Susi Lawson Photography: Blog en-us (C) Susi Lawson Photography (Susi Lawson Photography) Wed, 25 Apr 2018 20:38:00 GMT Wed, 25 Apr 2018 20:38:00 GMT Susi Lawson Photography: Blog 86 120 "My Brave and Beautiful Spirit"  Since so many Moms have told me that my sessions with their teen daughters have provided their daughters with more confidence in themselves, I have decided to run a promo several times a year where you can nominate a friend, sister or daughter for a free "My Brave and Beautiful Spirit" Fine Art session!
This session will also be available at any time as a paid session package. 

( The free promo sessions are geared towards those who can no afford to hire a professional and these special sessions will be announced on Facebook and you may nominate someone by tagging them and explaining why you think they would benefit ) This package will include 1-2 hours of Photography and 1-8X10 and 1-5X7 print.)

The paid  package will include up to 2 hours of photography at a beautiful outdoor location. This will be similar to my senior sessions , only these will be focused on a more creative and fine art picture ! I will spend many hours editing your pictures to insure they are creative and worthy of being called "Fine Art".
This package will include your choice of a book of all pictures, or an 11X14" frames canvas of your favorite image! Of course you can also purchase any prints from your web gallery here on my site.

]]> (Susi Lawson Photography) beauty brave confident senior teen Wed, 25 Apr 2018 20:38:12 GMT
Thanks to my Little Neighbor Bud for 14 fun years together !! I just want to thank my 'Little Neighbor Bud' who has been a driving force in my photography for 14 years ! Little Cassa Marie Smith started modeling for me when she was only 4 years old. I was driving around the corner of my block when I saw this adorable little tow headed children playing in the golden leaves of a beautiful tree behind my neighbors house. It was such a joyful sight that I pulled over in my red Cherokee Jeep (which I drove at the time ) and asked little Cassa if she would run and ask her Mom if I could take some pictures of her and her brother. Cassa has 3 brothers , Micheal, John and Chris. (Chris was sick at the time and inside ) Cassa's Mom came out of her house (which was right across the street from the tree ) and she said "Oh! You're that artist ,I heard about ,that lives around the corner ain't you " I said "Yes, that's me". and she said she was scared at first, that some stranger would want to take pix of her kids, but she said she knew I was a photographer and she would be glad to give me permission . She asked if she and her fella could also join in for a family picture. I said "Well , of course " and that is how it all began !

I still have the very first pictures I took of Cassa and her family (except for little Chris ) on that day . They are on an old computer , but I will come back later and post them here for you to see how much she has grown and how far we have come together !
My daughter was around ten years old , at the time, and of course I really wanted her to be my 'model' but she would have nothing to do with the idea~! Although I did actually get a cover with an image of my daughter that I took the day she got braces . It was snowing and she was covering her mouth and I snapped a pix of her! Funny how that snap shot won a contest and ended up on the cover of "Digital Photo" magazine. So I did manage to sneak in a few shots, over the years with my daughter and a few did win awards and a couple of covers !

Cassa was such a natural in front of the camera, and I think it was because I was not her Mom, that helped her to just be natural and enjoy the experience. I do think all children are more self conscious when their parent is behind the camera. This is especially true in pre adolescent age and into the teen years.

In the first 5 years or so , of photographing Cassa , so many people just fell in love with the timeless images of her and many remarked , how nostalgic they were. I think , the fact , that Cassa and her brothers ,reminded folks of the innocence of a childhood playing outside , climbing trees and such experiencing a simple , outdoorsy childhood which seems so rare during these new times .

Little Neighbor BudCassa Marie and her joy!
In 2007 when Cassa was around 8 years old , she was playing with an old Kodak 'Hawkeye' camera , just like the kind I played with as child . She was on my porch snapping and playing with the flash and having a grand old time watching the flash shoot across the yard. I snapped a picture of her looking at the back of the camera with a curious expression of "Where is the LCD?" Ha! I edited this picture in Photoshop adding a blue sky background . (which sort of became my signature look during those years ) and I entered that picture in the NAPP (National Association of Photoshop Professionals ) . My daughter came in the room just as I was about to hit the 'enter' button. ( she was 16 at the time ) and she said "That picture is going to win grand prize Momma!". I turned around and said "Do you really think so? This is an international contest and thousands of folks will be entering !" , she replied "I think that is the winner!" Yay ! Good vibes from my sweet daughter ! As I hit the 'send' button. I whispered "God send", and then went on about my life.
A few months later I got an email saying I had won the Grand prize , which was a trip to Rome , a thousand dollars and some gear ! I figured it was spam and so I deleted it. But the email kept coming and i was getting a lot of Phone calls from California that I did not answer , as I assumed it was a marketer .
Finally , when the nest email came, I answered by saying "Is this real?" and they replied "Yes, we have been trying to call you for like 6 times !" I was like "Okay, call me right now ." still not sure it was real. But when she called and said "Susi, all the judges just loved your picture "Little Hawkeye" and you are the grand prize winner !! I literally fell to the floor and tried not to cry!
I picked up my daughter from school and took her to 'Joey's Country Kitchen ' in Rural Retreat and as we were waiting for our food, I drew a map of Italy and an airplane on the napkin and scooted it over to her . I said "You were right about that picture I entered " . She looked at me with her mouth dropped and I jumped up and down and started dancing ! She said "Mother, please don't embarrass me." in true teen fashion ! HA!

Little HawkeyeGrand Prize winner of the 2007 International Photoshop User Awards !

The Photoshop User magazine sent us to Rome in July with a thousand to spend and asked me to submit a picture for the cover. I sent them a picture of my daughter. We had the most amazing time in Rome and we still wish we could go back and stay much longer ! A week was marvelous , but we did not want to go home so soon ! Its a trip and memory that will always be precious to my daughter and I!

After that big win, I started getting quite a following of folks in photography forums asking me to teach them Photoshop skills , such as the painting and background changing I was doing at the time. A photographer , by the name of Dave Harvey , who was a member of the 'Digital Image Cafe' , and whom had taken a liking to my work, called me and said "You need to be producing teaching DVD's !" I explained that I did not have a strong enough computer to carry the software needed to make screen videos. A week later , there was a huge box on my front porch! Not only did Dave build me a strong computer (which I still have ) but he loaded the software that I needed to make the teaching DVDs. There was a note that said " You owe me nothing , except to be the first person who gets your DVDs". Wow!! what a kind and generous man he was . (Dave unfortunately passed a couple years ago. He sent me a FB message days before saying "Be well, be happy'. ) I will never forget his kindness and Dave was a very talented portrait photographer , who taught me a lot about lenses and light and how there are no compromises with either. Thank you Dave! You were one of the best!

With my new DVD teaching Career I experienced , finally a comfortable income, and as a single mom, this was truly a god send. I helped put my daughter through college with the savings I put away and was able to give her everything she needed during those years . It was perfect timing !

Many folks still tell me they loved my "Norman Rockwell" images, which I always find extremely flattering , as he was my hero when I was a child looking through the Saturday Evening Post magazines . Cassa and her brothers, were the perfect subjects for this nostalgic 'look'

I recently took 18 year old Cassa , to my favorite place to take portraits , and that is the beautiful Reed Creek Farm, here in Wytheville, Va.
The farm is owned by Tom and Teresa Wassum and they are kind enough to allow me access to this 200 year old amazing location on the creek.
Here are some portraits taken of beautiful Cassa. (Click to see gallery )
Thanks so much Cassa , for all the wonderful years and your eagerness to participate in so many photo sessions and your natural charm and personality in front of the camera ! Love ya girl !

Cassa Marie at 18such a beautiful and photogenic young lady!

]]> (Susi Lawson Photography) Cassa Marie NAPP Neighbor Bud Photoshop Reed Creek WPPI portrait Wed, 27 Apr 2016 23:41:02 GMT
Well, it's finally Winter in Wytheville ! We have had some darn mild weather this Fall , on up till just recently ,the cold ,wind and snow has finally hit us ! It is quite a shock after having temperatures in the 70's and now I think it's 25 degrees out there !
I started PT on my shoulder last week and the therapist is pretty happy with my range of motion ,thus far ,and hoping to have most of it back by the end of March, which will mean that I will be fired up and ready to continue on with my book project and hopefully, see that to completion by Spring  or Summer of 2017 ! I am looking forward to holding that book in my hands ! If you do not know of my project , please visit Singing At The Clothesline, to read all about it !  

I recently completed something new for me, a jewelry project, which I have never done before, but I never like to turn down work , so it was welcome, of course!  Did this for a couple ,who are marketing some really pretty handmade necklaces and such. I shot on black acrylic for the reflection and used 'Rotolight Neo' for the lighting system , which worked well for making the stones light up nicely. The hardest part was trying to clean the acrylic board so that there was no hair or dust in the image. This proved to be impossible , as static made the dust bounce right back. I was also using a Sony 90 Macro lens which, of course will magnify every detail , which includes dust! I spent about a day editing out each dust speck and hair , and then I got a great idea, to just paint over the dust in Photoshop rather than trying to eliminate each speck via the healing tool. Anyway, I learned a lot about the challenges of product photography and new respect for those who do this for a living ! Proud to say, the clients are very happy with the outcome and plan to stick with me, so that turned out to be a good adventure!

This time of year is when the portrait area , which is my main love and expertise, comes to a stand still, and I find myself wishing for someone , anyone , to take a picture of !
I do have some models here who , I know, would be eager to assist , (as they are awesome like that ) but I hate to ask them to pose in this kind of weather ! Last year, one of my models , Audra, actually did ballet in the snow for me, and the pictures were gorgeous of her, but I felt so sorry for her to be freezing !


Audra WhiteA beautiful courageous model !

I have some portrait ideas I do want to work on, just for my own personal vision and perhaps for posters or 

future books. Mostly , I just love to create portraits ! I know that has always been my drive and addiction ever since I was a child and started drawing faces as soon as I could hold a pencil. Who knows where that natural passion came from, or why it is still there? All I know is I am driven to follow this inner urge to create impact via the camera and other humans !

How I wish I had a heated barn or rustic studio during the Winter months so that I could keep this drive and these ideas satiated ! I feel so intellectually and artistically starved during the Winter ! I guess only another artist can understand what that feels like . I guess it would be like taking the guitar away from a song writer and telling him , or her, "You can't have this back until the weather gets warmer !".

However I can get out and take landscape images and drive the country side and capture the way the light hits the land and the trees and how beautifully the clouds can provide such impact to the edge of a mountain or the spike of a steeple. So, I do still have some outlet for my photography and folks seem to respond just as eagerly to local sights as they do faces . I am sure , in fact, that there are many who would rather I post only landscapes ! As long as my little mini-cooper can make it down the country roads in rough weather , and I can brave the elements , I will continue to shoot local scenery !

Barn in WythevilleBarn in Wytheville
Today I have been taking the time to read some photography magazines , which is always an inspirational way to pass the time and maybe pick up some tips and some educational info along the way ! Trying to get my arm back in shape will be a long process and has limited me in many ways. However, my lighter Sony gear has really been a god send in that area !

Well, I hope you are all off to a wonderful 2016 ! I know we are always looking forward to Spring, but try not to let that make you miss the beauty of Winter and a chance to slow down a bit and think of all of our many blessing that we all have in our life ! Such as LIFE!

Thanks for checking in ! :)    

]]> (Susi Lawson Photography) Susi Lawson Virginia lessons winter wytheville Wed, 13 Jan 2016 02:26:34 GMT
Changing Gear to accommodate chronic muscle usage. 12 years ago I tore my right rotator cuff. I was shooting with heavy gear, sometimes as much as 15 lbs are more around my neck and , so it was no wonder that my shoulder muscles started to feel the strain!
My right arm ended up freezing on me and I had to work with my left arm only ,and was painting a mural at Scott Memorial library up till the day before surgery.
Department of Rehab , thank god, stepped in and paid for my surgery and saved my arm ! It was a very painful process getting the full use of my arm back with 4 months of PT and a full year to see 100% range of motion restored ! I want to thank Dr Morin for doing an excellent job on my shoulder and Dept of Rehab for stepping in, when I had no insurance !
Then, this March, the same thing happened to my left shoulder . I felt a sense of dread , as I knew what I was going to have to face again ! But this time I was to finally have insurance when I turned 65 on my birthday in July.  It was another rotator cuff tear and an impingement, but thank god, it was not yet frozen and so recovery would not take as long !
I had surgery October 23rd. I will have to wear an Immobilizer for 6 weeks and then 3 months of PT. 
I knew I could no longer keep my beloved Canon gear, that I have been such a loyal fan of for so many years. I started researching lighter cameras and was pleasantly surprised to see that Sony had launched a line of very light mirrorless cameras ! I decided to sell and trade all my Canon gear right away and and was excited about the new Sony system that boasted about a greater dynamic range and better ISO light performance than any camera on the market !
I decided on the new Sony A7Rll and the Sony A7S ( as a back up ). 
It was rough mailing out my Canon gear to new owners, but I was excited about the new lighter gear which I knew I had to adapt to . As soon as I held the Sony A7rll in my hands with the amazing sharp Sony 55 f/1.8 lens and started shooting with it, I was in love ! I tried it out ,on some portraits of friends, in low light situations and was immediately impressed with the great shadow details and how the highlights were never blown out ! The little 55 lens was the sharpest I have ever used and the focal system of the Sony camera was spot on ! I love how I can now set the camera to focus only on my models eyes and it will nail it every time ! Sony also has a great manual focus system with manual assist using color peaking and a magnifier to really see what you're focusing on !
The older camera , A7S also has a lot to brag about ! Even though it is only 12 pixels (all I need) it has the best ISO performance I have ever seen! It is pretty darn magical if you ask me ! Low noise way into the thousands ! I love the ability to shoot in very low light and still have a clean image!
Both cameras, I chose, weigh at least half what my Canon 5DMKlll weighed and the lenses are tiny compared to Canon glass !
I was concerned that such light gear could never deliver the quality I am used to, but I have been blown away by the images I am capturing with this new technology ! I think this is where we are headed in digital photography and Sony is miles ahead of the Nikon-Canon market, which  I never thought I would see happen !
Sony also has an adapter so Canon lovers can still use their current lenses ! But I decided to go 100% Sony and get full use of the lighter Sony Lenses and give my neck and shoulders a much needed break ! After all , this is my life and my love, I have no desire to ever give up this career or this way of expressing myself !
The question  has now been put to rest! Size does not matter ! These little cameras truly carry the same punch or greater, than any DSLR out there !
I have had a few clients question my new gear, concerned about how I can possibly get pro images out of something so 'cute' as these little cameras. But then they see the final product, all fears are put to rest!
I was lucky that Sony developed this new technology right when I was needing it! I am so thankful that it all came together at just the right time for me ! There is no looking back ! I am now a faithful & happy Sony user ! Thanks Sony!!

]]> (Susi Lawson Photography) A7Rll A7S Canon Sony Tue, 10 Nov 2015 23:11:40 GMT
New Senior Mini Session Now Available !  Hey y'all , well here it is ! The Senior Mini Session that you have been asking for !
To be honest, I have resisted doing a Mini as I really like to take my time at a session and ensure my students are relaxed
and enjoying their time, which , to me, makes for a more natural session.
However, I have been getting more and more emails and Facebook messages from y'all saying
"Susi , I don't really want that much time and I don't want that many prints"
In fact some of you are saying that you don't need any 'warm up time and do not want a print package at all, you just want to share on
Facebook and on your smart phone and be able to print a few on your home printer .
I get this, as it's ,uh ,shall we say, more economical ?
This has been a tough call for many pro photographers as this is our living and it's hard
to turn over that print income to a 3rd party seller who didn't take the pix ! :)
But I know times are changing and I must adapt to them without feeling that I am selling myself short
or making my past clients feel that they missed out!
So, after thinking about this for a long while. I came up with a MINI Session that is for a 1/2 hour
and includes a Facebook Gallery, Phone App and 8 downloads.
This means that there will be no print package (although you will have the option of purchasing on my site )
You will also need to sign a waiver stating that you understand that printing at home or at Walmart
will not provide you with pro quality , or archival ink & paper. (That you get with my other sessions )
My other Pro Sessions with a print package will still be available for those who prefer a higher quality !
So there ya go!
If you want quick , affordable and complimentary downloads, then this package is for you!
I look forward to working with you! Email me or Facebook me to schedule !

]]> (Susi Lawson Photography) High School Mini Senior Sessions Student Wed, 29 Jul 2015 00:34:17 GMT
News about my Book ! Many of you, who are friends with me on facebook ,probably know that I have been working on a book called 'Singing At The Clothesline' 

I have actually been working on this book for several years and I will be excited to one day see it in print . It's a book honoring the Appalachian Musicians of South West Virginia and neighboring regions. I have been interviewing and taking portraits of these amazing folks and hope to launch a Fund Raiser this year!

So please book mark the web site above and check out my blog there and the progress of this book ! Thanks so much!
Pictured below is the very talented Sam Gleaves ! I am now working on his new CD design called 'Ain't We Brothers'


]]> (Susi Lawson Photography) Appalachian Blue Grass Music Musicians Old Time Tue, 28 Jul 2015 23:46:19 GMT
The Reed Creek Fine Art Poster Series is here! Proud to announce that all nine of my posters have been printed and Wordsprint did a beautiful job!
They will be signed and numbered and only 50 of each are printed. When these sell I will make another series of different poster images!
They will be in the stores by the last day of this month!

Available in Wytheville, Va. At The Framers Daughter on main street. Farmers Daughter is a unique gift shop offering the best in quality custom framing and a wonderful range of gifts you will not find anywhere else! Tracy Holiday is the shop owner and you will enjoy visiting with her as she is just as unique and fun as her shop. Visit them online here.

My prints will also be available at Petals of Wytheville , which is not your typical Flower shop! Petals sells many other items that would make a great addition to your flower delivery. She carries a wide range of domestic beers and wines and other fun gifts! Teresa King is the shop owner and just a very peaceful kind lady that will be glad to help you in deciding on a great gift for your loved one! You can visit Teresa Kings shop here.

Big Walker Lookout will also be offering my posters way up on top of the mountain in Ceres, Va. This is only a few miles from Wytheville and well worth the trip! Ron Kine will be sure and greet you with a big cheerful smile and make you feel like family! His gifts are mostly homegrown crafters from the area offering a large array of interesting items, such as CD's Books, Wood craft, stuffed animal s etc.
You can also enjoy the view of the seven sisters mountains which will take your breath away. and if you really want to lose your breath, try walking up the viewing tower for an amazing birds eye view of these gorgeous mountains! Visit them online here!

Thank you to my amazing young models! Cassa Marie Smith whom many of you know very well, I have been photographing her for 12 years now.
Because of her natural modeling abilty I won a trip to Rome in 2007 with a picture I took of her! Thank you so much Cassa! 
Audra White has been my model for over a year and that girl is such a trooper she even did a ballet session in the snow for me last year! Thank you Audra! She is only 14 but has the grace and poise of someone much 'older'.
I met little Kassie Hackler while shooting a wedding last Summer and thought she had the most wholesome country look! She has been fun to work with too! Thank you Kassie!

You may also order this poster series online , just click one of the images to go to the gallery. The online posters will not be signed and numbered as they are fulfilled by another printing source and shipped straight to you from their lab.
Here is a direct link to the entire gallery where you may purchase online. There is one size of 12X18". A popular size and easy to find a frame for!

The Reed Creek Collection. The Reed Creek Collection. The Reed Creek Collection. The Reed Creek Collection. The Reed Creek Collection. The Reed Creek Collection. The Reed Creek Collection. The Reed Creek Collection. The Reed Creek Collection.

]]> (Susi Lawson Photography) Fine Art Posters Reed Creek Collection Susi Lawson Wytheville, Va Fri, 10 Oct 2014 15:46:35 GMT
My Reed Creek Series is about to be launched ! Announcing my The Reed Creek Collection , my new line of Fine Art Posters!!


I have finally chose the 8 images for my new Fine Art Poster Series and the prose that goes on them. Some I wrote and some I didn't. :)

I hope , if you live in Wytheville you will stop by one of the shops in late September and pick out your favorite as a gift to yourself or a friend! They will be fairly priced at only 20 bux so ya don't have to think too hard about buying one!! :)
I want to thank my local gorgeous and talented models : Cassa Smith , Audra White and Kassie Hackler for taking part in the series and providing me with many hours of sessions in which to work out my vision for this series!

Thank you to Teresa Wassum of the Virginia House on Reed Creek Farm for the gracious and generous use of her farm for the posters! This is how I came up with the name, to honor the location and dear friend!

Here is a link to my facebook post with a sneak preview, please let me know what you think !!

]]> (Susi Lawson Photography) Fine Art Poster Reed Creek Collection Susi Lawson Mon, 01 Sep 2014 21:34:22 GMT
100 Day Challenge Update and Poster news! :) For those of you who were wanting to follow my 100 day challenge updates, I am sorry I have not been loyal to my blogging ! Life gets in the way sometimes !
I can tell you that I'm still challenging myself , but doing it my own way! I was not at all happy with the 100 Day Challenge web site that I signed up for. First, it was $147 to join and there were apps to download in order to get the full experience. There were apps for a calendar, a coach and a time line accountability  clock. I own only Apple products and NONE of the apps would work on  any of my computers! I asked the help line on the site for a way to get them to work and after three days of asking and emailing I never received a reply. So, all I had was their daily emails with a video to watch and at first the videos were pretty cool, full of good energy provoking messages , but then they got weird and even turned into infomercials on losing weight! What the heck? So, as the days went by, I did not lose interest in my promises to myself, but I did lose interest in following this online challenge! I asked for my money back, and got an almost instant refund , which was fine with me!
I then searched the Apple App store and found a great app, called "Success Wiz" which works on the same premise without any annoying daily emails! So, I now use this app to track my daily progress , but I also use a down to earth, paper journal , which I have always found to be a comfortable way to track my time line and refer back to ,to see where I stand.

One of my goals is to get my new poster line "The Reed Creek Collection" printed and out in the stores before the holidays ! So. hopefully this Fall I will have that accomplished ! I just ordered the backing and plastic protection sleeves and went to the printers today and discussed with them what I am wanting to do. We discussed sizes and I have decided that the 13X19" size is going to work best. I think this size will be perfect for the person who wants to frame them for their home, but also a great size for the dorm room or den !

I did a 'Poster Session' Tuesday night with one of my fav models here in town. 14 year old Audra White. I got some beautiful vintage clothing from the antique store  and she looked angelic in it!  I did some shots of her with a vase ( My vision for this one will be of her pouring honey from the vase and surrounded by Honeysuckle ) and I did some of her listening to the ocean with a large couch shell , and some of her just twirling in the sunset! My local florist friend , Teresa King, made me some beautiful floral hair wreathes for her hair , which worked wonderfully !

Audra has such a sweet innocent look that I think her posters will appeal to all ages and audiences !

My location for this series is The Virginia House on Reed Creek Farm and is my fav location in Wythe County to do portraits ! Thank you to the Wassum family who have been so gracious in allowing me to use their land for my work! This is why  I am naming my poster series "The Reed Creek Collection".

]]> (Susi Lawson Photography) Collection Fine Art Posters Fri, 01 Aug 2014 00:16:14 GMT
My 100 Day Challenge! I recently returned from a trip to Texas to see my daughter and had a lot of thinking and work waiting for me when I returned . While I was in Texas , I had a birthday and turned 64 , which, as I type this seems completely untrue and unreal to me ! I mean how in the hell did I get to be in my 60's! The only thing I could think of that is positive about that is that I'm a year from medicare ! Ha! As a single Mom running a business alone and having all the bills on my shoulders , I have never been able to afford health care and Virginia does not support Obamacare in my income bracket. But I don't want this post to be about politics or to start a debate between democrats and republicans , but I mention this as it has a lot to do with my decision  to do the 100 day challenge.

I have no problem setting goals, the only problem is that I have so very many! Right now I am working towards maintaining my 'Fine Art Portrait' business while also working on a book project . It is a project that I actually got the idea for in 2010 when I met Doc Watson and wanted to do a book dedicated to him and all the amazing Appalachian Musicians in southwest Va and other nearby regions. But this project has been very time consuming requiring many hours of interviewing, Portrait sessions, editing and posting to facebook and now, a new page! But, no matter how time consuming , it is not a goal I would ever consider abandoning as I truly want to see it all the way through to publishing !( If Interested please join my new page and also bookmark my web site for this) My plan is to launch a Kickstarter Campaign in the Fall and do a LOT of writing this winter!

Another project I am about to launch is a line of Fine Art Posters called "The Honeysuckle Series" which will be some of my fine art portraits and inspirational quotes. I will be selling these locally at 'Petals of Wytheville' Florist and "Farmers Daughter".

I have stopped doing a lot of things that were making me exhausted and contributed next to nothing for income. So, I had to stop shooting local sports , as it was just not adding up to make any business sense. I worked many years and countless hours and felt that I was becoming just a free facebook & Instagram service. Of course I loved the challenge of shooting action and I truly loved the students that thanked me for coming and enjoyed seeing their pictures in the paper and on facebook. That all really was a hoot. But I had to face the facts that it just was not a good business investment. I still may come to a game here and there, but have left the weekly sessions that I was doing behind me and feel better for it.

I have decided to focus more on the work that brings me a personal reward and that lies in the area of Music and Art and Writing which are my real loves in life and speak the most to my heart and soul (as sappy as that may sound , this is where true joy and life satisfaction is found. )

Having your own business really does mean working all the time ! If you know me, you know I stay up usually till 4am editing and working. Although sometimes I am practicing guitar and fiddle , which I also love and do for the sheer joy of it!

I have had many folks emailing this year to do workshops and it seemed every time I had one in mind and started to plan it, I got side tracked and just did not have the time or mental space to plan. Workshops require months of work to plan lessons, presentations etc and I would never do one if I am not prepared to make it rewarding , interesting and beneficial to all who sign up! But this is another goal I do not want to abandon ,as I do want to to offer these in the future!

okay, so why did I sign up for the 100 Day Challenge? Well, it was a birthday gift to myself, but I have felt like I have been losing focus and having a hard time deciding which project to work on and also where I need to focus to build my income back up. I had recently lost a major magazine position because I was away from the internet for several weeks and it cost me. I knew I needed to replace that income and was not sure what to work on and then I thought of the Line of posters I would launch. But how ? I know I need to do my research and do this right and that is my plan.

But again, I thought, which goal should I state upon sign up, which would impact my life the most ? That was when I realized , It had to be about my health! I have been battling an acid reflux and gall bladder illness for years and it has been getting worse and no way to resolve it , as surgery is not in my budget :) So, I decided I would make the goal a decision  to live a healthier life and this decision I know will impact every business goal I have set for myself! I have to accept that I am growing older and instead of ignoring that, I need to embrace it, celebrate it and create the best years ahead that I can both in a personal sense and a business sense !

SO ! The Goal is : By eliminating alcohol ( Bye-Bye Beer! ) and cutting out grease, sodas, and dairy products I can make a huge difference in the way I feel every day. I have already eliminated cheeseburgers ( a year ago) and never have been a fan of snacks. I have not drank milk in 25 years. And so my 100 day goal is to stick to this diet every day and also to exercise every day (walking every day and weight training 3 times a week ).

What I hope to accomplish in 100 days : To be a lot healthier and more fit physically and mentally ! To launch my line of posters, and to have a kickstarter campaign posted for my book project! (and anything else good that happens during this time will be an additional reward and I'm focusing and expecting on many good things to happen and opportunities to appear by seeking success and positive energy!

I plan to keep a journal of how living healthier will impact my business goals and even my relationships and mental well being !

So wish me luck and stay tuned ! If you decide to make a similar commitment , I wish you only success and the peace of mind to see it through!

I welcome any comments ! So please express yourself ! :)


]]> (Susi Lawson Photography) business diet exercise goals health mental photography Fri, 11 Jul 2014 22:07:13 GMT
A Mother and Daughter Story Those of you who know me, and even those of you who don't , know very well that I love my daughter more than anything ! She is now 23 and in graduate school at JMU and I can't begin to tell you how very proud I am of her.
I am also very proud of our journey together as Mommy & Darty :)
I had my daughter 'late' in life at the age of 40 and I wanted her as much as life itself. I had suffered several miscarriages and a still birth before she was born and I could not imagine a life without being her Mother.  I knew , from the moment she was conceived that she was a girl. I was already making her baby clothes.
Cassidy Joy was born on Halloween morning , 10 days past her due date and weighing almost 10 lbs. It was a long painful labor ending in an emergency cesarean , but it was all worth it of course. The nurse told me ''This ones got a temper", and I laughed at her , as she turned back at me and said "Honey, I been rocking these babies for 20 years, I can tell. "
We spent her infant year and saw her take her first steps and speak her first words in an old Victorian house apartment in Downtown Hampton  right smack behind the Hampton Library . I pushed her stroller there every single day and brought back wonderful picture books and first readers and we ate them up like a good meal every night!  Cassi loved being read to and I was unaware how well she was paying attention and learning how to read through 'osmosis' . The librarian would tell me , when she was around two, "That child is already reading Susi , listen to her!" but i just thought she had memorized the books in the same ways she could recall all the words to a song.
We moved from Downtown to the beach and from the ages 2-6 we had a blast riding bikes, roller skating, running on the beach, flying kites and walking to the local diner and Bob's pizza parlor in the evenings. We still spent many hours at all the local libraries.
I was working as a portrait artist, antique furniture painter, House cleaner and embroidery artist and so I got to have my baby with me while I worked. One day I was making a seat cover for a customer and Cassi climbed in his lap and started reading the "Learning Tree" to him. She was only around three and so I still thought she was memorizing and he insisted she was reading , so I got down another book she was not as familiar with, and sure enough she knew all the words!  All I could think, was dang this child is smart ! But , I do believe she read early because we had no TV when she was little and I talked with her all the time and all that reading had to of helped !
Because of her reading ability which, of course , helped her in all learning areas , I had her tested to start school at 4 because she was well ready. She took to school like a duck to water, with the exception of missing home and that dreaded task of homework, she has always loved the 'learning' and she still does.
We moved to Wytheville , Va, when Cassi was seven (Where I was born) and it was a tough transition for us both to leave our friends and cozy beach town where we could walk and ride a bike to get about anywhere we wanted and then be here in this rural environment where most places we wanted to go, was an hour drive!
Then the teen years hit and , for the first time, my daughter went from thinking i was the 'coolest' to thinking I was the 'clueless' :)
Any Mom knows these years are riddled with so many unpredictable emotions and heart breaking friction!
There were times It felt like I had a stranger walking around in my daughters body :) But, as hard as it was on me, I knew that her anger and dramatic emotional swings were also taking its toll on her and so I tried my best to be patient and compassionate , as I knew we would come though it all and be all the more closer and stronger !
I'm proud to say that is what happened ! These past few years we have truly become best friends who share every joy and sorrow with one another and talk or text several times a day.

This was actually supposed to be a short introduction to my latest gallery ! Ha! Yes,  I can go on :)
I have been missing her so much lately and had been thinking about that time when she was about 13 and started to pull away from me into her own world.. a world called 'Adolescence'. It is a sort of dance of leaving and arriving, of pushing and pulling, of hating and loving and of  both parent and child accepting the inevitable reality of 'Growing Up'. Its a tough dance, when neither person knows the steps , but in the end , there is growth, maturity and harmony for everyone ! Don't we love happy endings !

I wanted to show this emotional stage and how it feels when it first starts to reveal itself.  As an artist , and photographer, it is natural to want to predict this visually. I had met a little girl about this age, at wedding I shot last Spring and she turned out to be the niece of the Brides Mother!
So Last Friday 'Kassie Hackler' , and her Mom, Lisa, agreed to come to the Reed Creek Farm (Where I shot the wedding ) and 'act out' this sentimental time between a Mother and daughter. I call this style a 'Story Board' Session. It was fun!

I hope you enjoy the gallery !

Click to see gallery

]]> (Susi Lawson Photography) Adolescence Girls Growing Mothers Wed, 26 Mar 2014 02:37:33 GMT
You did it Cassidy! A Proud Day for my Daughter and I!

The years at Radford flew by and her recent graduation felt surreal to me! From that sweet little bright eyed girl so eager to learn and so wonderfully alive to this beautiful mature young woman who had accomplished so much ! I always marvel at how focused she has been all her life, no matter what the hardships or heart breaks she has encountered, she has never wavered from her goal of graduating with honors!
As proud as I am of her academic accomplishments , as she walked down the aisle to accept her diploma I kept thinking what a truly wonderful person she is! She is empathetic, kind hearted, committed, and possesses the most amazing leadership qualities ever.
Most of all, she is my sweet , funny, loving brilliant daughter that I love beyond measure!!!

As she heads to JMU (after being accepted into the Student Affairs Program) the end of this month I am so happy and excited for yet another exciting chapter in her young life. I know she will meet the challenge of her new position as "Student Hall Director" with a great spirit and will make many new friends there!
This will be the first true step into the 'Adult World' with her own apartment (Even though its on campus, it is still her own apartment with a separate bedroom and kitchen , so it counts! She has been buying super cool accessories all Summer!!)

I love you dear sweet child of mine! I will always and forever be proud of you!!
Never ever forget that wherever I am you will always have a home. 
I love you more than there are grains of sand on all the beaches all over the world :)

]]> (Susi Lawson Photography) 2013 Cassidy Graduation RU Radford Sun, 14 Jul 2013 05:13:55 GMT
Gotta Love a Little Country Boy ! :) Wendy Collins called me about coming out to her farm in Wytheville and doing some pictures of her little baby boy, Joseph . I haven't done any baby pix in a while so I was excited about coming out and doing this for her !
Her Farm has a long dirt drive that runs along side a creek and I knew as soon as I turned into the drive I was gonna beg for some pictures here! ( I have a weakness for shady wooded drive ways!) 

Gorgeous Drive! As I arrived in the clearing there were those old beautiful barns and tractors , and to the right, across the creek was Wendy waving from her porch.

When we met on the porch, little Joseph reached out his arms for me to hold him! Wendy said that was the first time he had ever done that with someone he had never met, so I was very flattered that he trusted me at "Hello" :)

Wendy is one of those easy going friendly gals that you immediately feel a kinship with and I liked her right off the bat !

We started the session with  a couple of Studio style poses to honor her Father in Law who had his baby pix taken in the same blue outfit.

Then we went outside and just walked around exploring anything that looked like a good background and would also keep little Joseph happy.
 The family dogs added their own energy to the session with little "Poppy" the Terrier- Poo dashing to and fro and yapping excitingly at the 'new comer' (But he warmed to me after a while ad gave me some kisses) The old wise 'Ganny' Retriever  (I may not have that name quite right) shadowed us and brushed along our legs with a big toothy grin. Wendy said her son loved cows, so we took some with his little stuffed Heifer. I had to get some shots with the doggies ! Then we went to that beautiful drive and got some sweet ones of Joseph devouring rocks and sticks! Ha! We had a good time trying to snatch those !

I added the tractor and butterflies because they just fit his expression and surroundings so well and added some 'story' to the pictures.
We ended with some of him on Daddy's tractor and just sitting in the tall grass. (while we watched out for snakes!)
I told Wendy Joseph looked like a little Budda with the look of meditation on his face! Ha! A true Zen baby at peace with the world!
We got him to smile and laugh some towards the end by mooing loudly and quacking like a duck! Us Moms will do whatever it takes and hey, it worked!

Thank you Wendy and Bubba for trusting me with your memories!  I hope you are happy with the pictures ! I had a great time taking them and really enjoyed meeting you all!

]]> (Susi Lawson Photography) Baby Bubba Collins Family Joseph Wendy farm Sun, 23 Jun 2013 19:59:26 GMT
Brooke & Stacey's Maternity Session My sweet client Stephanie Patton ( I did her daughter and son's senior pix) contacted me several months ago saying she had a special family member expecting a baby in June and would I be available for a maternity session in May? I could tell that Steph and Brooke are very close by the obvious affection and joy that was in the air!
After several reschedules due to snow , I met Brooke and Stacey (Her hubby) at their home in Rural Retreat and we discussed what kind of session they wanted. They had just moved into a sweet new home with a sun patio and nice yard to welcome little Madison home. I could tell this little girl is already the light of their life!
We looked at some sample images and Brooke expressed how she did not really want just pictures of herself , but she wanted to include Stacey and do more of a couple -maternity session expressing their love and hopes for Madison. At first we discussed doing the session at Carter's Park, but I started thinking how the beach and woods setting would be so beautiful with the two of them , lots of great backgrounds and such a peaceful setting, so we agreed on Hungry Mother Park in Marion.
Then the rain started ! Once again we had to reschedule our appointment several times, but on May 21st we got lucky and the sun came out! We met at the park and although it started off a bit warm, the shady areas on the beach and the cool trails into the woods provided enough relief to keep us going. Brooke brought some adorable props from Madison's room: A sweet stuffed monkey ( We talked about how stuffed animals can become so special and seem so real ) and little baby shoes and a book "I love you Baby" , which we used in a few pix. Brooke also showed me Madison's ultrasound images and we can already see the family resemblance !
We walked from one end of the beach to the other, up the trail and then drove to a nearby bridge for some scenic portraits and stopped just as the sun was setting. There in a quiet cove , at the other end of the bridge,  we all sat down and gasped at the beauty of the lake with the perfect mirror reflections, the sound  of the ducks waddling around the waters edge and the love of Madison in the air. We all agreed that this place was just a perfect setting and Stacey and Brooke said they want to keep me as their photographer and will let me know when Madison arrives! Yay!!
Thank you Brooke and Stacey for trusting me with your memories!  I really enjoyed our time together and I wish you a joyful birth experience with little Maddy ! I have no doubt that little girl will have all the love she will ever need! Huge Congratulations !


]]> (Susi Lawson Photography) Couple Maternity Park family marriage Fri, 24 May 2013 17:59:41 GMT
Elizabeth's Bridal! It has been raining (Or snowing ) in this area for literally a month or more! I mean about every day I have had to reschedule or cancel Photo sessions! YIPES! No photographer wants to do that! 
In the meantime, I worked on pictures for my book project honoring Appalachian Musicians, attended Merlefest for the first time, which was a major blast! Met a long time facebook friend from Sweden, whom I hung out with and wrote an article for Photoshop Creative.
But the most important event was seeing my daughter , Cassidy Joy, Graduate from Radford University! I am so very proud of her! Not only did she gradate RU, but is going to JMU in the Fall for her Masters in Student Affairs ! Heck Yeah, I'm a proud momma!!!

I love music and writing and Adore my daughter more than anything , but I always long to be out taking pictures ! I mean, its how I make a living, so things get a little anxious when the weather goes crazy! Ha!

So Im doing a happy dance and Singing Praise to the almighty sun!

Elizabeths Bridal Session!

Finally the clouds cleared and the rain ceased and my beautiful wedding client , Elizabeth Wassum, was available for her Bridal session last night! Yay!! 
First I had a Photoshop class to teach which went well, and had packed my car with my Canon 5Dlll and my fav portrait lens, the Canon 50mm f/1.2 , which produces the dreamiest Bokah ever! (okay  the 85 f/1.2 is equally dreamy!) 

I arrived at the Wassum farm at 6:00. First her father Tom, made sure the newly installed commode was working fine (Yay Plumbing!) and we talked a bit about the age of the house and how he wanted to leave it as original as possible. (Good choice) I joked that I wanted to rent the place and enjoy the peace and he said he has considered spending some time there whenever he could. 
Teresa, (Elizabeths' Mom) showed me around this amazing 170 year old farm house! But first ,let me explain that the drive to the farm is down a wonderful dirt road that parallels the creek which flows so cozy and romantically between majestic Maple and Oak. There is lilac and honeysuckle scent drifting through the air and seducing you to stay on the path excited about what awaits you at the end!
As you arrive at the farm you feel as though you have walked into an Andrew Wyeth painting that has come to life . So, rustic and earthy ,and a sweet blend of milky white, beiges , browns , rusty red and bottle glass greens. Heaven!  To the right of the creek is a spring house, yes a real spring house with a crooked little tree providing just the right bit of sentimental whimsical mood ,and behind this rises the stately but very friendly  2 story farm house with an L shaped porch and 2 stair ways leading to the kitchen and the entry way of warm wooden floors, light beiges , pinks and floral wall paper that embodies the delightful touch of creme coffee color stain in the cracks and corners. The stairway leading to the bedrooms is the sort that angles around in a balcony affect where small children and curious adults love to lean and see who is rapping on the screen door below.
And the windows!! Oh My! A Photographers most sought after light source! Every window had those window panes with the almost patina texture producing the perfect diffusion of natural light that you could never purchase or hope to find via any manmade sources! But here, provided by God, and Elizabeths Great Grandparents spirit was this ideal setting!

After Teresa, showed me around the house with me gasping and ooohing and awing with every turn, Elizabeth arrived with that Joy filled face she has always worn since first meeting her as a preteen! But, now, this 'Soon to be Bride' is just glowing with Love and Hope and Dreams for her future!
Now I cant disclose anything about the dress because , well you know! Richard has not seen it yet! So, no pictures or description can be posted here until after the wedding, so please check back after this weekend! Lets just say he will be enraptured when she walks towards him down the aisle!
We took our first pictures in a living room area on the couch and there was an adorable little dressing table with a mirror ! Next we went upstairs and I told them they had to pull me away from those windows before the sun set , because, it was really so pretty I could not stop hitting the shutter!
Then we went out to that porch, where I swear I could see her Great grandmother sitting in the porch swing with a floral cotton dress and apron , snapping beans and singing "Amazing Grace".

After a few pictures here and down the path to the Spring house , we all stood and gasped at the "Maxfield Parrish' Sky (If you know this artist then you know this sky, if not, look it up & you will know this sky! :) The big brown barn cut a nice sturdy profile in the soft yellow-blue of the approaching night with just the most gentle wisp of watercolor clouds.  Elizabeth and I stood and appreciated this moment of passing light as her Mom ran back to the house and grabbed my newly bought flashlight with Saran Wrap diffuser that I have been wanting to try out.
Right then the cake lady arrived to insure to touch base and it was good to meet her.  Grandmother Erma, came down to chat and we all just had  a nice warm realization that indeed the wedding was so close and so real now and how wonderful it was for the weather to clear just in time and provide a forecast of a perfect 75 degrees for her day! YES!
Now we were loosing light pretty quick and I suggested we walk down the road by the river, but as I reached the road , I suddenly noticed a newly mowed plush lawn path into a thicket of trees and bushes providing the perfect environment of subtle light and a Camelot canopy that would provide just the right backdrop for Elizabeth's Sparkling eyes and radiant smile! We had to work quick, as it was getting darker by the minute, but the LED Flash really came in handy ! Teresa was a real trooper as she crouched behind Elizabeth to light her veil and walked into the tall grass to illuminate her face from the side.  ( Thank you Teresa!)
Even though it was getting chilly, Elizabeth said she was having so much fun that she hardly noticed the drop in temperature ! 
We all chatted about rehearsal and the wedding and how beautiful it is all going to be until the last drop of sun sunk into the rhythmic soothing sound of the creek behind us.

I drove home with a smile on my face thinking how blessed I am to be doing what I love and to be honored with capturing some of the most joyful times of good, honest, kind and humble folks.  Its a good life ...

Congrats Elizabeth and Richard!  May the 18th is YOUR day, bask in the beauty of each moment and enjoy it to the moon and back !!  Big Hugs!!!!!

]]> (Susi Lawson Photography) 2013 Bridal Engagement May Wedding Tue, 14 May 2013 22:40:26 GMT
Portrait Impact is now available! My latest DVD instruction video is now available for order on this site! Just click here for the link.

This DVD is packed with 16 videos and some wonderfully easy to follow lessons on the mixer brush , Background replacement, airbrushing, painting hair, and how to create your own custom Photoshop brushes!

For more info, please see my previous blog right below!
Thanks so much!


]]> (Susi Lawson Photography) CS5 DVD Lawson Photoshop Susi Tue, 12 Mar 2013 22:28:48 GMT
My Photoshop Training DVDs! I am working on getting my Photoshop training DVDs back on line for easy ordering ! I apologize to those who have been searching for this and came up empty handed!
My first site that I built in 1999 was stuffed full of my training info and last year the site host went down without telling its customers and I lost years of images, and info that was too overwhelming to replace. So I decided to start fresh with a new site , but I could not get the shopping cart to function ! Sooo, finally I decided to keep it simple and I am now working on making this site the central location for photography related material.
So, please check back, as I will be publishing a new page for my DVD's and hope to have it up and running in a just a few days!

Thank you for emailing me and PMing me on facebook to get me keep me motivated about this! I am honored that so many people are still interested in my Photoshop editing techniques and so many ,who have purchased my past DVD's have written to say how much the lessons have helped you in your journey! Love my Facebook Buddies and Photography friends!

]]> (Susi Lawson Photography) DVDs Training lessons photoshop videos Sun, 03 Mar 2013 01:21:48 GMT
Fun Senior Sessions! I lowered my prices for an August special for only $200 which includes the shoot, Pro editing, online gallery and a great print package. Can we say "Great deal!" :)
Did my first session a few days ago which was a Buddy Session. Three sweet and cheerful gals ! (Kala, Virginia and Jordan. )I met them at their favorite location in Rural Retreat and we all had a really good time!
I picked up some props at the antique store , which was some old Dr Pepper bottles (Dr Pepper was the pharmacist from Rural Retreat who created the soft drink. No, it was not some guy in Texas!!) and found an old chair. I also brought a smiley face balloon, which we didn't use much , and a deck of cards  , which we did. (the Girls picked the cards significant to them)
Mostly I just let the girls be themselves and we tried different ideas until we started losing light. My fav time to shoot is the golden hour, you just can't beat that time of day for pretty portraits!
Thanks for a fun session girls!
The equipment I used (for any photographers interested) was the canon 30D with a fisheye lens for environmental shots such as this one on the left.
My fav camera that I use all the time is my canon 1DMKlV, you can't beat the fast focus and shutter on that baby.
The main lens I used was a loan from Canon Pro Services. (You have to be a pro and this is a paid membership) It is the 85 f/1.2 and a superb portrait lens The bokeh (background blur) is the creamiest and prettiest I have ever seen from a lens (and  I have used my share) If you are a serious wedding or portrait photographer I am sure you are familiar with this lens!

For any seniors reading this, here are some tips to make your shoot successful! First, pick a great location! If you can't think of a place, just ask your photographer for some ideas of where he/she has shot before.
Remember this session is all about you and reflecting on your years at school, so be sure to wear clothes which express your
personality and are also comfortable enough to have fun in!

Try to wear colors that work great with the environment you will be in, for instance, you would probably wear different clothes and colors on the beach than at the park. Of course, it is your shoot, so wear what you want, but try and avoid bright load colors and patterns. If this is a Buddy Session, have a meeting and talk it over with your buddy and find out what she/he is wearing so your clothes can compliment one another. Bring a change of clothes if you want to vary the look! Props are great for adding more interest and personality, so think about what would show off the real you and don't be shy about bringing anything along. Some suggestions are : A bike, musical instrument, your pet, a fav book, athletic gear, hats, flowers, etc. Ask your friends or your photographer for help if you get stumped about ideas!
If a parent wants to stay for the shoot, ask the photographer to include your parent(s) in a few shots. It's a nice way to say "Thank You" to them by including them in a few shots!
     Most of all, relax and have fun, this is your time to shine!

My August schedule is filling up, if you are local, be sure and call for an appointment! 276-223-1474
I  can shoot Senior Sessions anytime of the year, but you might not want to miss this great deal!

]]> (Susi Lawson Photography) Senior Casuals Wed, 03 Aug 2011 09:21:00 GMT
Portrait Impact Workshop Still working on the lessons for my workshop and here are some sample before and after images which will be a part of the editing session. There is a LOT to learn in these lessons. Some of the techniques are: Learn to remove braces and fill in missing teeth, Paint realistic hair, airbrush skin and add more life to the eyes. Learn to add external objects to an image such as butterflies. Want to add some grass to a portrait , but you want it to look realistic? no problem! Looking forward to showing you how to do this and more!  See you on the 16th ! To find out more go to my new web site!

]]> (Susi Lawson Photography) Fri, 01 Jul 2011 01:55:00 GMT
"Portrait Impact! Workshop!
On July 16th from 1:00 - 6:00 I will be conducting a Photography-Photoshop workshop at the General Francis Hotel in Marion, Virginia.
This is my very first workshop in real life and I am looking forward to sharing my shooting and editing techniques with those who are interested!
This is what you can expect. It will be held upstairs in the small conference room called the Bowen Board Room.(I am limiting attendance to 12.)
You do not have to bring anything if you just want to listen and take notes, but I suggest you bring a laptop and , if you have a wacom tablet, that is also advised, as that is what I use. (but not mandatory)
We will not be taking pictures, but I will be giving a presentation on how I shoot, what I shoot , how I use light and how I edit. I will be sharing many of my editing techniques that I am 'known' for. So, you will be learning how to isolate a subject for dramatic B&W's, how to place a subject into a different background and how to enhance portraits by painting the skin and hair in a sort of Rockwell illustrated technique and more.
The cost is $200.00 and here is what is included: The above workshop along with my new "Portrait Impact " DVD videos lessons and my award winning Kodak Book "Simple Wisdom" which showcases some of my portrait work.
To sign up for the workshop (There are 4 seats left right now) please go to my new site and you will see the link on the left. If you have any questions at all, please feel free to email me!
please book mark this page as I will be updating it soon. I am just starting work on this event and you will know anymore details as they develop!
Thank you so much for your interest in my work!
]]> (Susi Lawson Photography) Thu, 09 Jun 2011 20:06:00 GMT