Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The Christmas Card Challenge

Hollywood starlet photos was the theme of our last challenge.
Remember that? 
It was mah-velous! Muah!
And the winning photographer was:
with her gorgeous recreation of the lovely Liz Taylor!
(Melissa's got a little winning streak much fabulous in that girl)

This means Sarah, as the losing photographer, provided a $10 gift card ( to one of you lucky voters!
The winning voter was:
Selena Ford!
Thanks for voting Selena
(and seriously, get with me about doing that shoot! -Sarah)

This also means that Melissa is the official chooser of the next challenge!

Hi! Melissa here! Thanks for all the votes on the last challenge!
I thought we should keep things in the spirit of the season and do a Christmas themed challenge. Sarah and I chatted and the topic of Christmas cards kept coming up so we decided to create a Christmas themed image, inspired by an existing image, that could be used as a Christmas card!

FUN FACT! Did you know the first Christmas cards were created in 1846? Google said so. 



I had great intentions for this challenge. I had a little vintage bed and a cute little model. I was going to use my mother in law's amazing vintage styled Christmas tree. I was going to create the most stunningly adorable fat baby vintage image.

But then the flu struck my house.
 For over a week.
All 5 of us.
It. Was. Awful.

So, all my planning went out the window! I ended up dressing up my daughter in one of her super cute vintage-esque dresses (I have a problem... there are too many of these in her closet. I'm addicted.) and pretty much looked around the house and thought "ok, now what can I create using things I already have." Turns out, I already had a Christmas tree (weird right? lol), an adorable model, and a vintage teddy bear. And thanks to my inability to put anything away after a session.... I still had a mini quilt laying around that hadn't been returned to the studio.


Something about this image just struck me. I love the look of glowy Christmas tree lights and I loved that it was a family sharing a genuine moment in their home. I knew I wasn't going to recreate it exactly as it was, but I thought I could use it to loosely base my image. My goal was to create a "moment" in my home and an image that I could keep in my family's album.

This was shot using just the light from the tree and a little bit of light filtering over from the kid's playroom. My son was in there playing Roblox on the computer and was too scared to have the lights off. He truly is my son. Not that I still sleep with the hallway light on or anything....
Another fun fact: the teddy bear was my husbands when he was a kid. The vest and bow tie the bear is wearing was made by my mother in law, and my husband wore it. My son also wore the same vest for Christmas when he was 2.


This is my favorite holiday. I love the gifts, the sights, the smells, the lights, the snow 
(snow for Christmas-time only...I'm one of those people...). 
Christmas takes on a special spiritual meaning. I love my Lord Jesus Christ, and I love thinking about his birth. It's the beautiful epitome of faith, hope, love, and peace. 

There are several Christmas carols that I even can't sing b/c I get choked up. 
Not that I can sing anyway, really (i.e., O Holy Night), to be honest. 
And Handel's Messiah? Niagara Falls over here.

Madonna and Child by
Giovanni Battista Salvi da Sassoferrato
If you've followed me at all, you may know that I love old paintings. The way the artists saw and painted light and colors and people and emotions. 
I enjoy recreating that look. 

I posted to my personal Facebook page looking for a young mom with a young child.
A friend suggested Kayla and her little guy, and she willingly volunteered.
(Thanks, Kayla!)

Bible-time Bethelehem-styled clothing is a little hard to come by, and I waited until nearly the last minute to do my thrift store searching.
Lo and behold, I found a tan full-size JC Penny flat sheet and....a blue Snuggie! 
(Seriously, what are the chances of finding something so perfect?!)

We did the shoot in my kitchen, and my models were all that I had hoped for, and more.
I used one of my favorite backdrops, natural light coming from the window, and my model wore a sheet, a napkin and the Snuggie.
Fun fact: After the shoot, Kayla and I discovered that I had actually been in church youth group with her mom many years ago. I distinctly remember her mom playing the part of Mary in our Christmas pageant. 

It's different this time!

Decide which image you want to vote for, 
and visit that photographer's Facebook page.
(links to them are just below)

LINK TO SARAHclick here

COMMENT on it with your own fond holiday memory!

Yeah...we're going to make you think.

Can't pick a favorite image?
Visit both of our pages and comment on each!

Each time you comment, it counts as an entry to win the gift card.
 Enter as many times as you like. 
Hey! It's Christmas!

One of you will be randomly selected to win a $10 Amazon gift card.
The photographer with the most memories (from you guys) wins the challenge!
The photographer with the smaller number of memories supplies the gift card.
'Tis the Season!
We wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year! 

But, one last serious question....

Do any of you actually feed your family brussel sprouts for Christmas dinner? And do people really use those little paper things on a turkey? Asking for a friend.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Iconic-Hollywood-Starlet-Photo-Recreation Challenge

The theme from LAST TIME was The Dollar Store Challenge, and the winning photographer was...
With her gorgeous golden glamour portrait of beautiful Amanda helped us choose a voter to receive a little gift from Sarah,
who had to accept defeat. Through her wailing and tears.
The winning voter was:
The little gift? 
A pumpkin-spice scented candle, and a mug full of chocolate treats.
Because it's pumpkin-spice and chocolate time of year. 
Thanks for voting, Nazali!

On to the new challenge!

This time, we worked extra hard to give you some good voting options.
Ones that don't make us wonder if we, as a country, have lost our ever-loving minds.

Melissa won the last challenge, which means she got to choose the new challenge.
The theme?


 The challenge is to each recreate an iconic photograph of their choice of Hollywood's beloved actresses.

One lucky voter will receive a $10 gift card to Amazon--land of 2-day shipping--provided by the losing photographer. 
Doesn't matter who you vote for, just be sure to share on one of our pages that you voted!

And you all are smarty pants and have started to figure out who is who during our blind challenges.
So we're going to be straight with you, and bare our souls and our photographs.
Be sure to vote, darn it!

"Liz Taylor"
Inspiration photo:

I was a more than a little excited when we decided to do a Hollywood Starlet challenge! I love anything and everything GLAM. I'm so intrigued by makeup and hair and fashion and who did all those things better than Elizabeth Taylor? She is epitome of beauty.

For my model, I knew I needed someone with dark hair, and the perfect nose. So, I perused my facebook friends to see if I had anyone matching that description. Enter my friend Allison. Perfect!

Allison has long hair, but Liz had short hair in the photo so I started by adding some dry shampoo to Allison's hair to add some grip. Then I curled her whole head into ringlets so I could easily coil them around my finger and pin them, giving the illusion of shorter hair. For her makeup I kept it pretty simple. Liz was wearing classic makeup, nothing too dark or smokey so I just added some eyeliner, some blush, and some lipstick.

Liz Taylor is known for her "violet eyes" and her lush lashes. I added some false lashes to Allison and also changed her eye color in Photoshop. Here's a fun fact: did you know that Liz actually had a genetic mutation that gave her an extra row of lashes? Some girls have all the luck!

For the dress, I literally took a piece of satin-esque fabric that I already had and clamped and pinned Allison into it. Hey, it didn't need to be a functional dress... it just had to look like one for a few minutes! The backdrop is all Photoshop!


"I feel very adventurous. There are so many doors to be opened, and I'm not afraid to look behind them." -Elizabeth Taylor

"Audrey Hepburn"
Inspiration photo:

I chose Audrey Hepburn's famous photograph. Audrey had oodles  of poise, class, and sophistication. I have always been mesmerized by this photo shoot from her Breakfast at Tiffany's movie; I'm in love with the lighting, the styling, the posing. The Audrey.
For my model, I reached out to Jessica Brubaker, who had offered to model during a model call for a previous challenge. I thought she'd make a great Audrey Hepburn, and she sounded like someone that would be fun to work with. I was excited when she agreed to come pose for me!
I'm no Melissa Prout when it comes to hair and makeup. Let me say that right now.
I put Jessica's hair in a French twist (kind of clumsily, but swearing I know Photoshop), and Jessica did her own makeup.
She also fixed the ends of her hair to recreate the look of bangs. Preferable to having me cut bangs for her, I suppose.
The dress was a $5 score from Goodwill in Mt Pleasant.
The tiara was part Dollar Tree birthday tiara, part sparkly rose bracelet that I already had.
Necklace was created with a rhinestone butterfly pin (Dollar Tree again) and a few pearl necklaces from my jewelry box.
Long gloves and cigarette holder I had to order. Amazon Prime, baby!

 Jessica followed posing instructions amazingly well. I used small clamps to bring up the neckline of the dress and to cinch the bottom half to give her the streamline shape of Audrey's look.

The original photo has screen panels on each side of Audrey. I had none, so I shot Jessica on plain backdrop paper, and added the panels later during post-processing. It's actually a lace photoshop stamp that I enlarged and shaded for more of a 3D look.

I think I need to hang this in my office. When I get an office.

"For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone." 
-Audrey Hepburn

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

The Dollar Store Challenge

The theme for last month's challenge was "Photoshop" and the winner was....


Her adorable shot of my (Melissa) babies and her niece as the fairy won by a landslide!
I mean... I can't even be mad... those are some great genes there!

But what voter gets the prize? 

Creepy picture of the Queen because why not. 
As always, a randomly selected voter wins a prize as a little "hey thanks!" for voting. After all, without voters to determine a winner... it wouldn't be much of a challenge! This month's winning voter is:


(the Teysha of Teysha's Creations email addy)
Melissa will be contacting you soon!

The New Challenge

The theme for this month is the Dollar Store challenge. Considering we both love dollar stores (who doesn't!?), and really wanted to push ourselves creatively, we only allowed a max of $20 to spend.  Any look, any model, anything we could dream up could be created.... as long as it cost $20 or less! 

This is a Blind Challenge 

Meaning, just as before, we aren't telling you which photographer shot which image! 

We want you to vote for the ART, not the photographer.
And as always, the WINNER of the challenge choose the theme of the next challenge.
The LOSER of the challenge will send a little gift to one of you lovely voters.
So, read each little blurb, look at the images, and choose your favorite!



I walked into the swankiest dollar store in town, armed with my $20 and was prepared for.....nothing! I really had no idea what look I wanted to achieve or what theme I wanted to play with. I wandered around hoping something would catch my eye and the first thing I spotted were these really pretty ivory and lace table runners. Ooh la la, possibilities! 

BUT wait... 

These cost what? $4.50!!?!?!   Each?

I thought this was the dollar store. You know, where things cost ONE DOLLAR.

I was wrong. So wrong. 

So, after considering my other options and looking around a bit more, I decided to bite the bullet and spend the $9 on my table runners. Silver lining though, the lace is beautiful and I can use it to DIY some newborn rompers when I'm done. Score one for me!

Next, I found some temporary tattoos in a shiny gold. They had kind of an Arabian/Princess Jasmine vibe to them and suddenly I had visions of gold and sparkle and shine! Also stumbled upon a really pretty gold necklace and some Jennifer Lopez earrings (which have found a home in my jewelry box) as well as some gold glitter eyeliner, big eyelashes, and safety pins. Can you believe my $20 was gone already? Time to start creating! 
I didn't end up using that round doily. Darn! I could have bought something else!


 Big thanks to Amanda for enduring my sweet makeup skills! 
I had Amanda curl her own hair, but I applied her makeup. I wanted her to look luminous and glowy and drenched in gold. I used both table runners to fashion a "shirt" using safety pins to hold it together. Bobby pinned the necklace to her hair, applied the tattoos, and used the gold side of a reflector as a background! 

And seriously, can I get an AMEN on this eye makeup?



I waited until the very last minute to do my shopping. I'd like to say it's because I work extremely well under pressure, but the real reason is, basically, that I'm me.
So, anyhoo, I was already shopping in Midland the day before the shoot, so I opted for Dollar Tree. Where everything really is just a dollar.
I always wear my red lipstick when I dollar shop.
I was under the gun for time (again, because I am me), and after filling up the cart once and then deciding to put everything back and start over, knowing I was already running late, and my husband was waiting in the parking lot for me---it was just like a reality show---I finally settled on this cartful: 
Even had $1.00 left over--Someone's going on another dollar store shopping spree next week! Woot!
I took the cardboard from the valance package and made a crown for my model.
I put this with the burlapy flowers, braided the dollar store hair, had my model, the lovely Maria, lay down on the floor in the studio, and wrapped the paper gift bags around her as a top. The valance was partially cut into butterfly shapes, and the rest was made into a wrap.
I photographed her while balancing above her on a little wooden stepladder.
Dangerous, you say?
Maria may have been a little nervous, though.
But maybe not. She acted like a pro.


As you can see, I went with a shabby chic victorian rustic glamour nature princess vibe.
Maria, being a shabby chic victorian glamour nature princess. Maria is awesome. 

Time to VOTE
Leave your email if you want to be entered into a drawing
Remember, the losing photographer has to send out a little gift to someone! She will have to, may as well be you, right? 
You should also know that we won't do anything with your email other than contact you if you're the winner. We don't like spam, either.

Which one should win?
Email (opt):

Photographer A
Photographer B
online quiz maker

Friday, July 22, 2016

The Photoshop Challenge


It appears we skipped the month of June. But, in our defense, June is a busy month! There's graduations, and open houses, and weddings, and too much to do! To be honest, the month just flew by and when it was over we kind of looked at each other like "June? It's over? It's seriously July already?" One AWESOME thing we learned from skipping a month was just how many of you truly do read this blog, and really do anticipate seeing the new challenges! That blew us away, and made us both so excited to continue doing these challenges! Thank you for reaching out and asking "so where the heck is the new challenge?!" We promise to get our act together!


That said, the last challenge was the Nature Challenge. And the winning photographer chosen by your votes was... drumroll please....


The stunning model, Hannah, acting like a total wind/stormy/bohemian nature goddess. 


As always, we draw the name of a voter at random and that voter wins a prize! 
This month's lucky winner is JENNIFER ZIELINSKI!
 Congratulations Jennifer and thanks for voting!
And no, you didn't win a chicken dinner.

This is what will be coming to Jennifer...wonderful handmade goatsmilk soaps from Kid Acres Soap Shoppe:

Smells so good, and makes your skin as soft as a baby's lil' tush!

The New Challenge

The theme this time around is The Photoshop Challenge. 
There really weren't any rules to this challenge. Basically we were to plan a themed image, photograph it, and then drastically enhance it in Photoshop to bring it to life!

This is a Blind Challenge Ya'll

Meaning, just as before, we aren't telling you which photographer shot which image!
We want you to vote for the ART, not the photographer.
So, read each little blurb, look at the images, and choose your favorite!



Summertime brings the only insect that I truly think is pretty cool---fireflies. 
They're so's kind of a fun Michigan kid summer thing to go out and capture them in a jar for a little while. And by the way, since Amazon has EVERYTHING, you can now buy your own firefly-in-a-jar, and let the real bugs keep their freedom. 
It's like childhood in a jar! 
We didn't have Amazon when I was a kid. Had to go out and catch them ourselves. Anyhoo, fireflies are what sparked (pun!) my idea for my image. I needed children...which, between the two of us, we have plenty to choose from. And instead of them capturing a firefly, how cool would it be to capture a fairy?! 
When I was little, we had these old, old story books--a fairy tale treasury--on our bookshelves that had wonderful stories and beautiful illustrations. 
I'd spend hours reading those.

This image is as inspired by those books as it is by this carefree (albeit very warm) summer.

Sarah's very lovely niece played the part of the fairy.
Gorgeous girl!
These two little cuties are Melissa's kiddos.
The images of the models were combined with a separate image of the jar.
True experts at being photography subjects.
 All were shot against a blue chromakey background, which ended up being such a very pretty color that I decided to keep it.
Photoshop has "brushes" that you can collect and stamp onto an image, and I was able to find a moon, some branches, fairy wings, and little glowy itty bitty fireflies (lightning bugs?).


Detail view of the fairy...she's too beautiful to not see up close:



 My first thought was to do something creepy, but every concept I came up with was too "halloween-ish". Somehow my mind drifted to Edgar Allan Poe and at first I was going to do something based on the Telltale Heart. That morphed into the Telltale Heart, Raven wings.... basically just a bunch of "Poe" stuff. I thought it would be cool to incorporate a hand drawn anatomically correct heart, and well lookie here.... my model is an artist and already had drawn one! It was meant to be! 
Seriously, how awesome is this? Can you believe she drew this?!?
I was still undecided about some parts of my final image during the shoot and was kind of winging it (psshh I NEVER do that ha ha) until my model mentioned a poem called Annabel Lee. I looked it up, and it was EXACTLY the inspiration I needed! I based the final look of my image off that poem. I styled my model, did her hair and makeup, and photographed her holding a little wooden box. I then superimposed her heart drawing into the box, added ravens exploding out of her hair, cracked her face (as she was my little broken porcelain doll), and added gears into her head because why not? I also did some other things like enlarging her eyes to help with the porcelain doll look, and specific image toning.


I turned this.... 

....into this!

For the moon never beams, without bringing me dreams
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And the stars never rise, but I feel the bright eyes
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
Of my darling -- my darling -- my life and my bride,
In her sepulchre there by the sea,
In her tomb by the sounding sea.

If you want to read the whole poem, go here.

Voting has ended!
Thank you for your votes--you all are great!
Stay tuned to hear the results
(and also to find out who is the lucky voter)

Friday, May 20, 2016

The Nature Challenge

Last month's challenge was the Garbage Bag Challenge and the winner was...
I know, I know.... Garbage Bag Couture at its finest right here!


Melissa's gothic/high fashion/whatever else it was creation was chosen as the favorite by YOU the voters. Speaking of voters, we draw a name at random from the voting pool after each challenge and that month's winner was PATTY SEYMOUR
Patty received a little gift from Sarah...a Marvel coffee mug with m&m's. Oh, yeah.

To see what voters have received in the past, check out Melissa's blog here.

This month's challenge is aptly titled "The Nature Challenge".
Since Melissa won the previous challenge she got to choose the theme and the rules. 


  1. You may use any age/gender for a model.
  2. You must use elements found in nature to create a look that embodies the theme of "Nature".
  3. That's it---Anything goes from there on out!
And this time we are doing something a little different. 
We are not telling you who photographed which image. 
Simply vote for your fave without having to choose between Team Melissa or Team Sarah!

Once again---winner chooses the next challenge, loser sends a little gift to one of you wonderful voters. (be sure to leave your email so we can enter it and find you!)

A few notes from the photographers
(Who will remain nameless. For now.)

Somewhere in my internet travels I had come across this amazing gown with a bodice make completely of flowers. I'm not talking Halloween costume type of dress...I'm talking Beyonce wearing it to the Met Gala type of dress. So I did what I normally do and took a screenshot, archiving it in my special folder full of special ideas that I may someday come back to. So, helllooooo nature challenge! I already had the white gown, which is actually someone's old wedding dress, and just needed to "nature-ify" it up. My first stop was the flower shop, as I knew I wanted to use real flowers. The colors of the flowers were determined by what the florist had hanging around that were almost dead and therefore the cheapest. My only requirements were no neons or unnatural colors! My next stop was to my front yard where I gathered up pieces of this and that out of my perennial flower beds and maaaaaaaaaybe some of last year's dead leftovers that I never cleaned up. But, you didn't hear that from me. I wanted to go with a dark edit, something that really embodied what the weather was like that day. Which was rainy, cold, and dreary. Perfect day for a photo shoot, right? 

Remember that crazy cold winter we had? And how we thought spring was coming because it got really warm, but then it got really cold again and snowed? 
And how this was repeated 57 times? 
Well, we finally....FINALLY....had spring*. Buds appeared on trees, birds started singing, and I was inspired. I found a blossomed-filled tree, and I put a bird's nest on my lovely model's head (faux, because I wouldn't do that to my model or birds) , a tutu around her neck, and a homemade "nest" skirt around her waist.
I think she has a bit of an Effie Trinket vibe (any Hunger Games fans out here?). I played around a bit while editing this later, also chose colors that give it a bit of a cinematic look.
Our shoot took place at a park, and as an older gentleman bicycled past us, he uttered, and I quote, "Oh my.......". That's what art does. It evokes emotion. 
*It snowed again less than a week after this shoot. 

Speaking of nature, after you vote, go out and breathe in some fresh air, smell some flowers, listen to some birds. 
If you're stuck inside, you can check this out for the next nine hours or so:


As always, one lucky voter will receive a little prize....that could be you!
You may enter & vote once a day.
PVP Nature Challenge
Email (for prize drawing):

This One
That One

Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Garbage Bag Challenge

The winner of the previous challenge is... 
Sarah! with her movie-inspired image
(for the 3 people in the world who have never seen this movie---
Sarah's was based on The Princess Bride)
(Also, 3 people---watch that movie.)

And our winning voter is...
Amber, you'll be getting a little gift from Melissa. :)
Thanks for your vote!

The new challenge.

heh heh heh

I know what you're thinking:
"I have lots of garbage bags at home that I'd love to wear. But how? How, Melissa and Sarah, do I wear them?"
Well, sit tight.

Create and photograph a look using garbage bags.
And tape. Tape's okay, too.

Melissa and Sarah both wanted to make something gorgeous out of something a non-glamorous as trash bags, yet each went in a totally opposite direction with this challenge.

Melissa went with black garbage bags.
Melissa spared no expense and went with the Walmart brand

Sarah chose white
Sarah spared even less expense and went with Dollar General bags.

Check out the behind-the-scenes videos:
Click here to see Melissa's
Click here to see Sarah's

Final Images:
(Mobile Viewers: please tap on each image to see a full size/higher res version)
by Melissa
by Sarah

Melissa: I have found the one thing the internet does not have. Regular sized colored garbage bags. I reeeeeally wanted to use grey or tan or even a light pink garbage bag for this challenge but struck out everywhere! I could find primary colors, but nothing in the hue I wanted so.... Wal Mart to the rescue! I opted for traditional black and decided to step out of my comfort zone and shoot something dark and moody. My model, Skyler, is seen here wearing about 45 of the finest (a.k.a. cheapest, hey I was just going to cut them up!) black garbage bags I could find and a roll of black duct tape. I spent close to 4 hours creating the dress and in all honesty, was very relieved to find that it photographed very well! Skyler was an amazing model and didn't bat an eye when she
discovered I was going to dress her up in garbage bags!

Sarah: I had a box of kitchen trash bags that were too small for our trash can (note to self: get the TALL ones next time). Since I had gotten the most votes with the last challenge, I got to pick the theme for this one. I finally had a way of putting those bags to use!
I was thinking about doing something poofy. Perhaps ballerina-inspired. I was going to go all avant garde, with a large headpiece and bold makeup, but the girl I had in mind to model was going to be out of town the day of the shoot. My niece, albeit a bit younger, was willing to model, but she couldn't make it over, either! Shortly after I got that message, I was contacted by the grandmother of a young model, asking about a shoot. Perfect timing!
As my models got younger and younger, I changed up my design. It took several hours to make, and I had my moments of "what did I get myself into??" but I finished it up the morning of the shoot, and when Harper arrived she was the perfect model, and made those garbage bags look divine!
She is wearing fifty garbage bags, and is absolutely beautiful!

REMEMBER: To be eligible for the drawing, you must leave your name so we can find you!
UPDATE: Voting's over! 
Thanks for your vote!
Winning photographer and winning voter will be announced later this week.