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elaine oyzon-mast

take off

while another intern season winds down, and a new round of applications ramps up, there are changes upon changes happening at LeahAndMark. exciting, necessary ones. ones that you just may want to be a part of. new plans, new faces, and things moving in a million directions. always moving. and part of that change is me.

in my do SOMEthing post last month, I wrote: “get up off your ass. get going. do SOMEthing. I won’t promise that it won’t be mortifying or embarrassing or painful, whether physically or emotionally. you may fail. or cry. or throw up. or be rejected or laughed at. I’m not saying that any or all of those things won’t happen. I’m only saying it just might be worth every bit of it.” and wouldn’t you know it, those damn words have been pecking at me ever since.

and so, under the heading of Practicing What I Preach… I’m off to DO. to still shoot and blog and learn and grow and share, just over at where I can fully indulge all my narcissistic tendencies with abandon.


schuckenfill 2012-9513


but before I go, let me tell you about the wonder that is the internship. because now is the time to start writing your application answers. and because it’s important to know, because then maybe you’ll see just how hard it is to leave the safety net that is Leah. and Mark. and Baby RoX, and Joy and +Krisandra and +Luiza. each internship season is this beautiful coming together of people with disparate backgrounds, and varying levels of knowledge and experience and passion. all of them with the goal of learning more. doing more. becoming more.

I’m not going  to blow smoke up your ass. it’s difficult. it’s exhausting. filled with potentially clashing personalities, and seemingly impossible demands and schedules. (and then there’s mark’s tendency to give the largest, heaviest gear to the teeny tiniest intern.) if it was easy, everyone would get into the internship, and you wouldn’t be challenged, and it wouldn’t mean a damn thing. but the stuff that makes it worth it are the amazing friendships and incredible opportunities and settings and experiences, so very many incredible people as resources, and the testing of your limits and convictions to find out what you’re made of.


one classy bitch-7136


from the Season SeVeN internship, Krista and I became LeahAndMark Pluses. which is really just another name for Uber-Internship (or Internship 2.0). more learning, more work, more awesomeness. mentoring the new interns, building our portfolios, and being given ample room to figure out a lot of things for ourselves.

out of our season alone, at least 4 of us (Edwin, Eric, Krista and I) springboarded from the internship into pursuing photography as a profession. and that was just one season out of the ten so far. there were also alumni interns Jo and Raven and Gabriel and Debra and Whitney. and still others. just think of the exponential possibilities of artistic awesomeness they’re all putting out into the world.

get on the bus


and regardless of what the internship has yielded for all of us, personally and professionally, we’ve each of us taken something away from it. and then made it our own.  that’s an amazing gift to have been given. to have been helped along our individual paths toward becoming…well, whatever it is we are to become.

everyone leaves the nest. some take a flying leap, others need to be gently poked and prodded, and still others need to be tossed, flung and/or have their fingers pried from the edge to begin their flight. and yet, we all go.

so now it’s my turn. to unpry my fingers. and fly.


I’m not kind of photographer who’s going to blog each and every shoot as the “greatestbestest, most favoritest (insert: family/wedding/donut/etc.) shoot EVER!” because, really, what are the chances that each successive shoot is going to top the one before it every. single. time? not bloody likely. (sorry. I’m on a Downton Abbey kick. I’m british in my head this week.)

but… let me tell you about this wedding. it was small and intimate and absolutely lovely. somewhere in the georgia mountains in a cabin. and a ceremony that started with a walk on a dirt road that turned into a path through the woods down to the water’s edge. bare feet. a creek. waterfalls. then-intern-now-creative-director Joy bounding around like a gazelle. a couple who knew each other when they were young. then, relationships and children later, there they were again. together. and so incredibly joyful.






















as a parent, you’re not supposed to have favorites. but the truth is I do. it may change from day-to-day or moment-to-moment, but still. there it is. sort of the same with shoots. so with all that being said, this wedding it was one of the warmest and most sincere that I’ve ever had the privilege to photograph. and my favoritest. so far.

do SOMEthing | by +elaine

I’m just coming off an amazing weekend. life affirming. life altering. fun, exhausting, exhilarating. if any of you have been paying attention, I’ve had the privilege of photographing Girls Rock Camp Atlanta and Ladies Rock Camp Atlanta. it’s inspiring to watch and be a part of all that energy. but let me tell you, it’s nothing compared to being an actual camper.

it was hard for me to let go at first. I’d always been there as a photographer. I even packed my camera to bring with me, then deliberately took it out at the last minute. I didn’t want to observe. not as a professional, anyway. I wanted to be a part of it. IN it. without the detachment of composing images in my head and having my camera as a shield. I did that in-my-head thing anyway, but was able to just use my phone to snap some shots, just like normal people do, and let it go at that. eventually.




here we were, 24 women, mostly strangers. we met on friday afternoon, chose instruments to play (for some of us, for the very first time), formed bands, had lessons, named ourselves, wrote songs and lyrics, rehearsed, rehearsed, and rehearsed some more. somewhere in there they managed to feed us well and often, and set up time for some serious bonding and a few performances. there was a lot of laughing and crying and hugging and cheering. and rocking and badassness, of course. then finally (all too quickly, in fact), on sunday night we performed. such a simple word, performed. but it was everything. excitement and attitude and love, and this beautiful energy exchange that I swear you could actually see dancing around the room.

and now that it’s over (we rocked it, by the way), I’m able to analyze the hell out of it, hold it all up to the light and see where it fits in the puzzlebox that is my brain. people met, lessons learned, what I’m taking away from it all, and if or how it’s going to color all things that come after.

some top-line things? I learned about Preferred Gender Pronouns. that I’m perhaps too cynical and snarky than absolutely necessary, even if only in my head. that the world is filled with kind, supportive beautiful beings that will help you along if you ask it of them. that you can teach this old dog new tricks. that I still have to ability to surprise myself.

rock & roar



I was motivated to attend this camp, yes, because after all that watching, I wanted to DO. but maybe it’s also part of that mid-life panic. I don’t want to be “just” a wife and mother of three. don’t get me wrong, that’s probably THE best thing of my life. but it’s not all that I am. or not all that I want to be. I will not go gently into that good night. because frankly, time is running out. maybe not soon, but certainly there’s less of it than there was before. and I still have things I want to learn. to discover. to enjoy. I want to not be bored or boring. I want to challenge myself and be vulnerable and redefine myself. I want my sons to see all of it and learn from it as well.

so do something that scares you. something that thrills you. something you’ve never even considered. take up lessons, go to a drag show, schedule a boudoir shoot, jump out of an airplane (parachuted, please). it doesn’t have to be big. buy a vegetable you’ve never seen before, then hunt up a recipe on the internet. try something new. revisit something old. finally tell someone that thing you’ve always wanted to say.


as my father would say: “do something, even if it’s wrong.” I’m not saying that’s always the best advice, but you get the gist, right? get up off your ass. get going. do SOMEthing. I won’t promise that it won’t be mortifying or embarrassing or painful, whether physically or emotionally. you may fail. or cry. or throw up. or be rejected or laughed at. I’m not saying that any or all of those things won’t happen. I’m only saying it just might be worth every bit of it.

we are

I think I’ve stalled long enough into january to not feel obligated to write about the new year and fresh starts and rah! rah! rah! 2013! I’m not one to make new year’s resolutions. it’s just another day, really. but…there is something about starting or finishing a project or significant event on a clear, clean point. I’m anal enough to appreciate that. because I’m the kind of person who is bothered by things like widowed words, and mathematical remainders and orphaned socks. I appreciate things like the symmetry of a person dying on their own birthday, or twins marrying sibling twins. (wow, this post got weird, fast.)

so instead of a drawn out telling of what 2012 was like (craptastic, with sparks of life-alteringly amazing), and what my hopes and dreams and plans are for 2013 (winning the lottery, and getting a pony), I’ll share with you using my own measuring stick. not of time and calendar, but of family. because my days are gauged by their health and happiness and homework. their extracurricular events and travel and behavior reports. their emotional drama, and independence versus mother-clinging. the juggling of schedule and mom-taxi-ing. their packed lunches and never-enough-snacktimes and dinner requests. this is the stuff I capture and keep, to post on facebook or tuck away in memory boxes.

so right now, no showcasing of weddings or realty or events or models or food. instead, family. this family:

schuckenfill 2012 WQ-9513

schuckenfill 2012 WQ-9532

schuckenfill 2012 WQ-9604






schuckenfill all kids quadtych

because this is how I was brought up. family. family family family. sometimes the first to attack, but always the last line of defense. built-in playmates. people who are related friends and everyday witnesses. understanders of jokes and references and house-language that other people find puzzling. this is what I want my children to understand and to feel and to treasure. being together, and the everyday-ness of it all.

what goes around, comes around | by +elaine

product shoots are always a good change of pace. versus models. sometimes it’s good to have subjects that don’t move. not having to wait for hair or make-up, or just the right expression. of course, that also minimizes happy surprises. but still. an almost totally controlled shooting environment? that’s just good stuff.

Good Karma Coffee House is owned and operated by Sharonda Frazier (full disclosure: friend and co-worker), and began when she started creating allergan-free foods for her daughter . and if you know Sharonda, you know she doesn’t do anything halfway. she purchased gluten-free foods, and she grabbed what recipes she could find, but dared to want them to taste good. so she started experimenting, and creating, and the results were fantastic. bread that tastes like bread, waffles that taste like waffles. muffins, oatmeal, cookies, pies. soups and breakfast sandwiches. all free of gluten, dairy, soy, nuts, or shellfish. and now she’s running a bakery that’s making lots of people happy.

I initially stopped by the store to support her business. and kept coming because it’s yummy (the banana chocolate chip muffins were my favorite, but now I think it’s the ham & cheese waffles). and now I work here, because mama wants to save up for new camera body.  it’s amazing to see the joy on the faces of those who are living gluten-free. especially the kids. “you mean I can have ANYthing in the case?!” (I’ve seen a few adults do a happy dance as well.) in a world where most places have only one gluten-free option, if any at all, this place is like the disneyland of food options. with excellent coffee thrown in. which I know because after 40+ years, I’ve finally started drinking coffee.

so stop by Good Karma. not (just) because it’s allergen-free, but because it’s damn good. plus I’ve got mad barista skills you should see.

would you, could you in a box? | by +elaine

it’s that time of year. “would you mind…helping, donating, giving, baking, volunteering?” school auctions, festivals, fundraising (though I suppose that last one is pretty much year-round). moreso for parents of school-aged non-homeschooled kids, but still, surely it pops up on friend and family newsfeeds or emails or discussions.

I just finished up my part of a collaboration with friend and Artist Jen Singh for The Museum School 1st Grade Grand Art Project for the annual auction. 3 days, individual portraits for 58 kids, plus “working shots”, and lots of “Evan’s mom, Evan’s mom!”

I’m constantly torn between fulfilling our family volunteer hours (or “love hours” as it’s called at one school) for three children at two separate schools, and trying to maintain my sanity by sometimes saying no. but this one I couldn’t say no to. and didn’t want to. it wasn’t obligatory. I got to spend time with my youngest son and his friends, I got to hang out with my own friends, and I got to photograph. all good stuff.

it’s was fun and funny and chaotic, and it made me happy. love hours, indeed.

la fin | by +elaine

look, I know no matter how awesome a thing might be, too much of a good thing is…too much. I’ve already told you how incredibly fun these Atlanta Man Calendar shoots were. how great it was to see places in atlanta I never knew existed. how great all the gentleman were to let us drop into their lives for a couple hours, and not only convince them to pose in embarassingly suggestive ways, but also to allow us to document it with photographs. and then print them for mass consumption. I might’ve even mentioned the drinking at morning shoots (which happened more often than you would think). so really, there’s no need for me to extend this out into another blog or two. so we will close out the Atlanta Man Calendar with this last blog post wrap-up. and then I can move on to things like Art is in the Blood, and some fantastic weddings, a product shoot at Good Karma Bakery, and 1-year-old’s birthday party, plus all the other awesome things heading down the pipe.

for the last time, I present for your viewing pleasure, the remaining gentleman of the Atlanta Man Calendar:

Carlton Mackey, Artist, Activist, fellow Trashwater Nicaragua traveller, and all-around good guy

Raymond Carr, Ninja Puppeteer

Cousin Dan, Musician & Performer

Damon Moon, Musician

Grant Henry, Artist, and owner of Sister Louisa’s Church of the Living Room & Ping Pong Emporium

Jonathan, Jeff & Joel of Monday Night Brewing

and finally, our cover-gent, Gerry Brown, 2012 London Games Olympic Torch Bearer

but the Atlanta Man Calendar shoot is not really done. because the reason behind it was to raise funds for the trashwater trip to nicaragua. and that’s about to happen. soon. so buy your calendar HERE. and then get ready to hear all about the nicaragua trip once we get back.

grease is the word | by +elaine

tonight is the night.

after months of work, over a dozen metro atlanta locations, a bunch of good-sport man models, and so much laughter it should be illegal…it’s finally here! the big launch. the “Greaser’s Ball” release party. the unveiling of The First Annual Atlanta Man Calendar to benefit, at Fallen Arrows, and co-sponsored by Native Crave.

there were two categories of models. good sports, and not-a-drop-of-shame-over-the-top. tito and andrew of fallen arrows were definitely in the latter category. I can’t show you most of the images I ended up with, because…well, just because. but here are some:

and also for your visual enjoyment, the man candy that is Chris Appleton of WonderRoot, and the visual artist PLF.

have you ever been part of project that was wonderful and fulfilling, and once you get to the other side of it, you’re happy and satisfied, and proud of yourself and your work and that of everyone who was there to help make it happen (people like the season 9 interns)? yeah, that. it was awkwardness and awesomeness. it was epic. and the calendar ended up being just as incredible as we had hoped it would be all those months ago.

so come to fallen arrows tonight. dress up in your best greaser costume. sample the yumminess of native crave. have fun, and ultimately support some incredible people and a great cause.

my bacon number is 3 | by +elaine

there’s this new thing in google where, if you type in an actor’s name followed by “bacon number”, you will get that person’s degree of separation from Kevin Bacon. you know that game, right? it’s still the same, it’s just been google-fied. well, Dante Basco, who was Ruffio in Hook, is my cousin’s son (I call him cuz, and he calls me auntie), and has a bacon number of 2: he was in Hook with Julia Roberts, who was in Flatliners with Kevin Bacon. you with me so far? sure, I’m playing fast and loose with the game rules, but since he’s related and his bacon number is 2, I’m saying my bacon number is 3.

“what, elaine, is your point, exactly?” you’re saying (though probably using less awkward sentence structure). well, I heard about this on the news, and it got me thinking about the webwork of connections that surround us. how people lead to other people. how we’re constantly brushing up against the same people without even knowing it. how we’re often at the same place at the same time, and yet we still don’t meet, because it’s not meant to be. yet. and then, finally, how the dominoes fall and we suddenly find ourselves right where we’re supposed to be with the right people at exactly the right time.

once upon a time, I attended a “red party” that benefited the organization 50 Cents. Period. (sidenote: 50 Cents. Period. was established to raise awareness and funds for girls in need of support for sanitary supplies, facilities and reproductive/menstrual health education, initially in India, and now in other locales.) there I met Lorrie King, who is a co-founder, and I provided her with the images I took at the party. later on she invited me to take portraits of some bhutanese refugee women at World Relief Atlanta. Lorrie is a crazy enthusiastic, driven, goddess-loving do-gooder. she travels constantly, and I told her she needed to take me along. funny enough, she told me she’s going to Nicaragua with the organization Trashwater, and if I could come up with the funds, they could use a photographer. so me, Nicaragua, October. for 2 weeks. crazy.

so now enter Josh Sanders, of Trashwater. Trashwater has been working in Los Brasiles, Nicaragua for two years working to empower and enrich the lives of the community with clean water and now, sanitation. Josh is a co-founder, along with Colin Denlea. Josh and I met to discuss the Nicaragua trip, and what I’d be doing with the team (not surprisingly, I will be photographing. anything and everything.) as with all organizations, there’s always fundraising that needs to happen. he asked if I would be the photographer for the “gentleman’s pin-up” calendar (or a “gent up”, if you will) that they were hoping to create as a fundraiser item.

through this project, which has taken up the last few months of my life, I also met Ryan Smith of Native Crave Catering & Event Planning. Native Crave seeks to provide Atlanta with both a new class of catering-centered events and affordable gourmet dining experiences that won’t break the bank. Ryan crafted this calendar project to benefit the men behind Atlanta’s cultural growth, and in turn, Trashwater.

there are people and places and entertainment and all things interesting around Atlanta that I never even knew existed. that’s one of the best things that photography has brought to me. discovery. and in no small part thanks to these gentlemen who will be in the calendar:

in addition to these gents, I got to work with each and every Season 9 intern, some several times. which has been an incredible experience. teaching and learning, both. and they, in turn, have been able to make some connections of their own. because it’s never ending. we reach out, we touch. we are both connectors and connecting, and really, it’s amazing. we help others move a little bit farther down their own paths, all the while continuing along our own.

you’ll be getting to see images from each shoot in some upcoming blogs, mine and the interns. and I really can’t wait to show them to you. but if you want to see each month’s “money shot”, you’ll just have to buy the calendar, won’t you.

avoir du chien | by +elaine

there’s just something about boudoir that turns men, and a number of my women friends, into 8 year old boys. I can’t even tell you the number of people who volunteered to assist on this shoot. joking. kind of. I’m not sure what people envision when they hear boudoir. do they picture a hot stuffy hotel room, or a dingy warehouse in the seedy part of town? maybe something akin to the first 3 minutes of a porn flick? sorry to pull aside the curtain and show you the wizard, but… it was at a studio with great light, and a couch, and a bed. it resembled nothing so much as a communal women’s dressing room. there just happened to be cameras and lightstands. oh, and mimosas.

in the midst of all of it, as I sat as a stand-in model to help another photographer get her camera and lighting settings right, I remember wishing I had done a boudoir shoot myself. before. before 3 children. before twin skin (you don’t want to know). before 44 snuck up on me. before scars and sun and wrinkles and gravity all had their way with me. but maybe that’s the point. yes, these models were beautiful and young and lithe. but maybe the reason for boudoir is for people like me. to reconnect with that young hot thing that you were and never realized. not to look like her necessarily, but to feel like her again. or if you’ve never felt that way, then to FIND her. because she’s in there.

and that’s what I love about being on the other side of the camera. acknowledging the beauty that maybe a woman has forgotten existed. or helping her discover it. because everyone has a thing. their eyes, their knees. a freckle. an expression or a birthmark. a curve or a valley or a plane of limb or lip or expanse of skin. a laugh or an outlook. a thing makes them gorgeous. all the rest of it–the bed or couch, the lingerie, the false eyelashes and carefully casually bed-tousled hair? it’s all visual fiction. the real thing–the YOU–that’s what makes boudoir so powerful.


of course, I’m speaking figuratively here, but it takes a lot of balls to step out in front of a camera scantily clad. baring yourself, exposing your vulnerability. to get out there and bring the sexy or the sassy or the demure. the bashful, the dominant, the wanton. the off limits or the right-at-the-tips-of-your-fingers touchable. all while wrapped up in your insecurities, and little else. it’s courageous. and it’s beautiful.

I want to be witness to it, photograph it, again and again. and maybe even someday find myself brave enough to be on the other side of the camera.


for those about to ROCK, we salute you | by +elaine

if you know me or have followed anything I’ve written in the past, you likely know I have three boys. and I’m always being asked if I’m done. if I’m going to try for that girl.


and while the older I get, the less often those questions are asked, we can save the topic of aging and no more procreation and older children and all things bittersweet for another time. I believe that I was built to be the mother of boys. and sure, this could be just be me trying to find meaning and order to a universe that three times running just happened to randomly provide me with that Y chromosome instead of the second X. looking for reason, as we all do, when things happen that we don’t plan or expect or understand, or that are tragic or overwhelming. but today my pendulum is swinging toward the “things happen for a reason” side of things, as it generally does.


for a very long time I had absolutely no interest in having a girl. I was a girl. and I was awful. well, maybe not awful (we might have to consult my mother on this), but surely trouble enough. and you know I would’ve ended up with one just like me. or maybe one who was nothing like me whom I wouldn’t understand at all. or all manner of complicated variation in between. but facing the reality of that “having kids” door close, it’s a much different thing. I don’t ache for little girls I never knew I wanted. not anymore. but I still wonder what kind of girl (and ultimately, what kind of woman) she would be. would I be able to help her avert some of the mistakes I made. would I want to? what would she look like, and would she be smart, funny, serious? the great fun of biological children (beyond creating them) is seeing what kind of being the genetic swirl comes up with each and every time.

so anyway, my life is not filled with pinks or glitter or flowers. or leggings and lace. or bows and bracelets. or barbies (boys call them “action figures”). and that’s okay. I have legos and lightsabers. compasses and pocketknives. crates full of tried-and-discarded sports equipment. various ways to hit things with other things. blues and greens and reds and grays and blacks.

and. I. will. not. have. teenage. daughters. amen.


but this Girls Rock Camp showed me, reminded me, there are all manner of girls than the stereotypical non-existent ones I create in my head. girls who eschew all things pink. badass strutting little women who screech into microphones. or pluck at bass guitars, lips slightly pursed as required. who can rock out on a drum set or keyboard or guitar. or shake that tambourine like nobody’s business. these ladies have the courage to show up to a week-long camp–many having never picked up a musical instrument before–and select instruments, form bands, learn basic chords and drum beats, and design promotional materials for the concert. they get lessons on female empowerment, self-defense, and how women are represented in the media. all of the campers and instructors are women. girl power, indeed.

during all of that, they collaborate to create the music and lyrics to a song. AND. THEN. THEY. PERFORM.


I was lucky enough to be a part of Ladies Rock Camp, which is a fundraiser for Girls Rock Camp (thanks, Stacey Singer, I heart you). and both times I’ve been struck by how comparitively different my life is, not being surrounded by estrogen. the energy is just so diffferent. the love, the support, the laughter. it’s just a different brand of connection. and it’s amazing.

not that I’ve thought about this much, but…my make-believe girl? she’s strong and sassy and smart. she’s much kinder than I am. and hilarious. she’s got attititude and is full of wiseassery. she’s unaware that she is beautiful. she respects herself and other people. she makes the world a better place. she is absolutely a Girls Rock Camp kind of girl.

and now there is the wonderful realization that gender aside, my boys are exactly the kind of children I that I just described. rock on.

practicing what I preach | by +elaine

with the season 9 interns now on board, I find myself (re-)dispensing these bits of wisdom that I’ve learned since I was an intern way in the long ago of season 7. you know, back when we had to walk 5 miles to get to shoots. through snow. uphill, both ways. things like wearing comfortable shoes. having spare hair ties in your bag. investing in a flash if you don’t have one. and a ladder if you’re short like me. having a spare camera battery charged or charging when you’re using your other one. never letting a client see that you’re nervous and unsure. and always bring your camera. always. even if you have no plans or the inclination to shoot. because if you don’t, that’s when the opportunities especially present themselves.

I’ll tell you the truth, though. I love love love what I do. but sometimes I just want to be in the moment, and not trying to capture it. to be at a party and enjoy myself instead of taking pictures of other people having the fun. yes, photography is its own wonderful fun, but it separates you.

I know I mentioned the tae kwon do camp that I ran this summer, but did I tell you I’m a tae kwon do student, as well? this is relevant, I swear. 11 Alive invited our school Atlanta’s United Tae Kwon Do (along with a Nella Fencers, and Hands On Atlanta) to be on tv for a live feed during the olympic breaks. so a bunch of us showed up in our uniforms at Centennial Park for demonstrations and olympic trivia quizzes. and a lot of hurry up and wait in the crazy hot sun. I brought my camera bag, because that’s what you’re supposed to do, but with the full intention of not using it. I wanted to be, not to do. but I just couldn’t help myself. when you’re a photographer, you can’t help but see the world as an ongoing series of great images to be captured.

whenever the olympics were back on air, we weren’t being televised. so, I grabbed my camera which I (almost) always bring with me, I put my hair up with my spare hair tie, I ran around in my comfortable shoes, and shot with my fully charged battery. I shot to have something to do. and then, even when we were back on tv, I kept shooting. because that’s what I do. really, I just can’t help myself.