Bellabu’s professional photographers gently coax their cameras to click into action and create beautiful, timeless portfolios of your face. After holding a thumbwrestling tournament to decide whether they'll gather at the Grand Blanc studio or choose their own location, up to 10 people can spend an hour modeling and mugging for the camera. The photographer will share posing suggestions and tips while carefully recording every smile that approaches the lens.
Suzanne Upton's photographic portraits capture subjects in settings and scenarios tailored to their personalities, whether they are fun loving, mysterious, or funsterious myving. A mother of three, Upton recognizes how cherished family photos are among kith and kin. Her photos of high-school seniors are at once candid and casual, like a game of truth-or-dare played at a barbecue, while her elegant portraits of families are sure to put a smile on Aunt Mildred's new lips when she gets this year's Christmas card in the mail.
Lori Taylor finds it easy to sum up what's unique about her photography business—"We want people to not only love their photos, but also to love their photographers." Initially, the lifelong photography hobbyist spent 20 years as a restaurant manager, learning the value of personalized customer service. It's a value system she still practices, diligently manning the LA's Photography phones seven days a week in addition to running photo shoots. Each of the photographers on Lori's team of photographers specializes in a particular kind of photography that ensure each of the studio's yearly 150–200 graduation gigs, 45–65 weddings, and multitude of family portraits shines uniquely. Lori personally listens to clients describe their needs before matching them up with the specific photographer on staff whose skills are best suited to the occasion in mind. The resulting harmonious relationship between subject and photographer seems to be what drives the company's wealth of referral business. "We've never really needed to advertise," says the cheerful owner, who mostly acquires clientele via word of mouth and by defeating other photographers with her darkroom jujitsu.
Train tracks used to run right along The Holly Hotel, making the three-story redbrick building a hub of social activity throughout the early 20th century. Civic and social groups held meetings and demonstrations, transients spent the night, and opera goers shined their monocles in the hotel’s opulent parlors after shows at Baird’s Opera House, situated just a mile south.
Today, this Queen Anne–style structure is no longer a hotel, but an acclaimed restaurant and venue. The hotel's architecture, along with its historical charm, persist, even after a fire in 1913 and again—65 years later to the date—in 1978. The elegant interior’s plaster walls, tin ceilings, and custom millwork date back to 1913 and before, while much of the wood, railing, tile, and glass are salvaged from the second blaze.
Although its architecture helped The Holly Hotel grab a spot on the National Register of Historic Places, its unique stories also supplied historic credibility. For instance, in 1908, Carry Nation and a flock of pro-Temperance supporters attacked drinkers at the hotel; Nation swatted bar goers on the head with her umbrella and even smashed whiskey bottles with an ax.
Modern-day visitors do not face such antagonism. Instead, they enjoy elegant meals composed of fresh, free-range ingredients at the restaurant, where chefs plate beef wellington, braised pork cheeks over hawaiian fingerlings, and lamb strip loin baked in green oregano. On Sundays, the kitchen team puts on an elegant brunch, featuring a spread of farm-raised goose, peel-and-eat shrimp, and made-to-order omelets. Fridays and Saturdays are a time for laughs; guffaws spill over from the comedy club as guests enjoy cracks by headliners from cities from Los Angeles to New York. Of course, sometimes the laugher may just be coming from one of the hotel’s lingering spirits.
Though Cara Erskine had a passion for photography from childhood, she didn’t truly refine her skills until she lived in Shanghai, where she photographed newly adopted children and their families with the Baobei Foundation. Capturing such powerful emotions and unbridled joy on film overseas eventually convinced her to open up her own studio in the U.S.
Today, Cara still takes photographs of babies and families, but her specialty is taking portraits that make women of all ages and body types feel beautiful during glamour or boudoir photo shoots. She also captures the carefree vigor of youth in senior photos before the stresses of paying tuition, studying for exams, and crossing the street without holding a grownup's hand.