January 29, 2016

PREPPING YOUR BOOTS FOR COLD WEATHER

THE BEST WAX FOR WATER PROOFING LEATHER
Last winter I ruined a pair of leather boots. They were older and I trumped all over New York in them. I walked through water, snow, dirt and lots of salt. By the end of the winter the leather was cracked and there wasn't much hope left for them. I was lacking in winter footwear this season and when I decided on these leather boots I knew I needed something to keep the leather protected.

During my search for boots I stumbled  onto a product called Sno-Seal. I had never heard of it, but after reading lots of reviews I decided it was worth a try. I ordered Sno-Seal when I order my boots and before wearing my boots out I applied Sno-Seal. Applying products to leather always makes me a little nervous, so I tested a small section first and all was well. I love how easy Sno-Seal is to apply, although it does take a little prep work. Sno-Seal is a beeswax product and the leather needs to be heated to apply the wax. For my boots I heated the leather with oven heat. I didn't put them in the oven, but I placed my boots on the oven door as it heated up. Once the leather was heated, I applied the Sno-Seal.

Sno-Seal has been perfect for my boots. I have worn them in the rain and all through the snow. The water and the snow wicks right off. The Sno-Seal also protects against dirt, salt, and sun damage. When Tyler and I were in Joplin he wore his leather boots in the rain, dirt, and snow, without Sno-Seal. Once we came home I cleaned his boots, applied Sno-Seal and they were as good as new. I was so impressed with how well they cleaned up.
THE BEST WAX FOR WATER PROOFING LEATHER
THE BEST WAX FOR WATER PROOFING LEATHER
THE BEST WAX FOR WATER PROOFING LEATHER
One thing I love about Sno-Seal is that because it's a natural beeswax it allows the leather to breath and it will naturally work it's self off the boots. Because it's a natural protectant Sno-Seal will need to be re-applied occasionally. I applied Sno-Seal to my boots in November and haven't had to re-apply yet, but will probably add Sno-Seal to my boots one more time before the winter is over.

What products do you use to keep your leather clean and protected? xoxo. Samantha


January 27, 2016

THE ULTIMATE BLOG POST CHECKLIST {FREE DOWNLOAD}

THE ULTIMATE BLOG POST CHECKLIST
I may or may not be an over-achiever, the jury is still out on that one, ha! ;) However, I do know that over-achieving makes it easy to forget things, because one's list can get kind of long. I usually fall into one of two categories when it comes to preparing my blog posts. One, I slap a post together and let it fly. Two, I slap a post together and try to remember all the important details to make a post more reader and SEO friendly, haha!

I was getting a little tired of trying to remember everything, so I finally decided to create a blog post checklist. Having a checklist made it possible for me to clear my head and focus on other things, thanks goodness. So, I made this blog post checklist and I want to share it with you guys too! You can download it here and use it to your hearts content.
THE ULTIMATE BLOG POST CHECKLIST
THE ULTIMATE BLOG POST CHECKLIST
Alright friends, that's all for today. I hope this checklist helps you as much as it has helped me. xoxo. Samantha

January 25, 2016

HOW TO TEACH YOUR FRIENDS TO TAKE YOUR STYLE PHOTOS

HOW TO TEACH YOUR FRIENDS TO TAKE YOUR STYLE PHOTOS
LOCATION: Pleasantville, NY
DETAILS: Blanket Scarf (AE) || Skinny Jeans (AE) || Sweater (AE)  || Glomits (AE)  || Peacoat (Delias)  || Boots (Timberland)  

One question that I used to get all the time was "who takes your style photos?" The answer to that question is, Tyler, that's my husband if you were wondering. ;) The next question I usually received after that was, "how did you teach your husband to take your style photos?" Well, today I'm sharing all of our secrets, except that they really aren't secrets, ha! ;)

These tips aren't just for husbands, but they are for any of your friends that you plan on roping into to taking your style photos. I personally feel like our style photos are always a work in progress for a few reason. One, as I learn, I share with Tyler what I'm learning. Two, Tyler can't see what's in my head so sometimes it's tough for me to communicate what I'm looking for. Hopefully, I'll share plenty of tips today that will help you get over those hurdles too.
HOW TO TEACH YOUR FRIENDS TO TAKE YOUR STYLE PHOTOS
HOW TO TEACH YOUR FRIENDS TO TAKE YOUR STYLE PHOTOS
HOW TO TEACH YOUR FRIENDS TO TAKE YOUR STYLE PHOTOS
Shot Details (above): Nikon D700 + 50mm
ISO: 250, F-stop: 4, Shutter speed 1/320
HOW TO TEACH YOUR FRIENDS TO TAKE YOUR STYLE PHOTOS
YOU CAN ONLY SHARE WHAT YOU KNOW 
I have been able to watch Tyler grow as a photographer because I'm the one who has been teaching him. One thing that really worked to our advantage was that I was already well-versed in photography when I started stepping out in front of the camera and Tyler started finding himself behind the lens. When you decide to ask someone to take you style photos (someone who may still be learning photography), remember that you will be verbally walking them through the steps of shooting. When Tyler and I first started doing style shoots I would set all the settings in our camera first. I would read the light; set the ISO, white balance, and f-stop. During our first few style shoots I would tell Tyler which shutter speed to try.

During our shoots we still verbally talk through what the camera should be doing for the photos. There are a lot of things to remember when shooting and sometimes I don't even remember everything. As of late, I try to remind him to to change the aperture based on the type of photo we are taking. If we are taking a portrait, like the one below then we'll use an f-stop of 2.8. But if we are taking a photo we're I'm further away from the camera then we'll change the f-stop to 3.8 or 4.

One of the best ways to introduce a friend to taking your style photos is to walk them through the process, be patient, and have fun.

PROVIDE EXAMPLES
After Tyler became more comfortable with shooting and was needing my help less and less, we then had to determine the style of photos I was looking for. I wasn't always able to communicate the type of style I was hoping for and Tyler can't read my mind so we had to come up with a new system. Now, I create a Pinterest board of different style photos that I like to provide Tyler with reference. The photos give Tyler a blueprint for composition and the type of look I'm hoping to achieve. Providing these types of examples for a friend will give them a good stepping off point.

REVIEW AS YOU GO
One thing that I learned very quickly when taking style photos is that I don't always know how to pose for them, ha! When Tyler and I first started doing style photos, we would review the photos as we went. I would review my poses and we would confirm that everything was exposed properly. Let your friend know that reviewing as you go would be beneficial for the two of you. You both can discuss the poses, the exposure and the composition of the photos.
HOW TO TEACH YOUR FRIENDS TO TAKE YOUR STYLE PHOTOS
HOW TO TEACH YOUR FRIENDS TO TAKE YOUR STYLE PHOTOS
HOW TO TEACH YOUR FRIENDS TO TAKE YOUR STYLE PHOTOS
Shot Details (below): Nikon D700 + 50mm
ISO: 250, F-stop: 2.5, Shutter speed 1/320
HOW TO TEACH YOUR FRIENDS TO TAKE YOUR STYLE PHOTOS
HOW TO TEACH YOUR FRIENDS TO TAKE YOUR STYLE PHOTOS
HOW TO TEACH YOUR FRIENDS TO TAKE YOUR STYLE PHOTOS
HOW TO TEACH YOUR FRIENDS TO TAKE YOUR STYLE PHOTOS
HOW TO TEACH YOUR FRIENDS TO TAKE YOUR STYLE PHOTOS
Shot Details (above): Nikon D700 + 50mm
ISO: 250, F-stop: 4, Shutter speed 1/200

Being able to articulate my knowledge to Tyler has been a great jumping off point for Tyler and I. Know, that if you're not sure how to communicate what you want or how to properly use your camera it will be pretty tough on your friend. Overall, remember to trust each other. Some poses feel weird, but look great, trust your friend when they say it looks good. This concept translates to your friend behind the camera too. There are some things I know just don't work for my body in photos, communicate that as you go. What have been some of your go to tips for style photos? Do you have a friend who takes your style photos? Do you have any photography questions for me? I would love to hear them! xoxo. Samantha

January 22, 2016

A JOURNEY IN CUSTOM SIGN MAKING

Not my journey of course, but Tyler's journey. ;) Guys, I'm still talking about Christmas things, just go with it, okay? For Tyler's side of the family we all draw names for Christmas and buy gifts for that one person. This year Tyler got his brother-in-law for Christmas and he decided to make him a custom painted sign. Tyler had been wanting to do a project like this for awhile and he was really looking forward to having it all come together.

Tyler chatted with his sister about some ideas for the sign and how big they wanted it. Tyler needed the dimensions for the design and for the supplies to build the frame as well. Before Tyler moves forward with any type of project he sketches it out. He'll sketch and sketch and sketch until he as a solid blueprint for going forward. For this particular project, after he was finished sketching, he completed the design in photoshop. Once he was finished with the photoshop design he printed it out in sections. Tyler planned on painting the design on to a large piece of plexiglass.
Once everything was designed... and printed... and cut... and attached to the plexiglass, Tyler started painting. Tyler started this project a few weeks before we left for Christmas, so many of his nights after work were spent painting. The process was long, as the painting was very detailed and precise. Before we left for Christmas Tyler also built the frame for the sign. He cut and prepped all the pieces so that we could load them in the car and it could be assembled once we arrived in Joplin.
It was while in Joplin that the final details all came together. Tyler finished the painting. I even helped a little too, ha! ;) Not on the detailed stuff, of course. But I did help fill in all the large black areas to make sure everything was solid. Tyler's sister stained the frame once we got there and once it was stained Tyler assembled it. Between his mom's place and my  mom's place it all came together.
That seemed like a short synopsis of the process, but you get the idea, right? ;) Even though I didn't paint it or build it, I still feel like I was a part of it. Tyler is always coming up with and creating great pieces of art. I think it's so cool, I wish I could create like he does. He always tells me I can and I know he's right. It would just take lots of practice and lots of  hard work. Tyler just makes it look so easy. Have you or any of your friends tackled a project like this? What was your favorite part? How did it inspire you? xoxo. Samantha

January 20, 2016

WARM UP YOUR SPACE & INSPIRE CREATIVITY

When we returned from our holiday travels it was time to take down our Christmas decorations. In previous years I've kept them up nearly until February, but this year they came down a few weekends ago. I knew once our Christmas decorations came down that our home might feel a little cold and less cozy.

The weekend we took down our Christmas decorations I set out to add a little warm and wintery greens to our inside space. I was interested in adding this wintery greenery on the cheap so I headed outside. Before we left for Christmas Tyler had trimmed a few trees and all the trimmings were still outside. I knew that would be a great place to start. Tyler and I headed outside and I grabbed a few of my favorite pieces. Once I was back inside it was time to create some greenery to hang in our space.

I knew warming up the space would be inspiring and I was hoping it would spire on some creativity. My creativity felt rather zapped before the holidays and I've been looking forward to creating again. Adding greenery to the house was a great start and it definitely helped. Our space may be small, but I managed to hang some greenery just about everywhere, ha! I hung a little above the window of our office space, I hung a few pieces on our closet doors, and I hung a few pieces over one of our front windows.
With the added greenery I thought it might be fun to create a new center piece. Because our space is small I'm always looking for new ways to spruce things up. I gathered a few items from around the house and they all came together nicely.
With eight weeks left of winter I knew that warming up our space would really help and it definitely inspired creativity, which I was hoping for. In any field we all go through different moments of slumps in creativity and finding new ways to ignite that creativity are always welcomed. How are you warming up you space this winter? How are you finding inspiration? xoxo. Samantha

P.S. Because our greenery was real and from outdoors it didn't last that long, ha! We had little green things all over the house. ;)

January 18, 2016

A BEGINNERS GUIDE TO THEIR FIRST PHOTO SESSION + A FREE DOWNLOAD!

Alright, let's get it all out there. Photography sessions can be really tough. And if it's your first photo session you may be wondering where to start. My very first photo sessions where done with some of my closets friends. Shooting with close friends definitely makes those first few sessions easier. They  know you're learning, they're willing and gracious, and for the most part, their up for anything.

Recently, I had a friend ask, "how do you start taking pictures of other people?!" I chatted a little bit about my processes and we decided it would be great to share in a post. My process has changed and developed over time. Before I share my process I want you to remember that important component.  Your process and style with develop over time and as long as you're willing to learn, you will continue to get stronger.
GET TO KNOW THE CLIENT
Before I start any session I spend time talking with the couple I'm shooting. I'll ask them their favorite things to do together, their favorite activities, and I'll ask them what things make them "them".  The answers will always be different depending on the couple, but my goal is to capture who they are. My goal is to capture the real moments that unfold between them.

SCOUT YOUR LOCATION
Determine where your session is taking place. Does the couple or client have a specific place they would like to shoot? Are you shooting in multiple locations? Are any of the locations your shooting in distracting. Before you start shooting go to your location and take a few test shots. I have ended photo sessions, gone home, uploaded my photos and then found half of my photos full of distractions because I didn't properly scout my location. Don't let this happen to you. ;)

PLAN FOR TIMING 
Timing is crucial, as it will determine your lighting and we all want good lighting. Determine the best time to start shooting so you have plenty of time. If you're shooting during the magic hour remember that you'll need plenty of time before the sun goes down. And remember that once the sun goes down you'll only have a short time before you run out of light.
*DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE CHECKLIST HERE*

SKETCH YOUR POSES
Know what and how you want to shoot before you arrive. Prior to the actual shoot, I'll gather inspiration and make sure I have a list of poses I want to accomplish. I'll sketch out different poses I want to try and I'll save a few images of poses I want to try to.

TAKE THE TESTS SHOTS
Test shots not only allow you to achieve the best settings, but they allow you and your client(s) to get comfortable shooting together.

LET THE MOMENTS UNFOLD
I prefer to capture moments as they unfold. During my test shots I'll put the couple in a place I want to capture them. As I take my test shots often times the couple will become more comfortable. They get used to me walking around them taking photos, and they get used to the snap of the shutter. For causal sessions, that don't include any types of props, I work on capturing impromptu, intimate moments. I'll give them a scenario and then direct them through it, while the moments unfold. Their personalities will unfold in the photos, without having to overly pose them. That is what I like the most.  I do slight adjustments, through each photo, like having them move their arm or slightly adjust their body.

PREPARE FOR PROPS
Props can be really fun, but they can also be a little over whelming. Make sure you know what props you'll be using or what props your clients will be bringing. If you already have an idea of what types of props you'll be working with you'll already have a vision and things will unfold more naturally.
THE IMPERFECT PHOTO 
Guys, I wanted to chat a little bit about what one may consider an imperfect photo. Below is a photo, one, that for me, seems a little imperfect. Can you tell why I might think it's imperfect? ... The feet. I cut out their feet. For my own personal preference this photo would have been "perfect" if I would have captured their feet in there too. But here's the deal. I didn't capture the feet and I still like the photo. So, even though I might think it's imperfect, it's still a great photo. :)

Alright friends, I hope this was helpful for any of you who may be tackling your first photo session. And don't forget your free download, a beginners guide checklist. :) xoxo. Samantha

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