10 on 10 | July 2017

This month, Brad and I celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary. Since I had a business trip scheduled the same week, we snuck away to Bridge Street for an overnight staycation. We stayed at Element by Westin and had dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, Connor's. It was a perfect and much needed quick getaway.

Go check out my friend, Bethany's post next....she is one of my favorite photographers and her summer photos are so beautiful and fun. She has got me wanting to purchase an underwater camera ASAP!

Inexpensive lens suggestions for documenting your daily life | Madison, AL Family Photographer

Last year, I set a few goals for myself. I wanted to apply and be accepted to Click Pro within a year (DONE!) and long-term, I wanted to use everything I've learned to help other parents better document their families and daily lives. 

I put some feelers out on Facebook to see how many of my friends had fancy cameras that they didn't know how to use. Turns out, there were a lot. So, I created a Facebook group called Mary's Momtogs to help these parents learn more about their cameras and photography so they can tell the stories of their lives in a beautiful way through photography. (disclaimer - it's not a group about how to run a photo business, nor do I claim to be an expert on all things photography and gear.) 

So, I'll be creating blog posts, documents, videos, etc to help parents that want to take better photographs of their kids. Going deeper than the portrait, really telling stories. 

Here's what I shared with the group today. 

Inexpensive lens suggestions for documenting your daily life

Most of you are using a crop sensor camera – so while a 50mm 1.8 (nifty fifty), is a great portrait lens and good for outdoors, it’s going to be tight inside. So I am going to suggest you use a 35mm focal length or wider (smaller number). I find a wider lens very handy for shooting our day to day.

The kit lens that came with your camera is okay for snapshots, but I recommended a lens with a fixed aperture (we’ll talk about why later!) of at least 2.8 or wider.

Canon suggestions:

Canon 24mm 2.8 pancake: around $130 new. This is a great inexpensive choice for crop sensor bodies. However, it will not work on a full frame camera if you plan to upgrade later.

Canon 28mm 1.8: Around $500 new, but you can find it used for closer to $300 (I bought mine used) I loveeee this lens. It works with crop sensor and full frame cameras. It’s fast, sharp and gets some fun sunflares that I like to play with.

Canon 35mm F/2 EF: The first version of this goes for about $300 used. The new version is a little more expensive

Nikon suggestions:

Nikkor AF-S 35mm 1.8G DX – About $180 new. Made for a crop sensor so if you did upgrade to a full frame, while it would be usable, it would have noticeable vignetting (black circle around frame of photo), Sharp and fast!

There are other wider inexpensive Nikon AF lenses (24mm 2.8 AF for example), however some older Nikon crop sensor cameras do not have an autofocus motor, so they would not be autofocus on your body. If you have a body without an autofocus motor, you need to buy a lens that is AF-S if you want it to autofocus on your camera. You can google to see if your Nikon camera has an autofocus motor (if it does than an AF lens would autofocus on your camera). Is that as clear as mud? Let me know if you have questions!

I currently shoot with a Nikkor 24mm 1.8G FX lens, which is about $700 new.

Other advice:

Also, do not be afraid to buy used from reputable sources like KEH, B&H, Adorama and others! You can save a good bit of money by buying used or refurbished. Sign up for the KEH newsletter and snag a lens when they have a coupon code.

I have also purchased lenses used in Canon & Nikon re-sale FB groups (that’s also where I sell my gear) but make sure you do your research on who you’re buying from! I prefer to wait for a good deal from KEH because I can return it and it comes with a 6 month warranty from them.

There are also third-party lenses out there that may be cheaper, but I have not personally used them.


At Home with the Dial Family | Madison, AL Family Film Photographer

Last month, I was fortunate enough to take a film photography class with Ashley Crawford. Ashley's work is bright, bold and fun. She is a rule breaker and her creativity was just the push I needed to get over the winter rut. She challenged us to experiment with consumer film, pushed film, double exposures, light leaks and more. She inspired me to purchase some lomography 800 film, which I haven't played with yet, but plan to during our Europe trip next month. 

I was excited to put what I learned to use on my friend Brittney and her family. So, on a Sunday afternoon, I loaded up my gear and film and headed over to the Dial's house! I shot a mix of digital and film. Mostly film - but it was pretty dark in their living room so I made sure to take a few digitals incase my film didn't turn out. Thankfully, it did and I just love what we got. 

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All film images were shot on 35mm film. Stocks used included: Portra 400, Fuji400h & Kodak Max 400.

10 on 10 | April 2017

I'm so excited that it's April. Although we had a mostly mild winter, I've been so ready for spring to arrive! My shooting has slowed down so much over the past few months....and I think part of that is contributed to the winter funk so many of us photographers encounter in the colder, darker months. Now that the days are getting longer, weather's getting warmer and the grass is getting greener, I'm picking up my camera much more frequently.

But, this month's 10 on 10 post is not very spring-y....that's the problem with shooting mostly film nowadays...I'm always a few weeks behind on photos. Which is okay with me. When I get my scans, I get to relive the days all over again...minus the editing (for the most part).

Here's my 10 on 10....an 35mm film collection from the past month or so. When you're done here, head over to my crazy talented friend Bethany's blog to continue the loop!

bathtime. shot on tri-x 400.

bathtime. shot on tri-x 400.

piggies. shot on fuji superia 400.

piggies. shot on fuji superia 400.

diaper changing with daddy. shot on fuji superia 400.

diaper changing with daddy. shot on fuji superia 400.

growing up too fast. shot on tri-x 400.

growing up too fast. shot on tri-x 400.

dinner with grandma jean. shot on tri-x.

dinner with grandma jean. shot on tri-x.

sunrise. shot on expired kodak max 100.

sunrise. shot on expired kodak max 100.

terrible twos in full force. shot on ilford delta 400.

terrible twos in full force. shot on ilford delta 400.

building (and destroying) blocks. shot on ilford delta 400.

building (and destroying) blocks. shot on ilford delta 400.

10 on 10 | February 2017

Due to the winter blahs and a stressful workload, I've really lacked motivation to pick up my camera this month, but I did shoot a test roll of Fuji 400h 35mm film in January that I was pretty happy with despite all the missed focus and grain. There's just something nostalgic about film that digital can't quite replicate.  Sharing a few below. Continue the circle with lovely Kristi Burton.


10 on 10 | January 2017

Happy New Year! It feels so strange to type 2017! It seems with each day and month that passes the years get shorter and shorter. As my boys grow up right before my eyes, the quick passage of time becomes painfully obvious.

I decided to share a few photos from our Christmas festivities for this month's 10 on 10 post. This Christmas was a special one - it was the first one that all four of us woke up on Christmas morning under the same roof since Jack was born. I'm so thankful for that precious gift.

In addition to some Christmas morning photos, I had to share a few from our time spent on Wilson Lake over the holidays. It was an unseasonably warm Christmas, so being able to watch the sunset from the pier of the lake was a nice treat! I hope you all had a happy holiday with your family! When you're finished scrolling here, head over to Charlotte's blog to see her beautiful 10 on 10 post from across the pond!


10 on 10 | November 2016

This has been my busiest fall to date and I'm sad to admit I haven't taken many photos of my own family lately. I'm behind on editing and still have sessions booked every weekend through November.

However, we did have one important event that I made sure I pulled out the camera for and that was Landan's first homecoming dance. Homecoming is a big deal here in Madison and the kids go all out for the dance. Landan took his best friend, Olivia, as his date. I also learned how to tie a bow tie for this special occasion, and I think I did a pretty good job, don't you? ;) 

Still enjoying learning and shooting film, so I threw a couple of those images into the mix too!

When you leave here, head over to the talented Cris Stephens' blog post to see her gorgeous images from this months 10 on 10!

Adventures in Film!

Hello, world's worst blogger here! :)

I'd been thinking about playing with film for a long time, for several reasons. One, I work a lot. Out of town a lot. When I'm home, I'm occupied by a curious toddler. I don't have hours to sit around and cull through all the digitals I took and edit them like I used to. The idea of thoughtfully taking only 36 frames, sending them off to be developed and receiving scans and being DONE sounds very freeing! Plus, I love the nostalgic look of film & often try to emulate that when editing my digitals anyway. 

So, one impulsive afternoon when I had some extra money burning a hole in my pocket, I picked up a Canon EOS 3 on eBay from some nice man in Japan. I ordered a couple boxes of film and then when it was all delivered, it sat around for a while. In May, I finally loaded a roll of Portra 160 and starting shooting through it around the house.

I finished the roll in May while we were in Eufaula for Memorial Day visiting Grandma Jean. 

I was really happy with my first roll! I actually didn't mean to order Portra 160 but I'm so glad I did! 

I also ordered Portra 400 and when we went to the beach in July, I brought a roll of it along with another roll of 160. To be honest, I wasn't as thrilled with my results with the 400 but I have another roll in my camera now and maybe I'll like them more. This film stock is known for being more "light and airy" but it was a little too much so for my taste. It also could be something I did.... who knows. But here are a few from that roll!

I also shot a roll of P160 while at the beach and i am in LOVE with what this stock can do in full sun. The way it retains the details in all the bright highlights, while still exposing my subjects nicely is incredible! I never could get nicely exposed skin without blowing out detail in the bright sky on digital like these! 

This series of photos of Brad & Jack playing in the hotel room were my favorite! I just love hotel room light and moments like this on film! 

I'm really excited that my first few rolls turned out so well and look forward to shooting more on film. In addition to the EOS3, I also have a manual Canon AE-1 and I just bought a film point and shoot camera today to keep in my purse. Can't wait to play with those! 

All of these photos were scanned and developed by The Find Lab

10 on 10 | September 2016

I feel like I say this every month, but I can't believe it's already September. I knew the summer would fly by -- I spent half of it on business travel -- but I still can't believe it's gone. Landan started high school in August (unbelievable!) and Jack will be two in a couple weeks. Fingers crossed autumn lingers longer than summer did... Here are ten snapshots from the past month. When you're done here, head over to Breanna's post. I could gush about her incredible work all day. You'll soon see why! <3