Let’s Go Shooting Together.

Welp. It was another bad week, perhaps worse than last week.

We didn’t have a stomach bug this week, but we did have a coughing kid, a dismal and cold grayness, and a leaky roof (in several places) – which, as you can imagine, feels like an invasion of the house snatchers. It’s a terrible feeling. I coped by yelling at the sky. Since we live in the woods, I can scream obscenities out my front door and no one can hear me yell.

It’s fabulous.

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Enough about my bad mood. I’m so happy to be paired with Claudia of ImagesByCW today. She is a very gifted photographer, and not only that, she lives among my old stomping grounds in New Jersey. In fact, she was within shouting distance from me one morning at my niece’s baptism but that day was insane and I had no idea how close we were. We are so meant to meet, but it hasn’t happened yet. She’s very knowledgeable about photography, and her iPhone photos are so amazing that she does iPhone tips posts by popular demand. She travels some pretty great distances to some pretty great places and has the sort of life I’d love to try again one day. Or maybe for the first time. And perhaps we’ll go shooting together one day. With cameras.

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We thought it would be awesome to ask each other deep photography questions because we are both so very in it. And since I’ve had a bad week and I have a fried brain, all the more reason to just answer without thinking. Raw truths today.

Oh! And I was featured in New Jersey Bride magazine. I was called the secondary photographer in the article, but most of these photos are actually mine! I didn’t take the second one and a lot of the ones of the decorations or the kids. Link HERE.

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What is #AskAwayFriday? Well…

#AskAwayFriday was created by the amazing Penny from Real Housewife of Caroline County and Amber from Bold Fit Mom, as a way to connect with other bloggers with a great Q & A session of 10 questions and 10 answers, between two bloggers! This is a wonderful opportunity to get to know others while allowing others to get to know you and of course there is also the added bonus of making great friends along the way which is one of the best parts of this online world! Ask me if you want to swap!

We are sad to be losing Amber as one of our amazing co-hosts, as she is working to pursue other business ventures and focusing her attentions on her fitness ventures. We wish her nothing but the best, and hope for her thriving success!

When one door closes, another one opens…and we would like to give a huge Ask Away Friday welcome to a brand new co-host…drum roll please…Welcome Echo from The Mad Mommy! She is both a friend and a fellow blogger. I dig her.


Now welcoming our wonderful #AskAwayFriday hosts…

Tamara from Tamara Like Camera,
Tiffany from Mrs. Tee Love Life Laughter,
Christy from Uplifting Families,
Stacey from This Momma’s Ramblings
Echo from The Mad Mommy

Grab our brand new button, follow our amazing hosts, hop through the great link ups and make some new friends!


Be sure to check out Claudia’s answers to my questions HERE. And here are my answers to her questions:

1. How did you start your business? Did you just jump in after someone asked you for photos? Or do you have a well laid out business plan, insurance etc.?

To be honest, sometimes I feel like I haven’t started yet and I’m at the brink. I’m not very salesy or very business-oriented, but I do think my photography techniques are solid enough, although always subject to growth. I worked for a photography company many years ago and learned a heck of a lot then. Then I took a lot of years to sit in an office, realize that sitting in an office might kill me, and then dabble in a lot of other ridiculous things. I didn’t really think about THIS until after Des was born and I had no money of my own. For many families that’s ok, but I mean I literally had no money of my own. I jumped into it with a website and started offering my services. The clients came. Every time I reach a turning point, I buy new equipment or change my tactics. Well-laid out business plan? Umm.. not yet. I do have the connection thing down pat!

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2. What was your first paid photography job? Enjoyable? Scary? Any hiccups?

It’s funny that you mentioned that because I hung out with the client’s mom last week when I was in Jersey. The job was over ten years ago! I used sepia film because this was before incredible digital options became known to me. The client and her mom are both horse people so she wanted costume horse photos printed as a gift for her mom. I don’t think I was that nervous because I know them well, but taking money was strange. And I remember thinking I was coming down with a terrible cold that day, but that was just the start of my seasonal allergies. Since the photos were meant to look old-fashioned, she asked me to edit out telephone lines but I didn’t know how to use Photoshop! I had my boyfriend at the time do it for me.

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3. How do you prepare yourself for a photo session besides getting your equipment together? Does weather affect your shoots? How do you prepare/protect yourself, your gear, your client?

I’m actually going to copy and paste something I wrote once – about the ten or so steps I take before every photo shoot. Weather is always a factor in scheduling. Same with seasons and sunsets. I’ve actually only experienced rain a handful of times! I factor it all in – I’m very thorough with equipment and lighting and if I need to rent the most perfect lens for a shoot, I always do. I find shelters or umbrellas or plastic bags. Anything! Here are my game day prep steps:

1. I wake up in the morning and the first thing I do is check for any obvious anxiety. Am I nervous? Am I worse? Nine times out of ten, I am calmer than I would imagine. Or I am more nervous than I would imagine, but it melts off when I get up.

2. I eat cereal, and nothing else. It soothes. Nothing else does.

3. I shower slowly. I rest and do deep breathing into my diaphragm, because that’s what I’ve heard I’m supposed to do. I think I’m doing it right because my stomach is rising, and not my chest. Ok, cool. Rinse and repeat that one several times.

4. I wear my lucky underwear, and if it’s not summer, I wear my lucky socks too. Even lipstick. It’s that whole mindset that if I look good, then I will feel good too. Or I can just pretend I’m as put together as I seem.

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5. I blast music, like “Safe and Sound” or the “American Beauty” score. “Learning to Fly” by Tom Petty and “Song H” by Bruce Hornsby are really great too. There are a number of songs that are soothing and healing to me.

6. I spray an herbal spray called “Fear-Less” into my mouth a few times.

7. I reach out to all of you to tell me something good. And you do.

8. I take test shots of something beautiful and/or strange around my home or yard.

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9. I hug Scarlet and listen to her voice. I hug Des and then think of the way he runs with his right arm out, like he’s in a dance.

10. I blast music in my car. I ask for wisdom from the Radio Gods. Often, it plays something like, “Photograph” or “White Wedding.” When I’m on my way to a wedding! To take photographs! Perfection.

And then away I go. Into my anxiety, and into my life.

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4. What is the hardest part of the job when shooting for a client? What do you enjoy most?

The hardest part is the anticipation and waiting for the “click” moments. I would never end a shoot until I reached that point in which I realized that if something were to happen and the shoot were to end RIGHT THEN, I’d be ok with that. I’d have captured enough of those, “YES, this is why I do this!” moments. Where it all just..clicks. Generally that happens 5-10 times during a shoot because I never stop. And what do I enjoy most? The moments where it clicks into place. The connection.

To my work. To my clients. To myself.

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5. How do you make your subjects comfortable about you and your camera’s presence and bring out their best? Do you and how much do (you have to) direct your client(s)?

That’s always the biggest question. I rely on pretty much 100% instinct so the fear that it won’t kick in is ever-present, but raw instinct does take over. I make them comfortable by being myself and talking to them and asking questions and shifting settings and lighting and poses. I definitely have to direct them. Of course. There are rarely 100% candid shoots and that’s ok. If it’s an adult, I direct with talking and wondering and more talking and shifting and wondering. If it’s a kid, I usually need an assistant to help me and it’s about changing the environment ever so slightly and following the lead of the child.

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6. Do you have specific settings for your family portrait work you always rely on? E.g. do you shoot in aperture mode or completely manual, auto-focus or manual?

I always shoot in manual mode. It makes a huge difference! With children and families, I set a shutter speed of at least 1/250.

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7. Do you use flash/lights & tripod & reflectors for on location shoots? What is in your camera bag while on an assignment?

I do have a few reflectors but I’m surprised by how seldom I use them. I guess they can be a bit of a pain without an assistant and I’m just not that big-time yet. I have an external flash unit and a Gary Fong Lightsphere that I carry with me at all times. I also have a portable lighting kit by CowboyStudios. It’s ok – nothing special. I keep it in the car for indoor shoots. I also have a slew of lighting products just for fun. My camera bag has the camera body, 3-4 lenses, the flash unit and a shutter buddy.

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(Shot with a lightscoop – just for fun but I loved the effects.)

8. Do you shoot raw or jpg or both? And why?

I ONLY shoot RAW because the difference is astonishing at what you can fix – namely the exposure and white balance!

9. How much editing (beyond the basics) do you do and which tools do you use (most)? Explain your workflow and backup system.

I favor a clean look and I shoot way too many photos to get too fancy with editing. Since I shoot RAW, I have to add contrast, sharpening and white balance corrections in Lightroom. Then I bring the photos into Photoshop (Creative Suites) to see if there’s anything I can do to add a WOW factor. I like to write my own actions full of little special effects. Then I save the photos, go back into Lightroom and export them into JPEGs. I then put them into SmugMug, Dropbox and my external hard drive before deleting them off the computer hard drive. They’re RAW files so they take up quite a bit of space.

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(This is an example of a photo with very little editing, if at all. I added a watermark!)

10. What is your favorite image you have shot recently? Can you describe its creation in regards to location, lighting, composition, camera settings etc. also your thoughts when creating the image and what it means to you?

There are so many recent ones that I just can’t share yet, because they’re either in process for a client, or I haven’t uploaded them yet from Florida! I really enjoyed this photo of a mama and her TWO-day-old baby. So young and fresh and pink!

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It was meaningful because it was one of my first newborn shoots ever and I did have a connection to the subject and I thought that it became evident. The location was a really well-lit room in the client’s house. The composition was spontaneous, really. I shot with my favorite 50mm 1.4 lens and I’m going to guess the settings ranges because the files are now safely on my external hard drive and I haven’t a clue how to retrieve them. So the aperture was about 2.8, the shutter speed was well over 1/250 and the ISO was 200 because it was pretty bright in the house.

Bonus question

11. How tolerant are you when you see blurry or overly cluttered or under/over-exposed, over’this’ or ‘that’ images on social media?

I’m honestly pretty tolerant of it, mainly because I don’t look at photographs critically unless I’m asked to do so! And we all know the world is full of photos taken by non-professional photographers so I just pay attention to the subject matter.

Super duper extra bonus question

12. Is there anybody or anything you would love to photograph (except moose! J)? Name three or more – bucket list!!

1. Northern lights. (no explanation needed)
2. Blue whales. (no explanation needed)
3. Cassidy. I used to do it all the time, and now it’s mostly when he’s with the kids. Or dressed like a tree.

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Let’s Go Shooting Together. — 120 Comments

  1. I love how you started your photography business and most definitely deserve all the success you have and then some. And by the way, still holding you to photographing my family soon as I truly just wouldn’t have it any other way now 😉

  2. please please please take photos of my little boy or teach me to do so. I love love love this and completely relate to having to breathe deeply in the shower or in bed or just in the morning to be able to deal and then having what we deal with being so so amazing.

    • I want to do it so badly!!
      Sometimes mornings themselves are so hard. So hard to face. Thankfully we humans have hot showers and deep breathing!

  3. Revealing your preparations for your photo shoots, and how you make your subjects feel at ease and all settings and shutter speeds and how to get the best lighting makes this blog so much fun to read. I really like Claudia’s photos. The children are so cute! The Ice Grim World pic, and the crashing waves, the rainbow over the water, and manipulation image of the ship that ran aground in the desert are pretty amazing. Every one of your pictures taken at Lindsay and Mike’s Wedding is so life-like Tamara! You deserve a cookie for each one of them. I feel like I could reach out and touch all the people and walk right into all the scenes and settings.

  4. I’ve had one of those weeks too. Mammogram, dental crown that needs to be replaced, sick kid. Glad it’s almost the weekend. I’m so thankful for talented people like you, capturing so beautifully the things that make up our world!

    • Ugh! That sounds crummy for sure. I hope the weekend was a lot better. So many viruses out there right now because they know the end is near! Spring will prevail!

  5. Being a very novice photographer….still…I, of course, always devour anything photo related you share, Tamara. I was blessed with getting thousands of amazing photos of Phoenix. That was due to a few things…a great subject to shoot, he was highly trained for posed pictures, the action photos just always “worked out” and of course…a nice Canon camera. A lot of what you share is still over my head and I don’t do any alterations to my photos except to reduce the pixel size for social media. I changed my…oh heck…I just forgot…the whatever setting it is! Anyhoo, the photos now come out at 3 mg instead of just over 5 mgs (Twitter and Facebook don’t accept over 5). Also, the Phoenix photos were always shot in manual. I’ve been shooting food reviews once every week or two now for several months and I frequently bring a professional photographer friend with me. Nice to have the teacher right there. I’m doing all of those in Auto and making sure I have the little red lights placed in the correct location of the dish of food. I’m getting better. Eeesh..sorry for the long rant…loved the questions as always and thank you for another photo learning post, my dear!! 🙂 I hope the leaky roof gets fixed, the kids get in perfect health and there is lots of sunshine coming your way 🙂

    • Athena totally poses! She’s like a professional and I’m so thankful to have a wonderful subject.
      The tech stuff is..hard. I’m still constantly learning and so much of it is just instinct and experience. A lot of it.
      The kids are better and the roof is on the up and up! Let’s hope it continues!!

  6. I’m sorry you’re having another bad week:(. As for the questions, I confess, I didn’t understand half od them. It’s above my pay grade. But I love your routing – perfect. You should start every day like that!

  7. I keep telling myself I need to put together a business plan….and here I am still without one! You seem to be making it work, though, so obviously you are doing something write, business plan or not.

  8. I hope your week gets better. I’ve had a pretty lazy week. We had a house guest most of last week. So we did a lot of traveling and visiting other family members. Which has left me feeling super lazy.
    I enjoyed reading this photography themed AAF. I learned a lot. I didn’t know there were so many additional pieces of equipment used for photography.

    • I kinda love feeling super lazy every now and then. This time of year is transitioning.
      There are SO many pieces of equipment for photography. I only have a very tiny fraction of them!

  9. Congrats on getting in NJ Bride mag!!! We have roof leaks too! Living in MA is pretty tough this winter. Unfortunately I can’t yell obscenities at the sky out my back door. Well, I could, but I have about 7 houses full of neighbors that would think I am nuts! 🙂 Chin up, spring is on it’s way!!!

  10. AW!! First of all, SO sorry you had another crappy week. Ugh. UGH!!! But so glad you have the boundless outdoors to scream to!!

    I love learning more and more about your photo- behind the scenes stuff-. It fascinates me, because I have NO clue what you’re doing when you reveal these amazing images!! I am SO excited you were featured in that NJ Bride magazine!!! How interesting they used all YOUR pics… second? I think FIRST. 🙂

    • Sometimes I have no clue what goes on behind the scenes either. I think it’s magic.
      Well the thing about the magazine is that I was not the wedding photographer. All of the photos I took were actually the following day. So they had to be fair and give credit to the first photographer!

  11. Our leaks sprung in the basement. The never ending snow has turned into the never ending slushy melty mess. My neighbors would hear me yell so I just mutter while mopping it up and turning up the dehumidifier. And be thankful it didn’t leak anywhere where things would be ruined! Here’s to the coming of Spring and a better week for you next week!!

  12. So sorry that you had a 2nd crummy week in a row. I hope that this weekend is awesome and full of happiness and smiles for you!!
    I need a personal lesson on photography from you – it has to be in person though because just reading it doesn’t help me as much as having someone show me and then playing around with stuff.

  13. I am so glad you’re tolerant of poor photos…otherwise you might not come back to visit some of our sites! Love all the technical questions…and now I wish I had the patience for RAW and Lightroom.

  14. Next week has to be better! I do love hearing about your photography processes, even though I don’t always understand. I really need to get out and practice. Soon.

    • Yes, my house. We live in a clearing in the woods, but we are technically in the city of Northampton. And we are only 5 miles from downtown which has everything!

  15. Great answers to my questions, Tamara. I’ll have to come back and look in more detail once I finally, no, not yet, have my post up. I am so not used and thus very intolerant to these kind of internet problems -arrrrgh!

  16. You were the reason I submitted those photos to NJ Bride and you deserve ALL of the recognition in the world!!! If you lived in NJ you’d be working around the clock because all of the people I know would have you take their photos! I love you my beyond talented sis!!!

  17. As I’ve said before, I so wish you lived closer. I’d so hire you! You’d take fabulous pictures of Natalie in her princess dresses, I just know it.

  18. Tamara, I always love your photos. I think I’ve told you this before, but when I look at your photos I can truly feel the emotion. I don’t know much at all about the technical stuff, but I know when I see a photograph that moves me and all of yours do that. You are VERY talented!

    • Thank you so much because that is the most important part. The technical stuff matters when you do it professionally, sure, but it’s all about the moments. And it just helps to have great moments at the right settings!

  19. Loved reading the answers this week since I actually bought my first DSLR last February and I still have no idea how to use it correctly. I am also planning on taking a trip to you just so I can get some photos done. It’s on my bucket list of things to do. Hopefully soon but I’ll let you know all about it. Here’s to a fantastic weekend!

  20. I love that your lucky socks say “My lucky socks”. I feel like I’m in the middle of the country because I yell for, I mean at, my children and no one seems to notice. At least no one says anything. 🙂 I really need photography lessons because these are amazing.

    • It honestly wasn’t! I took that before I even got lightroom. And before I learned about Photoshop. So your compliment means even more! It was just that beautiful.

  21. I love that mother-baby photo so much! It’s so fresh! Funny because when I post too many photos on the blog, I always put a disclaimer somewhere that I’m not a professional photographer. It’s my way of saying, please forgive me if these photos suck. LOL. I’m glad you said you’re pretty tolerant of it. Hehehehe.

  22. Interesting process, Tamara! I love that you have lucky underwear and socks. That’s awesome. Is it true you have to take tons of pictures to get a few special ones? I paint and I believe I have to paint many canvases and out of all of them I will have one or two that are truly successful. Just wondering if that’s a similar think in photography? Your pictures are always a joy to see. Great Ask Away!

    • That is a great question. A lot of being a professional photographer is about getting your photos correct in the camera, so you can save time with post-processing. I remember a photographer telling me that at least 40% of her photos need to be viable. I think at this point it’s more like 60% for me and that’s why my shoots are so big.

    • I don’t mind at all! When I put the files into Adobe Lightroom, the RAW files can be manipulated a lot more. You can salvage ones that are not shot correctly. You can do that with JPEG files too, but there is a lot less room for change. What I did once was shoot a photo in RAW and JPEG and I saw how different the final result was.

  23. Sorry to hear it was another bad week. Loved reading these questions and answers. Sadly, my photography skills are more of the point and shoot variety. I guess we all have to start somewhere 🙂

  24. Love all the photography insight…your process is amazing…especially the socks – because well, you know I love socks! I couldn’t imagine taking photographs to please others…I am so critical of myself and don’t think I would fair well with someone else adding to the noise in my already loud head…LOL You rock for being able to do it and do it with such amazing results!

  25. The Northern Lights I want to see those someday, not shoot them, but just experience them. That would be so powerful and awesome. only if my children were there with me to see them. So hopefully someday soon. You are amazingly talented and isn’t that the beauty of the process you feel like you are at the beginning of something, with so much more growth and awesomeness to come!

    • It’s true – I’d like to just see them too. The photographs would maybe be the second time I saw them!
      What an awesome sentiment about feeling like you’re at the beginning of something, and the beauty of that.

  26. I love this swap! As you know, I got a new camera and I am playing with it and trying to get to know it. I have been shooting in manual mode and I think I need to adjust my shutter speed now! Oh man, not only to photograph, but to see the Northern Lights or a Blue Whale in person would be spectacular!

  27. I bookmarked this! Oh no, I felt like I was going to collapse on the lenses..etc…all I have is a camera, but of course, I am not a photographer…though part of my marketing is photography. Heck how do i Know lighting and such…but I am glad I can now try the speed at least for kids 1/250!
    Congratulations on the magazine feature!

  28. Thank you for being tolerant of my over-exposed, sometimes grainy pictures. I have the fancy camera, but that does not make me a photographer. I love reading about your photography journey. There’s so much going on behind those stunning photos you post here. That first one took my breath away. And congrats on the wedding feature!

  29. WHEW! I’m glad you’re not being critical of my iPhone pictures. My fancy smancy camera is collecting dust, I should do something about that.
    Congrats on being featured! The pictures you took of your sister’s wedding were stunning! I’m a fan.

  30. Ahhhh!!! That photo in the woods, BEAUTIFUL!!!!! And I love that you yelled at the sky, so awesome. I wish I lived in the woods so I could yell at the sky too. And very good to know about shooting in raw!!! I didn’t know that! Congrats about the magazine feature!!!!!!!!!!! Those photos were stunning, you deserved to be featured.

  31. I don’t know about the technical stuff you’re talking about, but I do know what it’s like to be in a photo shoot with you. It was so comfortable and fun. I actually wondered if/when you were going to start. We were just hanging out and your took some shots. Who knew you were really working and capturing it all! What a wonderful morning and I love the results! (my avatar being one of the results!)

    • Ha! Did I ever start? I sure hope so. Sometimes testing turns right into the real deal if the circumstances are right. I’m like a nurse giving shots! I don’t tell people until it’s already over.

  32. Good to see you’re neglectful too and haven’t caught up with your comments, it means I’m not late 😛 Wait what’s your favorite cereal again? Lucky Charms??? Can you explain what is the difference between raw and jpg shooting? I love, LOVE that first image of the trees- the lighting is ridiculously perfect. I’m watching Golden Girls but my head hurts, too much time on this laptop. Most of a weekend spent on here. My eyes are strained beyond capacity. 🙁 Tomorrow going to wake up early and do it allll over again. xoxo -Iva

    • Oh I am way behind on comments! Days! So sad.
      I don’t really like Lucky Charms as an adult but I loved it as a kid so much. Now I’m not sure what my favorite cereal is! Probably granola from our co-op.
      I was watching Charles in Charge today, speaking of old shows!
      As for RAW files, they are almost like digital negatives. Wild and uncompressed and totally virgin to determine the exposure and white balance and sharpening. Like it used to be in a darkroom with film!
      JPEGs are actually compressed and contrasted and sharpened right in the camera! They are smaller and more convenient but you can’t alter them as freely.

      • Lol not sad, reality – I’m there with you. Granola is yummy indeed, especially on top of a heaping bowl of ice cream. Nom Nom Nom. It’s sad I’ve never heard of that show, wtf?!

        Ah so is this a setting you opt for in the camera before taking photos? I figured this is how you uploaded them to your comp but it seems like it’s a setting. I bought a beginner book for photography and am taking an online course later on this month when time opens up (maybe May) 😛

  33. Your timing on these photos is great! Sorry to hear that last week was not a good week. (I am just catching up now as I was out of town this weekend.) But that is the great things about weeks, that you get to start a new one every 7 days. I would love to see the Northern lights – I think it would be amazing!

  34. Lucky socks work. I swear they do.

    I love your routine. I used to listen to Beethoven’s 9th before a soccer match. Now, it’s AC/DC, because a mellow coach isn’t as good as a rockin’ coach.

    I love hearing you two talk shop. This from the guy who calls a successful picture one in which he didn’t shake when he took it on his smartphone.

  35. First, congrats on being featured in New Jersey Bride magazine! I love all the photos, except for the one you did not take! Your sister’s wedding was just beautiful and you captured it all! The redheaded girl pic, love it, the baby with the hat taken with the light scope, love it too, and I had no idea that was Cassidy dressed as the tree! That is an incredible costume and a great picture with Scarlett!

    • We had such a fun Halloween. I nearly couldn’t take photos, because I was on call all night to help him, but I luckily snuck in a few. It’s a favorite holiday.

  36. I loved reading your photo questions. I love learning new techniques to try even with my crappy cell phone. I wish I had a great camera so that I can play. I am about to do a small photo shoot with my youngest. It’s for a blog post for Easter. I can’t wait to share. You have an amazing talent.

    • Thank you so much. And I look forward to reading about the Easter shoot. My busiest season is actually fall in New England, because of the backgrounds, but spring is my favorite.

  37. I would love to learn more about editing. I don’t have lightroom but I do have PhotoShop. I also don’t shoot on raw. I’m putting that on my list of photo things I need to learn this year. I know I say this every time but, the photos in this post are gorgeous. Really just stunning. If I lived closer to you, I’d insist that you give me lessons! I’m getting better as I learn more, but I still have so much to learn! Also congratulations on the mention!

  38. Wow, what a great swap! I love the way you describe photography and the steps you go through. I really wish that I had a better camera than my little Kodak…maybe next year. I used to love playing in photoshop, but I haven’t used it since I was in school. Congratulations on the New Jersey Bride article! I am so happy for you and it is well deserved because you are of course fabulous! Have a great weekend!

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