At CL!X Portrait Studios, photographers can capture well-posed shots of siblings in matching sweaters or click away at kids in their natural state of play, whether they are giggling in a frilly tutu or banging on a set of pots and pans. The studio’s array of portraiture styles reflects its founders’ goals: Sandy and Michael Pawlyszyn started CL!X after searching fruitlessly for a user-friendly way to document their own kids’ childhoods. Now, their team of photographers snaps youthful smiles in the studio as well as on site in the community, helming shoots at local schools, dance studios, and sports games. Their subjects need not be children, though—they can craft portraits of entire families, moms-to-be, and high-school seniors before they graduate and cycle back to preschool. The crew also takes photographic fun on the road via photo-booth rentals, which let partiers create their own lasting memories at special events.
Elite Photography's Sara Delak discovered her initial passion for photography while snapping shots of wildlife in locations such as Yellowstone National Park. She dreamed of working for National Geographic and traveled the globe with her camera, but eventually realized that home was where her heart really was.
So Sara opened Elite Photography, where she's broadened her skills dramatically shooting portraits, sports, pets, boudoir settings, and weddings. She still finds time to travel the world and has even put together a bucket-list book, Been There, Done That, to help people check off activities they most want to do in life, such as taking a gondola ride in Venice or napping in a kangaroo pouch in Australia. The book showcases photos Sara has taken doing the listed activities.
As Jessica Gilliland grew up, her mother was always behind the camera, snapping shots of everything from family gatherings to sporting events. At Shoe Button Photography, Jessica channels her mother’s passion during portrait sessions with kids and families. Though happy to accommodate guests at her studio, she prefers to capture images at a location where clients feel most comfortable, such as home or a favorite park. After gathering all the pictures from each session, Jessica asks clients to select their favorites to adorn a selection of products, including framed prints, ceramic mugs, and mouse pads.
Sugar and Spice owners Chelsey and Angela haven't forgotten the fear that consumed them when they first bared all in front of a foggy camera lens. This awareness is what makes them the ideal pair to helm a boudoir photography studio, which pairs its solo shoots with sessions incorporating couples, pinups, and pregnant subjects. By drawing from their past experience, all-female staff members work to ease subjects' fears as they highlight their best features, no matter what size, shape, or kind of droid they might be. Since the studio doesn't dabble in wedding shoots or children's photography, Sugar and Spice is able to pour all of its resources into its boudoir photography, which is reflected by its 20 different sets, more than 200 pairs of thigh-highs and stockings, and hundreds of outfits in sizes 0–22.
If clients start to get lost in piles of lingerie, the team has plenty of ideas and ready-made looks to choose from, such as the girl next door in jeans and a T-shirt or the more involved bikini-clad George Washington crossing the Delaware. Touting itself as the only stateside boudoir studio to offer complimentary clip-in hair extensions, Sugar and Spice also flaunts its beauty retouching services, which are included with every session.
Laura Monahan comes from an artistic family, and spent her youth practicing sculpture, oil painting, pottery, and what turned out to be her ultimate passion: photography. Her ability to preserve candid moments has left an indelible impression—she has a published portfolio on three continents and product lines appearing at national retailers such as Hallmark and JCPenney. Laura’s photo shoots always take place outdoors, capturing newborns, older kids, families, and makeshift popsicle-stick families in soft, natural lighting and poses that never appear unnatural. Her settings span the country from San Diego’s foamy beaches to Denver’s red-rock sunsets and into the Midwest’s autumn leaves.
Amber Hein's longtime fascination with photography—as well as her life as proud mother to a fast-growing daughter—instills in her a passion for capturing precious family moments, with a specialty in documenting weddings, newborns, and family portraits. Amber doesn't ply her trade in a stuffy studio, but instead travels on-location, using her favorite green spaces and secluded urban spots as stunning natural backdrops to engagement pictures, kids' photos, and maternity portraits. Hein takes an organic approach to her art, snapping memories of real, candid human interaction and family bliss, with a touch of soft-focus vintage charm.