A behind-the-scene shot of a few of the STUDIO61 crew during an on-location shoot at Windsor Ruins, near Lorman, Mississippi. From Left to Right: Wardrobe and Special Creative Assistants Penny and Ginny Daggett; Model Betsy Daggett; 3rd P.A. Braylee Dryg.
Rachel (the mannequin) is a special member of the crew. Though she is the subject of jokes and has been known to startle newbies, she has her place in experimenting with lighting setups, especially when working alone! The use of mannequins is actually quite common for just that purpose. Here, a bit of Rembrandt lighting on her face.
STUDIO61 is a project I pulled together that is much more than simply a place where pictures can be taken. While it is a physical studio location, it is much more accurately described as: a supportive approach, a collaborative team, and a creative environment that encourages growth, creativity, and artistic excellence in visual media.
It’s a way to embrace the attitude that we can learn from one another, draw inspiration, and gain knowledge and skill by working collaboratively on a few select projects of mine. I’m finding that everyone involved is getting excited about their own advancement and growth as visual artists due to hanging out with one another, and through the experiences of working on these shoots together.
LOCATION: Rather than being a typical photography storefront, Studio61 is more a visual-arts “laboratory of light” in the media of photography (still images of various genres); videography (motion, videos & movies); and graphic design (layout, visual art or image, and typography).
APPROACH: Studio61 is a mini-version of the “Menlo Park” model that encourages the free-flow of creative ideas and innovative approaches so that making unique and high-quality visual images can thrive and flourish.
TEAM: The core of the Studio61 Team is made up of a select group of talented, hard working, and imaginative photographers / artists / specialists who help to make select photo & video projects happen.
ENVIRONMENT: In this encouraging, creative, yet disciplined context, this team of creatives experiment with image concepts; play with lighting techniques & styles; make image composites for conceptual & artistic photography; brainstorm & collaborate for video and photography projects; test new gear, and have a blast while doing it! Studio61 is the epicenter of where the magic happens.
. . .
Studio61 Core Members
Are Featured Below
Pam McGee Swayze
S61 Role: 1st Photographer Assistant
Pam is part-time photographer and full time wife, mom, educator, and best of all…a Nana! She has always dreamed of exploring new places and capturing the moments that you never want to forget. She is truly inspired by the moments that happen in a millisecond – those little moments that don’t always need to be chased! She believes that the best photos are the ones that are not planned, but happen in that one, special moment in time. Pam’s photography style is a mixture of posed and lifestyle in a natural-light environment with a touch of whimsy and dreaminess.
“Studio 61 has been one of the greatest experiences. The chance to work and play with a group of photographers that share the same passion for the visual arts as I do has been a dream come true. I have truly grown as a photographer since joining this talented group.”
Fine-Artist, Actor, Talent Scout, Photographer
S61 Role: Talent Scout; Wardrobe & Props; 2nd Photographer Assistant
Morgan is a Natchez native and the daughter of Luckie and Sharon Groover. A graduate of Natchez High School, she went on to attend Copiah-Lincoln Community College where she graduated with high honors and was selected as one of the Hall of Fame students in 2004. She also attended The University of Southern Mississippi. Morgan currently works at J.E. Hicks Distributing Company and writes a weekly article for the Natchez Democrat. At the Natchez Little Theatre, Morgan serves as the president of the board of directors and has won numerous acting awards. She is the secretary of the Mississippi Writers Guild for both the state and the local chapter. She serves as the treasurer for the non-profit organization, “It Still Takes a Village to Raise Our Children,” and is the public relations officer for the Natchez Junior Auxiliary. Also a member of both The Krewe of Phoenix and The Krewe of Fat Mama’s Tamales, she stays busy as a volunteer firefighter, a member of the Adams County Search & Rescue team, Friends of the Armstrong Library, the Pilgrimage Garden Club, the Natchez Arts Association, and the Miss-Lou film coalition. She is a supporter of “Inspiring Young Ladies,” out of Irving, Texas. Morgan attends Grace Methodist Church and is a member of the choir. In her spare time she enjoys painting, writing fiction, and photographing the world around her. Some her work will soon be available for viewing and purchase at Natchez Coffee Company on Franklin Street in downtown Natchez.
“I have enjoyed working with Mike and the other amazingly creative and talented folks in Studio61. We are varied in our lives, but we all share a passion for this form of art. I am learning just what it takes to produce amazing photographs and it is so much more than what meets the eye!”
S61 Role: 2nd Photographer Assistant
Taylor is a stay at home mom who loves spending most of her time with her family – husband Trey, and their two daughters Andrea (who is three) and Charlotte (a one year-old). Born in Opelousas, Louisiana, and growing up in the small community of Plaucheville, she graduated Avoelles High School in 2008 as Historian. From there she earned a CNA certification from Louisiana Technical College, and the Associates of Science of Radiologic Technology from Louisiana State University at Alexandria. An Army veteran, she joined the Army National Guard in 2010 and spent four years as an Automated Logistical Specialist. Taylor advises that the family recently became members of Jefferson Street United Methodist Church, and says with a smile that she puts God first, family second, and then photography.
Taylor enjoys traveling, reading, crafts, and all things Harry Potter. However, it is through her photography that she expresses her creativity most. “I’ve always wanted to take photographs professionally, and having children and wanting to capture their every moment gave me the push that I needed to reach for that dream. I’ve taken at least one picture of each of my children since the day they were born.” While she loves shooting landscape, her truest passion centers on family photography. “I’m a person with a very poor memory. But as my own memories fade, through photography I’m able to look back on my photographs and remember every detail of the moment. I want to be able to do that for other people as well.”
“Working with Studio61 has been a dream. I’m able to work under and learn from someone whose talent and knowledge level is astounding. Through my mentoring with Mike, I’ve been able to take my photography to a whole new level through different techniques and camera settings. I plan to keep learning, growing, and I hope to provide ever lasting memories for my clients.”
Taylor is currently working on her website. In the meantime you can connect with her through social media:
S61 Role: 3rd Photographer Assistant
Braylee is a remarkable fifteen year-old student who is still in school, and hopes one day to attend LSU and get her degree in photography there. She is an animal lover, and absolutely loves photography. I was struck by her knowledge of photography at such a young age, and her intense passion for pursuing it. She jumped at the chance to be a part of The Crew, and is working hard to improve her skills. She takes excellent photographs, and her favorite subject for photography is portraiture.
“Studio61 includes a group of wonderful people who have incredible talent. Whether it’s with makeup, photography itself, or Photoshop, they are all fantastic to be around and a great group to work with!”
3rd Photographer Assistant Braylee Dryg stands-in for the main talent while Mike checks lighting, framing, and compositional elements.
Locational shoot at Windsor Ruins.