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If you ever follow the curvy wayward Mississippi River, she’ll lead you right there. To a city with a real soul. The city of my birth place, New Orleans.

And if you’ve ever been there, then you already know there is no other place on earth quite like it.

But she has scars. Deep, terrible scars that we can’t quite forget. And while we’re slowly healing right along with her, I’d like to dedicate this blog post to the event that forever changed my life and so many others.

You can live in any city in America, but New Orleans is the only city that lives in you. Chris Rose

 

10 years later and half a world away, when my clients ask me where I’m from, the first thing they recall and ask me about is Hurricane Katrina. So here is a little about my experience and the 10 piratical life lessons it taught me.

 

1. Collect Experiences over things.

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Could you imagine taking only a suit case of the most important sentimental things and forever loosing the rest? Some survivors of Katrina don’t even have that much and have had to start over from scratch.

If you’re anything like me, you know how easily it is to collect “stuff”. I bet you’ve even heard this advice before. I remember when the news started coming in over the emergency radio (Normal local radio was out because all of the stations and towers were gone). The places we knew and grew up around and in, completely gone. Just like that. Some as if they had never existed. Homes became empty skeletons of what they once were, littered with ruined personal possessions. People and loved ones missing. A bad situation becoming increasingly worse by the hour. Levee’s were breaking, flooding was out of control. Later we would see entire chunks of pavement were missing. Bridges knocked down as if a toddler had played dominoes. It was so hard to make sense of. It truly felt a bit like the end of the world. But when this happens your view changes really fast on what’s most important.

Don’t get me wrong, some things have extreme sentimental value. Especially when there are people and memories associated with them. Things, including photos can act as gateways and reminders to those memories, but memories and the experiences are what gives many of those things importance. Experiences keep with you forever and will always be shared with the people you had them with.

Katrina taught me to invest in less stuff and more experiences. That chaise lounge I’ve been dying to get can wait. Life doesn’t. I don’t want to have a home or life that is empty, but space for the things that are truly valuable. Even a bad experience can become a great story, adventure, or life lesson.

2. Learn how to Photograph Experiences

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Today’s camera savvy visual world is uploading no less the 1.8 Billion photos a day. That’s a pretty big number. Since we’ve become digital it’s easier to do then ever, and less thought is given into making a photo special like we did when we were using costly film. Take it from a pro photographer who wants to celebrate every detail of life’s adventures, you don’t need 30 photos of your child sitting on a bench. Like with stuff, when we collect too many we become overwhelmed, and we miss the value of the really important ones.

Make a highlight reel. Choose only the best photos that truly remind you of an experience. Print them out, create albums, share them and let go of the out takes.

3. Back up those Photos!

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You’ve heard it again and again, and you’ll hear it again. Have you done this yet? What are you waiting for?

Sadly, we can’t back up or always save all those precious little things that are important to us. You may not be susceptible to a hurricanes and as much as we love to think it will never happen to us, flooding, house fires, burglaries do happen. But we can back up photos of those things and memories. And that includes scanning in the older photos too.

When I say back up, I mean back up that back up! An external hard drive and online cloud are the 2 best banks you’ll ever invest in. It helps when you’ve got only the highlight reels to work with. Having a small portable device or hard drive is one way, but in the event of a house fire (water damage or burglary) and you’re unable to save those memories, you’ll realize that cloud is heaven sent!

A tip in getting started: Do the major life events first, such as weddings, births, graduations, and photos of loved ones who are no longer with us.

4. Back up Documents.

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Medical, Birth records, graduation certificates, marriage licenses, special letters, writings, and recipes. These are just a few of the things people lost in hurricane Katrina. It’s easy to think that there will always be another copy out there some where online. Except, when there’s not. Many of the public and municipal buildings were flooded and suffered extensive damage and the original back ups were lost. Talk about a fiasco.

Like the photos, back them up! All you need is a scanner and some time, but if you choose the most important ones you couldn’t imagine living with out, it could really help someday.

Tip: Sip on some of Café du Monde’s savory iced coffee to help keep you cool and focused!  And to be safe, add an additional safety password or lock. 

5. Have an Emergency Fund.

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Immediately after Katrina, the power was out and there was no access to online banking or ATMs. Desperate looting happened, but in other places people resumed business as best they could using cash. Insurance companies were completely inundated from the storm. No one ever really thinks about the extensive complications like not having clothes, habitation, food or enough money for those things.

I’m not talking about rainy day or play money. I’m talking about emergency money. Both a small stash of cash in your home and in the bank for living expenses from 2-6 months. It may sound silly or excessive to you, but one day, when and if you need it, you’ll be grateful that you decided to play it smart.

6. Have an Emergency Plan.

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I don’t care if yours includes a zombie apocalypse scenario. Have a sit down with your family and discuss what to do when things go wrong. Where will you go, how will you meet up and reconnect? We sadly live in a world where terrorist attacks and large disasters both man made and natural have become the norm.

Don’t become a worry wart, just lay out a plan. Be prepared. Include smaller children on a need to know basis and maybe purchase some identity bracelets or tags for them. One of the most heart wrenching experiences of Katrina were parents who became separated when they gave their children to the last place in a helicopter.

7. Have an Emergency Kit.

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We sat there in the fading light, keeping each other company in the humid silence, waiting. Hoping. Praying. In many ways, hurricanes are times for survival mode. You have to be careful with what you eat, what you drink, how much you ration. You have to be on alert for high winds, tornadoes, falling trees and floods because if a medical emergency arises, medical services might not be able to get to you.

My friends in Holland laugh at me because I still have a hurricane kit. This is a box of non perishables, such as canned and dried foods, bottled water, emergency medical supplies, candles, and the basic hygienic necessities. I slowly reuse and replace things as they get close to their expiration dates. They may laugh now, but when and if the time comes, you know who will be playing board games and enjoying tuna salad? Me.

8.Help how you can. But help!

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Oklahoma was really my home away from home and I am forever grateful for the beautiful support network with some of the biggest hearts I have there. I was housed, clothed, fed and cared for. Before Katrina I had just relocated, moved and was starting university so was not at my proudest financial point in my life. Thanks to them, and despite not having much money after investing in all those university books and registration fees, I was finally able to do something. I immediately started helping to raise awareness, funds, and programs to get other displaced survivors the same luxuries I had.

Every little amount you can give helps. After the birth of my first son, I had found I more time due to my maternity leave when the 2011 Tsunami happened in Japan. It felt like Katrina mode all over again when I connected with 3 Japanese girls and together we, with Dutch businesses created an initiative for Japan Helpen Kan.

It’s easy to become numb or passive to all the things happening in the world today and even easier to become distracted with real life when it’s not us or some one we personally know facing extreme tragedy. Find a small or large way you can help when you can. Many small things add up to make a big difference in the lives of others. I’ve seen it personally from both ends.

9. Take part in your Community.

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It’s really strange how disaster and loss can bring a community together. No city knows this better then New Orleans, the gulf coast and it’s surrounding cities. But taking interest and part in your community can help you stay aware and maybe even help to avoid mistakes in the future. You don’t necessarily even need be political yourself, but be involved where you can. Even if it’s from half a world away, say, in Amsterdam.

One of the best things to wake up to after having my beautiful son was the news that the Saints had won the Superbowl! If you ever find yourself in New Orleans (or any part of Louisiana) on a game day, you’ll be able to spot the outsiders and tourists pretty quick. Hint, they’re the ones not in black and gold.

10. Enjoy the Here and Now.

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Enjoy the heck out of the hear and now. If there is one thing we’re really good at in the South… they will tell you: Indulge a little. Go on and embarrass yourself shaking it to some dirty funk and Jazz. Occasionally eat those cheesy grits and don’t pay mind to the 2 cups of full creme in them. Suck the head of a crawfish. Life is for living. Make those memories even if you don’t have a camera on you. Or if you do have your camera phone on you, don’t forget to put it down and live on the other side of the screen for awhile.  There will always be good and bad times. Make the most of them! And like your favorite Louis Armstrong album, Repeat this list from one.

 

 

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I made one of these for my oldest when he was a baby and have been having way too much fun making one for baby blue No. 2.

The great news is, you can easily make one for your child too and it only takes about 20 minutes! Whether they are a baby, toddler, or 5 year old going on mini teenager, this is a truly sweet way of capturing your child’s expressions to see and compare as they grow! Just read below for a few helpful tips!

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First, start off having your baby or child sitting down. Have a look around for a good place that is accessible with lot’s of natural light if you can as using a flash can be both distracting and sometimes flatten your image.

If your baby is not sitting up on their own yet, you may need another person to help by holding them. High chairs will do the trick and for toddlers that like to be on the run, sitting on the edge of a table or counter top is also a good way. You may also want to have another parent or person on stand by for photographing on the table just incase they get carried away and loose their balance, or are training to be a base cliff diver.

 

Next, you are going to want to try and get on their level. This helps to keep their eye contact and unleash the magic of those captivating eyes, smiles, and all the silly faces in between. Save your back, and pull up a chair.

You are of course going to need your handy dandy camera. It can be a DSLR, SLR, simple digital camera, even your phone will work! Make sure you have plenty of space and battery. You DO NOT want to miss out on some of those adorable expressions!

 

Now it’s time to converse with your child. Tell a story, ask them questions, or talk about something, happy, spooky, silly, sad, sweet, or dreamy. Make sure you are expressive in your talking too because they will naturally mimic your facial expressions. And just in case all else fails, have their favorite toy on hand. You can ask them questions about it, balance it on top of your head, or play peek-a-boo and tickle tickle with it.

All the while talking, remember you’re on the hunt to capture those unique expressions of your child, so get shooting. It can be a bit of a juggling act so it’s good to plan every thing above ahead of time to make things run smooth and easy.

 

After you’ve snapped 30 photos it’s time to sort through them. Pick out your favorite 9 or 12, or 30 (because let’s face it, your kid really is that stinking cute!). You can use photoshop, gimp, or even a free downloaded picture collage ap on your phone to create the collage.

Next you’re going to mix your favorites up. This helps the viewer’s eye to really take in each separate expression and see the differences in expressions rather then to just glance through.

I personally like to add a black and white filter as I find it to be more iconic and it reminds me a bit of the old fashioned photo booths but that’s just my personal tastes.

And lastly print that baby out! You’re going to want to share this with your friends and family, or start your own little collage book and do one each year until they are 15 or 20. It will be fun to look back and see how much they’ve changed but are also still in essence the very same expressive little person you know and love!

 

Wishing you Happy hunting and capturing!

Did you make your own iconic collage? I’d love to see! Share it in this facebook post’s comments, tag @Melody Rae Photography, or hash tag #Melody_Rae on twitter!

 

 

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Your important Information:

 

All About you as a couple:

 

About your Wedding Event:

 

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Tucked away (not so very neatly) behind red velvet ropes and heavy curtains this photographer has been toiling away. Don’t be shy, come on in and have a sneak peak of what is to come!

The Makings of


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I’m not sure how other boudoir and glamour photographers get their start, but when I unlocked the key to my powers of feminine sexuality I became completely enamoured! Don’t misunderstand, I was no prude before but I was admittedly stuck in some areas of life. I thought I already knew what sexy really was and could even be sexy myself on occasion. But I knew there was something I couldn’t put my finger on that seemed to be holding back and I had tried doing every thing by the book so to speak.

My concept of sexuality and how to use it wasn't wrong, but only a small narrow vision of the whole that we see today in everyday society.

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I couldn’t even blog for Melody Rae Photography because I had nothing new I felt like saying that was truly worth saying! Well hold on to your panties because when it comes to my new venture I have Notebooks chock full and am bursting at the seems with EXCITEMENT!

Little did I know that being better connected to my own sexuality was a source of super energy and strength to be tapped into which caused me to have a huge, positive mental shift!  It made me see the entire world in a new BEAUTIFUL light and most importantly myself and my body!

 

Who knew that something so small from my past had shaped my idea of what it meant to be a good person and what society expected of me as a woman? By cutting myself off from my true raw sexual self to conform to those standards only stunted personal growth in other extremely important areas of my life.

 

“It is clear to me that when we are disengaged from any part of ourselves, including our sexuality, our hearts and bodies close in response. When we close, we stop evolving, and we no longer live and love to our fullest potential. Our lives lack creativity and joy, spontaneity and humor. As a culture, we have supported this unfortunate process in each other by ignoring the realities of our sexual instincts. Consequently, we are disconnected from the core of our sexual selves.”

–Marianne Brandon

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Soon followed personal studies in psychology, sexolgy, and feminist studies. Posing workshops, and hours upon hours of new Photography techniques and learning ensued. Friends, family, and my own partner could drastically see the difference it made for me. Thus left the question of how I could continue doing the photography that I loved and some how combine my new love for feminine sexual empowerment.

And so was born, The Vixen Effect!


While I consider it my very own baby, this has been a labor of love from so many bodacious enterprising women here in the Netherlands that it wouldn’t be possible with out! Many whom I hope we’ll see as our very own Vixen inspirations from time to time. From hair and make up, to styling, fashion, logo, name and brand design…even catering of some of the sexiest bites you’ll ever nibble on!

 

We work together to provide a liberating, luxury beauty and boudoir experience. Helping women feel confident, beautiful, and sexy in their own bodies because we know that when a woman is better connected with her feminine and sensual side she can have a more compassionate understanding of her sexual self. We celebrate sexy in a variety of women of all shapes and sizes, styles, and backgrounds.

 

I am not  just another boudoir photographer because I hold a fancy camera and say I am while aimlessly photographing pretty models to show off my talent (no more than a blogger would give great writing on the type of their laptop) but it’s in the why!

I photograph because I think my ability to imagine and envision the types of scenes a woman might want to convey are both beautiful and valuable! They deserve attention and kindness and to feel as beautiful on the inside as the outside. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve had fellow photographers snap photos of me that well…just didn’t capture or flatter me at all! Maybe you can relate?

 

Thus one of my main purposes/ fixations is to show beauty (real, genuine, true beauty) through it (of any kind it may be) as much as possible and help people discover the ultimate visual (guilty) pleasures often forgotten today. I want to help show women how they really want to be seen, whether it’s for their partner and loved one or just for themselves!

As Vixens we believe everybody and every Body has it’s own unique story. And what story doesn’t have a conflict or two? We want to know where you are in your story to help give you the most fulfilling and fun boudoir experience. We as women have so many different sides. Sometimes sweet, flirty, serious, beautiful…even a little naughty can be nice.

We work together to provide a liberating, luxury beauty and boudoir experience. Helping women feel confident, beautiful, and sexy in their own bodies because we know that when a woman is better connected with her feminine and sensual side she can have a more compassionate understanding of her sexual self. We celebrate sexy in a variety of women of all shapes and sizes, styles, and backgrounds.

The Vixen Effect

Model Call: We need you!


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That’s right! We are offering the chance for 3 lucky ladies to join us for a day of fabulous fun and experience this for themselves! We’re busy building our portfolio with some awesome images and need some Camera Loving gals to model at a residential studio.

You don’t need to be a size 0 or have any model experience but you do need:

  • to be 19+
  • be comfortable in your own skin (or is maybe something you are working on)
  • provide your own wardrobe (we’re looking for a mix of glamour to casual, and lengerie. Outfits will be coordinated and styled depending on your individual look. No nudity is required because we believe sexy is more a state of mind but we love to show off some skin!)
  • sign a Model release
  • Give us feed back! We want to hear from you about your experience and what you thought! So far we are hearing great things from our previous 2 clients and are expecting to hear many more from our April bookings but we still want to hear from you!

In return for your time as a lovely Vixen we want to treat you like any Vixen should! Full hair and make up by the super talented Katie Larcombe whose work has been featured on a major brands and magazines from Glossy to VOGUE! 6 fully retouched stylized photos of yourself and some tasty nibbles, cakes, and champagne during the session!

This is an opportunity to connect with yourself. If you need to bring your sexy back or just want to join us in celebrating and are up for a fun time: then get into contact with me! Questions? Concerns? Don’t hesitate to ask!

 

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Fieldset

  • Your Boudoir Session

  • About you

 

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TIPS FOR MAKING THE MOST OUT OF YOUR SESSION

1. Do not go tanning 5 days before the session to avoid burns & blotchy skin

2. Be sure any body hair is well groomed, shaved legs

3. Have your fingernails & toenails manicured

4. Arrive in loose fitting clothing and avoid wearing a bra, underwear, socks or anything that will leave unsightly dent marks in your skin

WHAT TO BRING…

  • Feel welcome to bring along a girlfriend (not your mom or significant other) who will cheer you on and tell you how great you look
  • Any article of clothing or lingerie that you find flattering and feel comfortable wearing. Bring a selection.
  • Jewelry you love
  • Shoes and Heels (check for clean bottoms or use this as a great excuse to get some new ones!
  • Stalkings, fishnets, or any other items that you would like!

 

Your portrait session will result in custom imagery that you will treasure for a lifetime.  Outlined below are some of the investments involved with one-of-a-kind portraiture designed especially for you.

 

  • Glamour and Boudoir Session fees begin at €440 including Hair and Make up and btw. This fee is due at the time of booking and will guarantee your session date. This fee does NOT include the hotel rental if you choose to have one.
  • The session fee is for the commissioning, consultation and talent of the photographer and does not include albums, prints or digital files. Travel and location expenses may apply.
  • Artfully designed collections include 20 digital files and begin at €100
  • For more information on products, please contact us for samples and pricing. Prints start at €15 for 20×30 matted. Books and fine art prints are available starting at only €350!

 

 

 

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