Kansas City Family Photographer ~ Embracing the Snow ~ and loving it!

For years I have “wanted” to do more photography in the winter, but I always seem to find excuses not to!  Well, this year has been the very coldest winter I have ever experienced – it has been in the single digits more days than I can count and we have had below zero temperatures on several days!  Holy Moly it has been cold!!  At some point along the way I decided to stop complaining about the cold and just embrace it!  Not sure when the switch flipped, but I am really glad it did!!  Now, as I sit here I am literally bundled up with a scarf on at my desk ~ just so I can wear flip flops in the house.  So don’t get me wrong, I would take 95 degrees tomorrow with a smile on my face if it wanted to arrive!  But, I have also decided that it is no where near over, that it is cold just about everywhere this winter, and it is about time to make the best of it.

So how do I make the best of most things?  With photography of course!  Last week we got nearly a foot of snow and the boys were home three days in a row from school because of it.  So we got out and went sledding (it was 12 degrees!!  Ahh!) and they both loved it so much!!

Renee Stengel Photography, Winter, Midwest, Snow Portraits, Young Boy, Brothers, sledding, sled, winter sports, Child, 2014, Leawood, Kansas

And I have been getting out and taking portraits of the kids ~ and of anyone else who will let me it seems (more posts on that coming soon ;)  in the snow to improve my Snow Portraits.  Taking photos in the snow is really different from other outdoor portraits.  The snow serves as a huge natural reflector, so you can get some amazing light if you use it to your advantage, or it can be a glaring awful problem if you aren’t quite sure what to do with it!  Another issue is white balance.  Our digital cameras have sensors that can read natural light and give a fairly decent reading for the lighting in an open shade natural light environment if you have them set on Auto White Balance – normally.  But in the snow, the camera has some trouble, and that is why we end up with so much “blue” snow!

Maybe I should do a longer post with some examples on this in the future… But for now, a quick tip for those of you who aren’t quite up to setting a custom white balance for your camera.  When shooting in the snow, try using the “Cloudy” setting.  It won’t get you all the way (custom is best), but it will be a big improvement over what the camera “sees” and gives you on Auto WB :)

Renee Stengel Photography, Winter, Midwest, Snow Portraits, Young Boy, Child, 2014, Leawood, Kansas
Renee Stengel Photography, Winter, Midwest, Snow Portraits, Young Boy, Child, 2014, Leawood, Kansas

Renee Stengel Photography, Winter, Midwest, Snow Portraits, Young Boy, Brothers, Child, 2014, Leawood, Kansas

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Kansas City Family Photographer ~ Snow Day!

My oldest son’s whole first grade class earned a special treat for good behavior and their awesome teachers gave them a Snow Day – AT School! The kids all brought their snow gear from home and got to have an hour to play in the snow with their friends at school. It was fantastic! Of course I had to sneak over to take a few photos – so fun!!  And when I pulled up the two first grade teachers were being bombarded by snow rocks ~ and having just as much fun as any one of those six and seven year olds!

Someone had brought a couple of sleds and the kids were having a great time with those too – and the next thing I knew, here came the teachers down the hill!  I missed getting a photo of Ms. G.  But I loved getting a photo of Mrs. H, my son’s home room teacher, as she came down the hill, laughing and having a wonderful time.  How fantastic is my son’s teacher!?!  Sledding down the hill with these little people!! She is amazing – I love watching her have so much fun with them.  We feel so blessed to have found such a wonderful community for our boys….

And then there were the kiddos – oh my goodness was this a treat!  These kids had a blast.  They worked hard to earn their reward ~ but wow, I don’t think they could have imagined a better one! And of course, it was a huge treat to me to get to run around with all of my son’s classmates and take such fun snow pictures!  This is the first year I have gotten over my dislike of being cold and really gotten out and to take a lot of photos in the winter ~ and I have to say, I am hooked!  All the bright colors, rosy cheeks and fun spirits ~ it’s addicting!  I hope you enjoy!

Renee Stengel Photography signature by On The Spot Design

PS  I love hearing from you all!  Do you have questions that I can answer about photography?  Are there things you would like to see me writing about or posting photos about here on the blog?  I would love to hear your feedback ~ I really want to make this a place to interact and get to know you better!

Thanks for stopping by!

Renee Stengel Photography 1st Grade Snow Day 2014 Leawood Kansas
Renee Stengel Photography 1st Grade Snow Day 2014 Leawood Kansas
Renee Stengel Photography 1st Grade Snow Day 2014 Leawood Kansas
Renee Stengel Photography 1st Grade Snow Day 2014 Leawood Kansas
Renee Stengel Photography 1st Grade Snow Day 2014 Leawood Kansas
Renee Stengel Photography 1st Grade Snow Day 2014 Leawood Kansas

Renee Stengel Photography 1st Grade Snow Day 2014 Leawood Kansas

Renee Stengel Photography 1st Grade Snow Day 2014 Leawood Kansas

Renee Stengel Photography 1st Grade Snow Day 2014 Leawood Kansas

Bernice - Wonderful pictures!!! Love seeing Benjamin with his friends!!

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After Dark Inspiration ~ St Louis, MO

When we found out we were moving to Kansas last spring I started looking into the photography community in this region.  One of the first things I discovered is this amazing regional workshop called After Dark Education – and it was scheduled for St. Louis, Missouri in January 2014!  I was so excited!!  I had heard great things about this “un-workshop” as they like to call it from some other mid-west based photographer friends so I signed up as soon as registration opened last summer.  The After Dark I attended last week was a little something different than they had done before.  It was called After Dark Intensive and was not wrapped around shooting as the other conferences have been, but around more of the business side of photography.  It was exactly what I needed!!

I was able to take classes on website management, marketing, business development, editing – even one on hair and makeup styling! The grid of classes was crazy amazing – there were times it was really hard to narrow down and just choose one class! I learned so much every day – from morning until late in the night, whether in a class or sitting around the lobby chatting with other photographers. But honestly, one of the most inspiring classes came from a West Coast based fine art photographer named Brook Shaden.  She was teaching a class on the business side of Fine Art Photography and I decided to take it just for fun.  But I came out inspired to dream big and think about future possibilities ~ exactly what the creators of After Dark wanted when they designed this conference.

I left St. Louis inspired to look beyond the daily to do lists, or even yearly goals, and really think about where I want to go with photography in the long run.  To ask, what are my “big dreams”, those things that I may not be able to complete this week, this month, this year, or maybe not even in the next ten years.  I have young children and they come first ~ and take much of my time right now.  But they are growing quickly, sometimes too quickly, and before I know it I will have a lot more time on my hands.  So it was wonderful to take some time in St. Louis to stop and think about where I want to take my photography ~ and where I want it to take me ~ over the coming years.  And you know what? I like what I see :)

I am so grateful for all of the mentors at After Dark Intensive.  Dave Doeoppel opened so many editing doors for me in Adobe Lightroom, Brian DeMint gave me the tools to help me take my website and social media to a new level (I am even giving Google+ a try!), Brook Shaden not only inspired me with her Fine Art class, but her Photoshop editing class was amazing.  And I think I took just about every class that Whitney and David Scott offered ~ I loved connecting with and learning from them, and since they are such close neighbors in Joplin, MO, I hope we can connect again soon!

But the icing on the cake really was the connections I was able to make with other photographers.  I have had the privilege to connect with several amazing photographers online over the last couple years.  I consider several of them go be good friends ~ even though we haven’t met face to face.  We are spread out across the country but we have started trying to have little meet ups when we can.  I was so happy that Andrea of AB Photography was also going to After Dark and we were able to room together for the week – we had a great time and it was fantastic to finally meet in person and just get to hang out and relax together :)  And we tracked down a couple other photographer friends in the St Louis area and had a fun pizza night with Christy of Glory Photography and Anne of Anne Meintrup Photography.  So fun!  Christy’s partner Amy couldn’t make it, so I am definitely heading back their way soon to meet up with both halves of that dynamic duo!

All in all, I am just grateful.  Grateful for the Mentors of After Dark and all that they put into this “un-conference”, grateful for the photographers who attended and really invested themselves in the classes and the “Mind Slams”, grateful to my family for letting me slip away for four days, and grateful to my clients who continue to support me in this amazing journey.

This was a little unique for a photography workshop in that we didn’t take any photos!  I really wanted to get out and shoot around St. Louis.  The temps were in the single digits on the morning I left, and well, lets be honest, I have a tendency to be a little wimpy when it comes to that kind of cold ~ though this winter is teaching me to embrace it!! (**Hint hint ~ watch for an After Dark inspired shoot coming soon ~ it definitely involved the cold ~ and NOT being wimpy!!)

I do have a couple fun instagram shots to share with you from the week…

Renee Stengel Photography signature by On The Spot Design

 

Renee Stengel Photography After Dark 2014 St. Louis Mo

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