Nice Shots!: Blog en-us Stephanie Hellmann (Nice Shots!) Sat, 22 Oct 2016 17:52:00 GMT Sat, 22 Oct 2016 17:52:00 GMT Nice Shots!: Blog 96 120 It's October Seems that every cause has a month to commemorate it. Some only have days - for instance, last week hosted National Pasta Day!  October, though, is the month that is near and dear to my heart for a particular reason.  This is the month for Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness.

I have not lost a child, so I can not say that I understand that pain and grief.  But I can offer families my service as a photographer with Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, an organization founded in 2005 by Cheryl Haggard and photographer Sandy Puc.  Cheryl's son Maddux passed away at 6 days old, and his mom and dad wanted photographs of him to help them remember him.  She called Sandy for her professional services and together with another mother who had suffered a loss, they realized that this was a service that should be made available to everyone who needed it.  NILMDTS was formed in Colorado by Cheryl and Sandy as a non-profit 501(c)(3) and now, 11 years later, there are volunteer photographers helping families internationally.

I am proud of this work I do.  Most people can not imagine taking on this incredible responsibility. This is the family's only chance for portraits with the child for whom they waited, dreamed, and hoped.  They are saying hello and goodbye almost in the same breath. Heart wrenching sadness, stun and shock fill the room, but overriding all of those emotions is love. Love for this darling angel who left too soon.  I am there to capture images of that love, though that will never be forgotten. What I give them are images of curls and tiny fingers and bow-shaped lips - those details that may eventually fade; I take photographs so they will always be there to go back and visit.

Next week there will be a candle-lighting service during which we will remember all the angels who have left us.  I have had some wonderful people helping me organize this event, and we hope to be able to continue to hold it every year.  I think it is so important to recognize and honor these too-short lives who have had great impact.  Every life, no matter how short, makes a difference.

I am working to make a difference with mine.


]]> (Nice Shots!) Madison, Indiana NILMDTS Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep Photography Stephanie Hellmann heirlooms images Sat, 22 Oct 2016 17:51:44 GMT
The New Kid in Town I just love to photograph babies! Sometimes they sleep so soundly that I am able to pose them and set them up to look cute as can be in a variety of settings. But, babies being babies, they don't always want to cooperate!  Scout was wide awake and alert and at one point when I was repositioning her, her legs shot out and I thought for sure she was going to take off running! It won't be long for this tadpole, I'm sure!

I am excited about watching her grow! The adventure has begun and she has a community of support around her. Lucky girl, to be so loved!

These images will be made into prints that I guarantee will look great when Scout is showing her grandbabies what she looked like brand new.  To have her picture on the wall, or in a book, tells a child that she is important. It matters where she's been and what she's done. We want to see her, her parents want to show her off to the world. 

That's why I love my job! I create images that will cause a stir in the heart whenever they are viewed - now, or eighty years from now.  And that matters.



]]> (Nice Shots!) Madison Madison Indiana Newborn Photography Nice Shots Scout Stephanie Hellmann heirlooms images Sat, 23 Jan 2016 21:37:27 GMT
Community Last weekend was eventful - some pleasant, some not. But I ended up with a wonderful feeling that comes from years of living as a participating member of my community.  This small town of Madison, Indiana, has changed a lot since I moved here, but one thing remains constant: you can find the most wonderful people here and form lifelong friendships that make life so sweet.

Friday night I went to a concert at a small place 2 doors up the street from my shop. It was a great local band and I knew a few of the musicians. Inside the venue I saw so many people I knew - it was like walking into a friend's parlor for an evening's entertainment. Comfortable and fun.

Saturday evening I went to the theatre with a friend and again saw many people I knew. She said we couldn't have left even if the show was horrid because I was busy talking before the show and at intermission, and everyone knew me! It was a nice feeling to be recognized and smiled upon.

I had scheduled a session for a 3 month old on Sunday afternoon. The clients were late arriving, but I said not to worry, everything is ok. I wanted everyone to calm down so little JP would be comfortable. We got some lovely images. JP was happiest wearing only a diaper, but allowed his parents to change his outfits a few times! When he started to fuss a bit he was fed and then I asked if I could place him in the next pose. I cradled him and talked to him and he was a very happy boy! What made ME happy was hearing his dad behind me say, "She is the Baby Whisperer!" Nice compliment!

As soon as their session was over I ran 2 blocks to the church to attend the funeral of a wonderful man I'd met at that church 11 years ago. I was late getting there, so I settled in the back of the sanctuary to listen to his sons deliver their thoughts on their dad. It was a lovely service and it warmed my heart to see so many people there, whom I hadn't seen in a while.  Lots of hugs were shared on the way out of the church. At the cemetery I was struck by the fact that one of the members of the Honor Guard was a friend of mine, the dear man who blew Taps is also a friend.  I noted the many connections I felt amongst the people gathered there and was filled with such gratitude for all that I'd shared with these people.

I had taken wedding and family portraits for my friend, now deceased.  I took wedding photos from my friend the bugler and we did a community theater show together. The member of the Honor Guard is also a beekeeper and has worked with me on promotional items for my business. I have photographed my theatre friend's granddaughters.  Many of these people weave through my life in front of my lens. But the most wonderful part of life is when I step out from behind the camera and embrace these people as friends and fellow members of my community.

We are brought together for different reasons. Each time we meet, it may be for another purpose. But as the planes flew over head in the final salute to my friend, I felt the connections to my world and the wonderful people with whom I share this life. Thank you, all of you, for whatever part you play in this journey. I do notice it and I appreciate it.  

]]> (Nice Shots!) Madison, Indiana Nice Shots! Photography Stephanie Hellmann Thu, 09 Oct 2014 15:48:27 GMT
Treasures This is a photo of my father and his mother. I've been told I look like her. I never met her, so that is my only connection - similar family features. I wonder who took this photo.  He is wearing his high school letter sweater; she is wearing his 101st Airborn wings.  That narrows down the time frame considerably!  He must have just finished boot camp and was home on leave.

How grateful I am that someone bothered to take this picture - and make a print! A good, quality print that has stood the test of time (70 years, give or take one or two) that was once taped into an album. I cringe to think of taping the corners like this, but so glad someone did it back then. Because that is why I have it today - it was kept safe in an album. THIS is a family heirloom!

I wonder how many people today will have grandchildren looking at their photographs in 70 years.  Not many, if the images are all stored on CDs and memory cards or sticks.  This troubles me on a few levels. One is, as a professional photographer I want people to hang my work on their walls, display it on their desks, carry small brag books to show off to their friends.  I guarantee that my prints will stand the test of time and offer my clients the best. My prints will not fade or shift colors, nor will they crack or curl.  If they want to share on social media, I upload their favorites and let them share.  But for true family keepsakes that are real treasures, I stress the need for actual quality prints. 

Technology changes daily, it seems.  What is going to happen when CDs go the way of floppy disks? Are you ready to convert? What if you have everything on memory cards or disks, but then can't find a machine to open the files? A woman came in to my shop one day and was going to show me her favorite pictures - but her phone was dead so she couldn't show me! That is the road we're headed down. We seem to be moving so fast that we are not thinking far enough ahead to avoid disaster.

So if you want your grandchildren to show their grandchildren what you looked like, make sure you have good quality prints to leave with them. Who can even imagine what the future holds for sharing pictures??? Better to be safe than sorry!

]]> (Nice Shots!) Hellmann Madison, Indiana Nice Shots Photography Stephanie heirlooms images keepsakes photography photos prints quality treasures Tue, 18 Jun 2013 17:28:51 GMT
Spring has Sprung!  

Spring is really so beautiful here in the valley! Look up to see the blossoms on a variety of trees. Look down to see buds and flowers opening along sidewalk gardens. Neighborhoods are full of homeowners busily digging and planting. It is good to be a part of the earth - to feel dirt on your hands and know you had a part in bringing life and beauty to the world.

Why is it so hard to just look? Just look, and see the beauty around us. Throw your head back and suck in the aroma of fresh petals opening in the spring breeze. Enjoy being part of live evolving.  Why is this so difficult? Put down the phone. Put down the camera. Put down whatever device you are addicted to and just be in the moment!  I admit that at one time I had a camera with me almost 24/7. But now I travel light most of the time, leaving equipment behind and just going out seeing, not shooting.  Yes, there are times when I do gasp and say, "I wish I had my camera!" but I have the images in my head, and I'm happy with that.

Of course, as a photographer, I am always looking for my next great shot! But now I plan time to be "on the job" and on the lookout for great stuff. My first business card had an image I shot of double rainbows over the Madison-Milton bridge.  Shot on film - that's how long ago that was!  I did not plan to get that shot, but was aware of what was happening in the sky and I ran to capture it.  I wasn't on the job, but I was aware, enjoying the beauty of the sky after a storm. For the longest time, whenever there was a rainbow I'd get phone calls from people asking me if I'd seen it, and if I'd photographed it.  Most often the answer was "yes!"

Go out and see what is unfolding in front of you! Enjoy it. Capture the images in your mind, where you can keep them forever!


]]> (Nice Shots!) Hellmann Madison, Indiana Nice Shots Photography Stephanie copyright Sat, 04 May 2013 16:27:02 GMT
Speaking of Women . . . Come on in! Yesterday I photographed over 136 women. One hundred thirty six who signed the guest list - that doesn't include the Hanover College Football players or the Speaking of Women's Health Event Staff for this fabulous event at Ivy Tech, or my friend David who works in the building and is a good enough sport to come on in and be photographed in my photo booth! I began at 7:30 in the morning and wasn't all packed up and ready to go until after 3 o'clock that afternoon.  Phew! I was worn out last night!

But what a fantastic day! Why tell you all this? Because I am still enjoying the great energy that flowed through my room all day.  I can't tell you how many times I heard the claim that the camera would break if I took her picture, or how fat she is, or how bad her hair looks, or how many wrinkles or double chins she has.  But more times than that, I heard words of love and encouragement from her friend/daughter/mother who said, "Nonsense! You look fabulous!"  And that is what it was all about!

Every woman who sat in front of my camera was gorgeous because the joy of having a day out for herself, pampering herself and learning more about how to care for herself, was evident. These ladies were out for a day of fun and relaxation for themselves! Fun hats and feather boas and wacky sunglasses were just the outward expressions of how far they wanted to let themselves go.  Just for today - be silly. Just for today, have fun in front of the camera, with no worries about all the physical "flaws" we imagine we see in ourselves. Just for today - love being right here in this moment. Laughing with people we love because we are with them, having a blast. No worries.  And that's contagious!

I heard laughter in the hallway. The ladies in the room with me were having fun dressing up. Later in the day I heard a few comments about being able to smell someone else's perfume on the boas - how wonderful is that?! Not only the positive energy remained, but lingering scents filled the room, as well! It was a day to rejuvenate, and that we did!

I feel "blessed" - and that is not a word I use lightly. I had the help of a friend starting a new business and she worked as hard for me as she did for her new venture! She corraled folks from the hallway, captured email addresses, and encouraged their adventurous adornments, all as she made sure they signed up for her business' gift basket.  She enjoyed herself as much as the rest of us, and I hope her Fantasia Home Party business takes off.  She sure was introduced to plenty of potential customers!

As I face the task of editing and upoading, I look forward to seeing each smiling face again. I will remember the fun we had. I will remember comments you made. I will remember - even if I don't remember your name! - because every one of you is an individual and you showed me a part of yourself to share with the world.  And you will always be glad you did. Mom, whose daughter had to cajole you into joining her in the shot - you and she will both treasure that image. Friends who came together, who share every day together, posed together in order to have a souvenir of another adventure shared.  Co-workers who sat together - your jobs may change one day, but you will always remember the fun you had on this day. In this moment. Thank you for allowing me to capture your smiles. It was my pleasure! I know you are going to enjoy seeing what we captured - I wish I could be in the room when you all open the folder so I could hear that laughter again!

Keep smiling - you look so pretty!


]]> (Nice Shots!) Ivy Tech Madison Madison, Indiana Nice Shots Photo booth Speaking of Women's Health Mon, 15 Apr 2013 00:05:56 GMT