I got home last night exhausted after almost 12 hours of shooting but smiling.  It was my first wedding back after becoming a mom the second time and I thoroughly enjoyed my day.  A four month break was good, but by the end of it, I was dying to get a hold of this bride and groom and give them a big squeeze.  Their day was finally here and I was just about as excited as they were.  I absolutely love this couple.  They’re both amazing humans– incredibly sweet and fun to be around and I just love the time I’ve gotten to spend with them.  Yesterday was full of happy memories, laughter and of course, tons of love.  They treated their day as a celebration — no matter what happened.  Rain threatened all day but we lucked out — we got to take all the photos we wanted and it never even sprinkled on us !  I’m so excited to share this sneak peek with you!  Congratulations Laura Beth and Seth! It was such an honor to spend my day with you yesterday!

_CJP0686
_CJP0818
_CJP0822
_CJP0902
_CJP0974
_CJP0912
_CJP0848
_CJP0852
_CJP0856
_CJP0858
_CJP0918
_CJP0989
_CJP0940
_CJP1006
_CJP1021
_CJP1030
_28A0141
_28A0133
_28A0152
_CJP1042
_CJP1047
_CJP1049
_CJP1057
_CJP1071
_CJP1074
_CJP1080
_CJP1090
_CJP1100
_CJP1106
_CJP1112
_CJP1120
_CJP1122
_CJP1140
_CJP1143
_CJP1154
_CJP1162
_CJP1168
_CJP1175
_CJP1180
_CJP1182
_CJP1199
_CJP1194
_28A0192
_CJP1192
_CJP1193
_28A0198
_CJP1210
_CJP1212
_CJP1216
_CJP1222
_CJP1230
_CJP1235
_CJP1255
_CJP1274
_CJP1280
_CJP1289
_CJP1291
_CJP1310
_CJP1348
_CJP1371
_CJP1374
_CJP1378
_CJP1384
_CJP1389
_CJP1395
_CJP1399
_CJP1408
_CJP1449
_CJP1465
_CJP1487
_CJP1489
_CJP1521
_CJP1524
_CJP1529
_CJP1573
_CJP1594
_CJP1597
_CJP1605
_CJP1761
_CJP1869-2
_CJP1869
_CJP1878
_CJP1883
_CJP1950
_CJP1959
_CJP1991
_CJP2007
_CJP2110
_CJP2120
_CJP2136
_CJP2147
_CJP2199
_CJP2248
_CJP2254
_CJP2424
_CJP2275
_CJP2285
_CJP2298
_CJP2399
_CJP2434
_CJP2400
_CJP2403
_CJP2417
_CJP2432
_CJP2327
_CJP2345
_CJP2379
_CJP2476
_CJP2505
_CJP2526
_CJP2531
_CJP2779
_CJP2784
_CJP2802
_CJP2831
_CJP2910
_CJP2911
_CJP2912
_CJP2917
_CJP2930
_CJP2928
_CJP2947
_CJP2966
_CJP2985
_CJP2990
_CJP2998
_CJP3000

  • Barbara Owens McLean - Absolutely beautiful wedding.ReplyCancel

  • James Freeman - You did a fantastic job capturing such a special day!ReplyCancel

  • Stacy Bius Featherston - Gorgeous!! What great smiles Seth and Laura Beth!ReplyCancel

When Alice Ann first contacted me about their wedding in October, I was absolutely GIDDY with excitement to see this girl again.  She and I were friends in High School — I met her just as I was heading out the door but I have such amazing memories with her.  It’s an absolute JOY to connect with such an amazing girl again, and meet the man who has stolen her heart forever.  Adam and Alice Ann have SUCH a fun relationship.  I had such a blast hanging out with them in downtown Little Rock on Saturday night.  We started off at the Clinton Library which is about to become one of my favorite places to shoot.  Then, we hit up the downtown area and ended up at the Justice Building — which was perfectly fitting considering Adam is a lawyer.   Alice Ann and Adam, thank you so much for choosing me to be your wedding photographer. It’s an absolute honor to capture your love.  I can’t wait for October and making more memories with the two of you.  I hope you enjoy your sneak peek!

Little Rock Arkansas Wedding Photographer

expsorue

It’s time for the next installment of Photography 101 and today, we’re getting real crazy and turning that dial on your camera off the portrait mode and into manual.  EEEK! I know.  It made me nervous when I first tried it too.  But, I promise, after a little practice, you’ll be getting better images out of your camera that you’ll want to show off to all your friends.

There are three things you need to know when you take that leap into manual shooting.  1. It takes trial and error.  It’s okay if you don’t get it right the first time, but it’s worth practicing and it’s worth pursuing. 2. <Insert Yoda Voice> To learn manual shooting, patience you must have.  Lots and lots of it.  3. Time.  Take a little time each day to practice.  You’ll be getting it right in no time.

After lots of practice, I can look at my lighting conditions and have a pretty good guess as to where my camera needs to be. Sometimes, I’m so spot on, it’s scary. Other times, I’m so far off, I wonder if I’ve lost my touch.  That’s what’s beautiful about shooting in digital.  No one has to see that one.

:)
It’s helpful to check the back of your screen often when shooting in manual, as just even the slightest change in lighting can require you to adjust your numbers.

When you’re shooting in manual, three things come together to create a correct exposure.  Exposure, by official definition in photography is :  “the amount of light per unit area (the image plane illuminance times the exposure time) reaching a photographic film or electronic image sensor, as determined by shutter speed, lens aperture and scene luminance.” (Thank you Google)

Let’s review the terms we learned last week:

ISO: is the level at which your camera is sensitive to available light.  For example, if I’m shooting outside on a bright sunny day I’ll shoot at a different ISO than if I’m shooting at dusk.  Available light is always changing and this helps us get a consistent look.  ISO is measured in number values.  If I’m shooting outside on the brightest day, I’ll shoot at a lower ISO — usually 200.  If I’m shooting inside my home on a cloudy day by a window, I might bump it up to about 600.  If I’m in a dark church, 1000.  The lower the ISO, the brighter your situation.  The higher, the darker.  Keep in mind that as you bump your ISO upwards, you’ll have more noise — or grain in your image.  On DSLR’s, ISO levels show less grain at higher numbers than point and shoots.  I typically set my ISO first.  We’ll be going a lot more into detail on ISO in our next installment.

Aperture: Aperture is typically the second thing that I set.  Aperture is the actual hole in your lens that allows light in.  Your aperture setting measures the size of that hole and is measured in F-stops.  We can make it smaller or larger.  This also affects the amount of light that is let in and your depth of field.  (Depth of field refers to that gorgeous blurry background.)   We’ll be going a lot more into aperture later.

Shutter Speed: Your shutter speed.  Shutter speed either blurs motion or freezes quick action.  The shutter is the curtain that stays closed in your camera until your camera fires.  When it fires, the curtain is open, and shutter speed refers to the length of time in which that curtain stays open. Slower shutter speeds create a blur of motion, while faster shutter speeds create a crisp image of a fast moving object.

When shooting in manual, the first thing I determine is my aperture.  (It’s one thing that doesn’t change much when I’m shooting because I personally like to shoot wide open)  Aperture has a lot to do with the look of an image as well as exposure.  Wide open f-stops such as 1.2/1.4/1.8 create that really REALLY dreamy blurry background and gorgeous pinpoint sharp focus.  What’s important to remember here, is that your focus will be a small area (so it’s important to take time setting focusing your shot.)  The only time I don’t shoot wide open is when I’m taking formal photos of bridal party or family photos with lots of layers of people, because then, I need my focal area to span across a wide range of faces, so everyone is in focus.  I typically shoot family formals at about a 2.8 aperture.   2.8 aperture, because it is smaller also darkens your image.  Since the look of my image determines a bit more on this set variable, I set it first so that I’m not getting a solid exposure, then having to adjust it again.  Here’s  a lovely little graph I found online here at colesclassroom.com 

colesclassroom.com

colesclassroom.com

 

The next thing I focus on is my ISO.  Lower ISO numbers are for brighter surroundings and higher ISO numbers are for lower light conditions.  Just keep in mind, that higher ISO numbers mean more grain in your image.  Once you start testing your camera’s limits, you’ll find them.

:)

Outside, on a bright sunny day, I set my ISO to 100 (or as low as your camera will allow.)  If it’s sunset, I’ll use somewhere around 250-300.  If it’s a cloudy day, I might be between 300-500 and if I’m inside on a bright day with sunshine, I’ll usually start between 600-700.  For dark lighting condtitions, I’ll be anywhere from 800-1600 (but my camera has advanced low light settings — your camera will have smaller limits if you’re using a compact digital camera than if you’re using a DSLR.

Shutter Speed : Once I get my ISO set, I finally create a correct exposure by changing my shutter speed to faster and slower speeds.  While aperture and ISO generally stay in the same position for longer, I compensate what I need to for correct exposure with my shutter speed wheel.  DSLR’s make this very easy to change as it changes often.  Higher shutter speeds let in less light, and slower shutter speeds let in more light (as it’s open for longer).  To create a really crisp image, I push my shutter speed to the limit, while still having a correct exposure.  If you’re shooting in a low light situation, slower shutter speeds will allow more light — however, be careful, as slower shutter speeds also create a blur.  TIP: If you’re shooting with a really low shutter speed, take a deep breath, hold it as you press the shutter and then release, as it will keep your body more still. I also try to anchor my body against something like a wall or a column to keep my camera more still.

Here are a few examples :

For this picture of Haleigh, I was inside with bright window light. Here are my settings : ISO 230 F-Stop: 1.4 Shutter Speed: 1/160 Second

_CJP5905

For this image of Wil and Haleigh, the room was super dark, but there was a little available window light from behind them.  ISO: 1250 F-Stop: 1.8 and Shutter Speed was 1/160 second.

_CJP5684

Here’s Wil and Rusty at the zoo.  Here, we were inside the cafeteria, which was only naturally lit by surrounding windows.  Here are the settings for this shot: ISO 200 F-stop: 1.8, Shutter Speed 1/200 second.

_CJP1675

Here they are again, but this time out in the bright sun.  ISO 100, F-Stop 1.8 and Shutter Speed here is 1/2500 second.

_CJP1720

 

The key to shooting in manual is to practice.  Practice.  And then practice some more.  I used to take common household objects and set them around outside and inside in different lighting conditions and messing with my settings until I got it right.  Then, I’d move them, and try something even more challenging.  I’d turn lights on, turn lights off, etc.  I challenge you to do the same.  Take ten minutes each day, find an object you like or a garden gnome you hate and set him up all over the place.  Pretty soon, you’ll be getting better and better at setting up for a correct exposure, and your photos will start looking less and less flat.

This is the Second Installment of the Photography 101 Series.  Here’s the first.

Camera Basics 

 

Last week, we talked about locations and for the final installment of our Engagements mini series, we’re talking about the one thing everyone struggles with.  Outfits.  There’s so much to choose from and “does this flatter my figure?”  It can be a real drag on your engagement session if you don’t feel confident in what you’re both wearing.  Here are a few tips for choosing the perfect outfits for your engagement session.

What to Wear for Your Engagment Seession
1.  The most important thing is to choose outfits you’re COMFORTABLE in.  Outfits that make you feel beautiful, confident and that flatter your figure.  I always recommend one or two casual outfits and one dressy.  Or you can switch that up.

2. Try to compliment one another’s outfits rather than be matchy-matchy.  Don’t be afraid to mix patterns or colors so long as they’re complimentary to one another.  Find ways to tie your outfit to his in small accessories or colors.  If you’re both wanting to wear something complimentary, take a look at the color wheel.  This is an intense color wheel, but it shows a LOT of shades to match great outfits. Colors opposite one another on the color wheel are complimentary.

Thank you Google for this Image!

Thank you Google for this Image!

3. Think about your locations and the looks you want.  Do your locations match a certain feel you’re going for?  Take this example, for instance.  These two wanted to style their session just a tad.  He’s from the mountains, so they wanted to emulate that out-doorsy feel.  They made some home-made hot chocolate and styled their outfits around the feel they were going for.  They decided to mix patterns, where she went for a bold and large plaid and he went for a small, complimentary color.  Her neutral vest softened the plaid and helped blend the two outfits together.

_CJP8555
 
_CJP8615

4.  Accessories and Layers: you can NEVER go wrong with accessories and layers!  They add dimension to your outfits. Accessories such as statement necklaces, scarves, vests, ties  and hats can really pull your outfits together. Take a look at these examples.

_CJP7428

_CJP0399

_CJP4476

Just look how a statement necklace can really pull things in.

DSC_6834 copy2

 

5. You can NEVER go wrong with neutrals.  Ever.

_CJP7050

20140409-_DSC7412-2
6. Bold colors can look beautiful if done right!  These guys worked the color wheel like pros.  ALSO : TIP — if mixing patterns is too much for you, patterns paired with a solid is ALWAYS good.  SO so good.

 

_CJP4836

20140409-_DSC7741
7.  Things to avoid: colors that wash you out, both of you wearing white, and tennis-shoes.

8.  If you’ve got something you think might be special, DO IT. I’m always up for an adventure, like going with these two to the Air Force Base. Since Henry is in the Air Force, Kylee paired a neutral dress with his uniform colors.

 

_CJP3749

9. Dressing up:  Bold and beautiful colors can be paired with neutral colors for an elegant look. Add in a pair of gorgeous high heels and you’re all set!

_CJP0121
_CJP8479

10. Definitely wear: your lovely personality.  Letting your personality shine is one of the greatest things you can do for your engagement session.  The session should be fun, stress free, and exciting.  I do all the hard work, just sit back, relax and enjoy one another.

And for fun, here are some more examples of some great engagement outfits:

20140412-_CJP7855

_CJP6378
DSC_85292

_CJP4165
DSC_6663 copy
_CJP3698
DSC_4883 copy
DSC_8555 copy
DSC_6800

To continue reading, here’s the rest of our Engagement Session Mini Series:

Why Engagements Are So Important 

Choosing Locations for your Engagement Shoot 

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been stopped in Wal-mart or have been the recipient of a facebook message — folks all over wanting to know how they can simply take pictures better.  They’re not worried about becoming a professional, but would love to create more than just the flat phone snapshot of their children opening their Christmas presents on Christmas morning or better capture the details of the Easter Eggs they painted and then spilled all over the floor.  Just last week, I introduced the new series and over the next few weeks, we’ll be making weekly installments to try and help you take better photos with the tools you’ve got.  And today, we’re starting with the basics.  We’re going over terms you’ll be needing to understand as we get things in motion for you to be shooting much better photos of your family vacations.

First, we’re going to talk cameras.  Don’t let your pocket book freak out too much just yet.  You can find a nice camera no matter your budget.  Here’s just a look at the two different types.

Type one: Digital SLR Camera– SLR stands for “single lens reflex” — this camera is quite a bit larger than your average point and shoot.  It’s worried more about quality than convenience and typically comes in a kit with one or more interchangeable lenses. They typically have a pop up flash mechanism but the most important thing is that you can easily shoot in Manual Mode, which can GREATLY impact the quality of your images.  (Gives you that nice blurred background and allows you to shoot in a dark room without that ugly pop up flash washing out your children and giving them devil-red eyes.)  Entry level DSLR cameras start around 500$, often have built in wi-fi, (sending photos straight to your phone has never been so easy!) and typically include a nice zoom lens.  If you’re determined to find one of these beauties and $500 just isn’t in the cards for you, many people who are aspiring professionals take great care of their camera babies and upgrade quite often.  You can find a great deal on a used DSLR and lenses on Ebay.

download
 Thank you, Google for this image.

 

Type two: Compact Digital Camera — Compact digital cameras or commonly referred to as “point and shoot” cameras are built for convenience, affordability and the ability to throw that sucker in your purse or baby back and run.  The downside to these small wonders is that they’re built for taking photos fast and easily– which doesn’t always result in the highest quality.   Menu items for shooting high quality photos from a compact point and shoot can be a bit more difficult than shooting on a DLSR but totally doable.  Just make sure that the camera you purchase has a Manual shooting mode where you can control the aperture, shutter speed and ISO–just know that these settings will still be quite a bit more limited.  Compact point and shoot cameras start at around $200 and are usually tough enough to withstand being thrown around a bit.  If you’re truly interested in better photographs, however, I recommend that you get as advanced of a compact camera as you can so you’re not limited as to how far you can push it.

Recommendations: I get asked all the time about finding a great camera.  And my best recommendation is that you absolutely cannot go wrong with Nikon.  Their DSLR’s have been my shooting companions for years now and I absolutely adore their tack sharp focusing, extreme low light capabilities and their glorious glass (lenses).  Cannon is not the devil.  If you prefer Cannon over Nikon, that’s cool. We’ll still be friends.  I really do prefer a DSLR over a point and shoot any day.  Usually it’s not too bad to carry one around, as I do all the time. It just takes some adjusting (and a great strap!)

Now that we have Cameras out of the way, lets dig into what we’ll be covering next week.

Manual Shooting Mode : Many entry level cameras and point and shoot cameras have modes.  You’ll se the sillouhette of the girl in a big hat for “portrait mode” — which is the camera maker’s attempt at getting better quality images with a more blurry background and it still be in auto for ease of shooting for a beginner.  It’s still auto, and if you learn to shoot in manual mode, your manual mode images will blow this portrait mode out of the water.  Giving control over to your camera, it can only do so much.  Taking control into your own hands is when you truly get much better quality images.  You can take any camera and get 100 times better images just by learning to shoot in manual.  So if you’re not happy with the images you’re getting or you’re asking, “why don’t my images look like THAT?” This is most likely the reason why.  Don’t worry. We’re going to fix this.  Shooting in manual requires three settings — ISO, Shutter Speed and Aperture.  All three are important to achieve accurate exposure and a quality image.  Find out how you can change your settings for ISO , Shutter Speed, and Aperture by referencing your camera’s manual.

Here’s a very quick look at the terms we’ll be going over in extreme detail for next week.  A light introduction, per say.

ISO: is the level at which your camera is sensitive to available light.  For example, if I’m shooting outside on a bright sunny day I’ll shoot at a different ISO than if I’m shooting at dusk.  Available light is always changing and this helps us get a consistent look.  ISO is measured in number values.  If I’m shooting outside on the brightest day, I’ll shoot at a lower ISO — usually 200.  If I’m shooting inside my home on a cloudy day by a window, I might bump it up to about 600.  If I’m in a dark church, 1000.  The lower the ISO, the brighter your situation.  The higher, the darker.  Keep in mind that as you bump your ISO upwards, you’ll have more noise — or grain in your image.  On DSLR’s, ISO levels show less grain at higher numbers than point and shoots.  I typically set my ISO first.  We’ll be going a lot more into detail on ISO in our next installment.

Aperture: Aperture is typically the second thing that I set.  Aperture is the actual hole in your lens that allows light in.  Your aperture setting measures the size of that hole and is measured in F-stops.  We can make it smaller or larger.  This also affects the amount of light that is let in and your depth of field.  (Depth of field refers to that gorgeous blurry background.)   We’ll be going a lot more into aperture later.

Shutter Speed: Your shutter speed.  Shutter speed either blurs motion or freezes quick action.  The shutter is the curtain that stays closed in your camera until your camera fires.  When it fires, the curtain is open, and shutter speed refers to the length of time in which that curtain stays open. Slower shutter speeds create a blur of motion, while faster shutter speeds create a crisp image of a fast moving object.

The next installment we will be going over ISO, Aperture and Shutter speed and how, together they work to create correctly exposed images along with a stylistic look that you desire.  We’ll be taking an in depth look at all three and how to use each one along with examples.

And because every post deserves an image, here’s a quick look at an image with dimension.  As you can see, it’s bright.  My ISO is correctly set, given the time of day and the fact that I’m in bright sun.  I have a high aperture, giving me an extremely sharp focus on the trees to my right — giving everything else a dreamy type blur (even the sand close to me is blurred — pulling your eyes over to the trees which are in focus) and everything behind the trees.  My shutter speed made sure that my image wasn’t too dark or too light along with all of the other variables.  All three, worked together to make sure this image was exposed and dimensional instead of flat.

DSC_0287