A Gorgeous Evening for an Extended Family Portrait Session | Rockford, IL Family Photographer

I’ve photographed a couple of extended families this year – these sessions feel like mini session marathons to me. Part of me wishes they could last longer so I could spend more time with each family group and each person. I love spending one on one time with kids, especially. They have so much to offer: so many expressions, so much energy and joy. It’s always a little bit chaotic trying to coral everyone together, but there is something so special about having the whole family all in one photo.

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Congratulations!! (Winner of My Facebook Father’s Day Contest)

You guys, I am the girl who gave my husband his Father’s Day present on SATURDAY. I just can’t wait until morning to announce the winner… I can’t!:)

Here he is with our boys this afternoon…

Father and sons on Father

I really loved this contest, and I read every single comment throughout the day. I would encourage you to read through the comments as well, because there are just so many good stories and memories. It will truly lift your spirits. I love that there are so many good dads out there creating these wonderful memories. Not everyone is so blessed.

I got so many responses, at first I wasn’t sure how I would pick a random entry. I am glad I found an app to pick the winner for me! When I got to the screen to click The Button, I got so nervous! I think I stared at it for a minute before I finally clicked Pick a Winner. Sheesh!

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Are you ready?

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Congratulations, Stacy Schomisch Fellows, you won the free session!! Please contact me within 24 hours to claim your prize:)

Stacy wrote:

“I don’t have many memories of my dad, so here are the few I have. Him taking me to the gas station in town to get a candy bar every time he picked me up, eating mushroom pizza, having bunk beds at his house. Favorite memory of my stepdad- constantly teasing each other and play fighting usually ending with me picking him up and carrying him tithe couch!  Favorite memory of my husband with our kids- him making them their own tool boxes and getting them the protective gear they needed so they can do woodworking in the garage with their daddy!”

    

A Creative Breakthrough! | My Review of LJ Holloway Photography’s Post Processing Webinar

What Led Me to Take the Webinar

Let me preface this by saying that I inherited a certain quality from my father that is both incredibly motivational and anxiety-producing, and that is the drive to master whatever it is I am learning right now. Like, YESTERDAY. I must become the expert, and so I dive into research and I spend a ridiculous amount of time practicing whatever it is I am learning. I invest every spare hour and dime into whatever it is so that I can enjoy the end result. With photography, that meant that over the course of a single year, I went from not even owning a camera to producing professional quality work. I only say this to illustrate the intensity with which I pursued learning photography. I could not be satisfied until I loved my own pictures. For a long time, I did not love my own pictures. There are times when I still don’t, because as I grow, my eyes are opened to a greater potential. That potential creates unrest because I pine for it.

The left photo I took in 2010 soon after I bought my first camera. The right photo I took one year later. I hope to do a redo for Josh & Char someday (what do you think guys?)

The left photo I took in 2010 soon after I bought my first camera. The right photo I took one year later. Growth: it’s a really good thing ;)

As I type this, I realize how crazy it sounds. Someone is probably reading this and thinking, this girl needs… something. But really, I love it too much to ever quit. Some people unwind during a run, and I unwind during a photo shoot. That’s when I open my eyes and I really see what God has created, the beauty and the love. When I get home, I reflect on how that made me feel, and then I seek to edit my photos in such a way that make other people feel that very same thing. I want to remove every distraction and enhance anything that creates that mood. At the end of the day, I want people to look at my photos and experience what I did during the shoot itself: gratitude and love. I’m trying so hard to write this in such a way that reflects the depth of my sense of purpose without being cheesy. Bear with me.

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When the image in my head doesn’t match the image on my screen, I get so frustrated! And this is where I was last fall: I felt like I needed help with my editing. Something was lacking but I didn’t know what it was. I finally bit the bullet and signed up for an editing class that I had been seriously considering for close to a year. And then I waited for June to come. I’m not kidding, June 7th might as well have been Christmas for me.

What I Learned

On Saturday, we got home from vacation a mere 30 minutes before the webinar began. I’ll admit, I was a little apprehensive. Who wouldn’t be? It’s an investment and I wondered if it would really help me, specifically. What if I took the class and it felt more like a review, and what I really learned was that my shortcoming was not my technique, but my creativity?  Not ten minutes into the webinar, she demonstrated something (that you’ll have to take the webinar to learn, of course) that I had been doing all wrong. Aah! Let’s just say that I was taking steps in LR that were blowing my highlights and killing my skin tones. It was like a huge soft box went on (see what I did there? hehe), and this happened several more times during the webinar. I learned so much, including:

  • How to selectively add contrast and color in Photoshop in such a way that does not ruin skin tones.
  • How to remove a double chin (like it was never there, wow!)
  • How edit non-destructively in Photoshop (it’s not just for LR) – which is amazing for me because I often want to go back and change something. Now I can!
  • How to more accurately select parts of an image (like people or the background)
  • How to use adjustment layers in Photoshop to bring your vision to life
  • How to enhance your lighting

It was three hours long, so I can’t cover everything, but I will say that I learned how to fix issues that I wasn’t even noticing in my photos before. I would say that one of the biggest things I learned in the webinar wasn’t so much the actual Photoshop techniques, but the potential in my images. I didn’t realize I could do so much. That eye-opener is worth more to me than all the techniques she taught combined. A lot of things I perceived to be missing from my images, I attributed to other factors, such as gear or the location, but what Lisa taught me is that Photoshop and knowing how to use it is much more powerful than I realized before. Her workshop was incredibly valuable to me and really I will say that it was a creative breakthrough. I have only had a week to practice what I learned, and so I anticipate that I will continue to grow. I am loving the online mentoring Facebook group that I got to join after the class, as well! Lisa was extremely patient and was willing to answer any questions, even repeat steps for us during the webinar, until we understood what she was teaching us. After the class, she has continued to answer questions about the class.

Isn’t the proof in the before & afters?

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Left is straight out of camera (SOOC), middle is how I would have edited it before taking the class, and right is how I edited it after taking the class.

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Top is SOOC, bottom is my edit. Unrelated, I am super jealous of Grace’s deep dark tan. That girl has beautiful skin! It’s those greek genes!

Left is SOOC and right is my edit

Left is SOOC and right is my edit

It’s not just about taking a clear, sharp, well composed photo. It’s about executing a vision and communicating a feeling or a message. I had hit a plateau creatively, and I can honestly say that this webinar got me moving upward again. I am so grateful to Lisa for her willingness to share her secrets and continue to mentor her students even after the webinar. She lives too far away to thank her in person, but I am giving her a huge hug through the internet. And disclaimer, she did not tell me to write this or even suggest what to say. This is all my own words and opinions!:)

Update (6/13314) I’ve added more before & after examples below:

Top left is SOOC, bottom left is original edit, right is new edit

Top left is SOOC, bottom left is original edit, right is new edit

Top left is SOOC, bottom left is original edit, right is new edit

Top left is SOOC, bottom left is original edit, right is new edit

Top is SOOC, bottom is new edit

Top is SOOC, bottom is new edit

 

    

Sweet Emmy’s Lifestyle Newborn Session | Rockford, IL Newborn Photographer

I have been doing more and more sessions in client’s homes lately and I have to say I really love the look of it. This is the way I photograph my children most of the time. It’s an artistic view of reality. There is more of a personal story told when people are in their own element. I wrote more about lifestyle sessions here if you are interested. (The link will open up in a new tab/window)

Once upon a time, I photographed Kylie & Jacob’s engagement session….

I was there for their gorgeous, rustic country wedding

More recently I captured Kylie’s adorable baby bump at her home…

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Now meet sweet Emmy, the newest addition to this beautiful family.

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She is such a beautiful baby girl. She was very content to be sitting up and looking around and I couldn’t get over how well she made eye contact.

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I can’t wait to see how Emmy grows and blesses Kylie & Jacob with her sweet little personality. Congratulations on your growing family, K & J:)

    

Erica’s Mommy & Me Session | Rockford, IL Family Photographer

In my daughter’s eyes,
I am a hero,
I am strong and wise,
And I know no fear,
But the truth is plain to see,
She was sent to rescue me,
I see who I want to be,
In my daughter’s eyes.

-Martina McBride

I was really excited to get to work with Erica and her daughter Brooklyn again. They both just have that joyful energy & connection with each other that makes them a piece of cake to photograph. I can just see them being best friends when Brooklyn grows up. But let’s not rush things, we want our babies to stay little for a long time…

B is for Brooklyn, Blue sparkly eyes, Busy feet, & Beauty.:)

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We ended up having to reschedule their mommy & me session because the weather did not cooperate. I’m kind of glad, because it ended up being super nice outside on the day we were able to reschedule. I could not have asked for better weather! We were at one of my favorite places, Sinnissippi Park in Rockford. Spring is blooming and I can’t get enough of the sunshine and flowers!

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Brooklyn has the cutest laugh doesn’t she? It doesn’t take much to get her to laugh and smile either. She loves to be tickled and to run around. The park was perfect for her!

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The closeness between mother and daughter is so evident, I can’t help but to smile along with Erica & Brooklyn when I look at these.

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I love Brooklyn’s tiny feet next to her moms. So cute!

 

 

    
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