3 Cheers for Clare - Class of 2020!

Did you guys know that the Millard West cheer team is completely amazing? Like, they’ve won multiple national championships. They’re the cheerleaders that are on ESPN doing the crazy flips, tumbling and tricks. They’re good. Really good. So when Clare contacted me about doing her senior photos, I was pretty excited. One thing all my seniors do before their session is fill out a questionnaire so I can get to know them a little better, and find out what’s important for them to include in their senior portraits. Of course for Clare, cheer was on her list, and I think we got some pretty cool shots of her crazy mad skills at toe touches and the infamous white jacket that comes with a national championship.

Senior cheerleader toe touch
Senior cheerleader with medals

We spent our first half of the session downtown, and had a great time exploring some hidden gems.

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The other thing Clare loves is the water. So after some time shooting downtown, we made our way out west to a recreation area for some fun outdoor pictures, and then ended the night with the most beautiful sunset at a nearby smaller lake. While I’m more of a land girl myself (ask my husband sometime about his attempts to snorkel and snow ski with me), I didn’t mind doing some crazy balancing acts to get some cool shots of Clare on the dock.

senior girl on dock
Senior girl on dock
Behind the scenes at the lake
Outdoor senior session

I had the best time with Clare, and loved getting to take her senior portraits and incorporating some of the things that matter most to her. She even took my oldest daughter under her wing this fall at the Millard West cheer clinic. Isn’t she amazing?

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There were so many amazing pictures to choose from Clare’s session, and I absolutely love the products she chose to include them in. One of those items is a gorgeous, 10x10 custom album. She chose a combo cover with genuine leather in a steel color…GORGEOUS! In fact, I loved their choice so much that I have my own sample now to show clients.

The image below shows just a sampling of some of the custom cover materials that are available. The layouts inside are also all custom designed, so we made sure that it looked exactly like Clare wanted! It’s a perfect heirloom piece for seniors! Clare and her mom also chose a 4x5 image folio, perfect for a table top display, some loose prints for framing and family, and a wood image display block.

Senior heirloom lay flat album
4x5 image folio

Oh, did I also mention that I can also make you your very own mobile app of your images to share with friends and family?

Mobile app and proof prints
Loose proof prints

If you’re a junior thinking ahead to next year, I’d love to chat! Just click on the button below to get in touch!

5 tips to give your back to school photos an A+

I think I’m still in denial that school starts for my oldest two on Monday.  Where in the world did the summer go?  And how did i get to the point of having two in elementary school?  As I mentally prepare for all that is to come on Monday morning: the new faces, the teachers, the parents, the shiny new back packs and back to school outfits, the one thing I love to do is take a few pictures to document this annual right of passage and the excitement that surrounds it.  Social media is plastered that day with images and videos of moms, dads and guardians proudly sending their kiddos off to school, marveling at how much they’ve changed since last year and how they so desperately want to slow down time.  Here’s a few tips to help you take those images to an A+.

Watch them grow

I love getting a classic portrait shot of my kiddos every year.  I see the details of their little faces, their eyes, the way their hair is…and it’s so fun to compare from year to year. 

Tip 1: try to keep the location of this shot the same or similar from year to year - that way as you are comparing images, it keeps the focus on their changes and not the background behind them.

Tip 2: have fun using props! Letterboards are very popular right now, and are a really fun way to add to your images. You can also use apples, American flags and any other item that gives you school vibes.

I can’t believe how much she’s changed.

I can’t believe how much she’s changed.

First day of school with flag and letter board

Don’t forget the details

The pencils, the new shoes, the backpacks…it’s all a part of the back to school experience.  We are currently in a season of these little key chains that hang off of their backpacks.  My daughter has quite the collection and I’m pretty sure it adds 5 pounds to her bag, but she doesn’t seem to mind. Their backpacks also tell a story of their personality and stage of life. This year, my kids are REALLY into Harry Potter. So we are anxiously awaiting for their backpacks to get here! Pottery barn kids and teen is having a huge sale right now, and I actually scored this backpack for my son for for a fraction of the cost of the backpacks at Target! 

Backpack charms

Give yourself plenty of time

Last year, we were running slightly behind on the first day of school, and made it to school just a few minutes before the kids were going to head in.  Unfortunately, my daughter’s teacher headed in just slightly early, so I missed getting a photo of her with her teacher.  I was so bummed about this.  

On the occasion below, we were very early to my son’s first day of preschool, and pretty much had the front entrance to ourselves.  I let him explore a bit and took this image of him after waiting for him to walk under that beautiful tree and light.  I also wanted to capture some of the pretty architectural detail of the church building.

Tip 1: going early can also help your kids explore, acclimate, and get out some of their first day of school jitters. You can also use this opportunity to observe their surroundings, and wait for the moment you’re hoping to capture!

waiting for school to start

Remember the school supplies

Don’t be afraid to take pictures at the store as you are purchasing school supplies!  The colors are so fun and there are tons of opportunities for creative framing and leading lines.  The was the first year that my daughter was able to bring a folder of her own choice, and she spent a lot of timing finding the perfect folder with kittens on it :-) 

shopping at target for school supplies
picking out her folder

Be a storyteller

Is your son or daughter nervous about their first day?  Capture their expression on their face.  Do they walk to school with neighborhood friends?  Tell that story!  Did you do something special for them the night before or the morning of like a special breakfast or a balloon? Document it. You’ll love looking back on these and watching the story of their first day unfold.

walking to school with friends

Embracing the light of summer

Ahhh, sweet summer time.  If you have kids, then thoughts of lemonade stands, splash pads, baseball games, popsicles and late bedtimes probably comes to mind.  Maybe you’ve even got a weekend getaway or a vacation planned as we enter our last weeks of summer before school starts. (Say it ain’t so!) Or maybe you’ve been making memories with your friends, attending summer camps, spending days at the lake or the pool.

Often times, the summer sun is less than ideal for soft, beautiful pictures.  As a photographer, my favorite time to shoot a family, child or senior session is an hour or two before sunset, where the light is more filtered and soft.  But in the middle of the day, often the sun is unfiltered, producing harsh shadows and tricky lighting.  However, that doesn’t mean I don’t want to document our family memories, so here are a few tips to help you embrace that summer light and be confident with your camera, whether that’s a phone, point and shoot, or DSLR!

Summer = COLOR. Embrace it!

Summer means bright blue skies, fluffy clouds, lush greens and bold color. If the sun is hitting your subject from the front, it also means the colors will likely be pretty vivid behind them. Embrace it, back up, and take a wide angle shot to capture that color! I also find myself thinking more carefully about what my kids are wearing - I will usually think about what the environment is going to be and try to find clothes that will be complementary or harmonious on the color wheel.

This was shot in the early afternoon. I loved the vibrant color of the green grass and that beautiful sky. Here I chose to dress him in an analogous color scheme.

This was shot in the early afternoon. I loved the vibrant color of the green grass and that beautiful sky. Here I chose to dress him in an analogous color scheme.

Be mindful of the time of day and adjust accordingly

if I’m taking pictures in the middle of the day, often I’ll capture shots of my kids engaged in activities, sometimes even with their backs to me - it’s actually more comfortable for them than asking them to face towards the sun. Often times this decreases the appearance of harsh shadows under their eyes.

I grouped the girls together here and told them to find their best strawberry. I gave my subjects something to do, and backed up to get the landscape behind them.

I grouped the girls together here and told them to find their best strawberry. I gave my subjects something to do, and backed up to get the landscape behind them.

Asking my subject to look up at me/the camera was too much - it was way too bright and after trying to squint at me, he just put his head down.

Asking my subject to look up at me/the camera was too much - it was way too bright and after trying to squint at me, he just put his head down.

If you do find yourself getting harsh shadows and highlights, play with converting your image to black and white. Often times this can create a striking composition. You can also play around with your point of view - find a different angle to tell the story from.

Converting to black and white - I converted this to black and white and love the contrast in their sweaty hair and the the beautiful sky.

Converting to black and white - I converted this to black and white and love the contrast in their sweaty hair and the the beautiful sky.

Point of view - I wanted to make her adorable outfit and little red boots the star of this image.

Point of view - I wanted to make her adorable outfit and little red boots the star of this image.

Find open shade or wait for the clouds

Sometimes I want more than an environmental, wide angle shot and want to get a close up shot of my childrens’ face. If it’s really sunny out, I’ll move them to a more ideal location to snap a quick picture…this usually means placing them under the shade of a tree or building.

The sun was coming out and starting to create harsh shadows and highlights; and it was causing the tablecloth to reflect some pretty unsightly green on their faces.

The sun was coming out and starting to create harsh shadows and highlights; and it was causing the tablecloth to reflect some pretty unsightly green on their faces.

I moved the girls to a spot just a couple feet away, under the shade of a tree. While there’s still a little dappled light on the girls arm, this is an improvement over the first image.

I moved the girls to a spot just a couple feet away, under the shade of a tree. While there’s still a little dappled light on the girls arm, this is an improvement over the first image.

Have fun and get in the frame!

You were there, too! If you’re shooting with your mobile phone, place it on a sturdy surface and set the timer, or ask someone nearby to take a picture for you. A selfie is better than nothing! Your kids will want to see pictures of you, too! There are also lots of apps out there that have more advanced timer features. I like to use Photo Timer+ on my iPhone. I can set the number of pictures it takes, the interval, and it will even audibly countdown for me.

Having fun with my girl at a baseball game.

Having fun with my girl at a baseball game.

4 reasons why you should consider a spring portrait session

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“It is always safe to dream of spring. For it is sure to come; and if it be not just as we have pictured it, it will be infinitely sweeter.”

—L.M. Montgomery, The Story Girl

The sky seems more blue, the birds seem to fill the air with musical chirping, the flowers are blooming.  There’s something about spring - an energy, the thought of nature awakening after a long, harsh winter.  I love shooting during this time of year.  Yes, fall is a very popular choice for family portraits for different reasons - mild, predictable weather and fall foliage, but here are 4 reasons why you should consider spring and summer, too.

Color

Blooms.  Need I say more?  The trees are budding and blooming all around me, and while I find myself sneezing and itching my eyes (allergies, anyone?), I’m marveling at all of the colors around me!  The deep purples of the redbuds, the white flowers of the flowering pears, the soft pink petals of the crab tree, the yellows of the forsythia bushes.  All make for a gorgeous, backdrop for your family or senior portraits.  

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Wardrobe

Fall lends itself to jeans and sweaters. But spring lends itself to an entirely different wardrobe!  Seniors look great in flowing dresses, cute jumpers or a pair of trendy jeans and top.  Mothers look regal in long, flowing maxi dresses.  And my husband is all too eager to put on a pair of nice shorts the minute the temperature reaches above, say, 40 degrees.  Little girls look great in pastel tops or dresses, and little boys in suspenders and bowties.  Or, a more casual look might include your favorite jeans and an easy tank, or overalls and pigtails for your little ones.  

Senior girl in white dress

Nature’s playground

My kids love gardening.  They love the process of seeing tiny buds start to form, slowing bursting their way through the rich soil of the earth, and growing to fruition.  With the energy of nature around us, your kids can explore, observe and interact with you as I stand back and capture those loving interactions between your family members.

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Longer days

With little ones, I groan every time I have to set the clock back or forward, because it means we have to transition to a new routine in the morning and evening.  But, with springtime comes longer days!  No need to rush to a family session as we battle to beat the sun going down.  I love spring and summer because it offers me more time to work with clients, to let the little ones ‘warm up’ and let their personality shine through. 

little girl in pink sundress

If you are interested in a spring or summer portrait session, I would love to chat with you!

Styled Fashion Shoot

Models over bridge in high afternoon sun

I spent an afternoon shooting at the Sheldon Art Museum in Lincoln, Nebraska to feature two local models, an online fashion boutique and make-up artist. Considering that my oldest child is only 7, this was a fun change of pace for me! No games of ring around the rosie were needed…these girls totally rocked their session, and it made me excited for the warm weather ahead and senior shoots!

Models: Miranda Bledsoe, Emily Clarke

Wardrobe: Eloquin Boutique

Hair/Makeup: Stephanie Schneider of Makeup by Stephanie Nichole at Prim Beauty Parlour

Location: Sheldon Art Museum

Shoot & Share Contest Results

So, a month or so ago, I decided to enter a few of my photos into an online photo contest. Over half a million photos from all over the world were submitted, and over 85 million people voted over the course of 12 rounds and several weeks. I really had no expectations, but as I participated in voting and happened to see some of my photos in the later rounds, I started to get really excited! I am beyond thrilled with how I did for my first competition! Of course, none of this would be possible without my amazing families and seniors that allow me to photograph them! I am so grateful to everyone for allowing me to capture these precious memories for them!

I had photos place in the top 10%, 20& and 30%. Here they are!

Featured work - “Hearts”

I have my camera in hand on an almost daily basis because a) I’m pretty much obsessed with it and taking pictures and b) I’m a perfectionist and I’m always striving to get better at what I do. In order to keep pushing myself, I belong to several communities, one called Clickin Moms where I can take courses, browse tutorials, ask for serious critique on images and participate in challenges and contests. I’m honored that one of my images has been been featured on their blog for the February photo contest, themed “Hearts”. You can check out all of the amazing photos on the blog here. Below are a few from the series that I shot.