Little Nest Portraits

Turkey Creek biz captures special moments

In her home in Gatlinburg, her children's faces smile from large canvas portraits. Photographer Casie Raines said those photographs, little canvases and little photobooks are the most prized possessions in her house.

Her favorite large portrait hangs in her den. It is one of her two boys taken a year ago.

"They were just goofing around," she said recently, "and this picture just captured both their personalities so well. It was a fun moment and this picture immortalizes it for me.”

Raines’ passion is helping others capture fleeting moments before they’re gone. The owner of Little Nest Portraits parks her car in front of her store, 11279 Parkside Drive in the Pinnacle Turkey Creek shopping center, one of 10 franchises in the Eastern United States. Her franchise celebrated its first anniversary in March.

Farragut resident Jessica Toler said her family had an “awesome experience” at Little Nest. She and her husband, Ben, came in with their three young children.

“I was impressed with their photographer — so friendly and creative,” she said. “Love, love, love our photos.”

Not only does Little Nest photograph families, they’ll be manning a photo booth at Farragut Primary School Fall Festival, and doing headshots for a local real estate company providing a stylist and makeup artist for women and a clothing consultant and a hair person for men.

“We do modern brand forward headshots,” Raines said, “not your traditional stuffy headshot. A little more playful with personality.”

Little Nest specializes in baby portraits.

“The first seven to 10 days of life is the golden window of time for newborn pictures,” she said. “We provide blocks of time. You have privacy with regard to changing and we have a special room for new moms who need to nurse or change a baby.

"We focus on providing a hospital-level grade of cleanliness for newborns. We sanitize the doorknobs and clean all floors and surfaces," Raines added. "Newborns have an immature immune system and that’s a real concern for moms who don’t want to take their baby out in the first few weeks of life, but still want baby pictures.”

Young families may come in for their own private portrait session, an unhurried affair with time allotted for wardrobe changes — and some cookie eating and coloring.

Little Nest also offers on-location shoots and special themes. Earlier his year they did a complimentary “Americana-themed" session for families of veterans and sent a free photograph to each one.

The goal is to deliver a “lifestyle” look, Raines said. “It kind of looks like a family portrait and its truly elevated to art. We utilize that through our signature lighting and posing techniques. The finished portrait is something they’re proud to display for generations.

“We focus on relationships and connections in our portraits,” she added as she pointed to a group of one family’s pictures on display. “There’s so much emotion and connection. Dad’s having a good time with the kids. Mom’s all snuggled up with the boys.

“Our model here is really more a boutique experience. One family at a time. It’s about providing them a great experience.”

Starting "with wedding and engagement photography," Raines said, “I’ve been a photographer for 25 year now."

She and her husband, John, also own Flower Mountain Weddings in Sevier County, a 25-acre venue that features a lodge surrounded by wildflowers. “We lost one of our wedding chapels and photo venue in the fire in November,” she said.

“I learned about Laura Novac [founder of Little Nest Portraits],” Raines added. “I read an article in a photo magazine about her concept and what she was doing for families and mothers. I love photographing children and families. It’s always been something I’ve enjoyed.”

She said she liked the idea of having a studio and offering “something to creatives and them still having their lives and their families. I really felt like Knoxville needed this concept."

Currently, Raines employs three other photographers. The business offers photo books, large canvas prints, float wrap canvases and framed prints in standard pictures sizes from keychains to custom photo jewelry, all the way up to a 40-by-60-inch print.

“We do a full-service classic session and more of a bite-size session,” she said. “What I’m really excited about is our heirloom program. Little Nest Portraits is the first studio in the U.S. to offer a monthly member program that gets them an unlimited amount of sessions and 50 digitals for the year. We retouch all the digitals,” she said. "… It’s pretty amazing savings. Everyone we’ve shown it to has been blown away by the offer. It’s a year in the life of your family. … We will do a session in the home and go to some park settings."

Little Nest offers pictures for family reunions, too.

To introduce the community, Raines is offering a discounted sessionette of 20 to 30 minutes for first-time guests. It includes a digital picture made at the studio. Customers also can choose a one-hour introductory on-location shoot that includes a digital picture.

“I feel like Little Nest Portraits offers a truly unique experience that families look forward to coming to. We have drinks, snacks. Kids get to color. We have crafts they can do. We just really focus on making it an environment the children love to come to. Parents aren’t stressed about bringing their kids here.”

Contact the studio at 865-675-6378. Hours are from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and from noon to 6 p.m., Sunday.