Category Archives: Uncategorized

Riley is 2! A Minnie Mouse Birthday Celebration

It doesn’t seem like it’s been a year! It seems like Riley is growing way too fast, but then again, that could just be my perception. You might remember her awesome Peanuts-themed first birthday party, and this year, mom decided on a Minnie Mouse theme! Lots of clever decorations and great fun – now you guys know what comes next!

If you’d like to order prints of any of these photos or get a CD with digital copies of your favorite shots, you can order them right here! Prints and CDs will be ready within 1-2 weeks of ordering and you will be notified by email when they are ready. Once they are, just stop by the studio to pick up your prints!

4×6 print – $4.00
5×7 print – $6.00
8×10 print – $10.00
11×14 print – $16.00

Image CD – You can include as many photos as you would like on your CD for just $4 per image! (with a minimum of 5 images) Then upload or print to your heart’s content (any size, any time, any where)! Those digital images are yours forever!


Thanks again to the entire Hillis family and happy birthday to Riley! Hope the coming year is even better than the last!

An Inside Look into Post-Processing with Photoshop

Or the more aptly named…How Heather spends the majority of her days. No really!

Most folks are familiar with photoshop, but unless you have to use the program every day, you may not realize how versatile and vast of a program it truly is. I’ve developed a love/hate relationship with photoshop – I love her but she is a cruel mistress at times. I decided to write this post to show you some before & after shots from some of my edits so you can see just what my post-process entails. Photoshop is so exhausting extensive, it literally has a MILLION options as a program, so each photographer can develop their own post-processing style. Here’s a little glimpse into mine. 🙂


I’ll start with me. This is my headshot that I use for all professional-type things. This edit probably took me about 20-25 minutes. First I adjusted the overall color and contrast, applied a slight vignette (I try not to go overboard with those – just a little darkening of the edges). Then I fixed the little crinkle in the backdrop and proceeded with the fine retouching for my skin and some of those stray hairs. For those of you with Photoshop Elements (a simpler and much less expensive version of the program!) – all of this would have been possible in elements. It makes such a difference!


Here’s another great example of an everyday edit I do for a family or children’s photoshoot. This one took me about 35 minutes. I wanted to give this photo a warm tone so I applied a “Sunny Day” action. For those of you new to photoshop, actions are your VERY BEST FRIEND. Actions allow you to save commonly-used processes in one quick step – you just press play and it repeats all the steps for you at once. (This doesn’t work for everything, but it’s super helpful!) After that I did all the fine retouching for stray hairs and to even out the skin tone, and then I added a gaussian blur filter around her to give it a little softness.


Here’s a fun one – this edit took me about 20 minutes. Ever work with multiple kids and you just can’t get them all to smile at the same time? And you know in a group shot, SOMEBODY is always blinking. Story of my life. No sweat. Photoshop allows me to pick and choose from different shots to get what I need. In this photo, I loved the expression of laughter and wanted to keep that, but since the little one on the right was blinking in that shot, I searched through a few other shots I had from this scene to find one with her eyes open. Then I just selected that part and replaced her blinking eyes with bright, open eyes. Soften around the edges, make sure it fits just right and Voila! Then I applied a couple actions and slight vignette to get the tones looking warm and vibrant.

Moral of the story? Always take multiple shots. ALWAYS.


Alright, last one – I promise. This was a more involved, artistic edit so it took a good bit longer – and I tried a few different things before settling on what I wanted. I probably played with this shot over 2-3 hours total, with breaks so I could regain my sanity rest my eyes in between.
As you can probably tell with this one, I wanted to give it that vintage 1920’s look that the model reflected in her style (and just so you know, that girl is amazing). I did all my retouching first (fixed the splotchy backdrop and edited skin tone, stray hairs, etc.) and then saved it so I could proceed from there. Then I adjusted the color a thousand different ways, desaturated a bit to give it that slightly faded look, and then gave the contrast a boost to give her a glow.

I’ll admit – I agonize over these edits sometimes but it’s a lot of fun. I’ve spent a lot of time developing my style to the point that it is now and it took years. Years! Photoshop is not a program to learn in a day, but with every new discovery you get that rush of feeling like you’re the master of photoshop – and then you realize you haven’t even scratched the surface. It’s never-ending.

For those wondering, an average 1-hour photoshoot will take me about 8-10 hours of editing time – sometimes more if there’s extra retouching or special edits to do. And I don’t batch edit (though it’s totally possible) – I guess I’m way too much of a perfectionist for that. I spend way more time on photoshop than I do having a social life, which…..might explain some things about me as a person.

Either way, if it’s something you’re into, photoshop can be a seriously fantastic tool that’ll give your photos some extra oomph. For those looking for a jumping-off point with photoshop, pick up the latest version of Elements and let’s get started! You can even book a workshop and I’ll guide you through your first couple of edits. 🙂

To learn more about post-processing or to schedule a workshop with me, feel free to shoot an email to!

A Concise Guide to a Fantastic Newborn Session


Seems like there’s something in the water lately – everybody’s having babies! I suppose that comes with the start of spring, the beginning of new life, and all that good stuff. I’m not complaining – this season brings some of my favorite work as a photographer – newborn sessions!

But since you’re a new mommy or daddy, newborn sessions can be an overwhelming prospect. It’s not always as easy it seems. When do I schedule a newborn session? How do I keep my baby happy, sleepy, or cooperative throughout this process? Should I feed him/her before the shoot or not? And hey, how do we get into those cute poses I’ve seen all over pinterest?

To answer all those questions and more, here’s my concise guide to a successful newborn session:

1. Book your shoot as soon as your baby is born for the first 3-14 days. 
Babies under 2 weeks old are usually sleepier and more cooperative – after 14 days, your baby is going to discover that stretching is SUPER COOL, and they’ll be slightly more alert as time goes by. It might be harder to get them into those adorable newborn poses.

2. Keep the house nice and toasty.
If we’re doing the photoshoot at the nursery (which most parents prefer) – you’ll want the house WARM. As in set your thermostat to 80,or keep a small heater running in the nursery for a good while beforehand. It’ll be a little hot for the grown-ups, but baby is going to be much happier if it’s warm (especially if they’re in the buff for a bit!)

3. Your House Doesn’t Need to be Spotless
Hey, you just had a baby! If you’ve got dishes in the sink, it’s not a big deal. The only thing I suggest to most families is to make the bed. A fluffy bedspread is a great backdrop for some photos. Other than that, you just bask in the glory of being a new parent and let me worry about the rest 🙂

4. Feed & Burp Your Bambino Beforehand
Babies are usually most cooperative when they’re happy and full. Go ahead and feed them about 30 minutes before we get started, and make sure you get a good burp – gassy babies have a tougher time sitting still. Just in case, have an extra bottle prepared in case they get fussy halfway through, or if we need to take a break for mom to breastfeed, that’s fine! Happens all the time – I promise. We’re on their schedule.


5. If Baby is Going to be in the Buff….Loosen up their diaper about 30 minutes before we start. It allows some time for the diaper imprint to disappear. Photographers can edit out imprints on the skin if needed, but I know I always appreciate when it’s taken care of! If you’d prefer for baby to keep the diaper on, have a diaper cover handy or we can wrap a drape around it. No worries either way!


6. Pee Happens
Especially if your baby is in the buff, he or she will probably pee all over the place at some point. Don’t worry about it! I guarantee it happens during almost every newborn session I do. Any blankets or drapes that I bring are washed between shoots with hypoallergenic detergent, and as a new parent you probably know that getting peed on is just a new part of your life.

7. Collect Important Items Beforehand
Before the photoshoot, gather together any things you’d like to include in the photos like family heirlooms, headbands/hats, monogrammed items, etc. I’ll bring some props as well so we’ll have lots we can sort through and use. If a specific item is super important to you, please don’t hesitate to let me know! I don’t want to miss anything you’re hoping for!


8. A Boppy is Your Best Friend
‘Nuff said. They make great posing pillows! If you’ve got one, great! If not, I can bring one, so let me know.

9. Be Patient – Don’t Freak Out!
If your baby is restless, fussy or just won’t go back to sleep, don’t get stressed. Babies can sense your anxiety and if you feel anxious it may even help for you to leave the room for a few minutes (babies have super smell when it comes to mom) or to drape you so baby can stay in your arms for a few shots while you lull him or her back to sleep. If the baby just can’t get comfortable, we’ll take a break until they settle down! No big deal.

10. For Your Photos With Baby
If you decide you’d like some photos with your baby, decide that beforehand and pamper yourself! A lot of mom’s will have a friend come over to fix their hair or help with baby duty. But don’t be too concerned about dressing up and looking perfect – keep your outfit simple. Solid colors work best as opposed to busy prints or logos.


If you follow these steps, I guarantee your newborn session will go swimmingly. And if you have any other questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to ask! Bringing a new baby into the world is a big job, and I want to be here for you in any way I can to make your newborn’s photography as stress-free and fun as possible.

To schedule a newborn session with me or if you have any other questions about your newborn session, email me anytime!


Dance Murfreesboro Winter Showcase

Another fantastic dance showcase at Dance Murfreesboro is in the books – and again, it was such a joy to be a part of it. That place is just so full of talent and energy that I almost can’t handle it. Every time I make it to a group class, the fun is just infectious! Each showcase just blows me away.

Thanks for your patience in waiting for these photos, dancers. You’re all intensely beautiful people who worked very hard on these lovely routines. Let’s remember and celebrate them with some photos! Here we go:

If you’ve done this before, you know the drill. For the newbies, if you’d like to order prints of any of these photos or get a CD with digital copies of your favorite shots, you can order them right here! Prints and CDs will be ready within 1-2 weeks of ordering and you will be notified by email when they are ready. Once they are, just stop by the studio to pick up your prints! (Or in this case, I’ll bring them up to Dance Murfreesboro and come dance with you!)

4×6 print – $4.00
5×7 print – $6.00
8×10 print – $10.00
11×14 print – $16.00

Image CD – You can include as many photos as you would like on your CD for just $4 per image! (with a minimum of 5 images) Then upload or print to your heart’s content! Those digital images are yours forever!

Click on any image to enlarge. To select sizes, simply click “Add to Cart.”


Thanks again for another great show at the Warehouse! You guys are all an inspiration. Can’t wait for the next showcase with all of you!!


Art Is…: An Exhibition

When I first moved to Fayetteville, I could not have imagined being a part of an event like this. But last weekend, I hosted the first ever art show at the HCP studio and was met with a fantastic response and a wide array of different artists excited to show their work.

We had artists from Fayetteville, Huntland, Tullahoma, Manchester and even Murfreesboro. There were many different mediums showcased as well – from photography to acrylics to costume design. And the show of support for these creative minds was really amazing to see.  I could say a lot about the event and how it went but I’ll let the pictures do most of the talking (click on any photo to enlarge and browse the album):

Our diverse and talented artists! (minus the fantastic Rachel Nokes)



For those that don’t know, we have some photos of our “clothespin gallery” where we featured sketchbook-style loose artwork and gave people the opportunity to write down and hang up their definition of what “Art Is…” It was very insightful to see everyone’s viewpoint and a lot of fun to create!

I wish I had taken a few more photos of the crowd because I was really overwhelmed by the show of support for these artists. I’m already brainstorming some big plans for the next art event (Fayetteville Art Crawl anyone?), so stay tuned for some very exciting things in the future.

After last weekend, I really have so much hope and excitement for what this community can put forward. And I am so humbled that I have the opportunity to be a part of this small-town artistic revolution. Thank you so much to the artists, their families and friends, and to the community of Fayetteville for making this event more than I could have hoped for.

Until next time, stay classy artists!

Do you have your own defintion of what Art Is? Leave your thoughts below and share your unique point of view!


Of Frogs & Fairytales

Here they are – the finished photos from Of Frogs & Fairytales!


Our first collaborative day of make believe with Jennie the Art Teacher and Sugar Shack Farms was a fantastic success! I am so thankful for all the little princesses that came out for the afternoon.  I was quite impressed by all the fancy dresses and princess accouterment that I saw throughout the day – these ladies must be true royalty~

If you’d like to order prints of any of these photos or get a CD with digital copies of your favorite shots, you can order them right here! Prints and CDs will be ready within 1-2 weeks of ordering and you will be notified by email when they are ready. When we get to that point, you can either come pick them up at the studio or I can mail them to you! Just include any pertinent information in your order!

4×6 print – $5.00
5×7 print – $7.00
8×10 print – $12.00
11×14 print – $18.00

Image CD – You can include as many photos as you would like on your CD for just $5 per image! (with a minimum of 5 images) Then upload or print to your heart’s content!

Click on any image to enlarge. To select sizes, simply click “Add to Cart.”


All orders are handled securely through PayPal. HCP promises not to share your information with any one else and will handle your order with the greatest of care.

Thank you all so much for a wonderfully magical day of make believe!


Coming Soon: HCP Studio

It’s finally happening! I’m opening my very own studio. And honestly, I’m almost not sure how it all happened up until this point. Everything just sort of fell out of the sky and the universe aligned so perfectly this week that I really can’t believe it.

On our way home from visiting family in Auburn last weekend, Chase and I talked about what a unique position we have been put in, and how this time in our lives is the time to take chances on the things that we truly want.  I know that since the move I’ve been in a limbo of sorts trying to make my place here, and now I realize that it’s time to get my career on the fast track. And for any photographer, having your own studio makes your dreams the type of reality that you can no longer ignore. So we decided it was time for me to take the leap.

Fast forward to Tuesday.

I spent the morning driving around town looking at different locations that were advertised for rent. Chase was helping compile a list and I met him at the local town coffee shop (Elk River Coffee – whoop!) to discuss it briefly and switch out cars. If I hadn’t stopped by that day, I never would have seen this building:

(excuse the poor quality of this quick and dirty phone photo)

The building is in a fabulous location, located right off the square in historic downtown Fayetteville. When I called to inquire about the space, I found out the landlord used to be the most prominent photographer in town, who was retired and more than willing to help a new generation of photographer get her start. He was immediately accommodating, and when I toured the building, I seriously began to think I had stepped through to the Twilight Zone.

Since the building had already been used as a photo studio in its past days, it is literally perfect for my needs. Sure, it needs some sprucing up, but honestly? I could never have dreamed of anything more fitting for my future business. I even got some old photo props out of the deal that the landlord had been keeping in the building for storage.

Fast forward to today and this morning I was handed the keys to the building and the space is officially reserved for HCP Studio. We got right to work putting up some decoration in the window in anticipations of Fayetteville’s Host of Christmas Past festival this weekend.

We put wrapping paper up in the storefront to build a little mystery with some “Coming Soon” flyers I whipped up late at night while my brain was racing. We’re hoping to build a little bit of a buzz with the folks attending the festival, and besides, this way it will be far more exciting for me “unwrap” the building when I open up shop. Until then, it’s going to be a couple weeks of feverish planning, cleaning and organizing.

I still can’t believe it’s happening, but here I am. On my way to greatness. At least…that’s my hope.

Stay tuned for further updates about our grand opening!