Veteran shutterbug Cara Dee Stucke honed her artistic eye in 27 years in the portrait-photography field and today attends annual workshops and seminars to stay abreast of modern techniques. Along with fellow photographer Mark Gilmore, Cara Dee snaps elegant, contemporary shots of weddings, families, and high-school seniors using high-tech equipment such as 21.5-megapixel sensor cameras and light-bending hand claps. Before each photo session, the creative team can proffer wardrobe and makeup consultations, taking time to heed customers' requests for the overall vibe of the shoot.
On-location sessions voyage into the tranquil confines of nature for a romantic ambiance, and shoots in the CaraDee Photography studio allow for edgy, urban-theme photos with self-provided props. Images make their way onto prints of all sizes, emblazoned on top-quality metallic or lustrous papers, custom-created books, and videos replete with music.
The photos we leave behind may be the only way for future generations to see the styles and personalities we bear. That’s why the professional makeup artists and photographers at Glamour Shots strive to capture the true essence of a person with their shoots. Whether commemorating a milestone event or a successful trip to the grocery store, each session begins with the shop’s signature full airbrush and style makeover, which works to prevent unwanted shine while imparting a chic aesthetic. Makeup artists tailor looks to the purpose of the shoot, imparting children with a red-cheeked glow and boudoir subjects with a dark, seductive color palette.
Photographers encourage everyone to bring a few outfits and props from home, allowing them to give each photo shoot an individualized touch without snapping close-ups of their subjects’ fingerprints. Clients get to see the photos immediately so they can approve the looks and order their favorite shots in the form of pictures, phone cases, or calendars. A professional lab then prints out the chosen items using a range of color finishes—including colorization to make one color pop and the company's signature Glamour Touch retouching—onto made-to-last Kodak paper.
Things Remembered engraves charms, glassware, picture frames, and more to individualize everyday items with on-site personalization services. Diamond-tipped needles can etch surfaces with dates ($6), initials ($6), or fortune-cookie transcriptions ($3/word with two or more letters) in a variety of fonts, with premium fonts bestowing enhanced definition ($3+ extra). The store's staff of experts can assist customers with engraving decisions and are typically able to personalize in-store purchases before the end of the day and inscribe goods brought from home within 24 hours.
Large windows admit cascades of light, which spill across RSVPaint’s exposed-brick walls and straw-colored hardwood floors. The whisper of brushes against canvases often fills the studio, which hosts a schedule of painting classes led by instructors with experience as professional artists and degrees in fine art. Pupils tote along bottles of beer or wine to most sessions, and RSVPaint provides glasses, bottle openers, corkscrews, and a miniature wine fridge. Glasses jingle together to punctuate proud sighs, elicited by freshly painted masterpieces or accurate guesses as to what one will look like as a fruit bowl in a future life. Clutching new paintings, guests hang supplied aprons back up and begin considering where to display their creations.
Before he took over Springfield Leather Company, Kevin Hopkins was a struggling musician in need of a guitar strap. After fashioning one out of scraps from a nearby leather store, he realized his true talent and went on to manage Tandy leather stores throughout the midwest. When Tandy shuttered the business in 1999, Hopkins bought the Springfield outpost, rechristening it Springfield Leather Company. Inside the sprawling space, a staff of jewelry and leather experts arm customers with a vast assortment of leather goods and jewelry-making supplies.
DirectBuy's showroom brims with home furnishings, from customizable kitchen cabinets and four-door refrigerators to smaller touches, such as faucets and light fixtures. The company culls its stock from more than 700 brands, and its membership-based business plan minimizes its retailer markups—and has made it a mainstay of the home furnishings market for more than 40 years throughout the United States and Canada.