Class Summary and Final Thoughts

First of all, I would like to thank Casandra for the opportunity to take this course and for all of her guidance. I would also like to thank Jennifer, Amy, and Tara for their mentorship and friendship. Most importantly, I want to thank Cameron for believing in me, always encouraging me, and being willing to help me pursue photography in the future.

I have learned countless lessons throughout this course, the first being the importance of good mentors and looking at tons of photos. I have learned so much from following photographers, studying how experts pose their subjects, and looking at people who are closer to my novice level. Seeing ways they could improve has helped me have fresh eyes when trying to improve my own techniques.

Additionally, I have learned that the best way to learn photography is to take photos. At the beginning of this course I had grand ideas of researching photography lessons and analyzing them. While this helped a little, I realized I was really able to learn best by applying the lessons and just experimenting. A lot of what I did just flat didn’t work/looked terrible, but a few things turned out well. Regardless, I learned from these experiences, good or bad.

The last lesson I learned this semester is to trust myself. I came in to this as extremely nervous, intimidated, and unsure. I know that I still have a very long way to go, but I am happy about the progress I have seen my photos make throughout this course. I still get nervous when it’s time to take photos, but now it’s more of a nervous/excited that I really look forward to, and honestly, crave.

Here are a few of my favorites from this semester. I plan on buying a new camera in January- a Canon. I haven’t decided where or exactly which lenses at this time, but I am excited to make those decisions with my husband’s help and with the guidance of my mentors and friends.

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The Most Exciting/Nerve-wracking Photography Experience EVER (so far)

Wednesday night of last week I got home around 11:30 p.m. to a very excited husband. He was excited for a very good reason! His best friend, Caleb, was graduating on Saturday (Dec. 15), and wanted to propose to his girlfriend, Megan, on Sunday afternoon. The catch? Caleb wanted to propose during a photo session and wanted me to take the photos. EEEEEK!

I was basically on a whole new level of hyperventilation haha! This wasn’t a normal couples shoot- this was officially a high pressure situation. Also, at this point I had a special bond with Amy’s Canon camera (I used it for the Rucker and Sigma Alpha shoots), and she was going to be out of town. So I was back to using a camera that was foreign to me, and wanted nothing more than to do a good job.

In spite of all my fears, this weekend was an incredible experience. I realized that while these photos are far from perfect, I have actually learned a TON this semester. I found myself being calm and focused while he was proposing, asking Megan and Caleb to move or change poses because I had a better lighting idea in mind, and even suggesting poses that I couldn’t remember seeing before. This weekend taught me that while I still have a lot to learn and many, many ways to improve, photography is definitely something I love and am determined to continue to do.







Sigma Alpha Directory Photos


Doing this photo shoot meant a lot to me as an alum of the Sigma Alpha chapter at U of A. I have wanted to find a way to be a contributing alumni member (ya know, since I’m in grad school and can’t contribute monetarily), and I was so excited when my friends Micayla and Hanan approached me with this idea. I agreed to take directory photos of the members (using a stool as a prop), and then in the Spring I will be helping the girls assemble these photos into a directory to be distributed at their banquet in the Spring. These are a few that I have edited so far.




Rucker Family Photos

What a difference a camera makes! This photo shoot right here sealed the deal with me- I DEFINITELY want a Canon. This was my first full family shoot EVER, so I was extremely intimidated!!! Seriously, I was a nervous wreck. However, Dr. Rucker and her family made this a fun and enjoyable experience for me as a photographer, and they were able to have fun to. These are probably my favorite photos from the entire semester. I really think you can see how much fun this family is, as well as how much they love each other. I am so grateful for the opportunity to be around such a sweet family and click a camera while they had a blast.


Miss Gracie is too cute! I wish I had been able to catch a little more light on her face, though.


It’s hard to beat a mama’s love for her little girl. There were a lot of shadows on this photo, though, so I decided to switch it to black and white. I thought that helped the shadows not distract from the girls so much.


Gabby was so much fun! Mr. Dan reminded me a lot of my dad- he was a total goofball! At first I wished Gabby was in the other corner, but after editing I decided I loved this and thought the angle made the photo more interesting.


I love this shot. I wish I had worked with the lighting more on their faces, but I think the light behind them is really pretty.


I think this photo is a great opportunity to talk about something I wish I was better at- staying calm. I’ve found that when I take photos, I get SUPER excited! Sometimes I don’t feel that I remember to employ what I know about focusing, and end up with photos that are slightly blurry or leave a little to be desired. Overall I love this photo because you can still see her smile clearly, but I wish there was more of a warm feel on her face.



I saw this idea on the page of one of my favorite photographers- Virgila Dale Photography. I really look up to her and her work. I wish I had more light when we shot these two photos, but overall I am happy with them. I just think the back light is a little dark.


An idea from shooting with Jennifer. I am very thankful to be able to learn from her. I wish I had placed Mr. and Dr. Rucker further away from the girls and blurred them out slightly.






My first attempt at “live action” haha. Having photos of Rowdy was really important to the Ruckers, and I’m glad we were able to get several shots of her running. These were really fun to take! I also followed a tip I read on Pinterest a while back and had Mr. Rucker stand behind me to call Rowdy towards me while I shot. I also laid on the ground which I thought really helped the composition of this and other photos of Rowdy.

James and Jessica



Believe it or not, I am actually related to this gorgeous couple (Well, by marriage anyway, but I will definitely claim them!). This is Cameron’s cousin, James, and his beautiful girlfriend, Jess. They were sweet enough to let me snap a few shots one day on the Greens golf course. I was trying to shoot in manual with a BRAND new camera and was worried it would be over my head. I had a few issues with the lighting, but overall we had a great time and I was happy with how they turned out.




Ahrens Family Christmas Card Photos

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I was asked to take some Christmas card photos for the Ahrens family. I have known the Ahrens family since I was a little girl, and was so excited for my first family shoot.. We had a great time on their farm. I was super nervous because of how overcast the sky was (we had planned a morning shoot, so I was super bummed to not take advantage of that morning light!). I’m thankful for the experience, though, and hope for another chance to shoot in an overcast situation to see if I’ve improved.



This is what I meant in an earlier post when I referred to capturing moments. These three are always laughing and cutting up! I was excited to capture a little bit of that here.

Jesseca Lingo and Jaedy Boo

I have decided to start uploading photos from all of the different photo shoots I’ve been doing. I have learned that this semester has become much more about taking photos than I ever imagined! I knew I loved to edit, but taking photos brings me a different kind of joy. I love capturing memories. Here are a few from one of my best friends in the whole world, Jesseca, her sweet daughter Jaedyn, and our fun day at the fair.




The above photo of Jesseca really captures her personality. This photo took a TON of editing, because I shot it way over-exposed.


Not my favorite photo or pose, but I like the idea of what she was doing. Jaedyn was a good child for me to practice on since I knew her, but also because she is sort of a wild child!🙂




Livestock Photography


For this post I wanted to photograph something very near and dear to my heart- livestock. Growing up on a cattle farm in Ozark, Arkansas with a rodeo family is a huge part of who I am. I love the above photo of my mom’s horse, Flash. My favorite part of this photo is that his eye is the focal point for me. Eyes are definitely the window to the soul- especially for horses! I hadn’t quite figured how to blur the background at this point, or I probably would have zoomed out more. I am pretty happy with the editing on this, but wish the sky wasn’t quite so blue.



This is a photo of a calf on my dad’s farm. I like this photo, even though I think it’s a little blurry. I employed the rule of thirds when taking a photo of this calf, and I enjoy how the editing gives the grass an interesting color and texture.



This photo was taken at the Franklin Co. Fair in August of my friend Gabby’s hog. This isn’t my favorite picture from the day, but I love that you can see the lipstick on her hog! haha! Dressing up your animals for the sale is a long-standing tradition in my county, and Gabby always pulls out all of the stops. I think this photo is probably a better example of what not to do with lighting. This was my first attempt at shooting inside of a barn, and I definitely didn’t feel very confident at the time. If I could do this again, I would definitely adjust my ISO, and perhaps shoot at a different time of day.



This is the first calf from the 4-H heifer my dad won at an auction. I used a Sepia tone when editing this photo. Jennifer (from JWP) told me later that she used to do a lot of Sepia when she started out, but soon found better ways to edit. I think that was her sweet way of telling me to step it up.🙂 I am very thankful to have an extra mentor throughout this course.

Portrait Photography

For this week’s photos, I took pictures of my dear friend, Carley Calico. Additionally, my boss from JWP, Jennifer Williams, came to the shoot to do some teaching in the moment with me. I can definitely tell a HUGE difference in how much I understand the camera. As a visual learner, that style of learning was invaluable to me during this shoot. I will probably spend a few weeks talking about this photo set. This post will discuss my experience with Portrait Photography


This first photo is one of my favorites. Jennifer used the lighting here to talk to me about shutter speed. I lowered the shutter speed to help bring in the light behind Carley. I also used Lightroom to fill in more light throughout the photo.


This photo was a good way for Jennifer to teach me about over-exposed and under-exposed photos. Pre-editing, I shot this photo WAY over-exposed. I did my best to adjust the exposure, but Jennifer had me shoot from a slightly different angle for other pictures taken here. I used the barn as a shield from the light, as opposed to shooting more straight in to the light. Despite this change made later, I ended up needing to make this photo black and white because of the over-exposure. I couldn’t get the color right otherwise.


Jennifer used this photo to teach me about finding the light in photos. Originally, I was shooting with Carley directly in front of the barn (which is to the right in this photo). Jennifer asked me to look for the light and move Carley to the right place. I asked Carley to scoot over to in front of the trees so the light could shine through in the background.


Jennifer asked me to take a close-up photo of Carley and to focus on taking a sharp image. Now that I have exported this photo from Lightroom and uploaded it here, I notice that I may want to brighten the photo a bit. However, I am happy with how sharp the image turned out. It took me a few tries and a few settings adjustments to reach the desired effect.