REDEFINE | Photography + Films feature by Stacey Ilyse

REDEFINE | Photography + Films feature by Stacey Ilyse

“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 films along with photography ?

These are things that can’t be posed or contrived. But they are also things that may be easily forgotten, lost in the shuffle between activities and milestones. There is something precious about being able to see the moving memory of your life – to SEE the stroke on someone’s cheek, or the way the pullback their hair into a ponytail, the way someone loves another person, or the way siblings squabble… to HEAR the sounds of laughter, the voice of someone possibly no longer with you… the stories about how you met, or the words “I LOVE YOU” ..

When did you start making films for your business?

I officially started to offer films about 1 year ago, May 2016

Has it been a hard sell to clients?

Surprisingly, NO! I know that many have struggled but I feel that films were almost an “obvious choice” for many of my clients. It was something unique, new, and really special. EVERYONE who’s seen them (and especially those who have booked) have understood the value in them almost immediately… even husbands (who generally are hesitant to be in photos, or find it tedious to do a session are on board – or fall in love with a film afterwards if they were not beforehand and have booked another!)

How do you blend photography + films seamlessly ?

Most clients can’t tell the difference between when Im shooting photo or video and they become so involved with being with their families that it becomes easy to switch back and forth. I don’t actually include my still photography INTO my videos – (unless they are for a newborn or fresh 48) I do always include documentary, candid still photography as part of my packages for all video clients – they receive those separately in an online gallery and view them with me during our video/photo in-person reveal – which is SO fun for me to do – I love seeing my clients reactions when they see the films and photographs for the first time – most of them cry!!

Tell us about your film editing?

I create the films using Adobe premiere pro and try to keep my actual footage edits very simple and without many filters or presets, etc.. I want them to look and feel timeless and classic.

What are the tips you would share with anyone trying to start filming? (aim for at least 5, but any are welcome)

Im going to do 2-3 technical and/or 2-3 biz related
Stabilizing your camera is KEY. You don’t need any fancy gear to do it – a good neck strap and steady hands are a must
you don’t NEED to follow your subjects every move, sometimes it is best for them to come in and out a frame… it creates interest and it’s less jarring to the viewer
Create personal work too! I found that my personal projects engage my audience just as much – if not more then my client work. People like to get to know who I am, what my life is like – and see that it is just like their lives – makes me more relatable… Also, personal projects fuel your soul and help you grow as an artist!
I dont think there is any “magic button” that someone can press and POOF clients come running – BUT I do think it is important when you are first starting any new business venture to privately offer to do 1-3 projects gratis to clients or friends that you feel would not only help build your portfolio, but also promote the S**T outta you afterwards. I know there is no guarantee about how it might turn out, but know your audience and know WHY and WHO you are picking for a reason.
DO NOT price yourself too low! These films are HARD WORK – and take A LOT of time to create. If you need to, offer an introductory discount off your ideal price point. This gives your clients the info off the bat that eventually you will be charging XYZ for this service.

What were the challenges for you in the beginning?

1. Balance. It was very hard to find balance between booking photography sessions vs film clients… besides the fall rush, I had almost ZERO photo sessions – video took over my calendar… I was beyond grateful, but also completely overwhelmed by it… I also felt I was losing myself to video and needed to find my photographers voice within all these sessions too!

2. I had to re-wire my brain to see things in video vs photography and ALSO at the same time learn and remember to switch back and forth between the 2 during a session and it was hard at first! – Some of my earlier sessions def did not have as strong a photo portfolio as my sessions do now. I practiced a lot on my girls… which helped. It is seamless for me now – I see the moment in video – take the clip and then flip the switch for a photo…

3. Remembering that IT IS OK TO MISS A MOMENT. There will always be another one!

4. Workflow and music selection were (and sometimes still can be) hard. These films take 20+ hours to create – people don’t realize it… but us video folk are devoted and passionate about our craft.


“In a world full of Mary’s be a Rhoda” Stacey Ilyse, a documentary photography & videographer focusing on families and real life moments. Stacey is based in Northern NJ where she pursues her 365 passion project – documenting her life with her 2 little girls, crazy doodle and extremely patience husband.

W E B S I T E | F A C E B O O K | I N S T A G R A M 



REDEFINE | Light effects + utilizing artificial light feature by Courtney Bowles 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 the play of light in your images?
CB: I think artificial light in photography has always intrigued but also intimidated me. Natural light, you can see how it falls and is fairly predictable (depending on conditions). And until this year, I’ve always photographed less in the winter because of darker conditions. Truly, it was this quote that really flipped the switch: “In order to impact darkness, you must do something with light.” Probably a cheesy little blurb on pinterest but an aha moment nonetheless.

When did you first learn this technique? Or, when did you first realize you liked this topic?
CB: I played around with some weird lighting while in art school because I had all the free time in the world (plus art school, the perfect time for experimentation). After graduation, I worked in a very formal portrait studio and I hated it. So when I started my own business, I decided natural light only was the way to go as a response to that job.
And now, with my children, I think the love of exploration and experimentation is back. In order to keep them engaged and happy, we’ll try something “cool and fun” (etc. led ice cubes in the tub, pixel stick rainbows at night, light painting while jumping on the bed). Sometimes the experiment fails and no one but me will ever see the result. And other times the results are better than I could have ever imagined.

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

1. Experiment! Try it. Get out of your comfort zone. Sometimes the results will be terrible and that’s ok.
2. Look for light sources in unexpected places. The LED ice cubes were from Urban Outfitters and purchased on clearance. Cell phones, candlelight and flashlights can also work wonders!
3. Embrace the darkness. Let the shadows dominate the frame and expose for the highlights.
4. Don’t be afraid of high ISO and grain. Our cameras are incredible machines that we can use to create incredible images. Use your tools.
5. Shoot at night. Inside or outside – just do it.

What were the challenges for you in the beginning?
I was far too worried about weird results. Once I put the fear of judgement (even my own) out of my mind, it is easier to have fun creating.



I’m Courtney! A Virginia-based wedding and portrait photographer, who also photographs her children all day long. I love all styles of photography and try to keep a diverse skill set. I am constantly trying to learn from others and to apply techniques in a way that makes them my own.



TUTORIAL | Uniquely Naming Your Photography Business featuring Forever Whimsy Photography


When you decide to name your photography business, it can seem like a daunting task. I, personally, did not want to use my name – it is long and easily mispelled (Jesica Montgomery Photography.. ugh, just doesn’t flow!) I have loved following photographers who chose unique names for their businesses – before I even truly got into photography – Oh So Posh, My Four Hens, Forty Toes,Twig & Olive, among many, many others (and I will say it is perfectly fine to use your name.. it’s all relative!) Having a unique name seems so much more fun and stands out more than using a given name, at least, in my opinion!

When I first started, I wanted to do silhouette photography only (long story, but I was afraid becoming a portrait photographer would make a photographer “friend” upset) so I was trying to come up with a name to reflect that. I googled, “silhouette,” then looked at synonyms. I also googled and looked at the synonyms of other words, like “sunset,” “beautiful,” etc. I can’t remember how I exactly ended up with Forever Whimsy Photography, but once I put it together, I knew it was exactly what I wanted!


my first logo


my current logo


  1. Brainstorm. Think of words that describe you, your photography, your goals. Think of words (colors/textures, nouns, words that are meaningful to you, etc.) Write them all down on a piece of paper.
  2. Google search “(insert word) synonyms” or use – enter each word individually. I like because it not only lists synonyms but below, it will lists words related to the word you searched.
  3. Write down synonyms of the words you chose, that stick out to you.
  4. Once you have many words written down on your paper, start putting them together on a new piece of paper. Try different groupings of words.
  5. Remember that your business name does not have to follow any rules. It does not have to be ____________ Photography. You could use Images, Imagery, Photos, Studio or not even use any of those words at all (example: The Blissful Maven, love the uniqueness of her name!)
  6. Consider using an “+,” “&,” or “and” in your name, if you would like. Use numbers – such as your birthdate, favorite number, etc. You could spell out the number, even.
  7. As you get your names together, make it a point to always google and search Facebook for them – it was important to me to have a unique name, one that no one else has. You could run into copyright/trademark problems if you end up just picking a name and then realizing down the road that someone else already has it.
  8. Run the names past your good friends/family. It is always a good thing to have opinions of people who matter to you, and in some cases, they can help narrow down the choices.
  9. Sleep on it. It might take a few days until you really decide.
  10. Pick your name! Tell everyone about it! Make your Facebook page, buy your domain, get your logo together, etc. 🙂

*One thing to remember is that if you are not using your name, that you may have to file a DBA (doing business as) with the state you live in. I can’t speak in all states, but for PA, I was able to register my business as an LLC which also took care of my DBA. Check with your local SBDC (small business development center.) I had a meeting with a business consultant at a local college – for free – and they helped me a lot by outlining what I needed to do and pointing me in the right direction!



TUTORIAL | Freelensing featuring Forever Whimsy Photography


Check out REDEFINE | Freelensing featuring My Three Sons Images

I spent the better part of 2014 trying, failing, trying again, failing again, reading more, trying again — to understand freelensing. Everything I came across basically said, “take your lens off your camera and hold it in front of where it should be, tilting it until you get the effect that you want.” So, I would take my lens off, hold it in front of my camera, tilting away — then look at my pictures. DARK! SO DARK! I was getting so frustrated. I would increase my ISO, decrease my shutter speed, etcetera – couldn’t actually do anything with my aperture (so I thought) because it wasn’t connected to my camera!

Please keep in mind, this is a Nikon D5100 and Nikon Lenses. I understand that with Canon cameras and lenses– this step isn’t needed. You simply take your lens off, and the aperture is automatically wide open!

Finally, I looked at my lens. Why, oh, why – was it stuck at f16? Put it on my camera, it was definitely going down to f1.4. It was driving me crazy trying to figure out how to get my aperture to change on my 50mm 1.4G lens, since I could not do it manually – like older lenses. So, I googled “lens stuck at f16” – I found a link that was saying take a screwdriver and move the internal blades and I was screaming, “NOOOO!!”

I knew I could figure it out. I looked in my camera. I looked at my lens. I realized there was a little “thingamagig” on the inside of my camera, and also on my lens, that matched up. That is when I had my ‘aha moment’ 🙂

*the lens cap is still on in this image*


I realized that the “thingamagig” was movable, and when I moved it, IT WAS WIDE OPEN! So, now, I had to think of how to keep the “thingamagig” open – or else I’d have to manually keep it open, while holding the lens in front of my camera and pressing the shutter with my other hand.

I grabbed a tiny piece of paper, folding it up a few times, then made one end pointy and stuck it in! *Make sure your piece of paper is big enough to easily remove, you don’t want it getting stuck in there – that would cause a problem when you would put the lens back on your camera!*


The first image is what the lens looks like when you take it off of the camera (and take off the lens cap.. haha) and the second image, you can see my folded up paper to open the “thingamagig” – and lots of light!

The next step is to hold your lens in front of the camera, right where the lens would be if it were locked in. There is a necessary balance you need to do, as you are holding the lens and the camera with one hand; using your other hand to hold the rest of the camera and press the shutter.


It can be tricky here – you have to manually focus at this point, since your lens is not connected to the camera. You need to focus for one point, and then move the lens – ever so slightly – to achieve the focus in one spot. You may have to manually focus a number of times for the focus to be correct. If the lens is slightly to the right, then the left will be OOF (out of focus) and vice versa. If the lens is slightly up, then the bottom of your image will be OOF (and vice versa!)

Things to consider as well: when your lens isn’t attached, dust and dirt can enter your camera and or lens. Pay particular attention to ensuring dust and dirt are not on the sensor or on the back of the lens that connects to the camera. If there is dust or dirt on your sensor or the back of the lens, when you reattach and look through your viewfinder, you will see them (it happened to me the other day). I recommend having a “Lens Pen,” (if you don’t already!) which you can purchase anywhere – this link will send you to 🙂

Freelensing really makes some amazing, interesting images with beautiful soft focus!!


This was my first ever freelensed photo once I figured it out. It is not as focused as I would like on my daughter’s eyelashes, but it is still beautiful in my eyes (as are my first images when I first started teaching myself photography, blown out and not properly focused!)


6 copy


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TUTORIAL | DIY FABRIC WALL featuring Snaps + Sprouts Photography


I am going to show you a tutorial on how to create a fabric wall. I am currently leasing my studio so while we have had free reign over most things, there are a few things we have not been able to change.  I started with this simple DIY project.

A blank wall.


It has good bounce for the light, but um – helloooooo – it’s BORING!  It needs a touch of something but not too much.  I still want to keep the light flowing in the room and have some fun too. {Do you love my couch by the way? Total Craigslist score!  Chevron pillows made by my amazing sister, and the funky gold number, thrift find as was that crazy little number snuggled in next to it. Be sure to pay attention to that table as well, it makes an appearance with a facelift!}

So, I thought I wanted to go with a yellow print, then worried it would set a tone to the room that I was not going for.  I set off to Hobby Lobby with a dear friend in tow to find something that was juuuuuuuuuuust right.  And find we did!

So I carted this beautiful fabric home – that is keeping with my organic theme – and set myself to work.

Step 1:  Calculate how much fabric you will need for your space.  I over calculated and I am going to have a bunch of nice pillows to match my fancy fabric wall. {Tip – There are 9sq ft in 1 sq yard}

Step 2: After you realize that you have purchased way to much fabric, get your ladder, tacks and solution together.

For this project, I was using a cornstarch and water mix:

¼ cup cornstarch + ½ cup cold water then heat 2 cups of water and add it to the mix.

Step 3: Start hanging fabric and painting on the starch mixture.

**Warning – it is VERY runny and messy.  I thought I could roll it on just like paint, not so much. It dripped everywhere including onto my newly laid floor.  I changed tactics and switched to painting it on with a brush.  It worked much better, still slightly dripping, but I definitely had more control on the amount that went on.**


Step 4: Take a step back and look at your hard work.  You’re doing great!  This is where I decided to let it dry/cure for a couple of days.  Okay – so it was supposed to be one day but the holidays and my procrastination led me to last minute holiday shopping; however, two is better than one.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!


Step 5: Trimming – I used a rotary cutter that is used by quilters and cried when the fabric started pulling away from the wall.  It was definitely sticking in some places, and in others, not so much, such as around the door frame, light switch and window.

What’s a girl to do? I could not let all this hard work fly out the window!  I had my beautiful fabric wall with my so perfectly picked out print that matched everything. So what is a girl to do?? Call her mama to the rescue – that’s what!!

Step 6: Thank your Mama profusely for making the run to the hardware store and allow her to help you while you dry your tears.

Step 7:  Apply Sure Grip to those pesky places that did not want to stick with the cornstarch solution alone.

Step 9:  Let dry… Again…

Step 10: Final trim, then – sit back and enjoy all that hard work, sweat, and those tears! You rocked it and now have a fabulous beautiful wall to look at.


The total cost of this project was roughly $40.

Look for fabrics on sale or clearance at your local fabric store – a lot of prints can go as low as $1 per yard! You could also look around online (make sure to check for coupon codes and free shipping!)

Are you a hobbyist or in the business of photography?

I started as a hobbyist and continued that way for approximately a year, which snowballed into a business about 4 years ago.

When did your love affair with photography begin?

I’ve always loved pictures, but after the birth of my daughter (we also have 2 older boys ages 16 & 11) I could NOT stop taking pictures with our point and shoot. When she was about 3 months we purchased a “fancier” point and shoot then around the time she was turning a year my brother in law lent me a DSLR that he was no longer using. It was love at first click. My hubby has been crazy supportive and surprised me with my own roughly 6 months after that. Friends started asking if I could do their child/family photos, which led to strangers asking, which led to me saying WOAH, I can do what I love and get paid??!! It’s been happily ever after since, yes, even with those bumps that come from trial and error. They shape who we are as people, business owners, and artists, and I wouldn’t trade those bumps for a smooth ride any day*.

What gear do you have in your bag?

I’m a Canon girl rocking a Cheeky Lime bag. I have a 28-105, 18-55, and a 55-200. Dr. Suess alphabet cards to entertain the littles, a tabletop tripod, remote, cold weather camera bag, business cards, lens cleaner, q-tips, bobby pins, my absolute favorite lens – my nifty 50. Currently missing – extra SDs, three lens caps, and Kleenex.

What is your absolute best thrifted photography find?

So hard to say! I find probably 95% of my props and set items by thrifting. If I have to choose I am currently in love with a barn door that I rescued it from the burn pile of a local farm. SCORE! It has gorgeous texture and color and is one of those items that just has me super excited to use in a session. Plus, it’s a gorgeous addition to look at in the studio. Some other favorites include afghans, quilts, and old chairs. I am addicted to chairs.

Have you learned anything in your journey that you think would be beneficial to other photographers?

There is so much. Primarily, have confidence in yourself. So many of us compare, compare, compare. The only person you should compare
yourself too is yourself.
About the photographer:
I am a mamarazzi. A wife, a sister, and a daughter. I am an avid reader who likes a little bit of coffee with her sweetener. I am married to my favorite geek and best friend.  We speak Star Wars, Transformers, and Marvel fluently in our household. I can forget to live in the now, always waiting for the right light and the right shot at the right moment. I’m working on that. I am not Superwoman, but sometimes I forget to give myself a break. My 5yo argues at bedtime, my 11yo is a social butterfly, and my 16yo is growing up way too fast for my liking. I am just me, I can be funny and at times, creative.  I am horribly sensitive and when I get really mad, I cry.  I greatly dislike scary movies and tofu.  I’m just a girl with a camera who is doing the best she can.

TUTORIAL | DIY Floral Crown featuring Rose Amelia Photos


Sometimes things can get expensive for a photographer and you can’t always buy the fancy-nancy props that you wish you had. Well, a lot of times you can make simple, affordable, and unique props yourself! Today, I want to show you how to create a flower crown in this short video with the following tools:

DIY Floral Crown

1. Floral Wire
2. About 15-20 flowers (of your choice, depending on size)
3. Scissors
4. Pruners (to trim the stems)
5. *Optional* Floral tape
6. Small wire cutters (or junky scissors that are on hand)

You can make these using flowers from your garden or you can purchase a small bouquet of flowers. For a more longer lasting floral crown, purchase faux flowers! If you are looking to purchase the items needed to make this, check out your local dollar store, unless you already have them on hand.

Click the link to be redirected

to the video at Pearls & Roses

Are you a hobbyist or in the business of photography?
Actually, I am neither. I say this because not only do I enjoy and have fun photographing things, but it is my passion. I feel that it is my ‘job’ to try my best to put smiles on faces and brighten their days with my images. But I will start a business in the future when the time is right!

When did your love affair with photography begin?
I first had a spark for photography when I was six years old, but it really became a part of me at the age of eight. I actually would look at something and ‘click’ my eyes as if I were capturing the moment! I wanted to keep the beauty of everything close to me in some way! Then my dream came true, I received my first digital point and shoot on my eighth birthday, right then, I knew as I held it, that this was what I wanted to do in life, and loved and cherished photography ever since. It’s hard to explain really. I feel my love for it is indescribable a lot of times. 🙂

What gear do you have in your bag?
My lovley Canon 7D, 85mm 1.4 and Canon 50mm 1.8. I usually prefer the 50mm over the 85. Although I do not have much to work with I try to be creative in the way I use them.

What is your absolute best thrifted photography find?
My Minolta X-370s film camera!I found this little bud hanging on the wall in a case behind an old dresser at an antique mall. It was my intention to find a film camera that day, and I had to scavenge through the same aisles multiple times before I found it. I love older cameras especially if they work! 😉 Collecting them is a favorite of mine. I have always loved film. It has a special place in my heart even though I just started shooting it. I have shot a few rolls, and have a blast with it. So in love with it and very happy to finally have a film camera!
Have you learned anything in your journey that you think would be beneficial to other photographers?

Never doubt yourself or your talent, and never try to imitate another photographers style. I learned that this never got anyone anywhere. You have your own talent and your own style, no one can be you! Although you may not like the way your photos look now you’ll discover your true style through tons of mistakes and heartache, but you will discover that special talent you have!

Remember: A great photographer is not in the camera nor in the equipment you buy; it’s in you, and the way your heart and eyes see the world.

Also, learn all you can about photography, we can never learn enough! Blogs, books, tutorials, videos, photography groups, help from fellow photographers, and even workshops are a great way to learn tons of things.

About the photographer: 

I’m a 15 year old girl living in the foothills of the Virginia Blue Ridge Mountains. I’m a photographer, graphic designer, and blogger. As a child, I always loved creating things. The love for photography was first discovered when I was about eight years old.. years later, it eventually turned into what it is now, a passion. It is something I love to do with all my heart. And it has opened a way for me to do what I’ve always loved to do, create with my heart, share my work for the good of others by inspiring and encouraging them and being closer to God than I ever was before. It has been an amazing journey and I am excited to continue with my passion for years to come.

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