My Memory Card Failed During this Family Portrait Session

About 20 minutes into this outdoor family portrait session, my camera suddenly refused to take a photo. I looked down at my camera screen, and saw a warning that said I had a memory card error, and to remove the defective card. The card was somehow damaged, and could not be accessed at all. All of the photos I had taken of these beautiful girls so far, were not on the card.

That might have been a moment of panic. For an hour long session, 20 minutes of shooting is a significant number of photos. And the girls had done such an amazing job. We had sang and danced and giggled in the gorgeous light of the most beautiful yellow tree at Thompson Station Park.

But instead of panicking and mourning the loss of those pictures, I simply popped out that memory card and replaced it with another one. You see, I wasn’t worried about losing images, because my camera holds two memory cards. When I take photos, the images are copied to both cards, so that even during a session, I always have a backup. One card was damaged, but the other one was just fine, and had all the photos from the first part of the session. So I just continued shooting without issue, with a new card from my bag as a second backup.

In fact, I always have two copies of your portrait session images. Once I get home from a session, I immediately copy one of the memory cards onto my computer. The other memory card from the session is then stored in a case, not be erased until I have uploaded the session to my online gallery, at which point I’ll have a copy online and a copy on my hard drive.

And I am so glad there are, because I wouldn’t have wanted to miss one photo of these amazing girls. This is the third year now that I’ve been blessed to photograph this wonderful family. Last year, I wrote about how much I love to see repeat clients each year, and that’s still true today. Seeing how these young ladies grow and change each year is one of the best parts of my job. ❤️

Let’s talk about aspect ratio and cropping photos

Middle TN Family Photographer

You all know that I pretty often get excited about beautiful light or a gorgeous sunset, but I have to say that this is the first time that a rainbow has shown up for a photo session, and it couldn’t have happened to a more beautiful family. My friend Christy and I had planned a combination family session with Hannah’s First Communion Photos, which I blogged yesterday. We had just finished up inside the church and let Hannah change out of her Communion dress when it started to sprinkle. I was a bit concerned at first, afraid it would start to rain hard and ruin our family portraits.  But it only rained for a few minutes and then suddenly the girls noticed a rainbow nearby.  How lucky can we get?  It was only there for about 45 seconds, but that was enough time to get a few pictures.  🌈

I thought I would take Christy’s session preview as a chance to talk about a slight change I think I’m making in my photography, and why I’m making it.  

Christy has been one of my closest friends for like eight or nine years now, and I’m in her house fairly often. Her home (which is gorgeous, btw) is filled with many photos I’ve taken. One thing I really love about her is that she appreciates photos and she does a fantastic job of getting them printed.  However, my one complaint (and I can say this cause she already knows it and loves me anyway) is that in several of the photos she’s printed there are feet cut off in the print.  And it’s not just her.  Most of my friends have sad, chopped off limbs in their printed photos that I’ve taken.  *cue sad music here*

Many of you are probably thinking ‘so what?’.  Well, as a photographer, one of the cardinal sins is to chop off limbs in a weird way. Photographers put a lot of thought into composing photos in a pleasing way, and none of those ways includes people floating on stumps without feet.   

But I don’t blame Christy or my other friends for the floating people. I blame whoever decided that standard print sizes would be a different aspect ratio than most camera’s shoot in. 

You see, my camera (and most others) takes photos in a 2 x 3-inch ratio (same as a 4 x 6 ratio).  That means if you take the image as it was shot, and print it as a 4×6 inch print, you get the entire picture as it was taken in the camera. But 4×6 prints are where it ends as far as getting exactly what you see in a print. 

It seems that the most common size photo that people print and frame is an 8×10 (4×5 ratio).  That is significantly more square than a 4 x 6.  So if you can imagine trying to make a very rectangular image into more of a square, you definitely end up chopping off a decent portion of the image on each end. And that’s how the prints end up missing feet…because it did not crop well as an 8×10.

So I’ve been thinking, perhaps it’s just easier on clients (and on myself since I’m admittedly a bit of a control freak) if I just go ahead and make them 8x10s myself before delivering the gallery to you.  That way, you don’t have to worry about having to crop the images for the sizes you print most often. This means that if you print an 8×10, a 16 x 20 or a 20 x 24, there will be no cropping required.  5×7’s and 11×14’s will still need to be cropped a bit, but much less so and I believe you are less likely to destroy feet in the process.  

If you wanted 4×6 prints, that will require more cropping, which it did not originally. But you know what?   You can get 4 x 5 prints that I think are really cute and won’t require cropping from this new aspect ratio.  

So what do you think? Will this be helpful to you or do you prefer the original aspect ratio of 4×6 in your galleries? I’d love to hear your feedback.

Repeat Portrait clients are my favorite

One of my favorite things about my job as a family portrait photographer is getting to know families, especially when they come back for repeat sessions.  I photographed this beautiful family around this time last year and just loved getting to know these three beautiful sisters, so I was so excited to see them again this year. 

Last year I wrote: “They are totally my happy place. So much energy, and wonder and joy.  They were just perfect.”  I would say exactly the same thing about our session this year.  Only one thing was different…

Last year for their session, I wrote about how important it is to tell me if one of your children is particularly shy before the session. That lets me know that I need to maybe approach that child a little differently and give her time to warm up to me.  

But you know what’s great about being able to see client again and again?  This time, the children remembered me, and they knew that the session wouldn’t be scary or boring.  They came into it knowing we’d play and have fun.  This makes it especially easier for kids who may be a little shy.  Knowing me coming it to it, they feel more at ease and have an easier time getting into the session.

And I got the chance to see how much they’d grown over the year, and hear about their new interests and what brings them joy.  (New Harry Potter fans are the BEST.)  

10 moments I want to capture for you

I feel like I was super lucky at yesterday’s marathon sessions.  I had three sessions scheduled with a 15 minute break between each session.  Between my first and second session, it rained fairly hard.  But then stopped in time for my second session. It caused some humidity and so vengeful mosquitoes, but we made it through. 
I warned this family ahead of time that I was going to struggle with their names.  These girls are Kaylie and Morgan.  My own girls are Megan and Kayla. The similarities helped me to remember their names, but I did, as I knew I would keep mixing them up because Megan is my oldest, but for these two sisters, Morgan is the younger sister. 

I finally managed to retrain my brain by the end of the session, and I hope they forgave me.  What a fun family to work with! I so enjoyed getting to know these girls and their parents. They were so fun to work with and naturals in front of the camera. We had a fantastic time. 
Before a session, I have a survey that asks clients what their most important shots are.  That helps me to balance the priorities of the session, but I always have in my head a list of shots I want to be able to include in a clients gallery. These girls made it easy to capture those shots.

  1. A family shot with everyone looking at the camera. (Not my favorite, but I feel like I need to include it.)
  2. A candid family shot, that shows emotion. (My favorite)
  3. Individual close-ups of each of your children.
  4. Full body & candids of each of your children.
  5. A more posed sibling shot, if possible. (May be difficult if they are super young.)
  6. Mom & Dad together. (It’s important to capture where the family began.)
  7. Details (feet, hair, lovey, hands, etc)
  8. Mom with the kids
  9. Dad with the kids
  10. Fun, create shots of everyone having fun.

Did I miss anything? What would be on your shot list?

Mom was there too

Lisa said something in her questionnaire when she booked me that really struck a cord with me. 

“I have almost no pictures of myself with my children that aren’t selfies since I am always the one behind the camera. That’s usually how it works though, right?” 

Yes, that is how it usually works, and it sucks. I’m so glad that we were able to get Lisa on the other side of the camera with her beautiful family. It’s hard, and as moms we have SOOOO many reasons why we don’t have enough photos of ourselves, but it is so important to our children that we get in the pictures too. In the years to come, the photos we give to our children are such a gift, but they don’t just want to see photos of themselves…they want to see mom (and dad!) in the pictures too.  

I just love taking photos of mothers with their babies, and this session was no exception. This group was such a joy to capture and made my job so easy. 

And can we just talk about the clothing choices for a minute?  I love the color tones so much. The burgundy and the blues against the backdrop of the green trees was just perfection.

So moms, what’s keeping you from getting in front of the camera?

Of all the families I photograph, mine is the hardest

Photographing your own Family

I wish that I could say that this was a lovely, easy experience, but that would be a lie.

Last weekend, I was quite surprised when my husband suggested that we do a family photo session of our own. It seems like every year I forget to Schedule time for our photos and end up scrambling to get them done. But he is usually the last one who wants his picture talken, so I was pleasantly surprised when he reminded me. So I set off to find outfits for everyone that two tweenage girls wouldn’t whine about.

I was lucky and found things that everyone was happy with, except my husband who complained that it was still too hot for long sleeves. Oh well … you can’t please everyone.

So I was all set, and then it rained.

And rained.

And rained some more.

And finally, yesterday, the sun came out. So we all got dressed and drove out to the new park that I had never been to but wanted the check out. And as soon as we got there, my oldest started complaining that her head hurt. Because I knew that meant she’d never cooperate, we went home. Of course as soon as we got home, she felt better.

But that is how it goes. So no problem, because guess what??? There are TWO magic hours inthe day! So we got up bright and early this morning and headed out.

The bad part was that it was super wet from the dew and the kids didnt want to walk too far in it to explore the farm. And I got soaked from kneeling in it. And we got there later than I I wanted and the sun was brighter than I would have liked causing horid grass colors.

But the dew in the grass and all the spider webs were absolutely stunning. And it wasn’t hot at all. We also finished in time to go to a pancake breakfast for a friend’s gymnastics team, so score!

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:

Specialization:

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. 

Style:

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.)

Consistency:

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. 

Price:

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. 

What a difference a year makes

You might remember this gorgeous family from one of my most popular blog posts last year. Jenn had the adorable idea to announce her pregnancy to their daughters, Ella & Sol at our photo session.  It was such a fun and special moment to be able to capture as these girls found out that they were going to have a little brother or sister.  

So here they are one year later, and their secret gift from our last session has grown into the most beautiful baby boy imaginable.  It is so obvious how much the family is head over heels for baby Santi.  And who wouldn’t be…isn’t he just perfect?  

So lets talk for a minute about nursing at a photo session, in case you are curious about how that works.  If your baby needs to stop and take a break at a session to nurse, that is absolutely 100% fine, and what happens during that break is totally up to you.  If you prefer privacy, I can spend the time photographing your other children, or just relaxing. But if you’d like me to capture that special time with you and your little one, I would love to do that too. And it is your choice as to whether you would like those shared or if you’d like them to remain private, but I am so happy Jenn decided to share these gorgeous images of her with Santi, because that bond between mother and baby is just beautiful.  

It sure looks like they had fun!

“You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching,
Love like you’ll never be hurt,
Sing like there’s nobody listening,
And live like it’s heaven on earth.”
― William W. Purkey

As I was editing some of these photos this morning on the couch while enjoying my morning coffee, my nine-year-old was snuggled up next to me watching TV.  She was looking at the photos as I scrolled through them picking my favorite ones. As she looked, she commented, “It sure looks like they had fun!”  I took it as the ultimate compliment because above all, I want kids to have fun at my family portrait sessions, and I want the photos to show that they had fun. 

For me, giving clients an enjoyable experience is as important as the photos themselves.  My reason for that is, if you get beautiful photos, but the experience in getting those photos was miserable, then what kind of memories are you going to have associated with those pictures?  And isn’t that what family photography should be about….capturing beautiful memories?  

Maddie & Reagan can certainly teach us all about having fun.  They were so full of joy at this session. It’s so fun to watch because it wasn’t too many years ago that Reagan was an extremely shy little girl who would barely look at me.  Now she’s dancing like nobody’s watching.  And how completely beautiful is that?  I mean, can you even look at these photos without smiling?  When I grow up, I want to be just like these little girls.