Summer Love: Family Style | Rockwall Family Photography

This precious family wanted to get family photos before the rush of school started.  July is typically hot in Texas (I know you’re shocked by that statement), but Rockwall family photography sessions can go just fine if you’re willing to start early.  These guys met me at a local park in Rockwall and were finished with their session before breakfast.

rockwall family photography

family photography rockwall collage




Dallas Senior Photographer | Class of 2019, It’s Time!

Y’all, this is my first senior in the Class of 2019.  I can’t even believe I’m typing that, I just finished up my class of 2018 kiddos, but time is flying.  There is no rest for a Dallas senior photographer this time of year, but I wouldn’t have it any other way!

We did this session over a month ago and I just got the session sent over and this post written.  Hannah was so much fun to work with, and her session turned out beautifully.  I don’t recommend Legacy West shopping center on a weekend evening, it was a bit busy, but the light and the atmosphere of the city-scape were the perfect compliment to this smart and stylish senior!  Congratulations Hannah!  Enjoy your senior year and rest easy knowing your senior photos are complete.

Are you a senior in the class of 2019?  Have you started planning your senior photo session?  Reach out today and get my Senior Photography Guide with all the details that you’ll need to commemorate your senior year!  Cheers!

senior girl sitting in Legacy West

senior girl with sunglasses

senior girl in dallas

dallas senior photograper

DallaCheck out Hannah’s video, as well!

This Girl is Going Places | Senior Girl Photo Session, Rockwall, TX

I photographed Olivia’s older brother when he was a senior a couple of years ago.  So when Olivia’s mom contacted me this year for her senior girl photo session and to document her senior year, I was thrilled.  I just love this sweet family.  And when Olivia and I did a little brainstorming for her session and she told me some of her ideas, I was even more excited.  We ended up shooting at their private property and got to finish up at our local airport.  You see, Olivia has been taking flying lessons for quite a while, and her father is also a pilot, so they were able to get permission to end her shoot on the runway!  I love making these shoots memorable and meaningful for my seniors and this one definitely fit that bill.

What locations are meaningful for your senior year?  Let’s start brainstorming together.  Class of 2019 it’s time to start thinking about your session!  Reach out here and I’ll send over my Senior Guide!

girl leaning on barn door senior girl photo session girl with sun flair at sunset strong girl with plane girl getting in plane girl in plane senior girl poses

In-home Cake Smash Session | Dallas Lifestyle Photographer

With every family I meet, whether they have a baby turning one, three children under five, a baby on the way or even a senior in high school, my goal is always to capture them together. To capture whatever stage they are at and whatever moment occurs while I am with them. I met this sweet family before Christmas when their little one was six months old. Now their baby girl is about to turn one and they wanted to capture this milestone for her.

Mom reached out to me for a cake smash session. I think it’s really fun to document one year this way, but I always encourage families to take some family shots, as well.  And for any child, I love to document them in their own surroundings.  I love to document the crib, the high chair.  This family had recently moved and mom was a little unsure if the house would be ready to go.  They were also having renovations done on the home, but I assured her it would be fine.  When I arrived on the morning of our shoot, I pulled up to a precious craftsman style home full of character and charm.  There were a few boxes still out and the usual toys and gear that come with all homes of babies.  The first thing I do when I pull up for an in-home session is take a walk around.  It’s not too hard to walk into a home, decide on a few choice areas for our shoot and clear out any items that would distract from an image.

I meant to take a few pullback shots of the spaces where we shot, but forgot once we were finished up.  Nonetheless, when you look through the images, imagine that there are a number of brightly colored baby toys in bins scattered behind me in the baby’s room. In the master bedroom, there are still a number of boxes against the wall.  And when I walked in, the breakfast area was full of empty boxes and packing paper.  I’m telling you all of this so that you understand, everybody’s home is lived in.  And we can create beautiful art for your family just the way you live.

Want to talk more about your lifestyle family session?  Tell me your ideas!  Click here to reach me.

one year old baby girl in crib minimal baby decor baby girl in jenny lind high chair baby fingers in lilac icing in-home cake smash session one year old holding hands with parents baby girl with family baby girl reading a book with mom baby girl smiling in crib dad picking up baby girl from crib

Maternity Lifestyle Session | Rockwall Photographer

I was contacted back in the early fall by a mom that was expecting in spring time.  She inquired about a year-in-the-life session, which is just an all inclusive price for a standard in-home newborn shoot, and then milestone shoots for 3, 6, 9, and 12 months.  I love when my families are this organized and plan in advance, it helps me plan my year out as well.  So we booked her session and then just after Christmas she realized she may want a maternity lifestyle session, as well.

I love any chance to document a growing family, so, of course, I jumped at the chance to do a maternity session.  This family also had a 17 month old at home which made it doubly awesome.  He was as sweet as can be.  I loved capturing the moments of anticipation for their new baby girl, but also them soaking up every last moment of their first baby as an only child.  Take a look at some of the highlights from this in-home maternity lifestyle session below.

moody black white intimate maternity couple image toddler sitting on baby bump, family of 3 maternity lifestyle session pregnant mom hugging toddler in bw toddler boy listening to pregnant belly family maternity lifestyle session sweet maternity image dad kissing mom

Are you expecting?  Ready to book your lifestyle session?  Let’s chat!  Contact me here.

maternity lifestyle session

Creating A Family Yearbook | Rockwall Family Photographer

I have always thought of myself as a family memory keeper.  Before I really appreciated photography, I was making photo albums from my haphazard images captured on a disposable camera when I was in high school. I have tried traditional scrapbooking and, after a rather extensive investment of both money and time, I decided that my personality and lifestyle don’t lend themselves well to the time investment.  Photo albums, created digitally, are where it is at for me.  And creating a family yearbook allows me to relive our year as I create our book and the whole family to relive each time we flip through.

I get asked lots of questions about how I manage digital images for my clients and my family, where I print various items, and how I archive our digital lives, so I’ve got a series of posts planned to answer some of those questions.  For now, I’ve just finished my latest family yearbook (documenting 2016–I know, I generally stay a year behind) and wanted to share my process for our books in hopes of giving you some ideas or inspiration for how to tackle saving your memories for your family to enjoy.

I’ve created a few albums at different companies.  For high end client photo albums, I use Miller’s lab.  But I love to print my family yearbooks in large format so that we can all sit around and look at them and have settled on the photobooks at Blurb for their quality and competitive pricing.  My latest book, created for our 2016 year, was just over 100 pages.  What follows is a quick rundown of my workflow for creating these books:

Start by gathering all your photos for the year.  I group mine by month.  I go through and determine which photos will make the cut by culling ruthlessly.  I also give myself a good amount of time to let some of the emotion fade before I make my final decisions (that is generally why I stay a year behind–I find that I just can’t choose images very well when they were just taken a few weeks ago, they all seem important when I’ve just experienced them).  I choose only the images that really move me and make me feel something.  This ends up being 30 or so images per month with extra images for vacations or holidays.

I use Adobe Lightroom to organize my photo files and handle basic editing.  It allows me to make a grouping of these photos called a “collection”.  So once I’ve made my mostly final decisions about which images to include and put them in their own catalog, I go through and make sure each image is edited to my liking for the book. My favorite images are rated with 5 stars.  These are the images that are my favorites from the year, either for the experience that they capture or their technical merits, or (hopefully) both.

Then I export the files as .jpg in a folder on my desktop.  I typically export all except my 5 star images at a size of 2500 pixels on the long edge.  I export my 5 star images as 4000 pixels on the long edge because they will be the ones that I print as full page spreads, or cover images, etc.

One of the reasons that I like to use Blurb is that they have their own software for creating your book layout–the current version (January 2018) is called BookWright.  You’ll create a blurb account at and download the software to your computer.  You can decide what size book and what quality of paper to use.  I recommend the photobook, in large landscape 11×13 size with premium matte 100# paper.  Again, this is a compromise of price and quality.  It is not the most luxurious photo album I’ve ever held, but I can’t afford to spend $600 for each family yearbook, especially since I’ve got a backlog of yearbooks still to do from our early marriage years. And I love the larger books so that the kids can all gather around to look through them.

Then, you just select your folder with your images and begin to drag and drop different photo layouts.  You can add text, resize the image or text boxes, change the formatting.  It is all very intuitive.  There is even an ‘autofill’ feature where you can let the program layout your book for you.  I don’t like this method, as I like to go through, for example, to put all of our vacation photos on one or two pages.  Or group the kids soccer photos together on one spread.  I spend a few days laying out the books.  It’s a labor of love that truly brings me joy.

Then I follow the prompts and send it off to print.  Our 2016 yearbook was just over 100 pages and cost me around $120.

I am not affiliated with Blurb at all.  I’ve just had discussions with several friends lately about how I record memories in my family, so I wanted to share.  However, if you decide you would like to use blurb, you may use this link to get $15 off your order of $30 or more (and, yes, I do get a discount on my next book, if you end up purchasing–so it’s a win-win).

These images are a couple of screen shots from the BookWright software.  The first is my title page.  Keep in mind this an 11×13 book, so that image is quite large.

This is the first page of our February.  Near the beginning of the month, our daughter cut off a large portion of her hair one night after bath time.  We had to have her extremely long hair cut into a short bob. Now we can laugh about it, but at the time it was a little traumatic.  For something like that, I use a whole page to share several images surrounding one event and include text to tell the story in a few words.

And here are a few of my favorite images from our 2016 year.  The final few images are snapshots of our finished book.  Have questions?  Interested in booking your own family session with A Joyful Life Photography?  Reach out to contact me here!  




In-Home Lifestyle Photography | Family Photographer Rockwall

I have a confession to make…this session took me over a month to edit…and I’m not talking a like 4.5 weeks, like closer to 6–cough–I mean 7 weeks.  Whew!  I feel better just getting that off my chest.  Don’t worry it’s been delivered now.  With the end of summer and a few last minute trips to the start of school, things were insane for a bit.  And I took one look at this session and loved it so much that I just couldn’t sit down to edit it without the proper time and energy. Nor could I bear to let it go and send it out into the world.  But now that I am finished, I have to say, I’m proud.  I think it is my favorite session to date.  This family is dear to me and they are dear to each other, which is the most important thing I hope to capture with an in-home lifestyle photography session.

in-home lifestyle photography session images

in-home lifestyle photography session

Learning and Growing | Storytelling Photographer, Rockwall, TX

I’ve been asked before–how I learned to be a photographer….you may know my story.  Fitting that I start with ‘my story’ in a post all about storytelling.

I didn’t go to college to be a photographer.  I’ve always loved documenting loved ones and friends, but it didn’t occur to be to use anything other than the auto mode on every camera I’d ever owned until my children were born.  And then I realized I was missing their special moments because I just couldn’t capture them fast enough.  Or they’d be playing in front of the bedroom window and I’d take a picture only to find that their face was completely black, but I could see the car driving by outside, or I’d see a beautiful sky and try to capture it only to find it completely white on my camera screen.  I had to figure it out!  So I took a class at a local camera store to learn how to shoot in manual mode.  Since then, I’ve taken online classes through a few online forums.  Some of my favorites have been at Click Photo School.  They have full classes that usually last around four weeks, but they also have ‘breakout’ classes that are short courses in a specific topic.

I took a breakout class recently called “The Stories That Make Us”.  I feel like ‘story’ and ‘storytelling’ are buzz words in photography, business, marketing, and probably society in general, right now.  But I get the draw.  I love the idea of capturing ‘story’.  Telling a story.  Reading a story.  Being part of a story.

And so, for the class assignment, I had to gather my favorite personal images.  I began to see the story I’ve been telling for my own family.  Though I know my photographic style will be ever-evolving, it will always probably involve bright color, bold light, movement.  Those are the first things I notice when I study this set of images.

child photographer, family photographer, child photographer rockwall, kids photographer

The next assignment was my favorite part.  It’s the jumping off point for my next big personal project.  The assignment was to choose a few images and tell about the image.  Why you took it.  Why you pushed the shutter when you did.  What it means to you.  And then to determine themes for the image and for your work overall.  The following images are the ones that I turned in.  I wrote my thoughts directly on the images.  And for my larger project, I’ll print these for a photography journal that I’d like to start to document my family but also look over my progress and growth over the years.

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I love a good creative project, and I’m still working through the details, but I know it’ll be more about writing down the stories (and intentionally photographing them) for my children.  I know they will look at my photographs and appreciate them, they already do, but I want to have more of my voice in this project.  More story for them to remember and appreciate.

I write this partly to hold myself accountable for updating you on some of my personal projects over the next few months.  But also to inspire you to give a bit more thought to how and why you photograph whatever it is that you love.  How will you intentionally tell your story?

Family Lifestyle Photography | Harry Myers Park, Rockwall, Texas

I believe in the importance of family lifestyle photography. Our babies grow and change so fast! Even with the best of intentions, even for someone who is paid to take photos, it is sometimes farther than I’d like to admit between capturing photographs of all of us together. I have to make an effort to get photos of myself with each member of my family. This precious family had a similar story. They clearly have a strong bond and are a loving, close-knit family, but haven’t gotten family photos in quite a few years. Working with them was rewarding in that we started out a bit tight and ended up working into some of my favorite poses for families with older children. Natural hugs, smiles and genuine interaction and connection. Plus a beautiful evening! I think everyone in the family would agree it was relatively painless and maybe even fun (I know it was for me!). Thank you A family for coming out and trusting me with your family lifestyle photography session!
Check out a few of my favorites from this session. Want to learn more about your own session? Start here!

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Ready to book?  Still have questions?  Contact me here.

Professional Branding Images | Woman’s Portrait

Professional branding is so important in our digital day and age.  Social media is clearly at the forefront of marketing and google analytics and search engine optimization make a bold and workable website a ‘must’ for professionals.  This client is getting a new website up and running to market her professional services.  I love helping clients put a face on their businesses.  The nature of her business in law is serious, so we ventured out to the Rockwall County Courthouse for images that bespoke her profession.

Next, we’ll be working together to get her website up and running over the next few weeks.  I enjoy working on my own website and it’s been a natural extension to offer this service along with the visual media services I already provide.  Have more questions about professional branding images or basic website services?  Ask me here!

Check out some of my favorite images from our session below.

professional woman headshot

Professional Woman Headshot

friendly professional headshot

outdoor branding image at Rockwall County Courthouse