Portraits of an Author

Portraits of an Author. Kimberly is such a sweet, sweet woman. She called on me to photograph her portraits for an upcoming book that is being published.

portrait - author - asheville - woman


I don’t want to give too much away about the story but, from what she’s shared with me, I am quite intrigued. She has written a memoir and, just wait. I’ll share the link to buy it as soon as it comes out. I’m so excited for her!

Thank you, Kimberly ❤



DIY Flower Crown & My First Periscope!

DIY flower crown, baby!!!

I did my first Periscope last night and…helloooo, SO. FUN. You can follow me at @catfordcoates I’ve been making a list about different topics to scope on and its lookin like I’ll be using it’s fabulousness pretty regularly. Oh! AND! I got my first troller on the scope last night too! While, I need to remember not to curse AT people ON Periscope, it felt pretty cool. Haha! You know you’ve “made it” when…

At any rate, I am a sucker for a DIY project! Now, that isn’t to say that I am particularly GOOD at DIY. I love to paint, and sew, and do all the crafty things but I am far and away from being good at any of them. What’s the rule? It doesn’t have to be perfect, it just needs to get done. Story of my life right there!

assistant - flower crown - diy
My lovely assistant

Don’t get me wrong. I am very detail oriented, but in very specific tasks. Things like client work, SEO for my website, spelling (haha), but when it comes to building props or creating dress options for my studio…Girl, none of that needs to be perfection. I’m not selling it on a runway. They are tools to set my photography apart and help my clients to feel special and beautiful. <<<That right there is my number one priority. Period.

That being said, I have a photo shoot coming up next weekend. This shoot is serving two purposes:

  1. It is part of my “stay inspired” series where I shoot concepts just for me, and to build my portfolio in new directions. The theme? “Marie Antoinette”
  2. Shooting editorial portraits for a lingerie designer that we are hoping to feature in a magazine (I’ll keep you posted)

What I love about the two looks is that it’s allowing me to stretch my legs in designing a themed photo shoot, giving us two completely different options for Marie Antoinette, one of which will be directed more towards portraiture and the other towards boudoir. It’ll be fab!

So, in creating a prop for one of the looks I decided that:

  1. I needed to build a flower crown.
    1. I needed to periscope it to show:
      1. how frickin easy it is
      2. have a double-purposed video (one on Periscope and one I could use here on my blog)

…and then I went down the rabbit hole and made two, had my super squishy assistant Matilda wearing one (she’s a golden/aussie and the best assistant ever!), and made a giant mess of my dining room. The latter is nothing all that new. I build most of the crafty hacks for my portrait studio here at home.

Here is the periscope video in case you missed it! Be sure to download the app so you can follow me live! Also, my Instagram has all of my funness as well: behind the scenes, Matilda (because, duh!), client favorites, and the list goes on. Both handles are:


See you on the other side!

flower crown - diy - photographer
I am the lady liberty of flower crowns



Now, the steps to making a flower crown. The recipe if you will.


  1. Floral Wire
  2. Floral tape
  3. stemmed fake flowers
  4. wire cutters or pliers will work too

**Note, I spent $23 on 1-2-3 (already had pliers) and had enough material for two adult crowns and I still have two rolls of floral tape and about a million feet of floral wire, as well as enough “flowers” left to get through a crown for a young girl.

  1. Measure wire around your head three times
  2. Cover length of wire by winding floral tape around the wire (this will take a while)
  3. loosely twist the wire around itself (3 times) – this makes the base sturdy enough to hold your flowers and stems
  4. Flowers:
    1. trim your flowers to where you have about 2″ of stem (give or take)
    2. thread stems through wire braiding
    3. wrap threaded stems with floral tape
    4. repeat a million times

I have nothing to wear for a photo shoot

“I have nothing to wear for a photo shoot!” Yeah, I’ve said it too. When you look in your closet and start thinking about how you’ll have these portraits forever, and “Dear Lord…I wear THAT in Public?”

It is a common misconception that portrait clients have gobs and gobs of beautiful clothing. Don’t get me wrong, so many of my clients come into the studio with some really killer outfit options but, others…not quite the variety. I am the latter, trust me! I turned up to a photo shoot just last week with about 6 outfits and they were: black, black, heather gray, black, black, and cream…and the cream-colored piece was actually a tablecloth. Seriously. No really, black might as well be a uniform in my world.

You know what I hadn’t considered until it was too late? (And by too late, I mean 2 days before my shoot) Wardrobe rentals. No really, it’s a thing! I rented a GORGEOUS Halston gown for my brother’s wedding last Spring. It was great because I could wear this beautiful, contemporary gown and not even have to worry about dry cleaning it. It was insured through the rental company so while I took a tide pen along with me, I knew that if i DID spill any wine on it, it wasn’t the end of the world. It was great! I was able to be stylish and modern, have a wonderful time with my family and friends, and actually ENJOY the evening instead of worrying about the giant credit card bill coming on the dress I just spent hundreds of dollars on for something I’d wear once, maybe even twice in my lifetime. Talk about a relief and what a great night!

Ladies, I introduce to you, Rent the Runway.

Benefits of RTR:

  • You can wear beautiful designer clothing: dresses, blouses, skirts, accessories, skirts, and more.
  • no dry cleaning
  • affordable
  • shipping included
  • no high dollar price-tag on an outfit you’ll wear once or twice in your entire life
  • secondary backup size for no extra charge
  • Did I mention NO DRY CLEANING?

So, when you book your photo shoot and receive all of our helpful tips and tricks on what to look for, what to wear and how to prepare for your portrait session you can rest assured, you really can and will look fabulous.

Our Recommendations:

  • Form Fitting – Yup, ladies I said it out loud. Form fitting clothing will photograph the best. Hey, I’m the first to admit that I sometimes wear clothing that “floats away from the body” – poppycock! It’s not concealing anything in fact, its ADDING to your body line. Yeah, I learned that the hard way after wearing this super great shirt and then someone photographed me wearing it and I realized that it just about swallowed me whole and gifted me an extra thirty pounds or so. Guess what? That shirt is now banished to pajama-land.
  • Texture – Lace, fur, leather, sequins, velvet – oh it’s so pretty! I love texture! It photographs so beautifully. My rule is “texture over print” – NO busy &/or crazy prints! And if you are thinking of prints, you have a favorite shirt for example, then pair it with solid accessories to calm it down: a jacket or blazer, vest, or cardigan. This way, the print will pop like a color but it isn’t so distracting that the viewer forgets they are looking at a person.


Movin on Up! {High-end real estate WNC}

Alexandra’s smile just won’t quit. I LOVE that about her. We had so much fun during her shoot. One of the greatest things about our story together is that I spoke with her earlier in the fall and she decided that it wasn’t the right time for a personal branding session. Alexandra is a realtor with Keller Williams and placing herself in the luxury market here in western North Carolina but was concerned going into the winter here, that it might be better to wait until the Spring.

Well, about a month later, a gentleman calls me and he is researching photographers for his wife. Her real estate business is taking off like wildfires in California (sorry Cali, no offense) and she needs new branding images. She’s been using the same head shot for about 10 years and, like all savvy entrepreneurs isn’t looking for the “same ole head shot”. He was drawn to my work because of our message in connection and empowerment, as well as our imagery. It is anything but run of the mill.

Oh, and did I mention that he went on, gushing about his wonderful wife for a good twenty minutes, telling me how much he adores her? Yeah. After about ten minutes it dawned on me that I had already spoken with his wife and kablammo! I was even more thrilled to be photographing her! She must really be pretty incredible if her husband has gone on in his admiration to a complete stranger. Yes, she is. In fact, if you’re in the market for real estate here in Asheville, I highly recommend her. We talked shop a bit and, she knows her business inside and out.

Hair and Makeup: Wendy, Blush Asheville

high end real estate - luxury - real estate agent specializing in high end
This was her family’s FAVORITE image from our session. I must admit, it’s one of my favorites too.

Alexandra Krobatsch, Forever Asheville

“Turning Dreams Into Realty”



Did I mention that one of the things we are offering our branding clients is more than a string of head shots. We are also using the images they love the most, and incorporating them into seasonal Facebook cover photos for their businesses. Remember, the point of your branding session is to ensure that you have cohesive imagery for your marketing efforts throughout the year. Social media is, like it or not, a HUGE component for your revenue. Nurture it. Care for it. Leverage it for your own business.

leveraging social media for your business with cohesive imagery

Want to learn more about how Studio 828 Photography can update your professional image to build your business? Let’s grab a coffee and chat about it! I love supporting local businesses and entrepreneurs here in western North Carolina. I would love to support yours too.

Being a Part of the Experience {Special Olympics Asheville}

portrait photography - asheville - cat ford-coates - wendy ballance - blush - 828blush

I was watching the news on a Sunday morning…oh wait, we’ll back up. Wendy and I had been talking about how we might go about giving back, and doing it in a way that makes a personal impact. Don’t get me wrong, I am not against donating to causes that I believe in. I love to peruse gofundme campaigns, and to participate in fundraising events. However, as much as I know those funds are contributing to the betterment of xyz, they feel a little on the side of indifference. Does that make sense?

We left our conversation to brainstorm on how we might contribute to an effort wherein we could be an integral part of the experience.

So, back to that Sunday morning. I was watching WLOS, our local ABC affiliate here in Asheville and there was a story on a kickball tournament for our local Special Olympics chapter and I spit out my coffee! Literally, down my shirt, onto the couch. My husband turned around and looked at me with the quizzical expression of “Dear lord, what now?” across his face.

I grabbed my cell phone and immediately texted Wendy “I HAVE IT! (insert fireworks and heart emoji here) Special Olympics! What weekends are you free in Jan/Feb?” She was in like Flynn! We mapped out an outline of the best way that we might organize such an event and stay in keeping with the theme of making a difference with the athletes. I didn’t want to turn and burn like you might a photography marathon, but I also wanted more than 2 or 3 people.

The heart of this business is to empower our clients in their own vitality. I can’t think of a better organization to partner with than Special Olympics to meet that purpose. Can you?

When I met with Carla and her team, they were so gracious for the opportunity. One of the things they had mentioned was that so many businesses feel that the only way they CAN contribute to Special Olympics is monetarily, which of course going into the new year is no easy feat for most businesses in Asheville. The real meat of it is they are open to events like this one, wherein all parties not only gain exposure, but help to educate the general public and bring awareness about special needs to the community.

I am thrilled to be making a difference here in Asheville. Not only will we be able to make new friends and create some beautiful portraiture, but French Broad Imaging has agreed to contribute the printing for the athletes (they will each receive a matted print from their session with us), Wendy of Blush Asheville (pictured left) is contributing her artistic services so that every athlete looks their absolute BEST for their portrait and I am chomping at the bit for January 23rd to be NOW! We are going to have so much fun!

I’ll be sure to share all of the funness from our portrait party on the 23rd. Follow our Facebook and Instagram (@catfordcoates) for behind the scenes from 10:00-3:00 on January 23rd!

When asked “Why” our sponsors had this to say:

  • “Those with learning disabilities are so often overlooked as people with thoughts, feelings, and ideas of their own. My job, my purpose, is to not only acknowledge but, to empower them in their own self. It isn’t just about being pretty. It’s about knowing your own grace and owning it.” – Cat Ford-Coates, Studio 828 Photography
  • “I see the beauty within from every girl. If I can make one more smile with a touch of lip gloss and a little blush, then it is one more day I can be blessed by the best job ever.” – Wendy Ballance, Blush Asheville
  • “We are part of this community. We want to help the people in our community, and especially those with special needs. Thank you for the opportunity!” – Tony Hood, French Broad Imaging

Are you interested in sponsoring this event? Reach out below. We’d love to talk!


Being Your Brand

Being Your Brand: I spend a lot of time with clients discussing how cohesive imagery impacts their brand. I also spend much of that time discussing how self-hate can play a big part in when you book a portrait session, what you will choose to wear for your photo shoot, and how you want to be portrayed. I am no exception to that rule.

In 2016, we have some really great opportunities that are coming up for us and I wanted to come into this new year strong. Part of that plan included a photo shoot with Wendy from Blush Asheville to promote a really exciting event we have coming up later this month with the Special Olympics.

During the shoot, of course we had fun and laughed a whole bunch. I even got super excited about my hair and makeup.

spider holster; canon; portrait; outtakes; funny; laughing
I am officially the goofiest #LaraCroft photographer in history…
Seriously y’all, Wendy blows me away all the time. I can’t even tell you. You just have to experience it for yourself.


And then I found myself really getting down on myself about the weight I’ve put on over the past couple of years. Don’t get me wrong, I recognized it, in a big way a few weeks back and am making the effort. Walk/running, putting the pizza on the back burner, more water, the whole shebang. That doesn’t mean it isn’t disheartening. But luckily, Wendy looked at me and said “Girl, you are a WOMAN, you have curves! Embrace it!” and she was absolutely right. It isn’t about having the perfect body. It isn’t about looking the way I did five, ten, even twenty years ago. It is about loving me for who I am today.

I am so incredibly lucky to be a portrait photographer. It is my job to help women feel good about who they are, right now. It is never about trying to be anything other than better than we were yesterday. I am grateful that my team understands that too. Thank you, Wendy.

So, how do you go about “being your brand” exactly? In my world, almost everything that I do involves my brand, somehow. It is all about choices. What to wear, how I spend my time, who I spend my time with, what luncheons to attend, trips we take, purchases throughout the year, and opportunities that present themselves do so based on HOW your market perceives you.

blush - asheville - sophisticated - brand
Wendy’s brand is all about Blush! Sophisticated, successful, sharp. She has cultivated Blush for twelve years from it just being her, to contracting nine amazing artists to provide makeup artistry to over 150 weddings each season. Not to mention her services in television, and on set with photographers.



Me personally, I love a ripped jean. Like 1992 ripped jeans. I am a child of the 90’s so, the grunge era and I, we go way back. As much as I LOVE some Pearl Jam I simply cannot, as an entrepreneur dress at that level of comfort any longer in my life, at least not publicly 😉 . Haha! Does that mean that I can’t incorporate some fun into my style? Of course not but, if I am going to be ready for every great opportunity that COULD be available to my business then I had better be prepared to run with the big dogs and so should you. What does your brand look like? Mine is urban, chic, powerful, and honest. With that kind of vocabulary, you won’t catch me at a photo shoot, or even on the street in a lazy anything. Does it mean I will be in a suit? Nope. I gave my last two suits to Goodwill about a month ago. They lived in my closet for five years and I never. wore them. once. My warpaint now is glamour. Plain and simple. Am I a goofball? Sure! That doesn’t mean White House Black Market isn’t all up on my vision board and my leather pants…they are here to stay.

I am living my brand and so should you. Be prepared for success, it just might work out that way.

personal branding - choices - business - entrepreneurs

Creating Your Legacy

Her son, Fletcher is turning 1-year-old, one week from today. What a milestone for any new parent. One of the things that I wanted to do for Wendy during her session was to give her a portrait that her son would have to pass on to his own children. A true legacy.

Happy Birthday Fletcher. May you always know how fiercely your mother loves you, how ambitious she is to make you proud, and give you guidance into becoming a man of integrity, kindness, and determination.

motherhood - legacy - anchor - tattoo - classic portrait