Susan Dixon Photography » Blog

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I guess I take a lot of things for granted.  I expect the chair I’m sitting in to hold me up.  I expect an unopened bag of cereal (that’s in date) to be fresh. I know it’s going to be hot in Florida in July.  A freshly washed towel should smell clean and fresh.  And the list goes on…..

One thing I’ve [mistakenly] taken for granted is that the beauty and hygiene products I purchase are safe.  Maybe it’s because our food is so heavily regulated.  Perhaps it’s because I’ve never thought much about it before.  But somehow I’ve been lulled into a false sense of security that the lotions, cleansers, and makeup I use are all safe.

The truth is, many popular products contain some really questionable things in them.

Things like formaldehyde.  It’s often used as a preservative in cosmetics and other products.  Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen that is also linked to asthma, neurotoxicity, and developmental toxicity.  Companies often hide it by listing the chemicals quaternium-15, DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, diazolidinyl urea, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3 diol (Bronopol), etc. instead.  These formaldehyde-donating preservatives are often found in shampoo, body wash, and bubble bath.

Things like parabens.  (methyl-, isobutyl-, propyl- and others)  These preservatives are commonly used to prevent the growth of bacteria and mold.  Unfortunately, parabens are hormone disruptors, which means that they alter key hormone mechanisms in our bodies. Specifically, they mimic estrogen. In addition, they may trigger breast cancer. Shampoo, facial cleanser, body wash, body lotion, and foundation often contain various parabens.

Things like retinyl palmitate and retinol (vitamin A).  This nutrient may actually damage your DNA and speed up the growth of skin tumors. And we typically use it to make us look younger!  It can be found in moisturizers and anti-aging skincare products.

These are just a few of the dangerous chemicals that often hide in products we use daily.  Pretty scary.

A good friend of mine, Trisha Tracht, tipped me off to this.  Surprisingly, other countries regulate the ingredients in skin and beauty products MUCH more heavily than the United States.  While we have strict rules about food, there are very few regulations as to what goes into skin products.  Yet many chemicals are absorbed easily into our skin.

When Trisha’s first child was born, Trisha religiously checked the ingredients in the products she used on her baby. This continued as her little one grew and Trisha’s family expanded.  Now pregnant with her third child, she became curious about what’s actually in the products she uses on HERSELF.  Researchers are learning more and more about how chemicals in a mother’s system pass to her unborn child. In addition, Trisha wants to be as healthy as possible.  Making a few product changes can help tremendously.

It didn’t take long for Trisha to realize that most of the products she had in her bathroom were, in fact, NOT very safe.  So she began searching for companies that are committed to providing products that are free from harmful chemicals.  And she found out that there ARE some out there.  Trisha was referred to Beautycounter by a friend.

Beautycounter is a company that was launched by a mom in response to all of the harmful products out there. This company offers an array of products that are both safe and effective.  Trisha first began using their products as a consumer, and she soon became a distributor for them as well.  She has seen first-hand the benefits of using products that are both nontoxic and naturally flattering.

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Trisha (who is expecting her third baby very soon) had the fun idea of doing a Beautycounter makeover.  Olivia (who is also expecting) volunteered to be our model.  Trisha began by applying Tint Skin foundation in linen. She also used Touchup Skin concealer pen. Trisha set Olivia’s foundation with Mattify Skin Finishing Powder.  Olivia’s eyes were accented with Beautycounter eyeshadow in pearl and malt. Trisha applied Lengthening Mascara and finished Olivia’s look with Lip Sheer in Twig, followed by a bit of Lip Shine on top.


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Not only do Beautycounter cosmetics look good on Olivia……they look cute, too!  And, more importantly, we know they are safe.  :)

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And, of course, a mini photo session was in order to showcase Olivia’s new look!

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makeup:  Trisha Tracht, Beautycounter

model:  Olivia Amos

photography:  Susan Dixon Photography, LLC

If you would like to learn more about Beautycounter products, visit Trisha’s website HERE.

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I’ve had the privilege of photographing this adorable family when Chance was born. And then again for Christmas pictures. When they wanted to do an extended family session this summer, I knew the perfect place. While I usually do portrait sessions during the hour before sunset (that glorious golden hour), we needed to do the session at 1 pm because of travel plans. As you can imagine, it was a bit warm that afternoon. But this family was wonderful. Chance was fantastic! You would never know from looking at the pictures that it was around 90 degrees Fahrenheit that afternoon. Fortunately, San Marco Square has several shady spots. Perfect for a cute afternoon family photography session. Between locations, Chance’s mom told me that they shop in San Marco often. I love that, because it makes the images even more special to the family.

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When I stumbled across this vintage, bohemian-styled wedding dress, I knew that it was destined to be in a styled bridal session. The details came together as I picked a color palette and looked for accessories. A rustic setting fit with this concept, and Camp Milton Historic Preserve provided the perfect backdrop. The bouquet and florals were a combination of purchased stems and foraged greenery. I already owned many of the table details; others were sourced from local thrift and antique stores.

One of the BEST things about this Jacksonville styled photography session is that I was able to collaborate with other creatives. A local makeup artist, Erin Wernisch (Beautiful Faces by Erin) did the makeup for our gorgeous model, Kelcy Smith. Erin did a fabulous job on Kelcy’s makeup, which lasted throughout our outdoor session!

Another creative that contributed to this styled shoot is Brittany Russell (Letter Lane Design Studio). Although Brittany lives in Nebraska, we “met” in a Facebook group for The Rising Tide Society. Brittany provided all of the press items you see in the session. She did a wonderful job with handwritten calligraphy! I absolutely adore the way that she used plum ink to compliment the details.

I would consider myself blessed to work with these awesome ladies again in the future!

If you’ve never heard of The Rising Tide Society, check them out HERE. The Rising Tide Society is a group of creatives and entrepreneurs who believe that “a rising tide lifts all boats.” It’s about community over competition. Pretty cool.

To be honest, this is my second styled shoot….but my first with other collaborators. It took a lot of planning, but I absolutely love the end result! It was extremely fulfilling to have a concept in my head —–> and then get to see it take shape and come to life. I also learned a lot. (Like how hard it is to arrange flowers and WHY having a professional florist is so important.)

What will the theme be for my next styled photoshoot? I have a few ideas. :)  For now, enjoy some of my favorite images from my boho inspired styled bridal session.

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I’m excited to share some of my new samples with you! I order most of my professional prints/albums/etc. from Miller’s Professional Imaging. I primarily focus on big albums. I’ve seen their mini accordion albums on the website many times, but for some reason I had never ordered one……that is, until recently! :)

These cute mini albums are PERFECT for sharing! At 3″ x 3″, one of them can easily slipped into a pocket of a purse. For added protection, each comes with a sturdy, protective acrylic sleeve. Yet they unfold to reveal several gorgeous images.

I customized the covers on these samples, so each has its own front and back image. The covers are magnetic, so the album stays closed in its “natural” position. (You can also order these with plain covers if you wish.) When open, there are six panels for images on the front inside, and there are four panels for images on the back side.

I used three different templates to add the images to each album above. Really, the possibilities are endless. It’s a great way to showcase favorite images from a photography session or an entire wedding. And these make great gifts! And, as you may guess, they are MUCH less expensive than a full-size album.

Two of the samples above are from recent weddings. I included several images of the bride and groom, plus a few shots of the venue and wedding party. I think it’s the perfect mix that features the couple and gives the viewer a feel of the wedding. What a great summary of their special day!

For the maternity sample, I included a variety of poses….some close up and some wide, environmental shots. The location we chose was a nature preserve, which is absolutely  G O R G E O U S !!!  And her maternity gown? That’s equally beautiful. It’s part of the maternity wardrobe that I own for clients to borrow. This particular gown is a lovely neutral champagne dress from Sew Trendy.

Consider adding on an accordion album (or two or three) with your next photography session. You’ll be glad you did!

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It was such an honor to capture Tawnee and Cody’s recent wedding at the Renaissance Resort at World Golf Village! I’m pretty sure that all of us checked the weather about 100 times leading up the the ceremony. We were so blessed to have NO rain. Not during pictures. Not during the ceremony. Not during pictures afterward. It may have rained during the reception, but we didn’t care, because it was inside the museum at World Golf Village.

Tawnee and her bridesmaids got ready in a suite at the Renaissance. It was great to have extra room. And I love the matching robes that Tawnee got for her bridesmaids. How cute! I was happy that she scheduled extra time for everyone to get ready. The timing worked out just right. Even though Tawnee opted NOT to see her groom before the ceremony, she did a first look with her father. That was very touching. She also did a first look with her brother.

The ceremony itself took place just outside the resort. The permanent gazebo provided the perfect backdrop. Tawnee’s family added some fabric and flowers to make it even more special. While there was no rain, it was quite windy. That made the ceremony (and the pictures before and after) a bit interesting! But everyone agreed that we would settle for strong winds ANY day over rain. Period.

Following their sweet wedding ceremony, the happy couple had a wonderful time with their family and friends at their reception. It was held inside the museum at World Golf Village. The main reception hall was transformed with yards and yards of draping. Beautiful! Laughter and dancing made the night one they will remember forever!


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Ceremony Venue: Renaissance Resort at World Golf Village

Reception Venue and Caterer: World Golf Hall of Fame and Museum

Hair and make-up: Hayley Jean

Florist: Sandra Pfaff  Anything with Plants

Invitations: Wedding Paper Divas

Cake: Tamatha Cain Choux Cake Studio

DJ: Mark Sanborn Platinum Entertainment DJ

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