because school photos can be great! | Mobile AL boutique school photography

Have you ever done a thing that was one part scary, one part exciting, and, it turned out, a million parts awesome? That was my experience a couple weekends ago when I traveled to Savannah, GA, for a small in-person workshop with the amazing Michelle Morris. 

The exciting part of course was traveling to a super fun and beautiful city to learn from another photographer whose work I really love. The scary part was knowing I'd be spending 3 full days with a group of women I didn't know who were coming from all different places. Let's just be honest here--you get a random group of women together, and this could go LOTS of different ways in terms of "clicking."

Well the way this one went was that it was perfect. These other women were gracious and hilarious and laid-back and generous and we're already talking about a reunion at some point! They and Michelle made the whole weekend so incredibly fun and interesting.

The majority of the workshop was specifically about Boutique School Photography. Michelle is really a master at this, and it is something I'm super excited to be offering to preschools and schools in Mobile as well as across the bay!

On day 2 of the workshop we got to photograph kids in real life, and they were so fantastic! I wish I had a pull-back shot of 7 women standing with cameras. These kids were champs! They were so patient with all of our cameras and our endless supply of corny jokes!

I love this type of school portrait because it captures genuine expressions from kids with a non-distracting backdrop. School photos do not have to be boring, and they do not have to be terrible! They can be artistic and honest and something you'd actually hang on your walls!

I'm looking to add a couple more schools to my calendar for 2018, so if this is something you'd love to see at YOUR child's school, comment below, and I can send your school's director some info!

Here are just a few of my favorite images from this amazing workshop!

portrait of 5-year-old girl | Mobile AL school photographer
black and white portrait of 8-year-old girl with freckles | Daphne AL school photographer
boy in blue shirt against black backdrop | Mobile AL school portrait photography
11-year-old girl | Mobile AL private school portrait photographer
boy in navy blue vest | Mobile AL preschool photographer
girl and her eyelashes | Mobile AL school portrait photography
girl and her profile | Mobile AL school photographer | fine art portraits
girl with blonde hair | Mobile AL boutique school photography
boy in plaid shirt | Mobile AL fine art school portraits
4-year-old portrait | Mobile AL preschool photographer
girl in purple shirt | Mobile AL school photographer
black and white portrait of boy | Foley AL school photographer
girl with long hair | Pensacola FL school photographer
8-year-old boy | Spanish Fort AL school photographer

Interested in having Boutique School Photography at your school? Fill out this form, and I'll send some more info!

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because "snoot" is a fun word | Week 2 of learning to use on-camera flash | Mobile AL family photographer

I mentioned that I'm currently in a 4-week workshop learning to use an on-camera flash (otherwise known as a Speedlight.) If you missed Week 1, you can head over here to see how that went!

So in Week 2, we learned about a fun concept called a "snoot." Admit it, you want to just say "snoot" a bunch of times in a row! I'll try to throw it into this post as much as I can just because.

 Basically it's a fun word that means an attachment to your flash that allows you to block some of the light from spreading in all directions. This lets you give some more direction to your light for those awesome highlights and shadows.

So Week 2 had us practicing with snoots, half snoots, and reflectors to attempt to give certain direction to the light.

Here's a first attempt with A while he's doing his homework. You can see how there's both highlight and shadow on his face. Thanks, snoot!

6th grade boy doing homework | Mobile AL family photographer

Then another evening when it was dark outside, I practiced with C while he was working on his next masterpiece.

I love that these are shots I would not have been able to take pre-speedlight. Well, without them looking super super "flashy" anyway. Definitely used a snoot for these!

4-year-old boy coloring with markers | Pensacola FL family photographer
little boy coloring at table | Mobile AL family photographer
4-year-old boy and artwork | Saraland AL family photographer

And then our assignment for the week was to attempt to create certain types of light on our subject, using our flash (and possibly a reflector or snoot).

These first 2 of B are examples of short light. It's called "short light" because the part of the face that is towards the light is the shorter part of what you're able to see. I lllooovvee some short light!

portrait of 8-year-old boy | Mobile AL family photographer
8-year-old boy | Fairhope AL family photographer

This last one is close to being Rembrandt light. See how he's got that little triangle of light on the right cheek? It's not a perfect Rembrandt triangle, but it's really close, which I'll take. Because it's trickier getting this right with a flash than with natural window light.

3rd grade boy portrait | Mobile AL school photographer

Anyway, I learned a lot in Week 2 of this workshop and had fun practicing things in a new way. I knew how to create this light using a window, but it's a whole different thing trying to do it with a flash! Kind of like trying to write a letter using your non-dominant hand, I guess. Except more fun because of the snoot. ;)

because a house is a good start to home | Mobile AL family photographer

At the end of 2016, when our family was preparing for our move to Mobile, we were, let's say, a little overwhelmed by all that needed to happen in preparation. We hadn't moved in over 11 years, and we'd never moved with kids before.

So there were details that needed to be worked out, like the fact that we needed a place to live. I had never been to Mobile before our interview process began. So I was really relying on having an amazing realtor to guide us in the right direction. We were hoping not to have to move twice if we could make that happen. But obviously you don't want to rush buying the wrong place either!

Enter the mama of this precious family!! Her name is Katie Crane {She's with Roberts Brothers here in Mobile--please call her if you're buying or selling!!} She was so accommodating to our very tight schedule, including a very last-minute phone call from me on a Sunday afternoon. The hubby and I had decided that I would drive the 6 hours to Mobile the next day to find a house. By myself. That's love and trust, people.

Katie made it happen to meet with me that Monday afternoon. She had several properties to show me, but mostly she'd been working behind the scenes on a certain house that wasn't even on the market that we felt like might be right for our family. And it was! 

We saw the houses and then returned to the "winning" house, where I Facetimed my husband to give him a virtual tour. He loved it, and we made an offer! And we've been loving our new home for the last 12 months!

So, to get the chance to photograph Katie and her family (including her completely adorable twins!!) was really special. If you work with her, you'll experience that she loves her job, but when I worked with her on MY job, I got to capture how much she loves her family. And how much they love her right back!

So I'd say we made a pretty great trade. She helped me find the perfect home to continue loving my family in, and I helped her capture in photographs the perfect love and laughter of her own family. There's no place like home, and there's no love like family. 

I'd love to help you tell your family's love story. Contact me to book your session!

Here are just a few of my favorites from this sweet session:

family of four in field | Saraland AL lifestyle photographer
3-year-old boy swinging in parents' arms | Mobile AL family photographer
mom holding little boy | Mobile AL family photographer
mom playing with little boy | Mobile AL family photographer
mom dancing with little girl | Fairhope AL family photographer
mom twirling with little girl | Pensacola FL family photographer
3-year-old twins photo session | Mobile AL family photographer
3-year-old twins | Mobile AL family photographer
3-year-old boy girl twins | Saraland AL family photographer
mom holding 3-year-old daughter in her lap | Mobile AL family photographer
3-year-old little girl in dress | Mobile AL family photographer
family of four with 3-year-old twins | Fairhope AL lifestyle photographer
dad playing with 3-year-old daughter | Mobile AL family photographer
3-year-old twins running together | Mobile AL family photographer
little boy peeking over dad's shoulder | Fairhope AL family photographer
3-year-old boy girl twins hugging | Mobile AL family photographer
family of four in field | Pensacola FL lifestyle photographer

because it's good to learn new tricks | Week 1 of learning to use an on-camera flash | Mobile AL family photographer

I am a natural-light photographer. Photography depends on light, so being a natural-light photographer means that I only use light that occurs naturally in a scene to take a photograph. Most of the time this is sunlight, although it can occasionally be other kinds of light like lamps.

{Sidenote, if you're curious to read more of my journey of learning photography, take a peek at this blog post from a couple years ago!} 

I LOVE looking for beautiful spots of light. You can ask my kids, and they'll tell you (possibly with rolled eyes) that I'm always pointing out pretty or interesting spaces of light. I'm constantly drawn to them.

But lately I've been more and more aware that sometimes the MOMENT is there even if the LIGHT isn't. {Looking at YOU, Christmas morning in my dark living room!!} So what's a natural-light photographer to do?

Well, she buys a Speedlight on a whim the day after Christmas and signs up for a class on using said Speedlight that happens to begin that same day! If you don't know, a Speedlight is a flash unit that attaches to your camera to provide extra light in a scene. 

{Sidenote #2--you may be wondering why you wouldn't just use the little pop-up flash that comes on the camera. The answer is both simple and complex, but the simple answer is that that kind of light, coming harshly straight at your subject is rarely ever flattering. A Speedlight rotates and swivels so that the photographer can BOUNCE the flash off of something else before it hits the subject. MUCH MUCH prettier light and way fewer harsh shadows.}

So I registered for this 4-week course on learning to using my new on-camera flash. And I thought I'd share some of my favorite practice images from the first week!

This new piece of equipment comes with a learning curve, especially when I've been so used to using the natural light around me for so long. But it's been super fun to try something new! And having an option to add more light in will come in super handy in a lot of scenarios!

I'll go into a few more "technical" things if you care about that sort of thing. And if you don't, you can just look at some cute photos of some cute kids!

So for these two photos of B reading, he was actually close enough to a window to receive some light on his face. Before this workshop, I would have cranked my ISO (I'd probably have to be around 5000 here), and that would have worked fine. I'm actually good with grain in my images. But what the flash allowed me to do was shoot this at ISO 200 instead and fill a few of the shadows. So the resulting images were noise-free!

little boy reading on the bed | Mobile AL lifestyle photographer Laurie Hatfield Photography
black and white image of little boy reading on bed | Mobile AL family photographer

For this next little set, I practiced while C was taking a bath. Now this particular bathroom has no windows, so there's no opportunity for pretty window light. (Not to mention that it was night-time anyway.) So I bounced my speedlight to almost mimic the look of having natural light coming from the side. 

{Again, you may wonder why not just use the overhead light in the bathroom? The answer's kind of the same. That high overhead light is unflattering. This is the same reason you want to avoid taking photos of people outdoors at high noon. Light coming from straight above is going to cause ugly shadows on your subject's face.}

Using the Speedlight allowed me to get the pretty, directional light that I love (and usually depend on windows for) without a single window in the room!

4-year-old boy in playing in the bathtub | Mobile AL family lifestyle photographer
4-year-old boy in bath | Saraland AL family photographer
little boy playing in bathtub | Fairhope AL family photographer
little boy in bath | Mobile AL lifestyle family photographer

Ok, last little set. This time I wanted to see if I could attempt some more portrait-type images with the Speedlight. Now normally I'd pull a kid to a window and use that light to get the direction I'm looking for. For these, I wasn't close to a window, so I needed to figure out how to make it LOOK like I was.

I bounced the flash off the wall to my left to again mimic the look of natural light coming from that direction. I also wanted to be sure to get catchlights in his eyes (see the reflection of the light in his eyes? Those are catchlights, and those ALWAYS make a portrait pop with life!)

portrait of 11-year-old boy | Mobile AL family photographer
split-light photo of 11-year-old boy | Fairhope AL lifestyle family photographer

So these were the images I was happy with in my very first week of shooting with a Speedlight. Don't get me wrong, there were wwwaaaayyy more that were total duds. {Did I mention the learning curve?}

So it's been challenging and exciting working towards adding a new trick to my photography options. I'm glad to have some portable light for the darker spots in our house especially! And to be able to bring my Speedlight along on in-home lifestyle client sessions

On that note, it's not too early to go ahead and get on my calendar for a family or newborn session in 2018! I'm looking forward to a great year helping families treasure their love & laughter through beautiful photos!