Feature Friday ~ Peekaboo Studios

Interview with Heather Mangiardi of Peekaboo Studios

This week I had the privilege of interviewing Heather Mangiardi of Peekaboo Studios who is located just outside the Toronto, Canada area.  Heather specializes in Newborn Photography.  Her style is just so beautiful, always soft and dreamy.  So grab a cup of coffee and let’s get to know a Heather a little better.


1. Tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Heather and I am a mom to two sweet boys (3 & 6) and a wife to an amazing man who supports me and all my craziness.  I live just outside of Toronto and was a clothing designer in my previous career for 13 years and still love to bust out my sewing machine to make outfits for my sweet little clients.  I am happiest when I am being creative and I only wish I had time for all the ideas that I have in my head!  I LOVE babies and feel so blessed that I get to spend everyday with these little miracles.


2. How did you get started in photography?

After the birth of my first son I became obsessed with capturing every little moment and detail with him.  My love of photography grew from there and in 2011 I started my business.


3. If this a full time job or a part time gig?

Full Time


4. What three word describe your style?

Soft, timeless, simple


5. Do you always know when you get the perfect shot?  Any surprises during the editing process?

You can tell when you have the perfect set up and the baby molds into the perfect position.


6. What are you inspired by?

My boys, design – both interior and fashion.


7. Are you self taught?  Learn somewhere else?

Mainly self taught but I have also taken some online workshops.


8. Any special moments or funny bloopers you want to share with us that happened during a session?

Poop! Lots and lots of poop!


9. Do you have any rituals that are apart of your editing process?

No real rituals, but I always have music playing while in a session or editing.


10. Do you a glass addiction?  What is your favorite lens?

My 50 mm rarely leaves my camera.


11. What advice you give a photographer just starting off in this business?

Work on finding your own style.  Be inspired by others but focus on your unique style and be yourself.


12. Where can we find you? Social media links?

Website :: http://peekaboostudios.ca

Instagram :: https://www.instagram.com/peekaboostudios

Facebook :: https://www.facebook.com/peekaboostudios


Thank you so much Heather for spending some time with us.  Truly admire your work and forward to seeing where your career takes you.  Simple and beautiful.






Feature Friday ~ Abby Custer Photography

Interview with Abby Custer Photography

The weekend is nearly here…time to take a break and get to know our weekly guest a little better.  Abby Custer located in Noblesville, Indiana.  She specializes in natural light photography providing services for newborns, children, families, couples, and seniors.  And let me tell you in advance – her work is beautiful!

1. Tell us a little about yourself.

My faith, family, and friends are number one.  I am the mother of three incredible babes that God gave me the privilege to parent. I have an awesome and supportive husband. I like to workout and try to eat healthy. But some of my favorite things are coffee, wine and dessert!


2. How did you get started in photography?

As far back as I can remember photography was an interest of mine. From setting up and planning out play photo shoots as a child, to getting my first DSLR. I love all aspects of photography. I love capturing beauty and emotion. I love enhancing reality through  editing, to match the beauty of the memories and people that we hold so dear. That sounds cheesy, but it’s true!


3. If this a full time job or a part time gig?

It’s as full time as it can be with three children. Two of them under two. 


4. What three word describe your style?

I always try to keep subjects and moments as authentic as possible. I don’t like to overdo my images with editing, but I do love to enhance them to bring out the beauty of the person and moment. I love clean, natural and bright images. I guess I need four words. Authentic, clean, natural and bright.


5. Do you always know when you get the perfect shot? Any surprises during the editing process?

I always try to make sure my settings and lighting are set for the image I am trying to achieve. But being human, I definitely make mistakes. The camera and lenses can have a mind of their own as well. I shoot wide open or close to it, so out of focus mishaps are definitely my number one pet peeve.


6. What are you inspired by?

People. Making people happy, giving them a gift they can cherish, one that makes them proud to show off.


7. Are you self taught?  Learn somewhere else?

I am self taught, with lots of help from some very gifted and generous friends. I have also taken some great workshops with very talented photographers.


8. Any special moments or funny bloopers you want to share with us that happened during a session?

This job has allowed me to do some pretty incredible things and be with people at the best and the worst of times. From photographing the birth of a child, to photographing someone’s last breath. I feel so blessed that I am able to be there for those people.

As far as bloopers..Oh yes! And 100% of them have to do with newborns, their very fast digestive systems, and when and where that digestive system decides it’s going to do its thing. Having an in home studio has been glorious, because I can change my clothes any time I need to! 


9. Do you have any rituals that are apart of your editing process?

Coffee, and if it’s been a really long day, wine and chocolate. And there is almost always a podcast or music playing in the background. 


10. Do you a glass addiction?  What is your favorite lens?

I couldn’t live without my 50 and 35. But I love the dreamy look of the 85. 


11. What advice you give a photographer just starting off in this business?

Practice, practice, practice. Take every set back as a learning experience. Also, know your worth and don’t compare yourself to others. It’s that same  lesson we learned when we were 5, but it’s easy to forget. 


12. Where can we find you? Social media links? 

Instagram: abbycusterphotography


Thanks so much Abby!  Thank was so much fun…and again, such beautiful work!  Are you a photographer and interested in being featured?  Just contact me!



Swaddling Sack Love

It all started with one little sack.  I wondered how they would be received, if you would like them…turns out that you love them!   A huge thank you to all of my fabulous customers…such beautiful work and I am so happy to be apart of it.  Thank you all from the bottom of my heart.  Enjoy the show!

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Feature Friday: Shanna Kaye Photography

Interview with Shanna Kaye

The weekend is here, or nearly!  Today I have the pleasuring of sharing a this talented artist with you all – Shanna Kaye.  Based out of Tyler, Texas, Shanna Kaye Photography has such a fun approach to photography.  Let’s find out more!

Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m that gal who is overly talkative, loves anything that has to do with cameras or crafting, and is always looking for new ways to market my businesses.  I’m a 21 year old SAHM, wife to an amazing & supportive husband, and expecting our second child this summer-and have been in love with photography since I was a little girl. Helping & chatting with other photographers online is exciting to me-I love being part of an online community of photogs who are pumped about helping each other.


How did you get started in photography?

I started when I was 8 or 9 years old, when my dad showed me how to manually focus his film Nikon SLR. I practiced on my rabbits-and would set them up for the “perfect picture” in our backyard.  Fast forward 10 years. My husband and I got married in June 2010, and I started my photography business in September of that year. I spent the first year practicing, the second year learning how to market, and this year building a clientele & learning my equipment inside & out. The last 6 months have been snowballing in a good way.  I’ve stayed very busy & locals recognize my name & my style. Living in a town full of photographers, that’s hard to do! 🙂 


If this a full time job or a part time gig?

For me, it’s a little of both. My husband brings in our main income-but I put enough hours in for it to be full time! 🙂 I also have a side business designing logos, branding, and products for photographers-so both keep me really busy.


What three word describe your style?

Bright, Clean, Colorful AND Playful & Whimsical too!


Do you always know when you get the perfect shot?  Any surprises during the editing process?

Both! I get giddy when I get the perfect shot during a session-It’s always hard to contain the squealing inside of “I got one!!!” Sometimes I forget shots that I took during a session, especially if the session was fast paced-and then the editing process is so fun because I get surprises that make me really excited.


What are you inspired by?

I’m inspired by color and other photographers. I LOVE bright colors-they make me joyful. Being able to see expressions & priceless moments that other photographers capture inspires me to do the same-with the thought of “one day I want to be as good as this photographer!”


Are you self taught?  Learn somewhere else?

Yes ma’am! Trial and error is my favorite way to learn-my husband teases me about it.  It makes the learning process longer, but I feel more successful when I finally figure out something & it works.


Any special moments or funny bloopers you want to share with us that happened during a session?

At a recent sibling session with a 3 year old & 11 month old, the littlest sister had just started taking a few steps 3 days before the session. The mom & grandmother were there, and as we sat her down on a quilt, she slowly stood up and started walking. They were so overjoyed, as I got to capture that sweet moment and she repeated it several times during the session. That’s one of the reasons I love capturing newborns & children sessions-each thing they do is precious!


Do you have any rituals that are apart of your editing process?

I “double” edit my images-they first go into Lightroom for culling & adding color/fixing exposure, and then I pull each image into Photoshop Elements to add a pop of color. It makes editing longer-but I’m a bit of a perfectionist on color & light in my images.


Do you a glass addiction?  What is your favorite lens?

I love love love my nifty fifty. I used a 50mm 1.8 for 2 years, and upgraded this year to a 50mm 1.4g, and feel like the world has opened up. It’s an amazing lens and so versatile.


What advice you give a photographer just starting off in this business?

Learn what style of editing speaks to you.  There are so many ways to edit images-it can be overwhelming when you start!  Investing into actions or presets can drastically help speed up your workflow, and finding which ones you love & use weekly will keep your workflow faster.  Being a perfectionist on editing, I use to spend 4-10+ hours on each session-and 25+ hours on weddings. I hand edited each image, and making a gallery match in color was difficult so I spent more time than I ever should have.


Where can we find you?

Website: www.shanna-kaye.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/shannakayephotography

7“Believe with all of your heart that you will do what you were made to do.” 

Thank you Shanna, beautiful work!  I really had so much fun!

Feature Friday: Christina Skinner Photography

Interview with Christina Skinner

Welcome back to another edition Feature Friday!  I am so happy to feature Christina Skinner.  Her work is amazing.  Based out of Orange County, this natural light photographer is all about capturing the moments that melt your heart.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I am a child of God, a wife of 5 years, and mother to 2 precious children; an 11 month old boy and 2 ½ year old girl. I grew up in southern California and after living in Salt Lake City for 6 years I found my way back here again. Besides photography, my other hobby is sewing. What can I say… I love to create!


How did you get started in photography?

I suppose I’ve always had a fascination with making images. I used to make my very tomboy sister dress up in my ballet costumes and pose for me in front of my Mom’s cheap 35mm point and shoot. I thought that meant I would go into the fashion industry. I did for a while in my teens and early 20’s as a high fashion model but found that I really wanted to try being behind the camera. I took a class at a local junior college and fell in love with the way you can manipulate light and develop in a dark room. Later my husband bought me my first DSLR and his old copy of Photoshop and I was hooked.


If this a full time job or a part time gig?

It’s very part time for me right now. I’m booking more in the summer now that other commitments have ended but I don’t foresee going full time for quite a while as we want to have more children and there is just not enough of me to go around.


What three word describe your style?

Casual. Emotive. Soft.


Do you always know when you get the perfect shot?  Any surprises during the editing process?

Every time I think I have the perfect shot I’m usually disappointed when I sit down to edit. It’s the overachiever in me that sets high expectations. But the times that I’m bummed a session didn’t go as planned I’m usually very pleasantly surprised at the gems I find.


What are you inspired by?

I draw inspiration from anything and everything. My children, sunlight, songs, locations, a prop or outfit. I really enjoy following other photographers that encourage me to try new things and push my creative limits.


Are you self taught?  Learn somewhere else?

As I mentioned before I learned to shoot on film from some college classes. Everything digital is self taught.


Any special moments or funny bloopers you want to share with us that happened during a session?

I was 9 months pregnant doing a couple’s session at a park. We were on a slight hill and I took a step back to frame my shot and forgot I was standing on a hill. I lost my footing and with 50 extra pounds and a huge belly there was no saving my fall backwards. My feet went up in the air and everything! I was wearing a skirt and prayed that I didn’t flash the poor couple. Luckily the baby was ok and my camera was ok, the two most important things right?  Haha!  My back and dignity were aching for a while. So embarrassing….


Do you have any rituals that are a part of your editing process?

I’m one of those ADD editors. I can’t stick to one session from start to finish and with two little ones I’m interrupted frequently. I also can’t edit every session the same way or I get bored. I love to try out new things so I keep a notebook on my desk with lots of notes on the way I’m editing each session so I can jump back and forth. It’s not very time effective I realize but I can’t seem to stop.


Do you a glass addiction?  What is your favorite lens?

Some people have been surprised to find out that I used the 50mm 1.8 exclusively until recently. I just got an 85mm and upgraded my 50. I guess I’d have to say that the 50 is my favorite but I love both for different reasons. There are other lenses I’d like to get but I’m a keep it simple kind of girl so you’ll never find me with a big stash of glass.


What advice you give a photographer just starting off in this business?

Practice, practice, practice!  Find yourself and your style and be true to it. The clients will come because they are attracted to your work and you’ll enjoy what you do because it’s an extension of yourself. Fads come and go but don’t get so immersed in a fad that it defines your style because you’ll soon be outdated. Find small ways to incorporate them (if you want) into your style.


Where can we find you? 

Blog:  www.christinaskinnerphotography.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/Christina-Skinner-Photography/145613548824077


Thank you so much Christina.  Amazing interview!  Happy Friday to you all and be sure to head on over to Chrstina’s Facebook Page and leave her some love!  Cheers!

Feature Friday: Malisa Phillips Photography

Interview with Malisa Phillips

Happy Friday everyone!  Time to meet Malisa Phillips.  This amazing photography is based out of central Texas near Fort Hood.  She does amazing work and is an amazing person.  And after the interview, be sure to check out her facebook page and show Malisa some love!

Tell us a little about yourself.

I am a 26 year old wife to an Infantry Soldier of the US Army, and we have 3 amazing kids who are 2, 4 and 6.  My husband has served for over 13 years and I couldn’t be prouder of him 🙂

I love coffee. You will also see me with a cup or two or Caramel Macchiato while out and about.

I love to bake, although I have to find new ways to minimize the sugar intake.

I am a HUGE fan of books. I cannot live without my tablet or kindle.  I am mostly devouring everything to do with paranormal events, romance, and heartbreaking life events.

I  am a huge fan of the arts. Whether it be music, dance, painting or photography.

This quote from A. Armstrong says it all: My camera is my canvas and the light I use to capture each image is my paintbrush.   And I’ve done pretty well in all of them (Or so I’d like to think)  I try to push myself further when it comes to new obstacles, new techniques, new styles.  I’m a little obsessed with pushing past my doubts and continuing on this path of self discovery.


How did you get started in photography?

Oh you know how the story goes. New mom wants to take amazing pictures of her children because the typical studio sessions just weren’t cutting it 😉 Growing up my nana said I never left the house without a disposable camera.  And this was true.  I had thousands upon thousands of images of my friends and I doing activities, documenting life. I cherished those images so much. But unfortunately I lost them all in a fire, including my very own baby pictures. This was the deal breaker for me. I needed to make memories for my children, because I no longer remembered my own.


If this a full time job or a part time gig?

It’s pretty much full time right now.


What three word describe your style?

Hmm, I ask myself this very question daily. I like to think it’s soft, detailed, emotional.  I can’t take an image that has no story behind it.


Do you always know when you get the perfect shot? 

Well, I know what shot I’m aiming for before I shoot, and I always have a visual in my head, but sometimes the story changes during a session. I have those moments where the “perfect shot” is actually the one not expected. I can tell a client I am adjusting settings, or getting a practice shot, and right then and there they loosen up and give me great images!! Sneaky I know.


Any surprises during the editing process?

Not normally. I HATE surprises by the way!


What are you inspired by?

So many things inspire me. It’s hard to explain. When I first started, I was so into my little box of cookie cutter images, and I refused to break out of my shell. I was very into studio work. That’s what I learned first. My soft box was my best friend. It wasn’t until this past year, I finally gave in and told myself to shoot outdoors.

I HATED the outdoors and natural light. The sun and I never agreed on camera settings, and the golden hour was a new concept to me.  But my first time outdoors, during sunset, was like falling in love.  The rays of the sun leaving golden tones on the trees, rim light on someones hair, the kaleidoscope of colors that enthralled the grass and trees left me dancing. There’s nothing better.

Another thing was realizing families wanted real moments captured, not posed. The best images I have are when no one is looking. I love it when I can capture life when it’s happening. A mom and dad playing with their child, a girl dancing around in a field, a new moms pregnancy glow, the birth of a child, a first cry, a first kiss, and sometimes unfortunately, a moment of farewells. These moments can not be planned or recreated.


Are you self taught?  Learn somewhere else?

Yes. It has been years of trial and error.  I took one workshop, and pushed myself to learn everything I could from there.


Any special moments or funny bloopers you want to share with us that happened during a session?

Oh there’s at least one from every session. Mostly my newborn sessions. I always have a baby peeing or pooing on dad (Wink)


Do you have any rituals that are apart of your editing process?

I’m a little obsessed with Cayden Lanes & Florabellas Actions! It’s mostly eye defining, sharpening, maybe a haze, and if a background is drab, I will add a bit of color to make everything pop!


Do you a glass addiction?   What is your favorite lens?

Um YES? But I tend to buy and realize it’s not what I want, so I pass it on.  95% of the time you will see me with my 50mm 1.4 or now a 105mm 🙂


What advice you give a photographer just starting off in this business?

Be patient. Success doesn’t happen overnight. I’ve had a lot of hair pulling moments getting myself where I am today. I have laughed, cried, thrown in the towel a few times, and jumped back in pushing myself ten times harder. Another thing I could say is that this industry is not what it used to be. Art is subjective, so don’t ever let anyone tell you you’re not good enough. My advice to you would be to prove them wrong. Learn, study, practice, and start to love photography MORE before deciding what’s next.  I accept no limitations in my life or my work. I move past it, and so should you.


Where can we find you? 

I’m located in Central Texas near Fort Hood.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Malisa.Phillips.Photography

Website: http://www.malisaphillips.com/

Blog: http://malisaphillipsphotography.wordpress.com/about/

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/malisaphillips/


Thank you so much Malisa!  Love your work!

Feature Friday: HWG Photography

Interview with Haley Gilreath

Wow!  It is Friday again!  Friday’s are my most favorite day of the week…the weekend is here and I get to share amazing interviews with such talented photographers.  So grab a coffee, sit back, and let’s meet with Haley Gilreath of HWG Photography!

Tell us a little about yourself.  

I’m a full time photographer and I started my business in 2008; over the past 5 years, it has grown into something bigger than I had ever dreamed!  I have a degree in Early Childhood Education, and my husband is a firefighter.  We have 2 beautiful little girls, Emma (5), and Claire (2) and we live in the gorgeous North Georgia Mountains.  The beginning of May 2013, I finally out grew my humble beginnings and hired a Studio Manager.  My studio is in our basement; my husband let me take over his ‘man cave’ to rebuild the entire bottom floor so that I am able to accommodate my clients in a very relaxed and unique way!


How did you get started in photography?  

My first daughter, Emma, was born 10 weeks premature, and only weighed 2lbs.  After an extensive stay in the NICU, we could not get enough of that gorgeous little miracle!  I began purchasing boutique-styled hair bows and outfits for her to wear, and of course I would take photos of her wearing each item.  I started sending ‘thank you’ photos to the boutiques that I had purchased the items from and to my surprise, most of them came back with offers to trade items for photos.  This snowballed into a full time boutique-modeling career by the time Emma was a year old.  After that, I began taking on “clients” who wanted to model for various boutiques as well.  Once I became confident enough in my abilities, I branched out and fell into my niche: newborns, babies/toddlers, and children.  I also started charging for photo sessions and studying the art of running a photography business.  From there, HWG Photography has blown up into a photography success story and most days I can’t even believe I am where I am today!


Is this a full time job or a part time gig?  

I’m blessed enough to say this is my full time job and I easily help sustain my family doing what I love!


What three words describe your style?  

Bold, unique, & innovative.


Do you always know when you get the perfect shot?  Any surprises during the editing process?

I can always tell when I’ve gotten that one perfect shot the moment I snap it, but there are still always surprised during editing…those tend to be the client-favorites!


What are you inspired by?

Outdoor locations and lighting.  I can look at an area, and see how the lighting will look in camera, how the bokeh will be nice & blurred behind a subject, what wardrobe would be best for the surrounding colors…I usually start with a location and plan a shoot around that.  For example, I had a family of 3 who wanted outdoor photos; very fun and bright.  I told them that I had the perfect spot for them because I had seen it while driving to another session the week prior and sure enough, the lush green colors, the lighting, the way we could utilize our surroundings, made it the perfect spot for this family; they even purchased every image in their gallery because they couldn’t choose between them!


Are you self taught?  Learn somewhere else?

I am self taught, but I sign up for as many workshops as I can.  I have a handful of ‘pro’ photographers whom I admire, so when they offer a learning opportunity, I jump on it!


Any special moments or funny bloopers you want to share with us that happened during a session?  

I was shooting a maternity session with a young, gorgeous couple.  I was walking backwards & looking at them through my viewfinder trying to find that perfect ‘framed’ pose when I tripped over a log laying on the ground behind me…it was a cartoon moment because my feet literally went over my head as I tumbled backwards.  The worst part was that my clients were trying so hard not to laugh at me because they didn’t want to hurt my feelings!  After I explained how naturally clumsy I am, (& how this happens more often than not), they enjoyed a nice laugh at my expense.  They even brought me a roll of gauze as a gag-gift when they picked up their prints! lol


Do you have any rituals that are a part of your editing process?  

I sift through my RAW images in Adobe ACR and try to narrow down to 40-50 of the best ones.  After that, I begin my usual post-processing in Photoshop starting with cosmetic fixes and ending with some of my favorite action combinations.


Do you have a glass addiction?  What is your favorite lens? 

I don’t really have a glass “addiction”, but I do have a favorite lens.  For studio portraits, it’s by far my nifty-fifty; for location portraits, it’s my Nikkor 70-300 zoom lens.


What advice you give a photographer just starting off in this business?  

First off, don’t get discouraged if you aren’t seeing instant results.  If you posted an image to Facebook, but you haven’t received a booking or even a like on it yet, don’t give up.  Owning a full-time photography business is a long process; you will not see instant results with every marketing tactic you try, and you will not receive instant bookings with every special you advertise.  Study the business side of photography just as much as you study the photography side…without a strong business sense, your photography will never be anything more than a hobby.  I was stuck in this ‘rut’ for 3 years until I finally started learning all I could about running a business…we are business men & women & we need to know how the field works!

Also, I know this is said a lot, but no matter what you do, don’t compare yourself with your competition!  They are living their own dream, with their own uniqueness and you will always have something that they don’t & that’s YOU.  There’s something about you that makes you different from everyone else; find what that is & run with it!


Where can we find you?  





Instagram:  http://instagram.com/hwgphotography


Thank you so much Haley!  Wonderful!

Feature Friday: Menzel Photography

Interview with Britta Menzel

“It’s more than a photo shoot, it’s an EXPERIENCE. It’s more than a snapshot, it’s ART.”  That’s what you can expect when working with Menzel Photography.  This husband-wife team is all about making your experience special and are located in Bosie, Idaho.  Let’s find out a little more!

Tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Britta Menzel.  I’m 30 years old, happily married (8 years in June) to my love David and we have 2 beautiful children!  Our son Gage is 3.5, daughter Petra is 18 months, and baby #3 is due late October!  We have lived in beautiful Boise Idaho for the last 8 years excluding an amazing 1 year stint when we lived in Australia (right by the beach).  As crazy as it may sound, we are thrilled to be back home in Boise!  We love living in the downtown area, and target clients who share our love for downtown Boise!


How did you get started in photography?

I actually have loved photography since I was about 10 years old and got my first film camera.  I would spend hours posing my Barbie dolls and taking photos of them.  Then when I was in college I was able to take a few film photography classes where I learned how to use an SLR camera.  After graduation I got married and my amazing supportive husband bought me my first Digital SLR.  Now 8 years later my husband is not only my biggest supporter, but also my business partner!  I shoot with Canon and love them, but I don’t understand the “war” between Canon users and Nikon users.  They are both great cameras!  Oh, I always shoot in RAW full manual mode as well.


Is this a full time job or a part time gig?

Currently I work part time with my photography while staying home with my beautiful children!  But I am working towards building up enough work to be full time!


What three words describe your style?

Vibrant, Urban, Art!


Do you always know when you get the perfect shot?  Any surprises during the editing process?

Usually when I fall in love with a photo during the session I get home later to find there are several others that I love even more!  I’m always surprised during editing because about a year ago my husband became a business partner and took over the editing side.  We have the same vision and love the same images so I know I can trust him creatively.  When I get home from a shoot I give him the memory card and he gets to work.  He doesn’t let me see the images until he is done editing, so the final results are always a surprise for me too!


What are you inspired by?

Big Cities, bright colors, and interesting lighting!  I’m working toward building a reputation in my area as the “urban photographer.”  I target clients who love the downtown scene!  I know so many photographers are into rural fields and soft golden light right now, and although they make beautiful images, it’s just not my style!  I want my work to emphasize how vibrant and colorful life is in the city!


Are you self taught?  Learn somewhere else?

As I mentioned above, I took a few film photography classes in college, but when it comes to the digital stuff I’m completely self taught.  My husband is also self taught on the editing and he’s a natural!  I also worked as a model when I was younger, so that gives me a little more experience with understanding how to pose clients from both sides of the camera.


Any special moments or funny bloopers you want to share with us that happened during a session?

I always embarrass myself during sessions.  I love public speaking and majored in communications, but somehow I always manage to say something silly or put my foot in my mouth.


Do you have any rituals that are apart of your editing process?

For me it’s the wait while the hubby edits, but I know he has a few specific edits that he does to pretty much every photo.


Do you have a glass addiction?  What is your favorite lens?

I have a glass addiction, but with a young family and only part-time work, it takes longer to save up to buy them all.  My current favorite that I use for pretty much every shoot is my 50mm, but I’m saving up for the 70-200 1.4 IS.  I’ve got a HUGE wish list!


What advice you give a photographer just starting off in this business?

Do what you love!  Don’t follow trends, but also be open to advice. No matter how creative you are, or how long you’ve been shooting, there is always something to learn.  STUDY LIGHT LIKE NOBODIES BUSINESS!  Understanding how lighting works in photography is what separates the amateurs from the pros!  Spend as much time as possible researching and learning about light!!!


Where can we find you? 

Website/Blog: www.MenzelPhotography.net
Facebook:  www.facebook.com/MenzelPhotography
Twitter: @BrittaMenzel
Google+:  https://plus.google.com/112488609497998531168

Thank you Britta for this amazing interview and best to you and your business!

Feature Friday: Golden Photography

Interview with Stacy Golden

Golden Photography is located in Lake Zurich, IL.  Utilizing both studio and natural lighting, Stacy serves the Lake County area as well as select locations in downstate Illinois (Bloomington-Normal and Springfield).  I am so excited to share this interview and Stacy’s talent with you all!  Enjoy!


Tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Stacy Golden and I live in the Northwest suburbs of Chicago.  I’m 30 with a wonderful husband and a 19 month old daughter.  I also have a cat and chinchilla.  I am a very active person – I’m a competitive swimmer and I’ve been doing it since I was 7.  I also just signed up to run my first half marathon this winter at Disney World.  (We’re a bit in love with Disney over here).  For photography, I used to do it all but now I focus on babies and kids for my portrait work and for commercial I primarily do product or styled shoots.

How did you get started in photography?

I always liked it, but I fell in love with it when I took photography in high school back in the film days.  At 16 I decided I wanted to be a photographer.  When I got to college, my parents urged me to choose something else and to have photography as my back up plan.  So I majored in art education with concentrations in photography and art history.  After my teaching position was eliminated, I decided to start my own studio.

Is this a full time job or a part time gig?

Full time.  I balance caring for my daughter, shooting, editing, packaging orders, taking care of the house, and somehow manage to get it all done most of the time.  I can thank lots of trial and error to find the shooting schedule that works for me.

What three word describe your style?

Clean, natural, simple.

Do you always know when you get the perfect shot?  Any surprises during the editing process?

Yes and no.  We all know how the back of the camera is deceiving!  I work really hard to get things right in camera so my time in post is as short as possible.  I chalk that up to my film days where you never wanted to “waste” your frame (especially with those big 4×5 cameras).  You can always tweak a well composed, well exposed frame in post.

What are you inspired by?

For portraits and newborns, I am inspired by simple, clean photographers that create memorable images with very natural or very little editing.  My favorite examples are Emily Potts, Sandy Puc’, Stephanie Cotta, and Kristy Mitchell.  I like to keep natural colors and texture in my work and nothing too bright and crazy, but I do like to throw in pops of color every now and again.  I really love seeing photographers use awesome color in their work and I wish I could pull it off, but it’s just not who I am.

Are you self taught?  Learn somewhere else?

Been learning since I was 16 and it was my “minor” if my college offered art minors.  I also assisted in a major commercial studio for a year (commercial as in we shot ads, product, etc).  I can thank college for teaching me studio lighting and I can thank my assisting job for helping me learn how to perfect lighting and how to run a business.  To stay current, I watch classes on CreativeLive and attend classes/workshops.  I recently took Stephanie Cotta’s workshop and it was fabulous.

Any special moments or funny bloopers you want to share with us that happened during a session?

As a newborn photographer there’s the gold standard of being peed and pooped on, but I feel that’s so normal. Haha.  As a commercial photographer, I’ve had some very unique experiences like being hoisted up in a cage on forklift, forced to wear a hair nets and hard hats, and the list goes on.  I absolutely hate being photographed, so I think the worst may have been when I worked as an assistant and one of the models I booked was a no-show.  Fortunately (or not so fortunately) I matched what the clients called for and fit into the wardrobe, so I was put in the shot.  Somewhere out there is a picture for the Chicago Field Museum with me sitting on the ground holding my fake kid posing with my fake husband.  I am pushing 6ft tall, so I also wasn’t allowed to stand for the shots because I was taller than my “husband”.

Do you have any rituals that are apart of your editing process?

For me, I quickly cull in bridge and star things that are strong images.  I’m looking for impact – if I don’t immediately “feel” it it I move on.  Once I have my initial selection, I go and make sure the eyes are in sharp focus and delete the ones that are even slightly blurry.  In editing I mainly go for color correction, contrast or color punches, and minor cosmetic or scenery fixes.  It may seem shallow, but I tell folks that editing is like plastic surgery – just a little done well looks fine, but major changes look fake and destroy the real beauty!  I personally like realistic photos.

Do you have a glass addiction?  What is your favorite lens?

I have a handful of lenses, but I do have a few favorites in my bag. For newborns, my 50mm 1.4 is amazing.  For my commercial work, I love the flexibility of my 24-70 2.8 or my Macro for detail shots (or Micro, as Nikon calls it).

What advice you give a photographer just starting off in this business?

Set your goals and don’t compare yourself to others.  You have your own goals and style that is nothing like your competition, so why compare?  Along those same lines, price yourself correctly and don’t copy what others price at or try to undercut them on purpose just to get work.  It will most likely backfire in the end.  I am a big advocate for learning your REAL cost of doing business and making sure you’re charging enough to cover that cost, charging enough to save for future purchases, and charging enough to actually PAY yourself.  Once I figured my sustainable number, I had a major eye-opening experience.  And last but not least, never stop learning!

Where can we find you? 

I love getting to know, sharing ideas, and talking shop with other photographers, so please come find me!

Website:  www.golden-photography.net

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Goldenphotog

My (Neglected) Blog: http://goldenphotog.blogspot.com/

Instagram: Goldenphotog


Thanks so very much Stacy!  Amazing work!

Feature Friday: Blackbird Design & Photography

Interview with Kelsie Millet

Blackbird Design & Photography may be fairly new to the photography scene, but Kelsie already has a signature style that is fresh and alluring.  She has taken this opportunity to share more about herself and her approach to photography.  If you are not a fan, you soon will be!


Tell us a little about yourself.

Hi all! I’m a 23 year old wife currently living in good ol’ Ogden Valley, Utah with my newlywed husband. We have been married for…8 months now.  Wow, time flies! He has been my biggest support when it comes to my photography; don’t know what I’d do without him.  I graduated from Utah State University with my degree in Interior Design with an emphasis in Sales and Marketing a year and a half ago.  I loved it but always knew it was never really what I was going to do with my life.  So glad I found photography! It has been exactly what I have always wanted to do.


How did you get started in photography?

I have always wanted to get into photography but have never been able to get into the “expensive hobby” growing up.  I thought about even pursuing it in college until finding out about how much of an investment I would have to put into it.  The money is what always had stopped me until I got married.  My husband Erick finally told me shortly after we got married that he was going to buy me all the equipment so I could start to learn, and pursue what I have always wanted.  (Yes, I have an amazing husband!)  While I waited for my camera I started to watch/read any tutorial I could possibly find online.  I spent hours every day devoting time to teaching myself.  Luckily most of my time was just spent to learning and figuring out my camera.  I learned the basics of Photoshop and editing through my education for Interior Design.  Was I felt confident enough I started my own business and it has been growing ever since!


If this a full time job or a part time gig?

For now this is part-time for me.  I hope to someday have it be my full-time job.  I currently am doing about 3-9 sessions a month.  In the meantime I fill my days nannying for adorable 8 month old twins.


 What three word describe your style?

This one is hard, how do you some it up in three words!  Soft, dreamy, and light.


Do you always know when you get the perfect shot?  Any surprises during the editing process?

Oh, I love when I know I got a great shot!  I get all giddy inside.  Does anyone else do this?  Hope I’m not the only crazy giddy girl out there.  I have to admit though there a few shots that sneak in at editing that I’m happily surprised by that I didn’t realize I had captured. Those are always the best to find!


 What are you inspired by?

Light, light, and more light.  I am obsessed with natural light…it creates a whole different mood in an image if you capture it just right.  My posing and positioning all revolves around light.  As far as photographer’s go that inspire me…Aimee Barker would be up there on my list.  Her style is different then mine, but I am inspired by her creative and outside the box thinking.  She pushes me to be better and not be afraid to edit how I want too, and not necessarily try to edit like others.


Are you self taught?  Learn somewhere else?

I am self taught, and so proud to say so.  It took a lot of hard work to get where I am and still a lot of hard work continually trying to be better.


Any special moments or funny bloopers you want to share with us that happened during a session?

Oh the funny stories…so there was this one time that I was doing a portrait session in the winter at a park that had a huge pond.  It was my first time ever doing a session here and so I hadn’t actually discovered the whole park yet.  Well, I take my client there and we are starting to do her shoot and all of a sudden we see literally 100’s of ducks on this pond. ( I have never seen anything as crazy as this.)  There were also some huge geese.  Well one of the geese decided he did not like us and began chasing after us!  It was actually quite terrifying and hilarious all at the same time.  Let’s just say I have never gone back to that park since, ha!


Do you have any rituals that are apart of your editing process?

I have always got to be snuggled into my couch with my favorite blanket with a good chick flick on.


Do you a glass addiction?  What is your favorite lens?

My favorite lens right now is my EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS


What advice you give a photographer just starting off in this business?

My advice to you is to not give up!  Put the time into going to classes, or reading tutorials online and then practicing what you just learned.  Do practice shoots with friends and family, or people you feel comfortable with.  This was huge for me.  You quickly learn poses and positions that you like and also find locations you are drawn too.  After all of that just continue to take pictures as often as you can, there is always something you can be inspired by around you.  If you do this you will get there, don’t give up!


Where can we find you? 

Come be my friend and follow me!

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bbirddesign?ref=hl

Twitter: https://twitter.com/kelsiebddesign

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/kelsiesuemillet/

Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/blackbirddesign/

Blog: http://blackbirddesign.biz/category/blog/

Website: www.blackbirddesign.biz


Wow!  Thanks so much Kelsie!  Beautiful, beautiful work.