A Photographer's Brain

We make it look easy. But before we click the shutter, there are - what seems like - a million things running through our minds. Usually, all at once.

We're photographers. And though we do, just click the shutter to freeze a moment in time, there are a ton of technical, environmental, and human elements going through our minds to make a photo work. 

In no particular order, here's what we're thinking about when we're out on session photographing our clients. 

The Sun

This wholly beast of Mother Nature is a natural light photographer's best friend and worst enemy. We're constantly looking at where the sun is positioned. We're looking up to the sky and placing our clients accordingly. We're trying to keep it out of the frame and making sure it's not too harsh, but "glowy" enough so we can get that dreamy sunset effect. Speaking of sunsets, we're analyzing the clock down to the minute, just to make sure we can get ample golden hour photos. That one hour before sunset is prime time! And when there is no sun, there's usually clouds, or worse yet - overcast. On these days, we're throwing out all the rules and trying to find the best light. And sometimes that means facing the sun. 


Also known as layout, it makes our work an art. We're on the ground, maybe on a step stool, or even peeking through a tree branch to add an extra layer of uniqueness (aka depth of field). We're thinking - angle, angle, angle - moving our feet, bodies, arms, and hands. Should I shoot this horizontal or vertical? Should I shoot this up or down? We're zooming in and zooming out. We're following the rule of thirds or breaking it. All to add a little interest to or work. 


It's an animal. We're pinning on the daily for posing ideas. And then, we study them over and over again. We've got boards for every type of session - weddings, maternity, pets... and we refer to them often. We need inspiration and a plan before we even start our session. Honestly, sometimes we blank or run out of ideas, and it's no wonder we do, with everything going through our brains. We're placing toes, feet, legs, torsos, shoulders, arms, hands, chins, eyes, foreheads... all while trying to keep our clients looking natural. We're repeating, "It feels weird, but it looks great!" to reassure our clients. And we're trying to give the best directions we can. We're using language like, "John, lightly place your left hand right under Kate's right ear with your thumb in front of her ear lobe." Yes, we try to be soooo specific. We've got an idea of what we're picturing in our head and explaining it can be the tricky part. 


Here's where it gets technical. Simultaneously, we're thinking about aperture, shutter speed and ISO. In other words, we're setting our depth of field, how fast our camera shutter closes, and how much light we're letting into the camera lens. These all affect one another and the total look of a photo. We're manually setting all of these before we click so that we can get background blur, the right exposure, and no motion blur from movement right in camera without having to heavily edit our photos later. To top it off, there's a fourth element that we scrutinize over. It's white balance. We're adjusting our Kelvin scales or using our expo discs to make sure our photos aren't too warm (orange) or too cold (blue). What it means for our clients - they'll have perfect skin tones. We dread the orange-tinted, dark church. But we can tackle it by adjusting our white balance. On the flip side, white walls, light-colored stone paths... those are a photographer's dream. 

Our Energy

Yes, energy. We're making the session fun, getting our clients to laugh by poking fun at ourselves or the poses that make them feel awkward. We strive for the genuine smiles and candid laughs so we're keeping our clients comfortable and care-free with praise. LOTS of praise. We may have just botched a photo - the settings were off - but our clients don't know that. We're focused on them and reassuring them that they are rocking this! If we're introverts, we've got our professional extrovert hat on. If we're extroverts, well, we're most likely getting a lot of energy off this session. And when we snap a shot, check the back our camera's little LCD screen, and geek out over what we're seeing with an "OMG" or "Love IT!" you'll know we just hit the jackpot. 


It all comes back to the sun, but before we can even start to pose our clients, set our settings, and click the shutter, one of the first things we're thinking about is the lighting. We find the light. In fact, we're obsessed with it. We're looking where the sun is, how it's shining through those tree branches, where it's bouncing off of. It's all about the light and natural reflectors that give our photos that bright and airy pop. We're avoiding that harsh mid-day light, finding shade, diffusing it with treelines, and even sometimes using environmental objects to block it form our clients. 


We can make any background work, but we prefer the less distracting, neutral ones. We scope out the perfect spots and when we're unfamiliar with the area, we're analyzing our surroundings for the best places. We think about leading lines, framing with environmental elements, and keeping signs and trash cans out of the frame. 


And lastly, focus. We're recomposing and toggling to get the right focus - making sure our images are sharp and crisp. Most of time we're focusing on the client's eye. But then there's always that stubborn ring shot that we just can't seem to get the focus in the right spot. 

... So it might not be a million. But for a photographer, there's a lot going on inside our brains all at the same time while we're working our craft. 

Did I forget any!? Comment below.  

Randi + Nick | Beautiful Fall Maternity Session at the Prairie

Randi and Nick are expecting a little baby boy this winter, and I was so excited to shoot their maternity session against the backdrop of beautiful fall leaves. Between their outfits, their props, and the baby bump - I'm in love with their gallery! Here's a few of my favorites from their session. 

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Randi's mom traveled along for the session, and I'm sure glad she did! She brought out all the props. Like these little blue baby converse shoes! Adorable. 

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With a name already picked out, these two even brought along a streamer with the letters of Carson painted on each flag. 

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I love when clients bring their own ideas for poses to the shoot. This first image was their idea! 

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This momma to be is a beauty. The perfect dress for a maternity shoot in the fall. 

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We headed out towards the creek for these shots. The reflection of the trees on the water was beautiful, but a few black and whites never disappoint. 

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Before heading out to another area, we made a stop at the bridge - and these are some of my absolute favorites!

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Cheap to Chic Bar Stools





How to Upgrade Cheap Bar Stools

The light wood color of these cheap bar stools from Walmart weren't exactly the style I wanted for my kitchen island, so I painted and stained them to change their look into more of a rustic farmhouse feel. Here's how I achieved the look.

 Sanded top, and sanding sponge used for legs and rungs. 

Sanded top, and sanding sponge used for legs and rungs. 


Sand the seats using an orbital sander, sanding down to the raw wood. The better these are sanded, the better your stain will take to the stools. Next, sand the legs and rungs with a sanding sponge. The sanding sponge can also be used to hit any spots you may have missed when sanding the top. 



 Vanilla Frosting Country Chic Paint

Vanilla Frosting Country Chic Paint


After sanding, you're ready to paint the legs and rungs. I used Country Chic Paint in Vanilla Frosting. I love the antique-like color of Vanilla Frosting. And, because it's a chalk paint, it's specifically made to use on furniture DIYs.  

 Paint legs and rungs with two coats. 

Paint legs and rungs with two coats. 

 Pre-stain tops with wood conditioner.

Pre-stain tops with wood conditioner.


Pre-stain the tops of the stools using a wood conditioner. I brushed on one coat of Minwax Pre-Stain to each stool with a foam paint brush, letting dry for at least 15 minutes before staining. 

 Stain tops with wood finish stain.

Stain tops with wood finish stain.


Use several coats of stain, letting dry between each, to stain the tops. I used an old t-shirt to stain with Minwax Wood Finish in Jacobean color. 



I love how easy this DIY was, and how these bar stools turned out! Their look fits into our farmhouse style kitchen way better than how they were purchased as is. 

Anthony & Ashton | Ohio State Engagement Photos

When Anthony and Ashton asked me to take their engagement photos they told me they wanted to have their session on Ohio State's campus - and I was so excited! These forever buckeyes met while in school through a mutual friend, so the campus means a lot to them. I've known Anthony and Ashton for a few years, and can even recall when they first started dating. A perk, and one of my favorite parts of doing engagement photos for friends is watching their relationships grow. I'm so happy for this lovely couple and can't wait to see where their marriage journey takes them! Here's some of my favorites from this session.

I loved that these two showed up to their session with matching OSU shirts! 

Anthony and Ashton have to be the most laid back couple I have ever photographed. They were so easy going, that even though our main iconic picture spot (in front of the stadium) was blocked off and being used for an event, it didn't stop them from being open to other ideas and locations. 

As the sun was setting we switched up outfits, and made our way around The Oval and used different buildings for some great backgrounds. I don't think they ever took a bad picture! They were pros at this. 

p.s. Anthony and Ashton, if you're ready this, I'm really sore from all the walking we did... I think that makes me really out of shape. BUT it was well worth it!