Gabe’s Senior Portrait Session & My Favorite Lens

There are sooooo many things that go into creating photos at a portrait session.  Equipment is just a very small part of that. I always hesitate a little to share too much about what equipment I use, but beginning photographers can put too much stock into that, thinking if they go out and buy the right thing, that their photos will look like they want, which is not at all the case. 

With that being said, what equipment a photographer uses, and in particular what kind of lenses, does really contribute to her overall style. So I thought I’d take a moment to tell you about my favorite lens.  

My favorite lens in my bag is a Nikon AF S NIKKOR 85mm f/1.8G Fixed Lens with Auto-focus for Nikon DSLR Cameras.  I love the look of this lens.  It’s a prime lens, which is generally all I shoot with.

Zoom Lenses vs. Prime Lenses

There are two main types of lenses: zoom lenses and prime lenses.
If you have a entry level DSLR, then the lens that came with it (which we often refer to as the “kit lens”) is probably a zoom lens. 

Zoom lenses provide ease in mobility…you can zoom in and out from where you stand. Prime lenses do not zoom to move in and out – you have to move your feet.  However, the benefit in using this type of lens is that a detailed and sharper image is produced. The focus is quicker with this type of lens and will allow more light in your camera.

Why I love my 85 mm 1.8

I absolutely love the creamy backgrounds I can get with this lens.  It’s super sharp, fast, and the 85 mm focal length is perfect for flattering portraits.  

Why it doesn’t stay on my lens all the time

If you’ve had a portrait session with me, you’ll notice that I switch lenses A LOT.  That’s because I do generally only photograph with prime lenses.  If I’m shooting with my 85 mm, and your toddler comes to close to me, then I’ll be photographing their nose hairs and not much else.  I can’t zoom out with my lens, since it’s not a zoom lens.  So I either have to back up, or switch lenses.  Also, I want to give you a variety of images for your gallery so I don’t always use the same lens.  For example, if I want a wide photograph that takes in the entire scene, I’ll switch to my 20 mm lens that will include a lot more of the background in the photo than my 85 mm would.  Here is are two photos taken from relatively the same spot.

The first is with my 85 mm and the second is with my 20 mm.  You can clearly see the difference.  Notice how with the 20 mm, you can see a wide view of the town in the background that you can’t see with the 85mm. I also stepped a lot closer to Gabe to get the second shot with the 20 mm lens.

85 mm Lens
20 mm Lens

A suggestion for new photographers:

My 85 mm is by far not the most expensive lens out there, but it isn’t the cheapest either, and not what I recommend (yet) for those trying to learn photographer.  But I DO usually recommend that new photographers consider a prime lens.  But instead of an 85 mm, i recommend the much less expensive, 50 mm (sometimes called a “nifty 50” or a 35 mm.  Either of these will be a good overall lens that will perform way better in lower light than your kit lens.  Are you into photography?   What’s your favorite lens?  If you are interested in learning more about photography, ask me about my photography workshop for moms. 

Gabe’s Senior Portrait Session

One thing I love about shooting Senior Portrait sessions, is that I am able to use my favorite 85 mm lens a lot more than I can at a family session with little kids, because I have more control over my subjects, who generally stand where I tell them to (unlike an energetic two year old.) I also love that Senior Sessions allow me to play with creative backgrounds and framing more than I typically can with younger kids.

I have to brag a little on the guys I’ve photographed lately for Senior photos. They’ve done an amazing job, Gabe included. It’s no secret that the guys are normally having these photos done just because mama wants them, but that hasn’t stopped the guys I’ve photographed lately from doing a fabulous job. Their mama’s should be very happy & proud of their young men.

Senior Portraits At Henry Horton State Park

Drew is the nephew of one of my oldest and dearest friends from college, Mandy. I remember him as an energetic two-year-old at her wedding. I have only seen him a few times over the years, but I have gotten to hear fantastic stories from his doting aunt.

Drew is the third of four siblings, and Mandy has gifted each of them a Senior Portrait Session with me during their senior year. His oldest sister, Jesse, was actually the very first senior session that I photographed. Then, two years later, I had the joy of photographing his sister Caroline. Now, two years after that, it was Drew’s turn in front of the camera, and he did a fabulous job.

Portrait sessions make a great gift for lots of different occasions. You can even purchase a gift certificate to give to recipients and then they can book their own date at their convenience. Let me know if you have any questions.

If you are wanting Fall Portraits sessions for your family or senior, please book today. There are no October spots left but there are a couple of November spots still available. Book yours today.

Downtown Franklin Senior Portrait Session

I’m so glad we rescheduled this senior portrait session from last weekend when it was cold and rainy.  This weekend was absolutely perfect for a December photo session.  Like they say about Tennessee weather…if you don’t like it, just wait 5 minutes.  In this case we waited a week, but still….SOOOOO much better. 

I worked with Eaman’s parents in my former life as an Engineer with General Motors, so while I haven’t really ever met him, I’ve sort of watched him grow up through facebook pictures and stories from his dad. So it was really fun getting to know him in real life. Before the session, his mom Regina had written to me that he was a “younger, quieter version of Pete.”  Well she forgot taller, but other than that, was dead on. 😂  It’s a little crazy how much this kid looks like his dad. I knew that already from photos, but the expressions he gave me really made me feel like I was back in a conference room crunching numbers with Pete.

These senior sessions always make me feel a little sappy, but it’s especially so when I know their parents. I can’t help but think how quickly they’ve grown up and how my girls will be there before I know it. But I’m also excited to see what the future holds for them.   ❤️

Downtown columbia tn senior guy portrait session

I can’t believe that once upon a time, I thought I would hate senior sessions. When I first started in photography, families and young children were definitely my comfort zone. But with some encouragement from friends, I gave senior sessions a try and was pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed them.  It’s so fun to get to know these young people, and also to try to capture their personalities and passions in photographs.  I just love that Dylan brought his guitar to this session, and my favorite photos from it are ones where he is playing. 

I also love the ability to get creative with backgrounds and lighting. I can do that to some extent with younger kids, but they just don’t stand in one place for long.  I love the look and variety of downtown sessions, but don’t recommend them for my young clients because it’s not a safe space for them to roam and explore freely. But with seniors, it’s just perfect. Downtown Franklin is great, but I also have grown to love shooting in downtown Columbia.  It was just the perfect weather and perfect location to commemorate Dylan’s senior year. 

Hannah’s Senior Portrait Session in Franklin, TN

“And suddenly you know… It’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings.”

I’m a pretty strong extrovert.  This may or may not be obvious, depending on the circumstances of how you meet me, but I definitely prefer being around people and am not huge on quiet time. But for some reason, the exception to that is that I do enjoy the time before my sessions. I always show up to a location for a shoot pretty early. I’ve sometimes said that I do that to scope out the place, but that’s not completely accurate because I still show up early when it’s a location that I know like the back of my hand.  

Even if I’m very familiar, I still like to walk around and look at the light..light is always changing.  And since I consider light to be the most important element to my “backgrounds” it’s important to take a look. I’m a light chaser, always looking for interesting things the sun is doing. So a lot of the time on my walks around a location, I’m looking at the light. 

But also, I’m thinking about my session…who am I about to photograph? What part of him or her or them do I want to capture? What is important about this time period that the client wants to remember? For my family sessions, my goal is to capture interactions and emotion between family members. With senior sessions, that’s different because there is typically only one person. So the interaction is between me and my camera, and the subject. Hannah made that so easy because she was such a joy to talk to and get to know. She’s graduating next week from Independence High School, and even though this is the first time we met, I feel so proud of her and happy for her to begin this next stage in her life. Her parents can be very proud to have raised such a lovely young woman.  

So I guess that I enjoy this quiet time before the session because I don’t feel quite alone…I feel that it’s the first step in getting to know my client…imagining where they’ve been, where they are going and what these photos might mean to them.  I hope that these photos mark the beginning of a wonderful adventure for Hannah, wherever she may go.  Congrats to Hannah and to the entire class of 2018. 

Another Senior Session in Downtown Franklin

“Now go, and make interesting mistakes, make amazing mistakes, make glorious and fantastic mistakes. Break rules. Leave the world more interesting for your being here. Make good art.” – Neil Gaiman

This was kind of an unusual week for me in having two senior guy sessions in one week, since I normally shoot more family sessions.  Both the guys chose downtown Franklin as their location, which works for me because I love this spot for Senior Portraits.  It’s not the best place for small kids, as I like to let the little ones roam free, without worrying about traffic, and sometimes downtown requires patience for waiting on other people or cars to move out of a scene.  But it’s perfect for seniors, and I adore all the colors, shapes and textures. 

I have to say, I wasn’t sure at first about senior sessions because photographing young children was my first passion.  But I truly enjoy the different opportunity that photographing these young men and women offer.  It’s fun to be able to plan a shot out in more detail, and to focus on the framing and perspective without fear of losing the moment.  With active toddlers, you don’t get much of a say so on the exact location and posing, so Seniors are a really fun change for me. 

There was one spot in a back alley that I came to at my first session this week and I took a few photos there. But I found myself wishing I had done more with the spot, so I was excited to go back for this session. I just love the perspectives and colors in the alley.  It was so much fun.

I enjoyed getting to know Jack.  It turns out, my daughter played Hockey with his younger brother last season, but I didn’t even realize that until we were chatting during the session. Such a small world!

Senior Session in Downtown Franklin

“Follow your passion, stay true to yourself, never follow someone else’s path unless you’re in the woods and you’re lost and you see a path then by all means you should follow that.” – Ellen Degeneres

I’m literally about to run out the door to go work some more on Cheetahfest 2018, but I just couldn’t help but share these photos of my senior session in downtown Franklin on Monday.  I was afraid it would get rained out, but it turned about to be a gorgeous day!  I am quite aware that my senior guys aren’t really into having their photos taken, and are generally just there because the love their mamas, but Drew was such a great sport, and I love the way his photos turned out. 

And its never a dull moment in Franklin.  During our session, we were cheered on by passing cars, offered a donut in exchange for a photo for a scavenger hunt, photobombed by a random stranger, and offered free popcorn from a very sweet attendant at the Franklin Theater who noticed us outside taking photos.  I love this town!  

Ok, I’m out the door, but if you don’t have any plans on Friday, please join me at my other “job” (PTO President) and come out to food trucks, bounce houses, a petting zoo, games and more on Friday at Chapman’s Retreat Elementary Cheetahfest from 5:30 p.m. until 8:30 p.m.  There is also an AMAZING silent auction. You can also bid on a session from me!  If you were planning on booking a session before the end of summer, this is a great way to give back to a great cause. Hope to see you there!  

Bridgette’s Senior Portrait Session at Thompson Station Park

“Follow your passion, stay true to yourself, never follow someone else’s path unless you’re in the woods and you’re lost and you see a path then by all means you should follow that.” – Ellen Degeneres

It’s so much fun to take a break from photographing little kids sometimes and instead photograph seniors.  This beautiful young woman was a joy to meet, as was her mother.  One of my most favorite parts of my job is getting to know new people.  Bridget reminded me a little of my oldest daughter with her passion for writng and love of books..  She was so sweet to my younger daughter, Kayla, who accompanied me on the shoot as my “assistant.”  

One of the great things about photographing seniors is that they will stand in whatever beautiful light that I want them to stand in….which is not always the case for toddlers.  And Thompson Station Park was really showing off some gorgeous light last night.  The autumn color isn’t really there yet, thought I think it’s coming soon (I hope). But the weather could not have been more perfect for Bridget’s senior portrait session.  

I keep hitting the jackpot with these senior girls who are just naturals in front of the camera.  Also, I loved her clothing choices. I am often asked if it is OK to change clothes during a photo session.  My answer depends a little on the type of session and ages of the subjects.  For senior or couples portrait sessions, you may absolutely bring a few different outfits.  For family sessions, I don’t normally recommend it just because having to change clothes can sometimes upset little ones and disrupt the momentum of our session. Ultimately, I leave it up to parents but just caution you to consider the value of wardrobe changes verses timing and keeping little ones happy during a session.  But for teens and adults, there is plenty of time during a session for a few wardrobe changes, and it adds some variety in a senior session gallery.

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