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Thursday, April 28, 2011

{Live, Laugh, Photograph} Finding the Light {Guest Blog}

Ashley Hugghins is a portrait photographer located 30 miles east of Atlanta. She began shooting weddings 5 years ago, but began her portrait business last year. She specializes in kids, but recently expanded to include maternity and newborns. She loves to shoot on location, but will occassionally use her natural light home studio for teeny ones. "I love to make my blog not just about my photography, but helpful tips about shooting. Since my main clientele is moms, I write many posts about my adventures raising my two boys and how to take better photos of them. My readers can relate and I feel good helping them out a bit!"

{Live, Laugh, Photograph} Finding the Light

This installment in the series will teach you a bit about how to use light. We learned in a previous post about how to use our camera to control the light, but how do we use that to our advantage? I never recommend using your pop up flash. Use it as a last resort only, but in this lesson, you'll learn how to avoid it in the first place.

This post will focus on finding available light. These are all simple snapshots that anyone can do.
First, and most obviously, shoot outdoors. If you can plan where to shoot, opt for outside where light is plentiful and surrounds your subject. Having said that, there can be too much of a good thing. You never want your subject facing direct, midday sun. Your result will be a squinty, shadowed face like this:

Instead, try and shoot 1 hour after sunrise (yeah right!) or one to two hours before sundown. In the summer, I shoot as late as 8:30pm. The light turns an orangy red and is simply to die for

If changing time of day is not an option, find a shady spot that still gets a bit of filtered sunlight

Or, try turning your subject around so that you are the one facing the sun. Not only will they not be squinting, but you will get a beautiful natural hair light

And just because the sun goes MIA, it doesn't mean you have to call it a day- clouds are nature's light diffusers. Shooting during a overcast day has many advantages, including being able to shoot wherever you want withour fear of harsh lighting. If you can, set your camera to the "cloudy" mode to counteract some of the blue cast

Ok, so let's pretend that shooting outdoors is not an option. What do you do then? Find that outside light! This is why God invented windows. I adore window light. There is something so classic about an image shot with window light spilling on a little one

Sometimes, you catch them at just the right moment and are able to use the light to illuminate their profile.

Another thing to keep in mind is to go where the light is. It may not be obvious from one perspective, so try moving around a bit. You might find that perfect shot

Here, I got down real low instead of shooting overhead. From this perspective, the light is falling across his sweet little face

Sometimes, you are forced to shoot with a window behind the subject. No problem, just make sure you are exposing for the subject, not the window. In this case, there is a huge window behind the boys, but it fills the entire room with light, so there is enough to illuminate their faces while creating a gorgeous effect behind them

You can even use artificial light when needed. Here, I used our fluorescent kitchen light by changing my settings to color balance the green light. (If you can't do this, you can always change it to a black and white in a pinch)

Here, the only light in the room was our living room lamp.

Not sure if the light you are using will be good light? Check your subject's eyes. Those little flecks of light, known as catch lights, give life to your subject. You also want to make sure your subject is facing the light source.

So let's turn him around 180 degrees, shall we? See the difference?

So now you know a few tricks to help you next time you are caught in less than ideal shooting situations! Try experimenting with the light around your house, you'd be surprised at the types of images you can create!

Got a question? Suggestion for a topic? You can post a comment below or email me at

Happy snappin!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Vroom, vroom

What am I wishing for on this "wishful Wednesday"?
A new car!  I've recently started working at Monken's Car Dealership in Centralia & I can't help but fall in love with the Nissan Rogue.  Love it!  Maybe someday I'll use my employee discount & buy me one!  I deserve it, right?  ;)

p.s. have you ever noticed how most car photography is pretty puny? Excited to see what Monken comes up with to spice up their car photos!  There is talk of giant backgrounds & lights for a more marketable photo.

Rachel King
Monken Customer Care

(that's my work signature at the dealership :) we're working on getting me a suitable head shot to put with it!)

Monday, April 25, 2011

E-sessions, gotta love 'em! (& catch a link for a FREE PS action!)

Here are a few of my latest engagement session photos.  I love working with such amazing clients.  These two were SO much fun.  I am so happy for them & their lifelong devotion to each other!  They are getting married on my husband and I's one year anniversary weekend, aww!  :)

Final Edit - I used Photoshop and a new free action from MCP!

After Color Correction/Tonal Edits in Lightroom

SOOC (Straight out of Camera)
Photos copyrighted R&G Photography - Please do not copy!

Thanks for reading!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Seeing God in the Tragedy

Frantically, my father-in-law grabbed his wife and they stepped out just in time not to be crushed by the tree that would soon take their home.  Sitting in their truck during the remainder of the storm - Shirley (my mother in law) called my husband and I, but cell towers were out - and all I could hear was my mother in law crying, "Disaster... hole in the wall... it's horrible... ..."  Unsure of what had happened or if everyone was okay - I ran to the basement to take shelter & called my parents.. they got a hold of Garren's parents & relayed the jumbled mess to me.  We left immediately.

When we got there is was much worse than we had anticipated.  The tree had landed on the home and crashed through the bed where not minutes before Roger (my father in law) was sleeping.  Thank God he heard it coming and ran - or he would not have survived.  Both Roger and Shirley are untouched by the storm, but after watching their house be destroyed by the storm - they were very shook up.  Garren and I brought them back to our house to stay - since they didn't have a home to return to.  We discussed what should be the next step and spent a very restless night anticipating the next day. 

We still don't know all the details for sure, but most likely the entire home will be demolished & they we have to rebuild from scratch.  State Farm insurance should cover the expenses.  Hallelujah for insurance. They have paid into it for 30+ years.. the definitely deserve to be taken care of.

Please pray for them and remember you never know what could happen - be prepared.  (Scout's motto :))

After going through all this - this song by Santus Real really touched me - heard it yesterday on our local Christian radio station WIBI.  You can listen to WIBI on-line, even if you're not in IL!

Thanks for the prayers & kindness,

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Where’d You Learn That?

Please welcome Molly Denson of Simply M Photography
She is a Family and Portrait Photographer from Middle Tennessee, 
lover of peanut butter M &M's and oldies music.
Where’d You Learn That?

I was recently asked how I’ve learned photography – what resources did I
use? Did someone teach me? Did I magically wake up one day and know my way
around Photoshop, marketing, and shooting in Manual? (Answer: Heck no!)
Though I am still learning new things basically every week, I want to
share my favorite “learning” places. I hope they can help you, too!

1 – Twitter. Though it’s the perfect place to read up on what your
favorite celebrities are eating for lunch, it’s also one of the most
valuable sites to learn about everything photography. Depending on who you
“follow”, you can easily be connected to blogs discussing that lighting
trick you’ve been trying to master, contests to win a coveted workshop
seat, and photography sites for creative inspiration. Almost every day, I
find a link on Twitter that teaches me something completely new, or helps
me brush up on the basics. If you don’t have an account, and you’re into
photography, I highly recommend getting one. Follow me, too! @SimplyMPhoto

2 – CreativeLive. This site is simply a can’t-miss if you’re trying to
learn the business. I came across it through, you guessed it, Twitter!
It’s a “creative classroom”, offering many free webinars every month. At
times, you can enter to win a seat to these great events – a friend just
did and said it was an amazing experience! I’ve recently watched Bambi
Cantrell discuss posing, and I can’t wait to hear Zack Arias on the
“Foundations of a Working Photographer” at the end of this month! Check it

3 – Go{4}Pro. I am in love with this page and the encouraging message they
send out. They discuss a little of everything for those wanting to “Go
Pro” in photography, as well as those seasoned professionals just looking
for new ideas. You can learn about effective branding (Leah Remillet, the
founder and creator, does some beautiful designing), budgeting, finding
your style, and drooling over others’ studios – a favorite pastime of
mine! If you need an uplifting place to find your way through the business
side of the field, this is it. Here is the link: 
4 – “Meet Up” Groups. We live in the most “connected” century to date!
It’s easier than ever to find other like-minded people and talk shop.
Facebook has been the perfect place for me to join local interest groups
and meet other photographers. Pictage User Group (PUG) is a great
country-wide one; I locally enjoy Fast Track Nashville and SmugMug. These
all meet at least once a month and bring together local photographers to
discuss a certain topic of interest...but it’s fun to get off track, too!
Perfect for networking and making new friends that join you in swooning
over the new 85mm 1.4 lens you just bought. Here’s a link to get you

5 – Good old fashioned, seriously! The library is a fantastic
resource you may have forgotten about. Find your local branch, get a card,
and go peruse until your heart’s content. You may want to have some topics
in mind to ask the librarian about, in case the fact that all this
wonderful info is completely FREE becomes a little overwhelming 

Thank you for reading my first guest post! What are your favorite
photography resources? I’d love to hear!

                     Molly Denson
                     Simply M Photography

Like me:

Follow me:!/SimplyMPhoto

Read all about it:

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Ways to make an extra buck

Rummage laying around?  Sell it!  

We're having our first yard sale together at our new home and I am kind of giddy about it!  I'm not too hard to get excited, I guess! :)  It's fun going through all of my things & picking out things that I might be able to sell and make a few extra dollars on! 

(Local?  Come see our loot by our house Saturday April 30th!  It's the big yellow one behind Casey's!)

Edit before facebook.

Okay, okay - I'm guilty of this FAR too often!  I know that if I prioritized my work load over my "marketing" (glorified way of saying facebooking) - then I would get triple the work done. :) Thus, making more money!

Set appropriate prices.

I have a hard time setting my prices as high as they should be because I often think that my client will see it as "too high" - but the truth is, when I average out the amount of time I'm spending on the prices I'm charging... I bet I'm making less than minimum wage.  Would my clients REALLY think that paying me $5 an hour be an okay price?  Doubtful.  Now I haven't sat down and figured exactly how much time per money made - but I betcha I'm not too far off!  (and if I took the time to calculate it.. it's less time I could be blogging, editing, or marketing - and time is money! ;))

Cut coupons

There are some great resources out there for saving money.. It's not hard to save $10 or more on a grocery bill!  Try for starters.

There are also several facebook groups out there:

And of course the Sunday paper always has them!  I find the best deals at Walgreens!  I've been dying to go to Shnucks and get double worth out of my coupons!

Help a friend (or enemy) in need

What goes around comes around.  I truly believe that if you are selfless - it will come back to you in the most needed way possible.  :)  My husband and I strive to be strong Christians & we know that when we give our all - God provides.  This might not be a way to "make a buck" - but it certainly won't loose any bucks! 

Hope you're having a wonderful Tuesday & please comment if you enjoy reading!


Monday, April 18, 2011

Just some fun photos of the two of us!  I'm getting all my hair chopped off tomorrow, so I won't be able to swing it all around anymore, too bad!! ;)

It's Monday.  Enough said!

:) Night all!


Friday, April 15, 2011

Have you heard of Zulily?

Interested in getting amazing props and outfits at OUTRAGEOUSLY cheap prices?

As a photographer and being the thrifty kind of gal I am, I'm always on the hunt for good deals on products related to my business.  I recently started seeing ADs for Zulily, but wasn't confident about just buying from just any old vendor... Then just a few days ago a fellow photographer friend of mine (DT Photography) posted about a pettiskirt she'd bought for HALF price from a deal on Zulily... Let's just say my wallet is weak when it comes to this site... I have a hard time not passing up the great deals!  Each morning they email you participating vendors and they offer HUGE discounts on their products.  It's a wonderful idea and a great marketing tool for these vendors.

If you are a photographer, mom, grandma, or just someone who LOVES shopping - you need to check out Zulily!

p.s. if you use this link: 
We get $15 for referring you!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Who doesn't love a good prop!?

Please welcome our guest blogger this week Gabby Orcutt of Monroe Files Photography!  Her and I have a LOT in common when it comes to props - I think you will enjoy this!

I LOVE props! Props can make or break a great image. You just have to know when to use them correctly. Today I'm going to focus on prop inspiration. If anyone knows me well, they know I can't walk through any store without eying items and questioning whether or not a newborn would fit in this or that item or finding matching hats for twins and the list goes on and on! Talk about having photography on the brain!

Here are a few of my favorite places to find props. The more unique the better in my opinion!

Ross Dress for Less. You NEVER know what you are going to find! It's the ultimate yard sale. The price is almost always right and if you pass it up you can bet it won't be there the next time you come back! The hat boxes are the cutest, they have great soft squishy blankets for newborns and the lawn ornaments make cute props for the non-baby crowd. I recently found a plastic fruit bowl that looks like a cabbage leaf. SO cute!!

Lowe's. Seriously, you can find the cutest props at Lowe's! I walked through there last night and they have all of their lawn and garden decorations out. Flower pots that look like tea cups, mushrooms, adarondack chairs that hold a favorite was a kid sized wheel borrow! Put a brown fuzzy blanket in there and hang a pair of garden gloves off on side and stick a baby in about adorable! Around Christmas time I found a cute little newborn santa hat with matching bib.

Yard sales. I have found wooden bassinetts, high chairs and numerous other items at yardsales. Price is usually pretty cheap and you can always paint the items to meet your specific style. I have a wooden high chair that needs sanded and painted to use for cake smashes and a small wooden cradle that needs some TLC before a newborn will snuggle up in it.

Antique shops ALWAYS have extremely unique pieces but you will also pay for it. Shop wisely when visiting antique shops. See if you can't make some of the wooden pieces yourself or have a friend make it for you.

Goodwill and other second hand shops you can find props but please be make sure everything cleans up well and is disinfected!

I hope this got your prop wheels turning! I'd love to hear what goodies you find!

Gabby Orcutt

Monroe Files Photography

DuBois, PA


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Wishful Wednesday!

Hey guys! 
I am trying to make my posts before 11:59pm, I promise, but sometimes the days get away from me!!! :)

Anyway, today I'd just like to share with you a little bit of my personal life/goals with you all.  My husband and I met with a financial adviser for the first time tonight - and it was so encouraging to see how our money can be multiplied over the years.  I want peace of mind in that my family will be forever supported by my smart decisions. 

Garren and I have been so blessed, but money in the bank is definitely an area we struggle with!  Knowing this, we decided to make a more conscious effort into getting our emergency fund built up (which will be about 3-6 months combined wages).  We also are trying to make sure our retirement is in place & start building it while we're young.

I often find myself focusing on the debts we have, but our financial adviser tonight was encouraging us by showing us how even with the debt, we can start investing in our future.

We talked about a LOT of future goals, dreams, and plans... it was very exciting to think about our life as a whole and be comforted by the fact that we are doing the right thing by getting our ducks in a row now!

I would love to share more with you, but our meeting ran about 2 hours over what I thought it should tonight - and I really need to catch up on other work!  If you have any questions about getting your retirement in line, please feel free to email me and I can recommend a great company for advisement!


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Ten questions about R&G answered

Top ten things to know before your session with R&G...

1. R&G, what does that mean exactly?

Well, for those of you who don't know my husband and I - our names are Rachel and Garren King.  When I was in college, Garren built me my first website for photography & really sparked my interest in owning my own business!  He has always been a huge supporter of my career and he still helps with web and graphics design a TON!  He also travels with me during the wedding season and assists me during these shoots!

2. How long have you been taking photos?

Honestly, as long as I can remember.  My first digital camera is worn from the massive amounts of photos it has seen.  Professionally, I have been doing photo work for a year.

3. What schooling do you have?

I have a Bachelors in Photojournalsim from SIU Carbondale.  This degree taught me a heap about photography, my camera, people, and I still am continually learning more!

4. What's your favorite type of session?

I really love a good wedding.  I'm constantly finding that each one is SO unique and I love capturing those beautiful moments when the Bride & Groom have their first look.  I also really love photographing babies - sweet little ones are definitely a favorite.  Our studio is equipped with LOTS of props and ideas for young ones, too.

5. Who is your inspiration?

I really look up to a LOT of photographers out there - but just to name a few:
Erin Molly (She is local and a wonderful person if you're looking for a photographer!)
Laura Winslow Photography
Lane Christiansen of Willow Lane Photography
Christi Nelson of Rawsii (she's currently taking a leave of absence, but photos of her beautiful baby girl still makes my news feed on facebook!)
Sarah Petty
Diekemper Photography
Sami Bowden (She was my wedding photographer and is a great friend :))

6. When is the best time for outdoor photos?

One hour before the sun sets - the GOLDEN hour!

7. If you couldn't be a photographer, what would you be?

I can't imagine not shooting, but if I absolutely couldn't... I think I would spend my time with graphics design... which is something I do a lot of now anyway!

8. What do clients wear to your sessions?

Unless it's your wedding day, this is something I get asked a lot!  I tell clients to wear something comfortable that suits your style.  Solid dark colors look great in photos.

9. Where is your studio?

In the front of our home we have a studio and viewing room set up for clients.  We want you to feel at home when you are here and we do our best to make it fun and easy!

10. Where can you find more info about R&G??

Thanks for reading

Friday, April 8, 2011

Favorite Shop Friday: Featuring My Little Lady Loves

My Little Lady Loves participated in my 500 fan giveaway and she has amazed me with her talent!  I'm convinced this girl could make the moon if you asked her to!  She does wonderful custom orders and is one of the most kind hearted young ladies I know!  The name behind the brand?  Siretha Howe!  And I've actually had the pleasure of knowing this talented gal since high school, but we've recently reconnected through our small businesses.  We are learning the tricks of the trade little by little together!  

Siretha and I are going to be working closely in the future.  We are going to be calling out for models ages newborn to 5 years, boys & girls both!  If you have a child who cooperates well for photos & would love to see him or her in Siretha's products along with my photography skills - shoot me an email at  We are looking to launch this soon!

Here are some of her products (as you can see, I'm in dire need of some models! :))

To purchase something from Siretha's Etsy shop, visit it HERE.  She makes anything from tutus and ties to shoes and super bows!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Pet photographer speaks about successfully pricing!

Cost of Goods Sold for the Photographer.
Is your business profitable? Are you sure?
If you don't understand your Cost of Goods sold, you may not be as profitable as you think. If you set your prices without taking the full COGS into account, you could be losing hours, days, even weeks of your time! And you know what they say…time is money!

Understanding your costs can lead to better pricing, which tends to be a difficult area for a lot of photographers (and all types of small business owners). It can also help you see where your money and time are going to you can make better business decisions, such as if/what to outsource, where to cut back, and so on.

Technical mumbo-jumbo
Let’s get the boring stuff out of the way first. According to, cost of goods sold (aka cost of sales) is defined as,
The direct costs attributable to the production of the goods sold by a company. This amount includes the cost of the materials used in creating the good along with the direct labor costs used to produce the good. It excludes indirect expenses such as distribution costs and sales force costs. COGS appears on the income statement and can be deducted from revenue to calculate a company's gross margin.”
Now, hopefully I didn’t lose all of you after all the accounting jargon. Stay with me, it will get better I promise.
Read that last line from above again: “COGS appears on the income statement and can be deducted from revenue to calculate a company's gross margin.”
What that boils down to is as a small business owner, you MUST have a good handle on your Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) to become and remain profitable. Without profit, you have a hobby. (Note: There is nothing wrong with having photography as a hobby, unless you are expecting it to be a business.)
How does this break down for a photography business?
Let's use an easy example: An ordinary print order.

The first part of the formula is pretty obvious: cost of the materials used in creating the good (the print). This would be the price that your lab charges you for that print. Also include any additional options such as luster coating, textures, mounting, etc.
Now, we aren’t quite finished with the cost of materials yet. Do you pay shipping to your lab? All the costs we incur as part of getting the print to us, like shipping fees, retouching fees, and rush charges, are also a part of cost of goods sold. Do your prints get packaged (either by you or your lab) before they are delivered to the client? Make sure to include the costs of those materials as well.
Okay all that sounds harder than it seems. Let’s put some numbers in an example. Let’s say you want to sell a 16x20 print to your client.
Print cost $18
Lab Retouching Fee $ 5
Luster Coating $ 2
Print Mounting $11
Packaging $ 7
Print Shipping $ 4

This example considers material, shipping, and packaging but what about your time? What if your client asks you to design her holiday cards? You need to determine how much your time is worth and set an hourly rate. Just to have a nice round number let’s use $100/hour for design/retouching/editing work. (Note: You will have to figure out what your time is worth to you, as there are many considerations, i.e. time away from your family, other business activities, etc.)

50 double-sided 5x5 flat cards $36
Design template $10
15 minute design time $25
Card shipping $ 4
Packaging $ 5

As you can see, design/retouching time can add a lot of cost to product. But like I said before, if you set your prices without taking the full COGS into account, you could be losing hours, days, even weeks of your time!

Keep in mind, that COGS will be different for every business. As a general rule, COGS should represent 33% (or less) of your price. The other 67% should be split between marketing/admin/other & profit. Again, this is just a general guideline and you should decide what makes sense for your business.

As you can see there's a lot to consider when determining your COGS.  Every dollar you forget is a dollar you don't realize you’re spending.  Understanding your costs allows you to know what you should be outsourcing, if your prices are appropriate, and ultimately if your business is sustainable.

Please note that while I have worked as a cost accountant (for manufacturing companies) for the last 8 years, I am not an attorney or CPA. For professional advice please consult a small business attorney or CPA.
Jessica graduated from SIUC in 2003 with a B.S. in Accounting and has been working as a full-time Cost Accountant ever since. She started Tails of Love Photography & Monarch Tree Photography last year to purse her passion. She lives in Chicago with her husband and pit bull, Maggie.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Local winner for the giveaway is.......

CONGRATULATIONS to "There's Something in the Gravy" (Kyla White's Blog ;))

She is our local winner for our 500 fan giveaway!
 Kyla won R&G Photography's $100 print credit and Sweet Treats' CAKE POPS!! Yum!  

Have a great Wednesday everyone!


Monday, April 4, 2011

Birthday Club Session Edits

Here is an edit from a Birthday Club Session!  Want your kids to get a free photo session the month of their birthday?  Client's age 2-16 are eligible! Email me at rachel@rngphotos and I'll add your kiddos to the list!

Introducing Mr. Jaret Gibson! :)
This one is the finished product!
 This was before I edited it in Lightroom :)

Have a good week all!