Oh, hello there!
About me, ekkk...... well here it goes : My parents (and my inlaws) are my heroes, my friends are family, my husband is my everything and my kidos are the center of my universe. ... too much?? I know, but its all true!! I love to be super organized (as much as my kids let me), I peruse Esty or Amazon almost daily, and I spend loads of my "spare time" painting something. "Fabulous, Amazing, and Gorgeous" are words I probably use way too often, but I just can't help it. Life is good and I am truly blessed.
I graduated with degrees in Portrait Photography and the other in Commercial Photography from The Ohio Institute of Photography and Technology. I was first in my class and received all 3 awards given in photography. After working in Columbus a couple of years, my dad and I remodeled his old welding shop to become my new Heirloom Portrait Design studio in 2001. Nearly 20 years later (eek!!), I have been published in magazines and books, I have received awards regionally, my artwork is on display in hospitals and offices and even billboards! But, my favorite part of it all is seeing the little ones grow before my eyes through each session, senior pictures to then taking the wedding and seeing their family grow. The cycle is beautiful and a true honor to capture it!
Thank you so much for getting to know me (and a bit of my silliness). I am excited to meet you and hope to talk to you soon!
MEET my crew:
ADAM : 13
He is a team player, with loads of kindness to all. Basketball and football are his new loves. Adam enjoys the fact he is taller than me and soon to past up his dad in height too, ahhh!
JOSLYN : 11
Watch out, she is my mini me. Loves to create and paint something everyday. "Can we get ice cream" is a question asked too often with a smile you can't resist.
GRAHAM : 6
Graham the Bam Slam....loves all things his older brother does. Cruising on his bike, playing games on the computer and eating turkey sausages are all his favorite things in this world. When he grows up he wants to be the "trash man"!
MAEVE : 1
This little bundle has brought all of us such joy. She is the happiest baby that just laughs out loud all the time and warms our hearts. She gives hugs and kisses, saying Da-da, starting to walk everywhere and loves hotdogs and carrots!!!
MY HUBBY & 4 KIDDOS
It's the start of the week & new opportunities to get things accomplished! YAY!
COFFEE & CHOCOLATE
Black coffee for breakfast & chocolate for snack, yum, yum!! Don’t worry everyone, I do eat a real lunch, LOL :)
SCHOOL BUS CAMPING
Yep, we own a school bus! It’s a real camper inside with a kitchen, bathroom, shower, enough to sleep 6. We love the adventure it brings!
Small town living all the way. The sense of community & pride that brings. The love of everyone knows everyone with the strength that has. #FORTLORAMIEpride
Can I say, life saver! Bringing 4 kids with me to the grocery store, no thank-you! Ordering groceries while watching Netflix, yes please!
THE BEGINNINGS :
The studio is in a really, really old building with loads of history for me as well as our home town. This building is estimated to being built in 1850's and was one of the first in Fort Loramie as a blacksmith shop. Hand hewn beams, wood walls, metal tie rings, and planked flooring are still present throughout the studio. Keeping it all was the hard part......
Bless my parents for purchasing the building as a welding shop in 1980's, called Eilerman Welding. As a kid, my siblings and I would walk from school sometimes and huddle around the little space heater to warm our fingers and almost burn our jeans. Dad would keep working, so we would have to hide our eyes behind the front desk when he welded. Break time was always treated with a Little Debbie on a bar stool and "How was school?" Looking back, it was a dangerous place for a kid to run and play. Lots of sharp metal, racks of them, machinery everywhere, the place was loaded to the gills with potential hazards for young kids (we survived unscathed?). Though as time goes on, lessons were taught in this building. First one I can vividly remember is how to sweep. Now I already helped around the house of course and knew how to sweep the kitchen floor, but this was how to sweep a SHOP floor. A shop floor that was black with the heaviest metal dust and shavings. New muscles were created and maybe a few new blisters at first too.
Some summers and all college breaks I found myself at Dad's shop. It might be running the shears or brakes, cutting or bending metal using a custom jig he built for that job. Still break-time with a Little Debbie and best part us getting time to talk, just us. I may have been head to toe a darker shade than when I started work that morning, it didn't matter.
Soon Dad built a new building for his business and I graduated from college. As you know the story doesn't end there at all, in fact it was just a new beginning for me. I moved to Columbus to work as a High School Senior photographer, but came home on the weekends worked even harder to turn a welding shop into a studio. All those jigs my dad created....still upstairs in there full heavy metal entirety. All of the walls and every surface, still black from decades and decades of metal working and welding. Insulation, electrical, plumbing all needed to be ripped out to make room for new to meet code. Big sliding doors, garage doors, hoist system, oh and the chimneys....so many chimneys, all taken out brick by brick. With a vision and a goal to persevere on, we kept at it, months and months of weekends. Dad at my side throughout and my finance (now my husband), along with friends and family at times.
Keeping the history of the building and all the beauty underneath those layers of soot, something had to be done with the wooden walls and wooden ceiling. 170 or so year old wood needed a good cleaning. I rented a sand blaster, bought loads and loads of silicone sand, borrowed an air compressor, bought a face mask and googles and started little by little cleaning the walls and ceiling. It was a messy, dirty job. Particles just floated in the air and stayed. At times I couldn't see what I was working on even though in the dead of Ohio winter, all the doors were open to try to breath more than dirt and silicone sand. It took us a couple of weekends as there were the upstairs to do too. The upstairs was my favorite part. As the wood wasn't as harshly open to wear of the working environment for all of those years. Still history was there and made itself present as we worked. Tar was on some of the walls with newspaper covering. Previous owners, once upon a time ago lived in the second level. How I still don’t know, there wasn't running water, bathroom facilities, just a small chimney upstairs. So I am guessing that is why we would be sand blasting and out popped an empty bottle of whiskey. Not just once or twice, but we were almost prepared for it if you were the one sand blasting by the top of the wall, oh my…. watch your head for flying whiskey bottles!
Fast forward 9 more months, the studio was in tip top shape. My husband and I were married, opened the studio a week after. We first lived in a renovated chicken coop, rent free from my husband's grandparents while working other jobs to support and build the business. The road wasn't always easy and I may have picked a challenging one, but in the end, the work and lessons learned made me stronger. I hope someday I can be there like my parents were, helping my children achieve their dream.
-Thanks Mom and Dad and all that helped so many years ago!