Mourning Glory/ Beauty Editorial / New Orleans

Dark Beauty photo in cemetery

This blog post is dedicated to the seven beautiful and talented women (and Corey) from Urban Elements Salon  in Petaluma CA. who went to New Orleans for this haunting beauty editorial photoshoot!

You may have seen a few of these images on Urban Elements billboard on Washington Street!

My adventure started with having to get on a 737 Max 8 just before they were grounded. I wasn’t terribly worried after we reached altitude. The previous Max 8 crashes happened shortly after take off.    
When I arrived Rachel and Corey picked about 10 pounds of Crawfish. I couldn’t stomach them (because of the flight) but it was entertaining to watch the girls bite the heads off and suck out the juice!    
Shortly after arrival Rachel, Dylanne and I went to a home called “Covenstead” for a photoshoot. It’s an experience I will NEVER forget! But that’s a story for another time.

Lafayette Cemetery No. 1

The next day was the “Mourning Glory” beauty editorial photoshoot in New Orlean’s iconic Lafayette No. 1 Cemetery. I had heard about the cemeteries in New Orleans…. they aren’t like a regular cemetery. Because New Orleans is below sea level, people can’t be buried in the ground. They are all crypts.    
( New Orleans is situated slightly below sea level. Because of this, the water table is quite high. When early European settlers put coffins under six feet of earth, they found that the water level would often rise above them, especially during the city’s frequent floods. Since the coffins were filled with air, the water sometimes pushed them up through the earth, causing both a gruesome sight and a health hazard. To keep the coffins underground, holes were drilled in the lid to let air escape, and the coffins were weighted down with rocks and sand. But this was only partially successful, and in any case the saturated corpses did not decompose properly, leading to unsanitary conditions. The only solution was to bury the dead above ground.)    
After we were done at the cemetery there was a quick change then off to the main event….. Raw Artists-New Orleans The 3 models CeCe, Lindsey and Dylanne strutted their stuff on the catwalk and on pedestals. They looked Fabulous and rocked their roles as 2 brides and a groom. Photos from the RAW show below….    
We stopped for some delicious beignets after the show, then home to SF next day.    
Creative Direction- Rachel Nixon & ALi Sutter    
Lead Hairstylist – Rachel Nixon    
Makeup – ALi Sutter    
Hairstylist – Lindsey Neuerburg    
Nails- Jessica Scott    
Salon- Urban Elements Salon    
Models – Dylanne, Lindsey and Cece    
And a Great BIG Thank You to Corey for making sure I never had to go without Starbucks!    

 RAW Artists show  New Orleans               2019


SF Bay Area Lifestyle Boudoir Photography with Calvin Klein, Coffee & Gucci

Liza, my favorite Muse graces my website…..and why not? We have been working together for about 8 years! We inspire each other and always have fun during our photo shoots. She’s like a Russian doll complete with the Red Sparrow accent. Sorry sweetie, I still hear it! From our “Marilyn” shoot to “Gypsy Queen”, “Bandit Babe” and everything in between, here is part of our latest collaboration! Just Liza…. 

Jeans- Madewell

Sweater – Ooh La Luxe

Calvin Klein underwear- Urban Outfitters

Pink faux fur coat- Forever 21



playful boudoir

Editorial equestrian photo shoot with London based model Ruby

Petaluma Boudoir image

Ruby is a London based model, here on the west coast for a little R & R. This Croatian/Serbian beauty has quite a story! As a child she had to flee her country for her life because of the ethnic cleansing. She spends a lot of time traveling the world and considers herself a gypsy. My sweet boy “Oliver” is the handsome prince (Oh, I mean horse) in these photos. This B&W collection is something all always treasure and will remind me of the short but unforgettable time spent with this stunning, soulful and very wise young model! LOVE YOU RUBY!!!!! Hair by Angela Johnson Hinds.

Petaluma Boudoir image
Petaluma Boudoir image
Petaluma Boudoir image
Petaluma Boudoir image

Bay Area Model photographer/ Josh’s studio session

I’ve known Josh since he was just a kid! He and my son Matt have been friends as long as I can remember. Josh has always been one of most genuinely nicest guys I know. ( Those are his Grandparents tattoo’d on his chest) How sweet is that???? Recently, Josh was signed to Scout Model & Talent agency and he’s doing some awesome gigs! He reminds me of a young Brad Pitt. Originally I wanted this collection to be B&W, but when I saw the beautiful skin tone and those piercing green eyes, I fell in love with the color. YOUR WELCOME! XOXO, Mary

Bay Area Fashion Photographer/my favorite Russian muse

This editorial fashion photo shoot at the Hotel Petaluma with beautiful Russian model Liza was absolutely wonderful! After several years of absence in my life, I heard from her…….Liza reached out to me because she had some free time in between jobs. I was beyond thrilled to hear from her! Liza has always been my favorite muse. With her self described “Fabulousness”, her amazing wardrobe, rockin’ body and that Russian accent have made for my most favorite and memorable photoshoots. We met at The Hotel Petaluma after Megan Murphy (my daughter in law) of Urban Elements Salon had styled her hair. Liza had 2 gorgeous boho maxi dress from Ooh La Loft, an amazing maxi skirt by Alice and Olivia which we paired with the sequin crop top, the peach colored formal dress is one she wore as a bridesmaid in her friend’s wedding. Also used for styling was a white faux fur from “For Love and Lemons” and some battery operated twinkle lights. 


Petaluma Senior Photographer/ Andee’s Retro downtown session

Andee is a recent St. Mary’s college graduate and fellow photographer!!! The photo shoot took place in Petaluma’s historic downtown on an overcast day. I used to shy away from shooting on a day that was any thing less than sunshine, but I’ve come to really enjoy challenging myself to get beautiful lighting in any circumstance. Andee was an absolute delight to shoot with her super cool retro styles (love the wayfarers) and authentic, sweet vibes that show through in the images.


Bay Area teen model photographer/ Trinity’s boho, retro shoot

Trinity is a beautiful, sweet and outgoing 15 year old that is stepping into the modeling world! Her session included a number of looks photographed in the studio and on location in  Petaluma. Her looks cover boho, retro and fitness. She loved boho looks so I added my favorite Turkish coin necklace and a black hat to her cutoffs, white tee & booties. The adorable white lace dress is from Petaluma’s own” Ooh La Loft” and was styled with a very special vintage french lace used as a headband. We shot on a chilly but sunny December afternoon and the light was spectacular! There’s something about a sunny winter sunset that I find absolutely magical. We also went to my favorite junk yard. Stay tuned, the junkyard story ( or what I thought was a junk yard and turned out to be a Burning Man warehouse and artists work space) coming soon! Since we took these photos, Trinity has had an audition and has a call back this week! GO TRINITY!!!


Bay Area Model photographer/Devin’s modeling portfolio shoot

Devin and I met while she was working as a barista and going to school at the Academy of Art in San Francisco! I was thrilled to work with this exotic beauty! This photo shoot was for her modeling portfolio with a strong boudoir influence. The styling is modern and classic using several outfits from “For Love and Lemons”  “Burberry” and vintage items. My favorite piece has to be the black velvet high waisted skivvies from “For Love and Lemons”. Devin looked AMAZING in them!



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Bay Area recording artist photographer/ Atea

Atea is  17 and already has a singing/songwriting career that is ready to soar to amazing heights!!! She has a song coming out in a major motion picture February ’16!!! Atea has a video out (link below) and a new website that she needed photos for.

When her Mom ( Tracy) contacted me about this project, I was beyond thrilled! She had a branding board with colors and moods I needed to create for her. I was totally up for this and had 4 days to plan the shoot and come up with a team for hair & makeup. Nancy  Ghattas- Mughannam at Blush created Atea’s makeup look and Angela Johnson Hinds did Atea’s hair.

It was such an honor photographing this super talented and beautiful young woman, I can’t wait to see her star shine!!!

Watch Atea’s video here……

After our shoot, I received this message from Tracy. I’ll cherish this forever!!!!

Mary Jean Murphy, you are simply the best photographer that has ever lived. In record time you threw together an incredible hair and makeup team and created the most amazing photographs my daughter has ever taken. You’re not just a phenomenal photographer. You’re a set designer. You’re a stylist. You’re an artist. And you do it all with such ease and humor. Thank you so much for taking this huge weight off my shoulders and making something that is normally so stressful for us actually fun. Now my daughter will have stunning photos to accompany the release of her new song and website!


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Bay Area Senior photographer/ Celine’s San Francisco and Studio shoot

Congratulations to beautiful and sweet Celine on your graduation last weekend! Also on being “Petaluma High” Prom Queen! This blog has been a while in the making. With so so many stunning images of this gorgeous young lady, I wanted to post them all! Celine is one of my Senior rep/models for the class of 2015, so we wanted to do something extra special. Celine’s Mom Nancy is an incredibly talented makeup artist and the owner of “Blush Petaluma”. Naturally, Nancy was on location with us making sure Celine’s makeup was flawless. I’m happy to say, Nancy and I work together quite a bit! The photo shoot was done in two days. First day we went to the city and shot in three different locations. Photographing Celine in the red gown at San Francisco City Hall was a photographer’s dream! As was the Palace of Fine Arts! O.K., the whole thing was pretty amazing! The second day we used my studio and garden. Celine wore her hair straight and had a more natural look. I loved the oversized sweater and sox in the studio. For the garden photos, I pulled out one of my favorite  kimonos from Australia’s “Spell Designs” for a beautiful boho look. It was such an amazing experience to work together with such beautiful and talented women! Celine, Nancy and Janelle ( Celine’s sister) will be collaborating again this  summer on an editorial fashion shoot! I’m so looking forward to it……. XOXO, Mary


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