I can't believe it -- fall is finally here! This year, it seems like the seasons have taken their sweet time rolling in. Fall is my favorite and I've been looking forward to it with great anticipation! I was able to enjoy the first crisp weekend of the year with Alexa, and can't wait to share more from her headshot session at the National Portrait Gallery soon!
About a year and a half ago I switched to Lightroom for my primary photo editing software and I must say, it changed my life. I'm able to edit photos in a more consistent manner and at a faster rate. That said, I'm still learning how best to use the program, and I wanted to share a favorite tip here on my blog.
Anyone who takes photos for a living or is an avid hobbyist knows how tricky greens can be. They often appear overly bright, which can be incredibly distracting. Just look at the photo below. This is one of my favorites from the Fermanis-Martinez Family shoot, but the foliage is almost neon!
By making a few simple adjustments in the develop module of Lightroom, I'm able to turn neon pea green grossness into a much more appealing soft, minty green delight.
I hope this tutorial was helpful. The most important thing to remember in all of this is photography, like all art, is in the eye of the beholder. There's no set value I or anyone else has to use when making color-based adjustments in the develop module of Lightroom. It's all according to personal preference and style.
If any photographers in the area need additional help with Lightroom, I highly encourage you to seek out Gerry Suchy. He's an Adobe Creative Suite genius and is more than happy to help get your editing skills where you want them to be!
As a photographer, one of the hardest parts of my job is actually choosing which photos to feature on this blog. I usually come away from a session with many favorites, and do my best to find a balance between publishing photos that I'm particularly proud of, that will attract future clients, but that also leave a surprise for my current clients. After all, I want them to be excited about these blog posts, but awed when they receive their full gallery of photos.
One of the most challenging blog posts was that of the wedding of my good friends Jimena and Greg. Not only are they uber adorable together, but they're a very non-traditional couple. Their wedding was actually one of the most chill I've ever experienced and when it comes to photos, chill is king. After taking traditional couples photos, we actually had time to kill before the ceremony. (Seriously, people. This NEVER happens!!)
I took the opportunity to take additional portraits of them individually, which was a special treat for me as an artist. In my experience, grooms almost never want photos of just themselves, but Greg was totally game.
I published a few of these individual portraits on Jimena and Greg's initial blog post, but I just couldn't help myself. I love these so much and wanted to share more! Greg is so dashing in his suit! And Jimena with her throwback 1950s shades -- she reminds me of a movie star!
Without further ado, here are some never-before-published photos of a bride and groom moments before they say "I do!"
It's funny what kids teach you. As a family photographer, I've done a number of sessions with one-year-olds. I've got a system for working with them and I generally know what to expect... or at least I thought I did, until I met Dylan.
Dylan's family was gifted a photo session for the holidays, and they chose to use it to celebrate Dylan's first birthday! This sweet girl turned one the week before her family's photo session. Right around that time, she also learned to walk, and she had no qualms about using our photo time as walking practice! Usually when it comes to photographing one-year-olds, I sit babies down with a favorite toy and encourage them to smile and laugh for the camera -- but not Dylan. This girl had plans of her own! Within minutes of the session starting, she was off and running and it was all I could do to keep up!
Photographing her was quite the challenge, but I loved it! What I loved even more was her insatiable curiosity. This girl was was into everything, and there wasn't anything that didn't fascinate her! Given her age, this was surprising to me, but it also gave me an opportunity to capture her true personality.
As Dylan grows, I sincerely hope she continues to stay curious about the world. I have a feeling her tenacity and eagerness to learn will take her far!
Earlier this summer I shared the amazing floor-to-ceiling wooden headboard Cliff made for our bedroom. It's the focal point in an entire bedroom makeover we're slowly but surely working our way through. We received so many compliments on it (thanks, everyone!!) and even more questions about how we made it, so Cliff created some step-by-step instructions of the entire process.
This was Cliff's first major home improvement project and even though it turned out stunning, that doesn't mean there weren't hiccups along the way. That's life. So many blogs (including the one we relied on for this project) show only the before and after, and make it seem like the entire project was flawless. Cliff and I felt it was very important to keep things real. That's why he talks about how difficult it was to find a right stain and why we demonstrate just how much stud finders lie.
If anyone reading this feels inspired to take on your own project, be it a headboard or something else, take it from us: There will be ups and downs, but with a lot of planning and a little confidence, we know you'll do great!
Guest post by Cliff Starkey
Since I’m in education, I generally get summers off. Being lazy and playing video games all day might sound like a dream, but honestly, it gets a little old after a couple days. So, I try to keep busy during the long days by catching up on reading, writing, and self-written honey-do lists. Those lists generally consist of simple things: clean the kitchen, reorganize the linen closet—but now that we’re homeowners, those tasks now include things like painting (and re-painting) and mounting televisions.
However, my latest project dwarfed them all—a floor-to-ceiling wooden headboard!
The idea was born after we had spent a few weeks discussing and planning using fancy wallpaper to create an accent wall behind our bed. After painting (and again, repainting, because making decisions is hard) the bedroom, it was time to purchase some wallpaper. To our shock, the wallpaper prices were way more than we were willing to spend. An 8’ by 16’ wall would’ve run us around $1,000. No thanks.
So, after perusing a few different DIY websites, Jonna suggested the idea of a floor-to-ceiling wooden headboard. After the suggestion, I had two thoughts:
After checking out how others did it, though, I decided that I was willing to undertake the challenge.
Step One: Planning
The first step was to decide what type of wood we wanted to use. Others online sang the praises of using pallet wood—it’s (usually) free, and is easy to work with. We elected to use long, full boards due to the simplicity of having less boards to work with.
We took a trip to the hardware store and began laying out different sizes of wood on the ground. We looked at all different widths, and decided to use three different widths of wood:
Because I was determined to have everything planned out before I started, we didn’t buy anything that night, and I spent the next few days planning how the wood would be arranged. Since it’s impossible to get stain to look completely uniform across a board (let alone multiple boards), it was important to me that I had a plan. I made these to-scale designs in Photoshop.
Here's what the headboard might look like with a 12 - 6 - 4 pattern.
This is what it might look like with a wave pattern (12 - 6 - 4 - 6 - 12).
Here I assorted boards randomly. (We really didn't like this one).
This is the pattern we decided on.
After discussion—and discovering the hardware store almost never stocks enough 12-inch wood—we decided on a simple 6”-4”-6” system.
After that came finding a stain color that we liked. In hindsight, I wasted a LOT of time and money on this step. Unbeknownst to me, the hardware store sells stain samples in ketchup packets, so you use exactly the amount you buy. At first, I was buying small cans, using barely a fifth of them, and donating/disposing of the rest!
In addition, finding a stain that looked good, matched our color scheme, and wasn’t ten shades darker than advertised became a tedious adventure.
Finally—FINALLY—we came upon a stain that we liked: Varathane’s “Early American.”
Step Two: Staining
At last, it was time to begin staining the wood! In a regular house with a back yard, this could’ve all been done in a day. But for us this wasn’t the case. Remember when I said we’re in a condo? We DO have a large balcony that I could’ve worked on—but in true “make this as difficult as possible” fashion, our balcony was undergoing maintenance all summer, making it unavailable for use. So, I had to stain the wood on our dining room table, being careful only to do a few boards a day, as to not fill the condo too full with fumes. This was by far the longest part of the process. What could be done in one long day took me about two weeks.
Step Three: Support System
The second to last step was one that I was the most nervous about from the beginning. Using DIY websites as a guide, I decided that putting all 20-something boards directly into the wall would be too destructive, and instead made support boards for the headboard to nail into.
After finding exactly where on the wall we wanted the headboard, we purchased four 2” by 1” boards, cut them to the height of our wall, and drilled screws into the steel studs behind our bedroom wall.
Finding studs has always been something that drives me crazy (stud finders are notorious liars), and I soon learned that finding STEEL studs involved even more guesswork.
Stud finders lie.
In addition, thin, cheap pieces of wood are anything but straight. So, they needed to be attached to the stud slowly, so I could straighten the boards the best I could as I went down each piece. If we weren’t so cheap, this could’ve been much more easily accomplished with a good stud finder and quality lumber, but we are who we are, and our miserly ways made this step—once again—more difficult than it needed to be.
Step Four: Planning the Layout
The night before the big day, Jonna and I laid out all the wood on the floor and began organizing them in the order we wanted them to appear on the wall. At first, this seems unnecessary, but because of the semi-random nature of cheap wood and stain, there were some boards we wanted to feature more prominently, and others that we had no problem with being hidden from view behind the bed. We found an order we were happy with, and used a permanent marker to number them (on the back, of course).
Step Five: Putting it all Together
The last step was surprisingly easy, and somewhat anticlimactic (since there were no major screw ups). Jonna and I were able to put the entire headboard up in just over an hour. Jonna held the boards, while I hammered two nails in per stud (8 nails per board).
As Jonna posted for the preview, here is a time-lapse video of the process:
For most, Labor Day weekend marks the end of summer. But for me, it's much more than that. You see, I come from a strong union family and have made a career working in the labor movement (when I'm not behind the camera, that is). I consider Labor Day to be my holiday -- and America's holiday. After all, were it not for the every day Americans who teach our children, tend to those who are ill, transport our goods, repair our roads and so much more, our country wouldn't be what it is today.
It's fitting, then, that I spent part of my weekend photographing the beautiful Pell Family. They were gifted a family photo session by a family member who also dedicated a portion of her career to labor, and chose to use it to celebrate their daughter Dylan's first birthday.
The four of us spent our Saturday morning in one of my favorite locations -- Sligo Creek Parkway. Choosing a photo for this preview was actually quite difficult because there were so many from the session that I loved. I can't wait to share more soon!
I don't usually publish blog posts on weekends, but today is a special occasion. IT'S MY BEST FRIEND'S BIRTHDAY!!!
Molly and I have been friends since we were 10 years old! We met in elementary school, were practically joined at the hip in middle school, struggled together through those rough high school years, and now, Molly is a mommy! Her daughter, Jade, was born in December!
Last week I got to meet this precious little one for the first time and, yeah... she stole my heart! Just look at those cheeks, those eyes and that little hair bow! I could burst! And Molly? I know her heart is more full than it has ever been. She's always wanted to be a parent and seeing her with Jade was such a joy!
It's been so much fun growing up with Molly, and now I can't wait to watch her grow in love and life with her daughter. I know she and her wife, Angie, will be amazing parents. As for me, I'm going to sit back, relax, and spoil the hell outa this kid!!
p.s.: I couldn't help myself. Here's a SUUUUPER embarrassing picture of me and Molly in high school. (Alas, we weren't the cool kids, but I think we each grew up to be pretty awesome :) )
Hey there! I'm Jonna--writer, photographer, blogger, dancer, lover of food, folk music, travel, and my cat, Louie! Like what you see? Reach out! I'd love to chat about your next photo session!