Archive for the ‘photography’ Category

A Year in the Making (a.k.a.: How I ended up in Northern California teaching two photography workshops.)

Tuesday, July 5th, 2016

Hello. It’s me.

Rachel Chaney_blog-009

Sorry I haven’t blogged in a long time. I’ve been sharing more work lately on Facebook and Instagram.

This blog’s for you, Jane Bee (who very sweetly called me out for being delinquent in my blogging) and all the other awesome women who participated in A Year in the Making.

Some of you may have been wondering why I went to Northern California this summer to teach a photography workshop.

And some of you may have been wondering what on earth is “A Year in the Making”.

In order to answer either question, you have to start with the creator of A Year in the Making, my friend, Karen Russell.

Karen Russell is a photographer and teacher who taught an online photography workshop called The Photographers’ Workshop for years.

She never marketed her class once. Her business grew simply by word of mouth. She is such a good teacher that registration would fill up for all the seats in the class within minutes. If you were to print up all the pdf lessons for the 8 week course, you would get a 400+ page text book that I think sets the standard for basic digital photography. She didn’t stop there. She created an easy-to-navigate online forum for discussion about the class and created a culture where people felt safe to take risks and learn.  Combine the class with her long-running, self-disclosing, and beautiful-looking blog and you have the recipe for a strong following.

I took her class in 2009. I have been forever changed by it. She laid a solid foundation for me with photography that I have built on. As a result of her class, I learned to shoot with confidence–especially indoors.

Three years later, she took a big risk and invited me to spend time with her in Oregon in 2012. We hadn’t even talked on the phone before I arrived at the Medford Airport and stayed in her house for five days. I am so thankful that she took that risk.

You can see more about our first face-to-face adventure HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE.

Then she came for a visit to San Antonio 2013 and saw the beauty and brokenness of my life. She loved each of my kids and got to know Greg. My family fell in love with her.

God has built our friendship over the course of years. I am so thankful that I have caught a glimpse of what He is up to in and through her.  My life is richer because she is my friend.

About a year and a half ago, Karen had a big, bold idea for a new class called A Year in the Making. She replaced her much-loved Photographers’ Workshop with a year long, online class for a smaller group of about 60 students. This new forum started meeting online in June of 2015. The ambitious, online forum covered topics from relationships to organization to fitness and nutrition. Of course, there was a heavy photography component as well.  All the participants wrote their life story. All of the participants selected a word to think about and meditate on for the entire year. After interacting virtually for a year, the women in this class met face to face this past June 2016 during two weekends. One group of women arrived the weekend of 6/16. The other group arrived the weekend of 6/23. Karen invited me to help with these two in-person workshops.

Karen has spent hours and hours preparing for this workshop–on the couch, in front of her computer, and running errands.

Rachel Chaney_blog-006

She pays attention to the smallest visual detail. Here, she is with my dear friend Lea (who took the class) at JoAnn’s, selecting fabric to tie onto Mason jar drinking glasses for dinner the first night.

Rachel Chaney_blog-004


The day the women arrived for the first workshop, Annie, Karen’s daughter, made a huge chalk art sign in the front street welcoming them.

Rachel Chaney_blog-003

Josh, Karen’s husband, was instrumental in this workshop. He schlepped our suitcases, drove us around, got their house ready for the first evening’s events, told funny jokes–sometimes twice, and loved his family like crazy.

I see these two choosing truth and light and patience and vulnerability and joy in the midst of a very hard personal season of their life.

Watching them these past few months has been a big source of encouragement for me.  I am officially part of the Josh Downs fan club. I love this photo of them.

Rachel Chaney_blog-002

Each woman received a packet like this to open while traveling to the in person meet up.  It was filled with notes from all the other women who were coming. Because I was helping with both workshops, that means I received over 50 notes of encouragement and kindness even before arriving. It was humbling and overwhelming.

Rachel Chaney_blog-001

Karen’s friend, Coral, helped with the workshop too.  She is a skilled portrait photographer in southern Oregon who understands light well. She has a great laugh. She’s been a constant friend to Karen. The first night, she needed a few more moments to get ready.

Rachel Chaney_blog-008

When the women arrived Thursday night, Karen and Josh’s two daughters gave them a tour of their house.

Rachel Chaney_blog-001

Josh and Karen welcomed the ladies in the backyard for dinner.

Rachel Chaney_blog-002

Rachel Chaney_blog-003

Rachel Chaney_blog-004

Rachel Chaney_blog-023

Karen and Josh bought a school bus to transport the students for these two weekends. Josh added seats, fixed it up, and got his CDL so he could drive everyone around.

After dinner, the women got on the school bus and headed to McCloud, California–a total surprise to them.

Rachel Chaney_blog-005

Rachel Chaney_blog-016

Located at the foot of Mount Shasta, McCloud is a small town in Northern California known for fly fishing, snow skiing, and clean water.

Rachel Chaney_blog-029

We took over the Mercantile Hotel there. It’s where Karen and Josh spent their honeymoon and have celebrated several anniversaries.

Rachel Chaney_blog-010

Karen surprised the women by setting up an art show of their own work before their arrival. For many women this was very emotional–especially for those who don’t usually print their images or display them in a large format.

Rachel Chaney_blog-006

Rachel Chaney_blog-005

Rachel Chaney_blog-026

Rachel Chaney_blog-011


Friday morning started with surprise videos for each woman’s family.

Children, husbands, daughters, grand kids, parents, and grandparents shared about what made their loved one beautiful to them.

Rachel Chaney_blog-020

Rachel Chaney_blog-007

During the weekend, I documented many of the events; I taught my own class about storytelling; and I coached small groups of women through different shooting scenarios.

Friday, I helped the women with an indoor shooting scenario in beautiful, moody light.

I talked them through my thought process; helped them with settings; touched a bit on composition; and introduced many to my friend, Kelvin.

Rachel Chaney_blog-022

Karen thought it would be cool to get these bike carts (a.k.a. surreys) up and running and have the women ride them to a baseball game.

Both the carts and the game were a total surprise also.

Rachel Chaney_blog-012

Rachel Chaney_blog-014

Check out Cathy’s expression up close.

Rachel Chaney_blog-008

Rachel Chaney_blog-013

Rachel Chaney_blog-015

Paper, rock, scissors to decide who bats first.

Rachel Chaney_blog-024

Rachel Chaney_blog-016

Rachel Chaney_blog-017

Helena got a great hit.

Rachel Chaney_blog-009

Anna–a fierce athlete–scored a home run.

Rachel Chaney_blog-021

Karen went all out to try to field Colleen’s ball at first base.

Rachel Chaney_blog-010

Rachel Chaney_blog-011

Rachel Chaney_blog-025

Rachel Chaney_blog-026

During workshop #2, the red team photo bombed the losing blue team.

Rachel Chaney_blog-012

After the ball game, we pedaled home. I opted for a hike with some of the women in the evening.

I enjoyed getting to know Regina a bit and seeing Cathy in her element.

Rachel Chaney_blog-013

Rachel Chaney_blog-014

Friday night ended with dinner in the crane shed, a cavernous barn-like building at the mill.

Yes, Karen Russell creates event venues where there are none.

Rachel Chaney_blog-018


Karen asked Kirk Rudy to share his collection of Native American portraits by photographer, Edward S. Curtis. Curtis created most of his work during the first two decades of the 1900s.

You can learn more about Curtis and this extraordinary collection HERE.

Rachel Chaney_blog-015

Rachel Chaney_blog-019

After Kirk’s lecture, I taught the class I had created for these women, a class on photographic storytelling.

I love to teach but don’t get to do it often. It felt like I had made a delicious meal and got to bring all these women around the table and serve it to them.

I felt so much joy teaching. I’m on the lookout for other places/ ways to teach about photography.

Here’s a screen shot of one of the slides in my presentation that sets out the goals of my class.


Apparently, I get pretty animated when I start teaching.  [Bam]

Thank you, Marilou, for taking this one.

Marilou Jaen-069blog

In the late afternoon, I coached the women through a really tricking shooting scenario–in the dimly lit and cluttered basement of the Mercantile. The students affectionately named it the dungeon.

Then we headed outdoors for some more traditional portraits in abundant light.

Here’s Dana. . .

Rachel Chaney_blog-028

…and Karen.

Rachel Chaney_blog-027

The first Saturday night, I was sick so I took the night off.

The second Saturday night, I joined the group by a pond and a cabin with breathtaking views of Mt. Shasta for dinner and dancing. During dinner, I listened in on a conversation between two courageous women who were both systematically sexually abused by a family member. I listened as they encouraged each other and ministered to one another–sharing concrete ways they fight to heal moment by moment. I believe every single word they said. And I want them to keep fighting to heal.

I ended one of the best days of my life dancing like crazy. My kids don’t believe me that I pulled it off.  Maybe if you were there and witnessed it, you could add a comment to this blog post to try to convince them of the truth.

So glad Coral got a few photos. Here’s proof that I will do just about anything to make Karen smile. Thank you, Coral!

Coral Carlson-178blog


Tired yet? The Karen Russell train is fun, but it moves really fast.

She challenged all the women to run or walk a 5 K.

The morning started with some dynamic stretching.

Rachel Chaney_blog-020

The first weekend, my friend Lea had a super strong run. She has never been a runner and was reluctant to even start training.

Her husband, Damon, encouraged her to try and they started running together.

It was so wonderful to see her heading down the road looking stronger than I’ve ever seen her.

This woman has had a huge influence on me. She knows me deeply and loves me well. Quite simply, I want to be like her. It seemed like Lea’s participation in AYITM was a gift to everyone she met.

Rachel Chaney_blog-021

The women hoisted her up to celebrate her victory.

Rachel Chaney_blog-022

At the end of the second workshop, Lisa gifted Karen with a handmade quilt that she made using fabric that we sent her.

I know Karen well enough to know this gift would pretty much blow her mind. And it did.

Rachel Chaney_blog-025

Rachel Chaney_blog-017

After dinner in Dunsmuir. . .

Rachel Chaney_blog-030

. . . the women walked about 2 blocks up a steep hill to their final surprise, the California Theatre (est. 1926) lit up and ready for a slideshow viewing of images from the weekend.

Rachel Chaney_blog-024

Tyler and Dodee helped us set up. I think I would have lost sleep had I not asked to photograph them.


They surprised us by asking their friend Billy to play some piano as we all arrived.

Rachel Chaney_blog-018

On the one hand, I poured myself out for these women for two weekends. I expended myself physically, mentally, and emotionally. I did things that felt really uncomfortable to me. At times, I felt spent.

On the other hand, these women poured themselves into me. These women cared for me and supported me in all kinds of ways. I cherish all the moments they said yes to learning and trying new things. I cherish every single conversation I had–conversations where the women opened up to me and created a place for me to open up to them. I cherish all the dancing and laughing. I cherish every single note I received during the workshop. I have read each one more than one time. My eyes fill with tears of joyful gratitude when I read them. I cherish all the important words of encouragement and clarity. I cherish the Fage breaks and high kicks. I felt alive and free.

Rachel Chaney_blog-019

Can’t believe how fast those days came and went.

Thank you, Alison, Angie, Barb, Camille, Cara, Celia, Colette, Dana L., Dana N., Donna, Elaine, Gina, Ifan, Karen, Kellie, Keri, Lan, Lea, Lisa, Liz, Maria, Michele, Rachael, Robin, Sharra, Sunny, Tanya, Tara, Wendi, and Jules. Thank you, Andria, Anna, Cathi, Cathy, Colleen, Crystal, Debbie, Helena, Jane, Jen, Joanie, Joyce, Kari, Kelley, Kim, Kristen, Kristym, Leslie, Liora, Lisa, Maria, Michelle, Nancy, Rachelle, Regina, Stephanie, Suzi, Vicky, Coral, Nicole, Marilou, and Karen.

Hope many of our paths cross again.

Swim Lessons

Saturday, July 7th, 2012

We’ve been hitting the pool a lot lately. All the kids have been taking swim lessons.
If you don’t swim well in SA, you melt in the summer.

My kids wouldn’t be the swimmers that they are without the help of some great teachers. This is Kent. He was the perfect match for Emmie and Carter. They both really looked forward to their time with him, and they learned a lot.

A little butterfly action . . .

Chris encouraged Harrison to take breaths while swimming so that he could go further.

This takes guts.

Emmie kept pulling back at the last minute and jumping in feet first. Hopefully she’ll be diving more and more.

I love running into friends and neighbors at the pool.
I’m grateful to Ann (the director of the swim school) and all of the hard working teachers for doing such a great, consistent job each year.

Karen Russell, Part Four (Art Books)

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012

After our long morning together in Ashland (see HERE and HERE), we searched high and low for a place still open for lunch. We grabbed some Mediterranean Vacation sandwiches with Greek goddess dressing. We also did some “research” at a make your own cupcake bakery. I ordered a vanilla cupcake with ganache filling, cream cheese icing, and a drizzle of salted caramel. I wish we had shot some of these stories of the two of us together, but sometimes you are too busy talking and living. . .

We spent the late afternoon in front of the computer looking at some of our own images. Karen had a list of questions for me. And I had a list of questions for her.

Josh and the kids came home from a fishing derby. (For those of you from Texas, a fishing derby is apparently what we would call a fishing tournament.) The derby wasn’t a success. They were cold and tired so they got in comfy clothes and watched some America’s Funniest Home Videos:

Josh read some in Courtney Lee’s hanging chair. This chair made me smile because of all of its overconstructed, super-safe, able-to-withstand-hurricane-force-winds hanging mechanism. I’m married to a guy who would have done something similar.

I gave the kids some little thank you gifts for sharing their mom with me–not just for this weekend but in the past as my teacher. I know Karen has many students who are grateful to this family for sharing their wife and mom.

Josh and Cole started wrestling.

I think Cole lost this round because he ended up with a hand drawn mustache on his face.

Annie wasn’t afraid to defend her new coloring book. . .

The girls followed Josh Downs’ lead and drew mustaches and beards on one another.

I wonder if these mustaches and beards were still on their sleeping faces as I boarded my flight very early the next morning.

Josh Downs, I can see that you love your wife well in many ways. Thank you for watching the kids during the weekend so that I could spend time with her.

Cole, I love the way you think about life and the questions you ask. I love how you are sweet to your mom.

Courtney Lee, thank you for being willing to give up your room and share with me. I enjoyed hearing about the risk that you took and the fun that you had at camp.

Annie, thank you for my artwork. I have it in the nightstand beside my bed. I had fun doing arts and crafts with you. Thank you for making me smile.

Karen, thank you for helping me to become more of the person whom God has made me to be. Thank you for letting me get to know the real you and some of the stories (that didn’t make the blog) that have shaped and are shaping you. Karen Downs the person is even better than Karen Russell the blogger/photographer. And I always knew that the blogger/photographer was extraordinary.

Karen Russell, Part Three (Me)

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012

On day #3 of my weekend with Karen Russell, she was kind enough to take pictures of me. I don’t love being on the other side of the camera, but I knew I needed some updated photos. She made it easy for me to relax. Here are just a couple of “appetizers” that Karen took of me in Ashland. You can see more by going to her blog HERE.

I love all of the photos that she took of me. She doubled the current photos I have of myself in one hour. Thank you, Karen!

Karen Russell, Part Two (Bio Pics)

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

I’ve already talked about my first day with Karen Russell HERE.
The next day (Friday), we spent a lot of time at the computer. We each edited the same four images and swapped tips. We looked at some of the work of other photographers. We talked and talked.
I got to meet Courtney Lee and Cole who returned home from camp. All 6 of us enjoyed dinner at a local pizza place. I shared Karen’s 2nd (!) run of the day with her. She ran that morning, but I was wiped out from the prior day’s travels. She had enough gas in her tank to enjoy a shorter (for her) jog around Grants Pass.

Saturday, we ate breakfast on her front porch. She introduced me to almond butter with chocolate on toast. Yum!
We prettied ourselves up and headed to Ashland to take photos of one another. The weather was shifting constantly. We got some brief moments of sunshine. . .

. . . but the rain encouraged us to head indoors to the Black Sheep. We enjoyed some great fries with blue cheese sauce and some drinks. We picked an out of the way spot next to some good window light and popped open a reflector. We shot, snacked, and talked. Shot, snacked and talked. Karen wasn’t afraid to practically use the head of a stranger as a tripod to get a few shots of me. I realized she is as crazy as I am.

I like the yin and yang nature of the two above shots–one colorful and happy, the other b&w and moody but with a similar composition.

Karen and Josh Downs’ first date was at the Black Sheep (above). They also had their wedding reception there.

Here are a couple more keepers that I took before the rain. . .

I see a lot of beauty inside and out in my new friend.

I’m happy that Karen liked this outtake from the shoot and doesn’t take herself too seriously . . .

Karen Russell, Part One (Annie’s Puppet Show)

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

Q: Know what it feels like when someone you’ve admired wants to spend time with you?
A: You feel like the giddy school girl who has just been asked out by the boy she’s had a crush on.

Q: Know what it looks like to shoot over the shoulder of someone who has helped to make you the photographer you are?
A: Check this out:

Last weekend, I traveled to Oregon to spend time with Karen Russell, my former photography teacher. I had wanted to meet her ever since I first saw her blog and signed up for her class. That desire to see her in person increased after I completed her class and grew as a photographer. Karen’s husband, Josh and my husband, Greg took the load off of us in terms of parenting to make this weekend happen.

And so I got to say “Thank you” in person. We hadn’t even talked on the phone before. We had just emailed and blogged, yet Karen was willing to open up her life and let me get to know her as a person–not just a blogger or a teacher. Annie and Karen picked me up at the airport. I was greeted with enthusiastic hugs and this drawing that Annie had made for me:

After lunch, I got the tour of Karen’s house. Annie let us take some pictures of her playing on her bed. She did a puppet show for us with the puppets she had made that day. I wanted to shoot with both Canon and Nikon. Karen shoots with Nikon, and I still struggle with my Nikon camera.

One puppet lost its tongue. Annie thought that was hilarious. (I think she was also hamming it up a bit for me since I was “new”. . .)

Annie demonstrated how to turn a doll into a mermaid using a blanket:

Karen and Annie showed me a hand clapping game (that I remember from one of my favorite images of the two of them together). The clapping and rhyming ends with a round of paper, rock, and scissors:

Karen does a way better job of getting in photos than I do, but I still tried to add a few more images that include her to her collection.

Later, I got to meet the famous Josh Downs.
We wrapped up our first day together with dinner at Karen’s favorite Thai restaurant in Jacksonville. We each took turns telling some of our story and talking about photography.

New Gallery Wrap Grouping

Saturday, March 31st, 2012

I moved my old gallery wrap grouping upstairs to our bedroom to cheer up those walls. I purchased three new canvases for the now vacant space.

I love the way this newer set turned out. I enjoy seeing these precious faces while I’m eating my cereal each morning or cooking dinner.

Home (this past fall)

Sunday, February 19th, 2012

After school

The boys made paper airplanes one day right inside the front door.

Carter initiated a Veterans’ Day inspired craft project to honor his great grandfather and WWII B24 Bomber pilot vet, Howard Nisbet. Harrison and Emmie both joined in.

This is not a perfect picture technically, but it does capture a perfect moment. Because of our big fall garage sale and all the reorganizing that went along with it, Harrison got his own personal closet for the first time. Here he is joking, “I’m king of the castle!” as he stands on his stool.

I’m still trying to nail my editing for skin tone with my Nikon images. Colors just aren’t as good straight out of camera with my Nikon compared to my Canon, but I’m not willing to give up. (By the way, if any of you Nikon shooter friends can help me out, please email me. I would love to hear from you!) So with that said, here are a couple more family shots. Emmie is super animated when she reads to Harrison. I can definitely see Emmie becoming a teacher one day. And Carter built a space ship out of Legos.

Harrison built a Duplo train in his room. I love this toy.

Emmie re-discovered Winnie the Pooh.

Sometimes it is hard to read. . .

. . . when your brother is in the background playing with a new set of electronic drumsticks.

Nikon or Canon? Both Please!

Saturday, October 15th, 2011

So I have a secret. . .

I’ve been a Canon shooter from the very beginning. My very first DSLR was a Canon 5D. I got to know that camera backwards and forwards. I got so used to it that it felt like an extension of my body. I now shoot with the Canon 5D Mark II (the 5D classic upgrade), and I really like it. It is my go-to camera.

But for our 13th wedding anniversary, Greg bought me a Nikon D7000. No, not the D700 but the D7000. “Why?” you ask. Because I had heard from other photographers whom I respect that they really like their Nikons and this camera in particular. One of my favorite photographers switched from the Canon to Nikon system a couple of years ago. I’ve been shooting with both cameras a lot for the past 4+ months. The photo above was one that I took on my very first Nikon D7000 test drive.

And here’s the preliminary verdict. Take it for what it is worth. I’m just one photographer with her own shooting style. . .

1. You can take good photos with a Canon camera or a Nikon camera.
2. A certain camera or piece of equipment won’t magically make you a better photographer. Crediting an amazing photo to “a nice camera” is like telling a chef that his pots and pans produced an amazing meal. (By the way, I try to clench my teeth when someone says that I must have a nice camera. I want to hand it over to them and say, “Go for it. Knock yourself out. See what you can get.” Soon they would learn that great photographers make pictures–not take pictures. But I digress. . ..)
3. Nikon has a leg up on Canon in terms of its focusing system. My Nikon grabs focus more readily than my Canon especially in dark situations with moving subjects.
4. The Nikon D7000 handle noise better than the Canon 5D Mark II.
5. Canon has a leg up on Nikon in terms of color. Straight out of camera (before any editing), I can get better, truer color from my Canon. Now, I know that I am still learning how to edit my Nikon images better (which will take time), but it does seem like there is a difference in quality.
6. Canon produces better lenses. I just can’t get this one out of my head. My very favorite, pry-it-out-of-my-dead-hands lens is a Canon 50 mm 1.2. It helps to create such creamy, crisp images that I reach for it more often than any other lens. Nikon doesn’t even produce a lens like it.

So to summarize:
–I am reaching for my Canon more with portrait shoots.
–I am reaching for my Nikon more during wedding receptions or with fast moving subjects.
–I am thankful that I have both and think it was worth it (for me) to learn both systems. I want to become an increasingly better and better photographer and think both tools will equip me to do so.
–I am saving up money to buy the best prime Nikon lens. Currently I just own a good quality, f/2.8 zoom lens. I know it won’t be as good as the Canon lens, but I think I will enjoy it.

Why I photograph weddings/ Why I second shoot weddings

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

I shoot weddings as a primary photographer, and I second shoot weddings as an assistant photographer.

I’ve had a lot of people ask me why I shoot weddings and what second shooting is all about during the last few years. A second shooter is someone who helps a primary photographer shoot a wedding. So I thought I would take a post to answer those questions.

No post is complete without a photo or two so I’ve included some pictures from a wedding photobooth with my friend and fellow photographer, West.
(Yes, I do take the lens cap off when I do photography work!)

So why do I photograph weddings?

1. A wedding day is an amazing day.
I love the beauty, story, relationship, meaning and emotion behind each and every wedding day that I share with a couple. This is the biggest day of a bride and groom’s life. They have put so much time and effort into planning it. It is an honor to share this sacred day with them and photograph their story. It is a privilege to track with a bride and groom from start to finish throughout the day.

2. Skill sharpening.
A wedding is like a comprehensive, final exam. Other than all of the classes that I have taken, shooting weddings has really pushed me to become a better photographer in every way.

On a single wedding day, you have:
to take beautiful portraits,
to tell the story of those unrehearsed, “in between” moments,
to work indoors,
to work outdoors,
to take pictures with available light (sunlight),
to take pictures with created light (flash, strobes), mixed light, and sometimes no(!) light,
to think creatively,
to think relationally as you interact with a lot of people,
to think mathematically (things like the inverse square law and the exposure triangle rattle around in my head all day),
to provide direction in a kind way,
to stay on schedule,
to cooperate with other wedding vendors to care for the bride and groom,
to take pictures of people, places, interactions, and things. . .
The list could go on and on.
A wedding pushes you mentally and physically (as you lug around gear in the heat and stay on your feet for 10 hours straight). It is a wonderful opportunity to create some beautiful work to share with other people.

Why do I hire a second shooter when I photograph weddings?
Why do I second shoot weddings?

1. I can only be at one place at one time.
It takes at least 2 photographers to tell the story of a wedding day well. No one can be at the same place at the same time. A wedding moves super fast, so it is important to have at least two people ready to photograph the story that unfolds–and sometimes that story is unfolding simultaneously in two different places.

2. Creative synergy.
Two photographers working together is more than just divide and conquer. (“You get that. I’ll get this.)
Two photographers working together is more than just duplication or “insurance”. (“Let’s take photos of the same thing just in case. . ..”)
Two photographers working together is–under the best circumstances–a creative synergy. After working with someone for many weddings, you learn how each other thinks, works, and most importantly sees with his or her camera. You can challenge each other to push the envelope and experiment when appropriate. You can talk to each other about areas that you need to improve on together. You can make a strategy to grow and learn.

Do you know how you will run faster and harder if you run with a friend? Well that is what shooting a wedding with someone else is like. You keep each other going. You provide encouragement. You make it fun for each other so that you can do something really amazing for the client.

3. My family.
As a wife and mom of three, I’ve made a deliberate decision to limit the number of weddings that I shoot each year as a primary photographer. I don’t take on all of the weddings that I could. I want to spend time with my family. And I want to give each bride and groom personalized attention. As a wedding photographer, you don’t just commit to working one day, you commit to a lot of advance planning and a lot of administrative work afterward. I want to be able to keep my promises to my clients in a timely way.

On the flip side, in order to keep my skills sharp and benefit creatively from working with other photographers, I enjoy second shooting with greater frequency. By second shooting, I’m able to spend time with my family and take pictures of such a special event.

I hope this long post answered some of your questions.