November 30, 2015


I have a thing for photographing cookies, I just think it's really fun. Photographing cookies, for me, comes with a sense of ease. Mostly because it's really difficult to mess up. For the most part the cookies aren't going to fall apart, you don't have to worry about them getting cold or melting. Cookies are pretty to look at and they are fun to eat, ha! So, here's to cookie styling. ;) I laughed so hard when coming up with the names of each of these, ha!
Cookies look cuter with props, right? Break out the milk, the cute mason jars, and the paper straws. Feeling gutsy, throw some ice cream in there, but for reals, that ice cream is going to melt. Pull out the cooling rack, throw in a cute towel, and you are on your way.
We've all seen it. The cookies piled high, one stacked on top of the other. How is it that cookies look so darn good, stacked up like that, for reals. Want to get crazy? Try that messing stack, it's going to take a little more strategic placement, but you've got this. ;) Stack those cookies high!
Lay them out flat, one right next to the other. Lay them out in their cookie glory. And for good measure throw in a glass of milk.
You can't go wrong with a good cookie dip. Everyone is going to stumble on to your cookie recipe and think, "hot dang! get in my belly!" Stack your cookies, throw in a glass of milk and get it there and dip that cookie.
You are now a pro at cookie styling! But, before we go, let's chat about technique. If you're shooting with props, specifically milk, you want to shoot against a dark background to provide constant. You also want to create constant with your cookies. If your cookies are dark like chocolate, consider setting your cookies on something light colored, but still maintaining a dark background. Experiment with different options to come up with your favorites. Use a tripod, this will make it easier to shoot sharp images and maintain a low ISO. Shoot in natural light, always. Use a light reflector, I use white foam boards for everything, it makes a huge difference.

What are some of you favorite ways to photograph cookies? What are some of your tried and true technique tips? xoxo! Samantha

November 27, 2015


Oh my gracious! The holidays are upon us! Happy Thanksgiving! It's technically shopping season isn't it. I can't believe it, whew. Mine and Tyler's shopping lists are usually rather small. Tyler's side of the family is really big so we draw names. And my side of the family is really small. It  makes shopping a little easier and easier on our budgets. Each year, I love putting together fun gifts guides and I decided to put together a gift guide for photographers!

1.)  FOTOSTRAP : I think Fotostraps make great gifts! They are customizable, great quality, comfortable, flexible, and the Fotostrap brand is also philanthropic. Win, win, right?

2.)  LEATHER HAND STRAP : If you're anything like me you may have a soft spot for camera hand straps. I'm all about a good solid Fotostrap, but I also love a good hand strap.

3.)  RUGGED HARD DRIVE : For all those amazing pictures you are taking. Small, rugged, and doing what any good hard drive does, keeps all those photos safe.

4.)  50MM LENS : You'll never look back once you switch from a stock lens to a 50mm lens. At an amazing price, you can't go wrong.

5.)  JOTOTES GRACIE CAMERA BAG : A good solid camera bag goes along way and as a photographer, most of your bags will turn into camera bags anyways. :)

6.)  GORILLA POD : Or any tripod really, but I love the versatility of these gorilla pods. How great is it that you can wrap these around anything, plus they are smaller then regular tripods and I think they would be perfect for on the go and day trips.

What are your shopping plans for this weekend? Are you primarily an online shopper? Do you love heading out for great deals? Do you have any photographers you're shopping for? xoxo! Samantha

November 25, 2015


I've been feeling a little uninspired lately. I feel as though I'm in a rather interesting season. There are some weeks and months that ideas are rolling out of me. There are some days I can't wait to pull my camera out and create. But as of late, I have felt uninspired and I've been okay with feeling uninspired too. On the days I'm uninspired to create for this space, I find joy in taking care of our home. I really am one of those people who finds joy in sweeping the floor and cleaning the bathroom. I have a thing for clean bathrooms.

So, I've been taking it slow, not rushing into anything or forcing myself to create, but simple just taking each day at a time. I used to feel a little bit of failure when I was uninspired and uninterested in creating, but this time around I've allowed it to come. I've allowed myself to relish in the uninspired and find joy in other things. I've been taking great joy in "one day at at time."

I don't know what tomorrow will hold, I don't know what glorious miracle God has in store, but I know He has one. I know He's working out His perfect plan and in the mean time I'll find peace in the glory of each day. xoxo! Samantha

November 23, 2015


Hi friends! Are you all ready for the #ElahTreeAdventChallenge?! I announced the details a few weeks ago and today I wanted to share my whole list of Advent activities. Whew, it was tough, especially since I knew we would be traveling and we're also pretty open to our plans changing so I knew I wanted to create activities that would allow for some wiggle room. I sat down one afternoon, perused Pinterest and came up with our list. I hope it inspires you while creating your list! :)

1. Drink Hot Chocolate with Marshmallows

2. Send Christmas Cards

3. Make Christmas Cookies

4. Christmas Movie night (Home Alone) with Popcorn

5. Pizza Night

6. Watch White Christmas

7. Make Puppy Chow

8. Drink Hot Apple Cider + Read Isaiah 9:6

9. Watch the Santa Clause + read Luke 1:5-17

10. Make Ice Cream Snowmen Read Luke 1:18-25

11. Eat Chili together + read Luke 1:26-38

12. Visit  a Christmas Tree Farm + read Luke 1:38-42

13. Watch the Elf + Read Matthew 1:18-25

14. Make Christmas Treats + read Luke 2:1-5

15. Make Pancakes for Dinner + read Luke 2:6-7

16. Read Luke 2:8

17. Date Night with Star Wars, ha! + read Luke 2:9-14

18. Listen to Christmas Music while packing + read Luke 2:15-20

19. Christmas Jams Car Party + read Luke 2:19

20. Road Trip Christmas Breakfast + read Matthew 2:1-2, 9-10

21. Read Matthew 2:3-8, 11-12

22. Christmas Light Tour + read Luke 2:22-33

23. Read Matthew 2:13-15

24. Christmas Skype Call + read Matthew 2:19-23

25. Read Luke 2:40, 52

I'm so excited to enjoy this Advent season! I can already tell I'm going to be challenged, but in the best possible ways. What are some of your favorite Advent activities? Share them with us, so we can add them to our calendars! :) xoxo! Samantha

November 20, 2015


Hello friend, the holidays are upon us, aren't they? Thanksgiving is next week and not very long after that Christmas will be here as well. Fall will soon be winter, the trees will quiet and in our neck of the woods, the snow will begin to fall. This Fall has been a season that has allowed me to slow down, to be present in each moment and to take each day at a time. I'm hoping that same feeling fills our Christmas season as well. Tyler and I have been so grateful for the opportunities that we have to spend outside around our fire pit. Sipping warm drinks and being cozy around the fire.

This month, Meg, Beth, and I are coming together to bring you a special holiday TriStyle coffee date. And we want you to join in too! Let's all sit down with our drinks in hand and share how we've been doing, how we're anticipating the holidays, our favorite things, and our hopes and dreams. You may even want to head over to Lindsay Letters and grab your favorite mug.
I feel like a lot has been going on around these parts, but at the same time not so much. Things have been rather quiet. Tyler has been busy working and they just started crunch on their next movie, so he's been working a lot of over time. We've been thinking a lot about Thanksgiving. While we lived in California we always spent Thanksgiving with family. This year it looks like we may be starting new traditions. We're not quite sure how they will unfold, but we're bouncing around a lot of ideas. I'm mostly looking forward to Tyler having a four day weekend!

As for me, Jesus has given me lots of peace about this space and about possibilities of working outside of the home. I've applied to lots of different jobs, had one job offer that I turned down, and I'm finding grace in Jesus' perfect timing. I find lots of grace in taking each day as it comes and I've recently applied to a job, that I'm hopeful for, but to be perfectly honest, I'm doing my best to play it cool. Sometimes I always feel like I'm reaching for the impossible. But there is so much grace when reaching for the impossible, because it brings us perfectly into the arms of Jesus.
We're anxiously awaiting our holiday travels. We'll be heading back to Missouri to see our families. This is one of our favorite times of year as we don't get to see family that often. We cherish each moment, soak up each day, and enjoy all of our time with friends and family. This year we've decided to try to be better at planning things. In previous years we've winged it and missed seeing people that we really wanted, so this year we're changing it up a little. I also have a few photo shoots planned when we're home and I'm hoping to make it to Emma's (ABM) new bar with lots of friends in tow.

I've been trying to create more family traditions for Tyler and I. Things that are just for me and him, that allow us to enjoy the season and be intentional. This year, I'm doing an Advent Photography Challenge. I'm rather excited about it. This will be our first year and I would love it if you would join in too! :)
We want to share in this holiday season with you! And we're giving away the most adorable Lindsay Letters Mug! YOUR CHANCE TO WIN BELOW! 
a Rafflecopter giveaway
I'm planning on drinking lots of hot chocolate, watching lots of Christmas movies, making Christmas treats, jamming out to holiday tunes, and spending time with lots of loved ones. How about you friend, how are you? xoxo! Samantha

November 18, 2015


Occasionally I get questions about camera equipment. Whether or not I think someone should upgrade their equipment. And I want to encourage you in a way that I don't think I was ever encouraged when I was first starting out.

Here's the thing. Your camera equipment can do a lot. It can do so many things, you simple have to learn how to make it do it. You make the photo, not your equipment. And I read once, "until you are able to say what your camera can't do," then there is no reason to upgrade.  So find grace and encouragement in your equipment. Get out there and try new things. And never look down on your equipment and don't let others look down on you because of your equipment either. And if there are those out there looking down on you because of your equipment, then they must be missing the true meaning of photography.
Have the lovelies Wednesday friends! xoxo! Samantha

November 16, 2015


Lighting is tricky and a little unpredictable, especially on a cloudy day when the clouds are rolling in and out. Wouldn't it be great if we could experience the perfect lighting every time we brought out our cameras. Light at our house isn't my favorite, it's really really tricky because we live under a canopy of trees, and while trees and light are great, to many trees mean not enough light.

Recently we have found a really great place that has some of my favorite things when it comes to lighting well lit photos. Right down the road from our house is a small park. It has lots of trees, a small bridge and even a pond. When your location scouting finding water is a really great thing because it will reflect the light.
SHOOT IN MANUAL : Shooting in manual is important all the way around, but it's extra important when shooting backlit subjects. Your camera will struggle to properly light your subject because of how bright the background is. You need to know how your camera is going to read the light, the subject, and the background so you can manipulate your settings to properly expose your subjects.

OVER EXPOSE YOUR METER : Shooting in manual will help you tackle this next tip. Often times when shooting backlit subjects the camera is wanting to expose for the background because it is the brightest thing in your frame. However, you want to properly expose for your subject which is undoubtedly a little darker then the background. To off set this problem you want to over expose your meter by one or two stops. This will allow your subjects to be properly exposed. The background will be over exposed just a tad, but we're not wanting to highlight the background, we'er wanting to highlight our subjects.

TIMING IS CRUCIAL : Having well lit backlit photos and beautifully well lit subjects has a lot to do with timing. You want to backlight your subject when the sun is soft and that is during or near the magic hour. You also want the sun to be falling behind your subjects. However when shooting your subjects try your best to have the sun just barely peaking into frame.

FILTER THE LIGHT : Even when shooting during the magic hour the sun can still wash out your photos, which isn't a bag thing. But you can had an even softer touch to your photos by using the trees. Trees are a perfect thing to help filter the light. Another thing you can do is to place the sun just outside the frame vs. being in frame right behind your subjects. Use the trees to filter the light and place the sun just outside of frame or peeking just in the corner of your fame.

FIND SOME SHADE : One thing that happens when we shoot backlit is the sun bounces of our lens causing our photos too look washed out. If your struggling with this look for shade that you, the photographer, can place yourself in. This will keep the sun off your lens and give you nice rich photos. If there isn't any shade for you to stand in, try using your hand to shade your lens, by sticking it out in front of you.
Backlit photos are some of my very favorite photos too shoot. They are so lovely and beautiful and everything comes together so nicely in them. Here is one more tip for good measure. :) When you're shooting make sure you are shooting with an open sky behind you, this will ensure your subject is well lit. xoxo! Samantha

November 13, 2015


I spent a lot of time thinking about this post. I wanted to honor Jesus in the words that I shared. I wanted to share something fun that we could do together without down playing what a beautiful time and season this is. I love Christmas, it's one of my favorite times of year, for so many reasons. For Tyler and I, it can be easy for this season to rush by us because every year since we've been married we have traveled over the holidays. I love traveling for the holidays because it means that we get to see our family. But, I wanted to make sure this season didn't' just pass us by, I wanted us to be intentional in what this season really means, and I wanted us to be able to create our own traditions.

I can't say enough good things about Naptime Diaries, they are such a bright shining light in this world. I love what they stand for, how they equip others to have scriptures all throughout their home and to stay focused on Jesus.

When they announced the release of this year's Advent Calendar, I knew I wanted to do something special. Advent is a sweet opportunity for us to slow down in a season that can get rather busy and prepare our hearts for Jesus. For Christians, Advent is a season of anticipation for the "coming" of Christ. Anticipation for his first coming, his birth, and his second coming, when he brings his children home.
This year for Advent I wanted to bring some of my favorite things together; Jesus, photography, tradition, and community. I wanted to focus on three things for this challenge. One, Jesus and the scriptures that prepare us for his coming. Two, creating your own traditions. Three, photographing your moments.

GRAB YOUR ADVENT CALENDAR : I'm using Naptime Diaries Advent Calendar, and you can too! Use discount code elahtree, for 15% off!! Order your calendar by Nov. 20th to receive it by Dec. 1st! Any Advent Calendar will work, so don't you worry, use one of your favorites. :)

HOW IT WORKS : What I love about this challenge is that it can be unique to each individual. The challenge comes in making sure you are taking at least one photo a day during the Advent season. I want you to slow down and experience this season with your loved ones. I prepared for this challenge by writing out a specific activity (on the back of our Advent calendar) that Tyler and I will participate in each day of Advent. Some of our activities include; drinking hot chocolate together, reading scripture together, watching the Santa Clause, going for a drive to see Christmas lights and many more.

Each day of Advent I'll take a photo that represents that particular day of Advent. Whether it's a photo of us doing our Advent activity or whether it's something else that Jesus has gifted me with that day, like the falling of snow. The photos don't have to be perfect. The challenge is to be present in the season and to photograph your memories.

JOIN THE COMMUNITY : Jesus made us to live in community together, and I would love us to share in this challenge together. You can share your photos on Instagram, on your blog, or keep them for yourself. Share your photos using the hashtags; #ElahTreeAdventChallenge, #NTDAdvent, #MakeRoomForAdvent. We can see Jesus glorified as we make time for him and our loved ones, and we can share that with the world!
Friends, I'm so excited for this season and this challenge! I think it's an amazing opportunity to really be present this season, to challenge ourselves in capturing our moments, to strengthen our photography skills, and to live in community together. Please let me know if you have any questions! I can't wait to see all your photos! xoxo! Samantha

P.S. Naptime Diaries just launched their Advent Website, Make Room for Advent! It's full of so many amazing things for Advent. They have teaching videos, decor ideas, community activities, and a connection page. Make sure to stop by and check it out today!

November 11, 2015


Photography is my favorite. I think y'all know that right? :) Every time I'm able to capture a part of someone else's story it just fills me with joy. Sarah and her husband eloped. There is something rather romantic about elopement. Because they eloped they didn't have any formal wedding portraits done and I was so excited to be able to capture that part of their story with bridal portraits of Sarah.
When I was doing this photo session with Sarah I kept telling her that I wanted to do a session in my wedding dress too, ha! There is just something to beautiful about a bride in her grown, so lovely and so sweet. xoxo! Samantha

November 9, 2015


I really really love campfires and campfire photos. There is something so warm and cozy about spending time around the campfire and the photos can be so dreamy. When we moved into our tiny house it was the middle of summer and I couldn't wait to start having evening fires, roasting s'mores and having lots of people over. We've spent time taking fire photos when there is still light in the sky and when it is completely dark out.
I love taking campfire photos when there is light in the sky, you are able to capture so much more of the story when more of the shot is visible. Not only will you see more, but you will be able to capture really nice flames. Shooting when there is still light in the sky gives you a bit more freedom as well. You can still shoot handheld and your subjects are free to move around.

In order to get really nice fire photos you have to have a really nice fire. After you build your fire allow it to grow. Our fire pit is rather deep, so in order to get nice fire photos I have to built it up and let it grow. For the fire you see above I had to make it big enough to be seen over the side of the fire bit. And that is one thing I love about it, it made it so much easier to capture.
There are three main things to do when shooting fire after dark. One, use a tripod. Two, set your timer. Three, ask your subjects not to move. Shooting after dark can be really tricky because one is often trying to capture two things, the fire and the people. What we tend to run into is that the photo is too dark or the subjects are all ghosted. Using your tripod and your timer allows you to set for long exposures letting in more light and having your subjects sit still allows your to capture them without ghosting.

I think out of all the tips I suggest, "capture the details," is always on the list, ha! But it's true, in every photography circumstance, capturing the details is just part of it. It tells more of your story, it adds depth and as a photographer it continues to sharpen your eye.
I really love campfire photos because they echo such sweet community. We don't often gather around the campfire alone, we gather around the campfire with sweet friends and community. And I love the opportunity to capture those moments. How has your experience been when capturing campfire photos? What are some other tips that you would add to this list? xoxo! Samantha

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