Archive for November 9th, 2008

My Passion (or is it my obsession?!)

I’ve had a few questions recently about my photography so I thought I’d post about how my love of photography and my skills have progressed over the years.  First I thought I’d cross post this photo from today’s session.  I have more over on my blog at Laura Saufley Photography

Here are some sweet little girls that I had the pleasure of photographing today:


I have always loved taking pictures.  I was always the kid that took a camera on field trips.  (My mom’s borrowed Canon!).   I used to take photos of everything which explains the box full of photos I have upstairs of various cats, dogs and other animals that I used to have when I was young.  My mom took a photography class when I was about 5 or 6 years old and I guess her love of photos rubbed off on me.  My mom has a great eye and I think she’d have been an awesome photographer!

When I was pregnant with Madalyn I decided to really learn how to use my camera. I had a Canon Rebel G3 film camera. I loved the photos I took with it but I knew that if I figured out what all the buttons meant, my photos could be even better. So I started reading and reading and reading about ISO, shutter speed, aperture, etc. Soon it all started to make sense. One big inspiration for me was Tara Whitney–love that girl’s work. I have seen people critique her for her photos not being “technically perfect” but they show so much emotion! She is really gifted at capturing the essence of people.

So I started practicing with my film camera.  It is hard to learn on a film camera because you have to write down what you are doing with your settings and remember them when you get your photos developed.  That was difficult to do so I started working first on composition.  I learned about the Rule of Thirds, how to pose subjects, where to place people in relation to the light source.  I started practicing with my little ones and spent a small fortune on developing photos! 

Then I invested in a digital camera in March 2006 and it really started to take off from there.  I started shooting in manual–which means I tell the camera exactly what to do.  I set the ISO, the aperture and the shutter speed for every shot.  I rarely take a photo now in any other mode.  (So if I am taking your photo and I tell you that I am checking my settings, that’s what I mean!).  My very first non-family practice shoot was with little Mason–my friend Shelby’s son.  I was just really trying to figure it all out and it was a great learning experience!  Here is one of my favorite photos from that session:


I remember thinking that I’d never get the hang of changing my settings.  It seemed so hard at first to keep an eye on the subject while also watching the meter and the histogram (that’s a fancy little graph on the camera that shows you if your photos are under or over exposed!).  But soon enough I got the hang of watching the meter and moving the settings pretty quickly and most people probably don’t even realize I am doing it now!    

I was totally in love after that first session!  Not only did I love the actual photography part of it, but I also loved the editing!  I started learning how to use photoshop to enhance my photos.  My goal is to get my photos as close to perfect as possible straight-out-of-the-camera (SOOC).  But some shots need a little help.  Sometimes you have a stray hair to fix, a blemish to get rid of, a color issue that needs to be fixed.  Heck, I’ve even slimmed people’s faces and swapped a face if someone is looking the wrong way!  (But I’ll never tell which photos I do that on!). 

Here is an example of a before and after editing job:



Did you notice what I did?  I not only straightened it out and converted it to black and white but I swapped my mom’s head!  I had another photo in that same position with her mouth closed so I just swapped it out! 

So after another year of various sessions (I have lots of those photos on my photography blog) I am still completely in love with my camera.  It is what the “real pros” would call a “prosumer” camera.  It isn’t really a pro camera, but it’s more advanced than an amateur camera.  I recently took it to get it cleaned and the guy said, “Are you having problems with the automatic focus on this lens?” and I said, “No.  Oh!  It’s set to back button focus–I prefer that.”  And he said, “Wow.  Not many people that use a Canon XT even know what that is!”.  Eventually I want to upgrade my camera (because I really have outgrown this one–I need a wider range of ISOs for example!) but for now it works!

I also hope that one day I can make a real part time career out of this.  I can’t imagine actually doing what I love for a living.  For now it’s a hobby (although I do have a tax ID number so I can charge for prints–gotta be legit in the eyes of the government!) but one day I hope it is much more!  

So there ya have it for those who asked.  I am self taught, I use a little ole “prosumer” camera, and my skills developed with lots and lots of practice!   

If you are interested in learning more about photography, I highly recommend going to Two Peas in a Bucket and check out their photography forum.  Also, I Love Photography (ILP) has some awesome forums!  I have learned a LOT just by reading the posts there.  And if you are interested in pursuing photography as a career (and you already have a tax ID number for your business), you can get a paid subscription to ProPhoto Learning Center.  It’s about $99 a year but is worth every single penny!

As Promised…some recipes

If you know me you know that cooking it not something that I enjoy.  I hate cooking actually.  I would much rather eat out than cook.  Maybe if I didn’t have to work and had more time I would enjoy it but the thought of coming home after work and having to cook–ugh.  Aaron does a lot of cooking and I really appreciate him for that!   

At Christmas time the mom in me takes over and I actually cook and bake and enjoy it somewhat!  I saw Racheal Ray make this recipe and wanted to try it.  It has become a tradition that I make this on Christmas.  Usually we have a breakfast/brunch meal on Christmas and I love making this.  It is super easy and quick and everyone who has tried it loves it! 

Swiss Bacon Cheese Dip

  •  10 slices bacon
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, Softened
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons dijon-style mustard
  • 1 1/2 cups swiss cheese, Shredded
  • 4 green onions, Chopped
  • 1/2 cup smoked almonds, Chopped


1.  Fry bacon, drain and chop into small peices.  (Sometime I just use the already cooked kind and it works just fine and is much faster!). 

2.  Mix all ingredients. Bake in 350 degree preheated oven for about 15 minutes; until golden and bubbly. Top with some crushed almonds.  (I usually eliminate the almonds–just my personal taste).

3.  Serve with crackers, carrots and/or bite size pieces of bread.  (I love to use Wheat Thins!).


Sweet and Sour Hot Dogs

This one is going to sound weird.  Really weird maybe to some people.  When I was growing up we would have a big Christmas play and then a party at church every year.  I loved it.  Those are some of my favorite memories of church when I was young.  Every year, without fail we would have these little hot dogs at the party.  You had to get to them first because if you waited, they would be gone!  Someone would always make a big crockpot full.  They are delicious even though it sounds like a strange combination!

  • grape jelly
  • mustard
  • hot dogs (I usually make about 2-3 packages at a time)

All you do is cut the hot dogs up into bit size peices.  Place them in the crock pot with an equal amount of mustard and jelly.  Mix it up and let it cook for awhile and the jelly and mustard makes this really good sweet and sour sauce!  Yummy!

November 2008