lifestyle photographer

S TURNS TWO - Niles, Michigan Family and Milestone Lifestyle Photographer

niles michigan family and milestone lifestyle photographer

Once again, I got to hang out with this fun family and their two awesome little boys! Watching them grow from a family of three to a family of four has been so much fun. S is a super chatty and equally adorable little boy who loves to be outdoors. He’s so well mannered and just a joy to be around that it hardly seems like work to take his photos.

Can’t wait for the next milestone and family session with these guys! (Lookout world, because Baby L will be 6 months old!)

H FAMILY LIFESTYLE PHOTOS - Osceola, Indiana Family Lifestyle Photographer

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Well, I can’t really say enough about this fun family because they also happen to be our best friends! My husband and I have been friends with this awesome couple before we were even married. They traveled all the way to Florida for our wedding and now, many years later, our daughters are absolute besties and our sons, well, they’re too young to know it but they’ll be best buds, too.

I always feel a special privilege when friends trust you take their photos. Its such a special thing to be able to do for people and I always love a chance to get together with them. And of course, my own daughter had to sneak in and take some quick pics with her bestie, too.

H FAMILY AND MILESTONE LIFESTYLE PHOTOS - Michigan and Indiana Family and Milestone Lifestyle Photographer

granger indiana family lifestyle photographer

There aren’t many things I love more than being able to follow a family’s journey from the very beginning! And this family is a perfect example. I met them when they hired me to document the birth of their second son, who is now over a year old! Following his journey and seeing him turn into such a fun loving and energetic toddler has been so rewarding.

We had a blast on this cool fall evening for their milestone and family photo session. Full of smiles and not wanting to sit still long, we got to go all over the place and find lots of fun spots to shoot in. Mom and Dad surely have their hands full with these two handsome fellas, but there was no shortage of smiles and love. Can’t wait to see them again soon!

H FAMILY LIFESTYLE PHOTOS - South Bend Family Lifestyle Photographer

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There’s no question that I have a soft spot for this gorgeous family. Not only did we go to high school together way back when, but I also got to document their youngest daughter’s Fresh 48 and her entire first year. Now she’s a spunky toddler and we get to do full family sessions out on their amazing property. Not only are their kids absolutely gorgeous, but they’re equally as well mannered and fun.

This was hands down my favorite family session of the season as we had absolutely perfect conditions. Plus, Mom asked for some simple, classic black and whites of each kiddo to hang on her walls and they turned out gorgeous! Can’t wait to meet back up with them for another family photo shoot (or you know, just run into Mom and Baby L at Target…because that seems to happen weekly lol).

Y LIFESTYLE FAMILY PHOTOS - Nappanee Indiana Lifestyle Family Photographer

nappanee indiana family lifestyle photographer

Extended family sessions are always so much fun! I love watching young kids interact and when you’re not doing traditional “say cheese” photos, everyone has a great time (and usually lots of laughs). I mean, I don’t know which ones they chose to hang, but I would totally frame the ones with nose picking and scowling. Because that’s real life, right?!

This great group is growing every year and adding more and more babies. I hope I get to keep up with them and document some more fun moments along the way.

MOM & MINIS FAMILY - Lifestyle & Documentary Family Photographer, South Bend, IN

Beginning this photography journey has brought me many blessings; some expected and some not so expected. Two of those blessings are the opportunity to volunteer for House of Hopes which is an AMAZING philanthropic photography group and the other is meeting new friends. One of those friends I happened to meet through my work with HoH. While it was a sad situation that brought us to the same spot, I am so grateful that after 12+ hours in a L&D lobby together resulted in a great friendship with another amazing photographer.

When T reached out during one of our many photography and parenting centered conversations and asked if I would be interested in doing a documentary lifestyle session for her and her girls, I was beyond excited for so many reasons. First, her girls are awesome. Like they are legitimately cool kids! Second, I love having the opportunity to document families of all ages. Sessions tend to revolve around little kids and then taper off as they grow up and that’s so unfortunate. So to have the chance to capture some memories of school age kids was awesome! Third, I could totally relate to her reasoning.

She expressed how she was suddenly seeing all of these leaps and bound in growth and maturity in her girls and she recognized that they would soon be entering new phases and she wanted to commemorate the everyday innocence and routine that has been theres for a while now. Watching my own daughter grow at light speed makes me completely sympathetic to this situation and I was more than happy to capture their “normal.”

And so, with all of that being said, I just want to thank T for letting me into her home and her life and capture these moments of homeschool and girl bonding for her! I hope they bring a smile to all of your faces for years to come.

Before and After - South Bend Michiana Family & Wedding Photographer

I have a confession: one of my guilty pleasures is before and after photos. It doesn't matter what of, I just love looking at them! I couldn't even begin to tell you why, but it's just satisfying. And I'm willing to bet that many folks out there feel the same way so I'm going to double dip here and give you the satisfaction of many before and afters as well as explaining why it is so important to hire a photographer who knows what they are doing beyond just pressing a shutter button...

Mixed Lighting. It happens.

One of the biggest challenges of being a photographer who shoots a good portion of their sessions indoors (no matter if it is a church, reception hall, hospital room or family room) is that you frequently have to deal with mixed lighting. This may not sound like a big deal; how hard is it to balance out warm lightbulb light and cool window light. Um, it's hard. Like super hard. Like lets-just-throw-everything-in-black-and-white-and-call-it-a-day hard. This is when having extensive knowledge in post processing becomes so immensely important! It can save an otherwise asethetically unappealing photo.

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Just look at the photo above. There is really soft, yellow light on the left and really hard, blue light on the right. There is no way I would provide a client with a photo that was so unbalanced as that left image! And so off to Lightroom and Photoshop we go and after some [really obsessive] editing, I felt comfortable and even pretty pleased with the outcome of this lovely family photo.

Its gives the photographer a voice and it lets you connect to specific style.

The fact of the matter is very simple: editing is a way for a photographer to stand out (or blend in) and give their work some personality. This also lets you as the consumer, find an editing style that you really connect with and then choose a photographer that most appeals to you.

elkhart family photographer

Some people like the matte and airy look and while I find those images truly beautiful and soft, I lean more towards the clear, vibrant and even sometimes moodier edits. It is just like a clothing style; what works for some doesn't work for others!

Sometimes, it changes just enough.

So many times, photographers take a photo that SOOC (straight out of camera) is barely sub par and it takes some post processing to give it that little bump into being interesting and artistic.

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Knowing how to manipulate a photo just enough that it still tells an honest story but looks even more powerful and beautiful is essential to great photos.

Sometimes, it changes everything.

And just like that, a lovely but very flat image suddenly jumps off the screen with it's breathtaking drama. The emotion is intensified with the colors and balance. The setting can truly be appreciated for its simplistic beauty. Everything suddenly comes together.

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michiana wedding photographer
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So there you have it! Hopefully, even if you didn't read the text, the before and afters told the story well enough to convince you that photography is more than just the good camera and artistic eye. Its all about balance and understanding and patience (oh, so much patience). I encourage every reader and viewer out there to find a photographer whose style speaks to you and let them tell your story! 

Lifestyle Family Photos in South Bend, IN - Why You Should Consider Lifestyle Images for Your Fall Photos

Its no secret that fall is a photographer's busiest season! And for good reason; the colors are gorgeous, the temperatures are cool and comfortable and the evening light is spectacular. Its the trifecta for a great family photo. But keep in mind that it takes more than a great environment to make an amazing photo, which is where you have to decide what style is most fitting of your family. I'd like to share my thoughts on why documentary and lifestyle photos might be a great fit for you and your family:

1). They're unique.

Every family is so different and so unique and your pictures should be, too. So often, you will see the traditional ad pop up for fall minis on a specific date in a specific location. These images are always gorgeous and well set-up...but they all look alike! Each family that comes through is getting the same setting and the same poses and while they are lovely outcomes, do they really tell your family's story? Your family is so beautiful and each person in it has their own personalities that deserve to shine through and make your images unique from the session before and after yours. This is where lifestyle family photos come in and ensure that no two sessions are alike. 

I love this fall favorite! This little guy was a mover so having a photo like this allows you to capture him exactly as he was (a rambunctious two year old) in a beautiful way.

I love this fall favorite! This little guy was a mover so having a photo like this allows you to capture him exactly as he was (a rambunctious two year old) in a beautiful way.

This beautiful family bought this farm house in order to totally renovate it and turn it into their forever home. This photo isn't just beautiful, it tells the story of their family's journey, too!

This beautiful family bought this farm house in order to totally renovate it and turn it into their forever home. This photo isn't just beautiful, it tells the story of their family's journey, too!

Who knew cows could be so entertaining? Lifestyle images let us relax and enjoy ourselves but still result in breathtaking photos. 

Who knew cows could be so entertaining? Lifestyle images let us relax and enjoy ourselves but still result in breathtaking photos. 

2). They capture the truth.

When you hang a family photo on the wall or send out your holiday card, do the images capture the sassy attitude of your youngest daughter? Or your oldest son's silly side? Or your husband's amazing genuine smile? Do they showcase how you interact as a family? These are all things that should immediately come to the surface when you look at your family photos. Lifestyle images tell your family's honest, candid story in a beautiful way.

This family was Silly with a capital "S" and it shows in this photo. Everyone's personality shined through and I don't doubt for a second that mom can't look at this image without smiling. 

This family was Silly with a capital "S" and it shows in this photo. Everyone's personality shined through and I don't doubt for a second that mom can't look at this image without smiling. 

This little girl had so much joy in her heart that all of her older siblings were drawn to her.

This little girl had so much joy in her heart that all of her older siblings were drawn to her.

In between the family photos, Baby G just couldn't resist her kitten and chickens. I loved that not only could we get some fabulous family portraits, but we could also capture this girl's amazing heart for animals and the obvious nurturing of that love from her momma. 

In between the family photos, Baby G just couldn't resist her kitten and chickens. I loved that not only could we get some fabulous family portraits, but we could also capture this girl's amazing heart for animals and the obvious nurturing of that love from her momma. 

3). They can be fun - and therefore, beautiful.

Lets face it, when the topic of family photos comes up, some of your family members might not jump for joy. Rarely do people feel entirely comfortable in front of a camera and unfortunately, that often shows through in the images via uncomfortable poses and forced smiles. Lifestyle photography simply captures your family as it is; interacting with one another in a much more natural way. When I plan a family session, I always suggest having a few fun family activities planned (bubbles, a book, apple picking, pumpkin decorating, etc) so that everyone has something else to focus on besides the camera clicking in the background. The results speak for themselves:

For this session, we visited a local fall farm fair and it is safe to say that this may have been one of the most unforced, natural sessions I've had. Everyone had a great time! 

For this session, we visited a local fall farm fair and it is safe to say that this may have been one of the most unforced, natural sessions I've had. Everyone had a great time! 

When no one is telling you to "look here and smile," you get some pretty amazing candid moments. Can't you just see every personality in this one image?

When no one is telling you to "look here and smile," you get some pretty amazing candid moments. Can't you just see every personality in this one image?

First time carving pumpkins? What a fantastic idea for a session!

First time carving pumpkins? What a fantastic idea for a session!

BONUS: The outtakes are epic. 

I am TOO big enough to pick up this giant pumpkin!!!

I am TOO big enough to pick up this giant pumpkin!!!

Ok, so maybe not everyone in this one is happy, but its still one of my favorite photos because it tells such an honest story!

Ok, so maybe not everyone in this one is happy, but its still one of my favorite photos because it tells such an honest story!

That's a wrap, everyone!

That's a wrap, everyone!

So this fall, why don't you step outside the box and beyond the traditional. Let your family's candid beauty shine through. CONTACT BBP today to book your session. 

Granger Newborn Baby and Family Documentary Photographer - Why Storytelling and Documentary Photography?

HAPPY 2017 EVERYONE!!! I hope that you all had a safe and great end to 2016 and are looking forward to the new year as much as I am. So, lets start the year off right and answer the ever nagging question...

"Why documentary photography???"

This is a question that I am certain crosses just about everyone's mind. When we are surrounded by beautiful portraits and stylized lifestyle images, it is very hard, maybe even uncomfortable, to think about stepping away from this genre. Especially when most of it is so beautifully done! So let me share my own personal experience that flipped the switch for me:

When my daughter was about 7 months old, we decided to do a family shoot. The photographer picked a beautiful location at a state park and we headed out for our session. Right when we got there, while carrying Baby F to the woods, I tripped and we both fell. Thankfully, neither of us were hurt, but we were both REALLY shaken. My normally happy, never-cries baby would not stop crying and wanted nothing to do with anyone except me. I wanted to just reschedule and call it quits, but at the encouragement of our photographer, we pressed on. I was sure we wouldn't get any usable images through the sobs and tears!

But we did. The images turned out adorable. Because the photographer was just that good.

Not a single one of those photos hangs on my walls.

 Why? Because it was a horrible experience! It was unnatural. It was uncomfortable. It was, well, fake. None of those images represented what I wanted to remember about my daughter! Where was her sweet personality? Our REAL baby smiles? Where was OUR honest story?

I started to think back on previous sessions and while all of the images were great, they just weren't real. I mean, I don't know about you, but I rarely put my baby in a bucket with a bow as big as her head at home! I realized that what I loved about photography is the ability to freeze reality; in my mind, there was nothing more beautiful than our every day, messy hair, baby spit up, chaotic days. That is what I wanted on my walls. That is what I wanted on my social media. That is what I wanted for our albums. And THAT is why I decided to offer that to you. I want you to have the every day beauty at your fingertips, to look back on whenever your heart aches for those moments and milestones. Real is so much better than ideal.

Storytelling and documentary photography is so much more than just pictures. It is a direct representation of your story; of the steps you're taking to get where you're going. Whether that means a messy house, or a pony tail and no makeup, or a baby in a t-shirt and diaper, if that's your story then that is what I want to capture for you! 

Like what you see? CONTACT ME.

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South Bend Indiana Family Documentary Photography - How to Take Your Own Great Holiday Photos

Some of the biggest, most joyful, meaningful days of the year happen during the holidays. Filled with events, family and friends there are so many reasons to pull out your personal camera and make sure those moments live on forever. Just think of the laughs and smiles you will share with your kids years down the road when you look back at the fun memories you managed to capture!

But how do you take average, un-inspired images up to the next level and turn them into something beautiful AND priceless? How do you use the camera you have easy access to (say a phone) and use it to create high quality, artistic images? Here are a few tips and tricks to turning your blah holiday pictures into fun, appealing, priceless images...

1). Get the "safe shot"

I always encourage folks to take the "safe shot" first. Kids move FAST and sometimes, if you think too much, you miss the moment. It might not be the best quality shot, but at least you have the feels on your screen to relish down the road. 

Safe shot. 

The good shot. 

2) Do. Not. Say. "Cheese."

For the love of Christmas, do NOT tell your subjects to say "cheese!" Maybe this is just the documentary photographer coming out in me, but whoever decided to tell people to say "cheese" during a picture needs a quick kick to the shins (nothing like a little violence for the holiday spirit). In all seriousness though...the best pictures you will take are the ones in the moment. By telling your kids or the photo's subject to stop what they are doing, focus on you and the camera and say "cheese" completely deflates the scene. And if you're dealing with small children or (shudder) toddlers, we all know that the moment they realize you want them to smile...HAHAHAHA. Right. So fight that instinct to get them to focus on the camera and just get the amazing pictures that can come from being in the moment. You won't regret it.

And if you just can't fight it and you really want that look-and-smile picture, just tell them to smile. Young children are still learning phonetics and saying words, especially words that end in consonants, often forces their mouths and cheeks to do funny things and is counterproductive to getting them to smile. 

3) Angles, angles, angles!

When we take photos with our camera phones or point-and-shoots, we tend to take them right where we stand. We see a cute moment like our kids bonding with their cousins or hugging the family dog and we whip out that camera and snap the picture. That's fine! Like I mentioned above, get the safe shot first. But once you've secured that, get out of your comfort zone and think about your angles. The absolute best and most simple thing you can do to improve your photos are to get on the same level as your subject. If you're photographing kids, prepare to get your squat quota maxed out pretty quickly. Get down on their level and suddenly the picture feels much more real and in-the-moment.

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Another fun angle is from above. People tend to focus on faces when they take pictures but that's not always what tells the best story. Sometimes getting directly above your kiddos really changes the perspective and tells a stronger story.

4) Use your camera's focal point.

Have you ever had the perfect picture opportunity in front of a bright window and you take the photo and it's completely blown out? How frustrating! Cameras are designed to focus on the light and then balance the settings accordingly. Having a big, bright window is great but it tricks your camera into thinking that the entire room is also that bright which just isn't the case. So how do you we fix this? On most cameras and phones, its as simple as tapping the face or subject that you want to focus on. The camera then says, "Oh, you want to focus on this darker subject? Got it!" (Because, you know, cameras talk now). It still might not be the best picture you'll ever take, but it will salvage the shot.

5) Avoid mixed lighting.

It is easier said than done, but if you can, avoid "mixed lighting." This means, try not to take pictures where a window and lamp is influencing the light in the same photo. Most people assume that all light is good light but that is just wildly untrue. Here's the basic breakdown: window light is the best light. Its natural, pretty and neutral. 

See photos below for an example of mixed lighting. 

6) Consider your surroundings.

Holidays can be such a tough time to photograph even for a seasoned professional because there are usually 100 brightly colored decorations and 101 distractions. Both of these things make for some challenges but if you're aware of them, it is (slightly) easier to avoid them. Quickly consider your subject (say your child), squat down to their level, tap your focal point and then look past them. If they are sitting in front of 10 boxes and three cousins, try to move yourself left or right so that you can either hide or minimize the distractions. I'm all for embracing the clutter and chaos, after all, that's what documentary photography is all about. But there's a difference between adding to the story and just being distracting. 

Distracting red shelving and mixed lighting. 

Still a busy background but not directly behind the family AND it helps tell the story.

I hope that these quick and easy tips help you get some great holiday photos this weekend! But most importantly, don't forget to put down the phone and camera and just enjoy the moment. Not even the best picture can replace the memories you have of getting in on the holiday chaos.

MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY HOLIDAYS EVERYONE :) 

 

Nappanee Indiana Family Documentary Photographer - Anderson Short Story

For this session, this family chose a location that had special meaning to them; the same location where they took their engagement photos. I was so excited and despite being directionally impaired AND being in Nappanee (aka the land of no road signs and farm land far as the eye can see), I made it thanks to Kim's tech savvy GPS tricks.

Not only was the location for this session gorgeous, but we had absolutely perfect conditions for an awesome outdoor fall short story family session. While toddlers tend to be the most challenging photo subjects, they're also the most fun and photogenic and this case was no different. Chasing this little guy around and watching him interact with his ridiculously adorable parents was a pleasure and getting to capture it on film was just the icing on the cake.

When locations like this one hold special meaning to mom and dad, it ads to the story of their family. While we may not have had a boat for this session like they did for their engagement pictures, we did have some pretty amazing fall colors and an intense game of hide and seek (aka "hide a boo" says Baby T). The connection between this family was obvious and the pure fun that radiated from them clearly showed up in their images. I'm so glad that the Anderson's allowed me to be a part of their story and capture some fall memories for their family. 

South Bend Newborn and Family Photography / Photographer - Tips for a Great In-Home Documentary Session

Never experienced an in-home documentary newborn or family photography session before? No problem! It's honestly probably the least stressful type of session you will ever experience. But even so, here are some tips for ensuring that your experience is a great one: 

  • Accept that this IS NOT a portrait session. From childhood, we are preconditioned to smile and say "cheese" when someone takes out a camera. (Seriously, its comical. Whip out a camera and if someone spots you taking a picture, I can almost guarantee they will stop what they're doing and smile awkwardly at you). It's not your fault! But seriously, folks, fight the urge. Go about your normal business of loving on your kids and family, pick up after them, parent them, play with them, tickle them. It won't feel like it during the session, but I promise you that when you open that gallery, you will love what you see. 

"Hands where I can see um, Mom!" Logan kept the ball rolling FOR us with all of his fun toddlerisms. 

 

  • Clear the clutter but don't stress over the mess. Cameras wont pick up the dust bunnies or dog hair (don't believe me? Check out our story and tell me if you see the massive amounts of dog hair that accumulate despite daily sweeping) and if something is too distracting, I will move it during the session. Moving major clutter is a good idea for clean cut, appealing images but the cheerios that end up on the counter and the four shirts that are tossed aside while attempting to dress you toddler aren't a distraction, they're an asset. They add to your story at the time. You wont have legos hidden in every corner forever and one day, when you're not stepping on them in the middle of the night, the site of them in your photos will make you smile.

Dirty coffee cup, paper plate, cluttered counters...bet you didn't notice that stuff! Neither did I. What you DID see was the adorable breakfast date happening at the bartop. 

 

  • Have pre-planned activities. This is a wildly important part of a successful session. During pre-session communication, this will come up a lot but I want to stress it here as well (it's that important). Think about what your family likes to do together. Watch movies and eat popcorn? Cook breakfast on Saturday mornings? Play board games? Read books? As "simple" and "ordinary" as they might sound, these all make great stories to tell in pictures! Your daily routines and activities can be captured to look beautiful and frame worthy as long as you keep the activities rolling!

Painting is a great activity for toddlers and pre-schoolers alike!

 

  • Love each other. Being physically close to one another makes your photographer's job SO much easier and in turn, your images will be better. Every parent wants pictures of their family and children together so making sure that some of your activities include everyone is a key factor. Engage with your children all together and encourage them to play together during the session and you will end up with some heartwarming images. 

Being physically near one another wasn't hard for this loving family of three (family of 25 if you include all their dogs, cats, and chickens haha).