Girl’s Day Giveaway {Asheville Beauty and Boudoir Photography}

We have a WINNER! Congratulations Heather Meadows! I’ll be seeing you at The Secret Spa with your seven favorite ladies Very Soon!


Good Morning Ladies! I’m writing this as I wait for my flight leaving out of Asheville. I’m heading to the beautiful beaches in Sarasota Florida (happy dance!) but I wanted to touch base quickly to let everyone know about a contest Studio 828 Photography is running in partnership with The Secret Spa here in Asheville. You see, just last week we reached over 1000 likes on our Facebook business page. This of course, for any young business is a huge accomplishment and, my way of saying “thank you ” is to offer up this great contest!

Ever wanted to get your sisters, Mom, cousins, and BFF’s together for a beautiful portrait shoot? A day where you all get together for beautiful makeovers, laughter, your best outfits and photoshoots throughout the day to capture it all? Let’s DO it then!?

Winner to receive:

  • Private Girl’s Day Spa Party
  • You and 7 of your closest girlfriends!
  • Mini Makeover
  • Bubbles (of course, sheesh)
  • Group and Individual Photoshoots All around
  • Matted 5×7″ Print from the day (Additional prints and products available for purchase)
  • $50.00 Credit towards any print package purchase

How to Enter:

Winner to be announced via Facebook on February 7th. Contest ENDS at 12:00AM (that’s midnight) on January 31st, 2014. Ladies, let’s get this party started! Have YOU entered for your chance to win? If so, have you shared the contest with your friends today?



a Rafflecopter giveaway

girl's day giveaway - asheville beauty photographer

*Winners may not use this giveaway in conjunction with any other offers or promotions with Studio 828 Photography


One Photographer’s Journey on the “Other” side of the Lens {Asheville Beauty Photographer}

I had my shoot yesterday. Eeeeeeep! You know, the one I told you about…where I’m in front of the lens instead of behind the camera? Well, I did it. Many of my clients ask me if I’ve been through one of these shoots before (boudoir or beauty) and while I had done some modelling about a hundred years ago, I never could say “Yes”. Well, I can now! What a fun day yesterday was!

Many of you might be wondering WHY I’m blogging about this experience and sharing details about where I went and which photographer I chose, etc. It pretty much is an advertisement for THEM instead of my own business here with Studio 828 Photography. I feel that it is important to share the totality of my experience from how I chose the photographer, to what I experienced with that photographer and to be completely transparent. I chose Jesseca (explained below) for many reasons. Maybe some of you will also choose her, She’s WONDERFUL! I didn’t come by my decision lightly and, if I am truly going to tailor my business model to shoot primarily with women, then I needed to choose a photographer that I not only admire but one that embodies the whole package from her steps of service before, during and after the shoot all the way through to the delivery of product. I suppose I don’t have to share my experience with you, but I’m choosing too as I need to be able to relate to as many of my clients as possible. What better way to do that than to experience a session AS a client? I had a blast with my session and while I did feel awkward, it is part of the process…a process I adore.

When I first started my journey into finding the right photographer for my session, of course there were a million options. As I started thinking about it one of the main goals that kept coming up was “Why am I booking a session? What’s the real purpose here?” The easy answer is that I wanted to experience everything from start to finish as my clients would with my services. Sounds easy enough right? Haha…not quite. There are many beauty and boudoir photographers here in Asheville, and many photographers that offer beauty and boudoir as a service in their photographic umbrella. So, I start scouring websites and one photographer (that I’ve been following for a year or so now) kept coming up in front of me. You see, there are other factors playing IN to my easy answer. Other questions that play into my “Which photographer do I choose?” portion of my experiment into Beauty Photography as a client.

  • Do I choose someone that might work on trade for portfolio building?
  • Do I choose someone that is offering a great deal on portrait photography?
  • Do I choose someone that is just starting out?
  • Do I choose someone that is well established as a beauty or boudoir photographer here in Asheville?

Ding! Ding! Ding! OK, so aspect one is that I needed to choose a photographer that had the qualities as a photographer and a business person that I work diligently to be in my own business. Our photographic and editing styles don’t need to match but, I was looking for a woman (no offense guys), whose body of work is proficient and creative, whose reputation has integrity and a history of kindness and last but not least whose purpose in her work has similarities to my own; the passion of helping women to embrace their own beauty being my number one. So, after communicating a bit with a few photographers, I emailed Jesseca Bellemare.

I was very open about my purpose for the session and, I certainly didn’t want any photographer feeling like I was coming in for a session to steal their ideas or anything weird. Jesseca was very kind in our communication and very professional. Up front with her pricing structure and how her process works.  It is more than apparent 🙂 that I already admire her work and her business model, so she’s my ideal choice as a photographer. I moved forward with the retainer for our session and started planning outfits. I’ve been working up savings as our ordering session is in a few weeks and I already know I’m going to want 90% at LEAST of what she shot for our session yesterday. She even sent me a sneak peek from our session yesterday, last night. Talk about service!!!

So, what was my session like? Well, I seesawed a little with my outfit choices but with Jesseca’s help, settled on two options: 1. a little classy rock n roll with a blue satin top and faux leather pants with my FAVORITE boots and 2) a beautiful emerald green dress I borrowed from a friend. Lemme tell ya, that dress is ALL about the curves and I’m a little more than excited to see how everything comes out.

So, I arrive at Jesseca’s studio in Biltmore Forest, a little flustered and almost late (I HATE being late) with my outfits and my Red Sox bag full to the brim with shoes (I have kind of a slight addiction with boots…). Jesseca introduced me to her makeup artist and close friend Meghan Pulliam (a super duper sweetheart with chops for beautiful eye makeup) and we moved right into hair. She and Jesseca talked with me about the goals for the session and I was tempted with some bubbles. Our noontime session lead me to coffee and water though.

One thing I thought was funny is how comfortable I was just running off at the mouth about “Me”. Whether it was about my insecurities about my age catching up with me or, my work with 828…it all just came tumbling out. For those of you that know me, I’m a fairly guarded person and try to stray away from talking too much about myself with strangers. I laughed to myself. Jesseca was recently on the cover of Verve magazine and one of the points that was made was about how “we’re women, we can talk about anything”…and it is totally spot on.

During the session, Jesseca was great about giving direction and being very detail oriented with everything from head to toe. The placement of my fingers, relaxation of my face, how to carry my chin and where to turn…everything. I’m pretty thankful for the experience. I’m finding that while this experience is an investment into my business, just yesterday alone reminded me why documenting mySelf is an investment in Me. Thank you Jesseca. Looking forward to our viewing appointment.

beauty photography, asheville beauty and boudoir photographer cat ford-coates
The sneak peek from my beauty photography shoot with Jesseca Bellemare

2014, New Adventures, New Goals, New Inspiration {Asheville Photographer}

I always love January. When I depended solely on bartending to maintain my income, not so much. In the restaurant business in WNC January signifies the beginning of the end. Cold, slow winters where you simply hoped you would see more than 5 covers a night. That has all changed now. Of course, I also have a restaurant here in Asheville so we are making the necessary adjustments to our marketing and attack plans for shifts but in my photography business, well that is another story.

January brings new hope, new inspiration (often from unexpected resources), it also brings time where I can reflect on the previous year and devise new plans to create opportunity for the coming year. For me, it is important to continue to grow not only as an artist, but also as an entrepreneur. While a few days ago, I spent almost ten hours reading the manual for my new Canon and test shooting (my poor dogs, they just don’t understand why this clickity black box attached to my face keeps talking to them) all the while realizing that the entire exercise was merely to brush up on my own technical chops and get to know my new camera. (by the way, I still haven’t decided on a name for her yet, but if you have suggestions I’m all ears. Right now it is between Esmerelda, June, Edith…well those are my top three anyway).

The new year also forces me to return to my December list of “What worked? What didn’t?”. My marketing plans each year is chock full of new tactics to reach new clients; wedding, beauty and family clients. While, a lot of that work is via referral from previous clients (for the record, thank you! I wouldn’t be IN business without your referrals and it is because of this I have implemented a referral program I am sure you will love!) there is also quite a bit of legwork involved in reaching and attracting new clientele. In December, I sit down and review those different programs to determine whether or not those programs were logistically appropriate. Did they attract an ideal client? Not so ideal? Howso? What was my ROI? Heck, what was the investment? Time? Money? Both? And the list goes on. What can I do in the current year to maximize on those ideas? What new concepts should I implement into the programs that worked to freshen them up for 2014? Can any of the “not-so-great-but-not-so-bad” ideas be adjusted to be more appropriate? What are my personal goals for the new year? To make money? Sure. Is that the main goal? Nah. The main focus of my professional goals are to not simply “Do what I love and make money” but to do this to allow me time to reach dreams in my personal life. 1. Be a successful and profitable business 2. Have time to travel and visit with family and friends 3. Take a real vacation with only my husband (Our 5 year anniversary is in March so, a honeymoon would be nice LOL)  4. Shoot more personal projects (I like to call it creative breathing) 5. Develop a savings account and reach a true savings goal 6. Not work a hundred hours a week (between two businesses) and still have those businesses thrive and the list goes on. How can 828 allow me to reach those goals? By allowing me the opportunity to develop not only as a professional but also as a human. Being overworked is never good for your business or creative self. In fact, it is stifling. That is where those creative projects come to life. New ideas to keep me inspired in the coming year. I love it. I breathe it. I can’t wait. Let’s start today.

Happy New Year Interwebs! I know, the 12th of January is a little late to the party but I’ve got all kinds of new funness in store. First up, Valentine’s. Head over to the 828 facebook page to grab up an offer for $150 off any Beauty portrait package for 2014 when your session is on the books before Feb. 14, 2014. That’s right. Chocolates got nothin on a beauty/boudoir shoot! Promise!

By the way, did you notice Studio 828 Photography has a whole new look? We launched the new website on Jan 2 and it is like a breath of fresh air! Check it out. It won’t bite. The before and after transformations are by far and away the most popular page but hey, if you want to see more of something or in case I’ve forgotten to include something, feel free to shoot me a line. I’m quite open to feedback. In fact, I welcome it!

828 Goals for the new year:

  • Move into and open a full fledged studio space by October – we’re bringing on another photographer into the Studio 828 family and moving forward to have a singular space not only to shoot for you, but meet with you as well. If you’re a photographer and would like to be considered for the partnership, please do get in touch.
    • As it stands now, 828 rents a studio space by appointment only and then hosts viewings at our office location in downtown Asheville. New goal, have those places be one in the same
  • While the business plan for 828 is a living breathing document, I would like for it to stay in the forefront of my mind throughout the year. Last year’s business plan 🙂 “may” have fallen by the wayside in October…I’d like to keep her nurtured and loved throughout the course of 2014
  • Weddings – Only agree to shoot ten weddings, no more. “Why?” you ask. Well, while I love, love, love shooting weddings there is quite a bit that goes in to them. Between my two businesses I’ve found that shooting more than ten weddings tends to stretch my ability to reach the level of service Studio 828 provides. The LAST thing I want to do is fall short for my client family. I won’t have it.
    • That being said, this could change with the new added photography partnership, the photographer that joins the 828 family very well could be a stellar wedding photog who wants nothing more than to book 30 weddings a year, in which case we’d make an amazing team!

Welcome 2014!  Let’s DO this! Keep your eyes peeled for new promotions in the coming months! I would love to shoot for you!



PS – I will have a few shoots available in Sarasota Jan 28-30. If you’ve been considering a session with 828 on my next visit, now is the time to get in touch and get those appointments on the books! Beauty or boudoir photography, a family portrait session, email today.