The Vivacious Marti Johnson

Local comedienne Marti Johnson graced our studio on Thursday afternoon for her new promotional shots. We love you and your beautiful, hilarious spirit. Good luck!

Marti Johjnson 2014_8x100473 proof Marti_Johnson 2014 0457 8x10 proof


“I’ll believe it when I see it”…..

We’ve heard it and thought it, all of our lives.

“Show ME!” is the response we get from those we are trying to impress, one way or another.  It’s like they don’t take your WORD for it, they have to SEE it.

This past weekend, I hauled a lot of storm-broken pine branches to the street-side for the city crews to mulch up.  When I told this to my wife, that the pile extended practically the width of the property, she wanted to see a picture (she’s out of town).  It’s like she could not imaging all of that wood being hauled to the street-side.  So, I snapped a photo with my phone and sent it to her.  Her response?  “O-M-G!  You moved ALL of that wood?”

Just last week, we heard stories of the massive tornado damage in Alabama….but it’s not until we SEE the pictures, we grasp the utter devastation and make an attempt to understand the enormity of the damage the twister wreaked on so many people and their belongings.  “It’s just gone.”   Three Words.  But to see it, each photo is worth a thousand words.

Now, we learn the story of the raid and the killing of Osama Bin Laden.  As quickly as possible, the news services and social media popped out news stories and accounts by the thousands.  We all take the President’s word for it, the man is dead.  But other’s think this is just some stunt.  “We want proof! Show us the photo of OBL”, they say.

The problem is: It’s kinda gruesome!  The man was shot in the face and the chest.  It’s not going to be for the faint of heart, and the photo will get plastered all over the place, just like Ferd’s 12 point buck, hanging on the pole in Mancelona.  “Show me!…Aw, that ain’t no 12 pointer…………lookee…..1,2,3….Holy CRAP, Ferd!  It IS a 12 pointer!”

Seeing is believing.

Seeing seems to be some kind of “proof”.

Words just don’t seem to have the authority.

Our brains can process the words, “Billy just cut off his hand with the chainsaw”…..

….Or, I can show you the photo……..

If Sally gets bit in the face by a pit bull, you read the words.

If the photos of Sally’s mangled face are shown to the dog’s owner and to the court….well, there is the POWER.  PROOF, her face is no longer as lovely as it once was.  That, we believe!

‘Every Picture Tells a Story’,  or is it, ‘Because I can see it, I believe it’?

What do YOU want people to believe?

What does it take to make you understand the power of a photo?

Think of any catalog…..would you buy a product just from the words?  NO!  You want to see what it looks like.  We can “read” a million things in an instant about a photo of a new sun dress, a lawn mower, a house, a person, by the “looks” of it.

Hang the words!  The PROOF is in the PHOTO…the single most powerful and efficient communication tool ever developed! (pun intended)

So, do you want to TELL a story of what you have, or what you did, or what’s happened or about YOU?


Do you want to SHOW every one the photos?

(the good old “SHOW&TELL”)

If you want your ‘audience’ to believe “X”, you’ve gotta show’em “X”!

Are you leaving “photographic evidence” behind of your existence?  For friends, relatives and the world?  Simply because photography records, preserves and makes “things” believable.  There is just something about the camera lens that we trust, more than words or memories to assist our brains in believing and seeing.

To me, it’s a daily honor, to record the lives of others.  Not just a simple snapshot, but a collaboration of the subject, my approach, the light, the lens, the coaching (I don’t “pose” anyone), then blending it all together to become a fantastic final image.  A perfect capture of a delightful subject.  A story in an image….a great story.  The story of “Beautiful YOU”!

Where would you be now?

Ah, Ninth Grade Biology Class!

Where you learn all those lovable terms like; xylem phloem, meiosis, sarcoplasmic reticulum and cortex.

Plus, we got the whole straight-faced lectures on cell division, reproduction, replication all the way up to the survival of the species and how the human reproductive system works…..I vividly remember hearing words terms in class we NEVER hear or dare speak at home!  Yup, there they were, all the body parts, names, organs…..squirms…..giggles….you remember!

Other than the fairy tales and the cabbage patch and stork explanations, we find out where we came from….and with out fail, it’s from our mother.

You know…good old mom!

And we can’t imagine just how the woman who did our laundry, fed us, got us to school, put band-aids on bloody knees, yelled at us, made us clean up our rooms and held us when we cried, could EVER be a part of that biology class lecture… had to be someone else!

But through the years, there she always was.  I sure started taking her for granted from the time I can remember…she’s just always there.  The good times and the bad, there’s mom!

I am so lucky I’ve been around for decades and still have my mom (and dad) around. Many of you may have lost a parent.  Often I wonder what other people carry as memories of our parents and loved ones…and just how clear and vivid our memories are.

So far this year, my mother has been pretty sick.  Visits to the hospital and nursing homes, therapy, etc….it comes with the territory of living 88 years.  Thankfully, she’s gotten better and I was able to live one of my dreams, to capture forever my mom, the way she is now.

Last Friday, the “Perfect Portrait” team here at the studio, (see our pix at the header above) Heidi started out and gave my mom a wonderful, deep, relaxing massage. Watching mom walk out of the room, her eyes glazed in a smile of satisfaction and a happy smile was a treat in its own.  She sat quietly and contented as Debra prepped and then they really had a good time “gussying” her up for the portrait.  Never once did she ever say she was “too old” to have a photo made of her.  The pride, the confidence and quiet elegance she exuded was a treat to witness and capture.

We’ve all got a mom.  Maybe you have a sister, a wife, a daughter.  This is how I chose to honor my mom and our family, by capturing her just the way she is now.

How do you want to remember the beautiful woman who brought you into this world? After all, where would you be now, if it wasn’t for your mother?

The woman who helped make you what you are?

After all, you are, Half of Her!

How do you want to be remembered?  Or, how do you want to remember your Mother?What’s the legacy you or she wants to leave behind?

Have you lived a whole life, yet not left a shiny record of you, for the future?

So many people make excuses for not getting their portrait….or one updated to this CENTURY!  I hear them all….”I need to get some sun first”, (um, no…an artist prefers to work on a blank canvas, not a dark one!) – or- “I’m too old, too wrinkled, too fat, too…..too…too….

My mother loved the whole experience!  The whole family loves the results!  I got to show the world, one of the two beautiful women in my life, my mother, before it is too late.

And the best part is, she gets to see for herself what her son can show to her, her Beautiful YOU!

© 2011 John Robert Williams

A Foreign Language

I just had the damnedest conversation with a friend.

She is a darn good looking woman.  Middle aged, trim, nice hair, very easy on the eyes!

Yet everything that came out of her mouth was negative.

Line after line, she put herself down, she made every excuse under the sun for her “condition”.

It’s like, if you opened up your Funk & Wagnall’s Dictionary, and looked under the term “mixed message”, her picture would there be beside the definition.

So here’s this very attractive woman, well put together, (bordering on high-maintenance), putting her self down, painting this mental picture of anything other than “beauty”, yet, there she stands, stunning, right in front of me, saying just the opposite.


How can this be?

She said more than once, that when she (fill in the blank of bodily excuses) got “better” or “fixed”, she’d CONSIDER having her photo done.  What a cop-out!

After we parted, I continued to ponder the incredibly odd words she had said.

I was stumped!

I couldn’t make up my mind if she was;

(A) Having a really bad day……with a smile on her face,


(B) Was really depressed about something and taking it out on herself,


(C) Had a pathetic self-image, for someone so really ‘turned-out’,


(D) was flat out BLIND!

A while later, while working on something completely different, it hit me!

To her, “beauty” or “self-beauty”, was a foreign language.

That doesn’t make much sense?  Hear me out…..

Let’s say you want to speak French.  You can take all the lessons you want, but if you don’t KNOW French, you can’t speak it, or read it.  Even if I plopped you on the Pont Neuf au Paris, right now, you’d be hard pressed to ask for directions [en-francais] if you didn’t KNOW French.  “Beauty”, to the woman above, was a ‘foreign language’.  She obviously goes through the motions to be tastefully dressed, hair all styled and in place, made-up, great posture, the works, but she doesn’t KNOW her own beauty!

Like, (sigh), how can this be?  She’s lived with her self her whole life, watched herself grow up, tries to look good, and then with her words, torpedo’s every bit of effort and time and EXPENSE to look good.  And maybe (I’m guessing here), she might think she looks GOOD, like good is only OK….but beautiful?  Not a chance, in her language.

See what I mean by mixed-messages?

(Thinking aloud here)…I wonder what event or series of “words” she’s heard in her life to contradict her outward appearance, SO MUCH, that she spews bad ju-ju all over her eye-candy?

I kept thinking to my self, “lady, you have EVERYTHING going for you, and you make yourself sound like the ugly duckling”!

I recently had to photograph a woman, severely burned, for insurance/legal records. (Yup, I do a fair amount of “legal photography”).  Let’s just say, she’s missing “things” now.  So sad.  Yet as I worked with her, her dignity and sense of humor were amazing.  We actually had things to chuckle about.  I never asked her what she thought about herself, but her words were quite convincing.  She loves herself and is damned glad to be alive!  She looks forward, not back.  She was a total treat to work with….and a life lesson for me.

So now, I realize, if any of us can’t perceive our own beauty, we will never think we are beautiful, pretty, good looking, etc.  It’s a foreign language.

But I also remember the story of the “Ugly Duckling”.  It turned out she was the beautiful swan…but she’d been TOLD she was not like the others and she believed it!

But the Ugly Duckling, once pointed out what she really was, finally believed in her beauty. She understood the language of beauty.

So can anyone else…they can learn to see, what I can see in front of me,  a Beautiful YOU!

Irrational fear!

Isn’t it funny what we put off, just because we have some “fear” about something we “have” to do?

Can you remember something you were mortified of having to do, like going to a doctor’s appointment?

The huge exam!

Getting a cavity filled?

Wedding Day????!

Your first drivers licence test!

Moving to a new school or heading off to college?

In our head, it was some scary monster of an event, looming closer every day, getting larger and bigger and darker, arms out, ready to swallow us whole!

Then, it happened.

The thing we dreaded most was almost a non-event.  It was over in a flash, we seemed almost coddled.  It was actually painless, neigh, enjoyable!

We survived and thrived…wha was dreaded was just a stepping stone to a better place and a rung up the ladder of our lives!

So why do we spin out of control and get our knickers in such a twist over certain un-certain events?  Why do we make out things as “boogy-men”, in such an irrational way?

What ARE you AFRAID of?

Going through life in a state of fear is useless.  It holds you in it’s own grip….and fear becomes the “prayer for what you don’t want to have happen”.  It’s counter-productive.

More and more, I see the value in the “don’t worry-be happy’, mentality.

Worry and fear go hand-in-hand.  An it gets us no where in a forward direction.

Self confidence plays a big roll.

Self-image plays a big roll, too.

Who do you think you are and what do people think of you?

Are you Rhett Butler or Barney Fife?

Are you Madonna or Ellie Mae Clampett?


I have to admit, the old mentality of “having to get your picture taken” was almost as bad as getting arrested, on the fear-scale.  However, if you DO get arrested, you DO get your picture taken, in front of that famous ruler wall.  And that guy at the jail could give a darn if you look good or not.  (and chances are you look like a cat just horked you up)

But look at the statement, “having to get…”.  How negative!  How did your brain get there?

Look at all the people that WANT to be famous! They WANT their photo taken.  Making them look good.  Every famous person now, you know through photos.  That’s POWER!

All the performers, candidates, authors, athletes, sports stars, they all have mega marketing machines behind them, GETTING their photos OUT there!

It’s no accident, because IT WORKS!

So, let’s take you….is this the last “good” photo you had taken?


That speaks VOLUMES about you!

And not one of them is positive!

Was your last “good” photo of YOU, your high school senior portrait?  Do you still look like that?  I doubt it!

Have you ever noticed all the obits in the paper, describing all the great and wonderful things this person who just left us after a long and productive life…yet the family had no image to put in the column but an ancient senior portrait?

You live your life and THAT’S what you leave behind?

What were they afraid of?  That they grew older and never had another photo made?

We take our cars in for a tune-up, or new tires or an oil change….we take our pets into the vet for maintainence…we have the plumber stop by the house for some new pipes under the sink…..we go to the doctor for annual check-ups….we do everything EXCEPT tune up our own image!

If you are in sales, marketing, a professional, an entertainer, someone that deals with the public, you HAVE to put a “face with a name”!

If you have changed your appearance and you are afraid of what you might look like….here we go again with that old “fear” thing….or you have not seen the modern technology and the way I tidy up a face like you tidy up the crumbs on the dinner table, you are in the wrong state of mind!  That old “fear” mindset is getting you no where.

If the last good photo of you was your senior portrait, or if your photo is older than the car you are driving, it’s time for an image tune-up!

And even though you are afraid of the idea of having it done, every single person walks out of my studio ON AIR!

It’s the most affirming, positive mental and physical health thing they do all day!

No matter how they walk in, when they walk out, they know what I mean, by “Beautiful YOU!

© 2011 John Robert Williams