When you walk into Feather Photography and Gifts in Shelton, you’ll find a little bit of everything — cozy handmade sweaters for dogs, vintage beaded evening gowns, decadent truffles shipped in from Sacramento, and pet portraits from a skilled photography team.
The store, which moved in March to a more prominent location on 3rd Street, is the dreamchild of photographers Feather Meredith and Jeannie Scanlon, former coworkers who decided last year to open up their own business featuring all of their favorite things.
“We try to look for things that are really unusual and unique,” said Meredith, who shares with Scanlon a passion for photography and collecting. “We look for items in estate sales, art sales. We go everywhere and we look at everything.”
Meredith and Scanlon met each other about seven years ago, when Meredith began working at the payday loan lender where Scanlon worked in downtown Shelton.
The two women bonded over photography: Scanlon had been passionate about film photography in the late 1980s and early 1990s, working at a time for a studio in Montana, before the industry transitioned into the digital age.
“I would see Feather bring in pictures to work and I noticed that she was brilliant with Photoshop,” Scanlon said. “That’s what really caught my eye: How much photography had changed. I got out of it right around the transition because I’d have to buy all new everything.”
Meredith had started getting interested in photography around 1995, when she was in high school in Elma.
“I started learning in high school, but then after my daughter was born in 2000 was when I really started taking pictures of babies and families,” she said. “I wasn’t super serious about it until Jeannie asked me about going into business.”
The pair discussed going out on their own and working together, when coincidentally, their boss at the payday loan lender announced the business was closing.
“I had been admiring Feather’s photography for quite awhile and being an old-school photographer I decided to ask her if she wanted to go into business together,” Scanlon said. “We had already been making plans when the business closed. It was like a sign.”
The women took over the payday loan lender’s location on Railroad Avenue, in the plaza with El Sarape Cantina and the liquor store, last May.
They initially thought they’d open primarily a photography studio, with some art and frames and other photography-related gifts, but the idea “snowballed” from there, Meredith said.
“We’re both into collecting, and I’ve been at it for at least 20 years,” Scanlon said. “A lot of the stuff ended up coming from my house.”
The business partners spent the year getting to know Shelton and the business climate and ultimately decided that their location was a challenge.
Now, in their new space, they have a dedicated room for a photography studio and more visibility.
“It’s about the same size, but it’s laid out better and we have the studio and a dressing room,” Meredith said. “The walk-in traffic is like night and day.”
The photography team also goes out on location, and while they specialize in pet portraits, they offer a variety of photography services.
Meredith’s work is dreamlike and magical, Scanlon said, while Scanlon’s aesthetic is classic.
“We are a team and our clients get two for the price of one,” Scanlon said. “We don’t take trendy photographs that will look dated in a couple decades. I like the old-school ‘vintage-y’ kind of look and Feather gives it a twist. We want photos that will look great in 100 years.”
The photo session fee is $200, and prints (which include the digital files) start at $50 and go up.
“On average, people spend between $400 and $800 in a session, but we run specials all the time,” Meredith said. “For the month of April, we have our ‘Walk in the Park’ special which is $350 and includes the photo shoot and prints.”
Meredith, who digitally alters her photographs to create unique looks, won first place this year in a photography and fine art contest sponsored by Rangefinder Magazine.
Her photo, “A Girl and Her Dog,” resembles a painting and is on display at the Fujifilm Wonder Photo Shop in New York City.
Feather Photography and Gifts also has a small gift section that benefits Kitten Rescue of Mason County, where both Meredith and Scanlon regularly volunteer.
Prices throughout the store range from $1 to $750 (for an antique children’s rocking chair), but the average item costs between $10 and $20.
“When you walk in, you’re not just coming in to get your photo taken, though we can do just that,” Scanlon said. “But we can also give you something a little bit more.”
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