Sue Bryce Education in Paris

Honey, I’m Hooooome! Wow! WHAT. A. Trip. Somebody pinch me! In case I hadn’t told you (oh who am I kidding? Of course I told you), I’ve spent the last two weeks abroad in Paris, France. You read that correctly, Paris! Gah! ANNNND! It was for a workshop with the leading photographer of women in. the. world!!!! Sue Bryce.

You might remember that I studied under Sue in one of her courses for the better part of 2015. That in and of itself allowed me to grow my own skill set to better my shooting and my business practices. In short, it changed my business. In October of last year, I traveled to New York to a photography trade-show (Photo Plus Expo) to meet her. Well, I took other classes also but, meeting Sue was at the top of my list.

Then, she announced her workshop in Paris. It was this incredible, dream-worthy, and completely unattainable goal. I literally had NO IDEA how I would afford it but, I was going. No ifs, ands, or buts. It seemed impossible. And then it wasn’t. I jumped in feet first. I was going to Paris to study under Sue Bryce. There was no question. “Impossible IS I’m Possible” right?

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Coffee, sequins, and glamour

Sue brought her team of mentors to teach an intense two days of shooting, business, and if you follow Sue at all you know she will also present you with the opportunity to face you own deamons, too.

The workshop was held in a Chateau in St Germaine en Laye…where Amadeus Mozart stayed on THREE different occasions, and even wrote about the home himself. It is one thing to see this place in photographs and completely another to walk through the doors.

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Being greeted by Sue. Image courtesy Katinka Tromp

Day One:

I was greeted by the mentors, Sue, and Cookie. Sue’s adorably famous star Pug. She immediately ran right up my leg, gave me a kiss and ran away again.

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Cookie Bryce

I must admit, I was way off my game for most of the first day. Well more nervous than I had expected to be not to mention, my camera was malfunctioning somehow (being rectified, no worries), and I felt like, like…I felt like it was my first day on a new job. New people, new expectations, I didn’t know what those expectations were, new workflow, and everyone was nice, and patient, and wonderful and I’m over here in the corner all “hey, look at my thumbs!”.

About half way through the day I found my stride. My camera would fire when I told it to, I was more comfortable with the setting and holy wow did I shoot some beautiful portraits! Even during one of the scenarios did I receive personal, one-on-one mentoring with Sue.

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Sue, Lauren, and Esti

One of the things that I loved most about the workshop is that attendance was so limited so that Sue was able TO give individual attention outside of the classroom setting. I can honestly say that my shooting, even if I gleaned nothing else from this course (which is NOT the case), the quality of my shooting has grown by leaps and bounds. Their (Sue and Emily London Miller‘s) guidance literally, changed my life.

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Emily, Caitlin, and Sue
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Caitlin, Sue, and Rodney
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The szhuszh! Sue and Caitlin

And that was just day one.

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The ceiling was incredible, truly. Imae courtesy Katinka Tromp Photoraphy

Day Two was all about the biz! The pricing, the marketing and networking, and the part where you are faced with your own YOU. AKA, do or die, baby! Needless to say, there were a lot of tears that second day, even by me. (I’m not really a public crier normally but on day two…holy cow! Waterworks over here!)

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Sue, Shauna, and Rebecca posing 2’s

And then there was dancing. Yes, dancing. We had scrapped an idea to flashmob Sue at lunch that day (being grown, professional adults) and then a little birdie told Sue what we had been planning. Yyyyyeah, so we were called out and you’d better believe that about 8 or 10 of us got up there and did a choreographed dance to “Fireball” by Pitbull. Choreographed by one Rodney Pedroza. I also discovered something else…I probably shouldn’t spin in public without a dancing partner. 😛

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Dancing for Sue, Image courtesy Olga Zametra

This trip abroad was a lot of things: I made connections with amazing photographers from the US, the UAE, and Europe, for the first time in my life I facilitated something wonderful in my life, on my own that had nothing to do with anyone or anything other than my own desires both personally and professionally, I studied under the number one photographer of women in the world, THE WORLD, and I am facing some pretty incredible aspects of myself that I both am and am not prepared to face, and I welcome it.

I know! All this from one workshop huh?

Thank you, Sue. Again and again, your influence has changed my life, Thank you.

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Lauren directing Katie

For anyone considering whether or not a workshop given by a leader in your field is worth the time or the expense, look a little closer. I hear, so often that “Oh, it was at a workshop, that’s WHY it’s good.” which I think is a cop-out. In attending education, given by those at the top of their field, YOUR field you are giving yourself the opportunity to grow. You are investing in yourSELF and you WILL grow from it. I highly recommend it.






PS – don’t be surprised if I purchase all the crown molding from my local supply store (ALL of it) and paint it gold. PS: If I go missing, it’s because my husband came home and discovered that I DIY’ed our brick ranch into a French chateau. Those walls though, GAH!


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These images were created at Sue Bryce’s 1st Paris workshop 2016 by Cat Ford-Coates




It is to see the beauty in you {Asheville Portrait Photographer}

I received an email this morning that stopped me in my tracks. Reading it, I immediately started bawling. For those of you that know me, you know I’m not a crier or openly vulnerable person. This woman’s complete honesty and vulnerability brought me directly back to my chubby, unpopular 12-year-old self that was teased relentlessly for years. It brought me to a place where I remember why I am a photographer in the first place. It is to see the beauty in you. It is to capture it through my lens. It is to show you how beautiful you already are.

“I have felt guilt and shame throughout my childhood for being beautiful, and as an adult I decided to just be ugly; because it made me feel better about myself. Over the last few years I’ve let myself “come out of the closet” and choose to be me, and it’s been so terrifying much of the time! But being part of this photography project with you would feel like a public embracing and accepting of myself as the woman I am: me! I am beautiful! But it’s my soul finally free to shine that is my true expressing of beauty, and I’m so happy when I let that pour out of me! I’m deeply inspired by the journey you’re on, and would love to connect with you on this project.”

As a woman who has struggled with accepting herself, her true self for her entire life I am in a constant state of growth. I am learning daily how to forgive not only those that I allowed to destroy my own self value but, also forgive myself for allowing it to happen in the first place.

Forgiveness is not an easy path. Over the years I’ve found myself stalking their social media profiles and hating them and their successes in life. I know, it is terrible. Here I am, 39 years old and I can still feel those wounds and times in my life like they were yesterday. I don’t allow myself to go down that rabbit hole any longer. The only person that hurts, is me. The difference between then and now is that I honor how my younger self felt in those moments of what seemed like sheer terror. I hug her. I peer into the mirror, through my eyes and see the lost little girl and tell her that she is beautiful. That she is valued and loved. I honor those moments by finding the light in every single woman who I meet. When I photograph you, I can see everything you don’t like about yourself. I can see everything that you love. No one is “crazy” for feeling their nose is too long or their hips are too wide or their frame is too small. We all have imperfections, they are what make us beautiful. And now, instead of stalking those profiles and hoping they have found some sort of karmic retribution, now I hope they have found some way of filling the void that they held as children. That terrible loneliness that caused them to be so cruel. Some days it is hard to wish them only the best in life, to wish them happiness and a life filled with love. That challenge is my own but in learning to forgive them, I am learning to forgive myself.

This woman’s simple email brought everything right back around for me. Having guilt and shame wrapped around embracing your own self is so incredibly painful and it is terrifying and I am blown away and honored that they would choose me and my services to help them to reclaim that for them. Thank you. Thank you for your honesty. Thank you for your vulnerability. Thank you for reminding me that we all deserve to value ourSEVLES. I look forward to photographing you.

Teen Empowerment through Modeling {Asheville Teen Photographer}

Shooting for young women is ALWAYS some of my favorite photography work. As a young woman myself I was a part of a youth theatre and education program, The Source Teen Theatre) and it was here where I learned that knowledge and performance are amazing tools for the youth of our society. Allowing tweens and teens to discover their own light brings about such amazing transformations both in imagery and in their own person.

Do you remember being in middle and high school? Do you remember the drama? The bullying? The cliques? There is so much happening in a teen’s life and oftentimes, these young adults can feel powerless, and lost in the crowd. By giving these young people an opportunity to stand out and star in their own performance, you give them the power to not only be involved in the vision for their shoot (preparing their outfits and communicating their own dream of being photographed) but, you are also trusting them to be that star. When you trust your kids, they learn that they can trust themselves and their own instincts. It is absolutely incredible to watch that transformation take place. You can see it as their confidence grows during the shoot.

Last summer was the last time I had an opportunity to shoot for a young woman so I am sooooo grateful Shelby and her Mom found me! While I do require that a parent/guardian be on set for any shoot with a client under 18 years of age, I think Shannon was just as excited as her daughter! We had so much fun on set and her pictures are beautiful! Thank you so much for reminding me how incredible it is to shoot for teens.

Photography: Cat Ford-Coates, Studio 828 Photography

Hair and Makeup: Wendy Ballance, Blush Asheville

Model: Shelby Bramlett

beautiful portraits of teens - soulful - asheville photographer empowering teens through photography in Asheville with Studio 828 Photography stunning portraits of youth in Asheville and WNC - teens - portraits portrait photographer Cat Ford-Coates captures grace and beauty in all of her teen clients in Asheville Age appropriate modeling for tweens and teens in Asheville NC


Are you considering a photo shoot with Studio 828 Photography? I would love to shoot for you! Please, shoot me a line anytime.



Celebrate your empty nest, celebrate You {Asheville Portrait Photographer}

I was stopped behind a school bus this morning when it dawned on me…how many Asheville Moms are wondering what the HECK to do with their time now that their kids are FINALLY off to college? Oh I know, they’re still going to work but the weekends are a bit quieter and their gasoline tanks are staying fuller for longer, the sound on the television is way lower and there is no one screaming “MOOOOOM” at the top of their lungs sixteen times a day.

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I know some of you are reading this with young children on your laps and enjoying every. single. second of it. And, by all means you SHOULD! Every moment in your life with your children is precious. One thing a mother said to me once was; “I love being a Mom. I’ve loved every second of it since they were born. You know what else? This Fall I realized that I love being a mom from 400 miles away too.”

Of course she does! Why wouldn’t she? Well, Moms, I’m here for you. Why don’t you and I get together for a beautiful portrait session to celebrate you getting your children off to college?! It is an ah-mazing accomplishment! A wonderful time in your life! Truly! Let’s celebrate your empty nest. Let’s celebrate You.


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Asheville portrait sessions with Studio 828 Photography are a wonderful experience. We include a private studio setting with professional hair and makeup and a portrait session where you are the star. Do you need help deciding on what to wear? Gather your favorite outfits and bring them with you! I will personally help you choose the best outfits to wear for your photo shoot. You will leave feeling like a million dollars and wha better way to celebrate You?

Get in touch to inquire about your photography session in Asheville today. Call Cat directly at 828-275-9932 or email

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Photo Shoot with Mom! {Asheville Portrait Photographer}

So, I know I’ve been promising it for a while now, but the time has finally arrived! I get to post the imagery from my very own photo shoot with my Mom! It was my Mother’s Day gift to her this year. We had a blast! Of course, it was pretty exciting to show her the new studio space and have a girl’s day. We don’t really get to do that all that often, well, ever really. I think I went with her when she had a hair appointment once but, it was only a million years ago.

She was a trooper! She mentioned during the getting ready phase, that she had never had her makeup done professionally before?? Luckily Wendy from Blush Asheville was on set to do her thing! While Mom may never get used to eyelashes (haha!) I think she looks great! Personally, I am thankful to have done this shoot with her. She does so much for the everyone else and it makes me happy to not only have done something nice FOR her but for us both to have some beautiful photos of just us.


Photography: Cat Ford-Coates, Studio 828 Photography

Hair and Makeup Artist: Wendy Ballance, Blush Asheville

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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.

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The sneak peek from my beauty photography shoot with Jesseca Bellemare

Franny’s Farm Fest THIS Saturday {Asheville Portrait and Event Photographer}

Remember a couple of weeks ago I had issued a blog post about Franny’s Farm? Let me just tell you, right now, Franny is by far and away one inspirational woman! Not only was she a speaker at the March Against Monsanto rally last weekend, she, her husband Jeff and her son Zack have worked so hard and so diligently getting Franny’s Farm off the ground it is absolutely awe inspiring to see not only how far they’ve come but the plans they have in place for the future.

I was lucky enough to help her document some really fun and great moments out on the farm in Leicester and this coming Saturday she is hosting a benefit for Asheville High School’s 4H program. They’re showing an independent film about AHS’s band trip to Washington DC for the Presidential inauguration, have musical entertainment lined up all day long from: Little Creek, Outside Suburbia, Sherry Lynn and her Bluegrass Band, The River Rats and Pierce Edens and the Dirty Work. There will also be food from Farm 2 Fender Food Trucks and craft sales from local artisans not to mention farm animals too!

This event really is going to be a blast and for a great cause!! Tickets are $5 (Pre-schoolers are free) and proceeds are going to establish Future Farmers of America at Asheville High School!!!

In the meantime, here are some more fun images from Franny’s Farm. And, if you come out on Saturday, I may even take pictures of YOU!

See you there!


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Documenting the Rise of Asheville’s Newest Wedding Venue {Asheville Photographer}

I was introduced to Frances from some clients of mine about two weeks ago…Well, I should back up. Initially, Frances was hosting a barn raising event for her new sustainable living farm where they have gardens, bees, chickens, and more. She and her husband Jeff had decided that their end game was to get out of the city for a while and live…you guessed it…On a FARM!

At any rate, she had already booked a photographer to cover her first real event on the property so she wasn’t in need of my services. However, a few weeks later she discovered that to really handle her marketing professionally and appropriately she needed someone to help her lay the groundwork with photography. To shoot the property, to shoot HER (for speaking engagements, for some beautiful portraits etc.) for images on her own website and the list goes on. We met for lunch one afternoon (Thanks to Corporate Impressions) and the outline for the project was complete! You will be seeing quite a bit of Franny’s Farm on the blog and the website over the coming weeks so get ready for beauty, get ready for plaid and get ready for family!! Also, if you’re in need for a beautiful outdoor, intimate setting for your wedding this is IT ladies and gentlemen!

Also, she is hosting a benefit for Asheville High School’s 4H program on June 8th from 10am – 10pm with live music (from one of my personal favorites Mister Pierce Edens), farm animals, crafts and fun!!! You should definitely join us!

Our first installment on the Franny’s Farm Project, a little Beauty goes a Loooong Way! Meet Frances.

Makeup & Hair: Wendy Ballance from Blush by Wendy Ballance

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Honoring Mom for Mother’s Day {Asheville Portrait Photographer}

What DO we get Mom for Mother’s Day?

Whether your Mom is getting ready to BE a Mom, IS a Mom or is the Mom OF a Mom why not treat her to a portrait session? Not just any portrait session either. Look, anyone can go to the park and snap some photos with their phone. It used to be you could even roll into a Sears or a Walmart and get a quick style family portrait made on the cheap. Those days are gone. Even the big guys came to terms with the fact that it simply wasn’t a profitable enterprise.

Shouldn’t your gift to her for Mother’s Day be one wherein she is treated like a queen? Where she is given a makeover, a glass of wine and treated as though she is the only woman in the world? Or perhaps double up on a makeover and shoot WITH your Mom? When was the last time (be honest now) where you AND your Mom had a picture together?

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Love you mom!

I’m guilty of it too. I just had a session with my Mom in January and did I think to set up the tripod and shoot us both? Of course not, never even crossed my mind.

I wish I had.

Your mother gave you life. Hey Dads, she did after all have a little something to do with bringing YOUR children into the world. Do you think maybe for an afternoon you might watch them to let Mom out for just a little “ME time”? You may even want to schedule a sitter so you two can head out for date night afterwards…I’m just sayin.

So, THIS Mother’s Day let’s all make a pact with ourselves to get a real portrait with Mom this year. I’ll make the same promise too. I will even post it up here on the blog!

Thank YOU Mom. I wouldn’t be here without you. I wouldn’t be the person I am without you in my life.

In fact, to honour mothers everywhere I will offer my clients a double makeover and portrait session (that’s right, a mother/daughter session – or sisters – of BFF’s – whomever YOUR favorite mother is) for 50% OFF. That is professional hair, makeup AND a photography session for TWO people. In fact, I will also include $100 towards prints and artwork too. That is a $450 Value. Is that value worth giving your Mom an amazing memory she’ll cherish forever? I will honor up to 10 double photography sessions at this discounted rate before June 15th so feel free to call me or email to schedule your consultation. Don’t worry, your consult is simply so we can chat about your vision for your session. This way I can tailor your session specifically to you. Feel free to call 828.275.9932 or email


studio 828 gift voucher - asheville mothers day promotion
Studio 828 will honor 10 double photography makeover/photography sessions at this discounted rate before June 15, 2013. Call or email Cat to claim your gift today.

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Thoughtful, Loving & Inspiring {Portrait Photography in Savannah, Georgia}

So, my Mother is kind of amazing. No really! Just bear with me…I was a pretty terrible kid growing up and, by terrible I mean…well I won’t bore you with the details. We’ll just say I was a “difficult child”. Anyhow, she has been more than supportive of me and my endeavors to branch out into entrepreneurship. I might even dare to say she is even proud. So, when she asked if I might take pictures of her…how COULDN”T I?

A little to know about my Mom. She isn’t your typical 9-5’er. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate all of our paths as adults. Career choices, who we choose to spend our lives with, and so on and so forth. Up until a few years ago I just assumed her choices were the same as the rest of the world. Job to make money, raise her kids, pay the mortgage, etc.

One day I had a slight epiphany.

My mother doesn’t do much of anything without her participation having some kind of purpose. Over the years she has been an oncology nurse, a grief counselor, and a minister to name a few. Not to mention she raised my brothers and I and is now a grandmother to my brother’s three terrific kids .

Anyhow, I would like to honor her now. Right here in this post. For all of her efforts in raising me, for all of the difficult decisions she has had to make over the years, for how much faith she has in me and in life. Thank you for bringing so much light to us all Mom! I love you!

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