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Blog | Jen Abert Photography | Page 2

This past Monday, I had the pleasure of photographing an engagement session inside Universal Studios and Universal’s Islands of Adventure theme parks in Orlando, Florida. LeAnna, the bride-to-be, is a huge Harry Potter fan (probably a bigger fan than I am), and she’s gotten her fiancé, Azrael, into the series through the Jim Dale audiobooks.

When I met with them, they told me they were torn between doing a Harry Potter-themed engagement session, and a 1940’s-themed one. My suggestion: “Why not both?” Universal Orlando offers some New York City backdrops, perfect for photos set in the 40’s, and of course Hogsmeade and the newly-opened Diagon Alley for the Harry Potter photos. Done!




We decided to wait a couple months for the crowds to die down a bit, and the weather to get a little more bearable. The day we went, it was nicely overcast in the morning, which allowed me to capture these long-exposure shots down busy Diagon Alley.



We also took a turn down the infamous Knockturn Alley, which was so dark that I had no choice but to break out the flash. A little creative placement and colored gel, and I think we’ve captured the sinister mood of the place.


And we did board the train to head to Hogsmeade, so we could get that famous castle in the backdrop. Unfortunately, the sun had come out fully, and it was hot for this lovely couple all dressed in black. So we made it a short visit. 109


We hopped back on the Hogwarts Express and made our way once more to Universal Studios, and walked over towards the New York City sets, where we found a secluded alley sheltered from the hot sun, and perfect for some gritty 1940’s shots.



Would you believe it was close to lunch time when we took these?


Finally, we found an excellent prop to round out our 1940’s segment of the engagement shoot. We waited for the clouds to cover the sun, and grabbed a few quick shots with this sweet ride.


Thanks to LeAnna and Azrael for braving the Florida weather for this most magical of engagement sessions! You guys ROCKED it!

Know anybody who just got engaged? Need engagement photos yourself? Contact me to reserve your session. You know how much I love the geeky ones!

And hey…thanks!


A month ago, I took maternity photos for Carie and Travis at the beach. This week, I got to meet and photograph their newborn baby girl.

Newborn photos work best when they’re done within the first 14 days after baby is born, as they are more likely to sleep longer, and more willing to be swaddled and gently posed than when they gain stronger motor functions. As you can see by those little toes sticking out in this photo, that’s not necessarily a guarantee that they still won’t break free from their wrappings. She’s a kicker.

newborn photography


And at only 4 days new, she sure was an alert little bear cub! Bear Cub

But we managed to get her snoozing (and smiling!) a bit, too.


And you can just tell that mom and dad are so in love with their baby girl!



She was such a sweet little subject! Thanks so much to Carie and Travis for inviting me into their home to capture the kiddo who’s captured their hearts!


Know someone waiting on their own little bundle of joy to arrive? Have them drop me a line to schedule maternity and newborn photos!

Hello, friends! I come to you this Saturday morning with a preview of last night’s maternity session. Carie and Travis are first-time parents-to-be! They’re expecting a baby girl at the end of this month (eek!). Carie and I talked on the phone, and decided that Redington Long Pier in (duh) Redington Beach would be a great spot for some of the shots she wanted. And of course, we had to go in the evening so we could catch one of Florida’s trademark gorgeous sunsets (I’m pretty sure they’re trademarked).

The weather even cooperated by not dumping rain on us! We had a lovely breeze off the water that meant Jen (that’s me, hello!) was not dripping sweat from carrying around an entire portrait studio over her shoulder. It also created some lovely movement in the white maxi skirt that Carie hunted for desperately for this shoot.

But you don’t care about any of that, do you? You just want the pictures. Very well.

It was lovely under the pier, so that’s where we started. maternity Then we headed to the shade thrown by the pier to get some nice solo shots of Carie, and soon enough the sun started to set and the sky started to show its colors. 1002 maternity That sunset was pretty magical. Thanks to Carie and Travis for letting me capture this wonderful time in their lives. I can’t wait to meet the little miss!


I picked up a new backdrop this week for a charity event I’m doing this weekend (stay tuned for details). Of course, I had to test it out. The last self-portrait headshots I did a couple weeks ago with my iPhone, a continuous light and a reflector. I used my bookcases as a backdrop in that instance, because books are beautiful. photographer IMG_8636 IMG_8637 I think I look best in black & white.

By the way, I’m thinking of writing a blog post on how to get the most out of your iPhone photos. Would anyone be interested in that? Let me know in the comments.

Anywho, back to yesterday. So I set up my backdrop and my lights, and thought I’d try something new with the camera. In the past, I’ve always set the focus manually so that the plane in which I’d be sitting would be in focus, turn on the self-timer, and go. This was exhausting. It meant getting up every time and hitting the shutter again, making sure I didn’t lean too far forward or back so that I would fall outside the focus plane, and climbing over the tripod every time I wanted to check the photo. That’s why I went with the iPhone last time. I could at least see what I was doing, and I had a remote shutter release in my Earpod headphones.

But not this day. I’ve known for awhile that Lightroom allows direct capture, meaning your camera can be connected to your computer and downloading right to it. So instead of climbing around the tripod to view the back of the camera, I can just look over at my 27″ iMac screen to see it, histogram and all. It also has a remote shutter function, so I can click the mouse to take the picture. Since I have a bluetooth mouse, I didn’t even have to stretch. I had it sitting on my leg while I sat in front of the camera, which can now autofocus on me, and take photos from there. Happy day! Headshot 140731_Lights-040 140731_Lights-049 140731_Lights-086 140731_Lights-038

Ugh. Now I just need to work on my facial expression when there’s nobody to interact with. You think it’d be easy, since I think I’m hilarious. Ah, well. At least the light looked good, and I’m all set for Sunday!

As always, thanks for reading. Have a magical day. 😉

Last night, I was invited to attend a fundraising event for the MacDonald Training Center’s Fine Arts Studios. The event was held at the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts in downtown Tampa. MoPA? How could I resist? MTC-5740 Before I get to the event shots, I’ll give you a little bit of info about the MacDonald Training Center’s Fine Arts Studios, straight from their website:

“MacDonald Training Center, Inc. encourages Creativity and Self-Expression through its Fine Arts Studios.
Individuals with artistic interests meaningfully create Expressive Art, both for Personal Satisfaction, Growth, Recreation and for Sale to the Community.”

Last night’s event was a gallery showing of some of the pieces created by the MTC’s artists, all available for sale to the attendees. The turnout was fantastic, and people were buying paintings left and right! MTC-5717 MTC-5718 MTC-5719 There was live music, MTC-5721 MTC-5723 MTC-5724 MTC-5725  and plenty of prizes donated by various businesses in the community. MTC-5737 If you’d like to learn more about the MacDonald Training Center, or for more info on where you can purchase the artists’ work, please visit the center’s website:


As always, thanks for reading!

As you may or may not know, I’m enrolled in the New York Institute of Photography’s (NYIP) “Complete Course in Professional Photography.” I signed up for it, because I’m a firm believer in always trying to better oneself. I knew that my technical skills were solid, but that there are always things to learn. What I really hoped to gain is a stronger business foundation. I enrolled about a year and a half ago, and hadn’t done much with it. Thankfully, it’s a study-at-your-own-pace course (as long as you complete it in 3 years). So, halfway in, I’ve started to get back to it in earnest. I have decided, dear followers, to hold myself accountable by posting about my progress. So, here goes!

I will post progress when I’ve completed each unit, which means after I’ve submitted and received feedback on my photo projects.

Unit 1, for me, was largely a refresher on the basics of what makes a proper exposure and a good photo. The first lesson lays out the guidelines for what makes a good photograph:
1. A good photograph has a clear subject.
2. A good photograph focuses attention on the subject.
3. A good photograph simplifies.

These are all important things to remember when composing a photo.

Lesson 2 taught me a little about different kinds of cameras, and lesson 3 went over various types of lenses, and how they work. Lesson 4 got into the basics of how to use your camera with shutter speed, aperture, and ISO, and how to use these to achieve the 3 guidelines of getting a good photograph.

So that was unit 1, in a nutshell. I got an A on the quiz, so, hooray! Now for the photo projects. For this unit, I had to submit 3 different photos.

Photograph #1: Using shutter speed to express a sense of motion or speed. Unit 1-1
Now, I already knew before I submitted it that the framing was off. But of all the photos I took, this one showed the best motion without blurring the pages past recognition. For this shot, I set my camera on a tabletop tripod on the desk, the book on the other end of the desk, and then set the self-timer mode to a 5-second delay to eliminate camera shake by me pressing the shutter button. I set the focus to manual once the book was locked into focus (it wasn’t going anywhere), then reached over and pressed the shutter. When the light flashed indicating that the camera was about to take the picture, I blew on the pages to make them turn.

Feedback: The feedback I got on this photo was great. I should back up a moment to say that, once you submit your first photo project, you’re assigned a student advisor who will critique your photos and send you an audio recording of feedback on what you did right, and what could have been better. Anyway. My advisor said that, in the 36 years he’s been advising students, mine is the first of this particular kind of photo to come across his desk. So, that’s pretty cool! He did mention that my framing could have been better (i.e., not cut off the other corner of the book), which I said I noticed before.

Photograph #2: Using selective focus to make the subject stand out. Unit 1-2 This one is pretty straightforward. I set my aperture at its widest setting, focused in on the never-interested Pepper, and the result was nice sharp cat eyes and a creamy, blurred background.

Feedback: His one suggestion was to take it down on the headroom. Otherwise, well-executed technique.

Photograph #3: Creating a feeling of distance by using great depth of field. Unit 1-3 For this one, I used a shot I took last summer in Hawaii. I do mostly plan on taking new photos for each assignment, but I decided, just this once, I would submit one that followed the assignment guidelines.

Feedback: He liked the photo, and said that maybe next time, I could use an even wider lens, or show an even greater depth of field by having a clearly defined foreground, middle ground, and background. Fair enough.

So that was unit 1. Stay tuned as I go over each unit and photo project as they’re completed. I’ve still got some shooting to do for project 2, so expect a couple weeks on that.

Yesterday morning, I met the Anderson/Davis family for portraits at A. L. Anderson Park (of course)! The rumbling thunder and approaching storm meant that we had to work quickly, but we managed to avoid the rain! untitled-1026 Logan was cute as ever. untitled-1029-Edit-2 And check out these lovely ladies. untitled-1022 And of course Mike had to get one with his daughters. untitled-1063 But we couldn’t leave without a picture of Logan and Grandma and Grandpa… untitled-1073 …and Titi and Uncle Zak! untitled-1086 Thanks for playing in the park with me, guys! untitled-1046-2

This evening, I had the pleasure of photographing three-generation family portraits! Linda’s two adult children and their children are staying in Indian Rocks Beach, so we took advantage of the scenery for some on-location portraits. Here’s the whole group. untitled-1002-2 Aren’t those matching dresses adorable? These kids were full of energy, and so ready to play in the water! untitled-1092 But we managed to get them to hold still for a few posed shots. untitled-1120-2 untitled-1130 untitled-1039 But of course, kids will be kids, and sometimes that’s the best. untitled-1072-2 untitled-1086 untitled-1107 untitled-1171 untitled-1085-2

This past Friday, I got the chance to photograph something new for me! I was asked a couple months ago by a friend to capture him proposing to his girlfriend. He decided to set it up at EPCOT in front of France, because Kelly loves Paris. A marriage proposal at Disney World? How could I resist?

Things didn’t go quite as planned, as Kelly spotted some of the friends Darin had invited to surprise her. But the moment was nice, nonetheless. DSC_4981 We decided to recreate the moment at the bridge connecting Canada to France, with the Eiffel Tower visible in the background, and without the crowd of people. DSC_5025 We also took the opportunity to get some nice shots all around the world, one for every country. DSC_5000 DSC_5006 DSC_5007 DSC_5013 DSC_5017 DSC_5019 DSC_5022 DSC_5035 DSC_5045 DSC_5053 And what EPCOT photo session would be complete without Spaceship Earth? DSC_5050-Edit DSC_5052

Hello again, friends!

I meant to have this post up shortly after Mother’s Day, but, well, life.

I’ve known Crystal since we rode the bus together in 6th grade. We bonded over our mutual love of Nancy Drew, and have been friends ever since. She’s a professional cosmetologist who graduated from the Paul Mitchell School. She works out of the Salon Lofts in Carrollwood, and also does wedding hair and makeup. She has a blog which she updates about as often as I do mine. 😉 I go to her for all my hairstyling needs, so of course when she called on me to take photos of her and her brother DJ for a Mother’s Day gift, of course I said yes! DSC_4768 DJ was a little reluctant at first, but once he saw Crystal posing happily on her own, he decided to join in. DSC_4803 DSC_4820 He even let me take some solo pictures of him. DSC_4815-2 DSC_4860 It was a good afternoon hanging out with these two in Downtown Tampa. DSC_4864 DSC_4781