Saturday, December 31, 2011

Crave Photography Lens Giveaway

Crave Photography is giving away a Nikon or Canon lens.  Go check out the contest rules to enter!!!

Crave Photography

Sara <3

Project 365 Photos & a New Year's Giveaway from Sara Vogt Photography

  Hi all, it is December 31, 2011.  Wow! 

  I don't have a lot to say so I'm going to post the most recent 365 photos I've done and then tell you about a cool giveaway from my company to you!

  December 27, 2011

   This is the moon lying in the branches of one of our Pecan trees =).  This photo reminds me of a storybook.  I think it's the rich color of the sky.

December 28, 2011

 On Wednesday I was in a very depressed state of mind.  I went shopping (doesn't that always seem to help?) and found the CUTEST figurines called Heartstring Teddies.  I looked them up online to see if I could find a website but wasn't able to.  Anyway, I found four very very cute ones with bunnies (and you know I'm obsessed with bunnies) at Ross.  I bought all four and this is one that just spoke to me.

 I missed two days of the Project.  One day I was just SOOOOOO incredibly tired it wasn't even funny and went to bed as soon as I walked in my door.  Last night I spent an amazing night with two wonderful girls and although I took my camera, it never felt right to bring it out.  I felt that if I brought it out it would detract from what was going on rather than enhance it.  Does anyone know what I mean? Anyway I'm back again today.

Here's today: December 31, 2011

  I bought these incredibly sparkly earrings (don't they look like the mirrors Snow White's evil witch looked into?) at Belk today and the more I looked at them wanted to take a picture of them with something dark silver or black.  I think I captured their charm and aura.  I plan to wear them tomorrow with that necklace.  Perfect for New Year's Day, right?

  Ok, so there are my photos.  I am excited to see what the new year will bring but also a little nervous too.

  On to other things.  Over at my facebook page, I am hosting a New Year's Giveaway.  I do this monthly (November was a Thankgiving Giveaway, December was a Christmas Giveaway).  This month the contest is very simple.  Just submit to me your favorite photo from this Christmas along with a short, sweet statement as to why and then, get all your friends to "vote" for your entry.  Whoever has the most votes at the end of the giveaway (January 22, 2012) will win a very cool, handcrafted creation from my crafty friend in Texas.  Please, go over to my facebook page and enter to win.  It's lots of fun and I'd love to see you there.


Announcing my Brand New Money {and it's struggles} Blog!!

Hi guys, I just started a blog here about my struggles (and probably a lot of other people's struggles) about money. 

I would love it if you would follow me.  I will be relating some real life scenarios and what I am doing to "fix/change" things as well as offering tips, etc.  I would love to have others offer their tips, stratageies, money-saving ideas, etc too.

Come on over and join me...A new year starts tomorrow. Let's make some changes!!!


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Mad Mimi, Taking Action, & Feeling Like a Failure

  On a sidenote (as soon as I begin this post), I hate that the Christmas season is over.  I hate the fact that the day after Christmas, the station that I had been listening to with Christmas music 24/7 since the beginning of December, went back to regular programming.  I hate that the anticipation of Christmas morning is gone....Boo Hoo, right?  As I was mulling over these things this morning I had a thought!  Christmas is about Christ, ALL about Him.  After all, if He would not have given Himself as a babe, I wonder would we give gifts today?  Anyway, since Christmas is ALL about Him, why can't we recreate those feelings we have at Christmastime all year round?  The truth is that we SHOULD!  But sadly most of us do not.  Because you know what? It takes work, hard work and hard work is HARD! So, I'm going to attempt to keep that Christmas time feeling alive even though we have a year until next Christmas but I may need some encouragement along the way.

  Alright, now for the reason I began this post.

  A few weeks ago I was reading my assignment from Brand Camp (it's free by the way go over and check it out).  And the assignment was to set up an account for Mad Mimi.  I did but I have been trying to figure out how it works ever since.  Well, to backtrack to this morning before I get back to Mad Mimi, I was in a desolate mood.  One of the moods where I feel like a failure and feel that I'm worthless as a photographer.  To backtrack even farther, the reason I began feeling this way was because I delivered photos to a lady this morning.  Now, as a general rule, that should be joyous and wonderful and it was but her reaction through me for a loop and got me down.  I had packaged the prints in a Christmas bag, carefully protecting them with cardboard and such inside.  Then putting the outer paper in the bag.  Anyway, I gave the lady the bag and she proceeded to take the photos out and ask me, "Are these all mine?" To which I replied, "Yes".  I wondered why she was asking.  In a moment I knew.  She placed all the "wrapping" back into the bag and walked off with the photos in her hand.

  Ok so why do I get all desolate about someone not taking the bag?  Because my packaging is part of what I give my client that some other photographer's dont give.  Granted, the bag was a Christmas bag and it was a little large for the prints but the point is, I took the time to package them nicely (not in the plastic and cardboard envelope they came in- which, I am sad to say, not very long ago, I did).

  So, when the lady walked off with the prints some of my first thoughts were: "she doesn't value what I have created for her because she didn't take the bag" and then, "what kind of clients am I trying to attract?  Those who are just out for the best 'bang for the buck', or those who truely value photography as an Art, a way to capture moments"?  So after those initial thoughts, more desperate(ish) thoughts popped in to visit, like, "I need to revamp my pricing", "I need to take a course on branding/selling to the type clients I want" (which isn't a bad idea, actually), etc.  You get the picture.

  Anyway, I vowed to myself this morning that I was going to start trying to attract more of the clients that I want (not necessarily rich people because I didn't start my business with rich people in mind) but people who value photography, my time and my creativity.  That's where Mad Mimi comes in!

  Back to that.  So I finally (after trial and error and several test sends to my personal email) figured out how to work Mad Mimi.  Basically, it's a site where you can have all your business contacts in one place, group them in different listings and send out mass emails to them.  I'm excited!

  I decided to help make myself and my business stronger that I am going to send out monthly emails with photography tips, hints, and a Q&A from readers (if you want to sign up for it, send your email to:  It will be a challenge but in a good way!

  That was my day, summed up into a blog post.  Leave me some feedback!!!  I'd love to hear your take (and similar stories) about all the stuff that happened today.

Sara <3

*NOTE: I am not saying that this client is someone who doesn't value my work.  The point of this post was how the situation made ME feel!  I value all my clients and am grateful that they have given me the opportunity to work with them and their families.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Makeup & Feeling Good About Yourself

  Yes, I know, you're probably looking at the title of this post, scratching your head and wondering, "how on earth does this have ANYTHING to do with photography?"!  I guess really it doesn't but then again it does so I'll show both my reasons!

  So, back in September a friend and myself went to Crabtree Valley Mall to do a little shopping and went into a store called Bare Escentuals.  I had never really heard of this store but my friend said that her mom used the makeup and that you could get a free "makeover" if you went in so I was very game!  It's free, so why not?!

  I got in there and was Impressed!  The saleslady did one half of our face and then instructed us on how to do the other.  It was super easy and what I liked best about the makeup was that 1) it didn't feel heavy on my skin like other (liquid based) makeups did, 2) it totally reduced the redness in my skin and 3) it didn't make me look like a corpse and didn't crease in my wrinkles (I'm only 26 but I do have a few). 

  I looked at the price tag for the initial setup and I didn't have the funds to get it but Christmas was around the corner so I added it to my Christmas list =).

  My mom got it for me and I put it on tonight to go out with my best friend and cousin.  Let me tell you.  I haven't had a good day. My sinus/allergies have been bothering me so I've lounged in my PJ's ALL day.  Really haven't done ANYTHING except surf the net, sleep, clean a little and play with my bunny.

  When I put the makeup on, I felt SO MUCH BETTER.  Like I was a different person, literally.  I felt confident, pretty and ready to go somewhere!  That's what makeup can do for you.

  No, how does this post have ANYTHING to do with photography?  Here's my application.  In order to feel good with clients, feel proud of your products/services and feel comfortable behind a camera you need one invaluable thing.  CONFIDENCE!!!  Looking your best, whether you're at a session, meeting up with a client for the first time, or selling your product is essential to being the best business person you can be.  If you're not looking your best, I can guarentee you that you're not feeling your best and if you're not feeling your best, more than likely you're going to lack confidence (I speak from experience here). 

  So, that, for me is how makeup relates to photography. 

  The next time you're not feeling in a great mood and you have a session to go to, go put on some makeup!  I guarentee you it'll pump you up in no time flat!!!

  Give me feedback.  Do you have any experiences you'd like to share when makeup helped you reclaim your confidence? 


*Disclaimer:  Please don't think I'm saying that you HAVE to wear makeup to have confidence.  That's not true.  All the makeup in the world isn't going to help you if you don't have confidence coming from somewhere deep inside, or if you don't like to wear makeup (I'm normally in the latter catagory fyi).  But for those of us who do wear it it can help tremendously!!


Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas & Two New 365 Photos

  It's Christmas Eve, 2011.  I can't believe I'm saying that.  It does NOT feel like Christmas Eve.

  So another year has passed us by.  Here are  a few things that have changed my life this past year.

1 - A pet - namely a bunny.  Let me backup a bit.  I had dogs and a Lop Eared bunny as a child and younger teen and I loved them but I've never ever been big on pets.  I could always take them or leave them and to be brutally honest I didn't think much of them.  In April of this year, all that changed. My best friend's mom gave me a tiny, runt of the litter, white Blue Eyed Beveran bunny.  He was only a month old and he was TINY.  Here he is the day I got him.

 On that day, something in me changed.  We bonded IMMEDIATELY and I fell in love. 

  I named him Lucky and he and I had 3 and a half wonderful months together.  He brought so much joy and laughter into my life and taught me the sweet simple pleasure of having a creature of God as a companion. 

  On July 21, 2011 I took him to be neutered.  He did not make it thru the procedure.  My parents and I buried him in our backyard. 

  Lucky changed me.  I know it sounds crazy but he did.  He loved unconditionally and I loved him the same.  He taught me that no matter how much "trouble" or "mess" an animal makes, their friendship and fellowship outweighs that all.  He taught me how to love an animal again.

  After he passed away, I felt that I could not heal without another bunny.  Of course, it would not fill in the gap Lucky had left but it would bring healing and soften the blow.  The day after he passed, I went to a rabbitry in Zebulon, NC.  I was intending on getting a Lop but instead, I fell in love with a hare looking bunny (a Mini Rex) who I named Cinnamon.  Here she is right after I got her.

  She stole my heart and still has it today!

  2 - I began learning to let go of some things and just let them play out as they would.  And I've been rewarded.  God doesn't do things in our time, He definitely does things in His own timing and when it's best for all involved.

 3- I shot my first (and maybe last) wedding with a fellow photographer in September.  After that experience I began revamping my photography business and began having an insatiable hunger to learn more about photography and get better and better!!!  That wedding was a definite turning point for me in my desire to become a better photographer.

  Those are a few things that have changed in my life this year. I'm sure there are more but those are the things that come to mind right now.

  Anyway, here are two of my latest 365 Project photos.

December 23, 2011

  This is the Cinnamon you saw above.  She is 7 months old now and a beautiful, plump girl.  She is so rambunctious and lively and of course sweet.  She loves giving kisses and having you rub her for countless minutes on end!  And no, the donut with her is not realy but a chew toy. =)

  Funny story, yesterday morning she got out of my room and I had to go searching for her.  I found her by our tree sniffing around her Christmas presents!!!  She is one smart bunny. 

December 24, 2011

  Here is one of my favorite ornaments from my family's Christmas tree.  I love it because it looks so old fashioned.

  I have been wanting to photograph the details on the tree for about a week and just got around to it tonight. =)  It's about time since it's Christmas Eve.

  I think I'll try for some more bokah tomorrow.

  What are some good changes that you have made in your life this year? I'd love to hear some of them.


Friday, December 23, 2011

Bokah, Shaped and Otherwise

  Here are my latest two photos for the 365 Project.  I am trying to get the hang of bokah with Christmas lights so they're both of my tree....

  The first one I set my shutter to 1/6s (I'm not sure if that equals 1/60th or not but I think it does), had my focal length at 32mm, my aperature at f/4.8 and my ISO on 1600.  I like it but I had to go into PSE10 and lighten it so you could see the outline of the tree.  Before it was just really dark and I still think that it could use more lightening up.  I should have done that in camera.

December 21, 2011

Also, can you tell that the top strand of lights blew?!  Oh, our tree is such a dysfunctional tree but it is ours so that makes it ok =)

December 22, 2011

  So, I created my own shaped bokah filter.  Here's how!  I am not a good craft person and the heart (can you tell the filter was heart shaped?) was slightly skewed.  I'm going to "perfect" this though. I went online last night and printed out some cute tiny shapes and will try them today or tonight.

  Camera info for this one was:
  Shutter Speed: 0.6s
  Focal Length: 55mm
  Aperature: f/5.6
  ISO: 1600

  I do like Christmas.  Although I'm not really in the Christmas spirit yet (and Christmas is only two days away) and the lights are fantastic to try different photography tricks on.

  I'd love to hear/see your attempts at bokah at Christmastime.  Share some stories with me and if you have pictures, leave a link in the comments!!


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Photograph, The Photographer, or Both

  I have been thinking (that can be dangerous so tread softly...).  As a photographer, I love it when people compliment me on my images.  (Although it shouldn't),  first of all it gives validity to the knowledge that I am a good photographer.  Secondly, it lets me know that I am touching my viewers thru my work (and isn't that what every photographer wants?).  But when it comes to photographs of people, what should be showing up first? What should the viewer be seeing first in those images?

  Should it be the photograph (the actual subjects in the image), the photographer (how great their interpratation of the image was, how techically correct it is, how moving it is) or both those things working together that should first capture the minds and hearts of viewers?

  While a small part of me says it should be the photographer (because didn't the photographer create the image and record it?) another, bigger part of me says that it should be the image itself that initially captures the audience. 

  What is the purpose of photographing anything?  People, birds, dogs, cathedrals, waterfalls...The list could go on forever....  I think the purpose of a photograph is to capture a moment in time and record the emotional qualities that moment gave. 

  If that is true, then when someone looks at an image, in a sense, they own it.  They see in it things that I can't see.  Therefore, it is not how great the photographer is that is prevalent but how an image speaks to the viewer.  The photographer captured the moment (and emotion in the moment that they felt) but the primary purpose of the image is not to showcase the talent the photographer has.  Does that make sense? 

  I feel that I am putting all this very poorly but does anyone kinda get where I'm going?

  Now, I do believe that there are times when the photographer's talent is the main focus of an image but only in certain cases should it be the most prominent focus.  Like at an art exhibit showcasing the photographers work.  

  There are also times where both the photograph and the photographer work together and should be complimented as such.  Maybe with a hard to photograph subject (a child who will not cooperate and the photographer somehow gets them to smile), or when there is a challenge in lighting, composition, etc and the photographer figures it out and creates a beautiful finished product.

  Anyway, that's some rambling thoughts for this morning.  I hope they weren't too incoherant. 

  I'd love to get your opinion and thoughts on this idea....


6:41 PM

  I came across this amazing, heartfelt post that is a MUST READ while browsing thru the blogs I follow.  In a sense, it ties into this post.  But make sure you have kleenex handy, it made me cry!!!  It's well-worth the read.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

365 Photos - December 17 & 18, 2011

As promised, here are my last two photos from the 365 Project.

Friday, December 16, 2011

  This arrangement of dishes and vintage jars in the background caught my attention almost as soon as I arrived at my baby sister's house.  As I took the photo I knew exactly the emotion and era I wanted to portray with the finished product.  I wanted to portray the olden days where dishes were white and plain and jars were important because they held so much of the necessary food.  I wanted to portray what some call "the good old days" in my head which is the 40's and 50's. 

  Honestly, all those thoughts weren't in my head as I clicked the shutter and captured this image but after post production, this is what I see in it now. 

  I love this image.  The composition, the slight noise and the arrangement of the plates....

Saturday, December 17, 2011

  On Saturday night, myself and my two best friends (one who is in college at a university in Buies Creek, NC) and the other (who is a married mom of three - as of last night when she gave birth to her 3rd child - a little girl!) were able (after two years) to get together.  We have a loose tradition of making a gingerbread house before Christmas.  So, we got together at my youngest sister's house (I should clarify - I call them both my sisters. The one who is in college is the baby (Sarah 3), the one who is married is the middle (Sarah 2) and I am the oldest (Sarah 1)) and made a very tiny gingerbread house!  Here is a picture...

   It isn't the most perfect looking gingerbread house but you know what?  It was made by us three and it's a symbol of keeping a tradition alive and how even though sometimes things seem like they will never change, they can and do!

  Anyway, back to the other photo.  Towards the end of the night, my Sarah 3 was feeling of my middle sister's tummy and Sarah 2 was trying to get the baby to move for us.  Then, Sarah 3 wanted me to get a photo of her and the baby.  I took this one.  At the time, it didn't make me very emotional but looking back at it now, it does. 

  No one but us three girls (young ladies now) knows what we have all been thru together.  Too much to tell.  I hope that Baby L who was born yesterday will have two (or more) wonderful girls in her life that she can say the same thing about. 

  Never underestimate the power of a loyal, stick with it friendship. 


Monday, December 19, 2011

A Salvaged Session

I had a VERY busy weekend.  Especially Saturday.  Saturday I had to get up at 6:40AM, drive to Raleigh, purchase my own Christmas present (makeup from Bare Escentuals - my mom is paying me back) and then attend a lighting workshop at  The workshop was great.  Two hours worth of all kinds of lighting info.  Yes, my bottom was sore when I left, but it was worth it!!! 

  The workshop gave me grand ideas for my toddler session I had booked Saturday afternoon.  I was all prepared with some shop lights from Lowes and 60 watt bulbs  as well as some computer paper (because placing the paper over the lights will give them less intensity).  I had an aspiration to be able to diffuse my on camera flash with a piece of the paper as well. 

  My aspirations crumbled into a heap right after the session began....

Let me back up.  I got the the session a few minutes early (it was in a home with a fireplace), set up my lights and took some test shots.  The test shots looked very nice.  The light was warm, golden and flattering. So I was excited!!!  Then, the clients arrived and we began the session.  The first few shots I got were nice and the lighting was like I wanted.  But then, something happened and I honestly do not know what it was.  I had set my white balance but suddenly, every photo I was taking was harsh white, not the warm colors before.  I was thrown for a loop.  I continued taking pictures and while the toddler was running around doing something else, I would frantically take test shots while changing my Shutter and Aperature in Manual Mode.  Nothing worked. 

  Finally, in desperation, I put my camera into Auto Mode (I felt like a fake). 

  Then, the clients suggested we take some outdoor photos (a blessing for me because I do much better in outdoor light than indoor) and we went outside.  After taking a few test shots out there, I turned my white balance to cloudy so that the colors were warmer. 

  We shot 20 minutes outside and I got much better photos (sigh of relief).  I was more comfortable outdoors and the lighting was much better.

  When I got home and downloaded the photos, I had a whopping 300!  Guess how many are on there now, after I completed my very harsh elimination process?  30, at the most.  So, I'm happy that the session went better than I initially expected but I am very disappointed that I shot 300 images only to have 10% of them come out decent.  Does anyone have a solution/suggestion for this?  I'd love to hear them!


Friday, December 16, 2011

365 Project - Beginning Again

  In my last post, I told how one of my best friend's giving me a little guilt trip got me back into the 365 project!  Today I want to share the images from my first two days back on the wagon!!!

  I would love it if you would give me feedback, dislikes, likes, what you would have done differently, etc on these photos.  Please, be nice but be honest! 

  Here is the photo from December 14, 2011

It is of my church.  Originally, the photograph was very bright with the colors almost too vivid for me.  So, I took it into PSE10 and added a few actions to it.  To me, it tones the colors down while giving it a vintage look.

Here is the photograph I took December 14, 2011

My mom, myself and an older couple from my church went to this really wonderful place called Meadows Village near Benson, NC.  They have at least 2-3 acres of nothing but beautiful Christmas lights, scenes from the Bible and an old country store where you can buy all kinds of candy, Ginger Ale (mild or hot), vintage signs and wonderful peanut or variety nut chocolate clusters.  Here is their website:!  Best of all, it's free, except for the train ride which is a whopping $2 a person (did you get the sarcasm)?  

  I didn't do much to this image except straighten it (in Picasa 3) and then crop in PSE10 and add a color popping action.  That's it =).

So, here are my first two images after getting back on the 365 Project wagon.  Hope you enjoyed them....


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Guilt Tripping - When it's a Good Thing

  At the end of September, I found an amazing website called  In a nutshell, you commit to taking one photo a day for a year and posting it on this site.  I HAD to do it.  I wanted to practice and grow my photography and begin thinking outside the box.  So, I set up an account and began (entheusiastically) snapping away and posting every day.  But as the days passed (really, it wasn't that many, maybe a week at the most) my entheusiasm began lagging.  Sure, I was still snapping every day (or every other day) and posting them when I could but my initial excitement was gone.
  My last picture was posted on October 3, 2011.  My friends, that was 2 months and 11 days ago. 

  Honestly, I haven't given the project any but a passing thought during the past two months.  But that changed when last night one of my good friends posted on my 365 facebook album, "are you still doing this? your last picture was October 3rd....."!  Bring on the guilt.....And, of course the motivation.

  So that got me thinking, I'm glad she made me guilty (not intentionally of course) because now I plan to pick up my camera today and begin the project again.

  Which brought up some more deeper thoughts.  We don't see guilt as a good thing.  Normally it's associated with something negative.  But when guilt leads you to DO SOMETHING or CHANGE SOMETHING in your life to a positive, then it's a good thing. 

  On the spiritual side, guilt and shame and sorrow over the wrong things you've done can lead you to repentance.  2 Corinthians 7:10 says, "For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death."  When God shows you that you have done something wrong and it needs to be changed and you follow God's recipe for forgiveness (1 John 1:9 - If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.) then you can begin living your life anew, in a positive way!

  Bottom line, I am thankful for my friend's unintentional guilt trip.


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

True Confession: I am Sara Vogt and I am Addicted to Photography Blogs

  Yes, right now photography blogs are my # 1 addiction (after editing photos of course).  If you're looking for some interesting tips, a look at life from a fellow photographer or just need something to read to give you a break from whatever important task you were doing, check out the blogs below.  You won't regret it..... =)

  1- - This blog is amazing!  The Pioneer Woman offers some free actions for Photoshop but also offers contests, food photography info (and recipes - I think), as well as photo "how to" articles.

  2 - - Offers many techiniques and ideas for photography.  There is a very informational forum (or so I've read) but it requires a fee to join.

  3- - This photographer shares her battle with choosing to create images that are meaningful to her and not get wrapped up in the commercialism of Photography.  Very insightful and inspiring.

  4- - If you're looking for ways to build a better Photo business, this resource is very helpful.  Very down to earth and address very pertinent topics.  It's my favorite right now, I love browsing the archives.

Happy Blog Reading,

Monday, December 12, 2011

Are You Doing What You Want to Do?

  My last post was about my third indoor session with my uncle's family in Statesville, NC.  I forgot to mention one small, easily forgettable moment, however.  I'm glad I remembered it because it's really kinda important (to me anyway).

  My uncle and I were in the house while my mom and the children were playing outside and my aunt was gone to their church to practice a song.  I was editing the photos I'd taken of them and he was making peanut butter sandwiches for the kids.  We were talking about something and I said something like, "I don't always feel like I know anything" and/or "I don't always feel smart"....To which he replied, "Well, are you doing what you want to do?" (by this he meant photography). Of course, I said yes.  Because I AM doing what I want to do.

  Unlike some people, I never had a clear vision of what I wanted to "do" with my life.  When I was really little, I dreamed of being a Librarian and then a cashier or bagger at Food Lion (yea, I had high expectations, didn't I? lol.).  Then when I was in high school I thought that my love of writing would be a good place to start for college majors so I went a year to Pensacola Christian College in Pensacola Florida for Commercial Writing.  However, writing wasn't a passion. 
  My entire life I have loved taking photos.  And while at Pensacola Christian College I was required to take a Photography class for my major.  Looking back, I can see the Lord's hand in that.  While taking that class I was required to get a 35MM SLR camera.  Having that camera and taking that class opened my eyes to what I could do with photography and my attraction for it began to grow. 

  In April of 2009 I held a photo exhibit of my best work at the time and invited friends, family andfellow church members.  I got a little exposure, sold a few of my prints and most of all, officially began my business.

  Since then, I have had many doubts and times when I wasn't sure what exactly I was doing but the Lord has known the whole time and He has never failed me.  Not when I needed wisdom, or clients, or feedback, or someone to push me to do better.  He has been faithful.

  I am glad that today I can truly say, "I am doing what I want to; what I love."

  Can you say that?


Sunday, December 11, 2011

My Third Indoor Session

Yesterday I had the opportunity to photograph my uncles family in Statesville. 

Since this was only my third time holding a session indoors I was a little concerned with the lighting. As soon as I got there I began playing with my camera to see what settings would be best to use.  I began in Manual and then switched to Aperature because I was getting a little frustrated.  Aperature, however, wasn't allowing me to get the right exposure I needed so I switched back to Manual. I'm glad I did!

I also made a point to set my White Balance and Metering mode before I began shooting. 

I believe most of my shots were taken with my Aperature between f/5 and f/8.  My shutter speed was mainly 1/60th.         

I had several posing ideas thought out but was only able to use a few since my four cousins were much more interested in their Christmas presents than in getting their family photos taken!  

When they did pay attention and give me smiles, it was amazing and even though the session only lasted 30 minutes, I was able to get some awesome shots!!

For a few of my shots I used PSE5 exclusively for editing (except for placing my logo) and gave them some personality by using free actions from and Each time I use an action (especially Pioneer Woman's Seventies action) in PSE5 I fall more in love with the program!

So great session and I'm glad my uncle and aunt have some Christmas photos they'll love. 

Be sure to find and like me on Facebook (Sara Vogt Photography) to see favorites from their session. 


Friday, December 9, 2011

Confidence - That Quality That Makes A Person Successful...Or Not

  8:53 AM

  I lack confidence.  That's a scary confession but it's the truth, so why not admit it?

  I have been an aspiring photographer since I can remember but I began my business in April 2009 (  When I had my first session, I was extremely nervous.  Questions and doubts surged through my mind: "Will these people click with me?" "Can I really take a good picture of them?"  "What if they hate the photos I produce of them?"....And on and on it went. 

  I prayed before every session.  I still do.  Even though it has gotten a little easier meeting and shooting new people (and those I know but don't really know) over the past 2 years and 8 months, I still lack confidence.  A LOT.

  When I'm at a session and I switch to Manual Mode, man, does that feeling of nervousness, doubt and inadaquacy fill my mind!  I forget the things I new, I forget poses I'd like to try.  All I can think of is, "can I produce work that these people will love?  Me, Sara Vogt, a small-town southern girl with one year of college and a southern drawl...." and then I begin wondering, "They'll think I don't know a thing about what I'm doing because I'm fiddling with these dials and telling them to wait while I get this right...."  Yup, I do that. 

  I guess in a sense it's not a bad thing.  At least if you're wondering if they'll like something or if they'll think you're stupid you see there's room for improvement.  That's one way of looking at it.....  But I typically don't look at it thru that rose-colored filter.  I typically see it as, "I really don't know what I'm doing and I'm shooting these people for money!!!"

  Really though, in all honesty, unless those you're photograping are photographers themselves, they don't really see all those things that you're worried about.  They just see you as a Photographer who knows about their camera and who is trying to create the perfect photo for them!! 

  That should ease my mind (and yours), right?  It doesn't really help.  But that's where having and building confidence comes in. 

  Lately, before each session I go into, when I hear those doubts and insecurities tapping down the drive to the front door of my mind, I begin reminding myself of all the other sessions (successful ones, I might add) that I've held.  I remind myself of all the new people I've met and connected with (there really isn't ANY client I've had that I haven't connected with in some way) and all the positive feedback from those clients.  I remind myself that I did it last time, so I can do it again!  And then, I pray.  For wisdom, for understanding of my client's needs, for strength, creativity of thought and for remembrance of the things I've learned.

  I'm working on my confidence.  It's not always in place but it's coming along.  And as Phillipians 4:13 says, "I can do all things thru Christ which strengtheneth me".  I can do EVERYTHING thru Him. 

  If you're new to photography, or even an old hand at it and still have days where you lack confidence, I hope this helps you to know it's not just you and that you can create confidence by remembering what achievements you've made in the past and practicing being proud of the images you create for others.


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Post-Processing Photos - When You're Finished!

7:30 AM

  I think my very favorite thing apart from getting the "perfect shot" during a session is the fun I have when playing with photos during post-processing.  Even though sometimes I put it off longer than I should because I do know it's a tedious process, it is one of my favorite things to do. 

  Last night I finished editing the sessions from my Thanksgiving Giveaway and I was so happy!  There are about 4 or 5 images from the W. Family Session held last Thursday night in Greenville, NC that I really love and will put up here.  Most of the photos are just "ok" to me.  Not that they aren't good but I don't really have much of an emotion with I see them.  But these few really speak to me and make me happy!  I think that's the purpose of post-processing - enhancing what was there in the first place, what made you take that photo, what made you feel something. 

  In the W. Family Session I believe that I took around, maybe 80-100 photos.  During my very harsh weeding out process, I narrowed it down (I actually deleted a few last night) to around 30.  Not every image that I deleted was bad but to me, it didn't have the visual appeal that I was looking for, nor did it make me feel anything.

  There were two images that were less than perfect.  One, the little girl (we'll call her Little A) wasn't completely in focus but she was looking up at me with her big, brown eyes with a very intent look on her face.  The soul I saw in that photo kept me from trashing it.  The other image was one of Little A and her brother, Baby J.  Baby J was lying on a blanket, one hand raised as if in a wave and Little A was standing behind him out of focus.  I kept it.  The dynamics worked.  I guess the point is, if there's soul in the photo, even if it's not tack sharp or technically perfect, don't throw it out.  Work with it until you get the emotion you're looking for.

  While post-processing is about retouching minor flaws in your image I think more importantly, it is about finding yourself and the soul of the subject (whether that is a person or a flower) within the shot.

  Next time you begin post-processing, look for the images that make you feel and let you know the subject was "fully there" when the image was shot. 


2:40 PM

Here I am again because tonight I am taking pictures of our Christmas Tree and I found a great little article here ( about doing just that!!!  I will post pictures if I get any good ones!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Finally!!! Actions for my PSE5!!! (And the Instructions so You can do it Too!)

Last night I went over to my friend (and fellow photographer - you can find her here: ) Shoshannah's house where she has so graciously been teaching me things about photoshop and my camera!  She told me earlier in the day that she thought we had missed a step before in downloading actions to my PSE5 and she wanted to give it one more shot before we both threw in the towel and decided that my Dell 2005 computer was totally irredeemable!

So, after downloading a few free textures from and we began the process of getting them to work in PSE5.  I don't think I have to tell you how elated we both were when I re-opened my Photoshop and BAM!  The installation bar popped up and we knew we had ACTIONS!!!!!  It was a great moment. =)

If you're having trouble downloading actions into PSE5, here is what we did, step by step.  I hope it helps and that if / when it works, you get that same, elated feeling that we got.  Then, you get to play with them which really is the best part of it all!

How to Properly Install Actions into Photoshop Elements 5 on Windows XP

*Note, you must first have some actions downloaded before saving them in this location to use!!

1- Go to "My Computer"

2- Go to "C Drive"

3- Go to "Documents and Settings"

4- Go to "All Users"

5- Go to "Application Data"

6- Go to "Adobe"

7- Go to "Photoshop"

8- Go to "5.0"

9- Go to "Photo Creations"

10- Go to "Special Effects"

11- Go to "Photo Effects"

12- Now, paste the action folders you have downloaded into this file

13 - Go back to the "5.0" folder

14- There will be a whited out icon that says something like "mediadata.dp3". 

15- Hit the all caps key and behind the word media (or the last word of the file before the period), type "OLD" in all caps.

16 - Close out of all that

17 - Go to your PSE5 and re-open

18- If this was done properly, an installation progress box should come up saying something like, "rebuilding"

19- Once this is finished, go to the toolbar on the right under Special Effects

20 - Choose Photo Filters - All

21- Voila!!! You should see your installed actions!!!!!

If you try this and have any problems, please let me know and I will try to assist you in getting this setup.  I know how frustrating it was for me and I'm glad that I had someone like Shoshannah to help me make it happen!!!

Thanks Shoshannah!!!


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Just a Thought About Shadows in Photo Editing

So, since I am now using PSE5 for editing, if there is a shadow on a person's face I HAVE to try to get it off, or clone it or SOMETHING! 

Before beginning to use PSE5 I just thought there was no way to get shadows off so I would (sad to say) LEAVE THEM! =(  That, however, I have begun to realize, really detracts from the image. 

A word of encouragement to anyone who is shying away from learning how to use PSE, or any other editing software than they normally use: TRY IT!  It WILL be a big learning curve (trust me) but the benefit you will get will outweigh the curve.  Maybe you'll even learn something that will make your editing way more effective than before, like learning I can take those pesky shadows out did for me!


Monday, December 5, 2011

Sara Vogt Photography Christmas Giveaway!!!

If you are sending out personalized Christmas greeting cards this year, don't miss out for a chance to win a FREE 8 x 10 Fine Art Landscape print by me!!  Just email a copy of your card to: and I will enter it onto my business facebook page.  Then, tell everyone you know to vote for you!  Whichever card has the most votes will win!

The deadline for entering the contest is Wednesday, December 14th at Midnight so hurry and enter your card!!         

Photo Editing - Pro's and Con's of Photoshop Elements 5 and Picnik

So, for the past few days I have been editing photos from the W. Family Session (the last of my winners from the Thanksgiving Giveaway) and I am beginning to learn the in's and out's of Photoshop Elements 5 (thanks to Shoshanna of ).  Before Shoshanna so gracefully began prodding me to use my Photoshop Elements 5, I was using Picnik ( for all my editing.

Now, Picnik is fabulous! I still love using it and right now am still using it 50% of the time along with PSE5 but having someone begin teaching me all the incredible benefits of PSE5 is making me realize that maybe, for several years I have had a jewel of an editing program right in front of me and have refused to see it.

So, let me give you some of my opinions of the pro's and con's of PSE5 versus Picnik.

PSE5 (Sara's Pros)

1) Enables you to lighten PARTS of an image alone.  Example:  Say you have a photograph where the lower half of the subjects face is in shadow.  You can create a new Brightness/Contrast layer, lighten to your desired strength, hit CTRL+ I and then use the paintbrush tool to lighten only that part of the face.  I have used this feature numerous times since Shoshanna showed it to me last Monday night!

2) On a few edits I did the subjects were in front of a beautiful lake with trees.  I was able to make the lake and trees darker and more vivid while keeping the subjects lighter so that they stood out.  The final product looked AMAZING!  The lake and sky were vivid shades of blue and the trees were dark and contrasted well with the subjects. 

So far, these are the two best pro's I have gotten from PSE5 but I'm sure there will be more.

PSE5 (Sara's Con's)

1) Because I am using such an elderly version of PSE5 (soon to be remedied since I have an Elements 10 ordered) most free actions from different places like , and (just to name two) will not work with me =(.  Therefore, I can't do anything with one click.  I did ask Shoshanna to give me a listing of the processes for certain actions but that is time consuming for her and takes more time on my part. 

2) This may be something that I haven't learned yet about PSE5 so I may have to recant this con but for now, I will put it up here.  I don't like the text options given for watermarking my edited photos nor how if you go to the buttons where you can batch watermark several photos they only give you three options for placement.  I would much rather (at this time) use Picnik because it allows me freedom of choice for my font and watermark placement.

So, there you have it, my pro's and con's for PSE5 and Picnik at this point in using them both. 

Give me feedback!  What editing software do you use and what are some pro's and cons of it?  I'd love to hear from you.


Friday, December 2, 2011

Just A Girl [Who Loves Photography and is still Learning]

It's me, Sara.  I decided to start this blog as an offshoot of my photography website, mainly because I wanted to begin blogging about my learning experiences as a photographer and it's kind of weird to tell about your learning experiences and mistakes on your photo site (where you're supposed to come across as a professional who has it all figured out).  So, here I am!

Last night I was able to photograph a friend's two children.  Her boy, J, is 6 weeks old and her daughter, A, is 16 months. 

J was very fussy so I was only able to get a few pictures of him.  The best ones were with him on his tummy. I got in close so that the background was out of focus.  The one thing I wish I would have thought of was I should have posed him so that the background was the Christmas tree and lights (what nice bokah that would have been!)  but I didn't think of that until I was driving home =(.  Oh well, that will be something I remember next time.

Earlier in the day I had gone to Lowe's to purchase some lights since my friend said that their lighting wasn't that great. I am so glad that I did.  I purchased two shop lights with clamps and two sets of 150 watt and 60 watt bulbs.  The lights worked beautifully but I did find out that 60 watt is really very bright when shooting kids in small rooms so I should have gone down on the wattage.  Another learning experience for me. 

Photos of A were good.  I was able to use several different props with her and towards the end of the session she began relaxing, laughing and being silly.  I got several of her teeth in this big, goofy grin!! =)

I am excited to begin editing the photos.  Any suggestions on edits for photos with Christmas trees in the background?