Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Expecting | Raleigh Maternity Photographer

Sometimes I get an idea into my head and can't get it out, this was one of those times.  This post is from a session I did earlier this year.  I'd been looking at pre-Raphaelite paintings and had wanted to use this tutu for a while (I'm not sure those two things go together, but that was the source of inspiration!).  I wanted to do something sort of painterly and fun, but totally photographic.  So here is the final result:

Raleigh Newborn Photographer

Of course, I love this one, too.

Raleigh Newborn Photographer

And this one...

Raleigh Newborn Photographer

All in all, it was a gorgeous session.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Beautiful | Raleigh, NC Newborn Photography

Every time I start to write about maternity photography, I find that the photos speak more than I ever could.  They speak a story of love.  Of anticipation.  Of excitement.  Of superhuman strength.  Maybe even a tinge of apprehension of the unknown.

Pregnancy is beautiful.  Through their photos, these women manage to tell their story on their own.  And so, with that, I present you with my most recent maternity session. 

Raleigh Pregnancy Photography

Raleigh Maternity Photographer

Durham Maternity Photography

Durham Pregnancy Photography

Raleigh Baby Photography

Raleigh Newborn Photography

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Photography 101: Exposure Basics | Raleigh Family Photography

As a newborn and family photographer, a lot of people have asked me for help with some camera basics.  I love to teach, especially when it's something I am passionate about.  I find that many people struggle with their camera when they get their first DSLR.  The camera, with all the bells and whistles, is really only a tool.  Understanding how photography (and your camera) works is the first step toward taking amazing photos.  This series is intended to be a quick overview of camera basics.  The first part in this series is about exposure.

"Carboniforous." One of my all-time favorite macro images, he
can be found in the 2014 Professional Photographers of America
Loan Collection.

Exposure is the backbone of photography, because photography is all about light.  Exposure is the amount of light per unit area which reaches the camera sensor on a digital camera or the film on a film camera.  It is considered to be too high when the image loses detail in the highlighted areas of the image, often known as “blown highlights”.  Conversely, exposure is considered too low when you lose detail in the shadows of the image.  Underexposure generally is easier to recover on a digital camera than overexposure.

The exposure is 'technically' correct when the recording is completely within the dynamic range of the camera.  However, that’s only a piece of the puzzle.  The reality is that the exposure is correct when the photographer reaches their desired results.  Sometimes a photographer uses blown highlights or shadows details purposefully, making ‘correct exposure’ a liquid term.

Increases and decreases in exposure are measured in ‘stops’ of light.  Moving a stop up will double the amount of light, while stopping down your light will cut it in half.  You control the amount of light coming through to the sensor by way of your shutter speed, ISO and Aperture.  Changing one of these elements will change the amount of light reaching your camera.  However, each change comes at a price.  Balancing each of these elements is the key to creating a great exposure.


Shutter speed is simply the speed at which your camera shutter opens and closes.  Another way to think about it is how long the light is allowed to reach the sensor.  A slower speed can lead to camera shake unless the camera is balanced on something like a tripod.  A faster speed can underexpose your photo.  A general rule for hand holding a camera is to keep the shutter speed ‘faster than the focal length of your lens’, but not slower than 1/125 of a second.  So if you have a 200mm lens, keep the shutter speed at least 1/250.  Shutter speeds are always measured in seconds and fractions of a second.  Here is a a range of shutter speed in full stops from more light to less light.

Slower (more light)   1    1/2    1/4    1/8     1/15    1/30    1/60    1/125    1/500   Faster (less light)

You can see that this image isn't as sharp as the others.  I did not
have a tripod at hand and camera shake was a problem here.


The aperture is the opening and closing of the aperture blades within lens, which act similarly to the pupil of your eye.  This controls how much light is allowed through to the sensor.  When photographers say they are ‘shooting wide open’, they are referring to a wide open aperture (which is, conversely, a smaller f-stop).  Aperture is measured in f-stops, which represents the stops of light.  Aperture is one of several elements that control depth of field.  Here is a range of shutter speeds in full stops from more light to less light.

Wider (more light)   1.4     2.0     2.8     4.0     5.6     8.0     11     16   Smaller (less light)

This is a shallow depth of field with a wider

Narrowing down the aperture helped put
more of this cicada in focus (I would keep it
wide for portraits of children, however)


ISO is the measurement of sensitivity to light either by film in a film camera or the sensor of a digital camera.  Increasing the ISO and the sensitivity of the recording medium (film or sensor) increases the amount of grain.  However, a low ISO can cause underexposure. Here is a a range of ISO in full stops from more light to less light.

More sensitive (more light)   3200    1600    800    400    200    100    50   Less sensitive (less light)

As much as I love his eyes, this image struggles with grain
and a wide open aperture. Look particularly around his legs.


Exposure is all about three interrelated parts.  These three parts create an image that is unique to you.  Exposure is very individual, but nailing your exposure is the difference between a fantastic image and a poor to mediocre one.  If you're still having some trouble understanding how they work together, think about this analogy:

A big thank you to my husband for this one!

Now that you know what it is, it's time to put it to the test.  In the next Photography 101 article, I'll discuss how to change your exposure settings using your various camera settings.

An exposure cheat sheet for you.
I love hearing from my readers.  Please feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions or contact me.  If this post inspires you to take some photos, send them my way, I'd love to feature you on my Facebook page!

Monday, April 6, 2015

A Print Giveaway | North Carolina Photographer

Recently, I had the personal experience of realizing in the importance of prints.  I backup my client images twice over, once on a separate drive and again on an online backup system.  But my personal images I haven't been quite as careful with, in particular my iPhone photos.  Even while I had been putting together informal photo albums for each of my children, both my computer and my external drive managed to explode (not literally) at the same time.  Fortunately, in the few minutes of tears and panic and wondering why on earth I didn't back those images up with all your images, my dearest sweetest most wonderfully amazing resident IT guy (aka, husband) managed to recover the drive. Meanwhile, I'm totally getting those albums printed ASAP.

So, since prints have been on my mind lately, I'm going to host a giveaway for you guys, celebrating the print.  This giveaway will include:
  • One free session ($150 value)
  • $250 in print credit (not to be used for digital purchases, although, as always, low resolution images of all prints ordered will be included).

There are a few rules, of course.  
  • You must live in or be willing to travel to the Raleigh area.  
  • This is for a children's session only, sorry grown ups!  Unfortunately, it's not for newborns either, but don't worry, newborns are going to have a special promotion soon!
  • This session must be completed by August 1, 2015
  • 1-2 weeks after the session, you will view the images at a post-session consultation.  During that time, any purchases you make beyond the $250 will be given 10% discount from the full price.  Any digital or print purchases beyond the $250 credit made after that session will be purchased at full price.

Monday, March 2, 2015

What's in A Print? | Raleigh, NC Photographer

My parents are selling their house.; the very house that I came home to when I was just days old.  While the result is that they will soon be living much closer to me, it has been quite an emotional experience for me.  In the meantime, I’ve been going through a lot of stuff and memories.  As I sort through the stuff my parents send me and go through long forgotten boxes on the phone with my mother, I can't help but think about the role of photographs in my life. 

Every time I went home from wherever I was, one of my first activities on getting home was to thumb through the photo albums.  It didn’t matter if I was coming back from college across the country; graduate school across the world; my first ‘real’ job in the big city, my first big move with my then-fiance (now husband) or even now that I’ve settled down ,and have children of my own (maybe especially now).  I re-live the days of childhood birthday parties, school pictures with missing front teeth, friends, our mountain cabin that burned down.  Suddenly those memories, and those images flood back as though I could just be there again if I wished hard enough.  Now I look at them with my son, who asks all sorts of questions about “life when I was a baby” or “life when he was a baby,” and their value has risen all the more.

I do the same with photographs of my own children.  I sort through the baby photos I’ve printed out of my son, stare the new sample art pieces I’ve received which are my daughter’s newborn photos.  Remember the days when my tiny little babies were still tiny little babies and marvel at how big they have actually become.  I mean, when did that happen?

But here’s the thing.  I rarely look at the photos on the computer.  I don’t click through an online album at my fingertips.  I don’t sort through lightroom images.  I don’t plug in those CDs of professional photos I’ve been given over the years.  I look at the prints.  There’s something vicerally real about looking at a print copy.  A physical reaction that doesn’t occur as I sit and go through photos on my computer.  Don’t get me wrong, I love working through photos, sorting through the files and preparing the final versions.  But what I really love is receiving print orders and seeing my work ‘in real life’.  The light in your eyes as you take in that final product?  That's what keeps me doing what I do.

I’ve done a lot of soul searching in the years since I made the decision to take up photography as a profession rather than a hobby.  What started out as a resolve to offer only CDs and only digital images has turned into a desire to reacquaint people with the joys of the prints.  And I see it in my clients as well.  Shockingly beautiful archival prints that can be passed down through history to your children and to your children’s children are much more desirable products, in the end.  Like so many photographers before me, I’ve talked to many clients, mentors, and friends; poured over catalogues, and gone to trade show after trade show.  As I consider the growing philosophy behind my photography, I realize more and more the importance of the simple tangibility of the print.