Business of the family

Published 12:34 am Sunday, July 19, 2009

Residents of Selma and the Black Belt will soon learn of another new business opening in town, with reason to rejoice that another empty space is being filled. This does not mean that strangers are “coming to town.” These two additions to the professional community are native to the area, although only one has remained here. The other is returning to the place of her birth.

Kathy Lewis Oliver is the daughter of the late Bill Lewis and Ann L. Brackin. A 1965 graduate of Albert G. Parrish High School, she attended dental school in Birmingham, returned to Selma and worked with Dr. Tom Robins, then with Dr. Dub Deavor.

Later, as a single mother with two children, she became a flight attendant with Eastern Airlines headquartered in Atlanta.

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Her children stayed with their grandmother and she had an apartment in Atlanta with five other airline attendants, “but we never saw each other, different schedules,” she said.

After remarriage she lived in Jacksonville, Fla. for almost 15 years. “My neighborhood was wonderful, my house beautiful, but I did not have my family. That was what I needed,” she recalled. Three years ago she was divorced, and after the death of her stepfather, Bill Brackin, she returned to Selma.

“I needed to sow my life back into the lives of my children and grandchildren who were growing up without me. Now I am living with my mother and seeing some of my 18 old friends who still live here.”

Oliver also has a son, Dayne Massey, in Atlanta. He is an evangelist in the mission field who comes monthly to Selma to teach the word. He recently returned from Jordan and Armenia and is going to Russia next. In Selma, his sessions are held at the home of Oliver’s brother Lane Brackin.

Settled again in Selma, she gave thought to a future occupation. “All my family has a love of photography. My sister Pam Stewart has a daughter, Megan, who is a professional photographer. My daughter, Camille Deer, who lives in Selma, studied in Forsyth, Ga., and has been shooting for friends for 21 years, now doing it professionally. She has a great talent and a good eye. So we partnered and named our business Kara Camille Photography.”

Oliver has been in interior decoration, “so it all fits together,” she says.

“In Jacksonville I had two small antique shops and set up vignettes for Camille using some of the antiques I brought to Mother’s to use for interior shots. The grounds at Mother’s are also perfect for outdoor shots.”

The subjects include newborn babies, graduations and engagements, weddings and “Trash the Dress,” a subject now sweeping the nation in a contrast between a pristine gown and reality in nature. Both Oliver and her daughter Camille shoot, with each session benefiting from “two pairs of eyes that see differently. Their model is frequently Camille’s daughter, Mary Payton. After editing by Camille, each print is sent to a printer for post-processing.

At present, contact with them is by Web site: In time, they will select a studio location, preferably in Old Selma for what will be a full-time occupation. The future includes photography workshops and at regular intervals showcases for the public.

Deer says “I am honored that my mother has joined me in this exciting venture. I strive to capture people and their loved ones in the most honest moments, to capture personality. I know that KaraCamille Photography will be the most fun we have ever had.”

Kathy Oliver says “I have been blessed with five wonderful children and loads of grandchildren, many of whom you see on our site. Together with my gift of design and creativity and her wealth of wisdom and knowledge of the camera we complement each other. And the excitement of thinking what Selma can be and our contribution to it keeps me encouraged. We are intent on doing God’s will and being led by the Holy Spirit.”

And Ann Brackin, mother of Kathy and grandmother of Camille, says “I am real proud of their work and their plans for the future, and to have them here with me.”