Once upon a Time… or is it Once a Year?

For the parents and recipients of First Holy Communion, I’m certain it feels like a “Once upon a Time” experience donned in white suits and dresses carrying heirloom rosary beads to their photo shoot prior to Church. For me, as the owner of The Camera’s Eye, it’s a smiled upon once-a-year tradition.

Sister Anne Quigley of the Church of Epiphany contacts me faithfully, all pun intended, to photograph the group and individual images every year. 2022 marks her 37th First Communion and she actually instructed 8 children whose parents were also under her care years ago.

In my 21st year as a professional photographer, I sometimes ask myself, “what keeps you motivated, Lisa?” I don’t know. I do know, I was so excited to make these images better than any other year and I’m so grateful for that. It keeps the work fun and enjoyable for myself and the kids.

The recipients must have picked up on my energy; even the young boys stepped up to the plate, posing handsomely with their suit coats. They’re usually the least thrilled about this photo session and would rather be suited up for another inning of baseball!

Congratulations to all at the Church of Epiphany, parents and children involved in this year’s First Holy Communion. Interesting in your child’s portraits? Contact me at http://www.thecameraseye.biz or 607 426 6023. I’d love to hear from you!

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Femme & Fierce Giveaway

As we continue to celebrate collaboration, tenacity, & appreciation for all women throughout the month of March, the Femme & Fierce Giveaway is growing momentum. If you haven’t entered to win or heard about it, read on!

Femme & Fierce is a local event empowering young women in our community through the concept of ‘women collaborating to support other women.The Camera’s Eye, along with other female-owned businesses have created a half day event for teenage girls ages 13 to 15, geared towards teaching a balance between owning their femininity & grasping their fierce.

4 teens can win! – each may bring one friend for a total of 8 teens. Femme & Fierce will centralize at The Camera’s Eye Studio in Lake St. in Owego, NY and venture onto Front St to other female run businesses. Professional Esthetician, Beth Brown from Be A Betty Beauty will demonstrate natural makeup application to encourage a positive self image at a time when everything is changing about a teen’s appearance. I’ll take over as a professional photographer and create a supportive photo session for each teen, as well as a take home portrait. There’s no better way to feel empowered than to “see” yourself empowered.

After a snack, we’ll venture to Hygge Home where owner, Mandy Neira will teach how to create a small space of tranquility and chat about the importance of journaling & taking time for yourself, a concept embedded in the Norwegian art of Hygge. These tools build a quieter, but priceless sense of inner strength.

To wrap up the day with a boost of fearlessness, Kathryn Thole, from Simple Form Pilates will demonstrate the importance of core strength – not only in the body, but also the mind. The simple act of physical Self-Care instills power within the mind, the body and the spirit. Young teens need this now more than ever.

So how can you help your teen win? It’s simple!

Any of the following, receives 1 entry. Stay connected – I will post extra ways to enter!

  1. Share this post w/ #WomensDay to a friend or neighbor with a teen
  2. Follow @thecameraseyestudio , @hyggehomeowego & @simple_form_pilates
  3. Tag a Fav Female Friend in the comments w/ #WomensDay
  4. Like this post
  5. Repost to your Stories

Questions or for more information, click Contact me and let’s chat or Join our mailing list below.

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International Women’s Day Celebration

International Women’s Day #IWD, observed annually on March 8th, is an important day to celebrate the values of justice, hope, equality, collaboration, tenacity, appreciation and respect for all women worldwide. As a businesswoman myself, I make an effort to use my platform to think globally & act locally. To remember where I started; and the events, circumstances, and people that acted upon ‘who I am today.’ For me, the defining factors that built my belief in Self, my “step out of the way as I have things to accomplish attitude” and my Grace were majorly formed in my adolescence.

Today I’m pitching a campaign called Femme & Fierce focusing on the empowerment of young women in our community, as a way my business, The Camera’s Eye, along with other female-owned businesses can give back to our Youth and enhance the concept of women collaborating to support other women.

What is it? Femme & Fierce is a half day of fun activities at The Camera’s Eye Studio in historic downtown Owego, NY geared towards teaching female teens a balance between owning their femininity while grasping their fierce. Everyone knows not to mess with a Momma bear with cubs, but what if she doesn’t have cubs, as most adolescents don’t? What if she doesn’t want to bite someone’s head off when she wants to be heard? What if she wants to present yourself with self power, tenacity & grace at the same time? This is the concept!

What kinds of activities? The layout of the day will flow easily around the Studio location. We’ll begin with a motivational speaker whose 30+ year career still influences female youth today. Then move into a professional Esthetician demonstrating naturally beautiful makeup application. I’ll take over as a professional photographer and create a supportive photo session for each teen, as well as a take home portrait. Remember the concept is to be empowered- there’s no better way to feel empowered than to “see” yourself empowered. After a snack, we’ll venture into town to Hygge Home where owner, Mandy Neira will teach how to create a small space of tranquility and chat about the importance of journaling & taking time for yourself, a concept embedded in the Norwegian art of Hygge. This is great tool for the tumultuous high school years.

Who can win? Any female between the ages of 13 and 15. I will randomly select 4 teens – each can bring one bestie the day of the celebration for a total of 8 teens.

How to enter? This #WomensDay giveaway is taking place through Social Media. Any of the following, receives 1 entry. Stay connected – throughout the month I will post extra ways to enter!

  1. Like this post
  2. Follow @thecameraseyestudio & @hyggehomeowego
  3. Tag a Fav Female Friend in the comments w/ #WomensDay
  4. Share this post w/ #WomensDay
  5. Repost to your Stories

The giveway runs March 8th – 31st. 4 winners will be announced April 8th. The half day celebration will be arranged following the event.

Don’t wait for our culture to change. Don’t wait for your daughter to “outgrow” this stage or “grow” into herself. Be the change NOW. Give her all the chances she can to make a difference in her Life!

Questions or for more information, click Contact me and Let’s Chat…

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Hats off to all 2021 Owego Free Academy and Owego Apalachin “Movin’ Up” & Middle School graduates! It’s my pleasure and honor to photograph you all.

Looking for the online previews of yourself, son or daughter? Please go to www.thecameraseye.biz Click the Proofing tab and type: 2021Grads A slideshow of the Senior Graduation will begin for you.

The Owego Apalachin School District hires me to photograph these events to provide you a complimentary 5×7, which will be delivered by the school(s) shortly.

Can’t wait for your image or you want to order additional prints?

Please text or call: 607 426 6023 or email: lisamcqueeney@gmail.com. Sizes and pricing below:

8×10 $20

2) 5×7 $20 or 1) 5×7 $15


Venmo: @Lisa-McQueeney-27 or check to Lisa McQueeney

Another bonus to being photographed this graduation season is The Camera’s Eye in coordination with Tioga Rural Ministry will be offering exclusive Family photo sessions all July and August. The photo shoot is discounted to you and 50% of all proceeds go to Tioga Rural Ministry. Details below and in your print package from the school.

Have a safe and happy Summer! Hope to see you soon, Lisa

The Local Lens: Rusty and Jewel – for the Hobo in US all!

Sorry for my absence from the Local Lens the last 2 weeks. Memorial Day always wraps me in a project that’s all consuming. This one however, stretched into the following weekend. Touching on projects, this week’s featured business tackled an equally grandiose dream.

Artisan, Lisa Bystrak was born with talent and ingenuity. You can always find her doodling amazing pieces of art while chit chatting on the phone or coming up with quirky one-liners she eventually transfers onto some oddity that you or I would NEVER think to salvage from the basement. One day, a friend visited Lisa in her shop in downtown Owego, NY carrying a magazine showcasing re-purposed Silos. There it was… the project that consumed Lisa’s creative energy.

She sold the idea to her husband, Martin and together they hunted down old silos in the countryside of New York State to dismantle and reconstruct as a brick & mortar for Lisa’s imagination. In the image below, the delicate earrings are vintage metal boxes she stamped out and adorned with pearls and crystals. The other images are just as unique, but you have to visit the Silo at Farmer Browns in Apalachin, NY to inquire from the artist herself!

With the help of a few friends and their children, the next thing you knew, Lisa was filling the Silos with her very own re-worked vintage jewelry or found treasures from closets, basements and such. She also carefully chooses American-made indoor/ outdoor home decor and bath and body products for men and women to fill the rustic shelves of the Silo.

She named the business, Rusty and Jewel, founded on the imaginary story of a young married couple living a “lovely make do Life” during the Depression Era. She comments, “they could be your parents or grandparents making do with what they had at that time.” Rusty and Jewel is a lifestyle shop within the Silo inspired by our families and their history, their achievements and the deepest gratitude for their sacrifices.

Interested in knowing more about Rusty and Jewel or perusing through the Silo? June hours in the Silo at Farmer Browns Marketplace are Monday through Saturday 10 to 6pm and Sunday 11 to 5pm. Lisa is always behind the desk creating Thursday through Sunday. If you want to catch an online glimpse of her products, click any of the links throughout this post to view Lisa’s social media or send her a direct message. Buyer beware… she has contagious creative energy!

The Local Lens – Oxbow Farms

I met Noella, co-operator of Oxbow Farms a few weeks ago at Farmer Browns Farmer’s Market in Apalachin, NY. Wow, that’s a lot of Farms in one sentence! Intrigued by the leap of faith she and her husband, Tim took to be the first local farmers to set up in FBM’s marketplace; I had to know more, so I packed up my gear and met her under the marketplace tent.

As a business owner, she’s engaging, knowledgeable and caring- everything you would imagine from a farmer who is dedicated to “growing food while learning resilience and adaptation in a changing world.” That’s their Instagram business description! As Covid restrictions begin to lift across the world and in the Southern Tier region of Upstate NY, where Oxbow Farms thrives, I knew this business would be the next focus of The Local Lens. Couldn’t we all learn a bit of resilience and adaptation in our changing world!

Noella and Tim had the same goals of producing food on a small scale with practices that support farm ecology without the use of any fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides. The catch? They lived states apart, one from Massachusetts and one from Pennsylvania. They settled as a 29 acre, family-run farm located in a beautiful valley in Chemung County, NY and have 2 adorable girls who can be seen in the background learning the family tradition.

The farm sees the first and last frosts of every season, is the home of 6 mobile hoop houses, one wood-heated greenhouse, and has the adaptability to grow over 40 different crops each season. At this point in the growing season, their focus is on all kinds of lettuce. To offer a unique crop, Oxbow turned its focus to Asian greens like Mizuna & Senposai. To learn more about these amazing greens, drop Noella or Tim a message through their website where you can find a kitchen-full of recipes on how to eat these greens.

Where can you buy their products? 2021 marks our 12th season Noella and Tim can be found filling the bags of shoppers at the Ithaca Farmer’s Market. They’re located at Stall 69, April through December.  

Most recently, they have graced Farmer Browns Marketplace, under the large white tent at the entrance, Fridays 1- 5pm. Owner, Logan Keeney is delighted to have them as his roots in planting began at a organic vegetable farm in Pennsylvania.

An interesting note about Oxbow Farms, as we all have something more than what appears to “Be” at face value… they love Goats and have Bucklings for sale! Their pedigree-worthy Goat, Pumpkin produced 3 Bucklings this season- Fred, George, and Ron. If you’re like me and know very little about goats, a Buckling is a young male less than a year old.

Interested in purchasing a buckling or wanting more information about Oxbow Farms? Connect with owners Noella and Tim by following any of the links in this post or use the links below:



Email: oxbowfarmer@gmail.com
Phone: 607-598-7193

The Local Lens – Hygge Home, Owego NY

This week’s featured small business is an absolutely adorable find nestled in the Historic District of Owego, NY. Hygge Home is not only a downtown shop, it’s a way of living for owner, business woman and mother, Mandy Neira.

While reading a book about familial relationships worldwide, she stumbled upon the Danish concept, Hygge pronounced “hyoo·guh,” meaning Cozy. Completely inspired by the concept, she visited the Scandinavian countries of Sweden and Denmark and fell in love with the lifestyle and the people embracing it.

Mandy tested the concept in a small kiosk, a natural fit for the quaint town of Owego, NY and within a year, moved into a bigger space with much more inventory at 185 Front Street. Before getting one foot in the store that’s enticing you to enter with the scent of aromatherapy, you’re reminded of the concept of Cozy stamped on the concrete doorstep. It’s as if little Gnomes are wafting the scent beneath your nose and fairies are tugging your clothing to enter.

Once inside, there’s an instant feeling of calm wrapped up in an incredible visual of unique de’cor items designed to create a cozy sanctuary within your home.

Every corner is deliberately arranged with concept of creating a cozy, loving, nurturing environment for you, your family – even your pets! Creating a feeling of complete calm; scented candles, essential oils and Palo Santo are intricately displayed in every corner while blankets, pillows, journals and mugs adorn the furniture begging you to “sit a while.”

With so much technology and overwhelming social media in our lives, Mandy believes “we need to disconnect and focus on simplicity and connection with those we Love.”

Another of Mandy’s passionate thoughts is “to create a special place where people can enjoy the moment with peace, relaxation and laughter – a place to host friends, read, journal and find stillness for their well being.” She leaves nothing out when stocking the store with Hygge Home products – there’s even a section designated for entertaining family and friends.

If you haven’t ventured into this shop yet, it’s a must see! Your husband might not be thrilled, but you will definitely leave with an entirely new outlook on decorating your Home. Open Wednesday through Saturday 11- 5pm and Sunday 11- 3pm, Mandy will be there with a warm smile on her face to greet you!

The Local Lens

The Local Lens is a new venture at The Camera’s Eye created to shine light every Sunday on local businesses and entrepreneurs and their adventures in the Community. This week, the Lens shines on The Apothecary operated by business woman, Priscilla Keeney who happens to be the Mom and #1 Fan of Farmer Browns Marketplace in Apalachin, NY. That couldn’t be more perfect for celebrating Mother’s Day – other than the Spa Day I’m treating my own Mother to in a few hours, of course!

The Apothecary is home to Silo #1 of the Silos at FBM, originally constructed by artisan, Lisa Bystrak of Rusty and Jewel. When Covid changed the world, it also changed Rusty and Jewel’s plans – hence Priscilla happily moving into Silo #1

Disenchanted by the approach to Health, Priscilla dove into alternative healing modalities back in the 80’s and is steadfast in her beliefs that we can live a healthier Life by treating the body with natural health sources before we are sick – choosing a Life filled with Well Being every step of the way on the path of Life.

So what is The Apothecary??? It’s an amazing resource center filled with books, herbs, teas, educational materials and of course, the one and only, Priscilla Keeney.

It’s also a store offering all natural supplements by Nature’s Sunshine, CBD products, alternative coffees and so much more!

If you haven’t met Priscilla yet, you may need to plan a few extra minutes- okay, maybe an hour to your trip to Farmer Browns. She’s captivating, inviting and a wealth of knowledge! Speaking of knowledge, this seems to be a Keeney family trend, as she is the Sister to Jack Keeney, the infinitely knowledgeable author behind the FAQs section of FBM’s website. All the Staff at Farmer Browns are educated gardeners but when anyone is stumped, the common phrase in the garden center is, “Let me ask, Jack!”

The attention here though is on Priscilla; here love of Nature, honor to Mother Earth and respect for the healing properties the Earth puts forth. She is an avid organic gardener and supporter of local organic farming. With roots in both New York and Pennsylvania, her store focuses on gardening in these rural areas of the United States and buying produce and foods from farmers who “do it the right way.”

If you’re looking to expand your knowledge of Holistic living, wanting to dabble your feet in the waters or yearning to connect with a valuable, like-minded resource, The Apothecary is a must visit for you. You may also find some interesting products you never knew about as you peruse Silo #1.

For more information about The Apothecary, be sure to visit Farmer Browns Marketplace on Rte 434 in Apalachin, NY or visit their website in the next few weeks as they expand the site with a tab all about The Apothecary. Priscilla is very excited to begin offering educational seminars and meetings this summer and that’s the location to find out all about them! http://www.farmerbrownsmarketplace.com

1st Holy Communion – How to prep for your child’s special day?

Spring brings so many occasions in which to prepare – Easter, Mother’s Day, Graduation and if you’re religious, First Holy Communion. Along with being a wonderful moment in your child’s Life, it can be stressful for Moms and Dads alike. Which dress to pick out, what suit or dress shirt to wear, can they walk down the church aisle in these dress shoes without tripping, does this veil even look right- maybe I attached it upside down? It’s endless!

In my 20th year of business at The Camera’s Eye, I thought I might share a few tips to ease your stress. I shoot at least two Holy Communions every Spring and I’ve tweaked a lot of crooked ties and lopsided veils. ; )

First, take a deep breath. Your energy will transfer to your child and you want this is be a lovely experience for them. If you’re having portraits taken prior or through the church, (I do both in my Studio on Lake Street and at the Church of Epiphany), know that most of the people involved have everything you need in case of a clothing mishap, forgotten item or even a veil or sport coat that just won’t cooperate. I come with a goodie bag of safety pins, bobby pins, sewing kit, 3 colors of Rosary beads, a miniature Bible, a booster in case your Son or Daughter isn’t tall enough to see over the kneeler and the list goes on… Moral of the story, if you’ve signed up for professional portraits, that’s exactly what you’ll receive.

Second piece of advice? Despite how “dressed up” you want your child to look, if the clothing or item doesn’t feel right on them; they’re going to be uncomfortable…for a couple of hours, in a church, where they are expected to be respectful. lol- no easy task! Give them a chance to try it on a few weeks in advance and trot around the house feeling “fancy.” If it’s really irritating them, you have time to replace it and save the day as SuperMom or SuperDad.

Lastly, arrive early to your photo session. It gives them an opportunity to shake off the jitters while we chat for a few minutes about why they chose their Rosary beads or how they’re feeling about their part in the ceremony, etc. I’ve learned some very interesting facts from children engaged in conversations about their Rosary Beads. For example, which pair “I can ONLY use for the photo because they were my great, great grandfathers” as opposed to “the pair in my pocket that I lost twice on the way from my house- DON’T tell my MOM!” The smiles are so much better when we have a good laugh before getting behind the camera lens.

Working with kids is amazingly fun if you take a moment to think of this time through their eyes and try to relate to them. If you have any additional questions that I didn’t think to mention, leave me a comment. I’d be glad to share any experiences!

Virtual Tour – Silos at FBM

Last Fall, Lisa Bystrak, artisan & owner of Rusty and Jewel partnered with Farmer Browns in Apalachin, NY to enhance the already blooming marketplace of owner, Logan Keeney’s greenhouse and driving range campus. With the help of artsy friends & most importantly Lisa’s family, she reconstructed two corn silos into unique and fanciful gift shops

Today at 4 pm, Lisa is giving a Virtual Tour of The Silos at FBM, to showcase the hand-crafted gifts and housewares available for purchase within the Silos.

Silo #1 has a gardening & natural product theme ranging from plant decor to honey bee items all made by either Lisa or Artisans throughout the United States. Rusty & Jewel is very dedicated to shopping local and USA-made products.

Silo #2 is all about Lisa’s imagination and repurposing old-time, everyday items into unique, hand-crafted items with flare. It boasts one-of-a-kind necklaces from spigot handles, bracelets from antique buttons, earnings punched out of tins from days long gone.

It even has a “Piece Work Station” inspired by her Mother being paid for ‘each quality piece’ while employed at EJ Shoe Factory in nearby town, Endicott, NY. At the station, you choose one of four necklace types and as many trinkets or tiny decorative pieces as your heart desires.

There’s plenty of giveaways during today’s virtual tour & additional information about the physical Grand Opening of the Silos on FBM’s Facebook

To participate in the Virtual Tour, visit Rusty and Jewel on Facebook. To see additional items for sale check out Rusty and Jewel’s website or Instagram.