Thursday, June 18, 2009

Welcome to our Old (and very first) blog.  Here you will find many photography tips and old session sneak peaks.  

Thursday, June 11, 2009

NEW BLOG COMING & A Vacation Update


While Stephen and Alden have been busy playing with their cousins, I've been taking advantage of some free time to revamp the look of my blog.  I wanted to breathe some fresh air and new life into these pages, so I've changed up the colors a bit and reformatted the template to accommodate larger pictures.  

The pictures will be larger, but not so large that you have to scroll down the page just to see the whole image.  They'll pop out at you for sure - but without blowing up in your face.  

I've decided to keep the basic layout the same, so you should feel right at home when you visit.  My goal is that you'll feel like you've stepped into a freshly painted and newly remodeled room - a room you'll continue to visit often for inspiration, heart-felt stories, and even a photography tip or two.  

Look for the new link later this week.

I'm not the only one having fun on vacation.  Take a look at my awesome husband, Steve.  Here he is playing with Stephen Jr., Alden and a few of their cousins.  They LOVE to gang up on him!

It's hard to tell who had more fun - the Big Kid or the Little Ones.'s way TOO CLOSE TO CALL!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Meet My New Nephew - Jensen Duke

Jensen Duke was born Sunday afternoon weighing in at 9 pounds 1 ounce and measuring 20 inches long.  Our family was so privileged to be able to visit him in the hospital the very day he was born!  My sweet husband drove most of the 16 hours it took to get us there in time for his birth.  Though I tried to contribute, I thought it best to leave the driving to him after I started to doze off after only 2 1/2 hours at the wheel.  It was a long week!

I grew up in Indiana but moved to Texas in 1997 after college to start a new career.  Being so far from family has been very difficult at times. I knew that missing out on most of the family gatherings and special events would be part of the deal, but that hasn't made it any easier.  

I have 6 nieces and nephews (now 7) and have never been able to be there for any of their births.  So, when I found out my brother and his wife were expecting their third child, it became very important to me to plan a trip up north to experience this wonderful family event first-hand.  It was such a special time! 

What a joy to be able to welcome Jensen into the world and to hold him in my arms on his very first day.  And to give my brother and his wife a big hug right then and there - that was just icing on the cake!  Even Stephen Jr. and Alden were able to meet him.  My husband was so awesome to allow me to plan our vacation around Jensen's arrival.  It truly brought tears to my eyes to be able to experience such a special day.

Our children didn't really know what to think when they first saw baby Jensen. I should have known, though, that Alden would show the most interest.  In this next image, you can even see Jensen "looking" toward Alden as she peers through his bassinet.  Precious! (Maybe she should be a big sister.)

The beauty of my new camera.  This top image was taken indoors with no flash at ISO 1000.  Below I shot at ISO 400.  I can hardly believe how sharp both of these are.  For that feature alone, this camera was well worth all the hard work it took to earn the money to be able to pay it off.

I just love newborn feet.

Congrats, Phil & Shari and Josie & Layton.  We love you!  Welcome to our family baby Jensen!

Thursday, June 4, 2009


It's been a whirlwind of a week getting ready for vacation. If you are just checking in for the first time in a while, you may want to scroll through all the new posts to see what's been going on. We've been busy this Spring!

I'm excited to announce that my new niece or nephew is scheduled to make his/her arrival on Sunday. Please keep mommy and baby in your prayers for a healthy delivery. And if you think of it, pray for my family too - we've got a 16 hour drive in store to see the new little fellow or princess. I'm hoping my brother and his wife will let me share their new little one with all of you.

They're keeping the sex of the baby a surprise...I can hardly stand it! The suspense is killing me. My sister-in-law's family has 1 grand-daughter and four grand-son's (with another boy on the way). I'm thinking another girl is definitely in order.

I'll be checking email and posting random fun pics from our vacation, so don't forget to stop in for a visit. If all works out as planned, I even hope to collaborate with fellow photographer, Patti Veld, for a fun children's session.

Happy Summer, Everyone! Thank you to all my clients who made this Spring so fantastic! I do believe that new camera is PAID IN FULL!


Julie and Kelly {Allen Texas Senior Photography, McKinney Senior Photography}

Kelly is also home from college for the summer, and Karen (like Nan) wanted to get some sibling pics of her two girls before they both head off for college in the Spring.

Like Joshua and Jeremiah who had experienced previous sessions with me, Julie was right at home this time around. We did her Senior pictures late last year. It was fun to see the little sister showing the older sister the photo session ropes.

We photographed this session in old Downtown McKinney. They were having some sort of Art Fair going on, so the place was hopping with people. As I'm sure I would have been if I were on the other side of the camera lens, I think Kelly was a little uncomfortable posing with so many "bystanders" observing the action.

She did just fine though and was a great sport. I think this following picture of her is one of my favorites.

My husband and I had our anniversary pictures taken at this very door you see below (Or, should I say we took turns taking pictures of each other on our anniversary in front of this door.). I think Julie pulled it off much better though! I love this one.

Julie, Congratulations on your graduation. I hope you and Kelly enjoy your summer. It's great to know the two of you will be in the same city when you head off to college - even if you will be attending different schools. I'm sure that brings your parents some comfort knowing you'll have each other nearby while you are away from home.

Karen, I'm thinking any of these would be good picks for above your fireplace - cropped to your specifications, of course!

Aw....I wish I had a sister!

Thanks again, Karen. I really enjoyed my time with you and your girls.

Big Brother's Back in Town: Owen, Jeremiah, and Joshua {Allen Texas Senior Photography, McKinney Senior Photography}

Remember the Lamborghini session?  That was my first session with Joshua and Jeremiah. By the time we took their Senior Pics later that month, we were all getting much more comfortable around each other. This past weekend was better yet.  I felt like I was hanging out with my own three brothers.  We had great fun, and they were really getting into the shoot - even helping me out with posing ideas.  Such a creative bunch!

This time around all three amigos were on hand.  Big brother Noah is home from college, so mom wanted to get some individual shots of him to match the ones we took of Josh and Jeremiah.  And what parent doesn't want some great group shots of all of their children together? Even their Dad was along this time, and though it was my fourth full session of the day, these guys kept me energized for sure.  It was a great way to end the day!

Owen was a bit camera-shy at first  - not unlike Josh and Jeremiah on their first session with me.  Just give me a couple more shoots, Owen, and by the time you're ready for a wedding photographer, you'll be an old pro (and you'll know who to call)!

All three of these boys are off to college this Spring, and I can only imagine what a bitter-sweet transition that will be for Nan and Todd. Perhaps having these awesome portraits of their boys on their walls at home will lessen the blow while they're away.  (Be strong, Nan!)

Here are some of their favorite "Brother" pictures - and a few of mine!

By the time the texting began, I knew my time with these boys was limited.  Apparently they had better things to do with their time - something to do with a Red Wings game and a couple of twins...  

At least I was able to convince them to hang in there for a couple more shots. Good thing I did. We ended up with my favorite shot of the night!

Now that's what I'm talking about!

I just knew these three would like those Pioneer Woman actions.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Bree and Noah's Family (Dallas/Allen/McKinney Family Photographer}

I love this family!  It's been about a year since my last session with their children.  It was fun to photograph the whole family this time around. Noah is just slightly older than our Stephen Jr., and Bree is a few months younger than our Alden.  It's fun to watch the brother sister dynamics play out when it reminds me so much of my own children.

Sweet Bree has been doing some modeling for her mother Jennifer's friend's clothing line called Pout Baby.  You can see her strut her stuff on their website.  She's as cute and adorable as ever. (That reminds me...I need to do some shopping!)

We had great fun taking family pics and Jennifer is always so great about bringing THE best outfits for her children.  In honor of her fantastic style sense I thought I'd do a little fashion show for you.

First up, Bree in Matilda Jane:

Next, big brother Noah sports a smashing blue polo and beach chic striped linen pants.  I'm thinking modeling could be in his future too. Though something's telling me Noah's more the soccer and baseball type. (Funny story - his Daddy had me seriously convinced modeling ran in the family. Call me gullible!)

On to some Pout Baby.  When Jennifer put this dress on Bree I wanted to jump up and down.  I was so excited.  I do believe I WANT this dress for myself!  Hmmm, I could use one of mom's dresses too.  (The mall is seriously calling me!)

Jakob and Daddy share a father-son moment.

Mom and Dad are pretty stylish too.  They are so adorable together. Thanks for working with me on these shots to make them so fun, you two.

And we can't forget the best photography prop EVER invented, my very own Belle Ame pettiskirt.  Can't you just see YOUR daughter twirling away in one of these? (I could make that happen, you know...)

Finally, no session is complete without a little treat.  And there's nothing like Smarties to buy us an extra 15-20 minutes session time. Man, I LOVE the sunset lighting in this image!

Thanks, again Jennifer and Jakob for sharing your family with me. Can't wait until next time.  And, Jennifer, I'll be checking out one of your Baby Boot Camp classes with some friends of mine this Spring.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Elise, Matthew, Andrew, and Jacob

Check out these blue eyes!  If you think they sparkle you should see these guys in action.  They are so full of life.  I loved my first session with them over a year ago, so I was looking forward to seeing how they've all changed over the year.

Sweet Elise outgrew her glasses and is blossoming into such a lovely young lady.  Matthew is a super bigger brother and just an all around great boy.  And Andrew...oh, Andrew.  He has my heart, I believe. Those dimples are to die for and that smile is brighter than the sun. He's such a fun child.  Their youngest brother Jacob wasn't even sitting up when I first took their pictures.  Now he's a ball of energy always on the go exploring the next new thing.

Their parents are doing a wonderful job raising them.  Mandy is a Creative Memories consultant and loves to digital scrap book, so we arranged a digital package to suit her needs.  She hosted a photo party with her friends in exchange for a great deal on her session and digital CD.  Contact her at for your own scrap booking needs.

If you are interested in how you can get your hands on your own digital CD of your session images, give me a call and we can discuss your options.  Can't you just picture these images in Mandy's new scrapbook! What a great way to record your children's growth from year to year.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Pioneer Woman Actions Sets Update: Link Fixed {Pioneer Woman}

Good morning!  I've heard from several of you that you've had trouble opening up the actions download I included from Pioneer Woman.  Try it again.  I think I've got the link fixed.  Let me know if you have any problems!

Have a wonderful Monday.  As for me, I'll be busy working on 4 session sneak peaks for you today!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Photoshop Actions: Free Upload from Pioneer Woman

The boy ate an ice cream cone.

The freckle-faced, red-headed boy escaped the sweltering heat in the shade of a luscious, green Oak tree while enjoying a double scoop strawberry ice cream cone.

Which sentence do you prefer?  

Some people prefer the "Just the facts, Ma'am!" approach.  Others love the way the second sentence draws them in to the story being told.  Just like adjectives and adverbs can spice up an otherwise ordinary sentence, I'm discovering that Photoshop actions can breathe new life into your images.

I know.  I know.  I've said before that actions were not for me.  You might recall, though, that I did say I was going to make it my goal this year to at least take them for a spin and learn something new.  Imagine my surprise when I pulled up the Pioneer Woman's blog the other day and found some free downloads - 2 sets of them.  Perfect!  Better yet, I could try them out without investing a dime.  

What I found is that Photoshop Actions can actually be quite useful and equally fun.  See for yourself.  Below are a series of pictures.  The first image in each set is my original "Straight Out of the Camera" (SOOC) image - with my standard very basic enhancements in Bridge.  Above the second image in each series I'll tell you exactly which actions I used to create that particular affect.

This first image was taken with our very first digital camera - a 1 megapixel Nikon Coolpix.  I wasn't shooting manually or Raw at the time, and I hadn't even taken any classes or read a single photography book.  Apparently composition was an innate gift as this image has a perfect diagonal composition.  My professor even told me that it would make a great advertisement with plenty of room for text throughout the image.

For this second image I opened it up in Photoshop CS3 and applied the BOOST action from Pioneer Woman's Actions Set 1.  Then I flattened the image and applied SUNSHINE from her Action Set 2.  I lowered the opacity on that second action slightly.   I like both of these images equally well.  It's fun to discover that you can get two completely different looks from just one image.

In my opinion this next image from the Fantastic Four's session was perfect as is, but I made a promise to myself to at least TRY all these actions.  So, I did.

I applied VINTAGE from Pioneer Woman's Actions Set 1 and lowered the opacity until I was happy with the results.  Doesn't the vintage action add to the old world charm of the location?

Here they are:  The Fantastic Four!  The only initial change I made to this image was to add some slight sharpening to the oldest girl's face. Since she was not on the same plane as the other three children, she wasn't in focus as well as the others.  Otherwise, this image is SOOC.

For a slightly different look I applied the SEVENTIES action from PW's Actions Set 2, flattened the layers, then added QUICK EDGE BURN from the Actions Set 1.  I significantly lowered the opacity of that last layer to get the look I was after.

Again, I Love this image just as it is, but in the spirit of experimentation, I'll mix it up a bit.

I wanted to show you this last action called PWs B&W from her Actions Set 1.  Take a look at the youngest girl's face in this second image.  Do you see how the flesh glows and the face is undefined.  This is a VERY popular look right now in the children's photography world.  Here I achieved this look by applying PW's B&W action, lowered the opacity A LOT, then clicked on the same action one additional time to achieve the "glow".

Though I had great fun checking these out, I'm not sure these are for me yet.  We'll see.  There are a few really useful actions that I do LOVE. Perhaps some of these more creative ones will grow on me.  In the meantime, if you'd like to have some fun of your own, check out Pioneer Woman's blog.  You'll love what you see.  Here's the link to the Photoshop Action Downloads.  You will need Photoshop (sorry Elements users).

Thank you!  Thank You, Pioneer Woman.  (Or, should I call you Wonder Woman?)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Fantastic Four - Soon to be Five

Bonnie and Homer have four beautiful children, one boy and three girls. I first met Bonnie at Bible study and have grown to love her vivacious spirit and positive outlook on life.  Bonnie ends all her emails with her trademark closing of "Superlove".   Not everyone can pull that off without sounding over-the-top, but it fits Bonnie to a tee.  After reading her emails I always end up feeling just that - super loved.

I've photographed Bonnie and Homer's family on four different occasions now.  From staged Easter Egg Hunts to Bathing Suit Bubble Baths Bonnie has had some of the most fun and creative ideas for their sessions.  I truly have the BEST time when I'm with them - it's a total HOOT! 

Before I show you my top picks from their latest session I thought I'd share one of my favorite images from my very first session with them. You may have seen this in the B&W gallery in my website.  This was taken at Hannah's newborn session just under two years ago.  

It doesn't get any better than this - a totally devoted Daddy loving on his newest baby girl!

That was Hannah then.  Here she is today.  Full of smiles and giggles!

Isn't she precious!

Hannah is soon to be a big sister herself.  Baby #5 will join the family later this summer.  You better believe Hannah's big brother Jesse is looking forward to finally having another boy in the house.  And, with all these fluffy skirts around, I'd say another little man in the house to rough and tumble with is the perfect fit for this growing family.  I can't wait to meet him!

Now, it may just be my wild imagination, but for some reason I think the rain brought the best out in these little ones.  This was the last of my three sessions in the rain from two Saturdays ago.  It was so fun to watch these four walking through the puddles and running through the mist.  I'm just loving the fantastic shots we got of these four beautiful, blonde-haired, blue-eyed blessings.

Here's Jesse.  You may recognize those famous blue eyes of his from the Children's gallery in my website.

After seeing some of Jesse's portraits, Bonnie admitted that she's a little sad to see how grown up he looks.  Kinda tugs on a mommy's heart to see your first baby all grown up.  I know.  My son just "graduated" preschool today.  (This second pose was Homer's idea.  He was going for a staring off in the distance look with the light shining in his eyes. Cool, huh?)

Here's sweet Abbi.  She looks more and more like her mother each time I see her.  

Playing peek-a-boo with Ella and her umbrella.  Hey, I'm a poet and don't even know it...

Thanks again, Bonnie and Homer!  What a fun session!


Monday, May 25, 2009

Lovely Lauren

This lovely young lady was my second session in the rain last Saturday. Though it was dismal and grey outside, Lauren's sweet smile helped to cheer my spirits.  It was such a joy spending time with her family.

Lauren's dark hair, brown eyes, and olive skin remind me so much of my daughter Alden.  At times during our session I found myself picturing what Alden will be like when she is Lauren's age.  It was surreal.  I can only hope she's as innocent, kind, and lovely as Lauren.  

"You are what you eat," or so the saying goes.  And if Lauren is anything, she sure is a sweetie!  I'm thinking that Starbucks hot chocolate was just what Lauren needed to make it through her session. She did great!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Bell Tower Session

This past Saturday I had three sessions scheduled...AND it was raining. My May is completely booked and our family is going on vacation in June, so I was really hoping not to have to reschedule any of these sessions.    

With my fingers crossed, I headed out to the location to see if there were any dry areas where I could still hold the sessions.  There were, so I quickly contacted everyone to make sure they were still willing to come out.  Can you believe they were all up for it!  My clients are AWESOME!

As it turns out, my first client happened to be one of the key architechts on the building project located just south of the Croatian Village.  He offered up the very top of the Bell Tower for his family's session.  How could I say no?

108 steps later (and many regrets for not leaving my extra camera gear in the car) I found myself at the top of the loveliest structure I've seen in quite some time.  I felt very much like Rapunzel - minus the waist length hair.

Not only were we able to stay dry, but we were able to hold their session in the very work of his hands - his creation - his baby.  Though I wish the sky weren't as dismal and grey, the Bell Tower (still under construction) looks amazing!  I can't wait to see the finished product.

As for his other "creations", he and his wife should be very proud.  Their children are beautiful.