Another one of my favorite senior sessions from our time in AZ!

What an incredible time I’ve been having with HS Senior Portfolio Building!  For this session, Emma and her younger sister met me at the gorgeous Brown Canyon Ranch- my favorite place to shoot.  The rain that had postponed us left us gorgeous yellow flowers all around, and left us not wanting for beautiful scenery for backdrops.

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senior girl with her trumpet and yellow flowers
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I really had an awesome time with Emma and her sis!  Although I feel as though I will always be a teacher at heart (even though met license has expired!) I truly LOVE creating portraits for families and wouldn’t trade it for the world!  But I think senior sessions are extra special- because I can have some of that interaction with kids that I miss so much! Teens (believe it or not!) are great- they’re smart, funny, sweet, and I love seeing their perspective on the world.  (Although, don’t get me wrong, I’m still not ready for my own little girl to be a teen yet!!)  Yet if she turns out as sweet as these awesome seniors I’ve gotten to know, I’ll be pretty proud!  🙂  Emma is pretty passionate about music- she plays trumpet in the high school band.  I LOVE the trumpet.  It has such a fantastic sound!  And I REALLY love how we incorporated her passion into her portraits.     

Hope you enjoyed these images as much as I enjoyed creating them!!  Stay tuned for more…

This one of my favorite sessions on the blog, from back when we lived in beautiful Arizona…

One of the things I love most about living out west is the surprisingly beautiful surroundings. Having grown up in Michigan, I’m accustomed to leaves, grass, and everything green.  Like many, I pictured only rocks, sand, and cacti here before we made Sierra Vista our home nearly three years ago.  I had no idea how truly gorgeous it was here.  It’s been the most amazing place to grow my business in portraiture!

With the new school year upon us, it’s time for 2016 seniors to book their customized senior portrait session!  I am currently building my HS Senior portfolio, and this sweet girl was my first senior session this season.  We had to fight the rain to finally hold our session, but it worked out beautifully!!  The rain that postponed us also made the yellow flowers prolific, and we captured some gorgeous backdrops in our images.

senior girl posing with guitar in field of yellow flowers
senior girl portrait during sunset

I had the most wonderful time photographing Rachel!  She has the most amazing smile and was so comfortable in front of the camera- and it shows!  I am beyond thrilled to share these stunning images!

Another awesome thing about Arizona???  The incredible sunsets.  And we’re talking almost every single night!  I was glad I brought along my speedlight for Rachel’s session as it allowed us to capture a few images after the sun dipped down and gave us that amazing pink and orange sky!   {swoon}.

Rachel’s gorgeous hair and three different make-ups looks by southern Arizona photographer Hannah Whaley of Hannah Whaley Photography. For more information on participating in a free portfolio-building senior session for the Class of 2016, click the “contact me” tab on this website, or visit my Facebook business page:  Sarah Lake Photography, LLC.

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In the past few years as I’ve grown my little business, one thing that I already knew but became more and more evident to me was how important it is to PRINT your photographs.   I’m always elated when clients choose to purchase prints, canvases, albums, and the like because I know that 80 years from now, those photographs will still be there- on their wall, on the bookshelf, in the hands of their great-grandchildren…  Once those photographs are printed, they exist.  And barring a natural disaster (God forbid) they will continue to exist for generations of their children and grandchildren to come.

Why digital photos aren’t actually photos…

Images made on a digital camera, or on our phones, however, don’t actually exist as tangible objects.  They’re mearly bits of electronic data that are retrieved through either the computer on your desktop or the computer in your phone.  Without this computer, how can we see them?  We can’t.  Have you ever had a “close call” with your computer or phone?  You know, that sinking feeling when you go to look at some pictures you took, and instead of seeing them see you see an “error” message or an empty folder where the files used to be…  A few years ago, before I started my business, the hard drive that we stored our family photos on failed, and we couldn’t find a single photo.  Not one.  They were GONE.  My husband is the computer geek in the family and can usually “fix” any problem right away.  So after seeing him fruitlessly search to recover these files, I felt sick to my stomach.  ALL the photos that we ever took of our first child?  GONE.  ALL the photos of our first few years of marriage, our honeymoon, our first house, vacations, family? GONE.  Had we PRINTED all those photos, it would not have bothered me as much that the electronic files were gone.  But we hadn’t.  I’d printed only a handful of them.  Because… (doesn’t this sound familiar?) …I had planned to print all of them one day and put them in an album or scrapbook, make a wall gallery, hang canvases in our kids’ rooms, and on and on… I had a ton of things that I had PLANNED to do, but never got around to doing.  It was a typical case of the cobbler’s children having no shoes.  Now, they were simply gone.  Never to have existed at all.

I will save you the suspense and say that, thankfully after a lot of sweating and praying, and about 2 days of hard drive recovery work on my husband’s part- we recovered those lost files.

However.

I just discovered a new glitch.   A couple of days ago as a matter of fact.  I went back into our family’s photo folders because I decided that it was finally time to print an album of all those photos- both the beautiful ones as well as the goofy, quick ones taken with our phones- so that we would have them forever, and so that we’d never have to worry again about losing all those memories.  And lo and behold, what did I see as I started choosing the images to add to my album??  THIS:

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Corrupt files?  Lost data?  I don’t know.  But it happened AGAIN.  Now, these are not (thankfully) the gorgeous custom family portraits that recently had done.  (I was smart enough to create 2 back-up copies of THOSE photos).  But all the silly, not-such-a-great-photo-but-awesome-memory taken on my phone??  They were ALL images that I wanted to keep.  They WERE photos that I wanted to put in our album so that we could look back on those ordinary, goofy, days filled with the very types of memories that slip by too quickly.  I just waited too long.  I find it ironic that when I finally chose to practice what I preach, my images are gone and I can’t use them.  Now images from my clients’ sessions?  I save them with three different back-ups!  But our own?  I guess I felt clients’ images to be first priority.  Now I see I should have treated ours the same way!

The moral here?  Hard drives WILL fail.  They have to.  They cannot exist forever, and the bits of electrical data that they store will be gone in a -POOF-.  So PLEASE (as my Dad jokingly told us when we were growing up), do as I say and not as I do!  Print your photos!!!  Those gorgeous family portraits that you hired a professional to create??  Get them off that disc or your hard drive and print them!  At very least print out each one in a 5×7 and then you will have them- they will actually exist as a tangible keepsake!  Don’t rely on those bits of electrical data- they don’t know these files are precious to you.

How to never lose digital photos again…

I’ve decided- for my OWN family- to finally PRINT all of those mundane ordinary photos into an album- a yearbook of sorts- so that we can always look back on those days and see the craziness, the sweetness, the laughter, the messes- all the good stuff that makes us smile (or will eventually).  Thankfully, it’s now, more than ever, easier to create albums like this.  There are websites such as picaboo, mix book, and adoramapix, that are just a few of the consumer album-makers available today, though I’m sure there are many others.  Each of these has auto-fill technology that takes all of your images, spits them out into an album design, and lets you tweak the arrangement to your liking.  Easy peasy!  Now, i wouldn’t recommend these types of books for wedding albums, or for gorgeous portraits that you invested good money in, as most are press-printed albums (like a magazine) and not photographic prints.  I also cannot speak to the longevity of the construction of the album.  So, for professional, archival photographic prints, I always recommend mpix.com (a division of Miller’s Professional Imaging.) However, I’m convinced, after years of procrastination, that these simple yearbook-style albums may be the best way for me to preserve all of those memories I capture on my phone, intending to preserve, yet failing to actually archive.  So I’m going to quit talking about doing it and just do it!

Having quality cameras built into our phones is a pretty awesome thing, but don’t let this convenient anywhere-anytime-picture-taking ability keep you from actually living and experiencing these moments!!  Capture those images instantly, but then print them for you to keep forever.

I hope this public service announcement serves you well, and lights a fire under your own tushie to print your photos and preserve your past!  As soon as my yearbook is finished, I will be sure to share it here.  Stay tuned!

Next on my list of tips to help you take better photos of your kids is something stealthy… something that will help you hone your ninja skills (or your parent skills, depending on how you look at it!)

Tip #4 for taking better pictures of your kids: Hide from them and watch from afar.

I’m sometimes lucky enough to catch my kids in a quiet moment (though “quiet” in our house is usually extremely suspicious!) 😉  If I’m lucky enough to witness a few moments of them reading quietly or playing together sweetly, I will just sit there and stare at them- trying to burn the sweet moment into my memory (and enjoy the precious moment while it lasts, because it’s usually not long!)  But of course photographs are the one sure way to capture that moment forever!

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Stepping back (into another room or where you aren’t seen) can create beautiful and sweet images that make the viewer feel as if they’re there.  So does shooting wide (with a lens of about 35mm or less) to allow you to capture more of the scene and tell more of the story.

Having fun sneaking around with your camera and seeing what you find!

Time for another tip for taking better photos of your munchkins!  Previously, I talked about getting down on their level… shooting from a low angle to capture a different perspective- one that reflects how big they see the world!  Another way to get some interesting photos:

TIP #3 for better photos of your kids: Get up High!

Getting high and shooting down on a scene gives another interesting-yet entirely different- perspective to your photos.  I often forget this, yet when I have on a wider lens (something 50mm or less) I can see more in the frame and it reminds me to take a look at what’s happening from above.  Get on a chair, on your tiptoes- whatever you can (that you won’t fall from!)  For the first image below, I stood on a chair while my son (who was potty-training at the time, hence the bare bum!) played hide-n-seek in his box.  For the second image I simply stood tall and shot with a wider angle down at my little guy while he was swinging.  I wanted to remember how he fit in those swings and how his little legs dangled down!  The bottom image I shot while standing on a deck, while my daughter and her BFF caught some air on this swing.  It’s funny, because in a portrait, you’d never want to see the soles of a subject’s shoes- but I absolutely love it here!

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I captured a few moments from this past Easter while our kids were dying eggs…  This was one of my first

shots…

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I then realized I’d wanted to get the bigger picture (and all the mess, too!)  You might also find that shooting from above can sometimes bring more attention to tiny details that might otherwise be lost in a different composition. Standing on a chair, I was able to see more of those little details and less of a distracting, messy house!

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I love how careful my little ones’ hands are as they handle the Easter eggs.  Shooting from above, all the details I’d love to remember from times like these stand out- the messy drips of egg dye, their little hands and fingers- it feels like I’m there!  🙂

Hope this tip is helpful and makes it fun to get out your camera!

S i g n   U p !