Dear Photographer | Feature by Naomi Ovando

Dear Photographer |  Feature by Naomi Ovando

Dear Younger Me,

The one in the midst of postpartum depression and anxiety, the one filled with so much fear and feelings of failure and weakness. You are so much stronger than you think and everything is going to be okay. It’s going to be more than okay, it’s going to be extraordinary. God is always faithful and always by your side.

Somewhere along the way, while a caring day in and day out for your beautiful babies, you forgot to take care of yourself and you let a part of yourself start to die. Take care of yourself beautiful mama. Listen to the whisperings of your heart. No one else can love your family the way you can and no one else sees the world the way you do. Creativity is a part of you and when you spend time creating, it brings you so much joy. It feeds and nourishes your soul.

Go ahead and buy yourself that DSLR you’ve been wanting. The minute you look through the viewfinder, something will come to life inside of you. You’re going to notice so much beauty all around you and you’re going to see how God is saying “I love you” over and over again through the beautiful sunsets, magnificent trees, delicate flowers, amazing skies, and especially through the blessing of your family. Taking photos, capturing beautiful moments and your children’s fleeting childhood will be like a salve to your soul and will fill your heart with gratitude and healing.

It’s going to take you a while to realize that you must continually nourish your creative soul and that it makes you a better and happier woman, but you’ll learn how important it is eventually. In 2017, you’re going to commit to taking better care of yourself and making time for your art.

You’re going to keep yourself accountable by starting a 365 project and by sharing what speaks to your heart. You’re going to be scared as all get out since you feel like you still have so much to learn, but you have been feeling the nudges to share your art, your heart, and your story.

Even though you still have much to learn about the technical side of photography and you may break many rules, you’re going to be brave. You’re going to shoot with your heart. Always stay true to your heart for it is what will bring you the most joy and fulfillment. Enjoy the journey and the learning process and don’t compare yourself to others for everyone is at a different point in their journey. You’re going to learn so much from so many that inspire you on this photography journey. You’re going to find an encouraging, supportive and inspiring community that is going to help bring out the best in you and help you grow as an artist. Most importantly, remember that you have your own story to tell and no one else can tell it the way you can. God made you to shine His light, so shine on beautiful one!





Naomi lives with her husband and three children in sunny Southern California.  She is a homeschooling mama and loves spending her days with her muses.  Going on outdoor adventures with her family and capturing storytelling images is one of her favorite things to do.  She can often be found in the nearby mountains or at the beach with camera in tow.  Her goal is to continue growing as an artist and to keep seeking out and capturing the beauty in the ordinary.

I N S T A G R A M 

15/ 31 EPIC SUMMER SESSIONS |Feature by Claire Searle

15/ 31 EPIC SUMMER SESSIONS |Feature by Claire Searle
Is this session personal work or client work?

Client work

Tell us a bit about the magic of summer + the connection to your lens?

I have a love hate relationship with summer, it is all delicious fruit, long nights and sweat lots of sweat. I live in Australia where 9 months of the year we live in summer. Summer means Christmas and the New Year, so it’s always a special time of year. I shot this session on my Tamron 24-70mm f2.8 lense. I love that this lense allows me to always be close to my clients so they can hear my hilarious jokes and I can capture their big smiles as they laugh at them. I also used my nifty fifty Canon50mm f 1.8 to capture the last few images as I love that swirly bokeh it allows me to capture then drool over whilst editing.

What about this session makes it an Epic summer session?

I seriously loved this session. Who doesn’t love a mumma who is willing to wade through the ocean and stroll up and down cliffs. We talked and laughed and ate delicious snacks that this beautiful mum made for us. I think hanging out on a beach with a fun lady eating pretty much sums up my idea of an epic summer.

What else is on your summer bucket list to photograph this summer?

I would love to capture some underwater shots, that has been on my bucket list for waaaay too long.

 What gear was used to achieve these?

Canon 6d
Tamron 24-70mm f2.8
Canon 50mm F1.8 all edited in LR

Any summer tips or photographer advice?

Get out there and enjoy that summer, Be sure to be sun safe and drink plenty of h20!

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Hi I’m Claire, I am a lifestyle photographer who is passionate about capturing the special moments in your life. I am also a Wife, Mumma and Registered Nurse. I absolutely love natural light. I don’t use a flash and I don’t shoot in a studio. I love exploring the beautiful Coffs Coast hunting down perfect locations for you and your family.

I believe that every family deserves to be captured. I love love and would be honored to capture your life. I love natural candid moments, real laughs (usually at my jokes) and honest emotion. I use minimal posing and just like to let you the client lead the way. Feel free to browse my site and let me know if you have any questions

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

The traveling Lensbaby project |Chelsea Furlong, VA

The traveling Lensbaby project |Chelsea Furlong,  VA
Weekly special project. LENSBABY is in Hampton Roads VA
Taveling Lensbaby Chelsea Furlong-56.jpgWhat is one thing about your photos that says the most about you as a person. Dig deep!

I think the emotion and the darkness in my photos is what says a lot about me as a person. Obviously I was in full sun for most of these images at the beach, but often my personal images of my children are pretty dark and I play with shadows a lot because I love the dark, dramatic feel of them. I have a sensitive soul and I feel like my images often convey that deep sensitivity.

Taveling Lensbaby Chelsea Furlong-30

Can you tell us a little bit about the process you’ve gone through (or that you are going through) to find your photographic style? How has it evolved over the years?

It took me a long time to find my personal style. I had no idea who I wanted to be as a photographer when I was starting out, and it’s taken me several years to just go with what feels right. I’m always saying that once your art comes directly from your heart, you’ve found yourself. That happened for me last August, and I remember the exact moment I found my voice as a photographer. I’ll never forget the snap of the shutter in that exact moment because I felt something inside me ignite. I knew the second I hit the shutter that the photograph I had taken was my defining moment. It changed my art and my world. What’s interesting about style is that I thought that once I found my style, that would be it. There would be a period at the end of the sentence and I’d be forever that artist. But it’s not that way at all. Yes, I found my style, but it’s still very much evolving. Daily. My skill level, voice, and style are all progressing with every single photo I take. And I hope that never changes.

Taveling Lensbaby Chelsea Furlong-13.jpg

What Lensbaby lenses have you shot with before? How have they transformed your work?

This Lensbaby Twist 60 was the very first Lensbaby I’ve used! I’m a huge fan of freelensing because it challenges me and I love the dream-like feel of the images it produces. I loved the Lensbaby for the same reasons! One of the only times I focus manually, is when I’m freelensing and I always love the challenge of getting my two extremely active little boys in focus, so I had a blast with the manual focus on the Lensbaby!


Taveling Lensbaby Chelsea Furlong-22

Why is it important that photographers not get too fixed in their ways? What makes experimentation so crucial to an artist’s growth?

When photographers don’t take the time to step out of their comfort zones, their work can become stagnant and monotonous. I always know when I’m in a bit of a photography rut because I feel bored with my images. Often those ruts come right before a huge jump in my work though. When I’m stuck and feeling uninspired, I’ll usually step back and find something to focus on or perfect that I’ve never done before, or I’ll try out a new lens! I always have a list of technical or artistic photography related skills that I want to try out, so I’ll take several days to practice only that one thing until I’m happy with the result. If that doesn’t work, or I don’t have the time in the next few weeks to work on a new skill, I simply switch out my lens. I use only prime lenses so going from one lens to another can have a huge impact on the look of my photos, which can spark up my passion all over again! It’s easy to become fixed in your ways, but you lose the fire in your soul when that happens and photography becomes more like a chore than a passion. When you step outside of that comfort zone, experiment with new equipment, materials, and lighting, and push your own limits, that’s when the good stuff happens. That’s when you create art, rather than take photographs.Taveling Lensbaby Chelsea Furlong-27.jpgTaveling Lensbaby Chelsea Furlong-23Taveling Lensbaby Chelsea Furlong-41Taveling Lensbaby Chelsea Furlong-35Taveling Lensbaby Chelsea Furlong-36Taveling Lensbaby Chelsea Furlong-38Taveling Lensbaby Chelsea Furlong-40 (1)Taveling Lensbaby Chelsea Furlong-46Taveling Lensbaby Chelsea Furlong-43


I’m a lover of coffee, food, music, traveling and mother nature. But above that I’m a mother to two energetic little boys. My 2 and 4 yr old sons are the reason I’m a photographer. They feed my soul and feed my creativity, so you’ll see them pop up in my photos almost daily. If you follow my photography journey , you’ll find you’ll get to know them quite well without even knowing them.


BE INSPIRED Session featuring LeAnna Azzolini Photography

BE INSPIRED Session featuring LeAnna Azzolini Photography


Tell us a bit about your approach to the work you do, your time in the business and a few personal facts about you.

I’ve had an intense passion for photography since I was a young girl. My mother was constantly documenting our lives in photos and videos and the gene was definitely inherited. I’m all over the place when it comes to my favorite subject…adoring everything from photographing my daughter, to the ocean, maternity, sunsets, and just recently began my voyage into underwater, now that my baby has been learning to swim. When working with clients I put my heart and soul into each and every shoot. My heartfelt goal is to create timeless photographs where they can see (and feel) their love and connection. Preserving this time for them is a great privilege and something I’m constantly working to better myself at. After 5 years in the business I’ve recently realized that if my focus just lies in creating images with a true connection, then little else matters. That is what will truly stand the test of time and also what keeps me motivated.

What about this session was most memorable?

Honestly, it was their connection. One of the most stunning sights I’ve seen.

Were there any hurdles?

Amazingly enough, the only issue I had was a swarm of little gnats that kept entering my shots! Everything else was literally like a dream.

Your best photographer/session advice?

Begin each shoot with a completely open mind and go along with whatever the day brings to you (it rarely brings you what you expect anyway). Relax and have fun and they will too! If you just keep your focus on the connection and emotion in your photographs (while allowing them to interact naturally), magic will happen.

What gear was used to achieve these?

5D Markii, 50mm 1.4, 24-70mm 2.8



After nearly a lifetime of having a serious passion for capturing moments on film, I began my journey with photographing professionally in 2011 and immediately fell in love with the entire process.
Since being given the tremendous opportunity to start my career by photographing celebrities and highly detailed private events and weddings (in my earlier days), I’ve arrived at the place where my heart truly lies…maternity and families.
I’ve always been somewhat obsessed with the body of an expecting mama, and once I was able to go through that process on my own, I felt more comfortable shooting my vision for others. My own pregnancy and motherhood is how I ended up finding my true love of photography and I’m reminded of that special feeling every time I photograph a new family. It’s magical!
To love what you do is a blessing that I do not take for granted. I put my heart and soul into each and every shoot. It’s a deep passion of mine that I can’t imagine ever fading away. Find LeAnna work here :

REDEFINE | Project – 100 black dads by Lucy Baber Photography

REDEFINE  | Project – 100 black dads by Lucy Baber Photography
Why are you passionate about this project?

There has been a lot of media attention on police violence, especially against black men and boys over the past few years. Black men are typically portrayed as “violent”, “dangerous”, and “criminals” in the media, which continues to perpetuate racial bias and a culture of fear within our society. These are not the black men I know. The black men I know are loving, nurturing, hard working, and like any other parent, they just want to raise their children in peace. As an artist, I felt a responsibility to fight back against those negative media messages by using my art. By taking photos of dads with their kids, I wanted to change the narrative about black men so that people can start to see them for the amazing men that they really are.

 Tell me about your intro to photography and what connections can it be traced back to your project?

I bought my first camera in 2010, and I’ve been in business as a family photographer since 2012. I considered several different approaches to this particular project, but in the end I knew the most sustainable option would be to focus on what I know best: lifestyle family photography. Especially when working with dads, I find that I’m able to get the most joyful and authentic expressions when I ask them to interact with their kids for family photos.

How important do you feel projects like these are in the photography world?

Social justice issues are extremely important to me. So important, in fact, that I started a private Facebook group for other photographers to collaborate and support each other as we take on social justice photo projects. I believe our current political climate makes these projects even more urgent right now. In this current culture of “fake news” and “alternative facts”, I believe that photography and art are absolutely crucial to anyone who wants to rediscover the Truth. It can be really overwhelming and confusing when there are so many mixed messages put out by the media, but a simple photo can speak volumes. This project has been really centering for me, in my ongoing pursuit of Truth.

What were the challenges for you in the beginning with the project ?

As a white woman wanting to engage in a photo project about black men, I wanted to be very careful not to do or say the wrong thing. I took two years to really flesh out the goals and specifics of the project before I made a public announcement about it, and during that time I also spoke with several trusted friends and mentors in the black community. I spent a lot of time on educating myself on the Black Lives Matter movement as well. I did a lot of reading about social justice issues and I attended local events to learn from leaders in the black community. I paid special attention to criticisms from the black community about the potential for harm from “white allies”. I really wanted to develop a project that would not only emphasize a positive narrative about these men, but would also be welcomed and embraced by the black community. I didn’t want to overstep my boundaries in any way.

Also, on a much smaller scale, scheduling has been another challenge. As a work from home mom and small business owner, it can be difficult to tackle personal projects in a timely manner. This is not a paid project, and even the process of applying for art grants takes time that, frankly, my three year old doesn’t always let me have. Nevertheless, I keep chugging away! I know that in our fast-paced social media culture, projects can lose public interest if they don’t happen quickly. But at the same time, I want to let this project develop at its own pace. It is changing me as much as it giving back to others, and I don’t want to rush that process.




Lucy Baber is a lifestyle newborn and family photographer in the Philadelphia area. Her work can be followed at the following links:



The traveling LENSBABY project | feature by Jessica Mielke Photography

The traveling LENSBABY project | feature by Jessica Mielke Photography
What is one thing about your photos that says the most about you as a person. Dig deep!

Wow this is a tough question. I feel I am an authentic person and I try to be open and vulnerable with my life. I try to document in a way that shows the real, raw, vulnerable parts of life.

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Can you tell us a little bit about the process you’ve gone through (or that you are going through) to find your photographic style? How has it evolved over the years?

I picked up my first DSLR in 2008 and I have never looked back. I have bounced around genres and styles a lot actually and it wasn’t until very recently that I have found a style that I love. I struggled with what my heart was telling me to photograph over what made my family some money. For years I photographed everything, I booked whatever I could to make money but I was emotionally and artistically drained. It wasn’t until I decided that I needed to shoot 100% for me that I really began to define my style. I started editing the way I wanted to edit vs what my clients were used to.

Lensbaby-48What Lensbaby lenses have you shot with before? How have they transformed your work?

I have never shot with a lensbaby before. Eep I was so excited to get this one in the mail for the week. It was definitely tough to nail the focus for me but I still loved it and I have one in my Amazon cart right now.
I have never used a lensbaby, but I have done a lot of freelensing and I feel that helped transform my work a lot. I learned that some images are best out of focus because life isn’t always in focus.

Lensbaby-51 (1)Why is it important that photographers not get too fixed in their ways? What makes experimentation so crucial to an artist’s growth?

Experimenting is SOOOO crucial. I bounced around a lot when I was beginning and I think that really helped me figure out what I loved to photograph! You can’t grow as an artist if you’re not constantly evolving, learning, experimenting. I don’t want to be the same artist in a year. I want to be better, I want my images to speak to someone and if I don’t occasionally experiment with what I am doing that is never going to happen, change and growth will never happen.



I am Jessica.  I am a seeker of light and love. I live in Aurora Colorado with my husband, two crazy kids, three crazy dogs and 5 even crazier chickens..  I photograph in the Denver Metro Area and select dates in Tucson Arizona. I am a storyteller and lifestyle photographer. I document Maternity, Births and Families. I believe that life should be documented as it is, messy and crazy, sometimes dark and grainy.

REDEFINE | STREET PHOTOGRAPHY feature by Jennifer Tonetti Spellman

jtstreet (9 of 10)Why are you passionate about street photography

First and foremost, there is nothing fake, easy or predictable about street work. It’s the most frightening yet exhilarating way to capture the world around you. Secondly, I’m saddened that we gloss over people in our every day hurry without even knowing it’s happening. No one stops on the streets to talk or connect anymore. Now more than ever, when you really observe people on the street, the usual scene is head down looking at their phone or headphones in blocking out the sounds around them. With street, it forces me to be present with people and really look for connections.

What were the challenges for you in the beginning?

The biggest challenge to deal with when I set out on my first street run nearly 6 years ago was ‘what will the reaction be if someone catches me shooting them? Are they going to flip out? Grab and break my camera? Punch me in the face?’ I found out, fairly quickly, two things: most people are so consumed with where they are going they have no idea I am even shooting them or secondly, most people think I’m shooting something else because they never think ‘they’ could possibly be the subject.

Another challenge was figuring out what type of street work I really liked to do and what ‘fit’ me. So I experimented. I’m not drawn to street portraits where you speak to the subject and ask to take their picture. I don’t like the ‘up close in your face to get a reaction’ style. I much more prefer the capturing of unique people unaware who are larger than life to me, or juxtapositions, or cool light on buildings or even lines in a building or structure. I also love finding a ‘back drop’ like a colored wall and waiting for the right person to pass by. Anything on the street that pops out at me, be it human or otherwise, and literally makes me stop dead in my tracks, I shoot it.

When did you first realize you were interested in shooting street photography?

Almost 6 years ago I read an article in the paper about a new discovery of a woman’s work named Vivian Maier. I was completely blown away that this street photographer kept her images a secret, telling no one (hard concept to grasp in this age of oversharing). I was captivated by her images. Raw humanity, shocking at times, but as real as it got, and she shot a ton in NY so I really felt like I connected with her work on that level as well. I was heading to London shortly after with a friend and said to her ‘I need to shoot street when we are there, alone, by myself.’ I set out every day for a bit just walking the streets and I was beyond hooked. I had been shooting clients already and had a business but this was different. This was the biggest personal project I have ever taken on, and it’s all for me and only me.

How do you feel street photography is different from all other genres?

First off I am amazed at the age span of street photographers. A while back I took a street workshop and there were men and women there age 60+. It was actually refreshing. Street truly spans the ages. Also, when you shoot street there are zero second chances if you miss something. If you do miss it, rather than kicking yourself, you need to adapt an onward and upward philosophy, something I am usually not good at but I’m getting there. Street is the most challenging form of photography I have ever shot and I love a challenge as I bore very easily.

Has it helped influence your personal life or business side?

I’d say street has influenced both. Before street I didn’t notice juxtapositions as much in my in-home client work so it really sharpened my eye to those serendipitous moments. Personally it has made me slow down, work on my patience and recognize the humanity in us all. It also has given me another voice in photography and is my natural next step as I continue to search for ways to push myself.

What are the tips you would share with anyone trying to shoot in the street (aim for at least 5, but any are welcome)

1. Be patient and don’t expect much. There are days I come back after street shooting and have nothing to show for it. This isn’t like shooting clients, or your children, or a wedding where you pretty much are guaranteed ‘something’ at the end of the day.

2. Be self-critical of your work. Just because you caught someone walking down the street and nailed the focus doesn’t mean it’s a good street photo. There are many elements of good street images: juxtapositions/interesting subjects/layers/lines/structures. Don’t settle.

3. Study the masters. Not for comparison sake but for the vision they had and see how amazing the elements of street can be when they all come together.

4. Avoid using a dSLR. The ultimate goal for me is to look like I have no idea what I am doing with a camera, and go completely unnoticed. I shoot with a small Ricoh GRII (which looks like a toy camera and fits in your pocket) and my Fujifilm x100T with black tape over it so people think it’s just a junky camera. When you bust out a big honking dSLR you look like you are shooting with intent.

5. Don’t shoot wide open. You want the whole scene in focus to truly tell the story of the street. Every detail matters.

6. Manual is not king on the street. It’s darn near impossible to shoot in manual mode in street. I have yet to meet a street photographer that does because it all moves way too fast out there.

7. Let go of perfection. Images can be raw/slightly blurry etc. It’s totally acceptable as long as the content is strong. Street started on film and if you look at the masters of street, some of the greats will have amazing images that may not be technically correct.

8. Ignore the pressure to convert all to B+W. I’m an ‘in vivid color’ kind of girl- most of my street is in color because I am drawn to the colors on the street and they tell the story. As with any genre, there are pissing matches of how you should do certain things, and as with any genre, I ignore all that and shoot and process images with my gut.

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Jennifer Tonetti Spellman is a NY based photographer who photographs street work for herself and in-home photojournalistic sessions for her clients. Jennifer is also the co-founder of Illuminate Classes where she also teaches. When she isn’t shooting or teaching she can be found hanging with the four who make her world spin round: her husband, two girls, and her shelter dog .