1. Creating Timeless Portraits | A Simple Tutorial

    I am all about traditions…especially traditions that concern photography and my children.  Like most busy Mama’s, I just don’t realize how much my children are changing right before my very own eyes until I am sitting down with an album in my lap with my jaw on the floor. It happens in such a subtle way. Time truly stands still for no one.

    So what is this all about anyway?

    A few years or so ago, I decided to do something special so that the we could easily reflect on how our children and their features have really matured and changed.  My kids had no interest in standing still or cooperating long enough to get what I thought I was after, so I just let them come as they were.

    That included bedhead, messy faces, distracting clothing or anything that really broke the rules of pretty portraiture.

    It was the best thing that could have happened. I do choose to make the images black & white to keep them timeless and somewhat cohesive. Now, I try to do this every year.  I skipped a year last year because we had just had a baby and I was exhausted and now I am so sad that I didn’t record Daisy’s fresh newborn face or the year between Ezra’s one year old self and his much more mature three year old features. It is even more crucial in those early years because it all happens so fast.

    I will continue to do this into adulthood. If you don’t have children you can do this as a self portrait project, photograph your own parents, grandparents, your pets… anything.

    There are two simple parts to this tutorial. First you are obviously going to take your image.

    Then you are going to process or edit it. You can edit your image in any means you typically would. It doesn’t even have to be black and white but I am going to share my process with you just in case in you’re curious.

    And if you are interested in grabbing the actions I use in this tutorial please feel free to use the discount code: M4HFriend.

    Here’s How I take my images:

    What you will need.

    -A DSLR camera or a camera with Manual mode.

    -Your preferred portrait Lens.

    (I use my 35L or my 50L.) Don’t be afraid to get creative however if you want something a bit different. You could totally use any other focal length or even play with a special lens such as a lens baby etc. This is just what I do.

    -Editing Software. (Lightroom, Photoshop CS/CC or Photoshop Elements.)


    Taking My Images:

    Note: I don’t fuss over clothing or their hair. I want them to be just as they are so I can remeber as much about their personality as possible when I look back on these year after year. You would be surprised at how much changes in such a short time. For example I have one child who never brushes her hair. I have to do it or she would go around with it matted to the back of her head. I insist she brushes it for leaving our home but around the house I pick my battles. I let her bedhead be for the images.


    I use natural light for these portraits. I like to use my front door as my house is a bit darker. It lets in more light. Time of day isn’t super important as the front of the house has a porch and the strongest light of the day is the afternoons in the back of the house. You can do this with setting your subject in front of your windows, in front of sliding glass doors, right in your garage door even. The light in these portraits is somewhat soft and flat and not overly dynamic, but it works for these kinds of images as it is flattering, creates a catch light in the eye (what gives the eye a bit of sparkle) and is easy to work with.

    The best way to make sure the light is working is to stand your subject right up against your light source (window/garage door/ sliding glass door etc.) Now move between them and your light source. Have them slowly walk backward until the light in their eyes is nice and the light is even and not harsh on their skin. You also want to give yourself enough space to actually photograph your subject.


    In these kinds of portraits a shallow depth of field is necessary. You want your subjects face and features to be sharp while the background to be creamy and smooth and as distraction free as possible. Try to take the image with very little clutter or a blank wall behind them if you can.

    I use an aperture of about 1.4 up to 2.0 for my portraits depending on my lens. Back up just a bit if you can. A 50mm focal length works nicely because it really creates gorgeous bokeh (that creamy background) while preventing distortion that wider angle lenses can create (an exaggerated size nose etc.) You are also far enough away so you can get most of the features sharp and in focus. When too close with such an open aperture you can end up with a blurry nose etc. With all that being said perfection takes a back seat to honesty here. If something isn’t perfect but it best portrays my kids with a facial expression they are making etc. I will keep it. I do take a few portraits to choose from when creating this series of each kid.

    Your shutter speed and ISO are secondary and should just support your aperture as that is your creative setting and most important here. Choose in regards to what you need to create a good exposure.

    For the image of Sophia above my settings were:

    Canon 35L II Canon 5d Mark IV

    F2  1/250  ISO 100

    Really that’s about it.

    As a recap here are a couple of things that will help make your mini shoot a success:

    Quick Tips:

    -To get natural expressions talk to your children while photographing them. Ask them questions about things you know they are interested in.

    -When shooting indoors make sure all of the inside lights are off so you don’t have mixed lighting which can be hard to edit and unflattering.

    -Don’t make your kids smile. Just let them be as they are in whatever mood they are in.

    -If you are photographing multiple children or subjects try to keep the same perspective each time.

    Processing My Images:

    I use a quick black and white action in Photoshop known as Editorial in the Journey collection and then use the helper actions Mega Matte in Memento.  (Matte 1 and Matte 2) You can find those actions HERE and HERE. Please feel free to use the special tutorial code M4HFriend for 40% off any of these sets if you don’t currently own them or would like to grab them.

    Please note while Memento actions largely work with Elements, The bonus actions Mega Matte from Memento is ONLY compatible with Photoshop CC/CS versions.

    My Movie from Sarah Cornish on Vimeo.


    If you missed the portrait series for 2017 of all six of our children, you can find them on the fan page. Thank you so much for peeking in! I hope you found this useful. I will be sharing a lot of tutorials through out the year from basic to more advanced as I am hoping to continue to build on our already amazing little community and pay it forward. If there is something you might want to see, feel free to drop a little love in the comments here. If you haven’t already I would also love for you to connect on the fan page so you can keep your eye out for more fun and helpful tidbits that help me quite a bit as a photographer (and Mama!)

    And if you think someone might find this helpful, feel free to share!

    Much love!!


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  2. The Leap Retreat | Registration Here

    Leap has been a long time coming.

    And why the name Leap anyway? Because honestly, that leap of faith is what stands in the way of all of the good things waiting for us in that vast unknown. We erect invisible walls built out of our own fear… or maybe that is just me. Either way, this is a walk we don’t have to do alone because we aren’t alone. This has been on my heart for some time now… years in fact. I have wanted to host a very special experience for women that incorporates a healthy love for photography, a passionate and safe place to nurture hearts and minds– with an educational opportunity to bring out the most in each woman that chooses to partake in this experience. I have been looking for the courage to leave the comfort of my own nest as well (as a self professed people loving introvert,) to envelop others in a warm and safe environment. I believe to truly grow, we have to be willing to shed our skin and offer up a bit of vulnerability in exchange for the chance to fully bloom and come into our own. To help photographers reach their goals by helping them to listen to their own unique voice, a voice that begs to be heard but is sadly so often pushed away and squandered in fear… is my biggest goal. Friends, your work is so intertwined with just who you are. We tie our inner artist to our inner being and find ourselves vulnerable every time we share what we create. It is so easy to let the voices and the influences of others in– and it taints our ability to believe in ourselves and to trust our own true visions at times. It is terrifying to put yourself out there. I understand that as well as anyone. But this is your safe haven. I have the chance to sit across from women each year. Mentoring and nurturing other souls is something that has proved to be a huge blessing to me as well. I wanted to do this on an even grander scale. 2017 is going to be year that magic happens. Beautiful things are on the horizon and my biggest wish is for you to take my hand and join me.

    Are you  feeling like you are ready to take the next natural step and take your own leap of faith?

    Continue to read Below for full details on how to secure your place sweet friend.

    So, what exactly is this all about?

    This is more than a workshop.  It’s a one of a kind experience, a retreat into the Colorado mountains. It is a place of solidarity and friendship and inspiration. You will be staying alongside me in a 1950’s vintage cabin surrounded by majestic views, cozy touches and beautiful learning opportunities. I am your open book. This is an intimate experience with only 10 places open so that I can make sure to spend the time and attention I need on each woman that comes along on this journey. You will learn, but you will also do so much more. This will be a safe, warm environment full of inspiration to create and grow. I have been planning this for years and it ultimately came down to one thing. If I were to attend any given workshop, what would be the ultimate experience for me? What would make it the most rewarding?

    Well this is everything I could possibly dream up and then some.

    What is included:

    -A riveting and beautiful experience.

    This is not a formal retreat. Pack your favorite yoga pants/sweat pants/cozy pants of choosing. Bring those house shoes and that dry shampoo. We will make breakfast together every morning, take nature walks and explore our surroundings, breath in that fresh mountain air, have bits of down time in between all of the learning (there is even a hammock, folks!). Think a bunch of girlfriends sharing a love for photography and all things beautiful together. I want to hear your stories. This is meant to be reinvigorating. Whether you are slightly introverted like myself or completely outgoing, we are about creating a sisterhood with bonds so strong they last for years to come. I am here to teach you, but I am also here to hopefully support you and create something memorable for you.

    -All main meals + some snacks (okay lots of snacks because it’s me.)

    You are welcome to bring anything you want too though. Judgement free zone. If you do have any dietary restrictions or allergies please do let me know so I can be mindful of your needs. There will also be coffee, tea and wine.

    -Lodging in the cutest 1950’s Colorado Cabin. This cabin is surrounded by glorious aspen trees + mountains and is AMAZING. it has cozy, homey touches and will be our backdrop for our sessions. You only need bring your heart, an open mind and your camera.

    -Two Full Days together and then some. We will meet at the cabin the first evening and get to know each other. There will be some soul searching, a lot of hugging and something yummy waiting for you to eat. The next two days will be a raw and unique experience of fellowship, education and beauty.

    -Three Amazing Shoots:

    1 Lifestyle Family session IN the cabin (and can I tell you I got the most AMAZING photographer to bring her family out for this), a Full Family session outside with the landscapes and mountains all around (yet again…another pretty epic family) + a bonus shoot (Mama & Me.) You shoot right alongside me. I am here to help you with anything you need that extra bit of help with.

    -25 Minute one-on-one time with each gal in the afternoons to reflect privately on any questions you may have pertinent to your business. We will peek at some of your work, have a little chat and get to the very bottom of what stirs your soul and fills the gaps in your business. This will be gentle but honest and a way to pin point some things that can help YOU flourish when you leave.

    -A walk through of my full editing workflow from RAW to the finished images I would deliver to my client. You can bring your computer for this if you like, but it isn’t necessary.

    -My full business/client workflow. I will share how I have built up my business and stood out in what seems to be a saturated market.

    -Preparing for Family Sessions, Client interaction, Marketing, Session styling, Location Scouting and just about anything you would like to ask me.

    -Personal sharing in regards to my own work/family unbalance haha. Honesty is everything though.

    -Creative exercises to get the mind working in the most wondrous of ways.

    -A Private Facebook group to get acquainted. The invitation for this goes out with 48 hours of you purchasing your spot.

    -Sweet little Gifts! Because I just love to give presents.

    -Friendships that will last you a lifetime.

    *Please Note:

    Travel to Colorado and Transportation to the cabin is NOT included. You will need to pay for and arrange this.

    When Is it?

    September 29th-October 1st, 2017

    Where is This Happening?

    Allenspark, CO (Near Estes Park, CO.)

    Official Schedule Will be posted in our group. You will be added 48 hours after workshop purchase.



    $1595 If purchased January 5th-6th, 2017

    Nine Spots Available. Once they are sold out the shopping cart will prevent anyone else from purchasing their spot.

    $400.00 required to reserve your seat.

    Add to Cart

    And a peek at our adorable cabin! (Not my Images)


    This is NOT refundable. By purchasing this seat you acknowledge this. This acts as a retainer. If for any reason you can not attend this workshop you will be solely responsible for selling your seat. If you can not actively sell your seat you forfeit your retainer. A contract will be sent upon booking. Due to the intimate nature of this retreat, this retreat is open to women only. No distance restrictions are imposed. All are welcome.

    The full remainder of the retreat spot is due within 30 days of the retreat. Final invoices will be sent then along with a guide to help prepare you for our time together. You can absolutely pay your remaining balance at any time though or in any installments you need before the 30 days.















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