I chose this image for “top honor” because I think it embodies everything about being young and silly and reminds me of my own children.

Eve Tuft Photography

get silly 5

So silly!

Jennifer Wilhite Photography

get silly 4

I love the sass!

Cara Hodge Photography

get silly 2

Tea parties are a time to get silly!

Performer Photography

get silly 6

Make a silly face!

Roots and Twigs

get silly 3

I love the colors in this!

Holly Nicole Photography

I have loved being a Facebook judge for Dear Photographer and getting to “meet” so many talented photographers!

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest | Steller


REDEFINE | Composites featuring Ashley Mauldin Photography



“There is only one sun. We can’t all claim to only have one way to use the light, but we can REDEFINE how we choose to express it. “

Why are you passionate about this topic?

I have always had elaborate visions in my head for images I would like to create, but some of them are unrealistic and would be impossible or too difficult (and expensive) to put together “in real life”. Composite images allow me to create those ideas without requiring an elaborate setup, or putting together an entire team to build a set. I can literally create an image and never have to get out of my pjs or leave my house (which is my idea of a perfect scenario). My imagination runs wild at times and I have always wished that I could somehow let people in to see what I see. Composites allow me to do just that. How else could I make it rain meatballs or show my son napping on a crescent moon?!?!

When did you first learn this technique? 

I guess technically, I learned the technique years ago when I needed to replace some heads in a family photo and add in a sunset to a wedding portrait with a gray overcast sky (blech!). That was where I began to understand layer masks and pixel borrowing/replacement. After my daughter was born in 2013, I really started delving into the concept of full composite images and fantasy creations…getting creative with editing and watching every tutorial I could find. I suppose it’s just gradually evolved over the course of my career, but the past year or two was when I truly began focusing on learning how to accomplish creating the images I desired.
What are the tips you would share with anyone trying to achieve this technique?

YouTube is your best friend. You can find TONS of tips and tutorials there that will help you in making your images cohesive. PHLEARN is really awesome.

Pay attention to the lighting in all of your elements. If your subject is lit with an obvious directional light source, you must make sure that every element in your composite is lit with the same type of light…from the same direction. Maybe even add in a light source to your image.

Size matters. Your subject placement plays a major role in how large or small it should be. If you are wanting it to be realistic, use other elements in your image as a reference. For example: If you place a child next to a tree, far back on your plane, you can gauge the size your subject should be based on the size of the tree (or any other element in your image).

Field blur will add even more realism to your images. By blurring pieces of an element (the hind portion of a deer, a spaceship in the distance, a castle on a hill), it will allow your image to appear more polished. Your depth of field should be consistent throughout your piece, otherwise it won’t flow properly to the viewer.

LAYER MASKS! They are essential! These allow you to adjust bits and pieces of each element in your image individually.

Perspective…keep it consistent. Pay attention to the direction from which each element was photographed when choosing which ones to incorporate.

Finalize your image with tonal adjustments, gradient layers, or vignette on the entire image. This will tie everything together and make everything blend together more realistically.

Remember: If you can imagine it, you can create it!
DreamerFB MeatballFB MermanFB Reach For the Sky FB SuperJude-FacebookGiant tortoise (Geochelone gigantea). Vulnerable species. On the beach. Seychelles Cousine Island. Dist. Seychelles islands.

About the photographer:

I am very much an extrovert and I meet no strangers. I love meeting new people, but am very picky about who I choose to surround myself with, and I choose my friends very carefully. I am a giver and I love to be needed. I NEED to be needed. Many people don’t get my sense of humor and it makes for rather awkward gatherings. I laugh at my own jokes..even when no one else does. I am afraid of spiders and I have really crazy dreams…about spiders…big ones…eight foot ones…that wear a diaper…and rap. I like to do impressions and I can cluck like a chicken. I can also do a killer Meatwad. I am borderline OCD, and I (used to) have a ridiculously clean house (before kids) and my husband likes to rearrange things to freak me out. I pee when I get tickled and it’s not funny. Stop laughing! I love making art. I can’t live without making art. I sing all the time, very loudly, and it drives people bonkers and I absolutely LOVE doing it (insert evil laugh)! I love my husband Ryan more than life itself, and my son Jude, and my daughter Ruby are the reason I breathe. I also love Ketchup. I eat Ketchup on my Ketchup. So, now that you know my deepest secrets we can be friends. Just a forewarning, I can be a bit too pleasant at times, and most people can’t handle my optimism. I just thought I should warn you.

Website  Facebook Instagram

10 Facts with Facebook Guest Judge 11/30-12/6 | That Wild Road Photography



Hiiiiiii. I’m Erica Knecht from That Wild Road Photography. I’m a Canadian lifestyle and documentary photographer based in Jakarta, Indonesia (for now, anyway!). I have two kids, a deep-seated sense of wanderlust, and an unhealthy addiction to corn tortillas.

I shoot most of my professional work on a Canon 6D usually with a 35 mm 1.4 or a 50 mm 1.4 lens. I chase my own kids around with a Fuji X100T or my Canon EOS 1. I’m slowly learning the ropes with my new Hasselblad 500 c/m.

I’m, like, so beyond thrilled to be a guest judge on Dear Photographer Facebook page, so, let’s get out our high fives hands, and make this week awesome, okay?

Oh, if you’d like to connect, here’s my website. You can find me on my Facebook page, or my Instagram.

Ten Fun Facts About Me

1. I’m a nomad and a wanderer. I have lived on three continents, in seven countries, ten cities, and more than a few cow towns.

2. Everyone in my family was born in a different country, and each of those countries has a red and white flag. And I sort of love the symmetry of that fact.

3. I find beauty in chaos and disorder, the unexpected, and the difficult. All of this, I think, is why I think I love living in Jakarta.

4. As the result of spending the majority of my adult life in Asia, I believe that coconut rice and spicy tempeh are legit breakfast foods.

5. Yet my Western food habits die hard, and I return from every trip home with a suitcase packed full of peanut butter, heirloom beans, pork products various and sundry, and stacks of corn tortillas.

6. I’m married to a chef, and yeah, he cooks at home about twice a year.

7. I’m like, allergic to winter. (Which might tell you something about why I left my home and native land.)

8. My life skills are questionable at best. I’ve, on more than one occasion, made it part way to a shoot only to realise I’ve forgotten my camera.

9. I almost always ride to my shoots on the back of a motorcycle taxi. It’s part of my process, I think. ;) (Also it’s the only reliable way to get around this crazy congested city.)

10. I’m in love with shadows and dappled light, those places of tension where dark becomes bright are my obsession.



dear photographer_guest judge_erica knecht

So excited to see what you post!!

“Let the Kids be Kids” featuring Momma Got Soul Photography



My kids are dirty ALL THE TIME. I often wonder if it’s just mine? Do other parents let their kids get so dirty? Do they encourage, try to stop it, or just clean up the mess afterwards? Most days I am a clean up the mess afterwards type parent, but I thought maybe I would encourage it on this day. Only a photographer would dress their kids in their Sunday best and take them out to the mud. ;)


bd2 bd4


So let your kids play and get dirty. Let them enjoy life and share your best images of your dirty children.



BE INSPIRED Session featuring K. Gardner Photography


Is this personal or client work?

Client Work

What about this session was most memorable?
Watching the two little girls together was definitely the most memorable part. They are undeniably adorable and there is so much love between them. Many times I have to ask siblings to hug and give each other little squeezes, but these two did all of it on their own. It was actually challenging to get them not to hug! The laughter and love between these two sisters and the entire family was so much fun to capture and an inspiration for my own family.
Were there any hurdles?
When photographing young kiddos, there is always the hurdle of getting them still for a moment or two. However, I have been learning to embrace the movement and photograph more real moments.  Tickle shots are currently a favorite of mine!
Your best photographer/session advice?
To have fun with your clients and try to capture more moments rather than poses. Some of my all time favorite photos are those of clients just being themselves and interacting with their loved ones.  I want families to enjoy their session and leave with a smile on their face.  
What gear was used to achieve these?
Nikon d750 and Sigma Art 35mm
About the photographer:
I am a natural light photographer based in Madison, WI.  I have two wonderful little girls and a pretty amazing husband who puts up with my photography obsession.  I specialize in Newborn, Children and Family photography and enjoy every minute of it.
Website. Facebook.




Holly Nicole Photography



I chose this image from Holly Nicole Photography as Top Honors because it fits the theme so well.  I just love everything about it.


Brandi Thompson


The movement in this image is just perfect, and I love the matte conversion.


Brandi Thompson


Brandi Thompson made it twice this week, with another beautiful black and white, that gives me all the feels of childhood and freedom.


Sally-Ann Taylor


What an incredible landscape, and amazing capture that fits the theme just perfectly.


Lindsey Bramlett Photography


This silhouette is stunning, Lindsey Bramlett!


Holly Nicole Photography


Holly Nicole was chosen twice this week as well.  This image speaks of adventure and freedom.


I loved being the guest judge this week, and getting to see everyone’s interpretation of my theme.  Amazing work my friends!

Redefine | Macro Featuring Butterfly Rose Designs by Nikki Bradbery



Redefine | The Beauty in Everyday

“There is only one sun. We can’t all claim to only have one way to use the light, but we can REDEFINE how we choose to express it.”

Why are you so passionate about this topic?

My photography is all about the details and I love to make the everyday look beautiful. I believe if you slow down and take the time to look around you, there can be beauty everywhere – from an old leaf lying on the ground, to a wilted flower past its prime, or even weeds in the garden.

When did you first realize you liked this topic?

When I bought my macro lens it was like a whole new world opened before my eyes. The level of detail you get from a macro lens is amazing. It allowed me to see things I never knew existed.

What are the tips you would share with anyone trying to achieve this technique?

The lens I use is a Canon EF 100mm 2.8L macro lens but there are many other lenses on the market.

When focusing on my subject, I use manual focus to achieve the best results.

To get the sharpest focus, I use either a tripod or place my camera on a stable surface as well as a remote shutter release. All these techniques help to eliminate camera shake.

And if you don’t feel like carrying your DSLR everywhere, an Olloclip has a fantastic macro lens for your phone.  The image below was taken with and iPhone 5C using an Olloclip.

Rose Skirt

Butterfly Leaf

Single Puff

Spider Web

Catch That Drop

Passionfruit Curl



In A Spin

Cobblers Peg Olloclip

About the photographer:

Nikki Bradbery lives in sunny Queensland, Australia with her hubby, two  teenagers and two very cute Golden Labradors. Nikki is a photographer at Butterfly Rose Designs.

Website. Instagram.

10 FACTS WITH FACEBOOK GUEST JUDGE 11/23-11/29 | Brass Bird Photography



Hi, everyone! I’m Mariah, owner of Brass Bird Photography. I am a documentary-style photographer from Midwest City, Oklahoma. I currently shoot portraits, but I will be adding LGBT and intimate weddings to my services in 2016. In my bag is a Canon 5D Mark iii, a 50mm 1.4, a 70-200mm 2.8 and a Rolleiflex 2.8f. I’m beyond excited to be this week’s guest judge on Dear Photographer’s Facebook page. 

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest | Steller

10 FACTS featuring Brass Bird Photography

  1. I run solely on coffee and creative inspiration.
  2. I have 12 tattoos and they all mean something special to me. 
  3. I love teaching others how to be better photographers.
  4. I have three daughters that are all named after strong characters or people: Evey age 6 (Evey from V for Vendetta), Zoey age 3.5 (pretty much because I’m obsessed with Zooey Deschanel) and Remy Scout 8 months (Remy Lebeau from X Men + Scout Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird).
  5. I love knitting and crochet. 
  6. I studied at the Pacific Northwest College of Art and then went on to get my degree in Special Education. This will be my last year teaching. 
  7. I learned film and darkroom processing, so I don’t always feel like I have a handle on my digital editing. 
  8. I’m terrible at accounting. Like I may or may not have a box of receipts by my desk. #2016resolutions
  9. I recently opened a creative workshop, studio and gathering space in Oklahoma City called Rally.
  10. I will be going full-time next year plus starting homeschooling. Follow along on social media to see when my meltdown occurs.




Can’t wait to see your posts!!

“On Parenting” featuring Daphne Laput Photography



I’m not a “get down on the floor and play mom.” I’m just not. Our eldest turned 5 this weekend and it made me think about what kind of parents we are.

We stand back.

They know we’re there.

And that we’ll intervene if they need it.


But most of the time they’re able to do something pretty fabulous, with minimal intervention.

IMG_1927 IMG_1966





And I realized- this is so true for my photography method and style as well. I don’t need to do anything more except watch, and take it in. That the moments in between – in between the correcting and scolding, when they do what they’re told without having to be told, that are the highlights in having kids – are often the highlights in taking photos as well. When so often we’re looking for “perfect” and that only occurs in the moments we’re not looking for it.




Dear Photographer Featuring Laura Penley



February 2013

The two men in my life who helped me to finally realize this passion

Dear Photographer,

Do you remember how you loved looking through photos as a child?  Specifically, do you remember the smile that it brought to your face to revisit things like your 4th-grade field trip to Billie Creek Village?  There were some treasures from that roll, like the photo of the “I Love You” horseshoe that the boy in your life, your childhood sweetheart, made for you.  Then there’s the photo of the two of you quilting together, oh and that shot of you and your best friends, Kelly Smith, Nicholle Thomas, and Carrie Clements; the four of you just couldn’t have looked happier.  Gosh, that was a lifetime ago.

Do you remember that you used to store shoe boxes of photos in your closet and your retreat from life was to sit on the floor in this windowless space looking through them?  You could spend hours locked away in there.  Do you remember that 35mm Pentax that the same childhood sweetheart gave you for your birthday one year because he saw how much those photographs from seven years prior still meant to you?  Do you remember that a few years after that, your parents bought you a Nikon N80?  For some reason you never took the time to learn how to use it though.

Do you remember that photo you took of your parents’ car as it drove away from your dorm once they got you all settled in for your first year of college?  Do you remember the tears you cried in that moment?  Of course you do, and of course, this is why you captured it.  Do you remember when that little Pentax broke, right about the same time as your relationship with “the boy” was ending?  New chapter, new camera.

Scrapbooks were filled, shoe boxes overflowed and cameras continued to meet their expiration. The memories and photos just kept pouring in as you did your absolute best to preserve them.  How then did you not take a leap and move the dial on your camera to M, pick up a book and figure out where to go from there?  Your parents recognized your passion as did your childhood love.  How did you not?

I understand that you grew up thinking that being a photographer meant you were something like an Annie Leibovitz and, of course, you could never be her.  But why did that mean that you couldn’t be you and make your own unique mark?  What made you think that you would never be able to capture compelling photos of people or events; photos that could be felt and appreciated by people other than you?  You always believed that no one else would see the same beauty in a particular moment as what you did, and that others might in fact look at your photographs and wonder why they meant anything to you at all.  Self-doubt, it can be a real deal breaker; self-doubt, it cost you years on this journey.

It wasn’t until you entered into this new phase of your life called “Motherhood” that you began to feel these heavy feelings lift.  You suddenly had this beautiful little miracle in your arms who loved you, unconditionally, for everything thing that you were, are, and will be, and wow, that was amazing!  The world had recently entered into the age of digital photos so, instead of shoe boxes, you filled online galleries with images and you began to share those with friends and family monthly.  You clung to each and every moment with your little angel like it could be your last.  With each passing month, you took more and more photos.  Your sister, Rebecca, saw your growing desire to preserve him and she gifted you with a shiny new Nikon1 for your birthday that year and that little camera went everywhere with you.  You were capturing him throughout all of his awake hours, every single day, yet you still hadn’t made an effort to develop a deeper understanding of photography.  It wasn’t until your second little miracle arrived that this passion for photography really grew.  Once again, you were gifted with a camera by someone who saw this passion in you well before you saw it in yourself, your loving husband.

(Laughing) Do you remember that you almost returned your beautiful new DSLR because you were incredibly intimidated by the mere thought of trying to learn how to use it?  And gosh, was it big!  You were all set to send it back but then out of curiosity one night as you held your brand new baby in your arms, just as you had every night since his birth, you picked your phone up to take a look at The Pioneer Woman’s photography section on her blog.  You were instantly hooked, reading the night away in that dark room as you rocked your little one till morning. That night, that moment, it was life changing as were those seven+ months of sleepless nights that followed.  You took complete advantage of those awake hours, passing the nights by studying the camera settings that Ashley Campbell so generously would post on her blog while also continuing to study digital photography and how to shoot in Manual.  During the day, your loves allowed you to continue your learning with a ton of hands-on practice.

Here you are, a little more than a year and a half into photography, not just memory keeping, but photography, and wow what an incredible ride it has been.  You finally gained the confidence to join a photography forum at the start of the year and you even created an Instagram account.  Both of these were a big deal to you because well, your photos, they are your treasures and sharing those, is sharing your heart.   Prior to this you had only shared those pieces of you with family and your closest friends.  You acknowledged, however, that the greatest personal growth can be achieved when you allow yourself to be vulnerable, so you took the leap. Now here we are, entering into fall, so three-quarters of the way through your first “public” year, and wow what a year it has been.

You’ve found so much inspiration and growth in putting yourself out there.  You’ve been given opportunities, such as this, that encourage you to reflect on where you came from and where you’d like to go on this journey and you have developed friendships with individuals that will certainly last a lifetime.  There are a few things that I would like to always remember though.  The first one, please don’t forget to take pause in all of this.  Photography began as a passion, an outlet, make sure that it remains one to you.  While this past year has been amazing, there have been times when it has also felt a bit like a chore.  Don’t ever let it become that.  Remember to give yourself breaks, time away, so that you can be reminded of what it is that you love about photography when you pick your camera back up again.  Also, don’t forget that there are moments that simply cannot be captured.  Those are the moments that you really need to cling to, so remember to give yourself the freedom to be fully present during those times; no camera and no editing.  Speaking of editing, that’s another thing that I want you to be mindful of.  It’s understandable that you would want to grow in this area, however I’d like you to remember that those magical/dreamy photos that you have had so much fun trying to learn how to create in post, those aren’t the photos that truly speak to your heart.  It’s the real everyday moments that mean the most to you.  So, while it’s wonderful to continue to grow your skills in this area, just don’t lose sight of why it is you take pictures.  You aren’t taking pictures to figure out how to turn them into magic, you take all of these photos to preserve memories, real memories, as that’s where the true magic lies. Lastly, please continue to step in front of that camera of yours and encourage other mothers to do the same.  It is so important for children to be able to look back through their collection of memories and see their loving mothers alongside them.  I’d like to also challenge you to continue stepping in front of that lens even after your children are grown.  Capture you, tell your story, and preserve this collection of portraits well as they may just be one of the greatest gifts you could ever give to your future self and they will most certainly be cherished by those children of yours.   

Wow; less than 2 years into this photography thing and what a tremendous experience all of this has been.  I am so incredibly proud of you for finding the courage to share your photography and heart with others and I simply cannot wait to see where this journey will take you.








About the Photographer:


Hi; I’m Laura.  I’m a country girl at heart who left rural life behind to live in the city following college.  I immediately fell in love with city life and eventually with a city boy. We have two beautiful boys, 4 and 22-months, and live on the north side of Chicago.  I’m a lover of white, pretty spaces, fashion and photography.  Of the items on this list, photography is my newest love.  While I’ve always believed in having a camera on me almost everywhere I went, I never knew anything about photography until our second bundle of joy arrived and my husband surprised me with my DSLR.  As for where this passion for photography will lead me, I’m not in any hurry to figure that one out.  Right now, I’m doing exactly what I want to be doing which is capturing those fleeting moments in my every day.  It is my thought that someday I might enjoy educating others, but for now, I am continuing to work on fine-tuning my skill-set and am just taking this photography thing one day at a time.

Instagram. Contact.