Choosing a Photographer

When it comes to choosing a professional photographer, It can be really confusing. What questions should you ask? What should you look for? How much is this going to cost? I’m sure you are doing some Google searches and maybe you even have a friend who has used a professional photographer before. And, you may have seen a photography studio in the shopping center.

There are many photographers out there and there are just as many different styles and levels of experience. Because having your portraits made professionally is not something you do frequently, here are a few suggested questions that you may want to ask as you gather more information so you can make the right choice for you.

1. Can I see some of your recent work? And you should see some of their work. An amateur may be able to take a few great shots every now and then, but professionals know how to consistently create great results.

2. Do you specialize in any one type of photography? What is your photographic style? Photographers often specialize in one genre over another. If they mention solely working with family portraits, then you can rest assured that their passions are aligned with your needs. You may also want to ask why they chose that particular area to better understand if/how they will be able to connect with your family. A photographer’s style is reflected in their portfolio, so asking them to produce a radically different style is a recipe for disaster. You’re counting on their knowledge of composition, lighting, posing and more to create images that fit your vision.

3. How should I prepare my family before the session? Pros will give you tips so your family can feel comfortable and have fun while being photographed. They might even ask for things you would not have thought. Professional photographers will also be able to answer questions such as: What colors and styles of clothing are best to wear? Should you bring a change of clothes? How do you handle a fussy child or plan for nap times? Trust them: they have their timing down and know what works.

4. Where can I find you online? Photographers’ websites are a great place to view their portfolios, read client testimonials and get a better sense of their personality. Of course, like a resume, websites often put “their best foot forward,” so be sure to dig a little deeper. Look at their social media pages and read customer reviews, as these can be very telling.

5. How will I obtain my photos and when can I expect them? Professional photographers have a reliable system for delivering photos to you in a timely manner. Be sure that you understand their process to avoid any false expectations!

6. What does your fee include and what products and packages do you offer? It is important to have a clear understanding of the session fees, what is included, and sample prices for print products and packages.

Digitals vs Printed Images

Since we live in a digital age and because we are visual people, it is not uncommon for clients to assume that having their images in a digital format is the way to go. Seems like this makes good sense. After all, digital files don’t take up that much space and if they are on your phone, you can easily get to them, right?!.

I’d like to share with you a different perspective on why you should print your images:

  • Because your prints are for today, tomorrow and all the tomorrows after that.

  • Because prints remind us of what love really feels like.

  • Because they’re only young once.

  • Because the place to save money is not on the most important purchases.

  • Because when there’s a fire, what’s the first thing you grab?

  • Because so many photos get lost, or even worse, deleted off of old hard drives.

  • Because you put too much work into your family not to show them off!

  • Because technology comes and goes.

  • Because a memory stick in a drawer is pointless.

  • Because your parents and grandparents won’t be around forever.

  • Because a hard drive doesn’t trigger a smile.

  • Because memories are tied to touch.

  • Because there’s nothing like sitting down by a fireplace and flipping through the pages of a family album.

  • Because there are moments you can’t get back, but a print can make you feel them again!

Preparing for your Portrait Session

For most people, choosing what to wear to their portrait session can be a challenge. Below are a few guidelines that will help.

1) For most types of portrait sessions, you want to think long term. Meaning, when you look back at your image or images in 10-15 years, will you say, “What was I thinking? Why did I wear that that?” You want your clothing and style to be timeless - classic. It should compliment who you are not detract. An exception to this is senior photos, which I will cover in another post.

2) Select clothes that look good on you, that fit you well, and that are comfortable. Try them on in advance of your session and move around in them in front of a mirror checking for gaps at button closures. Clothes that provide some definition to your shape are more complimentary than baggy clothes.

3) Ladies may prefer to cover upper arms, unless you are blessed with or have worked hard to define your shape. And v-neck or scoop neck tops elongate the female neckline and show off a great necklace.

4) Solid colors or small prints work best. Avoid clothing with bold graphics or logos which can detract from your face.

New Year, New Goals

Well, January really flew by and February is here. Despite that, its early in 2019 so I’m thinking it still counts for the New Year. I’m not a big New Year’s resolution person. Always figured if it was important enough to me, I’d just do it and otherwise, I would feel bad if I didn’t follow through. So true to my tradition, I haven’t made any new year resolutions, but I did come across a number of motivational quotes that I found especially meaningful and encouraging that I posted on Facebook in January.

Inspirational Quote #5 is “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.” Henry David Thoreau. Those of you who know me well, know that I have had this dream of working full time as a photographer for several years now. And I have been working confidently in that direction. So much so, that this time last year, I thought that I would be making that transition this month or next month, in this year. In August, I was thinking I would keep my full time UTSW job until March of 2019, and then in late September, I thought maybe I needed to hang on until August, 2019. Well, life gets in the way (called bathroom remodel), and some personal financial goals as well as some challenges going on in my UTSW office, such that I’m looking now at making the transition next January. Can’t even believe I’m saying that and I’ll probably question my sanity a few times between now and then. My boss is happy that I’m talking about staying a bit longer, which is nice that I even have the option to extend my stay

Its really a struggle for me though, especially when I read my Inspirational Quote #3 which was “Setting goals is the first step into turning the invisible into the visible.” Tony Robbins. and #4 which says “Definiteness of purpose is the starting point of all achievement.” W. Clement Stone. I did set goals last year, but I know that many days my personal business goals seem to get pushed to the background. And I have clearly had a definiteness of purpose. My home studio demonstrates that as well as through all the pieces that I are in place. As Randy frequently reminds me, “you are building the foundation.”

For now, I will work on updating my goals for 2019 and trust that God will give me clear direction and guidance for the future. What a relief that I can trust a higher power with my future!

Valuing Family Generations

Value. That’s a word that carries a lot of weight these days. Everyone wants a good value. We tend to measure purchases and experiences by whether or not they are a good value to us. What is the price for value? Does good value have a price? What is the value of something that is priceless?

If you’ve read a few of my blogs, you’ve likely picked up on my theme of valuing family. To that end, I’ve started a project where I want to create some portraits representing several generations. This past weekend I had the privilege of photographing a family represented by Joann, the matriarch, her daughter, Ginger, her daughter Angela, and daughter-in-law Ashley, and her three daughters. That’s 4 generations! How special that is and how blessed this family is to be able to enjoy the uniqueness and variety of perspectives and love offered by this span of approximately 70 years. What a gift! A priceless gift!

What do you value? As I’ve quoted Michele Celentano previously, “you never know the value of something until its gone.” Don’t wait until something is gone from your life to fully appreciate the value it adds to your life!

Here are a few images from this generational portrait session.

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What's on Your Wall?

Sort of like the commercial for Capital One, where they ask “What’s in your wallet?” my question is, “What’s on your wall?”

Earlier this year, I had the privilege of photographing a young family, Rebekah and Michael and their precious 2 year old daughter - Ruth. She was so much fun and had SO MUCH ENERGY!

Fast forward several months and Rebekah forwarded me the images below of her wall portraits that they purchased and now have displayed in their home! I love seeing these hanging in their home and know that as Ruth grows up, one way that she will know she is special and loved will be seeing pictures of herself hanging in her family’s home!

Do you have at least one family portrait hanging on your wall? With the Christmas season here - I know you are thinking about decorating gifts! Be sure to include this important gift of personalized wall art!

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Generational Photography Project

I am working on a generational photography project. It is currently in the planning stages. I have been thinking about it for some time now and I need to move it past the just thinking about it stage.

One of the main reasons I do portrait photography is to capture the connections in the lives of my clients. Capturing several generations of a family in one image captures the essence of why I am doing photography! What a special gift that one image can be to not only those who are in the photograph, but for many years and generations to come.

Do you have old photo albums passed down to you that you can pull out and look through and remember when? Maybe you have some generational photographs in your album (or box of photos). Maybe you can even see your connection to someone in the photograph because you look like your Aunt Mary, or your daughter has your grandmother’s eyes or nose. How special is that! And we can’t even fully appreciate what that connection does for us psychologically.

I believe in the importance of capturing these memories, while you still can. My mom has been gone for many years now. How I would love to have a portrait with me, my mom, and my daughter. At this point, I will have to hang on to the photos we have which I have stored in a family album and labeled the photos. I hope you won’t miss your golden opportunity to capture something truly special and memorable!

Stay tuned for more on my project!

Family album - that’s my grandmother (my dad’s mom) holding me.

Family album - that’s my grandmother (my dad’s mom) holding me.

Old family photos in family album. Grandparents and aunts and uncles!

Old family photos in family album. Grandparents and aunts and uncles!

Change of Scenery - Good for the Soul!

Randy and I have spent the past week in Angel Fire, New Mexico.  A close friend owns a home in the mountains and she invited us to spend the week here with her.  Two other long time friends joined us and it was great getting to spend times and catch up with one another in the midst of this gorgeous scenery. 

As it always seems to be for me, I need a vacation to rest, but spend some of my time doing work.  This week was no different.  After looking at work emails for the first few days, and actually doing some, albeit minimal, work remotely, I finally stopped looking at the work emails knowing if I was really needed, they would text me.  In my defense, I hate returning to work to 500+ emails so I was trying to minimize that pain!

I also see a week away as a great time to catch up on my photography business that I don't always have adequate time to focus on.  Alas, I was not as productive as I would like to have been, but console myself with the thought that some of the time just relaxing and playing games and taking long walks was needed therapy as well! 

My two girl friends are avid walkers and they were positive encouragement for me to get out and get some great exercise.  We had to plan our time carefully however, because the weather here has been a bit challenging with rain every day.  That did not deter us, however, because thanks to technology at our fingertips, we were able to plan our walks and make it back just as rain drops were starting.  

I've included some pictures that I took from some of our walks.  Angel Fire is at 8600 ft elevation.  That presents challenges when your body and lungs are not accustomed to that altitude.  The terrain here is not flat either.  Most of the trails, even if they look flat, go up and down.  Some go really up and down.  There are also lots of rabbit or gopher holes, that if you aren't careful you will find yourself down in a heap.  Fortunately, that did not happen to any of us.  Our last walk was the most challenging at 4+ miles and let's just say my glutes and quads got a really good work out.  Most of the walk was in two different meadows, but to get from one to the other, we walked up a rocky trail up over the mountain and down the other side.  

Along the way, we had great conversation and caught up with our one friend who has been a missionary in Japan for the past 35 years and they are now returning to the States for home assignment.  We have seen her every five years when they came home on furlough and stay in touch through their prayer letters and email.  We all became friends through our church when her husband was in seminary.  It is wonderful when friendships span many years and distances.  

So here's to a change of scenery - it is good for the soul and for refreshing our minds and bodies!


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My Journey

My photography journey started by making fine art images and continues to be one of my passions today. As I contemplate and envision my future, I'd really love to have a brick and mortar fine art gallery some day. Until that physical gallery is a reality, I've been building a website for my fine art images. I invite you to take a moment to check it out. This is through a much larger organization which provides a way to market my images in a variety of finishes and provides a means for you to purchase and receive the prints directly.   And if you see an image you like that you'd like to have a favorite scripture added to it, contact me directly.

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Appreciating Life

As many of you know, I work at UT Southwestern in the Cardiothoracic Surgery department.  The doctors in my department save lives and accomplish miracles everyday.  And I must say, it is pretty awesome to know that I am part of that in some small way.  

Today, as I got off the elevators to go to lunch, one of our surgeons was waiting to get on the elevator.  He was smiling big and said he had just run into 3 of his transplant patients in the lobby of our building. They were all doing well, and no doubt expressed their gratitude and appreciation to him once again.  He said, "I should come over to the office more often!"

Knowing the life-threatening nature of the health conditions of many of our patients makes me very thankful for my health and what a blessing life is and how easy it is to take these blessings for granted.  So hug someone you care about and tell them you love them, say your prayers tonight giving thanks for your many blessings, and next time you see your doctor, tell him or her how grateful you are for their knowledge, skill, and dedication!  

More Life Connections

I continue to be reminded of the importance of connections in our lives.  Yesterday, I attended the funeral of my cousin, Tim.  Tim’s life ended much sooner than we normally anticipate for his age, but such is the case with cancer.   Attending a funeral always causes me to become introspective as I listen to the words spoken about the individual being honored and remembered. And I always wonder what kind of legacy I am creating, and what will those left behind when I am gone be able to say about me?

In Tim’s case, there were many, many friends and co-workers from his years in police work, in addition to our family members.  They had many wonderful things to say about him and I was sad that I had not had more opportunities to know him better as an adult.   

I was also sad that not many of our family members were able to be present and that again reinforced for me the importance of connections in our lives.  As I hugged his brother and said good-bye at the grave site, I commented that we would have to have a family get together under happier circumstances.  He said, “but we won’t do it, we never do.” 

So there is my challenge to help make sure it does happen, and it is a challenge to all of us, to make sure that we look for and create opportunities to maintain those important connections in our lives, whether it is family or friends. 

Life Connections

I was having lunch with Randy after church this past Sunday.  We were at Jason’s Deli, it was crowded and noisy.  My cell phone rang and I did not recognize the number.  I almost did not answer it because these clever marketers call using local numbers so it is more difficult to discern.  I’m glad I decided to answer it.  The call was from Vicki, one of my many cousins, reaching out to let me know her father was in ICU and that she had received a message on her voice mail from another relative about their son, Tim, who was hospitalized and not doing well.  The message had very limited information and may have been cut off.  She was calling me to see if I knew what was going on with Tim.  I did not, so I called another cousin who I was pretty sure would know, and she did.   Turns out both of these cousins are in the same hospital.  Bobby, with pneumonia and more senior in age is expected to recover, and the other, Tim, is dealing with an aggressive cancer and likely looking at end of life decisions.   Tim is 5 years younger than me.   

By the end of the day, I had talked on the phone and in person with 3 of my cousins, got caught up on several others, and on my way home, thought of a couple of others who I need to call.  I’ve mentioned previously that I was adopted as a baby.  My mom was child #7 of 10 children.  That resulted in a lot of kids and although I was raised an only child, I grew up with a lot of cousins, and fortunately we spent time with many of them, frequently. 

What’s the significance of that you may ask?  Well, these are the connections in my life, and while I don’t see these relatives anywhere near as frequently now as I did growing up, they still hold a special place in my heart and life.  They brought me into their family and gave me critical and life-long connections as a child that were extremely important then and are still felt today.  It is fun to reminisce about things we did as children, the times we got into trouble, places we went to together, and to talk about things that others don’t know but we do because we experienced it together!

I hope you have similar connections in your life to resurrect fond memories, and I hope you have pictures that you can hold and look back through to remind you of these connections that shape us and ground us even when we don’t realize it.  We certainly seemed to do a better job of printing out photos in past times (because that was the only option if you wanted to see them) than we do in this digital age.

Hug one of your connections today and then take a selfie with them - and then print it!


Its been an interesting few weeks for me.  A few Sundays ago, after lunch at Spring Creek BBQ and a baby shower, I developed a gradually increasing pain in my abdomen that would not stop.  Fast forward several hours and more unpleasant symptoms and I found myself in the emergency room.  Several more hours and several diagnostic tests later, as well as a sleepless night, and we got confirmation that surgery to remove my gall bladder was the solution.  

Now, three weeks and two days later, I had my post op visit today and got a good report from my surgeon releasing me to full activity!  That also means that I had to go back to my day job, a regular schedule, and getting up early, just when I was really starting to enjoy being home and having the opportunity to get some things done at home that I rarely have a chance to get to!   During my post op recovery time, I did manage to get in a full week of photography school that was already scheduled and paid for.   I really learned a lot of valuable information and spent too much money at the trade show.  I also managed to get in a couple of photography sessions over the last couple of weeks as well - didn't want to get rusty!  

I am truly thankful for the physicians and nurses at Clements University Hospital in Dallas, where I received exceptional care and really appreciate my boss, Dr. Jessen, for coming to the ER at 10 p.m. on a Sunday night to check on me and keep an eye on things from a distance.  And very thankful for my sweet caring husband who spent a couple of nights on the sofa/bed in my hospital room, as well as many of our church family who brought food to us in my first few days after going home.  

Closing the chapter on my gall bladder and ready to get back to fun things, like photography! 

Graduation season is here!

What a wonderful time of the year for the seniors who are completing a major accomplishment and stepping stone in their lives.  They've worked really hard for 12 long years and they are finally getting closure on that chapter and looking forward with anticipation at the many opportunities that lay before them.  They likely even have some fears at the uncertainty of the future, but I am confident they will rise to the test!  

I recently had the privilege of photographing Alex, a senior at South Grand Prairie High School.  He and his family are members at my church and I've had the opportunity to watch him grow up and become a tall, handsome young man.  

Here are a few of the images from his senior session.  The murals are at SGPHS - really cool - I had no idea they existed.  Alex will attend a local community college after graduation before moving on to a University to study business.   We wish him much success!  

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