When I recently posted some sneak previews of Kristen Lee’s latest shoot to my Instagram, I called her “delightfully uncompromising” and I’m not sure I’ve ever more aptly described anyone in my life. I did a branding session for her back in May of this year, but for those who missed the post, Kristen Lee is a dog business coach (!!) who helps dog business owners branding themselves and get on the right track in their business. But – she’s not really a normal business coach. Instead, she’s more of the kicking ass, middle-finger type of business coach who’s wearing Louboutin heels *while* she’s kicking ass and giving everyone the middle finger.

She’s unapologetically herself, and she strives to help other women find their own sense of self in their brand. She also LOVES dogs. Loves dogs. Loves loves loves dogs (why else would you become a dog business coach?). For this particular shoot she brought with her Duke, “The Greatest of Danes,” who is a client of her husband’s in his dog training business. Duke was more like a pony, and I had a pretty fabulous time attempting to take selfies with him while he drooled on my head. I’m so happy to have had the opportunity to work with this fantastic woman multiple times, but also to meet the cute dogs she always brings with her. Hair Creds: Synquis at @kawaiistyles_u. Makeup Creds: Shatara at @justfaceitmua

We have some incredibly talented members of the community in our area, and it never fails to fascinate me. Local Hillsborough author Anna Jean Mayhew (who goes by AJ to friends and family) is one of those talented people. She is 79 years old (these photos were coincidentally taken on her 79th birthday!), and was first published at the age of 71. She’s been writing since her 40s, and also held an incredibly varied career. One of her favorite past jobs was when she managed the opera in Charlotte, but she was also a court reporter where she picked up on an incredible gift she had for dialect. Her job as a court reporter helped shaped a lot of the ways her characters speak in her first book The Dry Grass of August (and I’d say it worked – her book is highly reviewed and rated on Amazon). Kensington, her publisher, offered her a two book deal, and her second book, Tomorrow’s Bread, will be out soon. She is absolutely fascinating. She is kind, outgoing, and has a penchant for wearing lots of jewelry and incredible glasses (her signature). She’s a fan of cats (and was quite accommodating when I needed to reschedule our session due to a sick kitty of our own), and traveling with her Swiss husband who is an expert on author Jules Verne. All of her family seems artistic and talented, and she worn earrings made by her sister, and a sweater and scarf made by another sister. It was a great honor (and a ton of fun) to go around Hillsborough with her, photographer her author headshots, and learn about her life. If I grow up to be half as accomplished and interesting as AJ, I’ll be set.