How I felt about my own Before and After

One of my gifts, as a photographer and a human is that I am able to see everything beautiful in you and everything that you maybe, aren’t super happy about, too. So, how did I feel about my own before and after?

When I first entered photography professionally, I was immediately drawn to modern portraiture. As a college student (a hundred or so years ago), I loved the edgy, black and white aesthetic. it was the 90’s. Everything was edgy, then, haha! As my photography grew and I was able to hone my skills, contemporary glamour was easily where my heart burst with joy. There is something so simple, yet so magnificent about stripping away everything you don’t like or hate about yourself and lighting everything that is beautiful. Defining that in a magazine style portrait that just, well, it sings.

Recently, I’ve been on a bit of a rampage in purchasing new pieces for our studio wardrobe. Beautiful satin and lace dresses for anyone to wear during their photo shoot here in Asheville. Elegant pieces to go that extra mile in ensuring you feel beautiful for your photo shoot. You might come in thinking, “Oh I just need new head shots” or “I’m more of a casual girl” but, having that extra piece of drop dead gorgeous never hurts anyone.

So, what better time than to test the waters myself? So, I donned one of the new pieces and called a photographer friend over, hung my black velvet backdrop and put on a face and stepped in front of her lens.

“What are you doing, Cat? Why on earth do you NEED a portrait? You just had a full on beauty session a year and a half ago with another photographer. Do you really need another one? Do you even really DESERVE another one? God, this looks horrible on you. Your makeup looks awful and you haven’t touched up your hair color and you could use to lose more than just a few pounds. You’re almost 40. There’s no way these will be even remotely resemble the you, you remember…”


“OK deep breaths, Cat.”

All the voices, I acknowledged their existence. Always in the voice of the 12-year-old me. She was constantly berated so, I can’t really blame her for being scared. It’s her job to protect me from suffering that kind of attack…oh wait…

Be careful how you speak to yourself. You are listening after all.

I took my “Before” picture in my kitchen, after a single cup of coffee in front of a window. No makeup, I don’t think I’d even brushed my hair. A real “before”, to say the least. Yup, that’s me in the morning. How did I feel about the before? Seeing the truth sometimes can be jolting. I got to see all of my flaws in the cold light of day, and then I was going to put it out there for all the interwebs to see. Haha! The dark circles under my eyes, the scowl lines in between my eyebrows from spending 20+ years in the Florida sun, my growing chin (what’s THAT about anyway, jeez) and the list goes on. The point is, that is my face. That is what I look like. In a normal day, I might throw on a little moisturizer and some eye makeup. I might even go so far as lipstick if I’m feelin sassy. I’m a pretty good lookin gal, curves and all. A little face can go a long way.

In editing the footage we shot that day, we were very careful to only go as far as we would for any client. I am very meticulous about retouching. As much as I wanted to wave my magic photo shop wand to get rid of everything I see, it was very important that I remain my beautiful self and, not some idealized version of myself. My portraiture is based on highlighting everything beautiful about my client and if I went the “extra mile” on my own portraits, it would have defeated the purpose.

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Having the strength to step in front of a camera can be challenging. You’re faced with all of your flaws and “I’m not good enough”, right then. You ARE good enough. everything about you is perfect. You are valued.

So, what do I see staring back at me?

  • a woman who loves her work
  • the courage to let all of the voices have their say, and then move forward to embrace this moment
  • a woman with doubts and fears, just like everyone else
  • a woman who is loved
  • a woman who has worked tirelessly to build her business
  • a beautiful portrait, now part of my legacy

I put this image out on social media yesterday. Clicking the “post” button definitely took a minute…or two but, here’s the thing, if I can’t share my very own before and after, how on earth could I ever expect you to come into my studio, let alone experience your very own transformation with us?

Our service, our process is not one of turn and burn, wham bam thank you ma’am. I want you to be able to envision yourself having your portraits made with us. I want for you to see that my purpose here is not to just photo shop everything away, it’s to showcase everything wonderful about you, right now. It’s to help you see past all of the little things you hate seeing in the mirror: all of the shoulda, woulda, coulda, all of the when I lose 15 pounds, all of the when I get to the salon or the gym, all of the maybe one days, all of the “I’m not good enough”. You ARE good enough. You DO deserve beautiful portraits. Your family and loved ones deserve beautiful portraits OF YOU.

They are your keepsakes. They are your heirlooms.

In the words of Sue Bryce, “You are beautiful. I want to capture you for All time.”

I would love to photograph you.




28 Days with Sue Bryce {Personal Journey}

If you have been following me or Studio 828 Photography, you know that I’ve been 110% immersed in a continuing education program called, 28 Days with Sue Bryce. For other photographers out there that are considering a contemporary portrait specialty in their studio, I cannot recommend this enough. To all of the models that I have worked with over the past 29 weeks, I am incredibly humbled by each of you. I am so thankful to have been able to give you imagery that you love and that you were there for me to help me come closer to mastering my craft. And Sue, you have given so much to the photographic community and to me personally within this virtual mentor-ship through the Facebook groups and via CreativeLive…I cannot thank you enough. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Is it a cakewalk? Not even a little bit. Is 28 Days expensive? Only if you don’t do the work. Can I just subscribe to her site instead? Sure you can but it won’t be the same. The beauty of the subscription service on Sue’s site is that when paired with 28 Days, you simply get THAT much better both as an artist and in business. is the protein shake, 28 Days is the workout.

There are a few courses to finish that cover logistics and philosophy (the shooting is complete) but, I couldn’t help to share some of the beautiful imagery I’ve been able to create this year because of 28 Days with Sue Bryce on CreativeLive. I’ve met some amazing people and pushed my own boundaries to really make the best of my skills and talent to provide a better service and quality in product. I’m looking forward to creating the business of my dreams and the ball is already rolling.

One of the amazingly great side effects of working through this program is creating bonds “on the inside” from others doing the work, the same as you. I’ve connected with several wonderful and talented women (and a handful of men) on this journey and yesterday had the opportunity to go to Columbia to meet another student face to face, have a delicious lunch (because, duh!) and trade mini shoots in her natural light studio in Lexington SC. It was so great to connect outside of the interwebs, truly. She and her husband are a fantastic team and they work out of their home (I might be a little jealous there haha) to create some beautiful work for their clients. Ladies and Gentlemen, meet Lauren Gregory of Lauren Gregory Photography.

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28 days ith sue bryce - do the work - master my craft - creativelive
My personal journey in completing 28 days with Sue Bryce on Creative Live.

Exist in Portraits {Asheville Photographer}

Our relationships are what create happiness and joy in our lives. Whether it be with our mothers, our sisters…anyone that we love. It is my job to help you to celebrate those relationships, to create beautiful portraits of you and those people who you love. Don’t put it off. Don’t wait. You are good enough now.

Are you considering a photo shoot with Studio 828 Photography? Please, fill out the form below and we will be in touch for your personal consultation.

Best. Father’s Day. Gift. Ever. {Asheville Boudoir Photographer}

Saturday June 21st is the day of Dad! The kids can get make him the sweet hand molds and paint him pictures he’ll cherish and you…ladies, take the plunge and skip the tie. A boudoir photography experience here in Asheville with Studio 828 Photography will be THE gift he’ll remember and the experience is the gift for you. Keep in mind, we need to photograph you before June 5th to have your artwork in time for Father’s Day.

photography promotion for boudoir photography in Asheville and western North Carolina with Studio 828 Photography
Best. Father’s Day. Ever.

Are you interested in a boudoir makeover and photo shoot in time for Father’s Day? Get in touch and we’ll schedule your session today.



Pinup Inspired Boudoir Shoot {Asheville Boudoir Photography}


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Nina called on me earlier in the year to accomplish part of her bucket list, starring in her own pin-up inspired boudoir photo shoot. We chatted a few times and emailed back and forth to really understand her inspiration and purpose. I must admit, I love it when clients have a vision in mind and trust that my artwork will bring that vision to life. I loved photographing you Nina and I am so glad that I was able to give you an experience you’ve always dreamed about.

One of the wonderful parts about being a photographer that specializes in photographing women is that I have the opportunity to turn my greatest weaknesses into strengths. I have always struggled with my appearance so I am able to connect with women because, like it or not, we all do. In that struggle I discovered that it isn’t about looking to perfect everything that we see as wrong in our bodies. Our inches and lines do not define us, our words and actions are what hold true power. Highlighting everything beautiful, embracing those flaws and celebrating who we are as women are what truly make us beautiful.

Are you considering a beauty or boudoir photography session in Asheville? I would love to photograph you. Please get in touch for your personal consultation with the contact form below or by phone at 828-275-9932. We can chat over the phone, meet up for coffee or meet in my studio in Asheville’s River Arts District. Whatever is convenient for you.

Talk Soon,


avl - pinup - curvy girl - feeling great in your own skin


Do You Exist in Photographs? {Asheville Portrait Photographer}

exist in photos; mothers and daughters; couples photography; asheville portrait photographer; beauty photographer cat ford-coates
Exist in Photos

Do you exist in photographs with the people you love? With the people that love you? Portraits with your mothers, daughters,sisters, grandmothers, best friends, husbands, partners…

You see, it doesn’t matter what you look like, if you haven’t lost that last twenty pounds, or even the first twenty. Maybe you are too short or too lean. Maybe you are feeling like you don’t deserve to feel beautiful. You are perfect just as you are right this very second. I know, I know “Cat, that’s crazytalk. I’ll call you when (insert ethereal goal here).” No, THAT is crazytalk. You are perfect. You are enough. Let me show you.

What will your children have to remember you by? What will you have with your grandmother after she is gone? What will you have to remind you in 10, 20 or even 40 years to remember this wonderful time in your life? You are valued and I would love to photograph you.

I’ll even sweeten the pot for you. For clients that schedule a makeover and photo shoot during and in the month of May, I am offering a gift voucher for $300 towards the purchase of any folio collection. That is not a typo, $300.00. This can only be applied for new clients and the voucher is not redeemable for cash. Give me a ring, send an email or use the contact form just below. I would love to show you how I see you, through my lens.



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You’re Invited {Girl’s Day Glamour Party in Asheville}

We have partnered with Mary Kay’s own Ashley Fender to celebrate women, to celebrate you with a Girl’s Day glamour party May 23rd right here in Asheville at Posh Pink Studios on Charlotte Highway.

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“What’s the catch?”

Yesterday I photographed Ashley and we were talking about how much we LOVE our jobs. Not only do we get to work in careers we are both passionate about but our jobs actually require that we find the beauty in every woman we meet and, to take it a step further, help them to see that beauty too. How great is THAT? What better way to showcase our services in beauty and empowerment than to offer them up at no cost to introduce ourselves to more of our market here in WNC? The catch is, you simply have to RSVP for your appointment (828-545-2239), come in solo or with your mom/sis/bff/partner (be sure to include them when booking your appointment) for a mini makeover and be photographed by me. Oh darn, right? You’ll even receive a digital 5×7″ portrait from our session at the party. There might be a few other perks in it for you but we’re keeping those as a surprise for now 😉

There are limited appointments for this girl’s day glamour party with Mary Kay and Studio 828 Photography. Call today to confirm your session.

See you soon!


“You are Beautiful. I want to capture you for all time” – Sue Bryce {Mother’s Day Portraits}

How are you celebrating your mother this Mother’s Day? Will you be taking her out for brunch? How about creating a fabulous portrait with or for Mom? We are offering a limited offer to celebrate ALL mothers this Spring. We are offering to you a portrait session with us, bring your Mom/Sis/BFF/Partner along for no additional sitting fee. You read that correctly, a photo shoot for two. Two professional hair and makeup stylings, a photo shoot together and time in front of the camera individually. Why? Because everyone should have a portrait with their Mom, with their sisters. Every one of us should exist in portraits with the people who love us.

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I would love to photograph you. Book your beautiful photo shoot with us before April 20th (it can be scheduled for any time in 2015) and bring a second person with you for no additional sitting fee.



Studio 828 Photography  828-275-9932


Portraits of a Dancer {Asheville Photographer}


It has been on my bucket list for some time to create portraits of a dancer. I even put it out on Facebook “Hey Universe, I’d love to photograph a ballerina, please and thank you”. Well, a few weeks later, I received an email from this dancer’s mother with interest to have her portraits made with Studio 828 Photography here in Asheville.

ELATED! [insert photographer happy dance here]


Thank you Autumn!

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Do you have interest in a portrait session with Studio 828 Photography? I would love to shoot for you!

Photography for Couples {Portrait Photographer}

I always love when I’m able to provide photography for couples at our studio here in Asheville. Not only will we capture beautiful imagery of her, or of him but the real joy is had with their portraits together.

Courtney and David are below and we had. a. ball. They’re both fun and so ambitious! We laughed most of the afternoon. Thank you both for shooting with us at our Asheville photo studio. I am more than grateful we could create beautiful portraits for you both.

Hair and Makeup for Courtney: Wendy Ballance, Blush Asheville

When was the last time you had an opportunity for not only a makeover and an empowering photo shoot but THEN bring in your partner to capture some amazing images of you both together? That sounds like a fantastic day to me! Come, book a shoot with our studio. We’ll have a fun-filled day where you are the star and then you both can go out on the town looking AH-mazing! Let’s celebrate You. Call today.

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