Images by Petra Herrmann, Bella Boudoir
Hair and Makeup by: Miranda Richards
Wardrobe Styling by: Stacy Sabo, Agent Provocateur Short Hills | Shoes: Christian Louboutin
I have now set a tradition for myself that every year on my birthday I will do a new session. I want to help inspire other women not to lose themselves to all the things that both push them forward but also hold them back. That also includes a fear of what other people think or judgements.

And... I look at these images, in my forties, and I wonder... what my 60th birthday will look like!” 
— Cate Scaglione, Artist + Owner, Life As Fine Art Studio

OK, so it is that time of year again...MY BIRTHDAY. 

Birthdays, traditionally see me reflecting on the year. They force me to look at my successes, failures, vulnerabilties. I take a pretty objective-- if not stern-- look at my life. 

Today I turn 43.  (GULP). So yes, the years are in fact creeping up on me rather quickly.
But somehow 43 feels better than 42. I'll tell you why...


I am not sure what exactly it was -- maybe because I was a shy middle child? But, I always felt super uncomfortable with attention on me. Even showing it to myself. It became a family joke, how I would take any focus off myself. The decades have also shown me -- that I get so wrapped up in my focus at that time, I forget about me, often to the point of neglect.

I spend my life completely immersed in things at different stages, the while hiding from me....just getting whatever "IT" done.

It has sort of been a life theme, and is also probably why I never appeared in photographs. It surprises most people to know that am perpetually camera shy. Even as a little kid, my head would be down, or I would be non existent in photos. Maybe I hated how looked -- or maybe I hated eyes upon me. I literally had a fear of being photographed, right up until last year at age 42.

I have boxes and boxes of photos... World travels, parties, family vacations. I am absent -
or worse (hiding) in all them. As a photographer who preaches this to other women, I had to change.


In my twenties, I had massive ambitions paired with some rather robust hangups. Together, those are a pretty lethal combo. Simply put, I was an asshole for most of this decade, LOL. 

I partied like an absolute rock star with my amazing friends, (though they have been forbidden to attest in any form of detail...haha). I traveled the globe shooting commercials and events on the company's dime, and had way more much responsibility than any twenty-something reasonably should. I had a long term boyfriend (now my husband). I had everything, it would seem.

But I got so immersed into a career and lifestyle that I disappeared away from I climbed a corporate ladder so fast, that I forgot to enjoy the view. Somehow, a Fortune 500 company placed an enormous faith in me to the point I felt that all eyes were on me. Living under a microscope, I felt "owned" by my job. 

I was well into a six-figure salary before my 30th birthday, but I was physically and mentally sick from it all. I neglected ME so badly, that I felt burned out by 32. Lucky for me, one jerk of a boss was all it took to propel me into a simpler life. Bravo to that D*@$head!


In my thirties, the exact opposite happened. I slowed life down, but not really. Now I had (suddenly!) three babies to care for. Three babies in four years. Good GOD. How did I survive that? That was the decade I became utterly invisible. 

The attention I dodged so long... well now, it was officially off of me. IN EVERY POSSIBLE WAY. Moms have no time, no desire, nor no need to be present with their SELF. Sleep deprived, fun-starved and glamour-dehydrated, we simply disappear if we let that happen. And I very much did. We devote all our time attending to the basic needs of our babies.

In my case, my son spent much as a baby in hospitals and it took its toll on me -- mentally and physically. I did not care... he was my baby and I would have done anything. But then the next "Irish twin" came along unexpectedly (a great surprise I might add... now!). I spent the next decade being immersed in my children.

In doing so, I gave up parts of myself to the point I did not even recognize myself anymore.      


By the time I hit forty, I was exhausted, a bit overweight, sick with chronic Lyme disease, and pretty uninspired. I had built a successful photography business, but reached a series of never-to-be-mentioned events that caused it to come a crashing halt. It forced me to start over again. It was terrible...Or so I thought.

I woke up n my 42nd birthday and decided everything was going to be different starting that DAY. I wrote a list of goals I planned to accomplish by year end. Then I posted it in my private client group, for all to see and to keep me accountable.  

And because I am a visual person, it started with a boudoir selfie. I could not believe, when I saw my camera back -- THAT IS ME? Is this what I ACTUALLY LOOK like? My exhaustion and self ignorance had convinced me otherwise. I also realized -- DAMN I HAVE GOOD SELF TIMER skills! 

Here is that photo.... 

Within 6 months, I had accomplished everything on my list. I think it started after that picture...


My body got healthier and stronger thanks to my friends at Renaissance the Studio (Red Bank). My business became stronger through amazing alliances and referrals. I started reclaiming my long-lost glamour and fashion sense. And most of all, I started enjoying life more. I laughed harder and more frequently.

I really feel THAT photo's outcome had a lot to do with my cerebral rebirth.

Later that year, I mustered up all my courage to ask one of my closest friends, Petra Herrmann of Bella Boudoir to move to the next step and be photographed by a pro. Petra also happens to be one of the biggest boudoir talents in the country, in my humble opinion. I decided that she would take away my fears with her calm nature, my "boudoir virginity", so to speak. We did this in New Orleans, "the big easy", of all places.

My makeup artist Miranda Richards styling me in the fleeting daylight of New Orleans.

My makeup artist Miranda Richards styling me in the fleeting daylight of New Orleans.

Petra did an amazing job, and actually captured the quieter soul of me, as I'd hoped. 

As I approached 43, I decided I would share this album. It's a reminder to me of the more wild, carefree and sensual being I knew in my twenties. THAT GIRL, with all her flaws, had FIRE! It is also a way I can show clients that it OKAY to BE WHAT AND WHO YOU ARE, without judgements. This is who I am, and as most forty somethings can tell you, we no longer give F%*K what you think, LOL. It is one of the glorious parts of aging.

SO. Here's to...

...Stopping the hiding and being invisible in our own lives.
...Not getting lost in our own fray.
...Reclaiming our Selves.
...Embracing who we are.
...Denying others the right to judge us or our decisions.
...Remembering our Fire!

AND SO, I WISH A HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU, WHENEVER THAT MAY BE IN THE NEAR FUTURE. Come see me and let's celebrate the unique story of YOU, together.