Just as her grandmother, mother, and her aunt, Renee England has a love for Merle Norman cosmetics. It was 1995 when she found out the studio in Sullivan, IL was closing up. She decided to give up her office job at an insurance agency on the square and made the jump into the makeup business. She didn't realize this shop had been struggling for a while. Hoping a better location would help, she purchased a different building. Because of the failing local economy, it just wasn't doing well so, she closed it for good.
It was 2005 when Fran Whitley, the owner of the Mattoon Merle Norman, was nearing retirement and needed some operational assistance. Renee ended up working for Fran. Going to meetings and working with her, she learned the ins and outs of the trade. It was 2007 that Renee decided to purchase the Mattoon studio and she couldn't be happier! She truly loves the satisfaction on her client's faces when they are pleased with the way they look.
Keeping the staples, every single year the product line just gets better! My favorite is the Lasting Foundation, Ultra Powder, Lip Liner Plus, and the mascara primer.
If you've never been there or if it's been a while, you will be pleasantly surprised at the array of offerings. There are luxury boutique items such as jewelry, scarves, and fashion outer wear. Need a lil pampering? Merle Norman now features a relaxing spa retreat! Shannon Dearing, a licensed Esthetician, offers professional skin care services including Microdermabrasion, Merle Norman exclusive facials, body wax and tintings.
If you have a teenage daughter then you've probably heard of Renee's Merle Girl Program. Young ladies apply to Merle Norman then they are invited to come in for a complimentary make-over. Judges then decide who would best represent Merle Norman. I have had the honor to photograph the last three Merle Girls.
Now if you wanna go waaay back...
It was back in the early 80's when I first met my now very good friend and daughter of Fran, Nancy Whitley Dearing. She showed me how to apply make-up just like her mom did. Nancy always made me look good for important events like dances, nights out, and even our graduation in 1988. When I would go to her home it always amazed me that the bathroom had as much makeup as the store!
Now, back to Renee... I hope this blog has peeked your interest because Renee is awesome and the products she carries are high quality. You are going to thank me!
Melissa M. Harden
Merle Norman's hours are:
Monday through Friday 9:30am - 5pm and Saturdays 9:30am to 3pm
1608 Broadway Ave.
Mattoon, IL 61938
My favorite pizza in all of the world? Instead of telling you, I’ll give you the phone number 235-0880. Villa Pizza, Home of the Massive Pie! Here is a lil history... In 1971, Sicilian father and son duo, Sammy and Sarafino, came to Mattoon and started Villa Pizza. Sarafino’s girlfriend was still in Sicily. She didn’t want to come to the United States and he didn’t want to go back. He knew he would be required to join the army for two years. Eventually, his heart was overtaken so he decided to go back, and he joined the army so he could soon be with the love of his life.
In 1975, Sammy put the restaurant up for sale. Anthony G. Arena, also Italian and former college MVP and pro football player for the Detroit Lions, came to Mattoon from Chicago and purchased the pizzeria. Once their house sold, his son Jon came down and the two worked side by side. Jon had quite a culture shock and missed his friends. He quickly learned that he was going to love it here. Within a few short months he made some lifelong friends. Eventually, the entire Arena family came to Mattoon and helped out at the new business.
Carrying on with tradition, Villa’s beloved sausage is a secret Arena family recipe which is locked up in a safe at Mark’s My Store. The amazingly rich sauce and all of the ingredients are fresh.
Villa’s pies come in bambino, small, medium, large, family, and of course the Big Tony, plus there is the Original Stand Up Pepperoni Pizza! Pick-up, delivery, dine-in, and there is even an area for parties.
You’re gonna love it!
Melissa M. Harden
2023 Western Ave
Mattoon, IL 61938
My son, Chance, LOVES Floyd’s Barbershop in Tuscola, IL. Jason Armstrong graduated from the Decatur's infamous Lockhart Barber College in '15. Chance loves everything about going into see Jason from getting greeted by Conner, to the great cut with an awesome hard part, to the warm towel after a neck shave. He always comes out looking like a million bucks! Walk-ins, conversations flowing, and jokes flying is how Jason tends to keep the traditional styling alive at Floyd’s.
Da Bomb, Cuban Tobacco, and Old Time Barbershop are names of the Armstrong Gentleman’s Care product line. The all-natural beard oils, washes, soaps, and balms are handcrafted by Jason’s wife Kelsey. The ingredients Kelsey blends are paraben and GMO free. Also, they have no harsh chemicals or dyes. The men rave about these locally made products because their beards are now soft without an oily residue which the spouses love!
And... now you know why we love Floyd's Barbershop!
Melissa M. Harden
107 W Sale St, Tuscola, IL 61953
How well does your profile picture depict you and your desire to move ahead in your career? Is it a simple coworker snap of you or a selfie? As a professional, you should take steps toward making yourself appealing to the people who can take your career to the next level.
Do you think professional headshots are expensive? That free photo by a friend could be killing your career growth. In one click, your profile photo may or may not express your motivation to be the best in your field. With a few minutes and dollars I can help you create the dynamic images you need to attach to your social media and marketing materials. Lighting, backdrops, hair, make-up, posture, and clothing are all taken into consideration. So, do you leave that responsibility to a selfie or well-meaning friend's snap, or do you go to a headshot specialist?
People will form an opinion of you based on your headshot before they read anything you have written. A profile with a professional headshot will get more clicks than a profile without one. How professional and accessible you appear will impact the recruiters who decide your interview future. So I ask you, how well does your headshot portray you as a professional?
To say I am having fun with these pet minis is to put it mildly! I have had the pleasure of meeting and falling head over heels in love with these awesome fur babies. Each one of them has a unique and touching story. Just in case you don't know how these special sessions work... I will explain.
Your pet will get a thirty minute mini photography session with me at Studio 21 for only $49. Within a few days, you will view the edited portraits. You will then choose your favorite for a matted 8x10. Also, that portrait will be entered into a Facebook "Like" contest. The pet with the most likes wins the contest.
The winner will receive a full indoor and outdoor pet photography session, $100 studio credit, and a gift certificates to a local pet supply store.
Bugsy, Winston, Conner, Chloe, Buddy, Fancy Pants, Gypsy, Fluffy, Mystic, Marley, and Rowan will tell you they enjoyed the crazy noises, smells, and snacks here at Studio 21.
If you are interested in the My Pet Project just call Studio 21 at 217-962-0048, email at melissamharden@gmail or message me on social media.
~Melissa M. Harden
Psssssst.... our cat, Sparky, is a little less than happy to have all of this intrusion to his space. So, I won't tell him about your appointment. ;)
My niece Laci wanted maternity portraits for her baby to have as keepsakes. She is a beautiful young woman whom I've witnessed grow from a little little girl to now an expecting mamma. When I look at her I can still see the face of the child she once was. While planning, she explained to me that she really didn't know what type of outfits to bring to her portrait session. I told her not to worry about it. We can work it out with some fabric I have at the studio.
During the session I draped her with a long, black, silky cloth, making sure her blossomed belly was exposed. At my request, she pulled her hair back and up. To my surprise she then, all of a sudden, transformed in this gorgeous woman... a soon-to-be-mom! It took a lot however I held back my emotions. Frequent back aches, leg cramps, and feeling bloated sure didn't help her feel glowing as she has heard it described by her friends. That night, no matter what she was feeling, she was radiant!
There were so many times I could see how much she reflects the beauty of her own mamma. Once I was editing her portraits, I could see her mother so clearly in her features. To some hearing that you look like your parent may not be a compliment for her it surely is.
Baby Ryker is so blessed to have a loving and beeeautiful mamma like Laci. You are going to be a fine mamma. ((Psssssst... Ryker, I sure cannot wait to meet you!))
Well, of course it isn't exactly glamour however the guys do get to have some fun as you can see in the portraits below.
The reason for this blog...
IT'S A MODEL CALL:
Is there a man in your life who should be photographed? How about a bearded wonder.. have one of those? If so, I am currently in search of men with beards. It is a personal portrait project I am pursuing. (say that five times!) Neighbor, brother, co-worker, boyfriend, hubby, pastor, or grandpa if they have hair on their chinny chin chin I want to know!
Be on the lookout for the following: Muttonchops, soul patches, five o'clock shadows, toothbrushes, goatees, walrus', Zappas, sideburns, full mustaches, Fu Manchus, and of course trusty full beards.
Please call my studio 217.234.2415 to let me know about a gentleman in your live who has a cool Chaplin or perhaps a chin puff. You can submit by email or Facebook private message too.
What's in it for you? For helping me, I will submit your name into a drawing for one of my full glamour experiences. It can be for you, someone you love, or like really well. The entire session, including hair and make-up by professionals and a two hour portrait session with me, is worth $250.
The deadline for this mane event is Monday, August 1, 2016.
WAIT THERE'S MORE!
To get your name entered more than once, submit a clever name for glamour for men. I have tried manmour... it just doesn't work. lol
Ok, I cannot wait to hear from you both about the hairy men in your life and a name for man glamour.
Let me tell you about my dear friend Nina. She is always there when I need her. Last April I decided to sign up for two events to promote my glamour photography business and she was right there to help me along. Two expos for women almost back to back! They both ended up being at the same venue too, the Unique Suits in Charleston. I should have went around and snapped some pictures of the entire place because it was so impressive.
She and I has such a good time at both events. Entertainment, dancing, food, shopping and a lot of giveaways! All the things we ladies love!
I am so happy to have these photographs so we can look back. Click each one to read the caption. Thank you Jen Harp for most of them. :)
Your headshot session is much more than me taking a picture of you. I like what Tony Corbell has to say, "A photo is of someone. A portrait is about someone."
The images you use to promote your business or your service must portray your personality. With all of the hard work you have invested into your career, you deserve a proper visual representation of you!
Headshots for all of your advertising needs:
I wanted to create drama for this session with Tanille so I positioned my lights in a way that would focus just where I wanted them to.
The very first image took my breath away! I almost broke down in tears. It was exactly what I wanted to capture.
Then I had lit her up in other ways to showcase her hair and make-up.
My intentions for this entire shoot was to go black and white however the colors were too stunning to mute for every image. The portrait below is my absolute fave. I just adore her expression. I think she looks like a flamenco dancer.
Here is the black and white photograph I took. I love it however I am so happy to not have selected this muted format for all of the images.
Tanille has the ability to have so many different looks. A classic beauty if you ask me. During this session I got a little more creative with light and posing. Let me know what you think of these full-body images.
I offer a fine art after ever glamour session.
It's time for you to exist. in. photographs.
Call me at 217.234.2415
Melissa M. Harden
Starting with a bright white wedding gown, I tea-dyed it and ended up with a beautiful creamy vintage color dress for any occasion. ((take note of the fuzzy slipper and hot pink jammies))
It's a terrible cell phone photo however you can see the difference in color.
More crummy cell phone pictures... Nina up doing her hair.
A pretty dress, BIG hair, and a drop-dead GORGEOUS Nina and this is the end result...
Thank you Nina for being the subject of this project. This portrait won 1st place in the professional class at the Mattoon Art Council Exhibit.
Just take a look at this lil cutie will ya? Dominic stole my heart during his debut modeling session at Studio 21.
He, his big sister Jocelyn, mom, dad, and both nanas came for a family photo session.
What a blessed baby boy. He is so loved!
His sister is so very happy to finally get to meet him. Nine months was like forever to her.
Can you feel the love?
It wasn't long ago that we were anxiously awaiting your arrival.
Now you are in the loving arms of your mamma.
Born December 18th at 8 pounds, 10 ounces and 21 inches long!
Aaaw! Dominic approves this message. Thank you schweet lil man!!
Just sharing from my June 2014 journal...
Days Gone By
Upon entering a local assisted living facility, a bright-eyed elderly woman approached me. Since I had my gear in hand I asked if she was planning to get her photograph taken today. “Oh I am thinking about it!” she said with a smile. Her kind expression told me that she is a sweet soul. At my every glance she was smiling.
Skylor and Chance, my two sons, set up the props and backdrop. Such good workers. Not a second after the set was complete we had our first model. Thereafter, the pace was pretty smooth and quick. Hayley, an employee assisted each resident to my portable studio.
First, I take an individual portrait then we get the silly hats, wigs, glasses, even a feather boa, or some other goofy prop and snap away. The “models” really ham it up and have a good time. Photo sessions like these can become entertainment, like a show for them. They laugh, and then applaud each and every participant. Skylor and Chance help by putting the props back for me.
My new sweet friend came up for her turn in front of my camera. Once I took her photograph I turned my camera around and showed the image to her. She had a concerned look but still pleasant. She said, “That’s not me.” I smiled and reassured her that it is her. “Nooo” she continued, “that’s not me.” Her words resonated with my soul. She knew it was a portrait of her. She was telling me that on the inside she still feels young and full of life.
She then asked if I could dance. “No. Not formally. Sure wish I could.” I admitted. As she tapped her feet on the floor, “I used to!!”. I could see the joy fill her eyes as she reached deeply into her past.
I cannot express just how much I treasure the time I spend with our older generation. So much to learn. So much to appreciate.
Here are a few lines of a song written and performed by Jon Gibson titled Days Gone By.
I can see a picture of a boy, so young. Skimmin’ stones across a tiny stream, one by one. Catch a butterfly and let ‘em go. Climb a tree so high no one will know. These are the days gone by baby...
Melissa M. Harden
Ok.. so you have made your consultation appointment and now you need to prepare a bit for your glamour session. First of all, I want you to know that we are going to have a lot of FUN!
Here is a list of things to consider for your glamour session:
Glasses: If you wear eye glasses and contacts, I suggest wearing the contacts so your eyes take center stage.
Hair: Do you have a favorite hat, flowers, or clips for your hair? If yes, please bring them.
Clothes: Please bring all of your clothing items on hangers and make sure they are wrinkle-free.
Dresses: This is a glamour session so please bring your evening gowns- **especially the flowy/breeze-catching bottoms that can be twirled**. If you do not have one, perhaps a friend will loan you one.
Tops: Form-fitting blouses are best.. not skin tight however shape-flattering ones. Solid colors photograph best and plaids are the worst.
Pants: I typically photograph from the waist up so please be comfortable. (yes, yoga pants are just fine)
Shoes: Same thing.. wear whatever is comfy for your feet. However.. if you have a sexy pair of heels.. bring them
Jewelry/Accessories: The bigger the better when it comes to necklaces because they do frame the face well. Also please bring, belts, scarves, bracelets, and earrings.
Undergarments: Nude bras are the best because they do not show up underneath tops where black and white ones will.
Props: If you dance, are in a sport, or have unique talents please mention those to me and I will see how we can incorporate them into the shoot.
Other things to do and consider for your session:
Please wear a button-down top, have a clean and moisturized face, clean hair (a day dirty if it is hard to hold style) for your hair and make-up time with our professional team.
Please shave under arms, tweeze stray brows, and other personal maintenance.
PLEASE.. do not spray tan the day of or the day before your session!!!!
Approximately two weeks after your session you will be invited to view your images.
Go here for my boutique packages. If you have any questions at all please call me at 217.234.2415
Melissa M. Harden
Heirloom Quality Portraits or soon-to-be Obsolete Discs?
Can you imagine the family below proudly holding a DISC instead of their beautifully mounted, 16x24 print? Nah!! Just think, they will have that printed portrait for the next fifty or more years but where would a disc be? Not sure, perhaps in a box somewhere in an attic or basement. One thing I do know, by that time it will be obsolete and so will be the technology to read the disc.
No one ever gets emotional about a shiny, silver disc yet Elizabeth, cried happy tears when she first laid eyes on the printed images of her sweet family. She knows that her printed portraits will be on their walls for their friends, family, and guests to see for a very long time. A disc well, it may get misplaced, broken, or worse yet never opened for print which the latter happens more than we know.
I am not saying that I do not offer my clients digital files of their images. As a matter of fact I give them away! With each print my clients purchase, they in turn receive a digital image they can share on Facebook, email, or their phone.
It is not in the best interest of my clients to ONLY get digital files. Allow me to put it into perspective... if you were to commission an artist to create a painting of your family would you rather have the finished product or a digital file for you to print later (or never)? The same goes for the art of photography. When you go to print your photographs, will you know how to color correct, manage exposure, or know the best pro lab for quality prints? Of course not because it is my job to do those things for you.
When you order your heirloom quality portraits with me they are printed on archival mountboard.. all ready for framing. Then all you need to do is hang it on the most prominent wall of your home for all to see,
For any questions, comments, or appointments please call my studio at 217.234.2415
Melissa M. Harden, Paparazzo
Showdown at High Noon
Three weeks ago I was at one of my favorite nursing homes for a photo shoot. It was National Nursing Home Week. This facility was decorated up in a western theme. I set up my gear, western-themed props, and backdrop.
After the staff dressed up each of the residents I then snapped their photographs. They all had so much fun getting into character and posing for the photos. Honestly, I don't know who had a better time, the staff, residents, or me. We had a couple hold-ups, a few saloon gals, a couple bank robbers stopped by, there were some bad-to-the-bone cowboys, and even had an Indian visitor.
Bob, (not his real name) got into the spirit. He even tipped up a root beer bottle to make his photo seem more realistic to the theme. My new friend had a nurse dial my phone number a few days ago. He wanted to share with me just what a good time he had. Bob told me that I knew how to pose the people and get them into character. He said I was a very good photographer.
wOw! A gal could use a phone call or two like that every once in a while.
He had one request.. that I make a "WANTED: Dead or Alive" poster of him. I am just thrilled so, yes of course Bob! I will make a poster for you.
I cannot tell you how much my heart swells knowing these people are having a good time and enjoy my services. They will have these photographs to show their friends, family, and guests and to pass on for generations.
Of course I cannot share photographs of the residents however here are some of the staff...
Isn't she a beauty?!!
We found some lipstick and well... it was war paint for this Indian. Oh! And one more...
Don't they look like the roughest and toughest gang of cowgirls?
One thing I know for sure.. is the folks who live in nursing homes LOVE to have visitors. I would like to encourage you to go to the nearest facility to chat it up with a few people. You will more than likely walk out feeling blessed for having met such wonderful people.
Melissa M. Harden
Does that interest you at all? Of course it does. Nothing beats getting a great deal on a product or service you really want. Well, right now you have a chance to sign up for my email-only offers. Once a week you will receive an email with tip, tricks for taking better photographs, or on how to look your best when it is your time in front of a lens PLUS an exclusive offer to save money in my studio.
You will also have the opportunity to save some cash from local venders.
As a welcome gift, you will receive a one-of-a-kind spring cover photo for your social media account.
Answered yes did you?! Aaaw! I get it... you say you *always* look terrible in photographs. Am I right? Well, here are a few tips and tricks to help you look your best so you will not feel the need to duck away from a shutterbug.
Loosen up a bit! A headshot doesn't always have to be an individual standing in front of a neutral backdrop. If you are a dancer, you should be in your dance gear, a musician, with his guitar, and an artist, like Jodilyn, with her paintbrushes.
Before your headshot session, think about what you are most passionate about so we can implement it into your images so your true personality will shine!
Call me today to schedule your headshot session 217.234.2415 or 217.962.0048
WHY do you neeeeeed a headshot session? Because you need to ramp-up your brand. Don't sell yourself short with a seemingly narcissistic, bathroom mirror selfie. You deserve much better!
Your new headshot can be utilized for...
... Social media presence
... Business cards
... Book bio
... Kickstarter project
... Dating sites
... Acting/modeling portfolio
... Theatrical bio
... Press release
... Roll-up banners
... Email signature
... Any printed marketing materials
Now, let's look at the important details..
These are headshots so, I will only photograph you from the chest up.
Men- Wear your absolute favorite shirt... one you feel great in while wearing. You need to feel confident so you look it in your photos. I would also like to suggest that you bring a suit jacket, nice shirt, and a your favorite tie. Hats and props are unnecessary however, you may bring them for the fun of it. Please consider bringing three different shirts for the session. Oh! Most importantly, be prepared to have some FUN!
Ladies- Wear your favorite shirt or dress. One that makes you feel comfortable and beautiful. LIGHT make-up, neutral lip gloss, and minimal accessories. You want to look like yourself on your best day, and not look like you tried too hard so, please don't bother with tons of make-up. Be yourself, do your hair the way you would for every day.
Please consider bringing three different shirts or dresses to the session.
Eye glass wearers- If they are not anti-glare, you may want to consider taking them to Eye Express to have the lens removed just for the shoot. It's easy to do and it only takes a minute. (They are not far from my studio).
Now you know what to bring, wear, and do before the session. What are you waiting for? Call me and let's get this shoot on the calendar!
Blessings to you~ Melissa M. Harden at Studio 21