Mariposa Studio and COVID-19

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I love my clients at Mariposa Studio and want you and your family to always be in your best health!

I am still doing consultations, either virtually or in person, and I would love to simply chat with you about all the things you love and treasure about your family, pets, friends, partner, etc. That’s always the first step for all of my sessions, so we can start that beautiful planning process right away! And who knows, talking about what you love about your kids could be the perfect antidote to having them home all the time!

I don’t often offer deals or discounts, but while we wait out the coronavirus, I am making an exception.

You can save today on your past or future session with Mariposa Studio with a secure gift certificate purchase below! Choose any amount, combine amounts, purchase more than one, gift friends and family or gift yourself.

Remember the session fee is only $100 on weekdays and prints start at only $50!


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Here is where I’d usually have Terms and Conditions but there are very few conditions with these gift certificates!

• You can combine them with another offer.  Want the gift of photography for your upcoming wedding/baby/senior? Share this link with your friends!

• They do not expire.

• They can be purchased in a variety of denominations.

• Each gift certificate is discounted 20 percent, so when you go to use them you will have more money to spend!

• These can be used to purchase from a past session, so if you fell in love with something when we had our photo shoot, you can purchase these and get a sweet deal!

• They are not redeemable for cash at face value, but if we find these absolutely will not work for you then I do have a refund policy. If you have any questions about this, please feel free to call me at 501.517.0962.



Dog Tips: Roaming Free

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As a pet photographer, of course I love dogs! After all, I had a choice about what to focus on in my business, and I chose pets, which to a large extent means dogs.

If you read any of my blog posts or Facebook posts, you know there’s another side to me, and that’s the distance runner side. As a distance runner, I spend a lot of time on the roads of Little Rock, because you can’t drive out to the trails every day if you live in the middle of town and need to also take time for important things like taking care of a family, or running a business.

One thing that always shocks me is the number of dogs that are running around loose, virtually every time I go for a run.

I’m not talking about stray dogs. I’m talking about dogs that belong to someone … usually that person who is standing there in their front yard, with their unleashed dogs, chatting with their neighbor, until I come along and one or more of the dogs start chasing me.

This usually provokes a frenzy of upset shouting from the dog owner, sometimes quite loud and frantic screaming, which (because it’s a dog) more often upsets the dog and (because I’m a pet lover) also upsets me.

Let me make this clear: I’m upset not because your dog is chasing me, not because the dog did anything at all wrong, but because the DOG OWNER is being irresponsible and acting in a manner that could very easily cause harm to the pet.

As a pet photographer, I have to think like a dog. I’m always surprised at the number of pet owners who are surprised at this! For example, if you’re a dog, and (like most dogs) you don’t understand electricity and how humans have the power to harness it, then my off-camera flash can look a lot like lightning. For some dogs who are scared of lightning, this is a terrible thing, which is why I try to always be ready with Plan B where lighting is concerned.

In Dog World, your dog sees one thing: what he’s interested in at the time. It’s part of the beauty of dogs, that they can put such intense focus on the thing that fascinates them at any given time.

So you’re standing in your front yard with your very good dog! And all of a sudden she starts running towards me, or a squirrel, chipmunk, our neighborhood fox, or a small child.

At that point, your dog is out of your control. Something else has hooked her attention. What she may not see is the car speeding towards her. I live in dread of the day when the two things that often occur during my runs occur simultaneously: a careless driver and a loose dog.

The solution to this is to keep your dog secure. In my neighborhood there seems to be a particularly bad problem with dogs running loose, given that we are bordered on north, south, east and west by four very busy streets, all less than a mile and a half away (a very short run for these descendants of wolves we love so much!)

I know that in Arkansas, a good many people live in the country, where you may have acres and acres for your dog to run, but in the middle of Little Rock, it’s really scary to think about a dog being loose. And, with all the tick fever we have been having, let alone other hazards like hunters and wild animals, even for country folks it’s never a bad idea to keep your dog’s roaming territory a bit limited.

Secure means this: behind a gate, inside, or on a leash (PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE NO CHAINS!!! That’s a whole different, very furious blog post.) No matter how good your dog is, he/she is still a dog and can easily get distracted.

And for the truly loose dogs, those little sneaky escape artists (I have one) I will be the person who lovingly brings them home and calls the number on their tag and waits with them and (if they need it) comforts them until you get there! All I want is for your best buddy to be safe and secure so y’all can be buddies for a long, long time!


Pet Photography Myths

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You’ve heard about pet portraits, but you aren’t 100 percent convinced they are for your pet.

It’s not uncommon. Many people have concerns about their pet, from behavioral concerns to worries about how their dog will look in photos.

That’s why I’m here! I think every pet deserves a chance to shine in front of the camera! So read on for some of the concerns that I know you have, and let’s get those cleared up so you can have those beautiful photos you always wanted.

Myth #1: Black pets don’t photograph well.

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The truth: Black pets are my favorites! You might think I am crazy when I pose your black pet in front of a black backdrop, but trust me, the results are simply stunning! With the right lighting, black pets literally shimmer.

Myth #2: My pet has to know how to sit for them to take good photos.

The truth: Active or sedentary, your pet is perfect for photos. I want to capture the true personality of your fur baby in the photos, so for an active dog we will get him to jump and play in the studio, and for a cat that loves to lie around, I will bring out the comfy chair.

Myth #3: My pet will misbehave.

The truth: I know pets. I understand their behavior. I don’t believe in bad pets! I know that some pets have quirks, and some pets haven’t completely been trained, and I am okay with that! Trust my, my own pets misbehave sometimes, too.

Myth #4: My pet is too young.

The truth: When photographing children, we all know that there’s a limited amount of time to get that baby stage, the toddler stage, the preschool stage. The time frame with pets is even smaller; they go from tiny puppies or kittens to full-grown adults in a matter of months, not years. So the puppy isn’t potty trained? So what? Bring her in. I’ll clean up after her and you’ll have those photos to treasure when she’s a grown-up.

Myth #5: I have an unusual pet, and you probably don’t photograph those.

The truth: I love all the pets! I have done portraits of guinea pigs, ferrets, a leopard gecko, and birds. I did have a snake in the studio once but he was shy, so I’m dying to photograph a beautiful snake.

 Myth #6: My pet is too old.

The truth: This is the myth that breaks my heart to hear … because older pets are our greatest joy. They have become treasured friends, constant companions, and have so much history with us. Capturing that love is so important!

 What other concerns do you have about getting pet portraits? Contact me and let’s talk through them, so I can create those glorious photos of your pet that I know you will love!


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Love, Love, Love Our Valentine’s Day Specials

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We are just starting transform sessions! We are partnering with PHD Argenta Day Spa to offer hair, makeup, and pampering before coming to the studio for a session that will celebrate everything wonderful about you! This is a great gift for that special someone to have a solo Transform Session, or it can be part of a Couples Transform Session where you celebrate your love together! Call us at 501-517-0962 for details!

[/et_pb_accordion_item][et_pb_accordion_item title=”Gift Certificate” _builder_version=”4.0.2″ open=”on” hover_enabled=”0″]We have gift certificates which cover the session fee, design consultation, and give some money to spend on our beautiful products! Purchase one for only $200 and we will give you $50 extra to spend!


[/et_pb_accordion_item][et_pb_accordion_item title=”FurEver Home Book” _builder_version=”4.0.2″ hover_enabled=”0″ open=”off”]Is your pet your love? Or does your love LOVE pets? Our beautiful book came out in December and features heartwarming photos and stories of some of the best rescue pets in the state!



Coming Soon: Pinup Party!

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Brought to you by Mariposa Studio and PHD Argenta Day Spa: a pinup party!

The party will be February 22, 2020, at the day spa, located at 417 Main Street in North Little Rock, Arkansas. (Update March 27, 2020: we are looking for a new date, some time after social distancing measures are relaxed.)

There will be only five slots available. The booking fee will include pinup hair and makeup, a photo session right there in the day spa, and your own personalized design consultation at Mariposa Studio (the design consultation will be booked separately from the day of the shoot, at your convenience).

Booking link to come soon!



New at Mariposa: Transform Sessions

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You asked,  I heard!

Last year on my 50th birthday I took some photos in the studio and posted them on Facebook. My friends and clients soon let me know that they would also love the chance to come into the studio and be fabulous.

To get this started, of course we need to be able to showcase what this will look like! We also have an extra special bonus! We are partnering with PHD Argenta Day Spa to have a full experience. You will be able to choose from a short menu of services including hair, makeup, mini-mani, and more, to get pampered and look your very best before heading over to our studio for your personalized photographic experience centering around YOU — your accomplishments, what makes you excited, the best of your character, proudest moments, etc.

We expect it will be a life-changing experience, which is why we’re calling them Transform Sessions.

Right now we’re seeking two or three people who can get this ball rolling for us. We can’t choose everybody … not just yet! But we hope that one or two of our amazing friends and clients can help us test-drive this experience.

What you’ll get: planning for your photo shoot that will explore and celebrate the bet parts of who you are, help with stylying and clothing choices, pampering from PHD Argenta Day Spa, a personalized photo shoot at Mariposa Studio, an in-person review of your photos immediately after your session, and $150 to spend towards your photographic artwork.

As always we’re delighted to help design one of our fabulous pieces of wall art, because we truly believe an amazing person like you deserves to be honored in a timeless portrait that you love.

Interested? Fill out the contact information below and we will be in touch.


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The Perfect Senior Photography Location for You

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My sister put me on notice during my niece’s junior year of high school: I want you do to her senior photos. And … NOT the beach. We can do them anywhere but the beach.

My sister (and my niece) live in Mississippi, and apparently every single one of her friends who had been seniors had done senior photos at the beach. Keep in mind that the beach is, minimum, 2.5 hours away from my hometown, and you can see how persistent trends in senior photography can be.

In Little Rock, locations like the Junction Bridge, the Old Mill, and the Clinton Library area can become over-used. Garvan Gardens, while not in Little Rock, is another popular Arkansas photography destination.

There’s also a common “look,” that, while not necessarily tied to a specific location, can cause your senior photos to blend in. It might be old barns one year, ancient broken-down trucks the next. It could be fields of tall grass (probably shouldn’t be with the recent outbreak of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever in Arkansas) or railroad tracks (DEFINITELY shouldn’t be since you’re breaking the law and putting your life in danger to boot).

Locations locations locations … how to make sure your own senior photos aren’t just a carbon copy of everyone else’s?

Here are some Do’s and Dont’s when it comes to picking a location that will make your senior photo session extra special.

1. DO Think about what is special to you. Do you love baseball? Have your happiest moments been spent hiking? Or are you an indoors sort of person who loves a good book? The advantage of picking a location that has meaning to you, is that it will also go a long way towards making sure you are comfortable and relaxed during your photo session.

2. DO Talk to your photographer about what you love. Your photographer should be asking questions so that they can tailor the session around you, anyway. Don’t be afraid to give him or her a general idea of what you would like. Specific locations aren’t necessary; in fact, it’s possible your photographer will be able to help. Gardens? A waterfall? A giant tree? Your photographer might just know the perfect accessible location!

3. DO Choose locations that are open to the public. Be aware that some locations require a fee, especially indoor locations. You may be expected to pay extra fees for sessions in privately-owned gardens, museums, or other private or semi-public spaces.

4. DO Plan around popular times if you are going to a popular location. One of our top senior portrait locations, The Old Mill, is completely packed with seniors and photographers on your average Friday evening in March. If you’re committed to the scenery, you will be able to get a lot more of it (and a lot less of photobombing tourists or even other photo sessions) if you schedule an off-peak time. Note that one reason so many people show up at the same time is that many photographers work a “day job” — so if your photographer is available during normal business hours that can be a real bonus.

5. DON’T Trespass. Sure, there are some cool locations out there, but any location that requires going onto private property should be off-limits unless you’ve received permission to photograph there. The good news? Permission is often very easy … simply a matter of you (or your photographer) making a phone call to ask. A side note: train tracks. You aren’t going to get permission, and it’s dangerous … so just don’t plan to take photographs there.

6. DO plan in advance. If you play baseball and want photos reflecting that, you can ask for permission to shoot at the ballpark. If being in the woods is your thing, find a location that provides a backdrop of trees or trails. Advance planning with your photographer can make many things happen!

7. DO look at other senior photos and if you see a location you like, call and ask about it!  Some photographers have access to exclusive locations … a photographer I met from Texas turned his entire yard into a park specifically for doing senior photos.

8. DO choose a standard location, but make it look different. When photographing at The Old Mill, for instance, I spend only a few moments getting the standard mill-in-the-background shot, because when clients see the other photos that one is seldom their favorite. There’s so much that can be done in a location, and every photographer will take a different approach. In the end, loving your senior photos comes down more to choosing a photographer you trust, and letting them get the most out of whatever location you decide upon for photos.


The Finish, Not the End

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In October of 2017 I did the impossible.

I did the crazy. The “It would be stupid of you to even try,” according to my ex-husband.

I did the thing I hadn’t even dared to dream. I ran Arkansas Traveller, a 100-mile race through the Ouachita National Forest, over Forest Service Roads, the Ouachita Trail, access roads, jeep trails, and one portion that only resembles a trail once a year, when it is bush-hogged for this very race.

Only two years before I was collapsed on a bathroom floor, thinking I was dying. I was so unhealthy, so tired, depressed, anxious, worn out.

The impossible: 100 miles. When I tell people I do this, they almost always ask, “How in the world can you run a 100 miles?”

And what I tell them is, I can’t run 100 miles. No one can run 100 miles. But you can run a mile, and then do it 99 more times.

Here’s the distinction: My brain cannot hold 100 miles of running. It’s too big of a thing to hold in your brain, and I think that’s why most people don’t attempt feats such as this. You have to chunk it down or you can’t do it. Most of us take it one aid station at a time. One segment at a time. Run from here to here, then a little further. One of my secrets is to break it down into the tiniest of tiny bits: 100 steps, a decimal point of a mile, to the top of the hill, around the curve. Whatever gets you a little further.

You do this, and you trust that the process of running, of going just a little further, of keeping your feet moving, will get you to where you want to go.

That’s also the secret to how I went from what the doctors called morbidly obese to an ultra runner in just over two years.

There were so many times over my lifetime that I lost a little bit of weight but then gave up, discouraged by my slow progress. Weight loss is slow, and the goal seems so far out of reach. Someone once said to me, “You didn’t get unhealthy in a day, and you won’t get healthy in a day either.” Wise words, but how discouraging!

It wasn’t until I learned how to just take the action without a mind for the results, just believing that I was doing something positive for myself, my health, and my family, that I actually saw the needle move on the scale in the direction I had always wanted it to go.

I had always been striving for the goal, and impatient for the journey. I had to do something different. I had to learn to enjoy the times I got out the door and got moving. Enjoy the taste of the roasted vegetables I made for dinner. Enjoy the unexpected pleasure that came when I stopped eating before I became uncomfortably full.

When I decided to run 100 miles for the first time, I was nervous. Terrified, in fact.  But there was a part of me that understood — I already knew how to do this. Just do it the way I lost weight, changed my body, changed my life. Just keep going.

In 2017 I did the unexpected (unexpected even by me). I finished the race in just over 24 hours. In 100-mile races, a sub-24 time is a big goal, and I had almost accomplished it.

So I went back in 2018 and hit my goal.

In just over a week, I’ll toe the starting line again. I’ll have a goal, to hopefully do even better than I’ve done the last two years. I’ve had several great finishes in ultra running, but I don’t consider it the end … I can always improve.

But I also know the lessons of the hard road. And while I’m out there, I look forward to taking a minute to look at the stars, and say a prayer of gratitude for how far I’ve come.

Not just 100 miles. Much further than that. 

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Shame on Who?

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Body shaming is a big topic these days. In fact, when you start to write about health and fitness it can kind of feel like a minefield. How do you write about changing a lifestyle or making good decisions, without people feeling like they are being pressured into making those decisions? So right off the bat here, I want to deal with the topic of shame.

First: shame is the most ineffective force for change. Guilt and shame don’t motivate; they paralyze us.

Second, the most debilitating shame comes from within. Sure, it starts with those around us telling us we are imperfect, but once we’ve internalized shame, it becomes a constant ache.

One beauty pageant judge, a couple of grownups commenting on my weight, some snide remarks from the girls at school … that’s all it took.

I remember the first time I tried to shame myself into losing weight. I was in about fifth grade. It was beginning to be summer in Mississippi. My dad’s friend had just bought the dollar store in town, and he wanted to highlight their clothing selection, so he decided on having a fashion show. My sister and I were invited to participate. We would get to choose any outfit we wanted and it would be ours after the show.

I found a cute skirt in the shade of turquoise that is still my favorite color, and a checked shirt that was bright and cheery. Problem: the skirt was just a little too small.

“Are you sure you want to get that?” my mom asked.

I was sure. I thought this could motivate me to lose some weight before the fashion show, which was still a few weeks away.

Of course, I didn’t lose a single pound and I was miserable and embarrassed during the fashion show. In fact, I grew some. The skirt was even tighter. I looked awful and I knew it. I was so ashamed.

That incident stands out to me, but there were so many times I tried to shame myself over the years that I had lost count by the time I was 25.

The vow usually lasted about 36 hours, or maybe even just until dinner if we were having something I liked. Then I would indulge, ashamed of my lack of self control. Adding shame upon shame, weight upon weight. That’s how shame works — or rather completely fails to work, at least not the way we want it to.

If you’re trying it now, just stop.

Shame doesn’t make you feel energetic or capable. It erodes all of the things you need to accomplish your goals. It takes away much, and gives nothing.

If you’re trying to shame someone else, anyone else, for anything, stop that too.

Sure, it would be a great idea if everyone could achieve their goals and dreams for everything. Not just losing weight, but being a better parent, having a clean house, running a certain distance, keeping to their schedule, etc.

But to the people who try to use shame — bosses, exes, supposed lovers, “well-meaning friends,” even some (the worst) coaches — they are destroying the thing they are trying to build.

To those who are trying to build something: let go of shame. Look at that person you are. Love them. When you start loving that person you are, that’s when you start wanting to do your best for them.

Three words and they all start the same way: shame, should, shit.

Shame starts with “should.” Someone is beating you up psychologically by telling you what you “should” or “shouldn’t” be. Or, worse, you’ve internalized it enough that you are doing it to yourself. Suggestions, requests, advice, are all great, but once someone pulls that Shit of Should on you, time to walk away, baby.

The other side of shame: I can remember, too, the first time I looked at myself with compassion. I walked away from all the Shame and Should and Shit and really looked at myself. Some friends helped by telling me how they saw me. A weight dropped from my mind, from my body. I was on my way.


Start Here

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As I write this, I’m staring age 50 in the face. I’ve reached the point in my life where I realize my kids will never be interested in my advice, or if they ever are, I will probably have forgotten what it was.

Sometimes it seems like I don’t have anything all that special to share, but many of my friends assure me that I do. They ask me questions, probe for my advice or guidance. It doesn’t always seem like I’ve done anything special, especially when I’m struggling, as all of us struggle, as all of us have our highs and lows.

But I did do something: I turned it around. At age 46 I took a big, big step and completely remade myself.

See: I’ve always been fat, since I was seven years old. Some people will be offended hearing that. Some people will be really angry, hearing that from someone who currently wears a size two or four. But listen to what I mean: I’ve always identified as fat. I claimed fat, cleaved to fat, wore fat as a mantle.

When I was a child, my rude uncle Edgar saw me running through the living room: “That child sure is getting fat.”

A child’s beauty pageant judge: “She has a great smile and stage presence, but she is a little too fat.”

My first boyfriend’s dad: “You used to be fat didn’t you? You will be again someday.”

 I was fat, the awkward non-athlete: slow to first base in softball, completely incapable in basketball, tripping over my own feet, chosen last for teams and only after the teacher INSISTED.

I began playing rugby as an adult and discovered a degree of athleticism, but clung to “slow and fat.” That’s what I would always be, I figured.

Meanwhile I was living the life I felt I deserved. I married a guy who barely tolerated my presence on most days, never wore nice clothes, slumped and hunched and made myself small.

I really have no idea what happened, except that one day I knew something had to change. The perfect sequence of events brought me to a desire to change, and a way to change.

 I never went on a diet. I never joined up with any of the eating fads that seem to plague us in an endless series of silliness. I just … changed.

I want to tell my story, in pieces, in lessons, in digestible bits, and the first part of my story is in the title of this essay: Start Here.

Because the lessons I learned are being learned over and over, even by me. There are days when I feel I’ve lost my motivation, my direction. Days when I feel like I don’t have a way to go forward.

But on those days I still know: START HERE. It’s the only place to start from.

There was a day I got on the scale and I weighed more than I had ever weighed in my life. I looked at that number and thought about how I felt. I was tired — exhausted, in fact. I was sick. I was depressed. I felt unloved, unworthy.


There was a day I saw an image of myself that only showed my posture, and I thought, “I look like I’m apologizing for being here, on this earth.”


There was a day I tried to just go for a walk up the hill that I live on, and every joint hurt. Less than a tenth of a mile in, I felt like I was going to throw up. When I got back to the house there was a letter waiting for me. My doctor wanted me to go in for further testing. They suspected an autoimmune disease.


There was a family vacation that was every possible kind of misery, and for some crazy reason I thought it would also be good to have family photos taken during that vacation. My relationship was imploding and there was seemingly nothing I could do about it. My body felt miserable. I was in every kind of pain: mental, emotional, physical. When we viewed the photos, I thought, “This is how I look?” I was even bigger than I thought. Way, way bigger.


There was a trip to visit my brother where we took my kids to a museum, and I barely made it through the short walk around the museum grounds. Finally we sat down to lunch and my brother pulled out his phone to track his calorie intake. My brother, who looked completely different than he ever had before, because he had just taken charge of his health and lost 80 pounds. “What is that?” I asked. And he showed me.


And I did.

Start. Here. Wherever you are. You woke up today, start here. You managed to get out of bed and stretch, start here. You managed to plan your day in your calendar, start here. You ate a good breakfast, start here. Whatever your goals, whatever direction they take you, start here.