A cowboy, two ballerinas and a heartbreaker | Children

I usually post my sneak peeks on Facebook, but I decided to try something different for this session and post them on my blog. The best thing about posting photos on the blog is that the quality doesn't suffer like it sometimes does on Facebook. But don't worry, I'll still be posting lots of photos on my fan page!

This kids were a ton of fun to photograph! Their awesome mom brought along all kinds of different outfits to play dress up and I got to use some of my props too. I was able to really see their personalities; the girls dressed up in their dance clothes and the oldest brother as the cowboy of the family. Even though the littlest guy wasn't too excited about having his picture taken, I managed to catch a few smiles and boy he is gonna break some hearts when he gets older! What a cutie :)

Here are just a few of my favourites from the session. Man, sometimes it's hard to pick my favourites! Enjoy!

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The almost a year in business and 350 fans GIVEAWAY!

The time is finally here! This is where you will find all the details about my 350 Fan Giveaway!

I have been in business for almost a year and it's been quite a ride. I have met some awesome clients, many of whom have become friends. I've had the opportunity to take some beautiful photos and it has been so rewarding. There is nothing better than seeing your photos displayed with pride on someone else's wall. I have reached 350 fans, which for me is a great milestone, but I hope that number keeps growing!

So as a thank you to my amazing clients, friends and fans, along with two of my favourite local businesses, I am giving away some pretty sweet prizes to one lucky winner!

The giveaway will end at midnight on Friday, March 9th, 2012. To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter form at the bottom of this post. You are required to "like" all three Facebook fan pages. The other steps are optional but by completing them you'll get more chances to win. It's super easy! Check out these great prizes!

  • First, you can win a FREE photo session with moi! All you have to to do is show up and I will take your picture! And you have the option to purchase prints and/or digital files after your session.
  • Next, I'm including one of my favourite products, two custom designed 3x3 mini accordion books. I have several templates you can choose from to show off your favourite photos from your session. You'll get one to keep and one to share with a friend or family member (or give them both away if you choose!) They are perfect for carrying around in your purse or displaying in your home!
  • I have had the pleasure of working with the amazing Sweet Peas & Honey Bees Boutique, a local business started by a Rosetown stay-at-home mom offering beautiful custom home decor like name block sets, photo props, holiday decor and much more. I am giving away a $20 store credit for you to purchase anything you want from her little boutique!
  • Finally, Jellybean Accessories is another business I have worked with. It was started by another stay-at-home mom and I am absolutely in love with her adorable crocheted hats and handmade hair accessories. I am giving away a 6-12 month size crocheted Baby Monkey Beanie in light green and light pink soft, satin yarn, as shown below.

3x3 Mini Accordion Book

Just a few samples of custom block sets created by Sweet Peas & Honey Bees Boutique.
 Crocheted baby monkey beanie in light green and light pink soft, satin yarn, from Jellybean Accessories.

To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Complete all the mandatory steps and complete additional steps for extra entries. MAKE SURE YOU FILL OUT ALL THE INFORMATION REQUIRED TO COMPLETE THE STEPS. I WILL BE CHECKING TO MAKE SURE YOU DID EACH STEP (IE SHARING ON FACEBOOK AND PINNING MY BLOG ON PINTEREST) YOUR ENTRY WON'T COUNT IF I CAN'T CONFIRM. Also, have a look at the Terms and Conditions for important information. Thank you so much for visiting and good luck!

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Fabulous new product - custom frames!

As a relatively new business I am always looking for new things I can offer potential and current clients. I already have the photos covered, but there is so much more to photography than just the images. Once your session is complete, you have to consider how you want to preserve and display those pictures (cause what's the point of having photos if you never get to look at them, right?)

So.... I found the most a-ma-zing frames that will display your photos and look absolutely beautiful in your home! These frames are custom, handmade and Canadian, so of course I am already in love before I've even seen them in person.

They come in eight designs, 22 colours and in five storyboard variations. You can choose between a glare-free acrylic insert or a chalkboard insert. Is that cool, or what? Plus, if you order frames through me I will include your choice of prints to fill them. I will have a colour swatch sampler and I can even show you what your photos will look like in the design and colour you want. There is guaranteed to be something that will match your home decor!

I have already ordered some studio samples to show off, and I am so excited to get them (and when I do, I will be posting photos for you to see of course!) For now, here are just some of the designs and colours. I'm in love and I know you will be too!

Display your family photos!

So many pretty colours to choose from

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My small business has big aspirations

So I am going to be completely honest, business has been slow so far this year. I wasn't really surprised, as I understand that Christmas took its toll on people, the winter blues have set in and people don't really want to go outside much. So I've used this time to work on marketing myself and my little business.

As I revamped my prices, looked into offering new products to my clients and researched the industry, I learned a lot. So many people have ventured into the business of photography that it's hard to put yourself out there as someone offering a special, unique and high quality product. At this point, I can't spend thousands of dollars on advertising and marketing, so I have to find other ways to make myself known.

The best form of advertising any small business - especially a small town business - can use is word of mouth. When I first started this business I told my new mom and tot playgroup friends about it, and many of them became my first clients. I put posters around town, and I started my Facebook page and told people to spread the word. I had a booth at the Rosetown Business Garage Sale and I hand out business cards to new people I meet. And now that I have acquired a portfolio of past work, I think that is a big part of why people want to book a photo session or wedding with me as well.

The biggest thing I have learned through this adventure of owning my own business is how important supporting local businesses is. I always kind of knew that and I always tried to shop locally before, but now because I AM a small business owner, I see what it really means. You can go to the city to to do your shopping or have photos taken (and believe me, I know that sometimes it's the best option), but you get so much more by supporting a local business than you do from those places.

Your business means I can help support my family by doing what I love. Because it holds such high stakes for me, I want to put everything I can into your photos. I put hours into ensuring that you have a good experience before, during and after your session. I want to create an experience you will remember and products that you love, because I want you to spread the word about me so I can do the same for other people too. And because I love seeing how happy beautiful photos can make people :)

Since becoming a small business owner, I have tried to connect with others as well. I have worked with Jellybean Accessories (handmade crocheted hats and sweet hair accessories) and Sweet Peas & Honey Bees Boutique (amazing handmade home decor, block sets and photo props) to photograph some of their products and we help each other out by promoting each other on our Facebook pages. It makes me feel good to help out other local businesses because I am one too.

So whenever you have a choice between shopping locally or not, really consider where your money is going and what you will get out of it. I can promise you that if you go with the small business, you will get a lot more than just a product or service. I put a lot of heart into what I do, and I'm sure other small business owners do too.

Newborn cocoon by Jellybean Accessories

Baby girl block set photo props by Sweet Peas & Honey Bees Boutique

Love home decor block set by Sweet Peas & Honey Bees Boutique

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Where did that obsession with photography come from, anyway?

I wrote this blog post late last night. It turns out I do my best writing at night. Actually, I do my best thinking at night and thinking often turns into writing for me. Before I pursued photography professionally, my first love was writing. As a youth, I spent many hours in my room writing stories, poetry and spilling my teenage woes in the pages of my diary. It was an outlet for me and it was the only thing I felt I was really good at.

My passion for writing turned out to be good for me because I went to journalism school and ended up working at a newspaper for three years.

Somewhere through all of that I fell in love with photography. Again. It was always something I loved, but back when you had to wait a week or more for your film to be developed before you could see your photos, I did it only as a way to preserve precious memories of myself and my friends.

The first time I had a camera in my hands and an entire roll of film to do with as I pleased, was on a grade six field trip. I took an awesome photo of my teachers ... their heads were all cropped off. After that, despite my terrible composition skills, I took my camera everywhere and the result was several photo albums filled with forever entertaining photos.

I didn't begin taking pictures creatively until, well, working at the newspaper I guess. I was always looking for new angles and interesting shots. Suddenly, I realized that I loved that search, and I produced some shots I was super proud of. And then, everywhere I went I had my camera. I was taking pictures of everything and everyone again, but this time I was paying attention to the beauty and the emotion, in each shot. I'll be honest, for a long time I lucked into most of the great shots I got. I wouldn't be able to tell you what my ISO was or what aperture I used for any given photo. But I do know that I put something of myself into every photo I took.

Since then I have learned all about camera settings, light and composition. I am still no expert, but I believe that with experience - and lots of reading and experimenting - comes skill and believe me, I have experience. I learn something with every photo I take, and I am continually growing as a photographer. When I look back at old photos I've taken, I often pick them apart. But I also wouldn't change them at all because they are a big part of where and who I am today as a photographer.

Here are a few of my favourite shots from the last few years, most of which do not have people in them because a) it was hard to get my friends to pose for me and b) I was just beginning to see the world through my camera so most of these shots were spontaneous.

P.S. All of these shots are SOOC (Straight out of camera), meaning I have not edited them at all. I hope you like :)

I had a little obsession with taking pictures of flowers. This is probably my all-time favourite one.

Sweet, sweet Jamaica, 2009. What a beautiful place and oh what I would give to go back there and take a million more photos.

The Trussle in Bishop's Falls, Newfoundland. Taken from the car window as we drove under it!
Just another crazy Saskatchewan storm

A scary looking seagull on a southern Alberta beach. I kinda think he's cool.

Not sure how I got roped into going fishing, but I got some good photos out of it...

And then my beautiful daughter, Sofia, came along. My photography has not been the same since. I'm pretty confident that she's the reason I love taking photos of children these days :)

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What makes a great photo and some of the best of me

If you have never been in my home studio (which is also my basement rec room. Talk about making the most of a small space! lol), you wouldn't know that my computer desk is in the corner, and to my left is my display wall. That big wall is where I showcase some of my favourite shots from past photo sessions. It started off pretty small and has grown to be a big source of inspiration for me. I've had the pleasure of shooting some pretty awesome families, and I'm proud to display their photos in my studio.

The most important thing about a great photo is not the composition, the camera settings or the editing. The most important thing is how it makes you feel. I don't present any photos to my clients that I don't feel proud of, but there are some shots that just give me such a good feeling that I have to show them off. So, on that note, here are those shots. Of course my display wall is ever-changing, and with each session I have new favourites so this is in no way the "best" of my work; it's just a sample :)

This is one of the oldest shots on my wall. It was one of my first sessions after starting my business, and to this day I love it. This little guy was hard to pin down. At a year old he was walking and curious about everything around him. But I managed to catch this soft, sweet moment, and I love it.

This is one of those lucky shots that you don't get often. I had the idea in my head, but had no idea if I could pull it off. I'm so happy with the result because it's so much fun!
I'm always looking for moments in between posed shots, and this is one of those moments. Mom and her little guy were walking away, heading towards the playground and I snapped this shot that I am in love with.

Sometimes a simple pose like this says a lot. When you've got a beautiful backdrop, the sun shining through the trees on a gorgeous September day, you don't have to set up much.
This is one of my favourite shots from my first solo wedding. It was my cousin's wedding and she and her new husband were amazing models. It's easy to get photos like this when a couple is so in love :)
This is another amazing mother-son moment. I just love the happiness on both of their faces!
When you have an adorable model, it's so easy to get great shots like this one. I'm always trying to get kids to laugh so I can see that genuine grin on their face. So much fun!

You may have seen this photo around (like on my website, on posters around town etc). This has to be one of my all-time favourite photos that I've taken. I love the angle, the focus, the catchlights in that sweet little girls' big brown eyes. Actually, this whole session was awesome because this sweetie sat and smiled at me the whole time. If only all kids would do that! Ha ha!

So I guess it seems like I have a thing for mommy-son shots. Here's another one that I absolutely adore. I shot my husband's cousin and her little boy while I was visiting Newfoundland last fall. I just love the colours and details that make this moment so special.

This shot was taken at one of my favourite locations. There is so much you can do with a great backdrop like this! All the leaves, the trees and an adorable little girl make it the perfect picture.

I have done only two maternity sessions, and I have to say it is one of my favourite kinds of session to do. This one was extra special because we got to do indoor and outdoor shots. I love this one because mommy is just glowing! That's something you definitely don't have to edit!
And of course I have to have a photo of my own little girl on my wall. This shot was actually a test shot using my new backdrop. I love it because it really shows her personality. I have this one framed as an 8x12 because if I had printing an 8x10 I would have lost some of the shot through the crop. I use it to show how important it is to consider cropping when you order prints

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So I finally decided to jump on the blog bandwagon! I've had blogs before, but this one is going to be different. This will be a place for my clients and fans of Jennifer Blake Photography to check in and see what I've been up to, and of course to see photo updates (and trust me, the photo quality will be much better on my blog compared to Facebook book!) This blog will be a place that I can connect with people, showcase my work and talk about what's happening in my world and in the photography world. I may not post every day, but I will try to pop in as much as possible.

So for my first post, I want to highlight one of my products. I started offering professional printing for my clients in 2012, and I want to show some samples of what I can provide. Mounting your prints is something you can have done to preserve them and showcase them beautifully. I ordered an 11x14 of one of my favourite shots from a recent session, and I am so in love with how it turned out!

I hope you will come back often to see what I'm up to! It may not always be thrilling but I promise to try to make it interesting :)
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