Runs For Cookies Photo Shoot – Take 2!

About a month ago, I had the chance to do something that was not only fun and exciting, but it allowed me to go way outside my comfort zone!

Some might remember that last year, I had a chance to do my very first photo shoot with my friend Katie over at Runs for Cookies.  She needed some quick photos taken to submit to Fitness Magazine for a blogging award she’d won, and I was happy to help.  I was also excited because it allowed me to brag that at least one of my photos was published in a major magazine. 😉  Since then, I can also say that one of my photos has been on national TV (thanks to her Ragnar team’s feature on the Today Show earlier this year).  What an honor!!

Katie has been an inspiration to me, both in weight loss and running; I tell just about anyone who asks the story of how I was inspired by Katie’s appearance on the Dr. Oz show to lose my last 40 pounds back in 2011, and it was through encouragement from Katie, as well as our mutual friends, Renee and Jessica, that I became a runner.  And look at me now—I’m a half-marathoner! 😀

I feel like I owe Katie a great deal, and I told her after our first photo shoot that I would be happy to take pictures of her again whenever she needed them. She mentioned that someday she’d like to do an official set of “after” shots, since she had never had them done.  It took us a while to get them scheduled (mostly due to all my hockey conflicts!), but we finally settled on a Saturday in May.  I wanted to do outdoor shots, since I don’t have a studio or anything, and I figured that May 11th would be a good bet for decent weather.

Of course, because that’s just how life works, May 11th turned out to be cloudy, drizzly, and unseasonably cold! 😛  I ran 9 miles that morning, and I was freezing by the time I was done.  The temps were in the upper 40s, and with the wind and dampness, I just worried that the experience wouldn’t be a pleasant one for Katie, and the last thing a photographer wants is to have a miserable subject.  I texted her to give her an “opt out” chance, but she assured me she could smile despite the conditions, lol, so we met at 1pm near her house.

As you look as the photos below, you’ll see that I did several different presets or “filters” on the shots.  One thing I’ve learned since the last time Katie and I did this is how to use a software program called Adobe Lightroom to not only “touch up” the photos, but also to apply some creative filters when the initial “cleanup” work is done.  I had tons of fun trying out different effects and color tones to alter the look of the pictures.  I purchased some pre-defined filters (aka presets) from two sources: Pretty Presets, and One Willow Studios.  Each had their pluses and minus, and I could spend a whole separate post detailing what I learned while using them, but suffice it to say that I’m still learning, and someday, I hope to have it all figured out. 😉

If you want to see all the photos at once easily, here’s a link to a scrolling view. Just click a photo and then you can scroll through them in a larger size.


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Otherwise, keep reading to read the story behind the photos!

When we were first scheduling the date, I mentioned to Katie that she was welcomed to bring her family along to the first location if she wanted.  I’d never done family portraits before, and I thought it might be fun to give it a shot, not to mention it would be a little extra bonus for Katie to have some “more formal” shots of her family.  We started with those, and I must admit, it was an interesting challenge to get all four of them to smile at once. 😉 I used my standard trick of having everyone look away for a count of three and then turn to look at me on three.  It’s amazing how well that works!




After that, we did just the kids by themselves, and they were adorable.  They’re at an age where they are just fun to work with, because they listen but are still fairly relaxed when I ask them to smile.




Then we did pictures with Katie and Jerry, and if you’ve ever read any of Jerry’s posts on Katie’s blog, you know that he’s quite funny…he’s that way in real life, too! I had so much fun taking pictures of the two of them together, and I think the best pictures of Katie came when she was with Jerry, because she was so relaxed (not to mention amused) by his antics.





Those last two were actually from a shot of both of them in which Jerry wasn’t looking at the camera, but Katie was.  I think she looks beautiful in this shot, so I cropped it to just her and was very pleased with the result!  The first has more of a color boost and the second has a softer filter—couldn’t decide which one I liked best!

I took a few shots of Jerry alone, and then we let Jerry and the kids go home so that Katie and I could finish the “real” photo shoot.  For me, this part was both tons of fun and tons of terrifying! 😉 I struggle with so many aspects of photography, and portrait photography makes me especially nervous.  I know how important it is to get it right the first time—second chances for the perfect shot are rare!

Thankfully, Katie is not only an easy subject, but also a beautiful one, and while I wish I had done a few things differently, I feel blessed that she was such an easy-to-photograph subject.  We did a few by the lake, and then we went to a railroad bridge I discovered in my travels a few weeks before our shoot.  When I saw it, I just knew I had to use it!





When we finished with the railroad tracks and were headed back to my car, I saw an opportunity for a neat backdrop.  I love that I live in “farm country,” and when I saw this tractor by a red barn, I made poor Katie walk a little ways down the road in her heels to get this shot!




Three different filters give three very different effects, but I love them all because she looks so stunning in this picture!

Finally, we left the tracks and went to our last spot, which was more in my neighborhood.  I think these are my favorite shots, because Katie just looks very relaxed in them.  Plus, I got to meet one of my neighbors, who was so kind when I pretty much barged into his yard to get pictures of Katie in the field next to his house.  When he found out what we were doing (and learned that Katie was pretty much a local celebrity in our area 😉 ), he was more than willing to let us traipse around his property to take more photos.  His name is Joe, and I think I probably need to give him a framed picture of his home or something as a thank you. 😀







I think, of all the pictures we took that day (and there are a lot!!), my favorite is number 3961.  She just looks so young and vibrant and beautiful, in my humble opinion.

So those are the results of my latest “photo shoot.”  I’m very grateful to Katie for giving me this opportunity.  I learn more with each opportunity to practice honing my photography skills, and Katie is probably my favorite subject—not only because she’s my friend, but because she’s so darn photogenic, she makes my photography look great!  🙂


11 thoughts on “Runs For Cookies Photo Shoot – Take 2!

  1. Erin

    Yep, I agree, number 3961 is a really excellent shot! I love the bright red of the sweater, the muted red of the barn and the green of her eyes. I just love pictures with barn backdrops in general! Nice job, and it was nice of you to help out a friend!

  2. Ang

    Beautiful photography and beautiful subjects! I have to think the reason Katie is so fun to photograph is that she has an amazing smile and happiness about her 🙂 You did a GREAT job!!

  3. Jenn

    Wow, Katie is beautiful and you are a great photographer, Steph. Not only do you manage to capture Katie’s physical beauty, you see her wonderful personality in your images – the easy smile and the sparkle in her eyes (especially the ones with Jerry). Keep up the great work, Steph, I think you have another career in the making. Hugs!

  4. Kelsey

    Photo shoot success! Looks like you guys had a great time! Also, ha ha, my blog reader had both of the posts right next to each other and I was a bit confused on who was who!



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