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Why We Always Include Engagement Sessions

If you have met with us about photographing your wedding or even read our blog for a while you know that we love engagement sessions. We feel like failures in the respect that opted out of our engagement session when we got married a few years ago and we wish we hadn’t. Because of this, we urge and plead with all of our couples, local or long-distance, to make time for an engagement session.

The main reason we do this is not to have pretty images (although you will have them), but it is because we view the e-session as a “coaching” time. Let’s face it – most brides are not professional models. For most people, posing in front of the camera can feel awkward. You don’t know where to look. You aren’t quite confident in your “model face.” You don’t know where to put your hands. Ect.

Well this weekend’s wedding just MADE OUR DAY! We had an engagement session with Laura & Shawn this past February and they were gorgeous together! Because we had that time with them and helped coach them on simple posing techniques, when it came to portrait time yesterday, they rocked it out.

Jeremy was posing them in this gorgeous light but his tongue was tied. He knew what he wanted, but for some reason it wasn’t coming. So Laura said “is this what you want?” “YES!”

And…………look at the result. GORGEOUS!

Stay tune for more images of this gorgeous couple ;)

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Paula Wieland Hopkins

Oh my Shawn… …you have a beautiful lady in your life.

Mike Westphal

don’t take a single day for granted. Two beautiful people.

Target and Pillows

For the last 8 months I have been telling Jeremy how we need new pillows. Our dark brown leather couches are soo comfortable and we love them, but I feel like we need some lighter colors in the room to help lighten up the mood a little ;)

Literally for the last 8 months I have looked at pillows at every store we walked into and I just could not find the perfect pillows. Until. Yesterday! We were walking through Target and Jeremy tells me “hey, you should come over here and look at these pillows.” He really shouldn’t have showed them to me. They were perfect.

Well maybe we will put some pictures up of them soon…but I really want to share this sneak peek with you from last week. Thank you Target for completing my hunt for cute pillows!

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TOTALLY know what you mean about finding pillows! So hard! Also- this pic looks very J*ish, nice job!

LOVING her dress! Such a soft,intimate image you guys. Looks great!

A sad goodbye…

This past week my dear Grandfather passed away. He had been sick for almost a year after we first heard the dreaded word cancer last spring. Even when you know that someone you love is very sick, and you are told that they will pass away soon, nothing prepares you for the news that it has happened.

My Grandfather was an amazing man.  When I think back on his life and the impact he is left on my life, I am always drawn back to the kitchen of his home on Church Street, in the small town of Royersford Pennsylvania. I remember making the long (now I realize it is just a little over an hour) drive to my grandparents house as a child. I would be greeted with a big hug and a glass candy jar full of Tootsie Rolls. We would spend the weekend, and it was not uncommon to find me in the kitchen with my Grandfather. He would make me eggs and the world’s best home fries. He taught me how to peel potatoes as he would tell me how he made them for all the neighborhood kids when he was growing up during the Great Depression. We would sit at the kitchen table and eat them with his worn out Bible sitting at the end of the table. He would quiz me on Bible questions, and tell me all about the Church of Acts. My Grandfather never met a stranger, he worked hard and he taught me to love my family and be passionate about life…and of course how to make the best home fries.

Last month was the last time I saw him. For the months while I was pregnant my Mom would show him pictures of my ultrasounds of my growing belly, and then of course all of the many pictures of Stella after she was born. He would scroll through them on my sister’s iPhone in his hospital bed. We knew that he did not have much time, and that it would mean the world to him to meet his Great Granddaughter. It did.

By the time we were able to get to Pennsylvania, he was very weak. Though he could not hold Stella on his own, my Mom and I helped him and you could see the joy come over him as he held her. He kissed her and loved on her, and though he did not have much strength to speak, he found the strength to sing to her as he held her.

I am so thankful for the impact he had on my life and grateful that someday we will tell Stella about her Great Grandfather.


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Krista Morgan

Oh such sweet pictures & many memories. So sorry for your loss & will be praying for your family, especially your mom :)

Caitie Sheppard


As I sit here crying, I have to tell you that those are some of the sweetest pictures I’ve ever seen. Bittersweet.
Sorry for your loss. I’m glad he got to see her.

Marilyn Schmucker

I’m sure this was meaningful for your grandfather to see his great granddaughter but I’m confident it will be so precious to Stella as she grows to know how much she’s loved and what joy she brings just by being her! Beautiful job Kristin!

Janice Keefer

My heart breaks along with you all.

Barbara Stein

Such a beautiful memory for you and your family. :)

Marcie Tamburelli


Jackie Callahan Kimmel

It’s wonderful that Stella had the honor of meeting her great-grandfather. The pictures are priceless.

Karen Haas

What a wonderful tribute to your grandfather.

I cant stop crying! these pics are so sweet!! she is so comfortable with him, at peace. Hugs

Dennis Keefer

he was the most kind hearted man,ive ever met…his laugh and handshake will forever be with me,he was one of the men in my life that taught hard,cause no ones gona give it to ya.and for that i am forever gratful unk…say hello to the one we hold so dear…

New Photographers…Your First Assignment

I wish I had come across a blog post like this when I was a new photographer. I knew what I wanted my images to look like, yet I had no idea how to accomplish it. This is probably one of the most frustrating points of photography, but once you learn how to tell your camera what to do (instead of letting it tell you what it should do) your artwork will drastically change!

Ok. Here are some practical first steps.

1 – Buy a DSLR without the kit lens. Yes, DO NOT buy the kit lens. We used our kit lens for the first 3-4 photo-shoots before we realized it’s not even worth half of what you pay for it. If you’re just wanting to experiment with a DSLR, canon makes their Rebel models very affordable. We started with the 50d and upgraded to the 5d mark ii.

2 – Buy the 50mm 1.8. You can get this on from B&H for about $129.00 Way cheaper the junky kit lens and a million times better. You can eventually upgrade to the 50mm 1.4 or 1.2 but the 1.8 is an amazing bargain!

3 – Practice practice practice! But how you ask?

4 – Set your camera on “M” mode (on the little dial on the top left of your camera) – this stands for manual. This allows you to control EXACTLY what your picture will look like. It’s really scary at first to shoot in manual but you can do it! Promise.

5 – Go outside on a sunny day around sunset. You may need to look in your owner’s guide from Canon to figure out which buttons to use to change certain settings, but the 3 settings we use to change the “exposure” (brightness/darkness/contrast/ect) of our image are: (1) Aperture (2) ISO (3) Shutter-speed.

6 – Set your ISO to 100 – Generally speaking, the lower the ISO the better. How high you can put your ISO is different on every camera. Professional cameras allow you to raise your ISO higher without becoming grainy.

7 – Set your aperture to 1.8 – this may be a little scary at first, but this is called “shooting wide open.” Shooting wide open simply means you are setting your aperture as low as it will go for that particular lens. The LOWER the number (aka f/stop) for your aperture, the more OPEN your aperture is. This allows for that pretty blurred background (aka “bokeh”) in each photo. You don’t have to do that in photoshop, it’s in your camera/lens!!!

8 – Now the only thing you have to control is the shutter-speed! But first, let’s position your subject. It’s almost sunset and you want your subject to be BETWEEN you and the sun. Make sense? This is called backlit. The sun is behind the subject and you as the photographer are shooting directly toward the sun at your subject.

9 – Now depending on how bright the sun is, you will need to adjust your shutter-speed. Your ISO and aperture are set and DON’T move them. Generally speaking we never put our shutter-speed below 1/125 (unless it’s a super dark inside ceremony). Keep adjusting your shutter-speed until the image you see on your display screen looks good. I could tell how to look at the “histogram” but we don’t technically do that. Eventually you’re subject will look right when you find the correct shutter-speed and then your exposure is PERFECT! Well, at least it is perfect for you ;)

10 – Go inside, edit the pictures, but them on your blog or FB and tell people about how you practiced, and then do it again the next day. And the next…and the next. Eventually you will feel comfortable enough to start changing your aperture around (2.2 is a great setting 2.8 is good 3.5-5.6 is useful for larger family shots) but if you can learn to shoot wide open, you can shoot with almost any other setting too.

We hope that helps if you are just starting photography and didn’t know where to start. If you have more questions send us an email anytime at or drop a comment on this post.

Here is a pic of the 3 different 50mm lenses Canon offers. As you progress you can upgrade your camera and your lenses but hopefully this post gives you an easy place to start. (The 50mm 1.8 is on the left…followed by the 1.4 in the middle and the 1.2 on the right). Remember, the 1.8 refers to the aperture, so the lenses on the right are able to shoot more wide open than the 1.8. Hopefully this post wasn’t too technically but easily understood.




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Tiffany Schnarr-Kuenzi

Thanks for posting that! I have wanted to learn how to take better pictures of the kids – I will have print this and try it!

Kristin Schmucker

I hope it helps Tiffany! If you have any questions feel free to ask! Your kids are so precious!


Thank you!! I’ve been spending hrs reading peoples blogs and yours is amazing!


Thank you for the post! Our point and shoot camera often gives blurry pictures when the subject is in motion (when flash is not used). By using a DSLR, without the flash, will it provide better & less blurry pictures? And is there a special lens that is good for shooting “sports”? Or will the 50mm 1.8 be just fine?

Dominique Paolini

Thanks for posting this. I’ll start practicing!

World’s Best Popcorn….No Joke

So anyone that knows us or has spent a few days at our house knows that we obsess over our homemade popcorn. Well, I don’t know if you could classify it as homemade since we didn’t grow the corn, but nevertheless, it’s delicious.  Here are the simple steps you can take to make the most delicious popcorn ever. In fact, we often have people tell us it’s better than movie-theater popcorn. Woah! If you ever want to try it…come on over and let us know ;)

First, you MUST melt the butter on the stove…NOT the microwave! The stove allows a little of the water to evaporate from the butter so when you pour it over the kernels it doesn’t make them soggy, rather still crunchy and saturated in popcorn…mmm….use 1/2 of a stick.

Sometimes we use the fancy “butter oil” found in the popcorn aisle, but vegetable oil works just the same. I don’t measure it, just pour enough to cover the top of the popper.

This is the popper we use, West Bend’s Stir Crazy Corn Popper…but anything that looks similar will work. I have heard of people popping on the stove too…but never tried it.

This is crucial! There are two different salts. Both can be found at your grocery store. Usually the blue popcorn salt is found in the spice aisle and the butter seasoning is found in the popcorn aisle.

Place 1/2 of a cup of unpopped kernels in the popper with the oil, and place the lid on top. Do not cover the lid! haha. Some people like to pour the butter in through the little holes on the top, but if you melt it on the stove it will pour very easily when it’s done.

Pop away!


When it’s done popping, place the lid on top (if you haven’t lost it like we have!) and flip it over. Do be careful because it is EXTREMELY HOT coming off…

Take a tester. It tastes AWFUL at this point. Like the 98% fat free popcorn (cardoard!)…ugh.

Okay so first pour the butter over it with a spoon. Just use a little in the spoon at a time. Every three to four spoons you should “toss” or mix up the popcorn so you don’t pour it all on top, but rather the kernels at the bottom get some butter too…(note…don’t burn the butter…bad past experience…)

Last, pour the salts to your desire. I prefer more regular popcorn salt with just a little seasoning…keep adding until satisfaction. ENJOY!!!!!!

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Laura Yang

Homemade popcorn is the BEST! (I have it listed on the “things I love” section of my website.)

Anne Marie

It’s true…. This is the best popcorn in the whole world. :)

this looks DELICIOUS!!!

Stephanie Woodward

Looks amazing! I love topping my popcorn with garlic pepper from big lots :)

That looks like some good popcorn. Have you ever tried popping with coconut oil? It adds some great flavor.