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Capturing Life

You may have noticed that recently I have been posting more instagram/iPhone photos in my personal posts…I admit that it isn’t always easy for me to post those on the blog. As much as I love Instagram (and I do! Follow me @kristinschmucker) the photographer in me only wants to post perfect and edited images on my blog…not iphone photos. But, I have been realizing something…I never want my love for perfectly exposed, and edited images with beautiful bokeh to stop me from enjoying time with my family, or capturing those memories…even when the only camera I have with me is my iPhone. The best camera really is the one that is with you, because being a photographer isn’t just about capturing perfect images, it is about capturing life as it unfolds and the little moments that you can never get back.

These words resonate with me so much. It is a little funny because we always find ourselves seeing everything as a potential photo shoot and noticing how the light sparkles in the trees, or how someone sitting by a window is sitting in the perfect Rembrandt lighting…but it also helps us to see the little moments that need to be captured, the things that Stella does that we never want to forget, or the beauty in the simple things that we once took for granted.

So if you see me post iphone photos…just know that though I know they aren’t perfect images…they are perfect to me because they capture a life that I never want to forget or take for granted.

the camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera photo

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Our Random Life #31

Welcome to the road trip edition! We just got back from a crazy 12 day road trip that took us over 3500 miles in our little Scion. We know that it sounds kind of crazy to take that kind of road trip…especially with a 1.5 year old…but we had so much fun!

Stella had a blast bear hugging Pop Pop, playing with Nana and Kendra,  and husking corn on the front porch in PA, and she had a blast playing outside with Grandpa, Granma and her cousins, going to the zoo and spending some time in the Jacuzzi tub for some epic bubble baths.

Ironically, our time in PA and IL included stops at our favorite childhood ice cream shops…it is always so fun to go back to wear we grew up and show each other some of our favorite things from when we were growing up. It was even more special this time to show Stella.

One of the highlights of our trip was getting our family pictures done and we can’t wait to see them! Between picking out outfits, being in front of the camera, and the excitement while we wait for our pictures…we totally understand how our clients feel now.

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Tammy Damore


How We Edit: Using Lightroom 4 (LR)

We love getting questions from our fellow photographers out there and a few days ago Sonja asked about how we use Lightroom to edit…so here’s a blog post with the the basics of what we do. First, before we talk about editing, I (Jeremy) think it is important to talk about shooting, because essentially, our editing style is largely based on our shooting style. We are HUGE believers of Shooting in Manual mode, and shooting RAW. We also wrote two blog posts to help you learn how to shoot in manual, here, and here.

DISCLAIMER: I am not a technical nerd, so there are some of you super smart technical photographers out there who may find I don’t use my terms correctly, but this is how I understand it, LOL.

With that said, since we spend so much time getting the image right (correct) SOOC, we do very minimal editing. We haven’t blogged about this yet, but we also use ExpoDiscs to help get the white balance correct (or really close to it). Because, we shoot in manual and use the expo-disc, in all reality, the 4 things I will do in LR are: (1) double check white balance, (2) adjust exposure, (3) adjust the RAW file and add a little contrast, and (4) desaturate if I want a black and white.

1 – Adjust the White balance.

As previously mentioned, we use the expo-disc to help us get our white balance. Previously, we would always shoot on Auto White Balance (AWB) but found it to be far too cool (blue). The few times I shot on a preset white balance (tungsten, shade, flash, etc.), it would get the temperature close, but the tint would always be at zero (0). I also tried shooting in Kelvin (custom temperature in the menu) but the same problem: the tint was not customized, only the temperature. The temperature + the tint = white balance. In general, we prefer a slightly warmer picture, but sometimes the expo disc is still too warm for us, so I will pull it down in LR. You can simply adjust those two sliders in LR to your preference. Experience will help you learn whether you are attracted to cool images, or warm images, or maybe somewhere in-between (perfection!).

2 – Adjust the exposure.

This is really simple. Drag the “exposure” slider in LR until the picture is perfectly exposed. Again, since we are shooting in manual and getting the image near perfect in camera, this adjustment is usually very very minimal. I always expose for the skin (usually the face), which usually means I may bump up the exposure just a smidge.

3 – Adjust the image since it is a RAW

Ok, so this is where my “technical” understanding may be lacking a little bit, but basically, RAW files are completely “un-edited” and are a little flatter than JPEGs. The image you see on the back of of your DSLR is a JPEG preview so don’t be alarmed if it looks just a little flatter when you pull the RAW file into LR. This is where most of the adjustments come into play. Here is the basic edit we apply to every image:

Contrast (+10), Shadows (-25), Blacks (-40), and Vibrance (+15)

With that said – this is only our basic edit to each picture. Each image has unique aspects to it, and each of these sliders will be different for different images. On some images, I drag the blacks (probably my favorite slider) all the way down to -80 and on other images, if they are naturally contrasted, it may only be -20.

4 – Convert image to Black and White

If you are a black and white lover, you MUST check out Justin & Mary’s portfolio! I stole this basic edit from Justin, so it was only fitting to give them a shout-out. Realistically, the only thing we do to convert to a B&W is drag the saturation slider to -100. I may also drag the blacks down even more to add a little more contrast and also watch the exposure (you don’t want it too bright as a B&W).

5 – Other Adjustments

There are also a handful of tricks we apply to individual images, but not necessarily every image. (a) Vignette – you don’t want this to look like it was from the 1980’s, but sometimes I will drag the slider to -5 just for a small touch…rarely I will go to -15 if the image feels flatter than normal. (b) Highlight slider – due to our shooting style, the sky gets blown-out majority of the time; but, on an overcast day, you can drag the highlight slider down (-50) without having major defects and it will put some lovely clouds back in the sky! (c) Skin Retouching – first, click the adjustments brush and drag the clarity down (around -70)….next just simply apply to the face/skin you want to smooth out. Simple! (d) Spot Removal (healing mode, not clone) – you can use this tool to remove blemishes or small unwanted details. (e) clarity – I don’t usually touch this because it only makes pimples look bigger, wrinkles look more defined, etc. However, sometimes if an image is just a little “soft” I will drag this up to about +25. I also increase the clarity on detail shots such as rings to help it pop a little.

That’s basically it! It may sound and look overwhelming, but editing in LR has been the best decision for our business in terms of workflow! It has all the same basic adjustments as photoshop, but processes your images a million times faster! We very very rarely even use PS anymore because LR is just as great!

Let me know if this leaves you with any other questions or conerns. Again, this is just “our” editing/shooting style. You need to find what look you like and how to edit accordingly. We prefer a very natural, clean look and we feel this basic edit achieves that best. No presets, no actions, just beautiful images :) Here’s a screen shot from our NYC engagement session at Central Park. I simply applied our basic edit to it, and that was it! Done!

Happy Editing Y’all!!!

editing in lightroom 4 how to edit raw files

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Thank you guys so much for this post! I just purchased Lightroom to edit my wedding pictures, and now I cannot wait to jump in and learn how to use it! I love checking your site. Watching the two of you Love Birds work together at what you love to do makes me so happy, and also makes me Praise the Lord for how much He has blessed you guys! Our God is so Good!


I’m fairly new to your website and I have loved following you two. Thanks for sharing your editing tips, simplicity can go a long way. I wondered if you sharpen or use clarity to your images.

Central Park Engagement Session | Katie + Michael

About 4 years ago only two weeks apart from each other Katie and Michael both moved to New York City to follow job offers in the city. For three years though they never knew each other, which is easy to understand in a city so large. I can only imagine how many times they passed each other on the busy streets without even seeing each other. They even attended churches that were just across the street from each other, without ever seeing each other. When friends separately convinced them to try online dating they both reluctantly agreed. Katie was skeptical and only signed up for one month, but Michael thought he would take what seemed like the more logical option and pay for the three month membership which was cheaper per month. Well, he didn’t end up needing the three month membership because the first person that he connected with was Katie.

Once they met, they both just knew…and if you are ever around them you would know too. It is so easy to see how much they love each other. In fact, when they first started dating their friends used to count how many times on a single night they would kiss each other. Michael is from Egypt, and works in finance, and Katie is a Texas girl who moved to the city to work in fashion, their worlds seemed totally separate, but thankfully their paths crossed.

We met up with Katie and Michael in Central Park this past week for their engagement session. We had so much fun with the two of them. After their session they took us to the cutest bakery, and we enjoyed the yummiest treats and chatted about their wedding. We are sooo excited for their wedding this October.

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Jana Mills

Love them!

Pretty! Love the light in these! Amazing job!

Bethany McDonnell


Tammy Damore


Heather Radler

Very Beautiful!

DavidandJonie Stoffels

Love them!!!

Cory Hull

Beautiful love story!!

Jennifer Gulley Photography

just beautiful! wish you guys could photograph my hubby and I in NYC – this is gorgeous!

Katie Hardee

Kindest most talented photographers. We adore you and your work! Thank you :)

Jana Mills

Beautiful and blessed!

Nicole Davis

love love love!

Lovely! I’ve always wanted to do an engagement session in Central Park … but I don’t live in NYC. :(

Phyl Fafad

The photos are amazing. I wish you two all the best.

A fabulous set of images, the arches shot is epic, love it!

so lovely!! beautiful job you two!!


Katie & Michael I wish you 2 many years of Happiness,May God Bless you Both.

Love Aunt,

Patty & Kyle

A Day in The City

This past weekend we spent a day in NYC just the two of us. Since we have had Stella, we have not had that much time just the two of us, and though we love spending so much time with Stella, it was nice to have a day to spend together. Stella got to spend the entire day with my family…and they all had a great time too. We needed to go to NYC for Katie and Michael’s engagement session in Central Park, so we decided to go a little early and have a date.

We asked on FB for recommendations for great places to eat and ending up eating at 5 Napkin Burger which was amazing, we sat outside since it was such a gorgeous day and had fun watching people pass by on the street.

We took the subway over to the Empire State Building which is super touristy, but we did it anyway. The view from the top was spectacular, and we were able to see so far since it was such a clear day.

We did unfortunately get a little lost at one point so we took a picture to document our sad faces when we realized that we had been walking in the wrong direction on our way back to our car.

Katie and Michael are probably two of the sweetest people you could ever meet. When we met them in the park Katie gave me these gorgeous tulips. It was so sweet of them, and ironically I have been telling Jeremy for a few weeks that I wanted to get some tulips because they are just the perfect symbol of spring.

After we wrapped their gorgeous session they took us to The Magnolia, which is a fabulous bakery cafe in NYC. It was divine, Jeremy had a brownie, Michael had the banana pudding, and Katie and I each had the blueberry crumble…and let me tell you…I have never had a blueberry crumble near that good.

We drove home so grateful for life. We are thankful for what we do, and the opportunities that it has given us to meet some of the most amazing people. We are thankful for our family, and our precious little Stella who we couldn’t wait to see, and we are thankful for each other.

Here is a little sneak peek of Katie and Michael’s session in Central Park…I can’t wait to show you more of these two tomorrow!


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