A few weeks ago I was at a Peninsula Pilots game with my church and the lady in front of me introduced herself.  “Hi, I’m Wendy.  You’re doing my family pictures next week!”  Let me tell you– that is the coolest thing ever.  I knew we went to the same church, but I’d never met her & we’d been chatting through online message for months now to set up this session.  I love how being a photographer allows me to meet so many people and get to see a glimpse into their lives.

Wendy took advantage of our Black Friday special last year.  I do one each year & let me tell you– they are definitely the best deals all year!  Mark your calendar to look for it.  :)  This session is the result of that special, and I loved getting to know their unique family.  The parents started dating in 9th grade and have been married for 15 years!  Their kids are respectful, talented & smart– it was truly a joy to get to know them!  Make sure to scroll all the way to the bottom– I saved the most incredible pictures  of their talented daughters for last!

Facebook Share|Tweet Post|Email Post|Contact Me

Last night I posted this picture on Instagram while in the middle of a paleo freezer meal frenzy.  Since then I’ve been inundated with messages & posts asking for recipes & how we went about it!  I started writing a post a few months ago but I ended up too overwhelmed & never finished it.  This will be short & sweet & to the point!

If you want to make freezer meals with friends, here are a few tips:

1) Find one friend that eats very similar to you.  I’ve done it with one friend & I’ve done it with four.  It can totally be done with four, but for starting out, just stick with one.  It’s important that they eat like you so the recipes & ingredients can be shared.  Instead of making a batch with organic meat & one without, you can make a double batch & then split it.  In this case, both our families eat mostly organic & paleo (don’t worry, my two year old doesn’t eat paleo).

2) Find 4 recipes, and block out about 6 hours.  Most likely you’ll be done much sooner, but at least you won’t be rushed.  It took us 3.5 hours and we made 4-8 batches of each.  It’s easier to pick fewer recipes & make 8 of each.

3) Split the shopping list.  This can go several ways.  Yesterday, we each picked two recipes and shopped for each other on those recipes.  I’ve also done it where we each buy enough for our own end result.  It depends on how expensive each recipe will end up being.  Or you can shop together… or one person can shop & split the bill.  Don’t forget pans or freezer bags if you need them!

4) Figure out which recipes to start with.  Since we had each picked out two recipes & shopped for those recipes, we each ended up preparing those recipes ourselves.  She had one that needed to cook, so she made all batches of that & as they were cooking she made the other recipe.  That way you’re not waiting on everything to cook at the very end.

I’ve included links below to each of the recipes we made last night.  If this all looks too hard, or you want to test the waters first without heading it up yourself, then you might want to check out the Pampered Chef Freezer Meal Workshop!  One of my good friends totally rocks them & does a few each month.  She does all the hard work of planning & you show up with the supplies & put it all together!  You can call or text her at (seven five seven) 952-4199 or check out her website here!Here are the meals we made last night!  We got all the recipes from Once a Month Meals.  They are fantastic with freezer meals and offer meal planning as well!  They have special menus if you have allergies or choose to eat paleo, low fat, etc.  But they also have traditional meals & even baby food menus!  Every one of their recipes that I’ve tried have been delicious & cooked well.Paleo Bacon Wrapped MeatloafPaleo Sweet Potato Sausage Breakfast CasserolePaleo Crock Pot MeatballsPaleo Taco SaladWhat do you think?  Have you tried freezer meals before?  What are your tips?

Facebook Share|Tweet Post|Email Post|Contact Me

For the last 15 days we’ve had various family members in town.  Most people would be pretty worn down at this point, but we absolutely love having family visit us!  All of our immediate families live close to each other so it’s more practical for us to visit them on holidays and such.  But… it’s SO nice & such a treat when they come to visit us!

Let me tell you– we soaked up and appreciated every minute of having family in town!  The first week Josh’s grandmother & her friend came to visit.  We went on picnics to the park, lounged at the beach, and hit up Chick-fil-A more times than we should probably admit!  The next week my parents, sister, and nephew were here.  My nephew & Hazel are 6 weeks apart, so we pretty much spent all our time keeping them entertained & out of trouble. :)

Being a business owner, it’s hard to put work down.  It’s not just work, it’s my life- and something I love. For the first week I had a few deadlines I had to make, but for the second week I made a point to not let myself do more than 30 minutes of work each day.  Basically, I was just checking & responding to emails.  My clients waiting on images knew that it would be a longer turn-around than normal, and they were okay with that.

And the second my family pulled out of the driveway, I brought my computer out & got to work. It wasn’t disheartening– it was planned.  I planned to enjoy my family time, I planned to check emails through the week, I planned to work.  I learned that from Amanda Hedgepeth– if I plan it, it will happen.  If I just sit back & hope I have time to edit & spend time with my family, then I’ll attempt both but not be successful with either. But today?  Today is editing & mailing out packages day… so I better get to that!

Facebook Share|Tweet Post|Email Post|Contact Me

Earlier this year I met with Amanda Hedgepeth to pick her brain on workflow, getting published, and business in general.  She is awesome & totally a wealth of information!  She’s a busy momma as well, so I knew she’d have some great ideas to speed up my workflow– and she totally did!  Two words: Photo Mechanic.  It’s culling made easy!

At first glance it seemed like some older website, but really, it’s a fantastic, simple tool that has taken hours off of my wedding workflow!  I used to load all the images from a session into Lightroom and choose my favorites as I edit, but that took several seconds for each picture to load, which adds up to extra HOURS for weddings.  This speeds up that process– previews pop up instantly & then you only load your favorites into Lightroom.

A new program is a little confusing at first so here’s a quick tutorial in getting started.  There are tons of ways to use it, but this is what I’ve found beneficial for me.

When you first open it up, the directions are right in the middle of the screen– super helpful!  A “contact sheet” is the pictures that you want to cull through.

Drag & drop is an easy method, or you can go to the left side of the screen like I do since I often don’t have the window open already.  Below you can see what my screen looks like.

The area under “Navigator” lists all the folders that I have as favorites on my computer.  When you click on one, all the folders underneath the main folder will pop up and you find your pictures that way.  If you keep all your photos in a few general folders like I do, then you can drag & drop those folders from the “Navigator” area to the “Favorites” area right above it.  Then I don’t have to search through folders– it’s just right there & ready for me.  Once you find the folder you want, double click on it, and you’ll see something like the image below:

Double clicking on the folder opens all the pictures in that folder.  Then, double click on the first image & it will pop up larger in a separate screen, like below:

Once these images are open, I click ‘t’ on the ones I like to tag them.  Then you click the right arrow to go to the next image.  If you like it, click ‘t’ as well.  If you don’t like it, just press the right arrow to go to the next one.  This process goes really fast because Photo Mechanic opens the images in a JPEG form rather than RAW files.  Huge time saver!  Don’t worry– when you load them into your editing software it’ll be the RAW files. :)  Below you can see where you tagged images– on the bottom right hand corner of the image there will be a check mark for those that are tagged or an empty box for those that aren’t.

Once you’ve tagged all the images you like, click the X at the top (top left for Macs, top right for PC’s).  It will take you back to the original screen of thumbnails & you can see which ones are tagged by the check marks next to them.  Now we’re ready to choose all the ones that are tagged!  Click “Edit” at the top of the screen, then “Select Tagged.”  You can also use the shortcut keys listed next to it.

Now you’re ready to load them into your editing program!  I use Lightroom, but I’m sure this method will work for other programs as well.  Open Lightroom & go to the import screen (it’ll look similar to below).

Instead of choosing a folder from the left hand side, drag & drop the tagged images from Photo Mechanic into the center area of the Lightroom screen.  All the images from that folder (including the ones that aren’t tagged) will pop up on the screen, but you’ll see that the tagged once will have a check mark next to them like below:

Then click “Import” and you’re ready to edit them in Lightroom!

Facebook Share|Tweet Post|Email Post|Contact Me

Sweet 16 parties get a bad rep on TV these days.  You see all the craziness and drama, but this one was definitely different!  Two parents putting tons of love & effort into make it a very special birthday party for their daughter, turning 16, and their son, turning 13.  And the kids?  Totally thankful.  They appreciated and enjoyed every minute of it.  And they looked fabulous!

Venue: Virginia Beach Resort Hotel & Conference Center // DJ: Astro Entertainment
Balloons: Hi-5 Balloons // Cupcakes: Just Cupcakes // Photo & Video: Fowler Studios

Facebook Share|Tweet Post|Email Post|Contact Me
M o r e   i n f o