February 2010 Blog / Newsletter

Dear friends,

As I say goodbye to February the thing that stands out the most is this crazy weather! I don’t remember having this much snow fall in Raleigh. When I lived in Boone and West Virginia, cold weather was normal…. but not here in the south! We pushed my son in a big wheel in the snow and it packed up on the tires and made it rise off the ground about 12 inches! He loved it and squealed with delight. For the last snowfall, we got smart and built a snowman and fort in the FRONT of the house so the sun couldn’t reach it and our snowman lasted a week longer than the snow. It was great!

One of the highlights of my year is a five day convention for Professional Photographers who come from all over North Carolina to learn from the top photographers in the nation. I have been having a wonderful time going to classes, trade shows and visiting with old and new friends. It’s a great week that spurs my creativity and charges my battery.

We had a print competition on Saturday and I was excited to receive two Court of Honor awards shown above. Judges were flown in to pick the best images based on a set of twelve criteria established by the Professional Photographers of America. This has been a great way to perfect my craft and to see how my work compares with my peers. It’s been inspirational to see all the beautiful images.

Sophia Tidaback of Durham is the baby featured in the portrait on the left. It is entitled, “Pucker Up”. The judges loved her piercing blue eyes and her expression. My sister, Amy Sams of Cary, is featured in the maternity portrait entitled, “Maternal Elegance” The judges loved the flowing fabric, her expression and the movement created by her form, called an “S curve”. Congratulations to Sophia and Amy for being such lovely models. I feel very fortunate to capture this moment in their lives.

Client of the Month: Benjie and Michelle Harrison

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! This month’s featured client is Benjie and Michelle Harrison. I met Michelle when she brought her newborn Charlotte for a photography session in November. She looked like she just stepped off the cover of Vogue magazine and not someone who had just had a baby. We got the most heartwarming portraits of her and her daughter that reflect their bond and the sweetness of a newborn.

And something that you’d never guess about Michelle is that she is very thrifty. She buys beautiful clothing at second hand stores. Michelle filled me in on the best places in Cary to go. These days, shopping is not in my schedule. But when things slow down a little…. I’m looking forward to finding some treasures… like ski bibs for the kids that they’ll only wear for a month or so.

Here is Benjie & Michelle’s story…

I’m originally from Houston, Texas and have been in North Carolina since 1993. I’m a stay at home mom with three wonderful children who keep me quite busy. I feel like the CEO of the Harrison Family. It’s truly like working three jobs. My husband is originally from Tampa, Florida and relocated to North Carolina in 1999. He is a Senior Manager for IBM and between work and our family, he’s quite busy also. We attend Cary Alliance Church and enjoy spending time together with the family, taking trips around North Carolina, it is such a wonderful state.

Benjie and I met in December 2001 at Tony’s Oyster Bar & Restaurant in Cary. I was there celebrating a friend’s birthday and he was there with a small group of guys from work. We struck up a conversation and things took off from there. I had just moved and had a new house number, so I ended up giving him the wrong number. Good thing I included my work number! We have been married for five years, since September 2004.

What qualities do you appreciate about each other? Michelle is funny, outgoing, everyone’s friend, loves her family and places her children before herself. Benjie is organized, efficient, and a great supportive father with lots of patience. We both share the same moral, family and Christian qualities and love spending time together. We try hard to support one another though difficult and challenging times that come with a young family. Having both of us fundamentally grounded helps set the tone in the family and provides “some” consistency.

We have three children who are four and under. Benjamin (4 Years): is energetic, strong willed, funny, & very spirited. Caroline (20 Months): is crazy, drama queen, girly girl, funny. Charlotte (3 Months): is a love bug, snuggly and always hungry. Both Benjamin and Caroline were planned, and with Caroline being placenta previa, we were set on just two children. We were very surprised when we found out Charlotte was on her way into the world. Knowing this, we had to get creative with the sleeping arrangements, we thought about the girls sharing a room but came to realize that girls sharing a room may not be the best idea. So, Mr. Benjamin is now in the “Greg Brady” suite upstairs in the bonus room, he’s living large right now.

Benjamin and Caroline love the new addition and the family are adjusting well. We take it a day at a time and make on the fly adjustments and remember that at the end of the day, our duties as parents are to ensure our children grow-up with grounded moral convictions with a love for God which will give them to tools they need to be successful adults. We have two cats, anyone want them? Charlie and Mariah are the same age (11 years old) and Caroline calls them “Lee-lee.” We did have a beautiful English Setter named Reagan, but she had a hard time adjusting to Benjamin, so we gave her to a nice family in Willow Springs who had more land for her to enjoy and explore.

Before I was a mom, I was a Flight Attendant for Midway Airlines, a Dental Assistant and small business owner. We owned Cookies In Bloom in Cary before Benjamin was born. He spend his early days smelling fresh baked cookies and making deliveries.

Being a parent is something you can never prepare yourself for. It’s amazing how God gives you the tools you need to adjust and cope to such a life changing experience. Even though it’s chaotic and tiresome, seeing them interacting, learning, growing and sleeping in their beds it touches your heart and all those stressful times just melt away. Children truly are God’s gift.

When I first saw the slideshow of Charlotte’s portraits set to music I got a little emotional. To see her in the various settings, so cute and sweet only being 18 days old, really moved me especially knowing she is our last child. I loved all of my portraits! If it was feasible, I would have loved to have everything. It was a bit overwhelming at first, but with Susie’s help, she helped place portraits in groups, with great ideas. With a lot of patience we got it narrowed down to a trio collage, quad collage and an 8X10 gift of Charlotte and myself.

When I first saw Charlotte’s Trio collage, my first response was AHHHHHHH! It was a surprise to see my husband’s wedding ring in one of the photos (dangling from her finger) it really showed how small she was. Even though he was unable to attend the photo session, he was incorporated into the end result, very special. We are going to display it in our study with our 8×10 which will be viewable from the front door. It will remind us of how special this time is. Having two that are beyond her age and the fact that she will be out last, it will hold a special place in our heart every time we see them.

When I first saw Charlotte’s Quad collage I thought it was extremely special. Susie had a great idea to have her baby dedication hat and bible verse (James 1:17) as part of the photo.  It turned out great, with the verse displayed below the portrait. We placed it above her crib and on the adjacent wall, we placed her baby dedication hat in a shadow box. It turned out great! The collage is a reminder of God’s love and blessings to our family.

My husband loved the 8×10 of Charlotte and I because it captured the bond between mother and child. It is so soft, sweet and a fantastic gift. It’s a visual display of a mother’s love towards her child, a nice reminder during those hard times.

I loved getting a free Facebook portrait from our session. It was a nice touch and a quick way to share with friends and family. We got quite a few hits across the US. Friends and family said it was “Breathtaking” & “Beautiful”.

My experience with Susie Gilmore Photography was great. Susie provided a natural, comfortable setting that was quite enjoyable for both Charlotte and myself. The setting was stress free and the process of taking pictures felt more natural and free flowing verses a strict, ridged, time sensitive environment. Our session felt more like a play date. Susie’s work ethic and quality is top notch and I would highly recommend her to any new mom or family. My husband and I are looking forward to going back and having a family portrait done in the spring.

-Benjie & Michelle Harrison    Holly Springs, NC


Thank you Benjie & Michelle for sharing your story and for giving us a glimpse of your beautiful portraits and your lives. I know it’s hard work raising children…. you always feel exhausted at the end of the day, and you never quite finish your “to do list”. But seeing little smiling faces in the morning and hearing all those cute little things they say make it all worth it. I’m looking forward to photographing your family soon… I love how everyone in your family looks alike…. with blonde hair and blue eyes! We’ll have a fun session.

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

Blessings to you!

To see more of my work, go to http://www.SusieGilmore.com

Become a Facebook Fan of Susie Gilmore Photography and receive a FREE portrait to post on your Facebook page. click here to become a fan.

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.


Susie Gilmore Photography is participating in the International Charity Model Search to select North America’s Cutest Family and to raise funds for the non-profit Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep Foundation. (NILMDTS.org) Are your loved ones North America’s Cutest FamilyMany exciting prizes will be awarded, and the grand prize winner receives A NEW CAR! Model Search Special: $125 entrance fee includes a two hour model session and one image submitted to the national gallery.

Finalists will be determined by online votes. (Facebook is going to make this very easy to get votes) Each vote is $1 (no limit on the amount of votes you can cast), and all proceeds from votes benefit Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep (NILMDTS.org). Grand prize international winner will be determined from the 52 city finalists. The winners will be selected from the finalist gallery by photography and modeling industry experts. The winning family also receives a session with the renowned portrait artist Sandy Puc’ and international recognition. Call 919-662-5541 now to enter your family in this exciting contest. *Contest open to residents of the US and Canada. For more information, visit http://sandypucmodels.com/.

To see more of my work, go to http://www.SusieGilmore.com

Become a Facebook Fan of Susie Gilmore Photography and receive a FREE portrait to post on your Facebook page. click here to become a fan.

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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