Factory at Franklin Family Portrait Session & My New Messenger Bot

First of all, I want to say that I adore this family portrait session from this past weekend at the Factory at Franklin. Heather chose to have the session at the Factory because it was supposed to rain, and the Factory provides a good choice for indoor sessions. But my favorite spots at the Factory are actually outside, so I was so glad when the weather turned out to be actually pretty decent.

The combination of agreeable weather, the great color choices for their outfits, and just a wonderful family to get to know made this one of my favorite sessions. Arica and Alec were such sweet and fun kids to photograph. Also, their big sister Maria and her fiance’ were in town for the photo session. I couldn’t help getting a few sweet shots of them alone, so it was almost like getting a combined family session in one.

Besides editing this beautiful portrait session, this week I’ve been working on making it easier for clients to get information they need about sessions right away.

I was an Engineer in my past life and bring some of that analytical thinking to my business.  I love efficiency and you’ll see that through my online scheduling calendar, and my automated emails that help you throughout the process from helping you choose what to wear to reminding you what to bring to a session.

This week, I’ve added to that efficiency by adding a Facebook Messenger Bot to my Facebook page. If you message me, you’ll have the option to get a lot of information from the bot immediately, without having to wait for my reply. So if I am out shooting a session and can’t respond right away, you can still get information on pricing, frequently asked questions and information on how to book a session, with just a click of a button within Facebook messenger.

I’m pondering about adding a way for clients to get communications through Facebook messenger, such as session reminders, what to wear advice, gallery links, etc, rather than just through email. I’d love to have some opinions on that from anyone who has one!

I love creating systems that make it easier on my clients, but the personal touch is also very important to me. I’m always a text, message, email or call away if you need me directly. 

Extended Family Portrait Session at the Factory At Franklin

This is a family that I photograph pretty regularly, and I feel like they keep getting bad luck when it comes to session weather. I’ve shot a session for them in the rain. They had a session last year that was super hot, and then another where it was bitterly cold. They’ve been troopers through every single session and handled it beautifully each time. But it stinks because I generally feel like the weather cooperates for almost all my sessions – even late winter ones, but this one family keeps taking all the hits.

So of course, yesterday, when I arrived at the Park at Harlinsdale Farms where we were supposed to shoot, it felt WAYYY colder than the 54 degrees my phone said that it was. Then five minutes later my phone read 48 degrees. That’s still generally reasonable for a winter photo session, but the wind was so bitingly cold. I was worried that it would be way too uncomfortable to have fun and enjoy the session.

So when Kate showed up and asked if we could try to move the session to the Factory at Franklin, I completely agreed. I wasn’t sure we’d be able to, as the Factory charges a permit fee and I’d always booked it in advance. But the man at the front desk was nice enough to let us get the permit immediately so we were able to move the portrait session indoors, which was so much better than dealing with the bitter wind.

We were also able to slip outside for brief periods before coming back inside to get warm, and there is this nice corridor that was mostly protected from the wind. So all in all, it worked out well. But I still hope that next time they get a nice pleasant, mild day….it’s their turn.

Childhood Cancer Awareness Month: Hattie’s Gold Hope Project

September is childhood cancer awareness month.  As many of you know, I am a volunteer photographer with an organization called The Gold Hope Project.

The mission of The Gold Hope Project is to gift families battling pediatric cancer with a free portrait session. Photos from the sessions are then used to raise awareness & funds for pediatric oncology research and treatment.

Through my work with the Gold Hope Project, I have had the honor of meeting some truly amazing little fighters, and their families. The short amount of time that I have spent with them has changed me for the better. I want to share a little about them with you.

If your child is currently fighting childhood cancer, or is a survivor under the age of 18, click here to apply for a free Gold Hope Session.

How I got involved with The Gold Hope Project

I’ve had the honor of working with a few childhood cancer fighters on my own before I signed up as a Gold Hope volunteer.  My little friends Arya, Katelyn and Finn have been such an inspiration to me that I knew I wanted to be able to photograph more heroes like them.  I love that the Gold Hope Project  offers this gift to families who are going through so much, all while raising awareness and money to fight this awful disease.

My buddy Finn was an amazing little 3 year old who completely touched my heart and recently got his wings after a long fight with Rhabdomyosarcoma. The faith and strength with which his family fought this battle has been an inspiration to me, and to our entire community.  While I am heartbroken, I feel blessed to have known this super hero for even a brief time. If I can give just a little something to other kids like Finn and their families, then I want to do that.

Hattie’s Story:

I met Hattie last December, just a couple days after Christmas. She had received a bone marrow transplant just a few months earlier. Her family actually lives in Knoxville, but had temporarily relocated to Nashville for her transplant and recovery. Lots of families fighting childhood cancer have to deal with the additional burden of living away from home. This creates extra cost, and also the strain of being away from family and friends to help them get through this tough time.

Hattie was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia at the age of 9 months. She had known hospital life for half of her life so far at the time of our session.  Hattie loves superheroes and her favorite Disney princess is Belle. She also loves elephants, just like me. She watches the movies Moana, Secret Life of Pets, and Coco over and over.

Our Time Together:

I met Hattie on a rainy day in December and she stole my heart. We had hoped for nice enough weather for an outdoor session, but did not get so lucky. Very soon after our session, Hattie was able to move back home to Knoxville because she had completed her treatment in Nashville. This was great news, but also meant that we weren’t’ able to wait for more pleasant weather.

The Factory of Franklin was kind enough to waive their normal photography permit fee, so we chose to do the session inside of the Factory. Hattie was not feeling well at all just before our session, and had been sick as a side effect of her treatment. But this little trooper pulled through and did an amazing job for her photos. She was just the sweetest little thing. Her mom had said to me before that Hattie makes a lot of funny faces, and she was not wrong!! We captured some of the most adorable expressions on her.

Hattie had the cutest doll with her at the session that was handmade by volunteers at a non-profit called Feel Better Friends. The doll was made to look just like Hattie, and they even had matching hats. There is a link on their website to donate if you’d like to help more kids receive these cool dolls.

I have followed Hattie’s story since we met, and am happy to report that she’s at home with her family in Knoxville dand doing great. Please pray for her continued remission.

Where to Read More About Hattie:

Hattie’s Gold Hope Session Blog

Hattie’s Website

Earlier this week, I blogged about my first official Gold Hope Session with sweet Kelly. Read about her session here.

I still have a few Fall Portrait sessions left. What are you waiting for? Book yours today.

How to Choose a Photographer

I just love photographing this family so much.  They are friends, but also one of my oldest clients. I am always excited to photograph them.  When I think about my perfect clients, this is one of the families on my list.  

When I first started photographing people professionally, I thought that I was supposed to accept every client who inquired about a session.  I’ve come to learn over the past few years that not everyone who comes to me about a session is a good fit, and that is perfectly OK.  Part of my job is to help people to decide whether or not I’m the right choice for them.  I’ve realized that people don’t always know how to go about finding the right photographer for them.

Often, people find a photographer in one of two ways:  Google, or a friend’s referral.  Both of these are great resources, but they should really only be step one. You should also look through the website of the photographer you are considering and evaluate whether or not they are a really a good fit for you based upon a few things:


You generally want a photographer who specializes in the type of photography you are looking for.  Now, there is definitely some crossover here.  I consider myself a children & family photographer, but for me that also includes seniors, and newborns.  Toddlers are my passion, but I enjoy all types of families. 

But you would be surprised at the number of inquiries I get about wedding photography (also applies: head shots).  I always wonder where these come from…. my website is full of pictures of young children and families.  Could I do a better job than your Uncle Bob who just bought his first fancy camera?  I should hope so.  But do you know who would do the best job? A wedding photographer.  Think of it this way….would you go to an OBGYN for a problem with your broken foot?  I mean, she went to medical school and probably knows some, but it’s not really her thing. 


This is probably the most important thing, in my opinion.  

There are a couple different things I mean when I talk about style, and there are many, many things that go into making up a photographer’s style, from shooting to editing.  

Do you prefer perfectly posed photos or more candid, natural images?  Studio or outdoors? Natural light or studio lighting / flash?  Do you expect your photographer to give you lots of specific posing direction? How do you want the images to make you feel?  

Editing is another aspect of style… do you like light and airy photos, or dark and moody? What color tones draw you?  Each individual photographer has a very specific style.  You don’t really need to understand this, you just need to know it exists and decide whether you like the look of that photographer. (And don’t ask them to do something else….It’s like asking Monet to paint like Picasso.)


This is kind of related to style, but basically, just make sure that you are seeing enough consistency in what you see on a photographer’s website so that you know what to expect from your photos.  Every session is unique and different, but you also just want to see enough consistency in style to know what to expect. 


Yes, I put this last on purpose.  I understand that budget is important, and is definitely a consideration.  However, I just want to say that good photography takes a lot of time (a lot more than just what you see when you are in front of the camera), and education and money (equipment, taxes, insurance, website fees, etc).  So when you hire someone out there charging $50 for a session, just know that that person is working for WAAYYYY less than minimum wage. But of course, there is a wide range of pricing for photography in general, so just start with understanding what that includes, and what you are getting for your money.  

So that may all seem like a lot of work to choose a photographer, but it really comes down to one thing: does the photographer’s work embody what you want from your photos, or are you expecting something completely different?  If you are wanting something completely different, then you need to find a different artist. 

Extended Family Portrait Session at the Factory at Franklin

Pam contacted me for a portrait session after I had photographed her grand-daughter Lily at Spring Meadows Academy.  She wanted to have photos made with all of her children and grandchildren for Christmas.  We had originally chosen an outdoor location, but then decided to move it to the Factory at Franklin because of the cold.  The Factory is great because it has some outdoor locations, but then if you get cold, you can go inside for some shots to warm up. 

Can I just say that I am falling in love with the color Mustard?  I’ve always loved blues in my photographs, but I’ve had several clients lately who have used mustard in their wardrobe choices, and I just really love the pop of color it brings.  

I’m going to be real here for a minute…groups this large are hard.  Especially with so many young children.  My passion has always been for candid images, but with a group this large, the sheer amount of combinations you want to try to get leaves little room for just letting the children play and capturing what happens, but I do try to fit those in anyway.  Some of my favorites from this session were at the very end of our shoot when the kids were playing on the chairs in the factory. 

But these adorable kids did an awesome job and were so patient.  I think my absolute favorite is the photo of all of them taking a sucker break on a long bench.  All my little clients know that I travel with Yummy Earth Organic Sucker in my bag, and I’ve never minded including suckers in the photos sometimes, but I kind of adore the suckers in that photo.  All the kids are doing their own thing and enjoying their break…not posing at all, just staring at the ceiling or whatever.  And then there is 12 year old Dahne just looking at me like “how did I get stuck with all these little kids?”  LOL  I guess if you know my style, it’s probably not surprising that I love that photo. What about you? What kind of photos are your favorites?