We love a good story…love to hear a good story and love to tell a good story. Sometimes, we have been known to do things just for story…like the time we drove off our planned path on a sixteen hour drive just to take our picture by the Santa Claus Indiana sign. Or the time Kristen was on the David Letterman show holding a pie…that’s a good story for later.

This story involves our random debut on the WIS news and then our more known debut in The State newspaper all in the same day.

Kristy Rupon, our favorite writer at The State, writes a column in the business section featuring new and exciting businesses or existing businesses that have new and exciting things going on. She was interested in writing about the new portion of our business…contemporary beauty sessions involving hair/makeup plus a photo session. We could go on and on about the importance of feeling beautiful and owning beautiful portraits of yourself. Fortunately, Kristy was willing to listen to our latest passion, and we were so grateful for the fabulous article she wrote about us. Thank you Kristy! Check out the article here…

The State Studio Offers Glamour Shots with Elegance

We knew that article would appear in the newspaper on Friday March 30. And Thursday March 29th was the big premier of the Hunger Games. Tom’s kids were here visiting…and we had all read the books and thought it would be fun to go to the midnight premiere. Jillian bought our tickets the week before, plans were made, naps taken…we arrived at the theatre at 11:30 and were completely blown away at the crowd of people. Apparently all 13 screens were showing the Hunger Games. There were people everywhere, and some of them were in costume. The local WIS news was even there. We made our way to our theatre, found seats all together and watched the movie…which was very good. After the movie, four of us has to park on the outer edges of the huge parking lot. As we were journeying to our car, a woman popped out of her car and introduced herself as a reporter for WIS news. She then asked if we would be interested in being interviewed on camera about the movie. Because we like to do things for story, we didn’t have to think very long before we said yes. Tom went first. Because it was 3:00 in the morning, and Tom was a little sleepy, he managed to work the word “fun” into his interview no less than 30 times. Colin, Tom’s son, who is very into literature and movies had lots of very intelligent things to say about the movie…a dictionary would have been needed for most people to watch and understand his analysis. After they were finished, the reporter informed us that parts of their interviews would be featured on the morning news. Long story, short…Tom and Colin’s interviews did make it onto the morning news on Friday morning. Tom’s was edited down to “it was fun” and Colin’s (in spite of all of the interesting things that he said) was simply “I’d give it a four out of five”. Ha. I guess they wanted to get right to the point.

So that is he story of how, after living on Columbia for almost a year, Tom Bagby made a big news debut in print and on television all on the same day about completely unrelated things. Good story…right?

A friend recently recommended this poem…Love After Love by Derek Walcott.  I love the words…and I think it perfectly fits with what we are doing at Tom Bagby.  Its about meeting yourself again…and loving yourself and your life.  Here it is…

The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,

and say, sit here.  Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine.  Give bread.  Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit.  Feast on your life.

Powerful. Isn’t it?  Because after all, in the day-to-day and month-to-month of life’s demands and careers and caretaking and opinions of others…don’t we lose ourselves and the feeling of our worth and beauty…inside and out?

We recently photographed Annabelle LaRoque of Laroque on Devine Street.  If you don’t know her…she is a big deal!   Not only is she a fabulous clothing designer and boutique owner (her clothes are stylish, fresh and sophisticated)…but she is vivacious and sweet and has a sure sense of self…beautiful inside and out.  We thoroughly enjoyed meeting her and photographing her. Here are some of her images…

  • JamesApril 28, 2012 - 9:20 pm

    I hope you will continue to make frenueqt visits back to Arkansas. You are by far the most talented photographer I have seen! The pictures you take of Brooke are like a little moment of her life, you take a picture of her personality not just her face. We have a new addition to the family and I will need you to take pictures of her with her pony in a few years. Brooke was upset when we told her you were moving because Mr. Tom takes the best pictures. Thank you for the memories you have given us, they are our most cherished possessions and I hope everybody in South Carolina realizes what a treasure they are getting!Jayme Duvall

Leah is our friend.  She is strong.  She is a mother to a sweet boy and a smart, confident girl.  She is funny.  She likes a glass of wine.  She knows what she likes.  She is a daughter.  She is a wife.  She works full time.  with doctors.  She is so strong.  She is the embodiment of a beautiful woman.

Leah gets up in the morning, gets kids ready, Leah/husband takes kids to school, goes to work, multitasks work/errands/lunch, organizes kid activities, calls her friends, picks up/makes dinner, gets kids, makes sure kids eat/do homework/brush teeth/go to bed, have a glass of wine, go to bed, repeat.  And she is so good at it.  This woman gets more done than anyone I have known…makes me feel a little guilty.  I would venture to guess that, except for her glass of wine time, none of her day is about her…but rather about the other lucky people in her life.  It was time for some Leah time…to go shopping for a pretty outfit, get her hair/makeup done, leave work a little early, listen to music, have a glass of wine…have a couple of hours to just be Leah…not Mom Leah or Wife Leah or Friend Leah…but just to be Leah.  Time to be beautiful and feel beautiful and know that you are beautiful.  So we played and took some pictures. 

How gorgeous is she?  We had so much fun Leah!

And a HUGE thank you to Annabelle at LaRoque www.shoplaroque.com for the BEAUTIFUL dresses!  And Rebecca at Wish for the awesome jewelry!  You rock!

  • LeahFebruary 21, 2012 - 7:39 pm

    Wow! Just Wow! It was wonderful to work with you, Tom and Kristen. You certainly know how to make a woman feel beautiful.
    And the wine was wonderful!!!!

    A thank you to Rebecca at Wish for the awesome jewelry, too.

  • Becky FebroFebruary 22, 2012 - 10:31 am

    Kristen – you know my daughter well. It makes her Daddy and me so proud to know that others admire and appreciate her for the awesome person she is. You made her feel so beautiful – as she should, and you managed to bring out her inner beauty as well. Any woman would be so lucky to have this experience.
    Tom’s photography is amazing and obviously, you are the perfect partner. Thanks to you two for making Leah feel as amazing as she is.

  • RebeccaFebruary 23, 2012 - 9:02 pm

    You look amazing! The jewelry really looks great with the clothes! The photos came out even better than expected!!

  • EdwigeApril 27, 2012 - 12:30 pm

    Hey! I know this beautiful girl, Annie! My ssetir is friends with Leah and I saw the family photos you did for her (you are awesome!) so I clicked onto your page and recognized Annie .and love her! She has been a big influence in my oldest son’s life so I really have a soft spot for her Stunning photos and beautiful couple. So excited for them!

Hello!  You get Kristen today…who is in for a little bit of soul-bearing.

We are starting a new line of portraits for women here at Tom Bagby.  Portraits for women who want to feel beautiful.  Which brings me to terrifying thing number 1.

Terrifying Thing Number One…I needed to try it out myself, which means I needed to have my portrait made.  Its funny…I’m a designer, I work with a photographer, I don’t like to have my portrait taken.  I think its mainly because (and I know all you women out there can relate)…I don’t feel pretty.  The demands of life, the stress, the day-to-day “stuff”, the 10+ pounds I’ve gained since moving to South Carolina, the care-taking of other people, the fact that I now don’t like anything in my wardrobe, the person I saw on tv the other day that I believe looks better than me…all of those things chip away at any “beautiful” feeling I might have about myself.  And when you don’t feel beautiful, there’s no way you want to get your picture taken just so the fact that you’re ugly can be confirmed in a photograph.  (Turns out I was wrong about that…stay tuned)

Tom took my portraits.  We tested out new lighting, I fixed my hair, took time to do my make-up, put something pretty on from my wardrobe, actually applied lipstick…  Then we copied the images over to the computer and I looked at them.  Hmmmm…that’s me? really?  I know that no one likes to admit that they might say this out loud…but I think I looked…pretty…in the portraits.  The tired, kind of haggard person that normally stares back at me from the mirror wasn’t in those photos.  Which brings me to Terrifying Thing Number Two…

Terrifying Thing Number Two…I needed to post them on Facebook.  I’m always looking for things to post on our studio Facebook page, and this was something to post.  I thought, well…we’re trying to start this women’s portrait line, there’s new lighting involved, I think I will throw them out there and see what people think… which brings me to the Surprising Thing.

Surprising Thing…People said stuff like “Pretty. Beautiful. Love the hair. You looked so sexy in those photos!”  What? Really?  I don’t really think of myself like that…or rather I haven’t thought about myself like that in a long time.  I think that all of us thought of ourselves like that at one time or another…like when we were 11 and playing dress-up in our mother’s clothes. I’m pretty sure we thought of ourselves as beautiful then.  Or like when I went to the Homecoming Dance in junior high, or when I got to wear a new leather skirt in a fashion runway show when I was 8…I distinctly remember feeling beautiful then.  But then life happens and some mean people tell you you’re not pretty…and the crazy thing is that you believe them.  Or maybe because you don’t think you’re as pretty as someone else, you think you’re not pretty at all. But maybe I am pretty.

AND YOU ARE PRETTY TOO.  And you should be able to see yourself as beautiful too.  I did.  Here are the portraits that we did that day.

Hey guys!  If you know us, you know that you can only talk to us for so long (about 5 seconds) before we work into the conversation how passionate we are about Guatemala…well, more specifically an orphanage in Guatemala called Shadow of His Wings.  Shadow of His Wings is home to around 70 girls and 2 boys…they are fed, loved, clothed, hugged, restored, schooled and grown into beautiful women with mended hearts and souls.  We have had the pleasure of having a relationship with them for the past five (or so) years and have visited about 13 times between the two of us.  We are always so impressed with how much the girls have grown spiritually…they are really growing into mature, happy young women of God.  We visited again this past December and got to stay three weeks to be a part of two different mission teams.  This is a photo log of our first week…week two will follow (as soon as I get the pictures finished!).

The very first time you go…you expect to see downtrodden, pitiful children.  Not so!  This is always the kind of faces we can expect to see… they’re sweet and very mischievous.

After you are at the orphanage for a while, usually one will gravitate toward you…and that is your new best friend.  I have never seen anything quite like it. Even if you don’t speak Spanish, you are able to communicate somehow, and that girl steals your heart and you are never the same.

These are “our” two girls…Jacqueline and Vivian.  Are they gorgeous or what?

Jacqueline started calling Tom…”Tomate” (the spanish word for tomato) the first time she met him.  She’s a little bit of a jokester (if you can’t tell) and very much into fashion.  Kristen and Vivian’s story is a little different.  Kristen is and was very shy, especially as a child.  Vivian is too.  Naturally, with two shy people, it took them almost the entire week to find each other.  Kristen was starting to wonder if she would bond with any child…and then Vivian sat down next to her one night.  With Kristen’s limited Spanish, she managed to get the word amiga out and a “who are they” shrug and Vivian very simply communicated that she didn’t have any yet.  She was new to the home and shy….so no friends yet.  Well, that totally got Kristen who ended up in a puddle of tears.  Everyone should have a friend, right?  Well anyway, Vivian has adjusted beautifully now…but they still cry everytime they see each other at the beginning of mission week.  Jacqueline and Vivian feel like family to us.  They are family to us.

Because we are sponsors of these two girls, we can take gifts to give them.  We wanted to ask them what they wanted and then get them that thing from the market, but Cyndi (the teams coordinator) suggested we take them shopping at the market and let them pick something out themselves.  Oh boy…shopping with teenagers is universally the same.  And so fun.  We went to every store in the market and ended up back at the first store (of course!) to buy jeans and converse shoes.  This is them with their jeans…I love how each one of their tastes is a little different.

We do other things for the community while in Guatemala too.  Never have I seen anything like the poverty in Guatemala.  The seperation of the haves from the have nots is incredible. So, we always want to do anything we can to alleviate someone’s pain and suffering, even if its for a short while.  I heard someone describe it perfectly as “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you…and myself doesn’t want to be hungry, so I feed people”.  We do two different food programs in the community…food sacks and a big community meal.  We shop in local shops and spend $50 per family for 15 families.  We buy staples like rice, beans, eggs, corn mesa, peanut butter, cleaner, matches…and candy.  Every child should have candy.  Here are a few families that got food sacks.

I’m not sure I will ever get used to seeing the poverty.  I hope it never quits breaking my heart.  I never want to be numb to it so I always want to do something about it.  I always feel like the food sacks aren’t doing enough.  I want to do more.  But, it has to be enough for now.  And it is.  Heartbreaking stories…woman with terminal leukemia and two children and no husband (she passed away last week), blind man, old couple with no children and too sick to take care of themselves, widow woman with a one room house and one bed taking care of a mentally handicapped lady, multiple families living together in one room adobe houses, families with none or little food….all received food sacks and were so thankful.  You would have thought they won the lottery.  I don’t want it to sound like I am patting myself on the back, because I’m not.  The money wasn’t mine that bought the food sacks, but rather multiple donations received bought the food sacks.  But I’m so happy that I got to be there to distribute them.

We also hosted a community meal where we served anyone that came a traditional meal of a tamale, apple and bread.  Someone cooked for us 1600 tamales, we washed 1600 apples…and served 1600 meals.  The fellowship was incredible.

And some fabulous ladies from church knitted some prayer shawls that we delivered to the local nursing home.

I really could go on and on…and I will in another blog post about week 2.  But for now…its time to leave week one.  And this is always what everyone looks like when they leave.

  • Hugh DorminyFebruary 9, 2012 - 10:27 pm

    You make me so proud to call you friend. You are a talented writer and the photos tell a powerful story!

  • adminFebruary 10, 2012 - 6:31 am

    Thank you Hugh! It definitely was a moving experience for sure…it makes telling the story easy :)

F i n d   u s   o n   F a c e b o o k