I am fully aware that it’s the middle of April, but I have just now finished all the retouching/editing (as in about an hour ago) from February 18th. I’ve been hosting shootouts for a few years now, usually in May, but this year I wanted to do something different. Many photographers and models don’t much during the winter months, but I’ve always loved the way the world looks in winter, so the Winter Shootout was born!

I decided we’d all meet and shoot at the Cumberland Mountain State Park because of the romantic stone bridge, beautiful trails, and the hidden and elusive covered footbridge! I was booked from the start of the day until after the sun set (which looking back and looking at it now, was WAY too many. Hindsight is 20/20, right?). Without any more ado, here are all the images I made!

muse: Sarah Swainson

makeup: Taya de Blonk

muse: Emily Chaput

muse: Michaela Miller

muse: Savannah Chesnutt

makeup: Taya de Blonk

muse: Cera

makeup: Taya de Blon

muse: Sydney Myers

muse: Savannah Chesnutt

makeup: Taya de Blonk

lighting assistant: Samantha Doss

muse: Lexi Bishop

lighting assistant: Brenda Harris

fabric assistant: Jessica Burlingame

Which is your favourite? Comment below!

There you have it, folks! Until next time!

Can I reuse this?

This is, if not the first, the second thought that enters my mind when I find a prop I’d like to purchase for a photoshoot.

(This does not apply to things I purchase for a specific planned shoot. This is only when I’m out and about and randomly find props I decide would be interesting in a shoot.)

If I spent all my money on random props and wardrobe, I’d never have money for shoots I plan out or really anything else because let’s face it, there are a bazillion things JUST at Hobby Lobby that I could use in shoots.

But, my point is, there are ways to reuse props without using them the same way you used them before.

For example:

muses in order of appearance (L to R): Vesper, Vannah Blair, Tori Beth

These antlers were in the Hallowe’en section of Walmart for about $3 and as soon as I saw them, I nabbed them and ran straight to the self checkout. The first image, the antlers were exactly how I purchased them (except I put them on a very thin headband instead of using the thin elastic thread they came on. The holes were already on/in the antlers and the headband made it MUCH sturdier and allowed me to adjust how close/far I wanted the antlers.). For the second image, I spray painted them matte black and hand painted the tips with gold leaf paint for a dark faerie tale shootout. The final image, I was inspired after spray painting the berry crown silver and I just knew the antlers would be a whimsical addition and spray painted them again on a whim.

Another prop/headdress I made was out of red berries, but I ended up using them 2 more times by just painting them (and adding antlers once!).

The first time, all I did was take stalks of the berries and create a wreath/halo/crown. On a whim, I decided to spray paint them silver on a whim (like I said above, I just KNEW I needed to add the silver antlers!), and for the third time, I spray painted over the silver and created a golden crown for the last shoot.

(from the left) Chesney, Tori Beth, Emily

A coat of paint can literally transform SO many different props, so next time you’re about to throw out a prop, try painting it a different color(s) or adding another element to it to create a NEW prop for a brand new shoot!

Happy creating!


My friend and follow photographer, Nicole DelFraino and I have been working tirelessly to put together a guidebook for those of you who want to get into local modeling!

Nicole and I both get requests from so many of you who want to become a model, so we thought that we’d combine our years of experience working with models and put together all of the things we wish every potential model knew about HOW to become a model.

This guide includes:

Where to Begin

How To Prepare for Your First Shoot

How to Approach a Photographer

Shootout Etiquette 

What to Do When You’re Rejected For a Casting Call

And so much more! 

This guide is mainly aimed at those who want to begin modeling, but will also be super helpful to those of you who have done a few shoots here and there.

How-To-Get-Into-Modeling-101-with-Adrienne-McNellis-and-Nicole-DelFraino.pdf (160 downloads)


I have begun learning/teaching myself new techniques in Photoshop for the New Year (hello 2017!) and scanned my files from last year and found one I liked! But, of course,  I couldn’t quit after skin. So, I finished retouching and colour toning, etc , this image:

of the gorgeous Savannah from the Model Workshop we hosted in 2016.

I also saved my first Curves Preset and wanted to share it!

CLICK:    Savannah Curves Preset (156 downloads)

Tag me in whatever photo you use it on so I can see!

This preset will not give you the entirety of the look above as each of my images are made up of several curves layers, selective color layers, hue/saturation layers, etc. This is just the main coloring/toning used in the above image. 


The end of a year usually calls for a review, a trip down memory lane, or a quick view of your highlight reel. What was my best day? My best outfit? My best photo? If I were to take a poll and ask which is my best image, I’m sure I’d get an extremely varied response, because best is such a personal opinion which is impossible to get something factual from.

So, I decided I’d take a look back on all my images of 2016 and try and pick my favourite. If you know me, the true me, you’d know I am absolutely incapable of picking favourites of anything. I admire so many different things that it’s hard for me to place one over all the others. I don’t have a favourite colour, a favourite food, a favourite band/soloist/song, a favourite anything really. (I have a favourite daughter. But that’s because I only have one.) Obviously, this was a task I was never going to accomplish, so instead I picked several images that are MY favourites of the year.

And it was hard. And I’m still very unsure if I picked the ‘right’ ones. Or if I picked all the ‘right’ ones.

And looking back, it made me realize:

I didn’t do enough personal projects. (Let’s change that in 2017.)

But, these images ( a mix of personal and commissioned) are my 2016.

Thank you for supporting me in 2016. I cannot wait for 2017. 


I figured out how to make my own Lightroom presets and here’s my very first one! Post your images you use this preset on down in the comments so I can see your finished masterpieces!




CLICK link below for your auto download of VESPERS!

Vespers : A Free Lightroom Preset (166 downloads)

October was supposed to be a ‘no work’ month. A time where I could do something spontaneous or something I’ve been holding on the back burner. Thankfully, Lauren messaged me wondering if I’d be interested in a dress she found in her room (and of course with her in it!) and it was an instant “Yes, please!”

I spray painted some fall leaves gold and decided I’d put some gold pigment in her hair and on her hands and then set a date!

I love working with Lauren. I love working with red. I love working with autumnal themes. And, I love getting to stretch my creative wings a bit, a respite from my overactive mind. I spend a lot of time having ideas and not a lot of time creating those ideas, so to get to do something with a muse I adore, was definitely one of my highlights from my favourite month. I hope you enjoy these images and can feel the wistful tenderness of October when viewing them.



Muse & Wardrobe: Lauren Flatt

Hair/Makeup/Photography/Retouching: Adrienne McNellis


When Jessica contacted me about doing a Crimson Peak inspired shoot with her daughter, Lexi, I immediately said Heck. To. The. Yes. I am a enormous fan of Guillermo Del Toro and his incredible work so it was a no brainer. It took some time to gather all the supplies, but once we set a date for earlier in October, we were holding our breath and going to bed early to sleep away the time until our shoot. Weighed down with 5 bags of flour, an extremely long wig, a custom made dress, a plethora of smoke bombs, a candelabra, and lots of black sheets, we got to work.

I knew I wanted to shoot with a dark/blank background but add in some elements like some eerie smoke to create some interest. I don’t own a studio and I usually prefer to work with natural light so I decided to create a studio outside. As you can see in the BTS video below, I taped up several sheets on my porch and laid some down on the ground for Lexi to stand on. I needed a place in shade. I couldn’t pick a place where the sun would be behind because the sheets aren’t thick enough to stop the light from shining through. Luckily for us, it was cloudy and supposed to rain so I brought Lexi out and did some test shots in my preferred location and boom! They worked perfectly. So while Lexi was getting dressed, I started to tape the sheets. I finalized her makeup and we went out, only to find full sun ruining the location. So, I had to scramble to find a new location. We went all the way around the house, taking test shots and finally found a good spot and transferred all the tape and sheets.

We were ready to begin.

Ghosts are real. This much, I know. 

A house as old as this one becomes, in time, a living thing.


At home we have only black moths. Formidable creatures, to be sure, but they lack beauty. They thrive on the dark and cold.

What do they feed on?

Butterflies, I’m afraid. 

Perhaps we only notice things when the time comes for us to see them.

This is your home now. You have no where else to go.

Beautiful things are fragile.

The horror was for love.

The things we do for love like this are ugly, mad, full of sweat and regret. This love burns you and maims you and twists you inside out. It is a monstrous love and it makes monsters of us all.

Beware Crimson Peak

Watch behind the scenes footage of this shoot

Happy Hallowe’en!

I remember when my first camera and the included kit lens landed in my hands and I took some ‘really artistic’ up close shots of my daughter’s face and that was it:

I was a photographer. 

I truly believe there isn’t much you have to do to be a photographer, other than have a camera and take photos, but there is a distinct line between being a photographer and a good photographer.

(Now, we could replace ‘good‘ with successful, talented, great, inspired, etc, but let’s just keep it simple for simple’s sake.)

I am largely self-taught and I made many, many, many mistakes. If you were to ask me, ‘Adrienne, What are some things you wish you would have known when you were beginning this odd and marvelous adventure?’

I would say:

*‘No’ should be your favourite word. Everyone and their mother will come to you asking/begging/demanding photos because ‘Dang, you’ve got a nice camera!’, but here’s the kicker: They aren’t going to pay you. They won’t even offer. They assume because you are new you shouldn’t charge or since you guys are cousins, thrice removed, they should get the ‘friends and family discount‘. Let’s clear things up. In no way am I telling you to start asking for monetary payment as soon as you attach the camera strap. You do actually need to/have to learn how to use the contraption first. But, once you are past the ‘practice’ part and you have a clear grasp on how to make photos you are proud of/have a style down pat, there comes a time where you have to tell those pesky neighbors, no. And mean it. (Also, during your ‘trial period’, it is still okay to say NO to people asking for photos. Don’t bog yourself down. Don’t get burnt out.)

Just say no. You’ll thank yourself later.


*Take Workshops. I’m about to repeat myself, I’m mostly self-taught, except for the one workshop/mentor session I did with the incredibly talented Sara Renee (and you should definitely click her name). I credit Sara Renee (SO MUCH) for deciding to become a photographer. All through college and the early days of my marriage, I’d stalk her Myspace, way too often, and say to myself, I want to do this. I want to take photos. So, I imagine my husband got extremely tired of hearing it (every day) so he bought me a camera and booked a mentor session with my idol. (It was/still is a full blown Gob Bluth & Tony Wonder worshipping situation.) So, I toted my baby with me and learned a whole lot. Now, since you’ve gone and drooled over Sara Renee’s work, you are probably realizing that our work is not similar. At all. Here’s the thing, I didn’t start out wanting to do crazy faerie tale shoots. I just wanted to take photos of my daughter and Sara Renee was/is my favourite photographer. Learning from someone who’s work you admire is probably the BEST way to get to where you want to be fast. It’s like a cheat sheet. They can tell/show you exactly how they do things and there’s your answers in black and white.

Find a mentor and take their workshops/intern with them.

*Equipment DOES matter. Here’s the truth: I’ve seen beautiful images from iPhones and Leicas. You don’t have to have the biggest/newest/most expensive equipment to create great images. BUT, having the right equipment is important. What is right for you may not be right for someone else, so don’t base your needs on someone else’s, focus on what YOU need. If you want your image to look like images that were taken with a 200mm lens, you will not get the same shot with an 18-55mm lens. Invest in your equipment, but don’t buy pieces just because some blog on the internet told you to.

Invest in equipment that aids you in getting the ‘look’ YOU want.

*Find your own way. Not every technique is going to work for every photographer. Just because the majority of the photography world uses a certain action set/preset, doesn’t mean you have to join. In my opinion, there’s no wrong or right way to do things as an artist, but there are good and bad (sometimes really terrible) end results. Find out what works for you and run with it. Don’t fret about what any other photographer is doing.

Trust yourself.

*Don’t share everything. Let me tell you something that may or may not hurt your feelings. Not every single photo you create will be amazing. You will have failures. Let me tell you something else: You are only as good as your worst photo. Do you see where I’m going with this? Do not put every single photo online. Despite the fact that you worked on it for over 20 hours, putting aside the fact that the model looks beautiful, and you spent a lot of time and money on the entire shoot, you shouldn’t post a photo unless it’s as good or better than your best photo. Be picky. This is what I ask myself during and after retouching: Would I hang this on my wall?

Would you hang your latest photo on your wall?

*Believe in yourself. If you don’t believe in yourself or your work, no one else will. If you put your images online with captions that are hesitant or negative, you are telling your audience how to feel/think about your images. (Examples: “I’m not sure if I like the editing on this one, but oh well. Here it is.” “This isn’t my favourite, but just wanted to post today.” etc) If you cannot stand by your work, you cannot expect anyone else to. You can’t tell everyone how much you dislike your work and then wonder why no one will book you. (Don’t misunderstand. I’m not telling you to be a cocky chicken. Stay humble, but believe in yourself.) If you can’t say anything nice, just post the credits, or if you really don’t like your image, refer to the tip up above. (I’ll give you a hint. Don’t post it.)

You have to believe in yourself or no one else will. 

While there are many other things that someone probably should have told me and I could now tell you, these are the things I wish I would have known and implemented sooner.

So, as one of my favourite teachers said,

It’s time to take chances. Make mistakes. Get messy!


FINALLY, I have my own piece of the internet where I make the choices. I don’t have to worry about the layout changing, someone else changing the quality of my images, or have to be poked and prodded. At this moment, right now, I have such an immense feeling of relief settling quite nicely over the top half of my body and I could drown in it. I can sit in my velvety blue chair, share beautiful pictures and words the way I want to share them and that is my victory of the day (possibly the year?).

From now, this will be my first choice for sharing new imagery, news, and of course, some blog posts. For now, wander about and see some imagery you may not have a seen before and get comfortable because we will be spending more time here in the future.