Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L USM vs. Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM

Josh and I had a chance to get away from the cold of Bend, Oregon and head to Scottsdale, Arizona for a few days. We didn’t take photos the whole time, since we were trying to get some rest as a recovery from this past season. We did take a few to document our adventure. Plus, we got to take some amazing engagement photos of one our amazing 2019 couples! You can see some behind the scenes photos here. Also, we took some time to do a lens test to see if we will be adding a new little lens to our family. I’m not sure I came to a conclusive decision yet, but it was fun to do a test I can go back to before a I make another huge investment in our gear. All photos taken on the Canon Mark 5D 1V.

I love this fine art cactus photo! I wish had a place to hang it as 6 foot tall print.

I love finding old treasures like these amazing windows hidden behind a parking garage!

Cactus and palm trees… the perfect elements to make a weekend retreat relaxing.

So, this is what we do when arrive early to an engagement session. Yes, it’s my husband taking a photo of me, taking a photo him 🙂

He just can’t resist the classic Zoolander pose!

Why do I look like I’m dancing?? See there full session here:

Lens test!

Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L USM vs. Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM

(Rented lens 35mm vs. lens we have owned for years- 16-35mm.)

I’ve been thinking of adding this 1.4 35mm to our kit for years. I finally got a chance to test it and thought it would be the perfect chance to really compare and see if there is a huge difference between these two lenses, or just the added bonus of a few extra stops (this may be the huge difference).

Obvious difference: the 16-35mm can capture a wider image of the scene. If you need the extra architecture in the frame then having the ability to go wide is a huge benefit of this lens.

Here’s where we get technical…

The images below are a great comparison of the images the camera takes.

Below you will see a group of 4 images. The top 2 images are raw. The bottom two are the edited comparison of the top two images.

The image on the left was taken with the 16-35mm at the 35mm length at an f/2.8, while the one on the right was taken with the 35mm prime lens at f/1.4. The images were taken at ISO 100 at 1/320 sec shutter mid day in open shade.

The image above was taken with the 35mm prime lens. Shutter 1/320, f/1.4, ISO 100.

The 4 images below were taken with shutter 1/320, f/2.8, ISO 100. The images on the left were taken with the 16-35mm and the images on the right were taken with the 35mm prime. Editing settings are the same for all images below.

The image below was taken with the 35mm prime lens. Shutter 1/500, f/1.4, ISO 100.

So there you go. Both lenses are great and provide a good amount of detail.

Pros of 35mm: less distortion, more contrast, better bokeh and separation from the background. Main benefit of the lens is the extra 2 stops of light which is big if you are shooting in low light.

Pros of 16-35mm: Captures wider frame.

Here’s what we do on vacation! This shoe photo is kind of classic for us. When we first started dating we took a photo of our feet at the fair on one of those foot massager things. So we thought we’d do that again 10 years later on our hike.

Thought I’d start sketching again. Can you see why I chose photography over actual art??


Noah + Caleb

I brought my two sons into the studio after photographing some clients. My little one needed a headshot for his passport so I thought we’d have some fun taking photos of both of them. Here’s what we captured in their 10 minute shoot:

Did you know April is C-Section Awareness month?

When I was pregnant, I was told that pushing out my newborn would be so much better for the baby and for me that when it came to a C-Section, I felt like to need this surgery meant I was going to start my adventure as a mom as a failure. I’m sure many moms feel this way. But all mamas should feel proud of the little ones that God made in them. Those 9 months are a hard sacrifice and just because the birth plan changed, doesn’t mean you failed.

Here’s my story…

At 41 weeks I went to the doctor for a check up and was placed on the baby heart monitor machine. After an hour they said that they didn’t like the way it looked and they wanted to get the baby out. The doctor didn’t think it was super urgent to get him out, so they said I could be induced.

I called my husband and told him what was happening and that he needed to leave work and get to the hospital. All by myself, without my birthing bag or a support person, I had to start the induction. Josh got there as fast as possible, but it seemed like forever for me.

They tried every possible way to get labor started, but nothing worked. Eventually they had to pry me open to 4cm! By then, we were told that the hospital was so packed that if we wanted an epidural we had to get it then because they wouldn’t have time to come back.

After the pain I already went through, you better believe I wanted the drugs. The problem was that once you get the epidural you have to stay in bed because your legs don’t work. I had already been in bed the whole time due to the other things they had to do so my kid never had a chance to naturally get into the correct birthing position.

More than 12 hours later (and after being cut off of the drugs) I finally got to 10cm and was told to push. I pushed and pushed and pushed and pushed for 1 hour and 45 minutes. I pushed one more time and a dislocated a rib (it was a bike injury that wasn’t totally healed). The rib started pushing into my lunges to the point that I couldn’t breathe.

I had no choice but to give up.

The doctor was going to cut me off at 2 hours of pushing anyway, but I felt like I failed not lasting at least that long, on top of failing for not getting the kid out. I was rushed into the emergency c-section. My temperature was at 104 and my body was shaking with chills. They laid me on the operating table and had to place 3 warming blankets on me just to get my body to stop shaking. I was all alone with bright lights in my face, my body freaking out, my husband was gone and no one telling me what was happening.

I think at that point they let Josh in. I was a bit delusional at this point from all the hard work of pushing and the fever. The doctors cut into me and the baby was pulled out. I was so out of it that the doctor had to ask if I wanted to see my baby or not. Well, yes! They showed me his face and I passed out.

My sweet husband waiting patiently as they take me away.
This is the first moment I saw my son before I passed out. This is my favorite photo that Josh captured because it truly is the one real memory that was burned into my brain that day.
Caleb getting measured. His mushed little head is all bruised up.

I was out for 2 hours. When I woke up, I saw the sweetest thing: my husband doing skin to skin with my tiny newborn baby, but I had missed the first 2 hours of his life. Also, I was in a hallway in the hospital with other people just walking by (it really was over-crowded). Once I woke up they wanted me to try feeding the baby… in the hallway, with other people around. It was awkward.

We finally go into a teeny tiny recovery room where would be for a few days. We found out that Caleb had gotten the umbilical cord wrapped up around his shoulder and it was preventing him from being able to be pushed out. Had I not gotten the epidural so soon I may have been able to move around enough to get the cord to be out of the way.

Caleb had a ton of bruising on his head from all the pushing, so much in fact that he could not wear the little newborn beanies because he was in too much pain. Because of this, he lost a lot of heat and had to be held skin to skin constantly to regulate his temp. So Josh and I basically passed him back and forth doing skin to skin while the other tried to sleep. Caleb cried for 3 days straight from the pain of the birthing process. Had we gone straight to the c-section he would have been better off.

My body failed me in ways, my doctors certainly failed me that day, but our baby survived the birth and so did I.

When it was time to have Noah, my body failed me once again and I did not go into labor. They couldn’t induce this time so we had a scheduled c-section. Noah was pulled out and placed on my chest. It was a totally different experience.

With Caleb, I was frustrated that my body failed me and I felt like I made the wrong decisions that led to the c-section. I felt like I failed myself and my family since they had to help me with the baby during the first couple weeks while my husband went back to work and I struggled to recover (walk again). It took months to recover and I was totally jealous of my friends who were out running and excising just a few weeks after having their babies.

After talking to other moms about their births I would say, “I’m so sorry you had to get a c-section too. I know how much it sucks!” Basically making other mamas feel as bad as I did that we failed to give birth the right way. It’s not okay for any of us to think of a c-section as a lesser way to give birth. It just is what it is.

After doing it all again with Noah, I know that it doesn’t matter how they get into the world. I didn’t fail anything. Even though my body didn’t do what it was designed to do, I feel incredibly grateful to live in an age where my two babies and I could survive this process. It’s possible that without modern technology non of us would be here today. Caleb’s birth wasn’t what I wanted or expected, but who cares? My body (and God) made a tiny human and that’s pretty awesome!

I would encourage other mamas to share their c-section experiences and feel proud of what they went through to bring their kids into the world!

Happy Fall from my family to yours!

I love taking the kids out for fall fun. I love it even more when my amazing husband takes the kids out while I photograph other families, although I did miss out on the pumpkin picking. Here are photos from our five minute fall photo session at the Smith Rock pumpkin patch.


Do you want to learn how to get great images of your kids in five minutes? Check out my Moms with Cameras Workshop where you learn how to use your camera and take awesome photos of your kids!

Thank you to John Gross for taking photos of my family and to my husband Josh for taking the other maternity photos of me. I can’t wait to have this little guy!

We used these photo from our fall photoshoot with our baby Caleb for a calendar that we gave to all the aunts and grandparents for Christmas. April is my favorite month. He looks just like his daddy!

This was an amazing trip with our family all around the Caribbean and Key West, Florida. These islands are a beautiful place to get married.

5 Steps to Taking a Great Headshot Portrait of  Your Kid

I love photographing my kid! As a family, we try to find fun new ways to spend time together on rainy days and this day was no exception. While the rain was falling I opened up the garage, set up a backdrop and created a fun place for my son to play while I photographed him. Here are my tips for how you can take great photos of you kids at home too.

  1. A great headshot starts with a great looking child. Make sure your kid is well dressed and groomed. Try to choose clothing that has simple patterns and no large graphics that will distract from the child’s face. Make sure the outfit fits your child well too.
  2. Choose a non-distracting backdrop. It doesn’t have to be a studio backdrop, just something simple and clean. A fence, wall or even a sheet can work great.
  3. Look for clean lighting. Try shooting in shade to minimize the shadows on the child’s face.
  4. To get the child to look at the camera have someone hold an iPhone or mirror next to the camera so the child can see him or herself. This will usually make the child smile too. To get kids to stand still I usually give them something to play with. Try to find something small that goes with the scene. I like leaves and flowers; they are small and non-distracting.
  5. Make sure to get a great closeup shot as well as a full body shot.

I love photographing nature. These images are from our family camping trip in Central Oregon. It’s always fun to get some portraits while out too, instead of just focusing on the nature around us. I love these images of my son Caleb.  I teach a travel photography workshop. Please contact me if you are interested in the class.

Saturday we went to the farmers market in town and had a blast working on this color project. This is a great photo project to see things in a new way – just based on color. It helps kids learn and identify colors around them too. This entire project was done using my iPhone. Learn more fun photo projects and photo tips at the Moms With Cameras workshop.

Every family needs a great portrait to remember the years gone by, especially when the kid are young. This year we went out to a park in Paso Robles with Josh’s sister to take our photos. It was freezing and poor Caleb cried the whole time, but we were still able to take some amazing family portraits. Josh’s sister is not a photographer, but I helped pose us and guide her through taking the photos. With just a little guidance and some retouching the photos came out great.

Let me know if you want to learn how to take great portraits of your family. I’ll be teaching classes starting in 2013.

This year I had fun making gifts for my husband, Josh, on his first Father’s Day, as well as for my own parent’s.

At Christmas, Josh’s cousin gave us a gift wrapped in an old English newspaper. Josh and I both thought it was pretty cool, but I didn’t think it was worth saving. As I went to throw the newspaper away, Josh stopped me and said I should save it, maybe it would be a good matte for a picture frame. So, when I went to Micheals about a month ago and ran across a DIY frame kit the idea came to me. I used the DIY frame, the old newspaper and a lot of love to make his Father’s Day gift this year. Here’s how:

 What you need: DIY photo frame kit, wood letters, black paint, paint brush sheet of newspaper, hot glue gun, glue stick, photograph.

To make the frame, I started by painting the sides of the frame and the letters black. Then I glued the newspaper to the wood using a glue stick. Once this glue dried, I trimmed off the excess newspaper. Using the hot glue gun, I put the letters in place. Here’s the tricky part: I had to get Caleb to fall into a deep sleep. I put a medium amount of paint on the bottom of his foot and then pressed it onto the frame. The key is to get enough paint that it will transfer to the frame before drying, but not so much that you lose the details of his tiny foot. After that paint dried I just added the photo and a little had written note on the back. Super easy and cute!

For my mom I made signature tequila with accessories. To do this, I needed tequila, limes, a jar for my mom’s favorite salt and sugar mix and of course, agave nectar. I started by laying my son on his back on a white blanket and photographing him while he made silly faces at Josh. I cropped the photos tight around his face to use as the main logo for the tequila. Then I used Photoshop to layout the design for the labels. Once I printed them out, I simply cut the labels to size and taped them to the bottles. My mom loved her personalized margarita kit!

For my dad, I made an awesome flip-book with images on both sides. He’s been asking for a new wallet size photo of us that he can carry around so he can show off his new grandson. Now he has 10 wallet photos to show off!

If you have had a baby then you know that the stork really doesn’t drop them off at your doorstep. You did the hard work of carrying your little one around in your belly for nine months!

My maternity leave is finally over. While I’m happy to be back to work, I couldn’t help reminiscing about the last few months and all that lead up to having my baby.

During my 8th month of pregnancy I did what most expecting mothers do: I decided to take maternity portraits. And like most mamas, I too was concerned about showing off parts of body. I wanted photos of my baby belly, but how could I get those without showing my stretch marks and my Oprah’s (the flabby part under my arm-sorry Oprah)?

My husband and I went out to one of our favorite photography places for my lifestyle maternity shoot. Josh took photos from up above me, from low on the ground with me on my back, and from other angles that would show off my tummy and make me feel beautiful. I covered up my arms with a button up shirt so I could hide my imperfections but still show my belly.

One thing I learned is that it is really hard to get great photos of me and my hubby together when using the tripod to hold the camera. We kept running back and forth to press the timer. It was difficult and annoying. I wish we were able to get a few more images of the two of us together during  this special time.

I’m so glad I took the time for my maternity shoot. I love my photos and feel beautiful every time I look them. Plus, now I have awesome photos to show baby Caleb when he gets older and asks that dreaded question: Mom, where do babies come from?


Grand Canyon Lion King Portrait PhotographyBaby Crying, Grand Canyon Portrait PhotographyGrand Canyo Portrait PhotographyGrand Canyon Nature Photography

Stork Newborn Baby Portrait PhotographyNewborn Baby Portrait PhotographyNewborn Baby Portrait PhotographyNewborn Baby Portrait PhotographyNewborn Baby Portrait Photography

This is our sweet new addition to our family: Baby Caleb Logan Jordan. We had so much fun taking pictures in our living room with him.