December 31, 2015


This year as been a whirlwind. I can't believe it's time for a new year, whew. How are you feeling about this new year? One of my favorite things to do at the end of each year is look back on some of our favorite memories. To look back at the beautiful experiences and gifts Jesus has given us. If you want to take a look back you can even check out 2013 and 2014.

1.) MOVING TO THE EAST COAST {January} : We moved across the country this year. Oh my gracious, I can't believe it's already been a year. I remember this time last year, anticipating what Jesus had in store for us and I was so excited I was sick, haha! We experienced a whirlwind of a move, traveling home for two weeks at Christmas and coming home and only having two weeks to move out of our apartment. Whew!

2.) OUR FIRST NEW ENGLAND WINTER {February} : With our move to the East Coast we experienced our first New England winter. We arrived with the snow and it was a magical sight. After three years in sunny Southern California it was so nice to have snow.
3.) MYSTIC PIZZA {March} : Mystic Pizza with Meg! Have you seen the movie Mystic Pizza? Think pizza, Connecticut, and Julia Roberts, haha! Meg visited me this year and it was the coolest thing ever! Meg and I met through blogging and the first time we met was when she came to visit.

4.) BLOG FRIENDS AND NYC {March} : While Meg was here we also ventured to New York City. It was my first time in the city and we had the best time! We walked every where, took in the sites, ate good food and had an amazing time!
5.) ACROSS THE NEW ENGLAND COAST {April} : There are so many places to venture to in this area. In April, Tyler's dad came to visit and we headed up the New England coast again. We made a quick stop in Mystic and then headed towards New Port. We visited the Breakers Manson and I saw my first light house.

6.) NEW YORK IN THE SPRING {May} : We headed to NYC again in the Spring to see the trees in bloom before summer hit. Our Spring visit was so lovely. We walked to the cutest diner for lunch. We walked through The Met and then we walked through Central Park. It was beautiful.
7.) MOVING INTO OUR TINY HOUSE {June} : Oh my gracious, we moved again! Our first move in January was for a contract position, which included living in corporate housing. In June, Tyler was brought on full time, which meant we had to find a new place to live and we found our tiny house, whew.

8.) SUMMER DAYS AT THE BEACH {August} : We made it to the beach this summer and I was so glad. This year has been such a transition and we really needed some time to refresh and unwind. It was lovely to lay in the sun and listen to the waves.

9.) HIKING BEAR MOUNTAIN {September} : Guys, one of our favorite places in New York is Bear Mountain! After doing our first hike there, I wanted to go back all the time. I made it back there for a photo session and a prayer meeting with some dear friends.

10.) THE PEANUTS PREMIER {October} : Tyler finished his first feature film this year and I couldn't be more proud! He has worked so hard and he has been learning so much during this first year at Blue Sky. It was so fun to get to celebrate with him!

*** So much happened this year it was hard to only pick 10 moments, there are plenty more I would love to add to this list... Seeing my brother this summer before he moved away. Many summer days spent at the pool. Sunday dinner dates. Packing our Ubox this summer during our move. Helping my mom landscape her yard. This year's birthday that blew me out of the water... and many many more.

Guys, let's do a quick recap of a few of my favorite posts. This has been a really interesting year for this space. Between constantly moving, ha!, and transitioning some of my content... it's been fun watching this space change.

1.) HOW TO SET THE STAGE FOR MOOD LIGHTING : This post was so fun to photograph. I really love experimenting with mood lighting and I loved getting to share the process with you.

2.) TIPS FOR PHOTOGRAPHING YOUR CAMPFIRE : I have always wanted to do a campfire photo session. Even though I wasn't able to do a campfire session with a client I loved challenging myself to make it happen and share with you some tips and tricks.

3.) THE BENEFITS OF A GREAT FOTOSTRAP : I just had so much fun in this photo shoot with Tyler. It was the very last weekend of the summer and I really enjoyed how specific it was to photography.

4.) FIVE WAYS TO SHOOT WITH THE 50MM : Guys, the 50mm, right? Need I saw more? Haha! But for reals, It was so fun to go through all my work and provide examples of different ways to shoot with the 50mm. So fun!

*** I also really love this post... and this post.

Alright friends, that does it. We've wrapped up 2015, whew. What are some of your favorite moments of 2015? xoxo! Samantha

December 23, 2015


Hello friends! We're off! This is the first time I've ever gone on holiday from the blog. I'm pretty excited about it. We'll be celebrating Christmas and New Years with friends and family. Stop by on December 31st for a recap of some of my favorite memories and some of my favorite posts.

We'll return to regular scheduled programming on January 8th with a recap of our holiday and be excited, because I have lots of fun things planned for this new year. Hop on over to instagram (@elahtree) and follow along for our everyday shenanigans. Thanks for sticking with me friends! Remember that I love you and Jesus loves you even more! Merry Christmas! Xoxo! Samantha

December 21, 2015


It's almost Christmas! Can you believe it?! Seeing as Christmas is so close and many of you might be snapping lots of photos of your tree or in front of your tree I thought it might be helpful to provide a few tips on shooting dreamy Christmas lights.

Or a wide aperture. A low f-stop number and a wide aperture are the same, but I wanted to mention them both because it can actually seem a little confusing. If you're ever reading an article that mentions a large aperture or a wide aperture, that means low f-stop number. When shooting dreamy Christmas lights you want to shot with your aperture anywhere between 1.4 to 2.8. This is what allows for a nice bokeh background. If you're shooting with a stock lens, this may be difficult to accomplish.

I feel like I've been harping on tripods lately, but for good reason, haha! Often times when we're shooting Christmas lights we need a slow shutter speed, but we also want a sharp image. Using our tripods insures a sharp image.

If you're including a subject in your photo with your Christmas lights you want to make sure that you add plenty of space between the two. In the image below, there isn't enough space between the mug and the lights to create dreamy bokeh Christmas lights in the background. Make sure to add plenty of space.
If you are only shooting Christmas lights and you want  to achieve bokeh shapes you'll need to focus manually. Below are four different examples of different focus points. You can see in the first two images the Christmas lights are beautiful bokeh shapes.  In the second two images the Christmas lights still have a little bit of bokeh, but not as prominent. Spend some time shooting in manual mode to see what works best.
What do you think, friends? Are you shooting lots of dreamy Christmas lights this season? What are some of your go to tips and tricks? xoxo! Samantha

December 18, 2015


It's time to pack all of our favorite things and get ready for this holiday season! Ever since Tyler and I have been married we have traveled over the holidays... and I have become an expert packer, ha! ;) I'm not really sure if I'm an expert, haha, but I do know what works best for me. This season I am pretty excited about packing all my gear in my JoTotes Gracie bag and I'm over the moon that it fits everything I need.

If you stopped by on Wednesday, then we got to chat about the things I needed out of a good camera bag and one thing I'm loving most about this bag is that it's inconspicuous. I can fit all my important gear inside without my bag necessarily screaming that it's full of gear. Another thing I'm loving is that the Gracie bag is perfect for road tips. I can carry it on the go, it pairs perfectly with outfits, and it's easy to carry.
- D300s, 35mm attached
- D700, 50mm attached
- Nikkor 55-300mm
- Gorilla pod
- Mini Ipad
- Posing sketch book
- Lens cleaning wipes, lens brush, and lens cloth
- Sunglasses
- Zip pouch full of goodies
- Phone

The D300s (plus lens), the D700 (plus lens), the Nikkor 55-300, the gorilla pod, my sunglasses and my zip pouch all fit in the main body of my Gracie bag. The Gracie bag also has lots of pockets which house all the other goodies. The mini Ipad fits perfectly in the front zip pocket. My posing sketch book fits in one of the inside pockets and the two large pockets hold my phone and I could also fit some snacks in there too.
Guys, the JoTotes Gracie bag is so great! I want y'all to get one too! There are so many things about it that just work for me, swoon. Guys, what are you packing in your camera bag? What is your favorite camera bag? xoxo! Samantha

December 16, 2015


LOCATION: Pleasantville, NY
DETAILS: Gracie Bag c/o Jo Totes || Blue Plaid Shirt (Similar) || Skinny Jeans (AE) || Boots (Timberland)  || Mustard Scarf (Northernly)

It's time to talk camera bags, friends. Nearly all of my bags have to fit a camera inside, even if they aren't specific camera bags because I'm always taking my camera with me. And while fitting my camera into every single bag was working, it wasn't ideal. I'm kind of picky about camera bags, mostly because I want a camera bag to fit all my gear, but I also don't want it to be too big, it's that minimalist inside me.

Over the summer we picked up are hiking camera bag, which we absolutely love. It's perfect for all of our hiking trips and carries all of our gear. There was only one thing that wasn't working about our hiking bag... I couldn't really pair it with fun dates and it didn't work that well during photo sessions either.
1 |  LOTS OF SPACE : I knew I wanted a bag that was large enough to carry all my gear. I needed it to fit at least two camera bodies with lenses attached and a third lens, plus any other odds and ends.

2 |  ABLE TO WEAR CROSSBODY: I needed a bag that I could wear crossbody  because during photo sessions I need to be able to easily access my bag without having to pull my bag of my back.

3 |  TRAVEL FRIENDLY : I wanted a bag that was travel friendly; fitting all my gear, plus other travel needs. I wanted to be able to wear it as a purse, hiding the fact that I was carry around a bunch of gear. And I wanted it to pair seamlessly with everyday outfits.

4 |  PROTECTIVE : A good camera bag is going to protect your gear and be versatile. I wanted a bag that I knew would do solid job of protecting my gear and providing lots of versatility inside the bag with adjustable inserts.

All those things came together for me in one amazing bag. The Gracie bag by Jo Totes. The Gracie was large enough to fit all my gear without feeling too big. It arrived with a crossbody strap, plus shoulder straps. It is amazingly well made, sturdy, protective, and has lots of adjustable pads.
One thing I really love about my Gracie bag is how well it pairs with everyday outfits. It's absolutely beautiful and it doesn't necessarily scream "hey! there are camera's in here!" haha! I also love how perfect the size is and I'm so excited to be traveling with it during this holiday season. Come back on Friday to see how I packed it for our travels and I'll share with you everything I fit inside.

Are you in the process of holiday shopping? Grab a Jo Tote for  the photographer in your life! Have any questions about my Gracie bag? Let me know, I would love to answer them. xoxo! Samantha

December 14, 2015


Guys, it can be so tough getting pictures of Tyler and I together. Often times it is either he or I behind the camera. When Tyler and I are in photos together you can usually assume there is a tripod on the other side. ;) Tyler and I have become pretty good at tackling outdoor photos together with our tripod but indoor photos are another story. It can be rather tricky in our tiny little space, but I've decided to challenge us more by trying to capture more indoor cozy photos.

A tripod serves a lot of purposes when you're capturing indoor portraits. First, if you want everyone in the photo, it holds the camera of course. ;) Second, a tripod will solve the problem of low light. We run into low light a lot in our tiny house and my tripod has become well used in our house. When shooting with a tripod you can shoot with as slow a shutter speed as you wish. However, with a slow shutter, stillness is a must. A slow shutter usually won't work when photography children. You can solve that problem by increasing your ISO, but with an increased ISO you will encounter more noise. Experiment with you camera to understand the limits of your camera's ISO.

Multiple light sources will make it really difficult to get a correct white balance. If you're shooting near a window, avoid turning on any indoor lights. We have skylights in our tiny house and it sometimes makes it difficult to get a correct white balance because the light coming in from the skylights is cool and the light coming in from the side windows is warm. Keep an eye out for those different light sources.

During the day is when the best light is. :) It's also different per house.  Start looking around your home and determine when and where the best light is. We have really good like between 8:00am and 10:00am. And we have really good light in the afternoon. I do my best to shoot during those specific times to get the best light.

Posing yourself for portraits is so hard and takes a lot of practice. It's much easier to see your subject through the lens and direct them, then to have to do it to yourself. Don't get discouraged when posing and directing yourself. Try, try and try again until you get something you like. This is something I'm still learning, but I know that if I made an effort to challenge myself to do this every day I would get better.

We don't have to many places to shoot portraits in our tiny house, haha! But if we were to really take advantage of all of our different spaces, I'm sure there would be more then we thought. For these portraits we took a few in our living room on our couch and then we moved to the kitchen. Our couch portraits were really tough because it was hard to figure out attractive posing while sitting on a couch. Try different locations throughout your home and you are bound to find one's you really love and hopefully  you'll be surprised by them too.
It can be really though to capture indoor tripod style portraits, but it can be so worth it too. If we take the time to learn our camera's and set up our tripods, we can capture lots of cozy memories in our home. Friends, I'm dreaming up a photography challenge for after the new that is going to challenge our tripod portrait skills, be on the look out! xoxo! Samantha
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