Tamme Stitt-Spiezio has been pursuing and capturing human essence since she was 18 years old. Skip-tracing the missing, conducting surveillance as a drug task force officer for Columbia County, arresting people as a Fishkill police officer, tracking people as a private investigator and photographing people as an artist.
Stitt-Spiezio owns two businesses — one which captures people at their brightest, and one at their darkest. Stitt-Spiezio is the owner of private investigative firm Blue Moon Agency. Stitt-Spiezio also owns Tamme Stitt Photography. Stitt-Spiezio has worked on thousands of cases with her Blue Moon Agency throughout the past decade with her most recent being the largest: an international child abduction case. Her wife, Christene Spiezio, a former U.S. National Women’s Olympic Team bobsledder, works with her at the couple’s home-based office in Rosendale, sharing a desk. On weekends, Stitt-Spiezio changes her lens to focus on the beautiful as a professional portrait photographer.
In the two short years that Stitt-Spiezio has been taking and posting photos, Tamme Stitt Photography has quickly become just a hair shy of 5,000 Facebook likes. Many of her images are of women, families, couples and children outdoors, smiling and relaxed, happy and carefree, shot in a classic Glamourist style — some even resembling Maxfield Parrish’s work. She employs a lush blend of soft and crisp luminous images; finished work emphasizes her subject’s virtues and portrays her subject’s story.
“I started shooting my kids and posting the pictures and I was getting compliments and someone had the bright idea I should start doing this but I just said, ‘no no no’,” said Stitt-Spiezio. “Then one day someone asked me to photograph their kid and I did … I spent about two years just shooting for free just for practice. Literally. Even weddings.”
Bringing out the best
Stitt-Spiezio is most frequently lauded for her ability to feature a woman’s most flattering traits and de-emphasize flaws. Her subject’s confidence in those abilities makes it easy to smile and relax and feel happy and carefree. “I don’t have a style, I don’t think,” she said. “I like to use natural light mostly, and I rarely use props. I like to photograph people being just themselves. More photojournalistic if anything I guess.”
Christine Huber Sepesi of Port Ewen said she always hated herself in photos. “When I saw my images, they brought tears to my eyes,” she said. When she saw her finished product, her exact words to Stitt-Spiezio were, “I can finally see what my husband sees when he looks at me!” Sepesi complained of having large pores and a big nose. “And my expressions in most other photos are terrible,” she said. “She was able to capture me at just the right moment. I think when most people look at photos of themselves, they focus on all of their flaws. She photographs in a way where you focus on your strengths and don’t notice your flaws.”
Stitt-Spiezio’s Goddess Girl events have become the hallmark of her business. The events are held monthly for eight to 10 women and include 30-minute massages by Spiezio, who is also a licensed massage therapist. “The massage helps to relax them, and the mimosas we serve,” Spiezio mused.
Gina Truhe does the makeup, and hair — often “up-dos” — is by Adrienne Nixon. After you have been “pampered and fluffed,” one can sift through hundreds of gowns in every imaginable color, size and style, or bring one’s own. Stitt-Spiezio also offers other accessories, such as jewelry on loan from Creekside Adornments and Myriad Art. Once dressed and made up to the nines, then Stitt-Spiezio spends 30 to 40 minutes photographing her subjects outdoors. The Goddess Girl team is usually scheduled six months in advance, a wait which does not seem to daunt her fans. Goddess Girl work shops change locations, often rotating around the Kingston-area. Cost is $275 per session, but does not include images. Many of the participants claim it has been an invaluable means to recover self-esteem and break through body image issues.
Stacey VanAllen of Kingston is a single mom of four kids who said she has often been troubled with anxiety and phobias. She reported how she felt endeared to the “Goddess team” by how relaxed and secure they helped her feel, and ultimately let her guard down to trust. “People write in all the time that they feel too fat, too large to do the photos,” said Stitt-Spiezio. “But then they say they are always glad they did it. They walk in timid, nervous, scared.” Spiezio added, “Like they don’t belong there.” By the end of the shoot, she said, the women walk out relaxed, happy, and feeling liberated.
When Army veteran Brandi Ware of Kingston returned from her rotation in Iraq in 2004 where she served as a military police team leader in Baghdad, she endured a divorce and later dating strife which she said described as devastating to her self-esteem. “I then met the love of my life, my husband and as much as he told me that he loves me and I am beautiful, I struggled with that image,” she said. Normally at 5’11” and 160 pounds, upon returning from Iraq she dropped down to a very unhealthy 98 pounds, but gained back some weight with the birth of her first child. “It was after his birth that I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder,” Ware said. “I was incredibly depressed and this is where my self-image issues came in. My husband would tell me that he loved me and that I was beautiful. I didn’t believe him. I felt ugly. I was having constant nightmares when I was sleeping, which wasn’t often with a new baby. This went on for quite some time.”
Gallery: More photos by Tamme Stitt-Spiezio.