Family Portraits of The Goldsteins…

Family portraits of the Goldsteins on location in Nashville Tennessee.

By Sheri Oneal

Over the weekend I photographed family portraits of my favorite couple “The Goldsteins,” over several hours my goal was to shoot various photos of Lisa and Rob with their beautiful daughter, Sara. As a commercial photographer this is a little out of my element and for whatever reason photographing friends always makes me nervous for fear they won’t tell me if they truly like the photos (yes even as a pro for almost 20 years I still doubt myself at times). When I went to their home I wanted to be sure and get the photos they wanted but I also wanted to capture something for myself. Because their daughter Sara would be headed off to college soon, their goal was to capture images with her and I knew like any parent they were anxious about their daughter starting a new life chapter. We’ve discussed doing the photos over the past year so I had a lot of time to think about what I wanted to create with them in front of the camera. As a visual storyteller and as a professional commercial photographer my job is always to create a story through a single image. I wanted to capture more than just family photos, I wanted to be sure to show the love between the parents and their daughter.

Lisa, Rob, Sara and Ginger Goldstein shot in their home in Nashville, TN.

As I thought back to my own connection with my mom at that time in my life I remembered how stressed out I was at that age due to my parents going through a divorce and my confusion over needing to figure out where I wanted to go to college. I never remember thinking at all about what my mother might be feeling as she watched me slowly move towards being a young independant woman, this really had me wanting to capture that bond between a mother and her daughter. On Saturday I knew this photoshoot was about more than just happy faces. My desire was leaning to something stoic yet subtle, the idea of shooting with very little color on black was my way of adding some drama so I was sure to bring along a black backdrop. I wanted to capture a feeling of gentleness between Lisa and Sara, I also wanted to try and tell something about each of them individually…this is what transpired.

Family portraits of Lisa and Sara Goldstein in Nashville, Tennessee.

After editing through all the images I thought about how I wish I had an image like this with my mom back at that age. I feel as if I have been able to convey their emotions in a deeper way and I hope that others will feel the same. I believe it captures the intimacy of the two combined with the innocence of her daughter and a mother who knows things are changing at home.

While going through the motions of shooting each family member this photo happened….

Lisa Palet Goldstein portrait shot at her home in Nashville, Tennessee.

As I continued to look through all the shots of that day, I kept coming back to this one of Lisa alone. I think of the hundreds of thousands of photos I have taken this year, this is my absolute favorite. Perhaps it is because of how much I love and admire the person looking back, or because of the friendship that has developed with this person over the past year. Somehow she has helped me as an introvert realize how important sharing with friends is to my growth and happiness. I have learned through her to come out of my shell a bit and I have discovered many other amazing ladies along the way. For whatever reason this photo really speaks volumes to me. It carries a lot of hidden meaning as I have watched this woman go through so many changes, in fact a little over a year ago when I met her she was dealing with the treatment of colon cancer and not knowing if she would survive. Many of you were introduced to her with my “Fabulous Women Over 40” blog series earlier this year.

Cancer Survivor, Wonder Woman

When I compare the woman in the cover story to my favorite photo of the year shot on black I see two very different people. As a photographer my work always begins with what I discover as I glare through the lens into the eyes of the person on the other side, that is always where the story starts. The photo I took last year of Lisa above, appears sad to me, Lisa was going through the cancer treatments at the time and it was shot a few days before her removal surgery. We had not yet developed a friendship and I had only known her for a week.

When I look at the image of Lisa on black I see an extremely strong, confident and gentle person. Someone I have grown to know so well in such a short time. As one would expect, her year has been littered with some very personal and emotional stages regarding health, relationships and career developments but most of all in the confusing discovery of reinventing life after surviving cancer. This week she heads to the doctor’s office to have some test done, something she will need to do the rest of her life as a cancer patient…something I am reminded of that so many beautiful people are dealing with every single day.

I love my job and that I have the ability to make a living taking pictures. My mindset is always to stop time in a single frame and capture a photo that portrays so much about a person without needing to say a single word. I have found that the connection of looking deep into their eyes offers something profound to the viewer and of course beautiful people always make my job a lot easier! What I love most about my work is that the story of the people I create in my photos will live on long after I am gone, that is so much more gratifying to me than a paycheck.

Thank you for reading!

*If you would like to leave a review of my work please do so here, here or here!

*NOTE all Sheri Oneal blog post are ©2015 by Sheri Oneal. Any use of photos or content (other than sharing the link) must be agreed upon in writing.

Please feel free to share this page!



Fabulous Women Over 40: Payge McMahon

Fabulous Women over 40, Payge McMahon, adventure athlete walking down hiking trails.

By Sheri Oneal

Wow, this summer got real busy and I fell behind with my interviews for my Fabulous “Women Over 40” blog series but I have a very inspiring woman to showcase for September!

Fabulous Women over 40, Payge McMahon, adventure athlete at Percy Warner Park.

Payge McMahon is an amazing testament of courage and inspiration and she proves that your life direction can change in the blink of an eye. Her story is a testament that sometimes negative things that happen in our lives can lead us down an inspiring path.

At 16, Payge was in a car accident that broke her back and left her in a body cast. Her mother was her positive inspiration in helping her maintain a good outlook during her healing when she had to learn how to walk again, (she still struggles with chronic back pain). Payge went on to college and earned a B.A., in International Politics and Spanish, at Penn State, she studied at universities in Spain and Mexico and an MBA at California Lutheran University. She worked her way up the corporate ladder, negotiating and managing global contracts for Fortune 500 companies before eventually landing on Wall Street.

When Payge turned 28, her life’s direction would change forever when her mother, a non-smoker, died from lung cancer. Her death crushed Payge to the core. “I literally felt my heart break,” she says. Sometime after, Payge found a hidden notebook in her mother’s nightstand with a list of 20 adventurous things her mom had hoped to do in her lifetime. Payge noticed that only 6 things had been marked off of the list and she felt an overwhelming need to live out her mother’s bucket list, this sparked the journey that would change her life.

Fabulous Women over 40, Payge McMahon, adventure athlete looking out over ridge.

She quit her job on Wall Street, sold all her belongings, divorced her college sweetheart and took off on her first adventure. At 32, she backpacked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, it was the first time Payge had ever slept in a tent, gone backpacking or climbed a mountain.

Over the years she has had some amazing adventures: like dog sledding in Alaska, cycling through Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia, summiting Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Mt. Fuji in Japan and Mt. Sinai in Egypt. She has explored the Sahara desert and Amazon Rainforest, backpacked across Northern Spain, the Himalaya in Nepal and the list goes on. With each adventure Payge sprinkles bits of her mother’s ashes along the way slowly fulfilling her mom’s bucket list. She wears a necklace around her neck that carries some of her mother’s ashes and feels as if her mom is with her every step of the way.

Fabulous Women over 40, Payge McMahon, adventure athlete with mother's ashes in necklace.

Payge created a website Turn the Payge for family and friends to follow along in the journey. As more and more people learned about her story thank you letters began coming in sharing how her journey was inspiring them to start their own bucket lists. Many looked to Payge for advice on backpacking, travel and gear. National Geographic Adventure, Competitor and other publications contacted her to write about her adventures. ESPN featured her story on their program, ‘Journeys & Victories‘ and it won a Gracie Award, which honors women in media.

Adventure travel and outdoor gear and apparel companies also took notice because they see her story as compelling and relatable. They also recognize that she knows how to reach people and cross-market brands: she is now sponsored by companies like adidas Outdoor, Canada Goose, Wigwam Mills and Taos Mountain Energy Bars.

Payge shares her experiences to inspire others to get outdoors, experience life and step outside their comfort zone. You can see Payge doing just that on “The Raft,” a new adventure/survival television series on National Geographic Channel. When the production company contacted her to do the show, she initially thought to say, ‘No.’ It wasn’t that she would have to spend 6 days, with a stranger, on a small 4X4 foot costal raft, floating in the Bermuda Triangle, without any food or water. “I don’t like cruises,” she says, “and sharks. But, then I thought… what a cool opportunity this would be to test my limits in a worst-case travel scenario.” Check her out in ‘The Raft’s’ premiere, titled, Bump in the Night.

Fabulous Women over 40, Payge McMahon, adventure athlete on trail.Today, In addition to being a professional adventure athlete, motivational speaker and journalist, she is also a yoga instructor. She took up yoga to help strengthen her back and cross train for adventures. She received her teaching certification in Thailand and has since studied in India and Nepal. Wanting to help others go beyond their perceived physical limits, she specializes in training endurance athletes and those recovering from injury, surgery and/or living in chronic pain. “Yoga changed my life. The way I abuse my body and mind on some of these endeavors, if I didn’t practice yoga, I’d be crippled by now,” she laughs.

Fabulous Women over 40, Payge McMahon, adventure athlete with map.Payge now has 3 more adventures and places left to visit to complete her mother’s bucket list, dive Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, ski in Antarctica and run on The Great Wall of China. Her goal is to continue to inspire others to get out and live their lives actively and to try new things, just as her mother inspired her to do. Payge is a true inspiration and testament to living healthy and doing those things most feel are unreachable. She is truly a “Fabulous Woman (barely) Over 40!”

Thank you for reading, see you next month!

*If you would like to leave a review of my work please do so here, here or here!

*NOTE all Sheri Oneal blog post are ©2015 by Sheri Oneal. Any use of photos or content (other than sharing the link) must be agreed upon in writing.

Please feel free to share this page!


Fabulous Women Over 40: Rita Maggart

Fabulous Women over 40, Rita Maggart, volunteer artist in women's prison

By Sheri Oneal

May almost slipped by me but I squeezed in a day this week to interview a wonderful woman for my Fabulous Women Over 40 blog series. I am proud to introduce Mrs. Rita J. Maggart! She is an artist, a writer, a floral designer and a teacher who began volunteering her time 24 years ago as a teacher’s assistant at the Tennessee Prison for Women.

Fabulous Women over 40, Rita Maggart, volunteer artist in women's prison

Rita Maggart grew up in Lebanon, Tennessee and graduated from George Peabody College of Vanderbilt University. She married her husband John Maggart who was in the military and lived in Germany for 5 years before settling in Nashville. Her early career was teaching 3rd grade in Metro Nashville Schools and preschool children in Montessori schools, she believes her inner strength resides through her faith and that is what inspires her to help others. Over the years she has found comfort expressing her feelings and thoughts in the pages of journals combined with sketching images of botanicals. In 1995 Rita did a work study in England under her mentor Sheila Macqueen, a renowned floral artist and designer known for her work with Britain’s royal family. Rita then started a floral design business in Nashville where she focused on events, home decor, and event coordination with botanicals. In 1996 she decided to use excerpts from her early journals to share with others which led to her book called “In The Growing Places,” which combines her inspirational poetry, thoughts and drawings showcasing her experience with floral arrangement instruction. Nashville singer/songwriter Angel Pontier has used the book for inspiration to write songs.

Fabulous Women Over 40; Rita Maggart, books

Rita’s love of art lured her to study oil painting with artist and instructor Gayle Levee of Nashville. She has also studied Visual Communications at Nashville State Community College with Pam Hawkins and is currently studying the art of abstract painting with Lisa Jennings of Nashville.

Fabulous Women Over 40; Rita Maggart, artist

Paint pallet, Rita Maggart, Fabulous Women Over 40

What I admire most about Rita and what makes her such a fabulous woman is her desire to help others. Women’s ministry is Rita’s play it forward space and she finds solace in working with groups of women where her encouragement helps them find their true internal God given gifts. She started volunteering at the Tennessee Prison for Women in 1991 after hearing speaker Emma Thompson mention they needed volunteer teachers. Rita offered her time teaching reading in the woman’s prison system for several hours each week. Later she would teach a creative class on art and journaling which eventually would lead to arts and craft classes. She felt strongly that the art was a meaningful way of therapy for the women and became very appreciated in the process. Today Rita helps coordinate a Pen Pal ministry connecting the women in prison with women in her church. This inspirational process helps them find strength, comfort, self love, confidence and inner peace. She has continued to stay in touch with several women over the years who are still in the prison system through letter writing.

Fabulous Women Over 40; Rita Maggart

Fabulous Women Over 40; Rita Maggart, artist, teacher

Fabulous Women Over 40; Rita Maggart, prayer

Rita’s interest in life tend to center around communicating and creating. In 2005  she combined her interest of macro photography and oil painting with botanicals where she created bodies of work centered around sepia toned flowers. Using natural light and floral surroundings her work offers a beautiful fine art vision of floral arrangements. Animation artist Dave Turner AKA Digital Dave has turned her botanical photos into animation art and has made them come alive in a video montage found here.



Rita resides in Nashville tennessee with her husband John Maggart, they have 3 sons and 5 granddaughters. She has an artist studio at Harpeth Art Center & Gallery in Pegram and an upcoming Art Exhibit at the at Nashville Airport flying solo exhibition called “In Sight” which showcases 36 x 49 archival pigment prints this June, July and August in the Southwest Concourse “C.” She will be at Scarritt-Bennett November 19, 2015 with singer/songwriter Angel Pontier in a performance of poetry and music at the “Poet’s Corner.” 

If you would like to know more about Rita you can visit her site here. She truly is a Fabulous Woman who has made a difference with her creative endeavors and sharing personality.

I hope you have enjoyed this month’s Fabulous Woman and will check back for Ms. June, stay tuned!


*If you would like to leave a review of my work please do so here, here or here!

*NOTE all Sheri Oneal blog post are ©2015 by Sheri Oneal. Any use of photos or content (other than sharing the link) must be agreed upon in writing.

Please feel free to share this page!


Copy Protected by Chetan's WP-Copyprotect. WordPress Loves AJAX