letter art

I can't remember where I saw this idea first, but I knew as soon as I did that I had to do it. It's such a creative and aesthetically nice way to decorate I knew it wouldn't be hard to sell the idea!

This is my first set of letters made for Riley.


Each letter is 5x10 and is mounted on 2mm styrene board. They also have a lustre coating to protect them from being out in the open air and not protected by glass.

riley's letters

I knew they would be awesome when I first found the idea, but they are even cooler than I thought when I got them today!

Now, if I had children, which I obviously don't ;) I would totally use this idea, and put velcro on the backs of them to hang around their room. And I might even make a few more with different images to correlate with whatever theme I had going on in there. I may just do it in my office, with a more contemporary feel!

That's what's so cool about these. They can be made to fit any style because they are custom. Any word(s) you think of, any colors you want to use, any graphics that may suit you. They're soo cool!

Pricing for these shamazing letters are $150 for a set of 5 letters or $30 each.

If I've already done your pictures this year, let me know if you would like set of these. And if we haven't done pictures together yet, well what are you waiting for! You'll never regret spending money on memories well-preserved.


the cuzzins

my unplanned blogging break has been entirely too long. It's not that I don't have things to blog, it's more that I've been too lazy to actually do it. For now though, this is where I'm starting so I can get my butt back in gear. And what better way to do that than with three super cute kiddos who also happen to be my cousins!

Kayla has talked to me about doing pictures for a really long time... like way before I ever even did pictures. So finally getting to take these was really great. And I couldn't have asked for more cooperation! Maybe that's cause it was so early and noone was really awake quite yet ;)

Here's a teaser from the shoot, the rest will come within a week!


I picked this picture because of the personality on each face :) Sammie's face on the right cracks me up every time I see it!



Questions answered - part 1

I decided to break up this question and answer series over a few posts. Over the last couple of months, I've gotten questions along the way in email and comments etc so I will try to include everything I can :)

I'm excited to answer the questions from the post soliciting them and to have them as references on my blog for future reference, but this post is not in answer to anything technical. I will be posting those soon though. I want to make sure they are good and answer as much as possible.

Today, I'm going to tell you a bit more about me. It amazes me still that people look at me and what I do and are impressed (if you're not impressed then uh, you're reading the wrong blog sistah! ;). I hope that my background can be an encouragement to everyone that you don't have to have a hard and fast plan for your life to do what you want with it.

When I was younger, I always wanted to play sports. I wanted to be like the cool kids. I wanted to have something to do after school everyday and people who liked me because we had things in common. I however, was and am very athletically uncoordinated. I found myself in the art room. Many hours a week. I worked as hard as I could to be the best, but still found myself in the middle. There was always someone who got more praise, the better grade, the most attention. Undoubtedly prettier (and probably played a sport to boot!)

I'd like to say that none of that mattered. But it did. I was extremely insecure. About my body, about my talents, about my ability to interact with others. I felt as though I stuck out like a sore thumb in everything I put my hand to.

In 11th grade, I participated in my high school's junior-senior art show. I was so proud of the work I had done. It was a combination of my favorite pieces including everything from poetry to paintings, drawings and a lot of photos. I won first place. Never in my life do I remember feeling such shock as I did the moment I saw the certificate place above my display. Surely this person had just felt bad for me and placed it there because I had obviously tried so hard... No. The judge was an outsider. She didn't know me, or anyone else. That high lasted for quite some time. Even now when I think of it, I am still proud.

Near the end of my senior year I landed a job interning at a local photography studio where I worked my way into the title of "production supervisor." Sooo official sounding. It was in hindsight, my favorite job ever. I did everything that happens to pictures after they're shot. From post-edit to output and delivery. It fed my creative and organizational desires in a way I have not since been able to fill. I worked there for almost 2 years whereupon I quit to go to school for awhile.

Leaving there left its mark however. I left with words burned into my mind by my former boss that I should never go into photography on my own. It was too hard, too much work. I wasn't cut out for it. Plus, he put so much time into me, it wouldn't be fair to go off and become competition. These words hung over my head so heavily that I placed my creativity aside and decided to give it a rest.

The idea that I wasn't good enough, left me feeling a fake. That if I were to go out somewhere with my Nikon F7 (given to me by my parents for high school graduation) I was sure to be pointed out as such.

After having spent a year in school, I took some time off to work and make money. I had never wanted to go into debt for school, and since I had no idea what I wanted to be, there was no way to justify doing so in my mind. My first year of college was spent at a Bible school. It was a fantastic year and during that time it occurred to me that if I liked production, I may like graphic design. So that's what I decided to do.

I made enough money that semester off to fund my next college adventure, buy a car (this one) and buy my first camera. The original Canon Rebel. I loved this camera. But I rarely used it. I felt so conspicuous whenever I would pull it out. And it was almost as if people expected that because I had a big camera in my hands, that I knew what I was doing. Which couldn't have been further from the truth. My old insecurities flared bigger than my desire to create art with my camera.

This is the part where I start to get freaked out. HA! Because I am about to share with you all something that I really don't want anyone to see. This is a link to the first wedding I ever shot over 4 years ago... At the time, I had pretty much NO idea what I was doing. I shot the entire thing on auto mode. Accidentally discovered midway through the ceremony what ISO was, but had no idea what it did other than make my pictures brighter and consequently shot the entire time with the iso at 1600. Mucho grainage...

But all in all, I was satisfied with them. I thought they came out pretty well. That is until the b&g saw them and I weighed in on their disappointment. Seriously though, way to be disappointed with free photography. I mean, seriously.

Anyhoo... that was it for me. I had stepped out on a proverbial limb here, sticking my neck out as far as I would dare at the time and felt like I had not only fallen, but broken most every bone on the way down! As much as I tried to tell myself that it was ok, and that they were upset because they didn't like my "non-traditional" style as they had put it... They didn't want me for my style they wanted me for my price. Eep.

Consequently, I put my camera away even further at this point. I picked it up so rarely that the better part of 3 years passed by before I took something one of my profs said to heart...

Bringing me back to school. I went to the community college here where I live currently for 4 semesters and have one semester left (or 3 classes) if I were to finish my associates. That's right, I don't have a degree. I spent those 4 semesters learning about graphic design and the industry. There is very little about it that I like. I found myself feeling perfectionistic and inadequate when it came to design. As hard as I tried, I always felt like I just wasn't getting it. I started second-guessing my decision to make this my career and found myself thriving within the photo classes I took within the program. Photography was my love. It always had been. It excited me.

I'm a question asker by nature. It probably annoys the heck out of some people, but I figure hey why not. I'll never know if I don't ask. So one day while peppering my photo teacher with questions, he said this to me, "You need to let your camera become an extension of your arm if you want to get better. You know what to do, now you just need to learn how to do it."

Those words never left me. I thought about them over and over for probably more than a year before I finally told myself to pick up the dang camera and start taking it everywhere. That was in the fall of 2007, right about the time I started my first blog. The immediate feedback I had through the blog was a huge encouragement for me to keep going. Plus, I found other blogs along the way that inspired me. Some of the very first ones I looked at with amazement were Andrea and Kimberly.

Around January 2008, Michelle asked me to please take some pictures of her before she had her 2nd baby Gabrielle. I totally didn't want to. But she insisted, and since I know her so well and felt comfortable with her as she did with me, I decided to give it a go. It was in March that we took them, and as I looked through them afterwards, I was impressed... much moreso than I expected. Note: I have yet to get done looking through a set of pictures that I just shot and not wonder how in the world I did it. I still get nervous. And I never take for granted the shots that I get. I seriously give all the credit back to God for my talent because without Him I wouldn't have what I do.

After that experience, I got a boost of confidence and decided that I could possibly, in the future, maybe try this again. I was asked not long after to do a senior session, and after much vascillation, I decided to give that a go as well.

I look back at what I was doing one year ago from now and stand in total amazement at how far things have come since then. It's a continuous process that I never expect to complete. Honestly, if I ever got to a point where I felt like there was nothing left to do, no way to get better, I'd probably give it all up.

I'm just a regular girl who picked up her camera and set it back down more times than I can count and is still reaching to figure out how this all fits into her life. My education is little, but my experience is growing. I want to help others grow in their talent. I never want anyone to feel like their failure is the measure of their ability. If we marked our worth by the mistakes we've made, we'd all be pretty worthless. I make so many mistakes, and you know what I do with them? I hit delete. I figure out what I did wrong, and I go fix it. all the time.

I hope this is helpful/encouraging in some way. I hope that it makes me a little more "real" in your eyes :) And since a post feels so lame without a picture, here's a blast from the past I found while going through my old webshots albums.

This was taken in 2003 on a beach in Hawaii. And yes, I had really red hair.



Chappy and Co.

I was tempted to name this post the "Gabrielle show" with all the good pictures I have of her. But I narrowed it down, even further from what I have in my flickr stream.

However, Gabrielle has a family! Yes, that's right :) A beautiful family I might add.

I love all of these people so much. They're dear to my heart and am so glad to have once again taken pictures for them.


I love family pictures for the same reason I hate them. Taking a family picture with little kids is so incredibly hard. It's hard for mom, dad, ME and I would imagine the kids get sick of hearing their names yelled over and over and over to look! look! hey! pllllttt! But it always pays off in the end, and the emotion captured in pictures like this is what keeps me going.


ballerina toes

May I please just say how much I looked forward to photographing Gabrielle in a tutu? I can't even handle it.


Samuel. This boy hasn't ceased to amaze me. He is brilliant. I love his little voice, so articulate and purposeful. And those eyes... boys always get the good lashes ;)




LOVE this


and this :)


These beautiful children were brought to you by these two beautiful people. I mean seriously, what did they think was going to happen when they had kids. How could their kids not be good looking?

tim and michelle


Tim and Michelle, thank you for making me a part of your family. It's been a long time, but I still feel like I belong when I'm with you. Friends like you are one of the best parts of life, but it also means leaving is going to be even harder... Thank you for everything over the years. I am looking forward to watching your family grow through the years :)



questions anyone?

I have learned a TON over the last year from reading photographer blogs. I asked questions questions questions to get answers to all the things I saw other people do and wondered how in the world they did it!

I am a huge proponent of learning through experience, since that is how I have learned most of everything I know. If you're new at photography, don't be afraid to ask questions about anything and everything... you won't get better if you don't!

I have received a lot of questions over the months, and would like to put together a FAQ link for people to refer to when they visit my blog. But before I put that together, I want your questions! My faithful readers ;)

Please leave a comment with your question. Ask anything from personal to my education to photography and I will answer! Well, unless it's mean or inappropriate.

So start thinking and ask away. If you don't want to leave your question in the comment section, feel free to email me at contact@amandaslakesphotography.com :)


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