As I’ve mention before, I love editorial work. I think it’s because I spent years as an Art Director for a magazine publishing company, hiring photographers, concepting ideas and designing layouts. But then, after working with so many photographers, the photography bug hit me and I completely switched gears. However, I think being on both sides has really helped me understand the complete editorial process better. And now I love working with the art directors and editors to give them the photographs they need to tell their stories..
I was excited when Birmingham Magazine asked me to shoot the Mercedes Marathon feature for the February 2015 issue. This city and our running community, is so proud of the Mercedes Event; and it’s one that has grown tremendously since the runners crossed the very first Mercedes Marathon finish line at Lynn Park 13 years ago.
The images for this shoot evolved over several weeks. First, I had the privilege of spending a half day at The Bell Center Early Intervention Program, seeing the amazing kids, teachers, volunteers and programs this race benefits. Then, I followed the Birmingham Track Club, jumping in and out of my car with my camera as they ran all over Homewood and Mountain Brook, on two early and cold Saturday mornings in December. Later, I enjoyed getting to meet the people and inspiration behind organizing this incredible event. Paul Sotherland is a runner and a Dad whose son Matt has downs syndrome. Out of a desire to encourage Matt and be his health advocate, came the idea for a race that would benefit his early intervention program, at what is now The Bell Center. Valerie McLean, owner of The Trak Shak, helped Paul with his training and became inspired by Paul and Matt’s story to organize what is now the Mercedes Marathon. You can read the full story “Running This Town” here.
Every time I shoot for Birmingham Magazine I learn a little more about The Magic City, where I have lived all my life (except for college and an internship), and it makes me love it even more. The icing on the cake for photographing this story was that my image made the cover! I love my job and I love this city. It just keeps getting better and better.
Valerie McLean, Mercedes Marathon race organizer & Trak Shak owner
Valerie McLean with Paul and Matt Sotherland, the father and son that inspired the Mercedes Marathon race.
Fitness Model: Katie Dunn | Lighting Assistant: Alan Matthews
For the August issue of Birmingham Magazine, I photographed former Alabama Crimson Tide football player, Chester Lewis’ pimped out RV and competition traveling BBQ pit/smoker. I promise you that his RV was fancier than my house. It even had heated floors! But, inside I had to get it some awkward positions to photograph in some of the tightest spaces I’ve ever had to shoot. I love to be challenged in new ways! I’ll post just one image of Chester here, but you can see the rest of the images on al.com here. He definitely tailgates in style. Roll Tide!
Last month I photographed one of the oldest still-standing houses in Mountain Brook, Alabama for Birmingham Magazine. Thought to be one of the original farmhouses in what was the Watkins Dairy neighborhood, this house had roots in Mountain Brook before it was even incorporated. The Whatley’s beautiful home was a design collaboration by the owner of the home, Hoodie Whatley, and Birmingham based Mary Ruth Caldwell of Caldwell Flake Interiors, who also happens to be Hoodie’s mother.
It’s always a privilege to shoot editorial work with the fantastic team at Birmingham Magazine, and I love to see designers’ talents and get ideas for my own home when I shoot interiors. And, any home with turquoise accents is definitely one I’m going to love. You can see the full article here.
Last month I once again had the privilege and pleasure to shoot for Birmingham Magazine. I’m thrilled every time they ask me to shoot for them. There’s just something special about being published in your hometown magazine. My assignment was to photograph restauranteur, John Cassimus’ Sawtooth Plantation home for the November issue.
When we arrived at the plantation, I photographed the inside of John’s home designed by the talented Adams-Gerndt Design Group. Later, we all rode around the land in his pickup truck, with the windows rolled down, on a beautiful October day, listening to country music while we worked. Every now and then I would yell “Stop the truck!” so I could jump out and grab a shot. John was a fantastic host and ended our long day of shooting with a fire in the firepit at sunset, and a delicious southern meal cooked in his well-appointed kitchen. We sat around his cozy dinner table listening to his story of a boy with big dreams, who was inspired by the great outdoors and his mom, who is an amazing cook. Out of this inspiration grew the Zoes Kitchen franchise, which today has over 100 locations nationwide. When John sold Zoes, he built his home on acres of sawtooth oak tree-lined hunting land outside of Auburn, Alabama, hence the name. The ironic thing is he played football at the University of Alabama. So, when you drive through the gates, one of the first things you see, is a barn with a huge classic Alabama “A” on the front of it and the windows trimmed in crimson red. Roll Tide! This assignment was pretty much right in my wheelhouse. Such a fun day on the job! Thanks to my friends at Birmingham Magazine who made my work look good with their talented writing and beautiful layout. Be sure to pick up a copy of the November food issue on newsstands now.
B Metro Magazine held a contest for their Cutest Baby article in the current May issue. I posted on my Facebook page for clients to let me know if they wanted me to enter a photo I had taken of their baby. My sweet and long-time client Kimberly wanted to enter her ADORABLE daughter, Allie. Much to our excitement, not only did Allie make the article, she made the title page! Isn’t she a doll!!
And, I’m a teeny bit excited to have my images in both Birmingham Magazine and B Metro Magazine in the same month! Being published is always a compliment for which I am always grateful.
This year I have been doing editorial photography for Birmingham Magazine, which is a dream come true for me. I love that I get to shoot for the magazine that represents the city I grew up in and have lived in my whole life. Before I started my photography business, I was an art director for a magazine publisher, so I’ve been on that side of things. I truly believe that experience has helped me shoot for magazine layouts with the art director’s needs in mind. Plus, meeting and working with other creative people in this city always inspires me…and this is an exceptionally fun group!
Last month I photographed three homes for the Dwelling article of the current May issue, which features kids’ spaces. Since my core business for so long has been kids and families, it allowed me to combine my loves of home design, photography and kids! The photos on this blog are just some of my personal favorites from the shoots. To read the full story, grab a copy of Birmingham Magazine. The stories behind the spaces make them even more special.
The fun outdoor space I photographed in the Altadena area, just happened to be the home of some dear friends. We met years ago at a Bible Study at Briarwood, our children have been friends since birth, and I’ve been photographing their three daughters since they were babies. Needless to say, this shoot was done from the heart.
And, here is Lucy’s fabulous tween room in Crestline. It was a sweet surprise from Lucy’s mom and their decorator, Pam Evans.
And the last space I’ll share with you is Jack’s nursery, playroom and big boy bedroom in Vestavia. Watching Jack play with his Thomas the Train set brought back sweet memories of the years my son walked around with a “choo choo” train in his hand at all times.
Jack was adorable riding his lamb rocker in his nursery, which happened to be my favorite color!
Jack will soon graduate to his super cute and outdoorsy big boy room.
And here is an Instagram my friend Laura took. I’m thinking one day Jack might trade in his Thomas train for a camera!