalist.  She has captured every step of my daughters’ lives and I know she will continue to do so for many years to come.

When I share my pictures with others or they come by the house and see the “Susie Gilmore Gallery”, everyone comments on how beautiful the girls are; little do they know that there is a lot of Susie Gilmore talent that goes into getting those adorable pictures. The item I receive the most comments on is my handbag. I would say at least once a week someone comments on it, if not more often.  As a frequent traveler, my handbag is a great way to keep my girls with me even while on the road.  I had never given this much thought, but one day when I was coming back from Boston (sort of like my second work home) as I was going through airport security, the TSA agent said, “back again”. My first thought was… I’ve been through this airport way too many times if this guy remembers me, and just when I was about to go through a guilt trip of “I’m never home, I never spend time with my family” he said “your handbag, you must really love your children.” Instead I got to walk away thinking, “yes I do love my children and I’m quite pleased to be heading home to see them.”  From that moment forward whenever someone comments on it, I like to respond that “it is how I keep my girls with me when I travel”.  My purse certainly always brings me a smile.

“A session with Susie is not just about taking a photograph it is about building a relationship. A relationship that enables her to preserve your family’s unique personality forever. The special moments Susie has captured in my daughters’ lives become more precious as the days pass and the realization sinks in that I can never get those moments back.”

-Jessica Augustine  Apex, NC


Thank you Jessica for giving us a glimpse of your life and sharing your thoughts and portraits with us. I  look forward to speaking to your MOPS group on April 16th about how to take better pictures of their children. And you KNOW I’m going to bring some portraits of your daughters to show off!

Have a great month and I look forward to photographing you soon.

Blessings to you!

To offer you the finest in portraiture, Susie is an active member in Professional Photographers of America, Professional Photographers of North Carolina and Photographic Society of the Triangle.

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