Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Becoming a Forever Family

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In anticipation of the big day, I met Stephen and Kelli and all their kids at a local park about a month ago for a big family photo shoot. It's been so hard to keep the images under wraps, but it was important for the adoption to be finalized before we published anything online.

Get ready for a barrage of photos of this gorgeous family. First off, I want you to meet their kids. Here are my two favorite photos of each, oldest to youngest.

It was a party before the party, a celebration in anticipation of the real celebration. 

Being a family
means you are a 
part of something
very wonderful.
It means you will
love and be loved
for the rest of
your life.
(source unknown)

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Family Photos at Kraft Azalea Park

Every mom and dad need a photo like this at their family photo shoot. Hands down, this was my favorite image from that evening.

But there were lots of others to love, too. Like this one of little sister's freckles and sparkly blue eyes.

And  big sister's natural beauty.

And this oh - so - serious look from the oldest.

When I asked them to "strike a pose," here's what I got! 

So glad to have a chance to shoot photos for these family friends before the craziness of the new school year begins.

Monday, August 4, 2014


Sweet friendship. Italian ice and secret sharing.

Seemed perfect for this week's photo challenge over at I Heart Faces.

Photo Challenge Submission

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

How to Choose a Family Photographer

In years past, I always checked price first when looking for a family photographer. Cheap? Great! Free? Even better. I wanted beautiful photos, but I was on a budget. 

But to get the photos of your dreams, I think there's something you should look at even before you look at a photographer's pricing.  

Look at her portfolio! 

Seriously, it's really that simple. If you are going to the trouble to drag your whole family out to a location in carefully coordinated outfits, make sure the person clicking the shutter already does work you like.

The best indicator of what your photos will look like is the photographer's most recent work.

You wouldn't ask Picasso to paint a Monet for you. 

Because this is what would happen.

You'd envision this.

But you'd get this.

Yeah, hiring Picasso when what you really want is Monet, will never end well -- even if Picasso paints you a picture for FREE. 

In the same way, all photographers aren't created equal. Each has her own shooting style. And her own editing style. Some are more skilled than others. All these elements influence the kind of images she is creating today.

But you don't really have to sort through all that. All you really need to do is look at her portfolio and ask, "Do I love her work?" When you can answer, "Yes!" hire that photographer to take your family photo.

Every professional photographer has a portfolio. Even hobbyist photographers like me have one. You can view my portfolio here. I've been polishing it up for Click Away.

 Bragging alert! Remember my entry in the Make a Splash photo challenge?

I won! Happy Dance! My photo placed in the top 10, number 5 to be exact! There were over 130 entries. You can see all the winners and read the judge's comments on my photo over at I Heart Faces.

I Heart Faces Photo Challenge Winner - Top 10 Photo

Finally, if all this talk of photography and pretty pictures has you thinking of dusting off your own camera, I have great news for you. Manual 'n More (my favorite photography class) is open for registration. Head over and take a look. If you're interested don't wait too long. The class tends to fill up quickly.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Make A Splash

This week's photo challenge over at I Heart Faces is called "Make a Splash!" I've been obsessed with water photos for a while, so it was hard to choose a favorite.  But I finally settled on this one from my Rainy Day Photo Shoot. 

Crossing my fingers. Maybe I'll win!

Photo Challenge Submission

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Summer is for Beach Vacations

OK, massive photo share here. Hang with me to the end, because I have a big announcement.

In June, we met up with my parents and my sister and her kids in Orange Beach, AL for a cousins vacation. Just low key, relaxing fun. I took some photos of my beautiful niece, and spent lots of time at my computer, editing the photos. I could edit photos all day, and some days, that's all I did!

We got up one morning to see the sunrise.

And took group photos so that Grammy and Papa will have a Christmas card photo this year.

I enlisted the help of my trusty assistant.

Teenage boys don't want to stand too close together. . . Oh, well.

Looks like my sister will get a Christmas card photo too.

There were epic games of Risk.

And some relaxing screen time.

Papa brought his metal detector to search for buried treasure.

Bottle caps and pennies. That's all we got.

So we don't get to quit our day jobs and become full time beach bums.

So here's my announcement. 

Join me at Click Away!

I'm going to Click Away! It's an amazing photography conference taking place in Salt Lake City, September 11-13. 

Oh, how I agonized over this decision. I mean, homeschooling moms of four don't just up and fly all the way across the country by themselves to go to a conference where they don't even know ANYONE, do they?

Nancy, the gal, who taught my photography classes, mentioned this conference many months ago, but at the time, I wasn't even calling myself a photographer, and didn't think I was good enough to be at such an event.

But a lot has changed since then. I've decided that I am a photographer, and I even set up a little savings account for photography. When people ask me to take their photo and give me a little gift to say thank you, into the account it goes. When I sell old homeschool books on Ebay, my little account grows. Those massive boxes of Thomas the Tank Engine wooden trains and tracks that I've been saving for my grandkids are in imminent danger of being sold to finance my next lens. In fact, anything that is not being used at my house and isn't nailed down is fair game. Use it or lose it, people!

Then, after upgrading my camera and buying my amazing 135mm lens, I made another decision. For the next little while, I need to spend the $$ in my savings account on photography education, not more photography gear. For the next year or so, I want to work on SKILLS!

Because here's the secret. It's not really about better gear. It's about growing as an artist. Better cameras don't magically take better photos.  It really is mostly about skills.  

And that brought me back to Click Away. Over 300 classes in one place. Networking with other hobbyist and professional photographers. And shooting photos in a very beautiful part of the U.S. I'm so in!

Want to join me at Click Away? Check it out. If you use the promo code DANABALL at checkout, you'll get $60 off your registration. 

Hope to see you there!

One last thing. Now, my big dilemma is whether to room by myself or try to get a roommate. Click Away's message boards are full of roommate requests. (FYI, I'm an introvert, and am pretty sure that I will never sign up to room with someone I don't know.) Last night, Wenxin told me he thought I should post a roommate request. In fact, he had already decided what it should say. He put a lot of thought into this.

"Roommate needed. I like to stay up late editing photos. No drinking. I might snore a little sometimes, but not much. I hope you will want to be my friend." 

Little by Little