Thursday, March 29, 2007


I am at a complete loss for words after proofing some of this session, and I just had to share. These girls travel from out of town every now and then to see me, and everytime I sware they get cuter. And talk about PERSONALITY. I almost couldn't shoot because of my not being able to stop laughing. Mom's got her hands full now---but in just a few months, they will go from a family of 4 to a family of 6 when they welcome twins into their home. I am so excited for them but even MORE excited because I will be in the delivery room to capture the birth!!

It was little sister's turn, but big sister wanted in....and little sis DID NOT LIKE IT!
Really, I wish they would have come out of their shy. ;-)
Here they are with Mommy-doesn't she look radiant?

PLEASE don't forget to send in your nominations for the Emily project before the month is up!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

A First

First of all, I have to say I am overwhelmed by the response I've received to my last post. Hopefully I've answered all your emails, and I've decided to do a similar q&a every few weeks-so keep sending in those questions and I'll answer them here!

Here is my first: Very first shot of the day, and it's my favorite. It's a great thing when you feel like you won't be able to narrow a whole shoot down to just 30 or so pictures. This is how the whole day went...everytime I pressed the shutter, I knew that THAT one was a keeper, the best. All 400 times. She just made it WAY too easy.

And here it is, the first shot of the day:
These were all done on an overcast day on a back patio with an 85mm lens.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Your burning questions, answered

Here are some of the questions I received from all you blog readers out there:

Q: Do you offer any type of private lessons for amateur photographers?

A: This has been the most frequent question I have been asked in my 8 years of photographing kiddos, even more than "When are you available?". There was a point in time that I was answering more emails/calls from photographers across the country about my marketing, my images, my camera, than I was to prospective and current clients. At that point I decided to start offering a "Photographer's Package" to those who were interested. It includes a marketing packet, lots of questions answered, technical tips, the process of proofing, etc. There is also a package that includes a consultation where I can work with you on finding your style, learning your camera, critique your images, and just answer any general questions you may have. I've tossed around the idea of having a workshop for moms and dads who just want to learn how to use their cameras to take better pictures of their kids year round. That's something I'd like to hear from you guys on if you think you'd be interested.

Something else I offer-anyone can come and hold my bags/reflector/assist/work on proofbooks/help package prints at anytime. This is how I learned, more than any classes or books-helping someone who was already in the business and picking their brain. I've taken on countless interns, some of which are now established photographers in the DFW area, and some of which just wanted to learn to use their cameras efficiently to take shots of their kids when I'm not there.

Q: How do you edit your photographs without losing the quality of the original image? I have been shooting in JPEG/RAW format and saving them as a Tiff after cropping but still lose quality...what am I doing wrong?

A: You might be underexposing your images and seeing noise. Tiffs do not compress and therefore should not show any loss of quality. Check your ISO and make sure you are shooting 800 or below. The lower the ISO, the less noise you will have in underexposed images. Also, if you're shooting in JPEG format, make sure it's set to the highest quality (JPEG Fine). Other than that, it may be how you are processing your images.

Q: When shooting in b/w, where do I set my ISO?

A: Part of the reason I love b/w is that it is much more forgiving of noise-it translates to grain, which gives images a more "filmy" look. So when I know the images I'm shooting will be in b/w, I usually shoot on 800 ISO. Outdoors or for color sessions, when I want a nice even color (in color, noise just translates to redness and wierd colors) I shoot as low as I can, sunny days 200 ISO and cloudy days 400 ISO. Here's an example of a b/w image at 800 ISO to create a grainy look: (yes it's my baby, I have to get her picture in as much as I can, right?)

Q: How do you get that sparkly look in the children's eyes???

A: I could tell you, but I'd have to kill you.

Just kidding. It's really simple- I don't use flash, and I always face the subjects towards the light source (like a window).

Q: (from a professional photographer) How do you shoot indoors without camera shake or motion blur?

A: I try to always check homes ahead of time (I've been doing this location thing long enough to know most neighborhoods in the area, and if their homes have enough light). I open every window I can get my hands on. Most of my clients have newer homes with big floor to ceiling windows, but if they don't, we use a covered patio, or my favorite trick is to open the front door and sit them in their entryway. I use a fairly high ISO because I like the grainy look, which gives me flexibility with my aperture and shutter speed. Most of the time I shoot on or around f4, wider for closeups of single subjects, and I don't let my shutter speed go lower than around 1/100 (w/ my 50mm lens, w/ my 85, I don't go lower than 1/160). I also learned just to relax - motion is natural with children. For example, this picture of a little girl dancing- slower shutter speeds illustrates the motion of her dancing.

If something is happening that's really great and I don't have enough light for a decent aperture, I let my shutter speed go low and just steady my arm against a wall and hope for the best :)

Q: How do you run a busy business and raise three young children?? (OK, so that's me wondering outloud...)

A: I work at night quite a bit. My typical day starts at 5AM when I wake up and feed the baby before heading to the gym. I get back and get the kids ready and off to school. When I shoot, my wonderful assistant Pam watches Maddy for me (talk about a bonus!) My middle child goes to school on three days a week, so I spend the other two with her. On the days I don't shoot and have 2 out of 3 at school, I might get some work done in between feedings, diaper changes, and spontaneous photo sessions with the baby. But in general, after dinner, my wonderful husband takes care of bedtime and baths, and I start working and sometimes don't stop until very late. I also couldn't do it without Pam (who by the way is a professional organizer, and you can hire her too :) ) She takes care of all the details, books, packaging, etc. that I can't get to, and keeps my office (and sometimes, a bonus like my laundry room!) organized for me.

And, just to note- as I type this, my 4 year old is trying to climb up behind me in my chair, crying because I'm not letting her, and shoving a construction paper butterfly in my face while my baby screams from teething pain and my son runs around in circles dressed like Superman. Ah, the glamorous life.

Q: What lens do you shoot with?

A: Outside, 2 or less subjects- 85mm lens always. I love that thing. Indoors, 50mm lens, sometimes the 85 if it's an older child alone.

Q: What is your best advice for the average parent who is just taking snapshots but wants them to be as good as they can be?

A: Great question! When I'm shooting outdoors and I see people taking shots of each other or their kids, I always want to go up to them and say GO GET IN THE SHADE! It's the easiest way to make a picture smooth, colorful, and pleasurable to the eye. I figured I'd get kicked out of the Arboretum for that so I keep it to myself :)

Q: I hate my digital camera, because the camera doesn't actually shoot what I see in my viewfinder-there is a delay. How can I fix this?

A: Easy answer for most digital p&s, turn the screen display off and use it the old fashioned way, held up to your eye.

Q: I'm tired of point and shoot- I want a good camera that I can take pictures of my kids with, that is excellent quality but doesn't cost thousands of dollars-any suggestions?

A: Nikon D50, Nikon D70, Canon Rebel are all excellent cameras for under $1000. I'm a Nikon girl myself. (by the way I have never bought anything from Broadway Photo so can't testify to their reliability)

OK that's all for now, feel free to post further questions in the comments section and I'll try to get to them ASAP. Thanks again for all the great questions!!


Thursday, March 22, 2007

If you are a DFW mom, and you have a stroller,

Come stroller skate with me!!

Thursday mornings have become my favorite morning of the week. We discovered it on Spring Break, and now I am a regular...

Thunderbird Skating Center in Plano has a Stroller Skating session every Thursday morning. You rollerskate with your baby in a stroller. It's as fun as it sounds! And talk about a great workout! I take my girls every Thursday and some friends join us, we'd love to see you guys out there. I keep forgetting to take pictures with my "real" camera but here is an image with my camera phone: She sleeps through all the action...
She's only 4-they lock her skates for her and since it's not very crowded, I don't have to worry about her getting run over :)
And if you're wondering- yes, they play 80's pop songs like Thriller and there is a disco ball, nothing has changed since I was 8!


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Baby Feet, Family so Sweet

One of my favorite families had their baby!!! Here she is, here and telling the world all about it...
The sweet family-adoring each other...have I mentioned that I LOVE my job???
Melain, are you ready for this??? Ta-da!!! I've got a few more, too! :)

I heart baby feet.
This baby has the most beautiful coloring--look at those blue eyes!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

You're always asking me...

"What do we wear?" "Where do we get it?"

Well I now have the perfect answer for you. Little Heiress-have you guys been there? It's in Frisco in the new Shops at Starwood. Check out this outfit I got today for my little model:

If I could have taken the whole store home with me I would have. I saw outfit after outfit that would be perfect for photoshoots for girls and boys.

And even better news...Little Heiress and I will be partnering up in the future for lots of fun and exciting stay tuned here or visit their store for those details!

And since I'm shamelessly posting pictures of my own kids; for those who have been asking-my little Maddy is now 5 months old, can you believe it?? Here she is-

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


You never want to hear that when you pick up the phone and it's one of your clients.

This time around, what followed was, "Gigi fell the other night in her crib and hit her two front teeth- half of them are missing now."

Uh oh.

So we rescheduled hoping that the dentist could save the didn't happen, but we went on with the shoot anyways with my promise that I could have some photoshop guru save the picture if need be, or we'd do lots of "serious" shots. I showed up not knowing what to expect, and she grinned at me...I just melted. No missing teeth could ever ruin this little angel's smile. So here she is, with sweet big brother.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

I don't do weddings, but...

My Spring Break began with my lifetime best friend's small wedding and ended with my brother in law's wedding. For these two people, I agreed to do the unheard of!!

After the first wedding, I was actually tossing around the idea of offering a wedding package. It was fun.

No offense to my brother-in-law at all, and maybe it's because my husband was the best man, my daughter was the flowergirl, and my son was a ringbearer; but after that one, I was back to my original stance. I don't do weddings!!!

Now in my defense to those of you who have begged me to do so and so's weddings in the past, this was a "no pressure" thing---if I screwed these up, I knew the bride and groom would forgive me and most importantly, not sue me!!

Cristi's wedding was at night, which was such a challenge because I HATE flash and didn't want to use it at all. So I used available light (which during the ceremony was a spotlight) and shot on very low shutter speeds.

The beautiful bride, nervous before the ceremony...

Fun little fact...the minister here is my little brother!! I'm so proud of him :)

And then my brother-in-law's wedding on Saturday. I was much less nervous about this one, because it was held outdoors at the "golden hour" as we photographers call it, right before sunset, at a funky old house with lots of cool places to shoot.

My new sister-in-law!

The cutest flower girls on the niece Madison and of course my Gabby-they are 5 weeks apart and the very best of friends (and double trouble!!!)
What post of my family would be complete without Maddy...isn't she getting big!
The guys- that's my husband on the right, my brother-in-law in the middle, and my son Mikey in the front.
They did a lot of this....

Friday, March 02, 2007

Spring Break and Emily Project

Just a reminder to everyone that I will be on Spring Break with my kids next week, March 5-10th. All calls and emails will be returned the following week, thank you for your understanding!

I wanted to announce the recipient of the Emily Project package for this month. For those who don't know, you can nominate someone in your life (including yourself) for a free session and $500 print package. The project is set up to provide portraits to families who deserve professional photos of their family but for one reason or another can't or haven't had them made otherwise. Here is the letter I received that was chosen:

"I would like to nominate my friends, Bill and Cindy, for photographs.

This is a fabulous family with 3 beautiful children 11 - 5 years of age. Last year about this time Bill got a sore throat and after several rounds of antibiotics it was not getting better. He went to the Dr. and tests revealed that he had throat cancer at a very advanced stage. He was given very little time with little hope for treatment. He chose to believe in his recovery with the help of God. Prayers came from many and in the end he did beat the cancer. However, not for long. He fought a second battle this summer and now he is in his third round and this one is not good. They cannot find the center of the cancer and there is no way to treat it. He went to MD Anderson for a trial treatment and was told that he was not a good candidate for the treatment and was sent home. I have been told that he was given 9 mo - 36 mo.

He is such an inspiration, as when others are in this position they retreat into self pity and draw into themselves. He has chosen to reach out and tell his story and how God is good and is working miracles through him. He feels that God has a purpose for him going through this and wants to share. I would love to see this family get portraits and have special memories for the future..."

To me, this is what the Emily project is all about. Thank you, Michele, for telling me about your friends, and for giving them this gift that I know they will cherish, and giving me this opportunity. You are an angel!

If you would like to nominate someone, please send an email explaining why you are nominating them to . Be sure and include your contact information, and the contact information for the person you are nominating.