I was so excited to be doing Rachel's senior photos because she and her mom had chosen to do them at their home, which is a spectacular location for a session. I knew this because I had done a session there last year for one of their friends who chose it for the same reason.
One of Jayna's senior photos from last year, also shot in Rachel's backyard
I love the contrast between the red of Rachel's shirt and green tones of the plants, while the yellow of the flowers compliments both.
As much as I love color, black & white photos will always be my personal favorite.
A message from mom ❤️
Those eyes! 👀
It was beginning to get dark on Rachel's back porch, but she wanted to include a few shots on the swing so I used a reflector and bounced a speed light to create this look.
The sun was shining in just the right spot, and I'm always happy to include a few shots of boyfriends/girlfriends in my senior sessions when asked. How cute are they?
Thank you Rachel for allowing me to create your senior pictures! Have a fantastic senior year!
Today I made a very unexpected and impulsive decision to visit the Flight 93 Crash Site Memorial in Shanksville. It's taken me 18 years to be able to go there without becoming emotional and having to leave. The last time I tried several years ago, I couldn't get beyond the parking lot. Today I was able to go in - and stay - from behind the safety of my camera.
I sat awhile and observed the other visitors and overheard some of their conversations. Many seemed oblivious to the significance of the site - one man in particular caught my attention as he walked hurriedly past the Wall of Names, engrossed in a conversation about overdue accounts and unpaid invoices (on the Sunday of the 4th of July holiday weekend no less). He never paused or slowed down, never even looked up to acknowledge the 40 names engraved on the wall next to him and what they meant. Nearly everyone who walked the 1/4 mile pathway that leads to the wall stopped to take a photo when they reached it. I was no exception. But most seemed to dismiss it as just another photo op that will end up on Instagram next to a picture of whatever they ate for breakfast that day. One couple smiled happily as they stood in front of the wall after asking a stranger to take just "one quick pic" on their iPhone. Just beyond them, a grandmother took a photo of her teenage grandson giving a double thumbs up for the camera. One more for the scrapbook I guess.
Eighteen years after the tragedy that we swore we would never forget, it seems many of us have indeed forgotten. Most can't see beyond their cell phones to appreciate the sacrifice that was made that day. There were a few exceptions, a few people who stopped for just a moment to write a message of gratitude and condolence to the families, or to read the names on the Wall and acknowledge the courage and strength they showed that day. These few will surely never forget.
Please, if you visit this or any of our national memorials, take a moment to at least read the names of those who sacrificed. The Flight 93 Memorial has an exhibit with pictures of all 40 victims. Take the time to look at them, and think about their lives that were cut short and the families they left behind. Put down your cell phone. Really think about why the memorial is there. It’s designed to mirror the flight path of the plane - look around, think about what that must have been like. The plane was going over 500 miles an hour when it made impact, accelerating as it neared the ground. Can you even imagine what that was like for those on board? It’s not just a tourist attraction. Never forget that.
This is a question that I get asked a lot, so I thought it might be helpful to share some of my tips with all of you here.
Remember, these are only suggestions based on my experience photographing seniors. Ultimately they are your photos, and I want you to love them so the choice is yours! If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to reach out. I will be happy to talk with you and help you decide what's best for you.
The first time I can remember being interested in photography, I was very young, probably around 8 or 9. I vividly remember my parents' Kodak Instamatic camera and being fascinated by the flash cubes. I wasn't allowed to play with it if there was film in it - film cost money and you couldn't waste a shot - but when it was empty I would walk around the house and take photos that never existed. It didn't matter though, there was just something about pressing that shutter.
When I got a little older, I got a camera of my own for Christmas - a Kodak Slimline - and it was quite the upgrade. This one even had a built in flash! I remember taking it with me on a family vacation to Niagara Falls that summer because I recall using tree branches to frame my subject, a tip I had read in the owner's manual that came with my camera. If I can ever find that photo, it's definitely getting framed and hung on my wall because even though I didn't realize it at the time, it was very significant. It was one of the first photos I took with purpose.
When I got a little older I got an Ansel Adams calendar as a gift. It had a different landscape photo for each month, and I thought it was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen. That's when I fell in love with black & white photography and I am still obsessed with it to this day. As I got older my interest grew, and I even took a few classes as a teenager. People told me I had an eye for photography. But growing up in a blue collar household, I was encouraged to pursue something more "practical". I graduated high school, got an office job, met my husband and raised a family. I always worked part-time to help out with finances, but I never had a career. I sold my 35mm Minolta Maxxum camera that he'd bought me when we were dating. It was hard for me to part with, even though I hadn't used it in years. But we needed the money, I don't remember what for. Probably diapers.
Fast forward a lifetime or two: the kids grew up. I changed jobs a few times. And though I was grateful to have a job, I just could not imagine staying where I was for the next phase of my life. I wanted to find something I actually enjoyed doing, but what? How could I possibly start something new at my age? I didn't want to trade one unfulfilling job for another, and I was too dependent on the extra income to just quit. Then a friend who'd gone through something similar convinced me to take a leap of faith, because ultimately being happy is far more important than having more material things in my life. I quit my job and tried going back to school, but my heart just wasn't in it. I felt a bit lost. My kids didn't need me as much anymore and now I had no job and no clue what to do with the rest of my life.
Then one day during a trip to my parents' cabin in the mountains, my sister suggested that I borrow her fancy new DSLR and go for a drive. At first I was reluctant, I hadn't picked up a real camera in many years. Cameras had gone digital and I had no clue how to use it. But I was bored and it was a beautiful morning, so I went on a drive, alone. I saw some beautiful rock formations along the river just down the road, so I pulled over and took out my sister's camera. I barely knew how to turn it on and I could only use Auto mode, and suddenly I felt like an 8 year old girl again. I didn't know what I was doing, but I was fascinated. There was just something about pressing that shutter. I started to look around for things to photograph, and I came across some tiny rock sculptures that someone had made and left behind for others to enjoy. One particular sculpture was in the shape of a rectangle with a hole in the middle, and another smaller sculpture was just behind it, If I got down to ground level, I could make a picture of the smaller sculpture framed by the larger one. I made that photo with purpose, just like I had a lifetime ago in Niagara Falls.
I went home and ordered a DSLR the very next week. And the rest, as they say, is history.
I have this problem where the most recent thing I shoot then becomes my favorite thing to shoot. I’ll do an outdoor couples session and the photos will turn out amazing and we have fun doing it and then I’m all “couples are my favorite thing!”, and then the next week I’ll do something in the studio and then I’m all “dramatic lighting is my favorite thing!”. It’s a problem y’all.
So I understand if you don’t believe me when I say, FAMILIES ARE MY FAVORITE THING. I’m not even sure why. Maybe it’s because I was raised in a family with a strong emotional bond and I've carried that on with my own family. Or maybe it's because I think it's easier to get great candids because kids are real and usually don't care if you take their picture. Whatever the reason, I find true joy in observing the love between a parent and child and I feel blessed to be asked to document it so that when the kids are grown, you can look back and always remember how tiny their feet were, or the sparkle in their eye when they see you walk into a room. And trust me - as a mom of 3 grown kids who are about to leave the nest, you won’t remember as much as you think you will.
I recently dug out some big ol’ VHS tapes that I shot with my shoulder-mounted 90’s camcorder and had them transferred to CD’s, because who even has a VCR anymore? I sure don’t, so I hadn’t watched them in quite awhile. I’m so grateful to have all the birthdays and Christmases preserved for me to look back on. But although those milestones are important, I find that I usually just skim over them. The videos and photos that I enjoy the most are the ones taken on an ordinary day just playing together in the yard, or building blanket forts in the living room on a rainy day. Those are the things that fade from your memory over time, but photographs and videos will keep those memories fresh in your mind forever. I suppose that’s why families are my favorite thing :)
Oh, and if you are looking for someone to transfer your old VHS tapes onto CD, hit up Brandon Keenan at KVT Productions - he can hook you up!
Until next time ~
Ok so I’m a bit late to the party this year. Better late than never, right? These first few weeks of 2019 have been busy for me and I could not be more excited!
As some of you may know, January 1st began a whole new chapter for me and my little photography biz. While I spent a lot of 2018 exploring different genres of photography to decide what direction I wanted to steer this ship, I am planning to spend 2019 charting the course and taking action.
While I enjoy many different types of photography, I’ve found that what I love the most is capturing the real emotion and authentic connections that we experience in our everyday lives. It’s not always connections between people - sometimes we connect with animals, or nature, or even a treasured possession, like a child with their favorite toy. Sometimes we as the viewer make a connection with with the photo itself, and it can elicit an emotional response within us. Within these connections lies a story, and I want to be the storyteller.