I met this mom originally when we completed our Masters degrees in Counseling at TCU. She’s gone on to do incredible work with students in recovery from addiction at TCU. And, well, other than a 7-year-stint as a yoga instructor, I’ve gone on to do lots of photography. It sounds kinda sad when you say it like that, but I love what I do. I love love love picking up my camera each day. As I type this, I’m looking at a grid of nine photos of my son from 0-1 on the wall by our breakfast table, and these photos bring me joy every. single. day. Five minutes ago, I had my taxes out on this table because I’m in the midst of becoming licensed to adopt again, which is (understandably) so much paperwork, and I was eating peanut butter by the spoon and feeling a little anxious about the sheer uncertainty that is required of being human and mother and business owner in this 2021 time. And, then I sat down and saw the photos and ahhh, I can breathe. So, I believe photos matter. I believe my little photography businesses makes ripples in the lives of individuals and organizations in this community who make waves in this world.
I digress…I do that in my blog because well, it’s my blog and I have to get all of the SEO terms in here so that someone can say, “I found you on Google.” That only took about ten years. Think of this blog like one of those recipe bloggers where you scroll down for the recipe…scroll down to see the photos. You’re getting closer.
I honestly can’t remember the year we graduated. In my quest to adopt a baby, I’m searching for my diploma, but I think it’s in the attic. I’ve never been a hang-your-diploma-look-at-all-the-letters-after-my-name kind of person. I’d guess it was around 2012, that we graduated. I did not confer with her on the details of this blog. She is a new mom, and if you’ve ever been one, you know how that goes. She doesn’t know what day it is right now. I don’t want to bother her with the details. And, well, that new baby fatigue is the reason to hire a newborn photographer. Because, you’re not going to remember much about the details of those initial days.
Anyway, it’s safe to say we’ve walked parallel and intersecting paths for the past ten years, and it’s always beautiful to see someone find love and embrace marriage and motherhood, so I was thrilled to meet her husband and baby at this session. In my newborn guide, I outline ideas of what to wear and explain that light colors reflect light and dark clothing absorbs light. They opted for light colors and neutrals, which is always a great idea if you ask me, and it’s one of the questions that people ask me over and over again. What to wear. I have a guide and a Pinterest board for nearly every type of session, but it’s simple: wear something that fits and moves and has some texture and is a color that complements your skin tone. I know, I know. I said “simple” and that’s not synonymous with easy. So many people text me images of their clothes lying on the bed. Women come in with hanging garment bags for headshots and we play dress up.
One of the (other) questions people ask is whether I prefer to do newborn sessions at home or in the studio. I outline the answer HERE in my guide. In people’s homes, I generally choose 2 or 3 places in the home to do the photographs. I select these places based on what will achieve the minimalist, timeless aesthetic I prefer in my portraits and the quality of light. Sometimes people say, “My home is not bright,” and honestly, when you send me your address, based on the zip code and neighborhood, I generally know what kind of light it will have. Ridgmar, Wedgwood, Monticello and Tanglewood (look at me with my SEO neighborhoods haha) will be one-story homes with low ceilings and some plantation shutters or blinds. Same for Keller. Occasionally, I photograph a baby in Mira Vista or outside the loop in Grapevine or Southlake in a vast light-filled home with floor to ceiling windows. (Ok, I think you get the idea, internets— I offer newborn photography all over the DFW metroplex.)
And, for the first 5 years of my career, I had no choice really other than to crank my ISO up to 1600 and 3200 and turn my aperture super low. Or, to plaster the entire family up against a window and send up a prayer and shoot some film. And, to be clear, there’s nothing wrong with that, if that’s your strategy. Modern cameras can go up to like 5000 ISO, and many DFW photographers have successful businesses as natural light photographers. Over the past four years though, I’ve begun to embrace adding studio grade lighting at in-home sessions. And here’s why: it looks more natural than the available light you have. That, and, well, you just had a baby. You are tired. And, you deserve the best quality of soft, forgiving light. So these days, I’m using a couple of Profoto off camera flashes with modifiers which mimic window light, and I love the results.
Ok, you made it. The photos are next.
pro tip: invite your mom to the newborn session. let her be an extra set of hands.
those hangnails :)
untrendy opinion: I always like to get a photo of people looking at the camera for the grandparents and generations who won’t understand lifestyle portraits.
that hair :)
This is the photo that your parents want and your spouse wants and your child will one day want, so I always take this photo because I believe moms need to be seen and celebrated.
If you’re expecting a baby and would be interested in me coming to your home to photograph your family, I’d love to help. Send me an email or you can book online HERE. Choose a time around 10 am in the morning on a week day, which is when I prefer to photograph newborns when possible.
Several months ago, a woman came into my studio for a headshot, and she was confused that I was Amber. She thought I’d be the woman on the home page, who is actually Debra Barrett. I love Debra and basically everything she touches. She helped design my own living room. I call her all the time when I need a recommendation for a contractor for a home repair. I’ve watched and photographed several of her homes, and each time I think “This one is my favorite” only to be stunned at how beautiful the next is. Recently, we actually bumped into her and her husband, Dan, on an impromptu trip to New Orleans. And, of course, we had a fabulous dinner together.
I’ve watched over the past few years as she’s built a strong brand as a realtor who also helps you stage and style your home. “I want you to love where you live” is her tagline, and as mentioned, I love it. I’m always excited to photograph her design work, and one day, I think she’ll purchase, remodel, and design a westside house that I’ll buy from her because I don’t have patience or a vision for all of that. I want it to be move-in-ready. Leave the furniture and drapes and everything. I’ll bring my toddler and two dogs and hope for the best with the fabrics. We really can only have nice things for about as long as this house will last in this crazy market.
Most of the people in my family, when I began to talk about photography, their eyes glaze over. So, I try not to spend much time talking about photography. But, I told my mom about this particular project because she is a lifelong social worker. In fact, she just retired again this past week. I’m not sure it’ll be for the last time, but she says it is. So, I talked with her about this job because I feel as if she understands working with society’s most vulnerable people. She taught me how to be sensitive…maybe I inherited it.
I shudder to think if Goodwill had called even five years ago and asked me to help with this project, what I might have thought. (See the executive headshots I created for them HERE.) Like many young photographers, I once was an artist, and that meant that I wanted to pick and choose. There was one year where I only wanted to photograph families and only at golden hour. There was one year where I didn’t really care what I photographed but I wanted to do it on medium format film. There was one year where I only photographed high end weddings. And then boutique intimate weddings. I guess I’m just saying that I’ve never really found my niche. The target has always been moving. And, how limiting it was. These days I seek ways to use my camera and skillset to help people, help people in the community. That’s my mission statement. That’s the litmus test for if a job is a good fit: do I have the skillset (and time and resources) to do it well? and will it help people?
In this chapter where I collaborate with solo entrepreneurs, small businesses, corporations, and nonprofits, I create high caliber imagery that elevates their digital presence and meets their diverse print marketing needs. And what that means is I need to be able to do a little bit of everything. Interior photography. Headshot photography. Lifestyle photography. Ecommerce and product photography. I can do all of this. I feel as if never finding my niche was a divinely orchestrated and sometimes poorly wrapped gift.
So when Goodwill called, and I went out to the site visit to see– gosh, I can’t remember but I think it’s 13 acres– their facilities, I felt so excited. My gift, I think, is to see art in everything. I can get lost in a puddle of light in the floor. Or the way papers are stacked on a desk. How colors combine to create a palette. The way lines integrate to create symmetry or something interesting. This type of work has become my ideal creative project.
I knew it would be a project that would stretch me because well, Goodwill is a cavernous warehouse with fluorescent lighting, and I am accustomed to manipulating light in my studio. We didn’t hire models. Nobody went to hair and makeup. I’ve gotta give credit where credit is due to my team who helped me. My film crew members have strong biceps and triceps because they hold a light up for long periods. I’ve included some behind the scenes photos mostly of myself hunched over a camera or a computer. The standard crouched posture of a photographer, I suppose.
This collection conveys the story of what happens on a daily basis at Goodwill North Central Texas. Their reach in the community is absolutely incredible, and I was happy to help.
In this world where companies post on their social media anywhere from 4-6 times per week, content is king. Sometimes I create marketing photographs for companies annually, sometimes quarterly, and as of late even monthly. High caliber imagery and video content tells the story of who you are and what you have to offer your customers. If you’d like more information about how I could help you create marketing content for your company, send me an email or book a call HERE.