Category archives: personal

I’ve been taking lots of fun personal photos this summer, and now that we are about to head in to fall I wanted to share a few! I LOVE LOVE LOVE images with lots of color, so summer is really fun for me.

These images were taken during some super fun trips. There’s a trip to Florida to visit family, a kid-free girls trip to Asheville, and some right here at home.

It has been an awesome summer!

As any mother does, I love taking photos of my own kids. Since it is summer, we have taken lots of photos of the boys outside recently, so I wanted to change it up and do something I love doing for clients that we hadn’t done yet – a lifestyle photo session.

Click here to see more lifestyle sessions from me.

Since all sessions are more fun for kids when they have something to do (and snacks always help!) baking cookies seemed like an obvious choice! We have lots of M&Ms around lately since we just finished potty training, so we made some yummy M&M cookies.

The boys love to help with everything at this age and they had so much fun. You should definitely these cookies out if you get the chance, they were delicious!

The recipe was adapted from Pretty Simple Sweet and Alton Brown’s chewy cookie recipes. The secret is melted butter, plenty of brown sugar (the darker the better), and only using the yolk of the second egg. Also, chill the dough or the cookies will spread.

Fun M&M Cookies

Yields 16-24 cookies

Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour (bread flour is even better if you have it)

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1.5 sticks of butter, melted

1/2 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup brown sugar (the darker the better)

1 large egg

1 egg yolk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup M&Ms

Directions:

Melt the butter over low heat. set aside.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar until well combined. Whisk in the egg, yolk, and vanilla extract. Slowly incorporate the flour mixture until well combined, but don’t over-mix.

Chill the dough for at least 2 hours or overnight (nap time was our perfect chilling opportunity). Heat oven to 350 degrees F.

Scoop rounded dough onto prepared baking sheet (parchment paper might be a good idea, but I didn’t use any). Bake between 12-18 minutes depending on the size of your cookies. Cookies are done when they just start to brown on the edges.

Cool, eat, and store leftovers (if there are any) in an airtight container.

Toddlers Baking Cookies | Family Lifestyle Photo Shoot on Film

Toddlers Baking Cookies | Family Lifestyle Photo Shoot on Film

Toddlers Baking Cookies | Family Lifestyle Photo Shoot on Film

Toddlers Baking Cookies | Family Lifestyle Photo Shoot on Film

Toddlers Baking Cookies | Family Lifestyle Photo Shoot on Film

Toddlers Baking Cookies | Family Lifestyle Photo Shoot on Film

Toddlers Baking Cookies | Family Lifestyle Photo Shoot on Film

Toddlers Baking Cookies | Family Lifestyle Photo Shoot on Film

Toddlers Baking Cookies | Family Lifestyle Photo Shoot on Film

Toddlers Baking Cookies | Family Lifestyle Photo Shoot on Film

Toddlers Baking Cookies | Family Lifestyle Photo Shoot on Film

Toddlers Baking Cookies | Family Lifestyle Photo Shoot on Film

Toddlers Baking Cookies | Family Lifestyle Photo Shoot on Film

Toddlers Baking Cookies | Family Lifestyle Photo Shoot on Film

Toddlers Baking Cookies | Family Lifestyle Photo Shoot on Film

Pretty much anyone who has an iPhone knows what they DON’T want flash to look like. Shiny skin, harsh shadows, the background way darker than the foreground.

As such, many photographers proudly advertise being “natural light only”. But what happens when the weather is bad? Or you want to have a newborn session indoors because mom is still recovering, or you’d like an in-home session but your house doesn’t get *quite* enough light?

Artificial lighting doesn’t always have to look, well…flash-y. Here are a few secrets to making artificial light look as natural as possible.

Shoot Film

Baby Dalton's session was shot on film at his home. Baby Dalton’s session was shot on film at his home.

Film offers a completely different look with artificial light because the dynamic range and highlight retention of film is so much better than digital. When you shoot strobes with film the result is a much softer looking light source, much like natural light.

Addie Kate's session was shot on film at her home as with a strobe and softbox. Addie Kate’s session was shot on film at her home as with a strobe and softbox.

Feather It

This photo taken during baby Jack's newborn session is an example of feathered light.  This photo taken during baby Jack’s newborn session is an example of feathered light.

Feathering is when you put your subject just behind or below the main path of light coming from your light source. Placing them in the outer, scattered light rather than directly in front and center gives a really nice, soft light.

Bounce, Bounce, Bounce

Ben's smash cake session was shot using a bare strobe bounced off of a white wall and ceiling. Ben’s smash cake session was shot using a bare strobe bounced off of a white wall and ceiling. A pullback from Ben's session. A pullback from Ben’s session.

Bouncing light is a great way to mimic ambient light. With every surface the light bounces off of, the light is scattered into a bunch of different directions. The effect is soft light that lights up your subject and the whole room.

Just be careful bouncing off of colors other than white as you can end up reflecting that surface color on to your subjects. For example, bouncing light off the walls of a wooden barn can make your images appear orange.

This photo of Jake was taken in the same room as Ben's session, with the strobe pointed at the top of the wall opposite the windows. This photo of Jake was taken in the same room as Ben’s session, with the strobe pointed at the top of the wall opposite the windows.

Mix with Ambient Light (when you can)

This (digital) photo was taken using a strobe + softbox and mixed with ambient window light during baby Charlotte's newborn session. This (digital) photo was taken using a strobe + softbox and mixed with ambient window light during baby Charlotte’s newborn session.

Using artificial lights on as low a setting as possible is a good way to make sure the light doesn’t become too harsh. Leaving the windows uncovered and working with the available light you have will help to keep your strobe or flash settings low.

A word of caution: strobes, flashes, and all lightbulbs are set to be a certain color temperature. If your bulb color temperature is different than the color temperature of your ambient light, you can end up with some funky white balance issues.

Use Soft Light

A large softbox was used for this photo of baby Jackson. This room had little to no available natural light. A large softbox was used for this photo of baby Jackson. This room had little to no available natural light.

There are just about a MILLION different light modifiers out there, and it can get super confusing knowing which one to use. Now, not all natural light is soft (during midday it is definitely harsh) but the late afternoon light that is the most flattering is typically soft.

When it comes to soft light modifiers, bigger is better. Also diffusion helps to soften the light coming out of the modifier. Softboxes, octodomes, and beauty dishes are great.

Also, the closer your light is to your subject, the softer the light will be (just make sure the power is low). Remember though, the closer the light the quicker the falloff, so keep an eye on your shadows and if they are too dark consider a reflector.

Another example using a large softbox is this image from Jack Henry's session. Another example using a large softbox is this image from Jack Henry’s session.

Another (somewhat surprising) soft light source is fluorescent lights! They are sometimes used by famous editorial and headshot photographers for the way they flatter skin and fill pores. You can either use pro-grade (and very expensive!) fluorescent lights designed for studio photography, or you can get them from your local home improvement store. Just be aware that you need to get T8 bulbs as T12 will flicker and limit what shutter speeds can be used.

This shot of Jake was lit with a fluorescent shop light and four T8 bulbs. This shot of Jake was lit with a fluorescent shop light and four T8 bulbs. In this image you can see the shop light reflected in the catchlights in his eyes. In this image you can see the shop light reflected in the catchlights in his eyes.

I hope that if you are considering an indoor photography session this has opened up the possibilities for you! Contact me today to book or inquire about a studio session or sign up for my newsletter to stay in the loop on all my events and goings-on around here.

We snuck out of town while our house is being renovated and got to squeeze in a short session with my sister and nephew Levi. He is so cute and is growing so fast!

Sweet little Dalton is my newest nephew. He was the most relaxed newborn I’ve ever seen, he preferred to just let his legs stretch straight out and chill, and I don’t recall hearing him cry at all! We did this entire session at his home in Georgia – another peaceful in-home session. 🙂

Melissa and I go wayyy back. There are only a few people I have kept in touch with from my hometown for the long haul and she is one of them. We got together for a beach session for her and her family the last time I was down and I think their images turned out beautifully!

My baby boy turned one! We celebrated with a quadruple birthday party a few weeks after his day since my husband and two other boys all have birthdays too in a 2 week span of time (we will see how long I can get away with that!).

So since we didn’t have much planned for his ACTUAL birthday, I decided to commemorate with a cake smash session – on film of course!

Happy birthday sweet boy!!!

You know how some photos just have that *something*. Character, soul, rich tones, vibrant color, dramatic shadows…film does all these things and does them goooood. I’m a little bit obsessed.

“But Leanne, isn’t film outdated? Isn’t digital so much better?”

You be the judge.

“But, can you even get digital copies when you shoot film?”

I’m glad you asked! You absolutely CAN still get digital copies thanks to scanners and modern technology. Shooting film is in my opinion, a win-win-win.

So for your viewing pleasure, a little bit of my life lately, all on film 🙂