The M Twins…Every time’s a charm :) {The Woodlands, TX | Child Photographer}

Every single time gets better than the last!  LOVE working with these two!  No matter what their mood or how they’ve grown and changed, we always have a blast!  The M Twins….

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Friday Favorites…Where in the World? {Chicago, IL | Baby and Child Photographer}

I’ve taken so many images, and have so many different favorites for so many various reasons.  Social media, internet, and web-based portfolios are all great; but this online world we live in sometimes leads things to be a bit less personal.  I believe that every image has a story to tell, and that’s what I love doing for my clients so much!  I don’t always get a chance to tell the story behind every image though–what I love about it, what makes it special to me.  So, I thought I would start a weekly blog post that featured one of my favorite images…deconstructed.  The story behind it, the reasons I love it (whether they are technical reasons of lighting/composition/etc., or emotional ones about what and why the image makes me feel).  So check back every week–some of these shares will be personal ones, and others will come from clients’ sessions past and present…one of your images might be featured here!

Where in the world….would I go for a portrait session?  Pretty much anywhere I guess!  This one was taken in Chicago last year.  As most of you know, I go to Chicago once a year to do portrait sessions, and it doesn’t have to stop there!  If you are in a different city/state/country and you would like for me to capture a little bit of your life, just send me a note and I can give you all of the details about how my “Travel Sessions” work!  So, I love that this image reminds me of the places owning my own business has taken me (both physically and metaphorically!).  I love the vividness of this image–it doesn’t work for every shot, but I love it here.  And I love that although this is “posed” in the sense that I asked him to sit on the bench for me, this little boy chose that very end of the bench all on his own, and in my mind it totally makes the image.  The composition is perfect that way, and I didn’t even have to ask!  In fact, I had intended for him to sit in the center, but as soon as I saw it the way he had done it naturally, I knew it was perfect just like that.  In fact, I don’t think it would have the same visual impact if he wasn’t at the end.  A good reminder to be patient and look at what is in front of you before deciding what will look best :).  One more Chicago Session will be up on the blog next week, and then we’re back to the home front!  Happy Friday everyone!!

Friday Favorites…Sibling Love {Chicago, IL | Baby and Child Photographer}

I’ve taken so many images, and have so many different favorites for so many various reasons.  Social media, internet, and web-based portfolios are all great; but this online world we live in sometimes leads things to be a bit less personal.  I believe that every image has a story to tell, and that’s what I love doing for my clients so much!  I don’t always get a chance to tell the story behind every image though–what I love about it, what makes it special to me.  So, I thought I would start a weekly blog post that featured one of my favorite images…deconstructed.  The story behind it, the reasons I love it (whether they are technical reasons of lighting/composition/etc., or emotional ones about what and why the image makes me feel).  So check back every week–some of these shares will be personal ones, and others will come from clients’ sessions past and present…one of your images might be featured here!

Since I’ve been posting this year’s Chicago Sessions on the blog lately, I thought it was appropriate to pull an image (or two!) from one of last year’s Chicago Sessions for this week’s Friday Favorites!  ….And I do love these images so much!  They both show the real relationship between these new siblings so well…it makes my heart melt a little bit looking back at them.  In the first one, big brother was trying to make his new little sister laugh, so he was tickling her armpit.  When he got her to smile, he instinctively turned up toward me to make sure I saw it :).  I love the joy in his face at making her laugh.  And in the second, their concentration on each other is just precious–especially big brother.  I imagine that protective brother-sister bond forming already.  These images were taken in their home, with their own belongings, and all natural light.  Those little details can add so much “heart” to an image, making it so real you can almost feel it :).  Happy Friday everyone!

Life’s Lessons with a bit of Whimsy… {The Woodlands, TX | Child Photographer}

There are so many important things I hope I can instill in my children as they grow up that sometimes it can get overwhelming remembering everything I need to teach them.  As simple as it may sound though, the most important thing I want to impress upon them is to dream–to love their dreams, to live their dreams, and to be the person in their dreams.  Life is just too short to not take that to heart.  It’s so important to love the life you are living, and I want them to know how fulfilling it can be to do what you love.

I have had this session in mind for them for quite some time.  I wanted to tell a story in just a few images of what it is to be a child, to keep life simple, and to get lost in your dreams.  I wanted to create something that they would look back on one day and realize how important their happiness is to me and remember having fun and feeling carefree.

My kids love to be in their PJs, and I mean they L.O.V.E. it!  I’m sure they are not alone in this infatuation with staying in their night clothes all day, in fact, I’m rather fond of being in my pajamas too!  But, pajama days are near perfection in their eyes, and what better symbol to use for a session that’s meant to illustrate the importance of dreaming, than what you wear while you dream the most!  As an extra bonus, these pajamas were handmade by their own Grandmother, and that’s just one more thing that makes these images so much more valuable and special, something they will surely treasure even more as time goes on.

During this session, they danced and sang, they pretended to be airplane pilots (and many other things!), and practiced plenty of just plain silliness (mixed in with a bit of contemplation towards the end :)).  It was the most fun session I’ve ever had with my own children–they are usually my toughest subjects by far, but this time it was fun for all of us and I loved every minute of it (which seems fitting for the message I was trying to send them with these images…and maybe a message I sometimes need to remind myself of as well :)).

So, although these may seem a bit whimsical for something as serious as “Life’s Lessons”. that’s exactly what it’s meant to be.  Sometimes we can take life too seriously and lose track of the things that are really important–the things that we truly love and that make us so happy we feel like we might actually burst with joy (a feeling I can honestly say that I get on a regular basis now, and I am so grateful for that!).  For my wonderful children whom I love so very much, I wish a lifetime of joy, love, happiness, health, and of course…DREAMS.

Friday Favorites…Collaboration {The Woodlands, TX | Newborn Baby Photographer}

I’ve taken so many images, and have so many different favorites for so many various reasons.  Social media, internet, and web-based portfolios are all great; but this online world we live in sometimes leads things to be a bit less personal.  I believe that every image has a story to tell, and that’s what I love doing for my clients so much!  I don’t always get a chance to tell the story behind every image though–what I love about it, what makes it special to me.  So, I thought I would start a weekly blog post that featured one of my favorite images…deconstructed.  The story behind it, the reasons I love it (whether they are technical reasons of lighting/composition/etc., or emotional ones about what and why the image makes me feel).  So check back every week–some of these shares will be personal ones, and others will come from clients’ sessions past and present…one of your images might be featured here!

I love photographing newborns, love this family (so sweet!!), and I love that starting this business has forced me to bust out of my shell and make real connections with other artists working for themselves.  This image represents a collaboration of sorts.  The beautiful “brood pouch” is made by Jwrobel Brood Baby–a truly wonderful business about so much more than just clothing or accessories that you should definitely check out and tell Jess I sent you :)!  The headband is by someone who has become a friend of mine talking shop over coffee…Karen at Baby Cake Bowtique.  Working with other small business owners is really inspiring to me–seeing how they are making it work for them, what they are doing that makes a difference, and how I can be a part of that too.  Collaboration is a wonderful thing, and I’m so grateful to still be meeting more and more people that make this journey a little easier and a lot more rewarding!

I do love photographing newborns!!  If you or someone you know is expecting, I would love to be the one to capture your beautiful little angel at such a special time.  You can contact me at sara@sarajensenphotography.com for more details or to book a session!

The M Boys… {The Woodlands, TX | Child Photographer}

I just love The M Boys!!  Super sweet and super fun, we had a blast despite the heat and humidity.  We kept it quick and simple, yet still managed to get such a great variety of shots.  I’ve been photographing these guys since the youngest was still in Mama’s tummy, and I love watching them grown and change.  Thanks for coming out to play in the Texas heat with me!

Kali’s Senior Session {The Woodlands, TX | Senior Portrait Photographer}

Meet Kali–gorgeous, outgoing, giving, and down to Earth.  She’s a Cheerleader at TWHS, a Lifeguard at Rob Fleming, and an active member of the National Charity League.  It’s really uplifting to photograph Senior sessions–to see what our future holds, to feel the hope, the ambition, and the beauty of the unknown.  It reminds me to feel young, to keep chasing my dreams, and to make sure that my kids are raised to chase their own.  Looking at someone at this stage in their life is truly beautiful–all of the doors are open, all of the possibilities are so real and so close.  Good luck with whatever you pursue Kali, and thank you for reminding me of that feeling that anything is possible!

Also, a huge thank you to Mary who welcomed us to her farm to film the second half of Kali’s session–it was such a beautiful, fun, and refreshing location to use!

Friday Favorites…So Bright They’ve Gotta Wear Shades {The Woodlands, TX | Baby Photographer}

I’ve taken so many images, and have so many different favorites for so many various reasons.  Social media, internet, and web-based portfolios are all great; but this online world we live in sometimes leads things to be a bit less personal.  I believe that every image has a story to tell, and that’s what I love doing for my clients so much!  I don’t always get a chance to tell the story behind every image though–what I love about it, what makes it special to me.  So, I thought I would start a weekly blog post that featured one of my favorite images…deconstructed.  The story behind it, the reasons I love it (whether they are technical reasons of lighting/composition/etc., or emotional ones about what and why the image makes me feel).  So check back every week–some of these shares will be personal ones, and others will come from clients’ sessions past and present…one of your images might be featured here!

Beach babies just steal my heart!  Okay, we were smack dab in the middle of The Woodlands, TX without an ocean in site when this image was taken, but the feeling is still there.  This image just screams Summer to me, and it is definitely Summer right now, so it felt like the perfect image for Friday Favorites this week.  It was also Summertime when this image was taken–poor Dad was sweating bullets by the end of the session, but it was so worth it and I’m so proud of him for sticking it out!  I love how everything came together and just worked in this image.  I love that it looks like a sandy beach, and those shades are just adorable on these two!  I actually also love how the little girl is looking away off camera, giving a little mysterious aloofness to the image especially with the vintage edit (which I so rarely do!).  I’ve photographed these two several times–they are just the sweetest little kids with the nicest parents to boot!  It’s another one of those images that I just never get tired of looking at…I hope you enjoy it too!

A Little Bit O’ Business… {The Woodlands, TX | Photographer}

The Summer is slipping away so fast, and I just wanted to take a minute (or 3) to let you know about some changes going on at SJP before we all get swamped with back to school and–eek!–Christmas time!! (You know it will creep up much too fast–be sure to get your Christmas time portraits scheduled well in advance to make sure you get a spot and have time to get all of your goodies ordered–cards and gifts galore!).

Anyway…as I was saying…new happenings.  I am now accepting credit cards on ALL orders regardless of amount, but orders less than $300 will incur a 4% processing fee if paid with credit card.  I am also offering PAYMENT PLANS for orders of $500 or more.  I know that getting beautiful and artistic portraits of your family is an investment–for your memories, your children, and generations to come.  You don’t want to skimp on it, but sometimes it’s a little hard to make it fit in the budget–hopefully these two new policies will help you out some!

I’m also in the process of updating my online shopping cart to include more products other than just standard prints…now available for online purchase–gallery wraps and float wraps in addition to standard gift prints and wall prints.  As always, you can still e-mail me requests for other products that are not yet available online.

I also have a F.A.Q. tab on my Facebook page now.  You can go there to find answers to common questions, or if you don’t see your question listed, send me a note at sara@sarajensenphotography.com!  Maybe your question will end up there after all :).

Alright, enough business for now…back to the fun before the Summer’s gone!  A quick image to (hopefully) make you smile this morning.  I know it makes me smile!

Taken with the 85mm 1.4G I rented to test out…love that bokeh!  Love that little girl too :)!

Do you need a fancy camera? {The Woodlands, TX | Amateur Photography Mentoring}

I’ve been asked many times by my clients, friends, etc. about what kind of camera I would suggest they buy for their everyday images–simple snapshots of their everyday lives.  (Don’t worry I’m not going to suggest the kind pictured above:)!). Most of the time when people ask me this, they are considering purchasing one of the fancy DSLR cameras that are so popular in the consumer market now.  It’s often with the misconception though, that a fancy camera is automatically going to give them fancy pictures.  The truth is that a lot more goes into the making of an image than just the click of a shutter–if you’re only going to use one of those fancy DSLRs in the Automatic mode, in my opinion, you’re probably better off going with a simple point and shoot, and saving yourself some serious cash.

You see, once you put the fanciest DSLR into Auto mode, you’ve essentially turned it into a very large, very heavy, and very expensive point and shoot camera.  Reasons you don’t want to do that:

1. Heavy is heavy, and the average person will get sick and tired of lugging around all that extra weight and bulk, all the room it takes up in your luggage or car, and how sore it can make your shoulders after a full day of carrying it–especially if you were getting the same results with a point and shoot camera that is a fraction of the size and weight.

2. You tend to baby things that are expensive–try not to take them out when you might set it down or leave it in the car and it could be stolen.  Or to the pool or beach where it could get ruined by the water and/or sand.  Either you’ll spend all your time during family outings worrying about your camera, or you’ll start worrying so much about how much that heavy piece of equipment cost you that you won’t want to lug it around at all…again, especially if you were getting the same results with a point and shoot.

Now, you might feel different about lugging the extra weight and bulk, and not let yourself fret over the cost if you can get better images with the fancy camera–if it can give you more control to do what you want and get creative.  If you do want to learn how to use your camera in the manual mode, if you have any interest in learning the technical and creative aspects of photography, and you have the money to spare, then I definitely encourage you to get a DSLR.  The creative freedom far exceeds a point and shoot and the things you can learn are endless.  But you have to want to, and have the time to, learn about your camera.  There are lots of books out there on basic photography concepts and skills, and lots can be found on the internet, but if you are looking for more personal and in depth training with your camera, I am now offering one on one and small group mentoring for the amateur photographer.  You can see more details and pricing here.

Diana McCranie took this course with me recently, and even I was amazed at how much she improved just during our time together!  She started out using the LCD screen to take all of her shots, not even knowing about looking through the viewfinder, in complete auto mode almost 100% of the time–to really grasping the concepts of shutter speed and aperture, and getting pretty darn good at exposure in the full manual mode.  She took this image of me during our class:

I have only cropped the image and sharpened/sized it for web–no other editing.  She knows she still has a lot to work on (it’s an ongoing process that takes a lot of time and effort), but I am so proud of how well she started doing in manual so quickly!

A little bit she had to say about taking the course with me:

Memories are those precious moments that fulfill your life and you do not want to ever have to let go, I wanted to have my memories as photographs and that is exactly why I took the mentoring session with Sara, my SLR camera was being under-utilized because it was in auto mode most of the time but with the friendly and encouraging atmosphere that Sara brings in the session not only lets you absorb the insight and technical information about the camera and photography in general but also inspires you and challenges you, the critiques are very constructive and taught me to understand what works and doesn’t work for me”.

So, bottom line for me–if you want to learn how to use it, a DSLR is a great buy.  But, if you’re only every going to shoot in full Auto mode, it’s probably not a wise use of your money.  And yes, I completely avoided telling you which brand/model I would go with because it depends so much on your needs.  I shoot Nikon, but just made that switch recently after years of shooting Canon.  They both have their pros and cons…if you have specific questions you can always feel free to leave me a comment or send me a note!