On 3rd Year as a HeARTS Speak Artist

On my 3rd year as a HeARTS Speak artist!

My love for homeless animals’ plight continues

I continue my pro bono work for the HeARTS Speak global organization by providing beautiful dog portraits to help homeless dogs get adopted.

Why? My love for all innocent creatures is quite simply put, endless. And my love for dogs in particular, is kind of strange considering I got bit in the face at the tender age of 4. This event required stitches for my face by my lips. You’d think that would have traumatized me, but no. My favorite TV show was “Lassie”, and my older siblings would make fun of me for crying whenever an animal on that show got hurt.

At a very young age I read my first “big book” which was, “Lassie Come Home”.  So the origin of these deep-rooted feelings comes from deep within my soul. I now keep three dogs as pets of all different sizes and breeds – all rescues. I really wish I could save them all!

When I first moved to Bastrop County late 2012, I got involved with the community by volunteering at the local shelter to transport dogs to prevent them from being euthanized due to shelter overcrowding. But once one of the volunteers learned that I was a professional photographer, she instead got me busy photographing the shelter dogs weekly to help them get adopted. After she left there, I primarily worked with a different volunteer as a dog handler, . This activity went on for a few years until Amy left that shelter and went to a different one.

In 2016 I Learned About A Special Organization

I joined HeARTS Speak, a nationally recognized 501c3 nonprofit organization that’s uniting art and advocacy to increase the visibility of shelter animals. United in their efforts, their global community of innovative thinkers, top-notch artists, and tireless advocates are saving lives, supporting animal welfare organizations, and transforming the world’s perception of pet adoption. 

This also coincides with the time when I started volunteering at the Lockhart Animal Shelter. My dog handler is a tireless volunteer there who oversees the rescue efforts of the homeless pets. It’s because of her that I can take great photos of the dogs to market for adoption. I could write a book on how my dog handler friend has transformed that little country animal shelter! She helped raise funds to provide air-conditioned kennels and large play yards for their dogs. It makes me proud to know that this is with whom I volunteer!

I don’t think I’ll ever stop providing pro bono work photographing homeless pets up for adoption. A few of the other organizations that I’ve provided this work to include Bastrop Animal Shelter, Bastrop Animal Rescue, Hardy-Hayes Refuge, and I Once Was Lost Animal Advocacy. I also cross-post animals in need of homes on Facebook as “Marlene’s Hope“.

Do you happen to volunteer anywhere? Do you have an endless love or passion for anything? Please do tell me, I would love to hear about it!
Hearts Speak dog photo

All About You Portraits Referral Program!

Have you heard about our referral program?!!

$100 Gift Certificate

Read all about it! All About You Portraits has a referral program that gives YOU $100 credit towards your next portrait session. 

For each new client you refer to me who books a portrait session, you receive a $100 gift certificate. I will give this to you either hand-delivered or mailed for your convenience.

Word-of-mouth referrals is how I grow my business and this gift certificate is my way to thank you for your referral.

I humbly value the trust you have placed in me to take your photographs. And I promise to give the same time and care to any of your friends or family that you refer to me.

The only way I can continue my business to give memories to last a lifetime is by growing my client base.

Remember, I’ve invested the time to learn how to control different light forms.  I’m committed to continuous learning  and am trained and certified as a professional photographer by the esteemed Professional Photographers of America. 

I do all this to ensure you, and all my clients, look their very best in their portraits.

Certified Professional Photographer

I have an air-conditioned residential studio available for everyone’s comfort during times of inclement weather or unbearable heat, .

As you know, families are more mobile than ever before.  This makes it more important that the images you have today, last for generations.  Therefore, they can be  placed on your walls as artwork, or on your coffee table as a beautifully created album.

As a certified professional photographer, I know how to recognize and find quality products.

I am really looking forward to working with you again!

How Wall Photos Will Boost Your Child’s Self-Esteem

Here is an important article I’m sharing published by Design Aglow.


One of the hidden but powerful aspects of family photography that moms and most photographers rarely consider is how it can help us raise children with stronger confidence in their own worth and abilities. Psychologists and experts have done some work in recent decades exploring the link.

A revealing study was conducted in 1975 with a group of fourth graders at a Tennessee school by Tulane University. During a five week period, the children took Polaroid instant photos of themselves with provided cameras in a variety of assigned poses, compositions and expressing various emotions. The children worked with the printed images of themselves and created scrapbooks once a week over those five weeks. Testing of the students and teachers at the conclusion of study revealed a significant increase of 37 percent in the students’ average self-esteem behaviors. This Murfreesboro Study shows some evidence personal photography of children seen and enjoyed in a specific way can help boost a child’s self-esteem.

But how can family photography, specifically family portraits, help boost a child’s self-esteem?  

David Krauss, a licensed psychologist from Cleveland, Ohio says, “I think it is really important to show a family as a family unit. It is so helpful for children to see themselves as a valued and important part of that family unit. A photographer’s job is to create and make the image look like a safe holding space for kids where they are safe and protected. Kids get it on a really simple level.”

Krauss is one of the earliest pioneers in using people’s personal photography and family albums to assist in mental health counseling and therapy. He co-authored “Photo Therapy and Mental Health” in 1983 that is considered a founding text for the use of photography in therapy.

“It lets children learn who they are and where they fit,” says Judy Weiser. a psychologist, art therapist and author based in Vancouver. “They learn their genealogy and the the uniqueness of their own family and its story. When a child sees a family portrait with them included in the photograph they say to themselves: ‘These people have me as part of what they are, that’s why I belong here. This is where I come from.‘”

Weiser has spent more than 20 years using all manner of personal photography to assist in the treatment process of her clients. She is considered by many to be the foremost authority on these treatment techniques, called PhotoTherapy.

When It Comes To Having The Greatest Positive Impact For Your Child, Which is Better, Digital Images or Paper Prints?

Obviously, rather than print and display family photographs, families are increasingly enjoying their images in a digital form, be it a mobile device, a laptop, or simply on social media. But does an image on a tablet, computer screen or social media site have the same impact for helping families boost a child’s self-esteem?

“My bias is very simple. I think they (family photographs) should be on the wall,” says Krauss.

“I am very conservative about self-esteem and I think placing a family photo someplace in the home where the child can see it every day without having to turn on a device or click around on a computer to find it really hits home for that child this sense of reassurance and comfort. They have a certainty about them and a protecting quality that nurtures a child. It let’s them know where they are in the pecking order and that they are loved and cared for,” says Krauss.

The importance of printed photographs displayed in your living space was echoed by other experts.

“My personal and clinical bias is there is something very powerful in touching your fingers to an actual print,” says Craig Steinberg, a licensed psychologist who works with children ages five through 13 near Eugene, Ore. “Touching the photograph where a face is smiling or the shoulders, it is the same thing as touching a book when you read it. There’s a lot of stimulation of the brain when you have that sensory experience. That is a bit lost in the move to digital. You are touching a keyboard, mouse or a touchscreen but you are not touching the image.

Displaying photos prominently in the home sends the message that our family and those in it are important to one another, and we honor the memories we have experienced,“ says Cathy Lander-Goldberg, a licensed clinical social worker and a professional photographer in St. Louis, Missouri and the director of Photo Explorations, which offers workshops to girls and women using portrait and journaling for self-reflection.

Additionally, Krauss recommends having photographs of that child with their family placed in the child’s bedroom so it can be among the last things they see before sleep and the first thing they may see before beginning their day.

“It says we love you and care about you. You’re important.”

by Chris Cummins, Contributor to Design Aglow, Images by Elizabeth Messina

How Important is a Professional Head Shot?

First Impressions

Need I say more? We all know only too well how important first impressions are and with business nowadays normally first conducted via an online search for your product or services, it’s important you represent them well with a professional head shot. Virtual personal branding is as important as a firm handshake once was in introducing yourself to the world.

Especially for Small Business Owners…

Your face represents your business! It’s so important to update your visual brand annually. So taking a photo with your phone’s camera just doesn’t cut it. In fact, it will reflect poorly on you and your business!

Potential Customers

Your potential customers want to know who you are as opposed to just what you do. And without a head shot available on your website or social media site, no initial trust can be formed. People only want to do business with people they feel they can trust.

Job Hunting and Recruiting

Depending on your industry, many professionals are on LinkedIn and it is used to keep others posted on a current job status and for looking at peer’s statuses. I’ve heard from others that if you’re not getting messages from recruiters, then you’re LinkedIn is not serving it’s purpose. Therefore, keeping your LinkedIn up-to-date is key! You’re probably already aware that One of the first things people see on LinkedIn is your photo. If you want to show a recruiter or a future employee that you’re serious and experienced, then your photo should show that too.

The Importance of a Professional Photographer

This is when it becomes really important to choose your photographer wisely.  The right photographer will prepare you in advance about what to wear and, if applicable, where to do the session for atmosphere, to achieve the desired effect in your profession. She will know how to make you feel at ease on the day if  you’ve never spent any length of time in front of a camera lens. She will use her trained skills to  be able to set up lighting, composition, backgrounds and props appropriate to your goal and advise you on posing. She will show you the camera’s images from the back of her camera as you do them to ensure you’re getting what you need.

Some Steps to Consider

  • Hire a professional photographer
  • Hire a professional makeup artist
  • Consult with your photographer or stylist to assist you in choosing the most flattering outfits for your head shot
  • Select at least two outfits in which to be photographed; pick a colorful jacket, tie or scarf, but not so much to detract attention from your face
  • Plan on spending $200 – $800 to get exactly what you need
  • Be sure to get both web-sized and full-resolution files for online use and print, respectively
  • For the full-resolution files, be sure to get a print-release from the photographer


Make sure what you choose to wear for your head shot is up-to-date.

Investing in a professional head shot can do wonders for your business!

Fitness is Beautiful

So many of us promise ourselves on New Year’s Eve that we’ll get fit and healthy in the coming year. Then as weeks pass, we find excuses as to why we couldn’t meet our goals. While it’s true, “life” often gets in the way, but it’s a matter of setting our priorities and keeping our focus. It’s so easy to get distracted with TV, Facebook, online games and social events. Sometimes we commit to too many things which causes us to lose focus. Sometimes we are not committed enough to our priorities and then welcome the distractions. Sometimes we are just lazy and want to sit and do nothing.

Make a commitment to love yourself first, eat healthy, and work on having a fit and healthy lifestyle. We all have 24 hours in a day. Make the time to exercise. Switch things up to keep it interesting. Take your dog for a walk. Go to the gym. Go for a morning jog before heading into work. Go for a bicycle ride. Enjoy the outdoors’ Spring air. Go for a hike. Take dance lessons. Find an exercise buddy. Commit to and schedule your exercise. Journal your progress. Set goals and challenge yourself.  Keep on moving! But do so safely.

There are five elements to fitness

  • A warmup.
  • A cardiovascular (aerobic) workout.
  • Resistance (strength-building) exercises.
  • Flexibility moves.
  • A cooldown

Your daily diet is important to your health and fitness. Learn which foods are healthy and why. Learn how to cook healthy. Keep your home well-stocked with only healthy foods to limit temptations.

Water. Drink lots and lots of water. Make a habit of drinking water before eating. Drink a half gallon of water every day. Keep a reusable water bottle with you wherever you go.

Only then will you have the energy and stamina to do all the things in life that are most important to you, and for many years to come. And just look how beautiful fitness is!