Blog

Portraits

Maria Spaulding Maternity Session

Maria was one of my professor’s from college at Liberty; she taught my educational assessments course and was also my student teacher supervisor. For those of you that don’t know, I graduated from Liberty with a degree in Elementary and Special Education. I now work at a local high school as a special education teacher aside from owning my photography business; I do both and I love it! 

While in college, I always remember thinking that Maria was superwoman! She taught college courses, supervised student teachers, ran 10 miles every day, had two small boys and homeschooled both of them, taught exercise classes, and always looked put together and adorable. It still baffles me to this day how she does it all. And to top it all off, she loves the Lord fiercely and inspires so many people daily.

Maria is now pregnant with her third boy; that’s right, 3 boys! Maria, her husband Mark, her 2 boys, and I headed out to the new wedding venue, Glass Hill Venue, for her maternity session. Oh my gosh y’all! This venue location is INCREDIBLE!! Glass Hill Venue is about to break ground to begin building the actual venue on their property and it is going to be an amazing venue! The land overlooks the mountains and the sun sets right in the center of the mountains; it made for the most beautiful backdrop. Thank you to Glass Hill Venue for allowing us to come out for this session.

And now, let’s actually get to the actual session! Here are my favorite images from Maria’s maternity session.

Maria’s two boys are so sweet!

These boys had the best time with the machines there. We made a deal that if they posed nicely for all of the pictures, then they could get a picture on the big machine.

The sunset this night was breathtaking. I am so grateful that this precious family chose me as their photographer and I cannot wait to see those precious photos of baby Dawson!

xo Brittany ox

Weddings

Cassidy & Sage

Cassidy and Sage’s June 3 wedding at Historic Riverview on the James was filled with love, joy, and beautiful personal touches. Both Cassidy and Sage’s family and friends were so kind and excited for the the happy couple.

Cassidy and Sage are high school sweethearts and are the cutest couple. The both radiate joy and it is so evident how much they love one another. They are truly best friends and continually laugh and smile when they are together. I am over the moon for Cassidy and Sage and I wish them a lifetime of love and happiness.

Here a few of my favorites images from Cassidy and Sage’s wedding day.

All of the fairytale touches and details were so perfectly done! Everything was thoughtfully and beautifully thought out; I loved every aspect of their wedding! It was truly a real life fairytale wedding.

Cassidy and Sage’s first look, no peak

Sage’s first look at Cassidy brought me to tears during the wedding and while editing these images. SO PRECIOUS!

Cassidy and Sage’s sweet families

Are they not just the most precious couple??!

Cassidy and Sage’s guests definitely had some good dance moves!

This sparkler exit is stunning

Thank you Cassidy and Sage for choosing me to capture your wedding day; I am honored to be a part of it! I cherish you both and I wish you a lifetime of love and happiness.

xo Brittany ox

Portraits

Missy & Brian’s Engagement Session

Missy and I have no one another since our sophomore year of high school. We met when I moved to Georgia in high school and joined the swim team, which she was already a part of. We were also in chorus, show choir, and theatre together, so we were basically together all day for three years of high school. To this day, she remains one of my best friends. Here are some flash back photos to our days in high school for your viewing pleasure.

Now that we have that embarrassment out of the way, let’s get to Missy and Brian’s engagement session shall we?

We both happened to be back in Atlanta for the weekend for one of our friend’s bridal shower, so Missy asked me to take their engagement portraits while I was in town. The only day that worked for their session happened to be the day I was leaving, so we opted for a sunrise session. It was early, but boy was it worth it! We started at Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield and then headed to Marietta Square for the rest of the session. We got some incredible shots and I cannot wait for their wedding next year! Here a few of my favorites.

Thank you Missy and Brian for being incredible human beings and friends. I cannot wait for your wedding!

xo Brittany ox

Portraits

What to Wear to Your Senior Session

Whenever I book a session, the first question my client asks is typically, “What should I wear?”. This is always a daunting task for clients when preparing for their session, because the outfit usually sets the tone and style for the entire session.

I have come up with some helpful guidelines that will hopefully make deciding what to wear to your session a little easier.


Wear What Makes you Feel Comfortable and Confident.


There is nothing worse than standing in front of a camera and being uncomfortable about your outfit choice. If you are uncomfortable in what you’re wearing, it will always show on your face in your images. You do not want to be tugging at your clothes or trying to readjust clothes throughout your entire session, because things are uncomfortable.

You want to be confident in what you are wearing to your session! When you are confident in yourself and your clothes, your facial expressions and entire portrait experience will be so much better. Your portrait session is not the time to step out of your comfort zone and try an outfit that is way out of your style and comfort zone. These images will be shown to family and friends for years to come; you want to enjoy the experience and make sure that your confidence shows in those images. So whatever outfit you choose, make sure that you are comfortable and confident in that outfit.


Mix Simple Patterns Into Your Outfits


Adding simple patterns to your outfit allows for pops of color and interest to your images, so that you stand out from the background. Basic florals and wide strips (avoid pinstripes or thin stripes as they photograph weird) are great examples of patterns that flatter most body types and photograph well. Try to avoid funky and crazy patterns as they will go out of style quickly and can often take the focus off of your face; which we do not want to do, because everyone needs to look directly at that pretty face of yours!


Wear Something Classic and Timeless


We all have those pictures of us that every time we look at them, we think “What was I thinking wearing that!?”. Or we see pictures of our relatives from decades ago and wonder what in the world were they thinking putting that outfit on. Trends come and go so quickly throughout the years; we can all see the differences in trends over the decades. Don’t get me wrong, I love certain fashion trends at the moment, but your professional photography session may not be the best place to memorialize those trends.

You need to have at least one outfit during your senior session that in classic and timeless; something that you won’t look back out and wonder what you were thinking. Choose an outfit that 10 or 20 years down the road will still be in style and won’t be embarrassing to show your future children.


Dress to Impress


Graduating high school or college is a huge accomplishment; and it should be celebrated! Make sure to dress your best for your senior session. You want to make sure that you look your absolute best in your images, so dress accordingly. Down here in the Bible belt, we like to refer to it as dressing in your Sunday’s best or your “church clothes”.


For the Girls


Here are some standard outfit or fashion pieces that look beautiful on and photograph well.

-Dress

– Skirt & cute top

-Romper

-Nice jeans & cute top

– Flowy/ Dressy shorts & cute top


For the Boys


Here are some standard outfit or fashion pieces that look beautiful on and photograph well.

-Suit

-Slacks & Button Up Shirt

-Nice, Dark jeans & Button Up or Polo


What To Avoid


Girls, try to avoid t-shirts, light-wash jeans, flip flops, athletic shoes, ball caps, and jean shorts.

Guys, try to avoid graphic t-shirts, tank tops, light-wash jeans, flip flops, ball caps, and shorts.

While these clothing items are fine for every day, they do not always photograph well. You want to look pulled together in your images, so spend some time finding an outfit that looks impressive and also matches your personal style.


Here are some visuals of some great outfits that some of my past clients have worn that looked great in their images.


I hope this simple guide to choosing your senior session outfit helps make the process a little easier! Also, don’t forget that Pinterest is a great place to find cute outfit ideas for your session. Head on over to my Pinterest page and check out my outfit inspiration boards to help you get some ideas for your own session.

xo Brittany ox

Portraits

Rebecca and Katie’s UNCG Graduation

My beautiful cousin, Rebecca, and her beautiful best friend and roommate, Katie, are graduating from UNCG with their bachelor degree in elementary education. I traveled down to UNCG’s campus for their graduation session. UNCG’s campus is incredibly stunning and has so many great photo spots; I wish I lived closer because I would probably do all of my sessions there.

We had such a fun time at Becca and Katie’s session; we brought out the champagne and glitter and had lots of laughs. Becca and Katie are so beautiful and they made for a dang good time.

Now it’s time to pop the champagne!

I had so much fun with these two girls and I adore how these photos turned out! Congrats to Rebecca and Katie on graduating from college; you both are going to make incredible teachers!

xo Brittany ox

Portraits

Whitney’s Law School Graduation

Whitney needed some headshots taken for her professional portfolio and also wanted some fun law school graduation portraits. We set up her session for a Monday evening, but there ended up being a torrential downpour that day, so we rescheduled for a Saturday. Saturday ended up being a beautiful day, standing at a record 90 degrees in April! While it was hot, we could not have asked for a more clear and beautiful day.

We started out Whitney’s session at the Liberty University Visitor Center. The visitor center is so beautiful! They finished building it right before I graduated, but I never actually went inside of it. We took Whitney’s headshots at the visitor center.

After taking Whitney’s headshots at the visitor center, we headed to downtown Lynchburg to get some picture graduation shots. We both talked about how we didn’t understand why more law school grads didn’t take graduation portraits; It’s such a huge accomplishment and it deserves to be celebrated and memorialized.

We went down to the Riverwalk first and y’all that walk in the 90 degree heat was rough; we were both sweating and struggling. haha. We persevered through the heat and we got beautiful portraits of Whitney in her stunning pink and white dress from Rent the Runway.

We then headed back up to the main streets downtown to get some urban shots in Whitney’s knock blue dress from Rent the Runway. We went by the farmer’s market and down to the big stairs downtown.

Whitney was so much fun to photograph and I really enjoyed chatting with her in between portraits. Congrats on graduating from law school!

xo Brittany ox

 

Education

The Basics of Shooting Manual

 

When I got my very first DSLR camera, many years ago, I only shot in auto. I was never thrilled with my photos and I wasn’t sure why they weren’t spectacular like I expected from a DSLR camera. I mean hello, I just spent all this money on a “fancy” camera; why isn’t it creating beautiful photography all by itself!?  HA. Wrong. It requires a professional with knowledge of the camera and an artistic eye to create beautiful images with that camera. I knew I wanted to change the way my photographs looks, so I did a little research on how I could improve my photos. I quickly realized that I needed to be shooting in manual to really get that WOW factor that I was looking for in my photographs. The key three things to shooting in manual are your aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. I am going break down what each setting means, how it affects your shot, and how to use the three together to get a magnificent picture!


Aperture

Aperture is the opening in your lenses that determines how much light passes through your lens. While a definition is nice, you’re probably asking how in the world does aperture actually affect my photos? To put it simply, aperture determines how blurry your photo’s background will be and how light or dark your photo is.

Now that we know what it does, let’s get technical for a second. Typical aperture ranges go from about f/1.2(wider or wide open)-f/22(narrow). When you’re thinking about aperture, you kind of need to think opposite. An aperture of f/1.4 is considered a large aperture, where an aperture of f/22 is considered a small aperture. The lens that you use will determine the largest aperture available when shooting. Just for a reference, the kit lens’ (the lens that comes with your DSLR camera) largest aperture is usually between 3.5 and 5.6.

Let’s break it all down:

The larger the aperture (f/1.4-f/4) – the blurrier the background and the lighter and brighter your photo.

The smaller the aperture (f/11+) – the subject and the background are both in focus and the darker the photo.


Shutter Speed 

Shutter Speed determines the amount of time it takes for your shutter to open and close to take a portrait. Your shutter speed is measured in seconds and shows up as a fraction, a fraction of a second, in your camera setting. The average shutter speeds available to you on a typical DSLR camera range anywhere from 1/8 to 1/4000. The range of shutter speeds can vary depending on the camera you have. The slower shutter speeds, 1/8 to 1/30, can be difficult to maintain the camera’s focus without a tripod. Because the shutter is open for so much longer with these low shutter speeds, any movement in the camera, camera shake, before the shutter closes causes your photos to become out of focus. Using a tripod at these low shutter speeds prevents camera shake. Most often though, you will not being a shutter speed this low. Faster shutter speeds, 1/60-1/4000, are used much more often in portrait photography. These faster shutter speeds are less likely to be affected by camera shake, making them much more practical shutter speeds.

Being able to adjust how quickly your shutter closes and captures your photo, allows you to adjust your settings to what you are trying to photograph. For example, if you are capturing portraits of small children that are constantly moving or sports, you will want to have a quicker shutter speed (1/500-1/4000). The quick shutter speed allows you to capture quick movements in sharp focus without the photo becoming blurry by the movement like it would with a slower shutter speed.

Similar to aperture, The shutter speed also determines the amount of light let in. The longer your shutter stays open (slower shutter speed), the more light that is let into your camera. When quick movement is not a factor in a photograph, slowing down your shutter speed can allow you to brighten your photos.

Let’s break it all down:

Need more light – lower shutter speed (1/8 and up)

Need less light – higher shutter speed (1/4000 and down)

Fast moving objects – higher shutter speed (1/4000 and down)


ISO

ISO stands for International Standards Organization; it is the scale for measuring your camera’s image sensor’s sensitivity to light. Cameras have a wide range of ISO, depending on the quality of the DSLR camera. A camera’s ISO setting will begin at 100 and can go up to 102,800. The smaller the number selected for your ISO setting, the less light you need for your photo. To put it simply, if it is light outside, you will need the lowest ISO setting (100); if it is darker outside or you are inside a dark room, set your ISO setting higher until the exposure is right.

Let’s break it all down:

Light outside – lower ISO setting (100 and up)

Darker outside or inside – higher ISO setting (102,800 and down)


Bringing it All Together

I always set my aperture first; this is the most important setting to me, because I love the look of a blurry background. I typically shoot wide open (f/1.2-f/2.8 depending on the lens) when doing portraits, that is just my stylistic preference. When shooting wide open, more light is let into my camera’s sensor, so my other settings need to be adjusted for proper exposure. Once I have my aperture, I move to shutter speed based on the type of photo I am taking. This allows me to control how quickly I need my shutter to close after opening. When I am photographing children, I can adjust my shutter speed to a quicker setting to allow for quick bursts of movement. After adjusting my shutter speed, I adjust my ISO. I will usually take a test shot of my image at the set aperture and shutter speed and then determine whether I need to raise or lower my ISO setting based on the exposure of my test shot. If my test shot is too dark or under exposed, then I will raise my ISO one notch at a time until it is properly exposed. If my test shot is too light, I will lower my ISO setting until the image is correctly exposed.

The task of adjusting three settings at once may seem daunting and difficult to do while photographing a session, but I promise it is much easier than you realize. Really take time to play with your camera settings to fully understand how all three settings work together and how to get in a rhythm of adjusting all three quickly. Shooting in manual is second nature now and I could not imagine ever going back to auto. Taking the time to really practice shooting in manual mode and implementing it into your sessions will make a world of a difference in your photographs!

Brittany

Building Our Nest

Building Our Nest: The Building Process

IMG_3193

Welcome to the first official blog post in the “Building our Nest” series!

I don’t feel like many people actually share the good, bad, and ugly of building a home, so I’m hoping that today’s post helps shed some light on the process for anyone that is considering building a home. I’m also going to throw in some helpful tips, so that learn from our mistakes and you don’t have to deal with the same headaches that we did. You’re welcome!

We began looking for a home to purchase in December of 2015. We searched for months to no avail; we just couldn’t find anything that didn’t need a tremendous amount of work and that was in a decent location and distance from our jobs. We were frustrated; I even broke down in tears in a home we were looking at one afternoon. I know it’s a little dramatic, but you try planning a wedding while working 2 jobs and trying to find a house; it is exhausting!

After having no luck finding an existing home for sale, our realtor, Angie Holt (look her up if you’re in the Lynchburg area; she is the BOMB!), convinced us to look into a new development in our area. The house was slightly over our original budget, but we were out of options at this point, so we went with and looked at the house. There were two homes being built that were for sale at the time we went and looked. We looked at both and really liked the layout of one of them; however, we did not like the lot it was on. We found a lot that we loved next door and were told that we could build the same house and be able to choose all of our finishes; this was music to my ears! After looking for so long and then being told that I could pretty much design the house I wanted for a price we could actually afford, I was sold instantly. We did not hesitate and we put in an offer right away; this was our first mistake.


TIP 1: Research your builder before you make it official!


We knew absolutely nothing about our builder before we made an offer. We didn’t read any reviews, did not look into the company, and asked no questions; this came back to bite us in the butt really quick! Little did we know that the builders we chose did not have good a reputation. We learned this the hard way after already signing the contracts. I can not say this loud enough; know who you are getting into business with before you sign anything!

We began the building process in March 2016. We signed the contracts, finalized our floor plan, and chose our exterior finishes. We were told that the house would be finished in August, 2 months after Matt and I were getting married; so we made arrangements for a short-term rental property to live in until the house was finished.

March came and went and not much progress had been towards the house. The entire month of March was spend waiting for permits to come through. We adjusted our house plans and moved the house further towards the front of the lot, so our permits took a little longer to get in.

After the permits came in the building began. Things moved slowly, but they were getting things done. Matt and I would go over to the lot almost every night to check on the house and see the progress. We first started doing this because we were just so excited to see the progress, but we quickly realized that this was necessary to make sure that things were actually being built correctly.


TIP 2: Check on the building site frequently


Unfortunately, shortly after the framing started going up on the first floor, we discovered the builders had already made a big mistake on our house. When Matt and I went to check on the house one night, we discovered that the builders had not pushed our kitchen wall back two feet into the dining room like our adjusted plans called for. We discovered that the superintendent of the construction site was never given our adjusted plans. We were lucky that we found it as soon as we did, because they were going to put up the second floor shortly after we discovered the incorrect layout of the downstairs. Once the second floor would have been built, we would have had a huge push back in our timeline to fix it. Moral of the story, check on the house frequently and don’t hesitate to keep the contractors accountable if something is wrong or not as planned.

The wall mishap was the first of many mistakes and concerns while building house. I won’t bore you with my negative nancy spiel, but just follow tip 2 and you’ll be fine.

Our builders gave us certain allowances for all areas of the house when we were shopping for finishes. I was so excited to be picking out all of the finishes, but we quickly realized that our given allowances would only allow for the cheapest and sometimes ugliest finishes.


TIP 3: Expect to go over your allowance in all areas of the house


We were not given our allowances before signing the contracts, so we didn’t find out how cheap of an allowance we were receiving when we got started with the building process. After everything was all said and done, we doubled our lighting allowance and we just went to Lowes and got fairly basic and inexpensive light fixtures, with the exception of our dining room light and eat in kitchen light (which still weren’t that expensive at $150 each). We also doubled our appliance budget. We did upgrade a lot of our appliances, but we knew that this was an investment that was well worth the expense. I love to cook, so I wanted to make sure that I had appliances that suited my cooking needs. Be prepared to shell out a lot of extra cash for finishes that builders consider upgrades rather than standards. There are SO many options to choose from that it is very easy to go overboard and really allow your budget to get out of hand. Having champagne taste on a beer budget only breaks your heart when designing your home.


TIP 4:  Hire a good realtor


We would have been truly lost without our agent, Angela Holt; she helped us with everything from start to finish! Angie found us a short-term lease rental property to live in while they were building the house. She also helped make sure that everything was correctly written in our contract and made sure that we got everything we wanted in our home. We really cannot thank her enough! Without her knowledge and diligence in writing everything in our contract, we would have lost out on a lot of things that were promised to us if they had not been in the contract.


TIP 5: Get everything in writing


Write everything done and make sure that everything that you and the builder agreed upon is stated clearly and thoroughly in the contract! We had several things in our contract that our builders later failed to actually follow through on in our home, but because it was all in writing we had no problem getting it fixed. For example, we signed off on and included a turn around space in our driveway, but when it came time to pour the driveway, the builders never put it in. We called and they told us that this was not standard and did not come with the house plans that we purchased. Fortunately for us, we had it written in our contract and they were then obligated to fix it and add the turnaround to our driveway. There is so much more on this that I could get into, but just take my word for it. Initially it’s so easy to trust that people will actually do what they promise, but unfortunately that doesn’t always work in your favor. Make sure everything is in your contract before you sign!


TIP 6: Find a way to relieve your stress


I think building a house has to be one of the most stressful things to do, especially as a newly married couple. We spent many sleepless nights stressing over the house and wondering if we would ever be moving in or if this process would ever be over. The best advice I can give is to find a way to relieve some of that stress. Grab a glass of wine, read a book, get on Pinterest (one of my favorite things), take a bubble bath, do yoga, or go workout. Whatever it is, do something to help relieve your stress, even if it’s just for 30 minutes. Your significant other, co-workers, parents, and child will thank you; you will lose your sanity if you don’t find a way to handle all of the stress that comes with the building process.


TIP 7: Remember that there is an end in sight and it is a happy end


When things get stressful and you wonder why you were every crazy enough to start this whole process, remember that there is an end in sight. Even if there are million things going wrong remember that if will all be worth it when you get to come home to a beautiful home that was designed by you and that is perfect for you family.

We are so blessed to have the home we do and at such a young age! It still baffles me that Matt and I were able to have our first home be a home that we built together and one that we can stay in for a very long time. I never would have thought that at 23 Matt and I would own our perfect home.

XOXO Brittany

Building Our Nest

Building Our Nest

Hey loves!

You may or may not know that my husband, Matt, and I built and moved into our first home together in December. We never thought in our wildest dreams that we would be able to buy a home that was move in ready and perfect for us, let alone build it! This was a huge step in our lives, especially just being married. The building process is definitely not for the faint of heart; it is exhausting and extremely frustrating at times. Because this is such a big part of our lives as a newly married couple, I wanted to share that part of our lives with you all. I love being a home owner and decorating the inside and outside of our home.

I will be starting a series on our journey of homeownership, Building Our Nest. My hope for this series is to showcase the ups and downs of home ownership, home decor tips and tricks, DIY home projects, and landscaping ideas. Through this series of blog posts, I hope that you get a better look into our lives and potentially get some good ideas for your own home. I can’t wait to share this journey of home ownership with you.

Are there any specific posts that you would like to see within this series? I would love to hear your ideas in the comments.

XOXO Brittany

 

Uncategorized

Cassidy and Sage

Cassidy and Sage are one of my bride and grooms that will be getting married on June 3, 2017. We headed over to their venue, Historic River view on the James in Madison Heights, VA, to take their engagement pictures this past weekend and could not have asked for a more beautiful day! We had the most beautiful golden light throughout the entire session; it was so dreamy! Cassidy and Sage are the absolute sweetest and their love definitely shows throughout the entire gallery.

Cassidy and Sage were so much fun to photograph! They were so comfortable in front of the camera and they kept the entire session light and fun.

I cannot wait for Cassidy and Sage’s wedding day; it is going to be a blast and I cannot wait to be at this gorgeous wedding venue again!