05 November 2015

Downtown Phoenix at Dawn

This Mama told me about how her mom rarely brought out the camera while she was growing up.  So now she has very few photographs of herself at her daughters' ages.  But she finds herself in the same habit.  

She's rightfully very present with her family.  You can tell she's not distracted by the small stuff.  Family pictures was an adventure for her that took one afternoon of gathering clothes and one morning playing in downtown Phoenix.  Her husband works nearby so it was comfortable, easy, and fun.  

I think she's striking a wonderful balance of planning just enough (have someone else worry about the photography stuff) and staying focused on what matters most.  

Luckily the buildings got the memo and coordinated with her colors perfectly.  

21 October 2015

Photography Gifts

This is the time of year I start getting questions from spouses or parents, "My wife/husband/offspring is really interested in photography.  What equipment should I get them for Christmas?"  AWESOME question!  Let's answer it here.

Please remember these are all just my opinions, NOT scientific fact.  And hey, you get what you pay for with free advice.  :)

So first let's address Nikon vs. Canon.  This is like Samsung vs. iPhone.  Is one really better?  Probably not.  Does one have an easier learning curve?  Yup.  The Canons are just more user-friendly, more intuitive.  So , yes I recommend that those starting out choose Canon.

Moving on.  Camera bodies.  Nowadays, the technology in cameras is wicked awesome.  Your entry level cameras (Canon Rebels) are going to serve you a long, long time, even if your skills go up exponentially in the next three years.  (come to my classes, they will).  DSLR cameras are one of the few technologies that you can invest in and actually keep using for at least five years.  Try saying that about your cell phone.

Having said that, the last few Canon Rebels have wifi and I suggest that it is worth the upgrade.  That way you can be on that family camping trip, take an killer photo, and your teenager can immediately upload it to their phone via the wifi and post it on their social media platform of choice.  Pretty.  Dang.  Awesome.

There are other bells and whistles that separate the different Rebel 5, 5i, 6s.  But honestly, wifi is the only upgrade that's truly noticeable and usable in my opinion.  Go for the 5i if that's your budget, still a great camera.  If you can afford the wifi, make the jump.

So that would put you up to the Rebel t6i and t6s.  There's a $300+ jump between the 6i and 6s and it's not in the hardware.  It's in the usability.  There's an extra dial control and an extra setting screen on top like my fancy-shmancy camera.  Is that worth the extra $$?  I'll let you be the judge.  Personally I'd spend the extra dough on a fabulous lens.

Which brings us to the next choice.  Buy a kit, which means a camera body + a kit lens?  Like here?  Or buy a camera body + a better lens?  Well, you're asking a photographer here people, so I'm going to tell you get the better lens!  Their enjoyment will be exponentially increased, especially when they really learn how to use that camera and lens to their fullest potential.

Buying the kit lens is fine.  But when someone takes the time to really learn how to use their camera, their very first thought, is "I need a cool lens".  Because that's what the camera does, it magnifies the creative ability of the lens.

So my first favorite lens is the 50mm 1.8.  It's called the "Nifty Fifty" for a reason.  Using this very affordable lens was my entry into a love affair with photography.  The light bulb went on and I finally realized how everyone else was getting those awesome shots with the "blurry background".  (It's called bokeh, use it, they'll be so impressed.)  I used the Nifty Fifty for a solid year before I upgraded and I never went back to my kit lens.

Now if the primary source of your photography is actions shots on the sports field, then you need a telephoto lens with some oomph.  Then maybe, a kit lens MIGHT be worth it.  Message me and we'll talk details.

If your recipient already has their camera and lens of choice, make sure they have a great bag.  This is my current fave.  But really that's only for carrying around multiple lenses.  If they just have the one body and one lens, any cushiony bag that fits will do.  My good friend bought a cute purse and made cushy padding for the inside.  So cute!

And don't forget to make sure they have at least two memory cards.  8 gb is more than enough space to start, but the more important thing than size is the write speed.  Best Buy sells 15x write speed.  Slower than molasses.  My last card purchase was a 95x write speed.  Never miss a shot, baby!  Now you don't need that fast but seriously, don't go below 45x.  Sandisk is my brand of choice.

Lastly, you'll notice my links take you to an online retailer B&H Photo.  They're my favorite photography retailer.  They're huge and yet at heart, a Mom and Pop photography store in NYC.  They are run by an orthodox Jewish family and close their website on their Sabbath.  I just kind of like that.  Similar prices to Amazon so that's always on option as well.  I just really like stellar customer service and a face behind the name.  And no, no kickbacks for any of these links.  Just stuff I totally recommend from a retailer I love.

Questions?  Let me know!  And don't forget, a great tag along Christmas gift to any of this is a gift certificate for one of my Photo 101 and 202 classes.  The camera won't sit collecting dust in January if they actually know how to use it.  Good luck!

19 October 2015


"You need to recalibrate".  This is what my friend Rachel told me when I described how out of control life was feeling.  It's a term that has stuck with me.  to recalibrate.  to re-balance.  to find center again.

I've learned if I do Sunday right, I can wake up Monday recalibrated.  I've learned if I take a moment to focus on others and not on my to do list, I feel a little more balanced.

And even though family pictures can feel like stress and torture to prepare for, if done correctly, it can be a time to remember what all of this craziness is for.  It forces you to focus on just you and them and your relationship for a bit.  And when you get the photographs back, you can see it even more clearly.

How much the baby has grown.  All of them.  How she's starting to smile like you.  How he's growing into a young man.  How he looks at you when he thinks he's gonna sneak a kiss.

It's all in focus, for just a second.  It won't stay that way, that's life.  So we find a way to recalibrate and find center again.  And again.

Family Pictures in Payson, AZ

30 September 2015

Long time gone.

Those friends you knew before you grew up.  Those first couple friends when your couple-hood was just beginning.  Those friends who were the first to know when you were expecting your first baby.  Those friends who knew it was crazy to have a baby in college but were crazy right along with you.   Those friends who stood in the blessing circle with you and you stood in their's.  They watched and loved on your first baby while you took your hubby to the ultrasound to find out you were having .... another boy!

Those friends.  Those friends you only see but every two years or so, and only for a few hours.  But you pick right up where you left off and you leave with your heart full to the brim.

This last visit, we stepped right outside their front door and did a quick family pictures session. And then we made our respective eldest offspring babysit the whole clan and we took off for a quick milkshakes-and-fries date night.  And we looked at each other in awe, "Have we really made it this far?!"  We really have and it's really freaking awesome.

22 September 2015

Newborn Pictures at Home

The concept is so startling at first.  Do family pictures, or do baby pictures, or wait, both family and newborn pictures, IN MY HOUSE?!

And I get it, I really do.  As moms we think of our homes as our "office".  You know, our job that starts at dawn and doesn't let us go until well after bedtime.  Unless of course you're on the swing-swing shift, which means you're on duty every 2-3 hours, 24-7.  Ick, I think I need a Coke just writing that sentence.

You rarely think of your home as a place for pretty pictures.  It's the place where jam is on the counter, laundry is piled on the couch, and your list of to-do's is a mile long.  Why in the world would we do our family pictures there?

I'll tell you why, because it's actually way easier!  Like so much easier than picking that perfect location, getting everyone ready during the grumpiest hour of the day at the same time, driving 30 minutes and then rushing to beat the setting sun.

At home, whoever's ready first gets to go first.  Mom gets to finish doing her hair because each kid is having a blast showing their new friend their favorite toys.  Is the whole house clean?  Heck no!  Just that one beautiful room with gorgeous light.  Oftentimes it's the master bedroom.  It's the middle of the morning, when everyone's at their happiest point.  The kids actually smile their real smiles, and even Dad is just way more relaxed and chill because he knows he's only moments away from that actual fun thing he does on Saturdays.

And then you see the photos and you realize, you love seeing your favorite blanket in the photos, and that photo of your favorite person on the nightstand.  You really love how your boys are all cuddled around you on your bed and you realize, that's exactly what I want to remember.  Forever and ever.

17 September 2015

Photographer Playtime

The BFF and I heard about a photography conference last January.  Three days in a condo by the ocean, with other fun photogs?  Yes please!!  Well our time was....interesting.  But we did meet some really great peeps.

One of my favorites was The Kelly Popejoy.  Not only do I just love saying her name but it became very clear, very quickly that she is just an awesome person.  Very genuine, very kind, smart, creative and all of that in a very different way than I'm used to.  Michelle said it best, "Hanging out with her makes me use my brain differently and I love it!"

Seriously, just check out her blog and IG feed.  It'll tweak your brain.  Especially the Instagram (@popejoys).  The way she captures architecture is the bomb.

So recently she rolled into town for like a minute, and we squeezed in all the fun we could.  And that morning I had a super fun idea.  Paige is one of my fabulous assistants, she's just amazing, like she seriously glows.  And I figured there was a good chance her buddies were the same way.

And they are!!  With one text, she rounded up 5 of the sweetest, prettiest girls I've ever met.  And Michelle and Popejoy and I just PLAYED.  It was fabulous.  Such a fun thing to do before the busy season hits.

Thank you Kelly, for getting my creativity flowing.  And thank you Paige, for being you.

16 September 2015

Superhero Sweetness.

I think of teachers as superheros.  Seriously, they do so much with so little, and for so little in return.  My kids lives pretty much revolve around those men and women who spend so much time with them.  And when I think about teachers who also have little ones at home, that they are trying to love and support and encourage....well, my head starts to hurt.  It's just too much!

So when I got the chance to photograph these two superhero-teachers, and their sweet girls, I jumped on it!  Their girls' cute grins and sparkly eyes were just wonderful.  But when Daddy held that adorable baby girl and her whole face just lit up, that's when I just fell in love with family sweetness all over again.

Thank you S family, for allowing me to step in and document these moments.  It was an absolute treat!

28 August 2015

Fall Schedule 2015

The time has come.  We can start to hope and dream that maybe sometime in the near future, we can open our front doors without sweating.

And with that hope, comes plans for the Fall.  And some people, some really organized and put together people, like to make those plans.  Right now.

For you amazing people, I present my Fall Schedule.  Take advantage.  or don't.  I still love you.

06 August 2015

We know.

As Moms, we know.  We know how to laugh about the insanity of our lives.  We know how to not take it personally that our teenagers don't have much time for us.  We know how important it is, to see our son in law make our daughter belly-laugh.

And we really, really know how important it is to get those family pictures done.  Even if it means bribery or threats, to get everyone's schedule cleared off on a Saturday night.  We know these kids aren't getting any younger (and neither are we!) and we know that right now, these family photos are cute.

In five years, they will be precious.

In twenty years, when our grandkids are staring at them and wondering how their mom was ever so young, they will be downright treasures.

Moms know.

08 June 2015

And away they go!

I have always learned well from others.  As a kid, I'd quickly figure out who the smartest student in the class was, and then just tried to do what they did.  I have my elementary school honor roll status because of a certain Lydia Choy.

As an adult and a parent, I have found those people that are a few steps ahead of me, kids a few years older, Mom has been around the block more than I have, and I tried to learn, to emulate.  I'm not one to reinvent the wheel.

Soon after moving into this neighborhood, I found this Mama.  Her biggers were rock solid.  Not just good kids, but really good kids.  They were passionate about their hobbies, their friends, their spirituality.

So I tried to watch, to figure out what tricks this Mama had up her sleeve that I could try them out in my own home.

But I think this photo shoot reveals her secret far and wide.  She just loves them.  She glories in who they are, she supports their passions, she believes in them long and hard, and then she opens the door so they can try it out on their own.

Her two biggers are flying the coop this month, traveling far far away.  The weekend we made these photographs, was the last weekend they would all be together  for 2+ years.

And you can tell, Mama has the utmost confidence that they are going to be just fine.  And they will.

And now that I know her secret, mine will too.