20 years of photography for SOP!

Commercial Photographer, Nashville Photographer, Sheri Oneal

By Sheri Oneal

As we reflect on what happened last year, set new goals and look forward to the new year ahead I want to share my best photography of 2015!”  Before I do that I would like to express why this year is extra special…2016 marks the 20th year anniversary of “Sheri Oneal Photography!”

I have been in love with photography since I was 6 years old, I started my professional career at 21 and in 1996 I went out on my own and opened my first 1250 sq. ft. commercial studio space in Orlando, Florida. My very first clients included Harcourt Brace Johanovich PublishingScholastic Book Fairs and Cara Cosmetics. In 2001 I relocated to Nashville, Tennessee and have never looked back. The past 20 years have been bitter sweet and the changes in technology have been extremely challenging. I have relocated my studio space 4 times, changed from traditional film to digital technology, learn how to use industry software on computer platforms as well as developing online marketing methods that include social media and web development for my business. I have transitioned from payphone -to beeper -to cell phone -to smart phone and have struggled through a tough recession with in our economy. The industry changes in photography over the past 20 years have been incredible and they have allowed me to mature into what Sheri Oneal Photography is today.

Sheri Oneal Photography Studio Space 1996

1996, SOP first commercial studio space in Orlando, Florida located off of John Young Parkway.


Sheri Oneal Photography Studio Space 2001, Nashville.

2001 commercial studio space located on 8th Avenue downtown, Nashville.


Sheri Oneal Photography Studio Space 2008, Nashville.

2008 commercial studio space located off of 17th Avenue near downtown Nashville.


Sheri Oneal Photography Studio Space 2015, Nashviille.

2015 commercial studio space of Sheri Oneal Photography near downtown Nashville.


I love that I have the ability to make a living with my camera, that I can share the stories of others through my imagery and that in a single frame I can freeze time…it is magical. I love the rush of adrenaline I get when I know I’ve captured what I was hired to do but even more when I capture something extraordinary, unexpected or genuine. I have traveled to beautiful places, shot in flight harnessed from helicopters with no doors, captured video at 50 MPH, shot from rooftops in NYC and rented plush studios in LA to shoot celebs. I have worked with countless art directors, photo editors, creative directors, food stylist, wardrobe stylist, make-up stylist, set designers, production managers, animal wranglers, videographers and assistants. I have photographed everything from kids, products, pets, executives, factories, farms, architecture and food among other things. I have been honored to have worked on assignments with Getty Images, Cracker Barrel, CBS, Discovery Channel, The National Arthritis Foundation, United Way, Kodak, Scholastic Book Fairs and so many more.

Although I have been blessed to work with large corporations, professional models and celebrities it is the smaller companies, publications and individuals that keep my business alive. Client relationships are what I cherish most and the smaller clients allow that kind of interaction. As a small independant business owner, loyal clients and referrals are what keep me in business. I am forever grateful for my clients and even more so for the loyalty of those who continue to refer and use my services. My number one goal is to earn their trust, to make sure they are happy with my work and to enjoy the experience of working with me.

It has been a long road with many ups and downs but I am so grateful to be doing what I love for a living. It has not been easy but it was a childhood dream that turned into reality. It proves that if you truly want something, you can have it as long as you never give up.

Behind the scenes with Sheri Oneal, 20th Anniversary.

20 years of photography…


Thank you all for letting me work with you on your projects, for referring me to others and for allowing me to stay in touch.

Before I leave I want to share (below) me “Best Photography of 2015” by showcasing some of my favorite assignment photos from last year. Each year I love the opportunity to look back and see what I did and these images reflect the work I enjoy doing most.  It also allows me see how much I grow as a commercial photographer through the body of work I get paid to create.

Wishing you the happiest and successful 2016 imaginable, may all of your dreams come true!

Nashville photographer Sheri Oneal shares her best Commercial photography assignments from 2015.

The Best Photography of 2015

If you would like to see some of the past “Best Of’s” feel free to click any of the links below!

The Best Photography of 2008

The Best Photography of 2009

The Best Photography of 2010

The Best Photography of 2011

The Best Photography of 2012

The Best Photography of 2013

The Best Photography of 2014

*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 ©2016 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!


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!


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