Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Judging the Boys & Girls Club National Photo Competition

I was honored to be asked to judge The ImageMakers national photo competition for the Boys & Girls Club of America yesterday. All of the images in the contest had won both local and regional competitions in the United States and abroad and were up for some fantastic prizes with this final national competition. They had the opportunity to win $3,000 within each of the 5 categories and a free trip to San Francisco for the winners of the portfolio competition.

It was so much fun to look through images that the kids had taken. Their perspective on family, friends, the environment, poverty and nature left me awestruck. The creativity, vision and originality was impressive. The images were divided by category and age group (ages 6-18). The youngest group were kids 6-9 years old and I must say (I mean write) that their images were among some of the best. There is definitely some fantastic talent out there and it's great that all the kids are being encouraged to experiment and have fun with photography. One girl's portfolio explained how photography has become so much more than a hobby. She wrote that she suffers from depression and that photography is the only thing that makes her happy, that gave her peace. How amazing to find something that can do that for you and even better that she found it at such a young age.

The wonderful staff at BGCA who organized the contest are Jennifer Young and Cristin Cerda. My other judging buddies were Roberto Arevalo and Kelly LaDuke.

Roberto and Kelly debating over which image is stronger....

Roberto reading an entry in the Photo Essay category. All these entries dealt with "G'Local Issues. Global and Local issues impacting Our Communities."

Some of our favorite images. The goldfish that I'm holding was AMAZING! The photographer was able to capture bubbles coming from the fish's mouth. It is so difficult to do macro (close-up) photography on moving things like a goldfish. Kuddos!

Thanks again BGCA, Jennifer, Crista and Elaina!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Baby Addison

Sorry, I just couldn't resist this adorable tush as the first slide in Addison's slideshow! Addison's portrait session was the 3rd furthest distance I've traveled for a session (McDonough, GA) and wow, was the trip worth it! Addison and her parents are fantastic. Really nice people and she couldn't be more cute. She was getting over being sick and although she was napping when I arrived, after she woke up she quickly lost energy and almost fell asleep twice. Her mom says that it takes a while before she finally gives in and falls asleep even if she's exhausted. Which explains why I was able to photograph her dozing off to sleep in her crib and then wide awake and smiling. So funny! I'm sure many of you mommies can relate.

Click the picture to view the slideshow and enjoy!

Portrait Day 2008 - some details

After last year's successful first Annual Portrait Day, I have my sites set on a bigger event filled with local children's shops and companies that provide services to families and kids. In addition to a larger all-day event where you can mingle with other parents and the kids can meet and play together, we will be donating a portion of the proceeds to a worthy non-profit. I've placed a poll at the top of this blog because I'd love your input on which organization you think we should donate to.

If you have suggestions of business you think would like to be involved, please write it in the comments section below. This year's Portrait Day will be in September so check back to learn more about the fun event!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Carly's Bat Mitzvah

Carly's Bat Mitzvah and Reception were fantastic! Although I didn't attend the actual Bat Mitzvah, I heard that she did an amazing job leading services and reading from the Torah. In fact, her dad said that she thrives under pressure so the nerves I saw at the rehearsal must have helped her do an outstanding job.

Just a couple weeks before the big weekend, we did some portraits of Carly on the tennis court and at their home. Then with the help of her mom and a friend, she chose three images for the sign-in board at the party. You'll see a shot of that in the slideshow. I love that they wanted to do something a bit out of the ordinary and include more than just one photo.

All the details that were meticulously put together were great. From pink Gerber daisies to Carly's name in lights, from jewelry engraving to green-screen photos, from flat screens showing the party to festive lighting throughout the room, the party was fantastic and it was great to be a part of it.

Services were held at The Temple.
The reception was at the newly renovated W Atlanta Midtown Hotel.
Catering by W Atlanta Midtown
Event Coordination by Sharon at It's My Party, Inc.
Music and Entertainment by EventOvation

If you'd like to be notified when the Preview Website (with all the pictures from the portrait, rehearsal and reception) is released, click here to add your email address.

Click the picture below to view the slideshow.

Mazel Tov Carly!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Alyssa & Anthony

Another beautiful day of adventure at The Roswell Mill. Alyssa and Anthony are 8 year old twins who's personalities definitely came out during our shoot. Alyssa is pensive, calm and cautious while Anthony is talkative, curious and adventurous. Despite the heat, we had a great time playing in the Chattahoochee River.

This portrait session brought to you by ...... Alyssa and Anthony's Great Aunt who gave the portrait session as a 10 year wedding anniversary to their parents. What a great way to celebrate such a wonderful occasion. While I photograph mostly babies, toddlers, young children, and weddings, and I look forward to my own wedding this fall, 10 years sounds like a huge and amazing accomplishment. So, congratulations!

Enjoy the mini slideshow below and the full version here.

Discount for FunFest

I just received an email about a great discount on tickets for Saturday's FunFest.

Use the coupon code "NEWSLETTER" and pay only $7.50 for each ticket ($10 regular price and on the day of the event). Click here to purchase your tickets now.

Am I looking out for you or what?!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Kids' FunFest this Saturday


This Saturday I'm participating in a festival celebrating kids and healthy living.

Join me for a great afternoon at
The Frazier Center
Saturday, June 14
12pm - 6pm.

Visit the Children's Wellness Network website
for more information and purchase your tickets here.
Kids are FREE!

Activities include:
Puppet-making with The Center for Puppetry Arts
Bird Show
Belly dancing
and a Documentary Film by Two Angry Moms about improving school lunches

Some of the sponsors and other businesses involved include Sevananda, Flying Biscuit, Get Outdoors America, REI, and Captain Planet.

The event is located at TheFrazier Center
1815 Ponce de Leon Avenue
Atlanta, GA 30307
Between Virginia-Highland and Decatur
Get Directions

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Ryen at the Park

The last time I photographed Ryen was September. When I met her, her parents and grandparents at Peachtree Heights Park in Buckhead last weekend, I couldn't get over how much she has grown in just 9 months. She has become a beautiful little girl and I just loved capturing her laughter.

She had me laughing when her dad handed her some bread to feed the geese and instead popped the bread into her mouth. But she learned that the geese would like some too and did offer them some of the yummy bread.

I was feeling that some retro & antique effects would enhance this series of images. And l love how they turned out.

Enjoy the min-slideshow below or the full size here.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

June 1, 2003 - Day 0

Sunday was a BIG DAY for me. It's hard to believe but Sunday, June 1st marked my FIVE YEAR ANNIVERSARY. It's been 5 years since I took the plunge and started Sara Speert Photography back in 2003. My memories of that day are somewhat vague but I do remember exactly how I felt that morning I woke up without a job to go to. Let me rephrase that, without a job to go to with someone else as boss. It was a REALLY exciting and invigorating moment because I had been unhappy with my full-time job for sometime, but it was also really scary. The thought of not receiving a bi-weekly paycheck was terrifying. But I guess not terrifying enough not to take the risk. I was definitely naive to the reality of what I was about to take on, and it's probably a good thing that I didn't know all that I was about to face because I may not have done it. Since then, I've realized that I have to think a while before making big decisions. the pros and cons, whether I can actually picture myself succeeding, blah blah blah. So I have a feeling I would have been swayed by the fear of the unknown and of failure, and never begun.

Good thing I didn't! The last five years have been amazing. I have learned so much about stretching myself artistically, technically and about how to better run my business. I have also learned a tremendous amount about myself, about balancing personal time and work, and how I handle stress. (And after 5 years, I can safely say that I have perfected all these things...... yeah, right.)

I have also learned how amazing the photographic community is. When I first started pursuing my then hobby for photography, I found that there were a handful of pros in the Atlanta area who truly enjoyed sharing their experience and knowledge but overall, most kept things close to their chests. When I first moved to Atlanta and decided photography may be something I'd like to pursue, I opened the Yellow Pages to "photographers" and found an ad for a photographer in Roswell, GA. Little did I know that a simple cold-call to him would open up a world of opportunity and a chain of events and decisions that have led me here. John Haigwood was so generous to open up his studio to me. He offered advice, his experience and opened his darkroom to me so that I could work on my technique and art. At the time, he was still operating from the basement of his home and his wife and kids were so great to me.

I remember John's daughter was having a birthday party at their home and John asked if I'd like to come by to take some pictures and play with some of his amazing lenses. I took a photograph then with the first wide-angle lens I'd ever used of his daughter enjoying her cake with a flurry of kids and families around her all there to celebrate her birthday. It is still one of my favorite images for the moment it captured and how the angles of the ceiling "point" at my adorable subject.

Early images like this one convinced me that photography was not only something I enjoyed, but it was something I did well and really could be a career. Thanks to John for his vote of confidence in my talent and perseverance and to the countless other photographers and family and friends who have shared ideas with me and taught me so much.

Here's to 5 more!

Monday, June 02, 2008


The newest reason why Nick and I love our new house. OUTDOOR MOVIE THEATER!

After having some friends over for a Memorial Day grill-out, we decided we wanted to watch a movie. Not an unusual occurrence in our house, but I came up with the idea of projecting the movie onto the side of the house so we could continue to enjoy the beautiful evening. And of course, we had to choose a scary movie. So, Nick set up the stereo so that we could hear each little detail of frightening suspense as we huddled together for What Lies Beneath. (Harrison Ford plays the villain for once.) With every little noise in the bamboo next to us, I jumped. :)

Here are some pictures of what will definitely become a monthly tradition. Now we just have to figure out how we can fit more people on the deck to watch the next flick with us.

The deck is wrapped by our house on three sides and bamboo on the fourth so it's a really great space for watching movies without bothering all the neighbors.

The lovely bamboo. :)