*updated May 2020

Originally written June 2017

Hello! And welcome to me! I am Shelayna, the gal behind the big black camera! My face is often hid and hardly ever on the other side of the lens. It’s OK, honest. And I am making an attempt to be more in the photos with my family. I just have to adjust the settings, check the light, tell the one now operating my camera where to stand and pray I pose myself as well as I coach my clients. Believe it or not, I’m not a very fussy person. Only when it comes to my photography, then I like to be in control.

2020 March Quarantine

I am a girl of many hats. At my high school graduation ceremony, (I was home schooled, valedictorian of my class!) my mom made me a hat for all the different interest/hobbies in my life. Different family members presented me the hats that also had the same interests. So now, if I can remember them all, I’d like to share my hats with you. Mind you, I was 17 years-old, at the very end of my high school career.

Princess Crown/Cape: Every girl is a princess. I honestly don’t know where my mom got this idea from. Apparently, I was a little too imaginative as child. I played a lot by myself, twirling and spinning around columns or running through the woods on the trails I made, in the world I created. Haha! So, mom made me a gorgeous purple velvet cape lined with red fabric to signify my princess royalty.

The cape still hangs in my room for my daughters to play with. It drags on the ground as my 11-year-old wears it inside out and walks down my parent’s 600 foot driveway, through the woods with a basket of goodies for grandmother. Hopefully, she won’t meet any wolves!

My wild imagination fueled the fire for my next hat:

The writer’s hat: When photography was only a hobby, my dream was to be a world changing writer. By the way that dream is still real, and I will someday write something that will help society. I cannot remember what hat my mom made for that, but it was presented by my older brother. He himself, is a great writer, full of big words that I often must look up because I am not as smart as he is. But I love to write. I have many started and some finished stories that I should do something with. I interned for the local newspaper, The Palladium-Times, here in Oswego NY, while studying journalism at SUNY Oswego. I have quite the portfolio I created from the 2 years of working with them.

Now that I home school my own Snow Angels, I feel a desire to write for my children, books that would be on their level for reading.

Literature Hat: A good writer is usually an excellent reader. Apparently, I had that going for me too. I spent many summer days reading and following Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery. I love my Anne! Anyhow, my great Aunt Lynda is a retired kindergarten teacher and I was honored to receive an old fashioned night/sleepers bonnet, trimmed with blue ribbon from her on that day. Since then, I have picked up Jane Austen’s novels and have read them all, some more than once! These days, I read more on bettering myself, building my business, and of course my Bible (I’ve been reading that since I was six).

Nature Hat: I love being outdoors. It beckons and draws me to its wonders. I love nature walks, hikes and I beg and plead to venture up to the Adirondack mountains. I have hiked up Bald Mountain in Old Forge and Prospect Mountain in Lake George. My husband and I attempted to find a mountain to hike in the Pocono’s but the rain kept us watching nature from our car.

As a kid, my sister and I used to catch tadpoles to watch them transform into frogs. Turtles were always a bonus find. My little brothers used to beg me to take them to snake land so they could go snake hunting. And yes, I would often oblige them. Now they all have little boys of their own and I cannot wait teach them how to catch snakes!

My Grandpa Jack presented me with my nature hat. It was a simple bucket hat one might use to hike in. I still have that hat. One of these trips I’ll remember to wear it.

Gardening hat: Along with being out in the wild, I love to watch my garden grow. I have had a few successful years with a green thumb and then there are times that I feel like I shouldn’t be allowed to touch a plant, because I will probably kill it. This year, 2020, I will have 3 outside gardens. On for corn, a regular veggie, AND a sunflower patch!!! And yes, that is for portrait purposes! I am also collecting fruit trees for spring blossom sessions, and for the fruit.

My biggest success with gardening must be my beautiful lemon tree I planted from seed. Now you don’t just plant a seed and boom you got a tree! No. Not at all. I researched it, followed the instructions and now over 5 years later I have a lemon tree over 5 feet tall! Hopefully by next year she will produce some fruit.

Grandpa Hubbard is the green thumb of the family. His gorgeous tomato plants are GINOURMOUS! I drool over his garden every summer. So of course, he presented me with a twisted vine strawberry shortcake hat my mom made!

Chef’s hat: I like to cook, bake and eat. It is a good life if you do. I used to spend every afternoon as a young teen baking cookies, brownies and cake. Not all on the same day of course, but we were never short on treats in the Bassette house. I remember my first Father’s Day cake. It was chocolate, of course my dad’s favorite. It was also crunchy on account that I didn’t get all the eggshells out of the batter that I accidentally dropped in. I was only eight.

These days when I start working with ingredients my littlest Snow Angel, Chloe, is always beside me helping me measure, stir and taste the goodness we are whipping up.

Both my grandmas are amazing cooks. But my mom asked Grandma Dee to present me this hat because Grandma Hubbard would be presenting my…

Seamstress hat: For years I watched my mom create beautiful dresses for my 4 sisters and me. I begged to learn the art of sewing. At 12, I was finally allowed to use the sewing machine. It was glorious. From picking out the fabric, pinning the pattern and stitching the pieces together I was in love! The outcome, well some projects were better than others. As a teen, I sewed most of my dress clothes including the uniform skirt I had to wear for my first job at Burger King. Not my favorite attire.

Since then, I have been sewing for my Snow Angels. I’ve graduated from making skirts and shirts for myself to full blown ball gowns for my girls. My Grandma Hubbard taught my mom to sew and mom taught me. My Rose, Rachel, and Chloe, always collect my fabric scraps and try to create something for their dolls. Rose asks me all the time, “When? When will I be able to sew like you?”

2003 High school graduation

Music Hat: This hat was a top hat with piano keys and music notes going up in a diagonal line. I started piano when I was six with Grandma Dee. Every Tuesday, myself, and 4 siblings would spend the night with the Bassette grandparents and on Wednesday we received private music lesson with Grandma. But it was shortly after that we moved an hour away to Oswego where my dad and mom planted a United Pentecostal Church, The River of Life. My older sisters continued to take piano lessons so they could play for church. At about 12, my lessons started back up and then stopped…again. Our parents then ordered a special piano course that would teach us how to play by ear. My sisters and I quickly picked it up driving our music way ahead from where we were at. Today, we all still play and are involved in the church music one way or another.

Artist hat: What kid does not like art??? Seriously. I’ve had the privilege of taking oil painting classes in my late teens and early college years with my younger sister. She is the true artist, I can get by with a nice job. But these evening’s spent in art class are some of my fondest memories. It was calming, creative and those two hours went by way too fast. Our teacher would play The Prayer sung by Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli and other great music as we brushed and colored our canvases.

Naturally, my sister gave me the black French beret my mom made.

Photography hat: Have you been waiting for this one?? I love to save the best for last. And yes, my obsession for photography started well before the college years. At eight I was given an orange point and shoot camera. Between then and my teen years I had a 110 film camera. Who remembers those?? I was ecstatic when I used my birthday money and bought a zoom lens point and shoot 35mm camera. That was the year we went to Florida (the only time I have ever been there!) to visit my dad’s parents. I must have brought close to 10 rolls of film with me. I saved my allowance each week to cover the cost for the film to be shipped out and developed by Clark. My goodness I feel old discussing it with you.

My second year of college I bought a SLR Sigma camera kit. I had no idea how to tame this beast. I signed up for just one photography class at SUNY Oswego while studying to be a world changing journalist. Yeah, that one class turned into 5 classes, mostly with darkroom lab experiences.

My great uncle Bob was the photographer in our family. Not really for us humans though. He enjoyed birding and captured them gracefully in their natural habitat. He honored me with a sailor type hat with snapshots of myself on it.

I’ll have more on my later photography journey in a later post.

I really love anything that has to do with creating/transformation. You may have caught the theme if you bothered to read on this far with me. My mom really is the one to thank for all this. With not only myself, but my other eight siblings she encouraged us to do our best “as if we were doing it for the Lord”. And so no matter what new path I tried out, she supported me knowing if I gave it my all I would succeed. Thanks mom.

Since my high school years, I have received a bachelor’s degree from SUNY Oswego, married my best friend (13 years this August baby!) and we now have 3 beautiful daughters. These days I am still tinkering in all the above hats, some more than others. My girls keep me busy considering that I home school them during the school year.

Thank you for reading into this much about me. I have a small bio on my about page that is much more current then this. Please feel free to comment about yourself. Maybe we can learn from each other. Have an awesome day! And where your hats proudly!!

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