Monday, April 27, 2015

simple life.

I'm sure many of you have heard by now that the actor who played Gilbert Blythe in the Anne of Green Gables
movies died suddenly this month at the age of 48.
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When I first heard the news my initial reaction was "NOOOO!",
because I know that the actors are just that..actors, but they personified those main characters SO much
and that series is just an ultimate classic.

Naturally after something like this you start thinking about the movies and story line, and want to watch it again to reminisce.
There are many reasons why Anne of GG connects with so many people, but I think one of the reasons is that it depicts so much daily life and Anne is just an average girl walking through the situations of life.
Solving problems like her cow getting into Rachel Lynde's cabbages. AGAIN.
Discovering a bosom friend and celebrating the fun + adventures that go along with that.
Freaking out over the new fashions and 'puffed sleeves'. #GASP
Loving deeply the people you are surrounded with.
Walking to get the mail and finding something came, for you.
Awkward happenings like scaring Aunt Josephine in the middle of the night and trying to smooth things over, or putting a dead mouse in pudding. #MonkeyHandsOverEyesEmoji
Working hard at your school and reaping the rewards of your labor.
Strolling through the rolling hills of a backyard pasture while the sun sets.
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Obviously these are just a few, but I think there is at least SOMETHING in those movies we all can resonate with.
Which reiterates the truth that "it is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all."
And as I reflect on the story L.M. Montgomery painted of Anne's life, it reminds me to never undermine the little things of life.
Life is made up of many small moments and YES life is hard.
I'm not belittling or denying can feel really complicated at times, amen?
But often we get easily caught up in the next big thing we have to prepare for and start focusing/stressing over that..
and therefore miss the little rays of sunshine throughout our week.
Laughing with your grandmother after Easter dinner.
Violets picked by a little brother.
Sitting down to write a handwritten letter (which I had to force myself to do the other day..sometimes I just get driven with my businesses and have a really hard time slowing. down. #entrepreneurprobs)
Walking around the mall with a friend, just browsing.
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We are instructed to"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances for this is the will of God 
in Christ Jesus for you." I Thess. 5:17-18
Jesus gives us joy in the journey, if we choose it.
I don't know about you, but personally I want to rejoice more in the blessings of the everyday that He gives..
because they are always there if I look for them.
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and p.s. if you want to get the tears flowing feel free to watch THIS video, oh man.
**all photos in this post via pinterest.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Hannah Elise Internship Giveaway

As many of you know, last month I announced a photography internship that I will be hosting this summer.
The registration deadline has passed, but just a couple days ago I received a check in the mail.
This was from a really sweet, anonymous family and they said I could use it however I saw fit towards my internship.

I was totally blown away, as I was not anticipating this at all!
After thinking and praying about things, I have determined I would like to use the money as a scholarship 
for one girl to attend my internship this summer, since I still have room to host another person.
I know there are girls out there who would love to grow in photography at something like this,
but financially aren't able to right now.
Or due to where you are located, the cost of the internship + travel was too expensive.
So I am praying that this can be an unexpected blessing to someone, 
and turn their photography hobby into a business or help grow the business they already have!!
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The scholarship will be for one girl (within the ages of 16-25) and cover:

+ Housing and meals
+ Teaching/sharing on various topics, including : camera basics + shooting in manual, running a business from home, editing, posing, branding, tips on photographing + working with clients, finding shoot locations, marketing/using social media, etc., and LOTS of Q&A and discussion time. Also will include some one-on-one time with me. :) Overall, the internship will have a focus on family/portrait photography.
+ Observe how I pose and photograph my clients during several photo sessions we will be doing, and you will also get to take photos of the awesome models! 
+ New headshots of yourself, taken by me!
+ And a few other surprises. :)

*You will just need to cover your travel cost to and from the Amana Colonies, IA, and if needed I can pick up/drop off at the Cedar Rapids, IA airport.

+ Internship will be held in the Amana Colonies, IA.
+ Please only apply if you would be able to travel out here, if accepted. I would hate to accept someone and then find out you can't make it!
+ You must be able to commit to the full internship, which is June 3-6, 2015. We will start at 1 p.m. with lunch on Wednesday, and wrap up by 1 p.m. on Saturday.
+ If anyone would be flying out if they were accepted, you will need to arrive at the Cedar Rapids, IA airport (CID).
+ If you do not have a blog/website/FB page where you post your photos, please send me 5-7 images so I can see some of your work. :)
To attend, you will need: dSLR camera, notebook + pen, laptop, + an attitude excited about learning!! 
+ I will only be able to accept one girl to receive the scholarship, regardless of how many applications are submitted. Thanks in advance for understanding!

TO APPLY : Fill out THIS APPLICATION and e-mail it to by Tuesday, April 28 @ midnight CST.
I will be contacting the girl I have chosen to accept on Thursday, April 30.

If you aren't interested in this scholarship, but know someone who might be...
please spread the word as there are only a couple days to apply!!

Hannah Elise

Thursday, April 23, 2015

some things I've learned : photographing kids!

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I had several people ask for tips with photographing children, so I want to tackle this topic today!!
Taking pictures of kids can feel overwhelming at times, and I definitely don't consider myself an expert.
However, few things are rewarding like getting a "money" shot of a child, and makes all the effort worth it.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but here are 6 tips that I have learned over the years in this area. :)

+ Shoot when they're not expecting it. Often when I am posing kids they go into this standard 'cheese-y' smile because they think that is what they're supposed to do..and instead I'm wanting a genuine LAUGHTER filled smile, or more serene expression.
So practice catching those in-between moments when they aren't realizing you are about to take their picture!

This photo I shot after we had just done some grouped family shots and were walking down the grassy path..
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Same thing here, Elizabeth had just walked out of the house and was coming towards me.
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Also occasionally when you pose kids they will have great expressions naturally..for this shot I had just told Ellington to plop down on the cement slab and he was just staring at me. I loved his soft face so didn't tell him to smile or anything.
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+ Get on their level. Every kid is different and I know this is obvious, but I think it is important to realize that not every 'trick' will have the same effect. Some children are really quiet, and it takes a lot to come out of their shell. Others will talk your ear off once you get them going! :) Feel them out if you are just meeting at the shoot. Remember how trust has to be earned and you wouldn't pour out your whole life story to a complete stranger! Ask them questions -- "what do you like to play with? do you have dolls? have you seen Frozen?! I love Olaf TOO!!" Make a connection so they see you as a friend and not this weird girl sticking a black box in their face. ;)

+ Show them what to do. If I'm wanting a more 'serene' face and they aren't getting it, I will show them by saying "Katie, can you put your lips together like mine [shows them with my face] and look into my camera?" Or if I'm wanting a genuine smile sometimes I ask if they can do a crazy laugh. And then first demonstrate by going "mwahaha!! HO-HO-HO" etc.
If I want them to do something silly then I need to lead by example. :)

+ Bribe. I now have a rule of always bringing smarties or bottlecaps (candy that doesn't smear like chocolate) with me whenever I have a shoot with kids, and I only use it if I have to. Some shoots the kids don't even know I have it, but other times they need a little motivation..and I make them work for it! For this shot, I wanted Jillian to twirl around and she wasn't cooperating. So I showed her the smarties and told her if she twirled around she would get the candy! Boom. 
Also I sometimes use 'distraction' toys for a bribe like a handbell or once I brought a toy camera, and the children loved it. Whatever works!
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+ Interaction. This is probably the biggest tip I have with have to make pictures FUN and interesting for them! Have them run, skip, ask them to tell you a funny joke. Set them up in a pose and then say "hey I want you to look over that way [points with finger] -- do you see any deer over in the woods?" Sometimes I tell them stories..for this shot of Kaitlyn + John, I was telling them a made up story about horses that lived in the barn behind them. It really captured their attention and they sat there for a good amount of time just listening.
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I adore this shot of Harper.
She had been sitting on some wooden steps and we were talking and then moved off of those to this spot...
I caught this image when she suddenly lit up about something.
Haha I don't remember what it was now, but I think what helped achieve it was just talking and waiting for the moment.
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+ Use parents. If all else fails, use Mom and Dad. They know how to make their kids light up or soothe them. At this shoot Aoife was being pretty clingy, and I knew she wouldn't be a fan if I tried to force her to sit somewhere away from Mom.
Make magic with whatever you've got!
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I hope this was helpful! If you have more questions feel free to ask them in the comments below!!

Hannah Elise

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Missions Photography : Interview with Caitlyn Barkalow

I am super excited to feature a guest blogger interview with Caitlyn of Pink Flower Photography!
We have been friends for years, and I actually took some pictures of her and Peter last fall. :)
Caitlyn has been a huge encouragement to me over the years, and always so helpful.
Seriously, I wish you all could meet her because she is just awesome!!
I love her heart for orphans and desire to use the gifts she has been given for ministry..
enjoy this interview and then be sure to go check out her blog HERE!
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Hi, my name is Caitlyn! I am OLD (aka 26) and I have a photography business based in the good ole Midwest. 
Kids are my thing, ice cream is my weakness, I love color and was recently married!

Have you always grown up with a heart for orphans, or when did God impress that on you?
Ever since I was little, my parents have really instilled in us the importance of being passionate about our relationship with the Lord. I remember as a child that my Mom would read us stories about missionaries and share with us stories of people around the world. When I became a Christian, I told my Mom I was going to be a missionary and that is where it all started. As I have gotten older, God has rewired my heart to see the story of an orphan. In 2012, I went to China to work with orphans and my parents the same year adopted my littlest sister from there. Meeting my sister, I learned that her story was unique yet had one similarly to the other kids I worked with...they grew up without a family, a known future or a knowledge of our great Father, Jesus Christ. This is where God really wrecked my heart for orphans and still continues to show me the stories of these kids.

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Can you tell us a little about the mission trips you have gone on? 
I waited 8 years to go on my first mission trip. Every year I would think I was ready and then the door would close. So, you can imagine when I was 20 and I got to go to Africa for a month...I was beyond happy. That first trip was more of a vision trip and I worked with kids at a school and women in the community. Since my time in Mozambique, I have traveled to China twice. 
The first was through Bring Me Hope, which does summer camp for orphans and the most recent was this year at Bethel China, a center for visually impaired orphans.

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What gear do you currently shoot with, and what have you found most important when shooting 
for missions (lenses/tech gear/etc)?

Currently, I have a Nikon d750  and shoot with just two lenses, a 50mm & 35mm. When shooting overseas, the least amount of gear you can bring the better. I try to contain everything in one back back because traveling through the city or bush is exhausting when you have a gazillion pounds of extra gear. Also, because in most countries you already look like a foreigner, it is best to try to blend in and carry just one bag with you.  Also, I have to remind myself that God is control when I am overseas...even pertaining to my gear. So, be ready to have little finger prints smeared all over you lens and fingers clicking buttons and changing settings. Now that I have written this, bringing a lens/camera cleaning cloth is really essential.

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What practical photography education has been most helpful for you 
(i.e. understanding aperture, posing, interaction with subject, etc)?

Make sure you know how to shoot manual and know ALL of your camera settings. I can't say it are in so many different environments and lighting situations throughout the day, that you need to be able to be consistent and produce quality images. Also, if your camera is capable of video...start practicing. There is a such a need for video to advocate and share these kids lives with adoptive families, as well as photographs. So, know how to wield your craft and not just be good at Photoshop. There are so many tutorials for any of these things but one of my favorite educational resources is Creative Live.
When is comes to interaction and what you are photographing don't just build your portfolio with teary eyed kids and “pity photos.” I love photographs that tug at your heart and build compassion and there is a time and place for them, but honestly it can be a disservice to the individual. One of my favorite humanitarian photographers is Esther Havens and what I love is that she captures true beauty in poverty...laughter, smiles and those glimmers of hope. Capture the colorfulness of a culture and the personality of an individual. You are their advocate and people want to know them...not their write their story with His light.

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How did you get started with doing photography for mission organizations, and what would you recommend for someone else wanting to get involved?

Honestly, it was not intentional (at the time I was just wanting to teach English overseas). I started photography right after I went to Africa because I realized how powerful it is for sharing details. I had no intention of doing it full time but I started considering it after the organization I went through randomly used some of my images for their magazine. Since that time, I have searched out further opportunities and have learned the key is...if you want to do something, you have to ask. Find what area you are passionate about and look for organizations and offer your skill. A lot of organizations don't have good photography and it's something that they don't realize can change the company. I have never been paid for my missions photography but have donated it to the organizations. If you are flexible and willing to serve, there are a lot of open doors. My most recent trip to Bethel was a series of connections through people I knew and they emailed Bethel with my plan of wanting to photograph. They were more than happy to have more media. They set up locations and days of shooting and my husband and I set up lodging and travel. I emailed about 6+ organizations before I started getting a YES, so don't get discouraged. Once organizations are educated, they are usually willing to let you in.

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If we can't travel overseas right now, how can we still use our gifts with media (photography/video/graphic design/etc) to help orphans/mission organizations here in the states?

Oh, there are so many things you can do! Are you willing to serve? Then you are ready. Because working with orphans is my passion, I offer highly discounted photography to families that have recently adopted...I want to be the person to photograph their FIRST family photo. If you are interested in other areas, serving can look like reaching out to a local non-profit, taking photos for missionaries to use for their updates, being on the media team for your church, finding a new missions or non-profit and volunteering to run their social media, make an orphan advocacy poster etc. The opportunities are limitless if you are looking for ways to serve. Also, a lot of organizations that involve missions or orphans are based in America, so there are lots of opportunities to serve via media.

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What are your favorite photos you have taken overseas and can you explain why?

How to narrow it down? Hmmm, well it would have to be the picture of Josie (the little girl with wings and a sucker). She was my buddy at camp a couple of years ago. She is one of the orphans that will probably NOT get a family because it was believed she had already been sold/prostituted. She doesn't have papers and will probably never have them. I wonder at times where she is and if I will ever get to see her again.

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What are a couple unexpected challenges or surprises you experienced when photographing in a foreign country?

+ Earlier, I said expect kids to touch your camera...well that was not expected on my first trip and I had to learn the art of letting go and trusting. It was tough but now I encourage it because sometimes kids take the best pics.
+ Learning how to photograph the hard moments and when to put the camera down. During one of my trips there was a child that had some major special needs and she sat in the corner rocking back and for shaking her head. It tore my heart because she was so as I was taking pictures I just had to put my camera down. Let the tears flow, ask questions about their story and continue while you pull yourself together.
+ Navigating, this most recent trip I was with my husband and we had to learn how to navigate the Beijing subway system. There was no time for photos because honestly, you don't want to get lost in a foreign country.
+ Last, kids are kids. No matter the language, they still love to be tickled, carried and played with. Interacting with them is a blast and how you will gain your best photographs.
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What has impacted you the most with doing photography/video for orphans?

Most of the time I don't feel qualified or “good enough” to photograph overseas. But it's when I don't feel qualified that God moves and at times, He uses you the most when you feel the weakest. Everything is His, so I can only give the glory to Him and remember each day and every trip that I am writing His story, not mine.

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As with any ministry, it takes a lot of hard work -- what keeps you going when it is a hard day? 

Remembering that bed time is coming and I will be able to get some sleep AND knowing that the hard work is worth it because at the end of the day...these photographs could potentially give a child a family.

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Do you have a top favorite memory from working overseas in the last few years?

Attending a church in the African about exciting! I have not seen so many believers so ecstatic about worshiping God. There was whooping, hollering, singing, hand raising and oh my, lots and lots of DANCING! As the dust from the dirt floor rose through the air...I was reminded that we should be this passionate about our Savior EVERYDAY. We have a hope and from this hope a purpose and voice to rejoice!

Thanks Caitlyn! If you enjoyed this, please leave her some love in the comments below!! :)

- Hannah Elise

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

things to woot about : april edition.

Welcome to day 2 of the Ten Day Tandem!! 
Hope you guys are enjoying this so far, I'm definitely having fun with it. :)
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If you have been reading my blog for awhile you may remember my 'things to woot about' series.
It has been awhile since I did one, so I decided it was time for another. 
Let's celebrate the little things, amen?!

+ Saltwater Sandals. I had been seeing people all over instagram wear these, and was curious about them since they look super cool! And then I found out a local store sold them, so I checked it out and ended up buying a pair. These sandals are the best -- SO comfortable + fun! Plus they offer them in all different colors. The material feels like a plastic-y leather, and are made so you can wear them in water. I will definitely be wearing these all summer long! Also I recommend trying them on in a store, if I ended up buying a pair that was a size down from what I typically wear since that fit me better.

+ The Sunday Journal by Tiffany Farley. I recently signed up for her weekly encouragement e-mails and have been LOVING these so far. Wow, super relevant, honest and inspiring. If you are a photographer/entrepreneur/creative you can sign up for them HERE.

+ Chickfila Sauce. Oh man, have you had this?! You have to request it at the counter as it usually isn't out with their regular condiments..but heavens, SO GOOD. The best way to describe it is a blend of honey mustard/barbecue sauce. I know some people don't like it and some do..I'm obviously one of the latter. :)

+ Girl Models. This weekend (weather permitting!!) I will be photographing a bunch of girls for my spring model call. I received a huge volume of applications (40+ daughters) and decided to open another date for this so I could accept more people. So I will also be shooting again in May for this. :) Super stoked about all the cute little girls coming!! I have been working with the families on outfit styling and the Moms have just been knocking it out of the park with clothing/accessories. Can't wait to photograph their kids!

+ Talenti Gelato. I had seen a lot about this on social media, and only realized a few months ago that Target/Walmart sell it. Wow, mind officially blown. Personally I love it more than ice cream it doesn't seem 'too' sweet and just has the perfect balance. Plus their logo/branding/containers are on point..the packaging sells a product, right?! :) Those of you that have tried this, what is your favorite flavor?

+ Spring. I know it sounds super cliche, but this is my favorite season and I just love watching it unfold in my hometown!! The green grass coming up, the first dandelions/flowers to grow, the flowering trees to explode, and now I'm waiting for the lilacs to arrive. SO, so pretty.

What are you woot-ing about right now?! I always LOVE hearing your comments so please share below. :)

Happy Tuesday, and make sure you are keeping up with Chelsy's blog..I adore her posts!!

Hannah Elise

Monday, April 20, 2015

Liesl : birth story | Bettendorf, IA photographer

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I had been thinking it would be such a neat experience to document a birth, 
as I follow other photographers that have captured them.
So naturally I was really excited to get an e-mail from Greta saying she had this "crazy idea" 
about me taking pictures when their little girl arrived!

This was definitely way different than anything I had ever shot before, as you can't plan when baby will arrive (obviously). :)
So when her due date was close I started going to bed wondering if 'tonight' I'd get woken up by
a call at 3 a.m. and be driving to the hospital in the dark!
I was really praying about the timing of things as I live over an hour away,
and although Greta typically has had long labors with her other babies you never know how things will go.
So once I got notified that I should come to the hospital, I was driving and praying that I wouldn't miss the birth..
because I could still do photos right after baby had arrived but it's not quite the same as being there for the whole thing.
And I kid you not, I pulled into the hospital parking lot and right then saw Brad & Greta walking in the doors.
Talk about God-ordained timing.

Documenting a birth was just can't really describe it with words.
I mean, you're walking into that hospital room knowing that you aren't walking back out until new life has arrived.
And that's a pretty mind-blowing reality.
Obviously the labor is very intense, but when their baby arrived it was all joy -- pure joy.
I still get chills and feel the adrenaline from that night when I look at these images.
I've photographed weddings where families are 'losing' their children, in a way, as they move onto married life..
But at this you aren't losing anyone, you are just gaining -- gaining a new person in your family!

Doesn't get much more raw, real + beautiful than this..welcome to the world, Liesl Faith.
Huge thank you to the Zude family for asking me to be a part of her story, and all photos are posted with permission.
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Hannah Elise