L. and her Mother - Palmer, Anchorage, Alaska Family Photographer

Being a mother is a beautiful thing. We love these little human beings so much that our hearts could explode, but at the same time they also have the ability to drive us crazy. Being a mother needs to be photographed, and I don't think it happens as often as it should be. I challenge you, that if you haven't been photographed with your children professionally in the past 2 years, to do it. You will never regret it, the regret comes from not doing it. 

anchorage-portrait-motherhood-child-photographer
anchorage-fine-art-child-photographer

Alaska Peony Farmers - Anchorage, Palmer, Alaska Commercial Photographer

I had the opportunity to photograph these hardworking, Alaskan business owners! We originally photographed them this spring because they needed an image for marketing, but they really wanted to have an image with the flowers that they are farming. This is a 4 generation photo which makes it even more priceless. Alaska Peonies are the best! So get out there and buy some while they are available. Not only will your day be brightened, but you will be supporting local Alaskan business owners. 

Palmer_Alaska_Peony_Farmers.jpg

Lilacs in Bloom - Anchorage, Alaska Child Photographer

Lilac season in Anchorage and Alaska doesn't last long! So I try to take advantage of them when they are blooming. I offer portrait sessions for children, tweens, senior portraits, and women of all ages. I provide my clients with high quality, fine art prints, albums, and wall art. Don't miss out! Email me at info@christalhoughtelling.com or call 907-982-5409 to set up a session. 

palmer-portraits-alaska.jpg

Sophia - Palmer and Anchorage, Alaska Fine Art Child Photographer

As a fine art child photographer in Anchorage and Palmer I have a lot of options to include flowers in the summer time. I have wildflowers, Lilacs, Lupine, Fireweed, Dandilions, Wild Roses. Including floral crowns into a portrait really makes my heart sing. They bring a touch of femininity to an image that I really love. So if you love flowers as well, please contact me about a floral portrait session. I photograph women of all ages, you are never too young or too old! 

anchorage-family-child-portrait-photographer
palmer-alaska-child-photographer

Selena Hatchers Pass Senior Portraits - Palmer, Anchorage, Senior Photography

I love photographing and creating senior portraits in Hatchers Pass. Every summer when it warms up, and opens I take my family up there to explore. The raw, natural beauty takes my breath away. I love combining the natural beauty around my subjects along with the natural beauty of my clients. Being able to photograph children, tweens, and senior girls in a natural beautiful way that isn't too posed is something that I love to do. When I get to hand my clients the actual prints printed on fine art, archival paper, I know my job is done. They have a fine art piece that they can hang on their wall and show their children years from now. 

anchorage-senior-portrait-photographer

With teens and social media, they are often craving the "likes". But I remind them that this images isn't just for "likes" it's an heirloom. So 30 years from now they will see their image and realize what a beautiful person they were, and are. I strongly believe that women should have professional images done their whole life. Take a look at Selena's images, and feel free to contact me at info@christalhoughtelling.com to schedule a session.

Hatcher-pass-senior-portraits-palmer

Natural Family Photos - Palmer, Anchorage, Alaska Family Photographer

With 4 kids at home sometimes it's a complete disaster! Dirty dishes, clothing needing to be folded, shoes all over the place. But here is the deal....I'm tired. I'm tired of trying to keep everything clean, of trying to make my life appear to be something it's not. I'm a hot mess! My kids are their own people, they make their own decisions about what they do.  While I try my best to influence them to do what I think would be the best, sometimes they decide that they are going to chose something else. I don't want to live my life trying to impress other people. I love my kids, my family, my life. I want to remember it as it is right now. When my daughter calls me 20 years from now complaining about her life, and kids I can tell her that she's not crazy. It's hard to be a parent, but it is also so rewarding. I have beautiful kids, and I have the ability to make crazy gorgeous portraits of them. Which I love. But I also love capturing moments of my life that really mean something to me. Moments that remind me what an awesome mom I am because we went to the airshow this year. I want my kids to know that I value them and love to spend time with them. I want them to know that I love the way they are right now, that we don't have to pretend to be perfect. 

anchorage-family-photographer-real-life
Natural-anchorage-family-photographer
anchorage-documentary-family-photographer
candid-anchorage-family-photographer
JBER-family-photographer-alaska
best-jber-family-photographer

Tips on how to Photograph the Northern Lights - Anchorage, Alaska Family Photographer

On Christmas night I stood next to my car in -40 degree temperatures outside of Denali National Park trying to capture the perfect photo of the Northern Lights.

Why?

Because photographing the northern lights is addictive, magical, and so much fun. It was also on my bucket list, and it’s probably on yours as well. The dancing lights can be fleeting, so I want to give you some tips on how to get it right the first time.

How_to_photograph_the_northern_lights_aurora

Protecting your camera:

Taking your camera in and out of the cold can cause condensation, and so it is very important to properly protect your camera. I place my camera into an extra large airtight ziplock bag. I then place the camera into the camera bag that I have also had out in the cold. The condensation will form on the bag and not on my camera. The reason I place the plastic bag into a cold camera bag is to allow the camera to adjust slowly to temperature changes. Just be sure to let your camera warm up slowly, it can take quite a while.

 

Protecting yourself:

Be prepared for the weather! I live in Alaska and -20 or colder at night is normal. I wear thermal underwear, long sleeved shirts, a heavy winter coat, snow pants, snow boots, gloves, large mittens over my gloves, hat and a face mask. I also use hand warmers in my gloves, and my boots. I like to be warm! Obviously this might be overkill for where you live, so prepare yourself accordingly. DO NOT touch your tripod without gloves in very cold weather. It can be very painful, I know from experience!

 

tips-for-how-to-photograph-the-northern-lights

Recommended Gear for photographing the Northern Lights

  • Tripod: You will need a tripod for the long exposures that are required.

  • Shutter release: Although this isn’t a requirement, I find that using one helps keep the photo sharp, and free from camera shake.

  • Wide angle lens with a wide aperture: I use a wide angle lens exclusively for my northern light photos.

  • Extra Battery: You will be taking lots of long exposures, and the cold reduces battery life! Be sure to keep an extra battery on hand. I keep mine inside my coat to keep it warm.

Recommended Camera Settings

Your camera settings will vary depending on the brightness of the Aurora, but here are some good starting points.

  • Aperture: Keep your f-stop around 1.4-2.8, or the widest your lens will open up.

  • ISO: Start with an ISO around 1000, and increase or decrease as needed.

  • Shutter Speed: Shutter speeds will also need to vary depending on your desired effect. If the lights are dim try shooting around 1/15-1/25th of a second. If the lights are bright and really dancing, increase your shutter speed to 1/10 of a second or faster to catch the movements.

  • Focus: I set my camera on manual focus, and focus to “infinity”. Then I check and adjust as needed.

The northern lights can be unpredictable, and can change in intensity. You will need to adjust your settings as needed throughout the shoot.

Don’t let the dark winters keep you indoors and away from shooting. Yes, it can be hard to drag yourself out of your cozy bed, but it is worth it! Just don’t forget to stop for a moment and really enjoy what you are seeing. Now get out there and capture some magic!

What to do if your toddler wont co-operate for photos? Tips from a photographer who was that toddler!

       Early one morning my mother decided that she was going to take me to go get my photo done at the local JCPenny's. She had 6 kids at the time, and obviously wanted to show the world her youngest little beauty! I'm surprised that I can even remember this event seeing as I was so young, but I do. The photographer sat me up on the bench, stood behind the camera and told me to smile. Now just in case you don't know me well, sometimes right off the bat I don't like people. I did not like this photographer. Looking back on it, I felt like he was talking down to me. So, I did what every little sassy pants toddler does...I REFUSED to smile. He then proceeded to try everything he could do to make me smile, and nothing worked. Out of desperation my mother bribed me with an ice-cream shake if I would just give her one smile. I can still remember the desperation in her voice! At that point I knew I had won! I gave my mother what she wanted, this sassy little smile, and we were out the door to get that shake.  What is interesting is that this last Christmas this picture came up, and we didn't talk about how cute I was. We laughed about what a stinker I was that day! So, what can you do to have a stress free photo-shoot with your toddler....

toddler-wont-cooperate-for-photos

LET GO OF PERFECTION

There I said it! Just let it go. Perfect images are boring anyway. Are stale images of your kid looking at a camera really what you want? Or do you want images that tell a story, take you back in time, and make you feel something. 

I suggest a documentary family photo session. What does that mean? It means that the photographer hangs out with you for an entire day documenting your life. It might seem like a weird concept at first, but these types of sessions produce images that are so awesome. 

These sessions take all the stress off of your shoulders because you get to be you. No need to buy matching clothing, no need to clean your home, and dads love these sessions. 

LET ME TELL YOU ANOTHER STORY

I hired a mentor a couple of years ago to help me with my photography. I just wasn't happy with where I was going. I can produce beautiful perfect family portraits, and I was bored and frustrated out of my mind. Families would nit pick how they looked in each image trying to find the perfect image for their wall. It made me sad. These images where technically perfect in every way. So why wasn't I happy! Then my mentor told me a story about Picasso. She said he was a master at the human form. He could paint it perfectly, with perfect dimensions. But obviously at some point he became interested in finding his "style" what he loved to create. I have always loved documentary images, but was worried to let go of my other technically perfect work. It pays the bills, but it hasn't been where my heart is at. I love images of kids being kids. I love to see mom cry when she looks at her images because they made her feel emotion. I dare you to give documentary family photos a try and see what you think. I promise that at some point your toddler with throw a tantrum during the day, but you will cherish the images that come from it. 

What Is The Best Way To Have Your Family Photographed?

When people think of professional photography they often think of wedding photos. But, not long after weddings come children...and family photos are often neglected. If they are not neglected they are often thought of as portraits with everyone looking at the camera. While I still photograph families in that way, I much prefer what I call moment photography or documentary family sessions. In order to get wonderful, emotion filled images on a wedding day the photographer often spends anywhere from 4 hour to a whole day with the couple and their family. So, I like to take the same approach with families when possible. I like to spend anywhere from 4 hours to a day with you documenting the little moments that you don't take notice of. I photograph you in an artistic, unique way that will provide you with images like no other family has. I also offer a short portrait session with everyone looking at the camera for families that book storytelling sessions, if that is something you are interested in.  I suggest that if you haven't thought of family photography in this way, you really think about how you want to remember your family and the life you are living. Here are some images of two of my children to give you an idea of how I photograph families. Take a look! Contact me at info@christalhoughtelling.com to schedule a storytelling, vacation, or day in the life session. 

Activities for Natural Family Photos - Palmer, Anchorage, Alaska Family Photographer

Any time a family contacts me they ask for ideas of activities that would be good to do for natural family photos. As a documentary Anchorage family photographer I tell them that family photos should be a real representation of how your family likes to spend time together. My sessions are relaxed, and natural because I work hard to make good photos of you spending time with your family. Summer is upon us in Alaska and it is short! So here are some ideas of activities that would be great for you to do as a family for your photo session. 

  • Play at the Lake or on boat

  • Roasting hot dogs and marshmallows

  • Play in the sprinkler at home

  • Go to the icecream shop and get icecream

  • Fishing together

  • Bake something as a family

  • Play in your yard and your home together

  • Go to your favorite little town on "vacation"

  • Go to the reindeer farm

  • Visit a glacier or take a glacier helicopter tour

  • Visit a local farm and pick out produce or flowers

  • Go berry picking

  • Go on a short hike and have a picnic

  • If extended family or friends are in town this is the best time for a family session and take them around to all the local tourist spots and spend time together at home.

You don't have to limit yourself to this list! Whatever you want to do as a family I can tag along. My documentary sessions last anywhere from 4 hours to a whole day. When clients hear that I spend the day with them sometimes they are surprised.  But the fact is that I am not taking any of your time, you get to spend your time doing whatever you want and I am just along for the ride. If you have any questions or want to schedule your family session contact me at info@christalhoughtelling.com. 

anchorage-family-photography-best
Natural-anchorage-family-photographer

What is a Documentary Family Photo Session, and why should I have one?

alaska-best-family-photographer-anchorage

DOCUMENTARY PHOTOGRAPHY IS A NATURAL WAY TO HAVE YOUR FAMILY PHOTOGRAPHED

The thing about documentary is that it is about capturing you and your life as it is. There is no staging, no posing, no directing.  Another genre that people often confuse with documentary is lifestyle. These two styles are completely different. Lifestyle is trying to make your life look perfect with clothing, location, facial expressions, ect. Documentary is photographing your life as it is, because you are perfect the way you are. The messy house, the mismatched clothing, the wild children. That is enough, and it is beautiful to capture. 

alaska-photographer-family

YOU DON'T HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT WHAT TO WEAR    

 One thing that clients often worry about is worry about is what to wear. For these sessions you don't need to go buy new clothing. Just wear what you would wear on any normal day. These sessions are supposed to be about photographing your family as you are! So let the stress fly out the window and just be you.

 

best-documentary-family-photographer

AT SOME POINT YOUR CHILDREN WILL ACT OUT

Don't worry about it! I will photograph those moments where the kids are throwing tantrums, or fighting, or just being stinkers. But that is part of what family life is! It's a bundle of emotions all wrapped up in a day, and that is what makes my heart love documenting families. I have 4 kids of my own, so this is not new to me. 

anchorage-family-photographer

LOCATION MATTERS

Location matters in terms of what you love to do as a family, and what a normal day with you is like. If you have a couple of activities that are special that you do as a family we can photograph those. But don't try to stuff your day full of too many things. The whole family will be exhausted if you do. 

best-anchorage-vacation-photographer

DADS LOVE THESE SESSIONS

Lets be honest....not many men love photoshoots. Well, that is until they have a documentary session. These sessions are really just about photographing the family spending time together. 

THESE IMAGES WILL BE PRICELESS

Kids grow up fast, and life changes. I view photography as a visual inheritance that you leave for your family. It is so important to have photos done. It's the little things in life that tug at our heart. It's not the perfectly posed images. Pick up the phone and give me a call at  907-982-5409 or email me to schedule your session. 

On Nancy Lake - Anchorage, Palmer, Alaska Family Photographer

As a documentary family photographer in Palmer, Wasilla and Anchorage I have some of the funnest things to photograph! Playing around in the mountains, on the lakes, and at family homes makes me so happy. This family was going to play on Nancy Lake at their cabin and had me come photograph it. 

Documentary sessions are fabulous for extended family sessions. It's so much more interesting to see moments where family are interacting verses just staring at a camera, that is why I always recommend these sessions. I also offer my documentary clients a mini portrait session while at these shoots as well because I understand that both are important. If you have any questions, or would like to book a session give me a call at 907-982-5409, or email me at info@christalhoughtelling.com 

documentary-anchorage-family-playing-on-a-lake.jpg

Why Photos Matter - Palmer, Anchorage, Alaska Family Photography

This past couple of weeks have been a difficult one for me.

My dad was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, 1 month after a checkup telling us he was cancer free. It was shocking, heartbreaking, and sudden. Within a few days he had passed after his kidneys failed him. What breaks my heart is that I had planned a vacation to visit my parents by myself and photograph them as a couple. I never got to do that, he passed a couple of days before I was able to make it down to Washington. 

While I was at my parents home, after the memorial I went to my parents bedroom and looked through their wedding album.

That's right....I said wedding album. Not pictures on a phone screen. An album that I held in my hands while I sat on their bed. I don't recall ever seeing the photos before, and it made me really happy. I honestly don't really remember my dad being really "happy" guy. While looking at the images I saw a different man. He was happy. It was his wedding day, and there was no denying he was young and in love. My parents looked so cute! Seeing the images really brought peace to my heart. It was nice to see what he was like when he was in his 20's, Seeing him interact with my mother in a really loving way was emotional for me. It made me realize that there was another side to him. It healed my heart in a way. 

When I am making portraits, they are really for the children. 

 Yes, you will enjoy the photos as well. But the images over time will have the most impact for your kids. They will get to have beautiful images of your family, and share them with their children, and grand children. They will get to see someone that they have heard about, but might not know. The memory and the emotion that photos bring can be a very powerful thing. Once you are gone all that your family will have will be memories and photographs. After the past couple of weeks I have had, I can tell you without a doubt that photos matter. 

Slice Of Life And Apple Pie - Anchorage, Palmer, Alaska Family Photographer

WHERE DID THE TIME GO?!

My youngest just graduated from preschool and is on his way to kindergarten next year! I'm obviously excited about this, but I'm also a little sad. He's the one that keeps me company in the morning. So this morning I decided I want to capture some of our time together. Usually I'm busy cleaning while he is doing his thing. But, this morning I decided to help him make an apple pie. He LOVES to make pie. If he could, he would make one every day. So check out the photos below to see him making his pie. 

DON'T WAIT TO GET PHOTOS LIKE THESE!

In my business I offer beautiful portraits, and storytelling adventure sessions because I realize as a mother both of them are important.  In the long run it's the little moments that matter, they can take you back in time. So don't put off having photos done of your family. before you know if they will be grown up!

THANKS FOR CHECKING OUT MY BLOG!