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.

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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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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! 

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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Granger Indiana Family Documentary and Storytelling Photography - It's in the Details

Sometimes, we get so caught up in the "Hallmark moments" of life that we forget to appreciate the little things. It's the same case in photography! Sometimes when clients, and even I, go through a gallery, I get so swept up in the amazing interactions and big, honest emotions that the details get lost. So this week, I am challenging myself and YOU to stop and look at the little things. Notice the way your child sticks out their tongue while drawing, watches tv with their mouth hanging open obliviously, or plays with your hair whenever they need just a little extra comfort (my daughter does this). Go ahead and add those awesome little details to your list of reasons that a documentary family session is the right choice for you...

Like what you see? CONTACT ME.

Check BBP out at:

IG: bornebackphotography

South Bend Indiana Newborn Baby Photographer - The Four W's (and the H) of Fresh 48 Sessions

The English teacher is coming out in me for this blog post; I'm talking about the four W's and the H. Flashing back to high school yet? Over the next few weeks, I want to spend my Thursday posts discussing the what, where, when, why and how of Fresh 48 sessions. So this week, lets start with the WHAT:

WHAT is a Fresh 48 session?

The Fresh 48 session is a fairly new type of session where a photographer comes to you within the first 48 hours after your baby was born and captures candid moments like parental bonding, family and sibling meetings, or preparations to head home after your hospital stay. 

Here's what they are:

  • They ARE emotional. If you are a first time parent, just think of the absolute awe you will be in of this tiny human that YOU created and brought into this world. If you are a second, third, fourth, fifth time parent think of the pure love and joy you feel when your new baby meets their siblings for the first time. Fresh 48 sessions capture all of the feels that can get lost in the chaos of the first days.
  • They ARE unique. Sometimes, typical newborn sessions can become cookie cutter. Newborns don't have full blown personalities to show for the camera yet, so stylized images can look uniform. I mean, in truth I know I've seen about 101 babies in a bucket! (No judgement, I had those taken as well). Fresh 48 sessions tell your story and your baby's story. Some babies are awake and aware from the get go, others are sleepy and dreamy. Some parents are all tears and smiles, others are relieved and relaxed. Whatever your story as a parent is; whatever your baby's story is, Fresh 48 sessions will capture it and tell it to the world. 
  • They ARE relaxed. From my personal experience, having to get myself and my newborn "photo ready" for a typical newborn session just four days post major surgery and as a new mom and as new breastfeeder and sleep deprived...well, let's just say it was anything but relaxed! Fresh 48's allow you to be completely candid and comfortable, whether they are in the hospital, at home, or at a birth center, tiny outfits and bows and caps are far from your mind. Your images will be raw and simple and beautiful; just like a newborn should be.
  • They ARE amazing and priceless. The first few days with your new baby fly by in a whir of chaos. I'm (obviously) a picture junky but with my own daughter, I ended up with a handful of pretty rough phone photos and nothing more of those first hours and that makes me so sad. I wish I had photos of her teeny tiny everything, of me nursing her for the first few times, of my husband stepping up and taking on exclusive diaper duty since I was confined to a bed, and mostly of the absolute crazy notion that we could not lay her down alone and literally took shifts sleeping so someone could be holding her 24/7 (yup, we were THOSE people). Having photos to capture these once-in-a-lifetime moments are truly irreplaceable.

In closing, the best way I can think to put it is: you wont ever regret getting Fresh 48 images but you might regret not getting them. Why take the chance? Capture your love show for this precious new baby!

Like what you see? CONTACT ME.

Check BBP out at: 

IG: bornebackphotography

Granger Indiana Family Documentary Storytelling Photography - Happy Halloween!

Halloween has always been a fun event but now that I have a toddler, it brings a whole new level of excitement to the table. Dressing her up and watching her face literally light up when she realized that people were putting CANDY in her bucket was such a great experience. In fact, it made me think that this would make for an awesome family photography session next year! What a fun story to capture: all of the costume prep and dress up, bustling out the door, kids hardly able to contain their excitement, the after trick-or-treating candy slam, sugar rushes followed by the sugar crashes...yup, sounds like a must do next year! 

Keeping the post short and sweet today. Everyone have a safe and fun Halloween! 

Love this little sequence! The candy hand-off, the investigation of the bucket, the "AHA!" moment. 

Like what you see? CONTACT ME.

Check BBP out at:

IG: bornebackphotography

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 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). 

In-Home Holiday Family Stories - Granger Family Lifestyle Documentary Photographer

It's crazy to me that the holidays are on my mind already! I've started making Christmas lists, discussing what family we will see on which days, planning new family traditions for our growing toddler to enjoy...

Traditions are something I've been looking forward to starting since we got married. While there were a few small ones we did as a couple, I don't think they became fully appreciated until we had a baby. Now, I can't wait to do things like bake holiday cookies and watch cheesy Christmas movies and wrap presents. Those are the memories that I want our daughter to cherish and I want to be able to smile whenever I think about them.

That's the beauty in documentary photography! It doesn't force your family into poses with props that don't have any real meaning to you. It takes something that is already special and meaningful and captures it in a creative, beautiful way. I think that's the best of both worlds! You get your gorgeous holiday photos perfect for the Christmas cards but you also get the chance to cherish your traditions for years to come. Holiday sessions are already booking fast and weekend slots are the first to go. Don't let your story go untold!

Lakeville Indiana Storytelling and Documentary Family Photography - Balmer Short Story

This short story was REALLY short - thank you mosquito plague of 2016! Good thing everyone was still able to have a great time and I was able to grab some good shots. I had so much fun with this big group and it was so funny to see the totally different personalities from each kiddo. I think those individual personalities show through pretty well in these photos! However, these siblings all had one thing in common and that was an obvious love for fun and each other. Not to mention I got to photograph an old student! 

Why I Don't Mind Outdoor Sessions in the Fall - Michiana Storytelling and Family Documentary Lifestyle Photographer

As a documentary photographer, I'm one of those weird people who genuinely prefer shooting indoors for a lot of reasons. First, indoor light offers more unique lighting opportunities. Some of my favorite shots are a direct result of window light falling just right. I also love getting to capture someone's home because that is the setting to all of our stories; our homes are the heart of our lives. The place where we wake up each morning and fall asleep each night. To me, that is so important in producing great documentary images! 


Isn't this light fantastic?! (Swoon)


However, as much as I don't want to admit it, I really don't mind doing outdoor sessions in the fall. The warmth of the colors, the soft light at sunset, and the comfy fall clothes all make it totally worth it. Autumn is such a great time to take short story and full story sessions! Don't let your story go untold...

Like what you see? CONTACT ME.

Check BBP out at:

IG: bornebackphotography

FIRST Fall Short Story Session - South Bend Family Documentary and Storytelling Photographer

First, lets start with the absolute perfect night we had for these photos! It couldn't have been any better. Second, how about this location? It was like an autumn paradise for toddlers (just ask baby S ). And most importantly, the cutest little family. Have I ever mentioned how good all of my sweet, adorable families make me look as a photographer? This fall short story session was a lot of fun and once baby S realized that she was in a toddler paradise, she let loose with the smiles and smirks. Her mom and dad are clearly nuts about her and I think its easy to see why.

I'd also like to say that "I pride myself on a quick turn around for image editing." Which is partially true: I do think getting images to the families quickly is wildly important. But if I'm being completely honest, I have a confession. I am the most impatient. person. ever. And this fully applies to editing images! When I get home from a session and I know there are photos on that SD card just waiting to be processed into magic, I have to do it NOW. And so, I usually end up staying up to all hours of the night until I get them done. And while that makes for a very tired me the following day, it makes for some very happy clients.

Shout Out to the Fresh 48 - Granger Documentary Photographer and Storyteller

Looking back through my old blog posts, I noticed something ironic: I have harped on birth photography, gushed over family sessions...but I have really neglected my absolute favorite type of session! So before I blow up my blog with family photography from the short story sessions, lets stop and give homage to the Fresh 48 session.

1). You don't think you need it...until you do.

Let me clarify by sharing my own experience. I did not book a fresh 48 session because I wanted my birth experience to be extremely private between my husband and new baby. I wanted to bond, uninterrupted and enjoy every sweet second. (SIGH) It was a nice thought. But in reality, my delivery was nothing of what we planned for or expected, my recovery was less than expected, and lets face it, in the moment it sure doesn't feel like there is anything beautiful or private about those first hours as a new parent! 

But looking back, the chaotic parts are the parts that stand out...but I KNOW that there were peaceful, amazing moments. I was just too tired and out of it to remember them. What I wouldn't give to have photos of my daughter just hours old snuggling with her daddy and I. Or meeting her grandparents for the first time. Or just being a part of this big new world! I truly and honestly regret not taking that opportunity to capture that part of our story!

2). They are seriously the most beautiful images - ever. 

When you have a new baby, you could literally stare at them for hours - days - eternity. They are squishy and wrinkly and regardless of what every person says, they look nothing like you or your husband yet but goodness, its just impossible to look away. These tiny beings are experiencing the world for the first time. I think we owe it to them and to ourselves to freeze those moments and go back and relive all those feels every chance we get. 

3). The meet and greet.

What a phenomenal moment when you get to introduce the newest love of your life to your other loves of your life! Whether baby is meeting a sibling, grandparents, family or friends, its a fleeting but magical moment (sorry for all of the fluffy language, but we ARE talking about newborns). To have those shared smiles and tears on film is priceless. 

Like what you see? CONTACT ME.

Check BBP out at:

IG: bornebackphotography