Still no master, but a whole lot closer...

I finished my Mastering Natural Light Indoors workshop a couple of weeks ago and holy moly was that class a game changer for me. I thought I knew how to best use the light in my house, but I was only seeing the tip of the iceberg. One of the biggest takeaways I learned was how to create and utilize light to better set the right mood for my photos. Take these two self portraits...


I'm making essentially the same expression in both, showing the same amount of skin, but the one on the left tells a completely different story than the one on the right. The one on the left is more thoughtful and serene thanks to the natural backlighting, but the one on the right is more moody and raw - that one was actually taken in our guest bathroom using my iPhone as the only light source. (I had the camera set on top of the back of the toilet, held the phone in one hand, and the wireless remote in the other.) The one on the right also utilizes Rembrandt lighting, characterized by the triangle under my eye on the shadowed side of my face. This is the lighting Rembrandt often used in his portraits and is surprisingly tricky to nail. You do not want to know how many almost Rembrandt triangle outtakes I have from this workshop. :)


Another HUGE thing for me was finally getting some sleeping pics of Emma. All my photographer friends have these amazingly adorable photos of their kids sleeping and Emma's just too light of a sleeper for me to attempt to go anywhere near her during her naps - much less try to take photos. But now that I was getting more comfortable shooting in low light, I foolishly bravely attempted the elusive Emma sleeping shot. The one on the left was my first attempt, and while I love her smooshy face - I wasn't crazy about how the light was hitting her. (I was using only my iPad as the light source.) So when I saw her sleeping in her signature "arms behind the head" position a few nights later, I knew I had to try again. Her little pursed lips in that one just kill me.


I also took advantage of the new blackout curtains in Emma's room (sidenote: why on earth did we wait so long to get those?!?) to control the light a bit better for some casual portraits.

The last big game changer for me was learning to use what I had around the house to create natural reflectors when there wasn't enough fill light...


I knew I wanted to attempt this shot, but when I got in the tub to test out the light (before I filled it up) I realized that the tub was just too deep for the light coming in through the window above the tub to adequately light my feet. So... I got creative:

Who needs to buy a reflector when you have a white sheet, thumb tacks, and duct tape? :) This set up allowed the window light to reflect back down onto my feet, giving me just the right amount of light and that cool reflection in the water.


This was my final assignment submission for the class. The assignment was to take a photo you never would have taken before you took the class, and this certainly qualified... as with the earlier photo, it was taken in our guest bathroom - a room I had never previously even thought to shoot in. And I used my iPhone as my sole light source, something I also never would have done (or at least not done well) before this class. I think the primary thing that makes this photo a first for me is that, despite being someone who for various reasons has ended up taking a stupid amount of self portraits, I had never once even thought to use split lighting (where half of my face is completely in the shadows and half is lit). I love the mood and visual interest it created.

So there you go! Another Clickin Moms workshop crossed off the list, and probably my last for a while. I really can't say enough good things about their classes, so if you're at all interested in photography I highly recommend them. There are classes for every level imaginable and you don't have to be a mom or even female to join in on the fun. :)


Another month, another Clickin Moms workshop. This is my 4th workshop in 8 months, and I'm really loving it so far. It's called "Mastering Natural Light Indoors" and it's all about how to use the available light in your house (or really any indoor location) to its fullest potential. I'm halfway through the class right now and as you can see, I've taken a lot of self portraits so far. When you're trying to get exact angles of light at exact times of day, a rambunctious toddler isn't the best subject. ;) But between this class and my maternity series, I'm a little selfie'd out. If you've never attempted a self portrait while 5 months pregnant, while standing awkwardly in your empty bathtub, while your expensive camera is perched precariously on a tripod on the other side of the tub, yeah... I don't recommend it. :) Week 1 Practice Shots:



Week 1 Assignment Submission:MNLImaternity18weeksforMBB

Week 2 Practice Shots:May092013-9-Edit-EditforMBBMay092013-11forMBBMay092013-18forMBB

Week 2 Assignment Submission:

MNLIWeek2-69-EditforMBB MNLIWeek2-69-Edit-2forMBB I'll have more on these last two photos (and why they mean so much to me) tomorrow...



April062013-6-EditforMBB dearemma

My sweet girl... this photo is very emotional for me because it depicts a time of great transition in our journey as mother and child. After nearly 22 months of nursing, you are officially (finally) weaned. I honestly never intended to or thought I would nurse you this long. You just never lost interest, and once I didn't have to pump anymore it wasn't really much effort on my part to let you keep going. You would wake up and do your little sign and look up at me with those beautiful blue eyes saying "melk!"... a mother is pretty defenseless to that kind of cuteness. But a month or so ago you started showing small signs of indifference, so when I went away on a business trip we decided that would be it.

Even though I was as ready as I could be, it was still bittersweet once I knew I was nursing you for the last time. You were my baby. You were my first. We've been on this crazy journey together, learning together... and there were many moments during those early days when I wasn't sure I'd ever get the hang of nursing, much less be able to nurse you until you were almost 2. But we figured it out, and it ended up being one of the most rewarding and beautiful experiences of my life.

Our last nursing session came and went, and we moved on to a new phase in our relationship. One where I feel much more like the mother of a young girl than the mother of a baby. You still ask for milk almost every day, but you're perfectly fine with my saying "no." We replaced our pre-bed nursing time with rocking and singing in the chair in your room. (This photo was taken during one of those times.) We sing the same three songs every time: "Three Little Birds" by Bob Marley, "Golden Slumbers" by The Beatles, and "Murder in the City" by The Avett Brothers. Some nights you even sing along, which is pretty much the cutest thing I've ever heard in my life. Mostly I'm just glad that we still get our special time together. You're growing up so fast, and before I know it you'll outgrow wanting to be rocked before bed. So I'm treasuring what I can get.


I am joined in this “Letters to our Children” blog circle by an amazing group of photographers and moms. Together, we’ll be writing these letters every month in honor of our love for our sons and daughters. I encourage you to head over to Davina's blog to read her letter, and then continue on around the circle!

the right place at the right time

There's this elusive moment as a photographer when you click the shutter and  you just know you got a really great capture. The formula goes a little something like this: great light + real emotion + interesting composition = stellar photo. Obviously, there's a bit more that goes into it like nailing focus and exposure that I don't mean to gloss over, but assuming you have the technical stuff down, the above equation is what you're hoping for every single time you pick up the camera. And as someone who's still relatively new to photography, it doesn't happen nearly as often as I'd like. BUT, thanks to a lot of studying, practice, and the amazing workshops I've taken through Clickin Moms, it's happening more frequently these days. One such moment happened a few weeks ago when Emma and I were hanging out at my mom's house. I was trying to get some backlit shots for a workshop assignment while my mom and Emma were reading together when I noticed this amazing reflection in my mom's coffee table. I clicked the shutter and I just knew...


The other recent favorite shot happened this weekend when we were walking back to the car after dinner at Alexander's. (Side note - the BEST fried chicken I've ever had anywhere. If you live in the DC area, it's worth the drive.) Sometimes you're just standing there and you see the photograph come together first with your eyes and then you pray you have your camera within arm's reach. Luckily, I did.


While I wish those pesky cars weren't there (I know, how dare there be cars in a parking lot?!?), I love everything else about this... the sun flare, the rim lighting, the way they're walking in step together, the juxtaposition of their size difference. Moments like this are why I started taking my camera with me pretty much every time I leave the house, because you just never know...

On a side note, are you guys at all curious to see before and afters of some of these photos I've been posting? I'm happy to share my editing process with you. Just let me know! :)



Letters to My Daughter: March

dearemma My sweet girl, you are going to be a big sister! You have been very excited about the baby, and I know you’re going to be an amazing sister. You’ll be almost 2 and a half by the time your brother or sister arrives, so it’s doubtful you’ll ever remember what life was like without him or her. And while I know that life will only get better for us with the addition of this new little person, I want you to know how much I’ve cherished our time together as just us. I know the majority of my excitement about this baby is because you’ve shown me how wonderful being a mama truly is…


From the first moments I held you in my arms, I was filled with a love I never new possible. Your dad may have taught be how to be loved, but you my girl taught me how to give love… how to love someone so much you think your heart might explode every time you lay your eyes on her… the heartbreak you feel when she’s hurting and you can’t make it better… the joy you feel when she rolls over, takes her first steps, when her signs turn into words.





IMG_0021-Edit-EditforBlogAs you’ve grown, the bond we share has only grown stronger. I feel like we’ve been on this great journey together… from pregnancy, to navigating those first chaotic newborn months, to all the milestones of your first year, and now seeing you develop into (it’s hard for me to even say it) a little girl. It’s been tough at times, figuring out this whole parenting thing, but mostly it’s been a pure joy… and truly the greatest honor of my life.



And now I’m on a new journey… a journey that takes me from being the mom of one to being the mom of two. But I promise my journey with you doesn’t stop because of that. I will love you both the same, but uniquely. You will still be my little boo boo. You will still be the one who taught me what it really means to be a mother, and what an absolute gift it is.


I am joined in this “Letters to our Children” blog circle by an amazing group of photographers and moms. Together, we’ll be writing these letters every month in honor of our love for our sons and daughters. I encourage you to head over to Carrie’s blog to read her letter, and then continue on around the circle!

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Letters to My Daughter: January

Hello, sweet girl. I haven't written to you since you were a few weeks old, when I was still so overwhelmed with the joy of your arrival (and with figuring out this whole parenting thing!) I held you in my arms and couldn't imagine life getting any better. But it has... in the past year and a half I've watched you grow into this amazingly smart, silly, and ever-curious little girl, and I find myself in a state of perpetual awe.

You bring so much joy and laughter to my life every single day... and since we don't get to spend that much time together during the week, I pretty much live for the weekends. I love our morning cuddles, having breakfast together in our PJs, going to the park, throwing the ball for Rocco... your excitement to play and learn and find new adventures is so infectious. I love watching you "read" your books aloud, in words I can't quite make out, wondering what story you're making up in your head to go along with the pictures. And I love how determined and focused you get during your independent play... it amazes me how creative you are with your toys, and how quickly you learn to use and manipulate them.

Mostly I love how completely and utterly silly you are. You're constantly singing and making up sounds, or dancing to whatever music we have on with the most ridiculous dance moves I've ever seen. Even after you've gone to bed, your dad and I find ourselves still laughing about something you did during the day, or because when we check the monitor we find you in your signature sleeping position - on your back with your arms folded behind your head like you're lounging poolside. We find you endlessly entertaining, and your love of life endlessly inspiring. I feel so immensely blessed - not just that I get to be a mama - but that I get to be your mama. So thank you... thank you for being you and for bringing me so much more happiness than I ever thought possible.

I am joined in this “Letters to our Children” blog circle by an amazing group of photographers and moms. Together, we'll be writing these letters every month in honor of our love for our sons and daughters. I encourage you to head over to Davina's blog to read her letter, and then continue on around the circle!