Tag Archives: glamour

Tree Woman Project: Moss

The beautiful thing about this project is how it appeals to women of all ages and stages of life. Remember the model who sat patiently for me while I worked through my studio lighting technique with my classmate, Alecia Lindsay?

Well, after telling her about my project, she offered to join the volunteer models! And, since I didn’t have a specific tree in mind, she braved the cold, rainy Seattle weather to adventure around the Duwamish Greenspace with me as we found pretty mossy places in the trees.

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This session was more of an adventure than classic beauty portrait of a tree and a pretty woman…

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I treated the session much like all the rest of the series, by creating her crown, and planning around her dress to pair with a green velvet jacket and a little glamorous makeup…

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This session inspired me to be more adventurous with my editing, and I explored some techniques to make them look like old school film prints…

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Much thanks to Jessica Marie Cantu for being an adventurous Tree Woman!


Tree Woman Project: Douglas Fir

In the spirit of the season, the Douglas Fir tree was the inspiration for this Tree Woman portrait session. At this maturity, the Douglas Fir looks an awful lot like a classic Christmas tree. Cassie was my intrepid model who braved the cold, rainy day with as much excitement as I had for our photo-project adventure.

Her style is fun and very Seattle, so I had to snap a few photos of her dressed normally before she went into Fairy-tale beauty mode (a mix of Tinkerbell and Peter Pan suits her)…here’s my favorite:

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From Seattle girl to Beauty girl:

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Going with the fun feel of the dreary-dreamy weather, we adventured nearby to some other parts of the Duwamish Greenspace, and found a few perfect spots for exploration. Even though this wasn’t part of the Douglas Fir themed shoot, I just love them. It feels like a story is waiting to be written about these scenes…and, sadly I don’t know what types of trees they were – they are prefect for a woodland story!

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And last but not least, a little admiration for old snag of a tree, the decay process revealing an ornate pattern:

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She is more than just beauty too – a woman in the Seattle Tech world, I greatly admire. Big thanks to Cassie for being my model!

Tree Woman Project: Lawson Cypress

I have had a love for trees for quite some time now, and this past summer, I was able to volunteer with a Tree Ambassador program in Seattle by photographing trees for a self-guided tree walk map.

Capturing beauty in women is also a passion of mine. When I discovered Brooke Shaden, both of those passions merged into a lovely light bulb moment: I wanted to photograph women AND trees. This little idea further grew after meeting and hearing Jeremy Cowart speak during Creative Live’s Photo Week in September. His work is amazing, and his experimental nature inspired me to just jump in and start my idea: Tree Women – and did a first try with my daughter last month.

When I posted to my friends on Facebook asking for volunteer models and help with the project, I was so encouraged. Not only did I get volunteer models, a fellow photographer friend offered to assist. The morning of our photo session, it was super windy – like storm warning the night before windy. It was so gusty, that I almost cancelled for fear that we’d be in danger, but my model/friend Tasha was sure it would be okay.

And, boy was I glad we decided to go for it. Literally, the clouds parted and the sunshine came out toward the end of our session. It was beautiful!

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Did I mention how great Tasha was for being willing to climb and jump from the tree?!
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Huge thank you to Tasha and Chris!

p.s. Check out Chris’ photography too!

Am I Beautiful or do I look like a Bobble Head?

I’ve been branching out in my photography business to include Beauty Portraits. Last week, I had booked a portfolio building session, and when my friend forgot to come, I decided to step in front of the camera myself…

Here is what I look like on a normal morning:

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Here is what I look like after some make up, brushing my hair, putting on a vintage dress and posing in a flattering way:

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I love this one above, because I secretly wish I was a movie star back in the 40’s when women wore amazing dresses that left room for the imagination. The only thing I wish I had done differently was to put my hair up and wear long satin gloves ala Audrey Hepburn.

Here is what I look like in my favorite dress:

SelfPortraitsbyHolliMargell 2{Above} My arms can’t be nearly that thin, and my head that big, but I love this dress and the background color. So, I’ll keep it:) The reason my arms look so tiny and my head so big is not because of Photoshop (which I’m still saving up to buy), but because I used a 35mm lens which warps an image slightly into a wider angle. This can be very flattering on some people who want to appear thinner than they are. But for me, I’ve got the Bobble head!

Overall, it is fun to have these photos that help me see myself as prettier, but I struggle with this idea of Beauty Portraits. I’m in favor of natural beauty, but a part of my heart loves glamour and pretty dresses. I want to help women (especially Moms) to feel beautiful, and do portraits in a way that does this without a bunch of Photoshopping to make them look fake. So, personally, I can say proper posing and a pretty dress with a dash of red lipstick did the trick for me. I can look the part of a model. But. There’s still a but tugging at my soul.

We have this culture in America that divides women: those who feel they need to “put their face on” before leaving the house and those who rebel against this, and wear their husband’s old Band Tees and jeans that don’t fit anymore. I think I want the freedom to dress how I want and not be judged, but I’d have to live in a utopia to experience that.

I think the tugging comes from this altruistic desire for all of us to feel beautiful in our natural skin. To capture that spark from the soul that makes a person beautiful. And, that doesn’t require make up or a pretty dress. But, I think sometimes putting on those things gives a person the costume they need to feel safe to shine.

 What would you think if you saw me in the polka dot dress at the grocery store?  Would I be trying too hard? Or just plain cute? Do I look like a Bobble Head?





Mother + Daughter: Beauty Portraits

Vera is a beautiful woman inside and out. She is a mother, business owner and community leader. Her nursery is an amazing space where my kids never want to leave, it’s a wonderland. So, I was looking forward to photographing Vera and her daughter in the nursery surrounded by flora and spring colors.

Sadly, being a true Spring day in Seattle, I arrived for our portrait session in the pouring rain. Instead of waiting it out and losing our time, I asked if I could do the portraits indoors. Vera’s home is also full of plants and reflects Johanna’s love of music. I quickly found a couple of spots in the living room where the natural light was just right. Their turquoise upright piano was a true gem for a back drop. Vera was excited to do the portrait session as a birthday present to herself. Her daughter Johanna clearly shines a beauty like her mother: strong and pure. This is what I did my best to show in each photograph.

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In some ways, I think that rainy day helped capture a more intimate portrait session in the home. And, it helped me remember that no matter what the weather decides to do, we can always find a space to capture beauty.

Capturing Beauty in People

Something funny happens when you point a camera at someone and say, smile! They become self conscious, fiddle with their hair, and worry about how they look. I know, because I’m guilty of this myself.

In my photography, I love capturing a person in a photojournalistic style – the natural smile unhindered by thoughts about how they look. This is a wonderful natural skill I have, but means I don’t always know how to coax it out of a person in a portrait setting. So, I decided to take a class to grow. Last month, I enjoyed Sue Bryce’s 28 Days course – yes, 28 days of lessons! Her work is stunning, and if you haven’t heard about her, you should take a look.

I’ve had the pleasure of doing 6 “Glamour Portrait” sessions and love the progress I’m seeing in my work. It’s exciting to see a person’s beauty light up. It’s like when I position a Tulip for a photograph in sunlight on my table for a Fine Art Photograph. Seeing that composition come together is like watching magic. It’s beauty at it’s fullest. And, so now I’m learning to do that with people.

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When I tell my friends and family I’m growing my business to include Glamour Portraits, they don’t know what that means. Some think Boudoir some think 1980’s big hair and smokey eyes. What I’ve decided to say now is that I do Modern Beauty Portraits. Like a portrait, but a focus on capturing a person’s true beauty!

This new skill is so much fun to practice. I find myself happy for the rest of the day after a photo shoot. The first day I did one, my husband came home from work and asked me what happened. I was notably joyful cooking dinner and cleaning up after the kids. I told him I think it’s because I felt like I had played dress up with girlfriends for a couple hours during that first Beauty Portrait session.

Would you like a Beauty Portrait? If so, I’m looking for 2 ladies to model for me outside. I’m not looking for Models, but real women who will let me capture their beauty.  I’d love to photograph someone in the park using my new beauty pose skills. Now that the weather is nice, it’s time to keep growing my photography skills: email me if you’re willing to model for an hour in June or July – photoholli at gmail dot com

Thanks for watching me grow,

Photographing people like art

When I first stood in the dark room developing my first print, it was a photograph of a person for my photojournalism class. I learned quickly how to photograph people in a journalistic style to tell a story.

Now, I find myself using my camera to capture fine art that I see in nature. This past month, I’ve been learning how to capture people like fine art.

I’m super excited to share that I have been taking a 28 day course by Sue Bryce, an award winning photographer from Australia. Her work focuses on women, and her portfolio showcases glamour and boudoir. What I hope to learn from her is how to integrate fine art with people photography. I want to capture the beauty in people as I do when I prep a Tulip in the natural sunlight.

The photojournalism student will always be alive in me when I’m photographing an event or Wedding – I still see photographs waiting to be captured every day. But, now I’ll be able to enhance by work to better reflect my Fine Art Photography style.

Here are examples of my homework:




Thanks for taking a look! I can hardly wait to practice more and show my homework off:)