The Magic of Photographing the Texan Bluebonnet

by Guest Contributor Whitney Jeleniewski

Welcome Home Bluebonnets!

I am not a Texan.

This became abundantly clear after my first spring in Texas.  My husband and I moved to west central Texas in April of 2010.  As we drove through Dallas on I-20 we were thoroughly confused and amazed at the amount of cars and people pulled over on the side of the highway!   We thought surely there must have been some big accident, or a fire, or an air show.  But we looked and looked and all we saw were the cars, cameras, the people, and the flowers.  Surely, we must’ve missed “the show.”  We have wildflowers on the sides of the road where I’m from in Massachusetts, but you pull over only for ONE reason and it’s not to take pictures…of Little. Blue. Flowers.

It wasn’t until the following spring that I discovered, as a photographer, what all the hoopla was about.  I received floods of emails asking, “Are you taking pictures in the bluebonnets?” and “Where are the bluebonnet fields?”  I had to google what a bluebonnet was. These were not just weeds, these were not just flowers, these were bluebonnets!  And this was Texas.

I’ve found the bluebonnet to be a welcome burst of springtime color and a justifiable source of Texas pride, and like any treasure, you might need a map with an “X” marking the spot of where to find the perfect bluebonnet field.   Photographers would lie, cheat, and sell their youngest to Rumpelstiltskin to protect the location of “their” bluebonnet patch if they were lucky enough to find one.

So, if you find that elusive patch or strike it lucky and find a field, how do you get the most out of your photos?!

  1. Follow the “golden rule.”  Shoot 2 hours after sunrise or 2 hours prior to sunset.  I actually tighten this requirement up to 1 hour, especially when the bluebonnets tend to be in wide open fields with little to no sun. Also I tend to be shooting small children who do not respond well to “don’t squint.”
  2. Use props.   Let me elaborate.  Use simple props.  All sorts of God’s creations tend to be hiding in the bluebonnets.  Snakes, thorns, and fire ants.   I use props to safeguard children against these sneaky little hazards.   Keep the props simple (an apple crate, a simple wooden chair) as you don’t want to distract from the beauty of the bluebonnets or your subject.  Some prefer to use blankets, but use them sparingly, as you don’t want to flatten the flowers for those after you!
  3. Dress for success.  Organic, muted tones in the flowers are best.  If it were up to me, I would pick earth tones, denim and boots.  If you prefer a little more color, wear colors complimentary to the bluebonnets (yellows/oranges/peach). Avoid neon colors and patterns.

About Whitney: Hello! I’m Whitney, a portrait photographer, specializing in newborns, babies and children. My studio for newborn work is in Abilene, Texas, but I also serve Sweetwater, Ft. Worth, Dallas  and surrounding areas . As a mother of two children myself, I’m very familiar with the cliché “they grow up too fast”. But it’s true; they really do! And those precious newborn moments are over in a flash.

I’ve always loved children and I’m a real people person. There is something really quite special about making a connection with my clients who have brought me their most precious bundle. Whether it’s catching a tender moment between mother and baby, capturing a quick windy smile or just admiring the sweetness of a sleepy newborn pose, I love this job! I get such a great sense of pleasure and satisfaction from giving parents memories to cherish through the images I’ve created.

Visit Whitney at her WEBSITE | FACEBOOK pages

Featured Vendor + Giveaway: Simply Color Lab

Today we are featuring the amazing Simply Color Lab.  Check out all of the fantastic options they offer for photographers, including their newest products, and don’t forget to enter the GIVEAWAY for a chance to win one of 12 prizes: One 30×40 Art Wall ($549 value), One Image Pop ($186) or 10 Photo Shelfies ($79 each).

About Simply Color Lab
Our goal has always been to be a trusted vendor for Photographers.  Adam grew up with a single mom who was also a small business owner and many times she would rely on a special vendor relationship to help her through the tough times.  He never forgot how important that relationship was and established early on that strict rules are a no-no in business…Maybe it makes sense for very large companies and for profitability…but it just isn’t how we think.  We know that sometimes a huge order that is not done right can mean the difference between you making money that month and you losing money.  Even if it wasn’t our fault…we want to do the best to help you get what you need. So, every image is inspected before it’s printed and we will contact you if we see a problem.   And when you work with us, we understand that from time to time you’ll need us to go the extra mile for you.  Special requests are always considered.  You can trust that we want you to be successful and profitable…so we don’t think of your order as just an order, we know that this is how you make a living.  All employees are trained with that in mind.
As the photography industry has changed over the past few years we’ve recognized the need for custom, exclusive and quality products for our customers to resell.   We believe that the most successful photographers can only make a living if they become product specialists and print their work.  But it can’t just be any product.  It needs to be something your clients can’t get anywhere else,  It needs to be of the highest quality and it needs to be something that can last on your clients walls.  So for every new product we ask three questions…  Is it the best it can be?  Is it a good value?  Can our customers make money selling this product?  This past year we have refocused ourselves on this mission and created some amazing new, affordable and totally custom products that you and your customers can’t find anywhere else.  It has been so exciting to see the photographers at the trade shows this season tell us that these are the products they have been searching for and that these products are helping them stand out against their competition in their areas.
What we’ve found is that it’s all very simple.  If you stay in business, we stay in business!  We love what we do and we love working with people who feel the same way.

About the Simply Color Lab Team: Adam, CEO and Merrie, COO.  Friends for ten years, Business partners for eight…and somehow have still remained great friends!  Adam has the keen sense for Innovation, Quality Control and developing products a photographer can sell…Merrie handles the marketing and keeping the customers happy! The only things we love more than our customers are our Company Mascots who go to the office everyday and beg for food and generally make everyone smile. Louise and Ham – pictured here!

Visit Simply Color Lab at their WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER pages

Enter the Giveaway for a chance to win one of 12 prizes: One 30×40 Art Wall ($549 value), One Image Pop ($186) or 10 Photo Shelfies ($79 each)!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Hurry! Giveaway ends on Tuesday, April 21st.  Winners will be announced on Saturday, April 25th.

LEGAL STUFF: This promotion is in NO WAY sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. You will NOT be notified publicly via Facebook if you are a winner. You MUST be 18 to participate. By entering this giveaway, you are providing information to Rock the Shot and NOT to Facebook. Prizes do not have cash value. There will be no returns/exchanges on any of the items. Giveaway is open to US/CA residents only.

A Beautiful Chaos Lifestyle Workshop: Registration Now Open for ALL!!

Join Jayme Ford of The Paper Deer Photography as she digs into Lifestyle Family Photography and how to capture true emotions in a stress free, natural way.

Does the idea of stiff, rigid family photographs make your soul cry? Want to break free from the ordinary and create emotive images that will stand the test of time? No more fake smiles and uncomfortable looking, forced connections. Learn to work with unhappy dads, stressed out moms, and those crazy littles. Come join Jayme Ford of The Paper Deer Photography and embrace the chaos of these crazy beautiful families.

In this 4-week workshop, I will share my experiences with you and let you in on what has and hasn’t worked for me over the past 8 years. We will go over everything from pre-sesssion consultations and getting to know your clients, to my key shot list, shooting approach, and how I edit & and deliver a session within 24-48 hours. I will also be going into building confidence, pricing, SEO, nightmare sessions, the importance of personal projects and much more.  Above all, I want to empower you to approach these sessions with confidence and an open mind!  – Jayme Ford



Week One: Pre-Session & During the Shoot:

  • Getting to know your clients – Consults & questionnaires
  • Location Scouting & finding the light
  • Communicating & Working with Children
  • Communicating & Working with the Parents
  • Directing vs. Posing
  • Telling a story through a Key shot list

Week Two: Workflow:

  • Culling & Editing (Video)
  • Blogging
  • Social Media Schedule
  • Back up & archiving

Week Three: Business:

  • Pricing
  • SEO & How to get genuine references
  • The Occasional Nightmare Session & How to deal them professionally

Week Four: Personal Reflection:

  • The Shy Photographer – Breaking out of your shell
  • Relating to your Clients
  • Personal Projects & Why they are important

LEVEL: Beginner to intermediate
REQUIREMENTS: Ability to shoot in Manual with a DSLR
LOCATION: Online within the forum
DATES: Workshop will begin Thursday, May 7th. Lessons will be presented every Thursday for 4 weeks, and may be accessed at your convenience.
MATERIAL: All lessons will be in written format as well as one or two videos. A PDF will be available upon completion of the course for you to reference.

About Jayme:  Jayme Ford lives in Alberta Canada and has been a professional photographer for 8 years, specializing in lifestyle family photography. She strives to tell stories through those small fleeting moments that may otherwise go unnoticed. Photographs that will evoking feelings of love when looked upon well into the future.

Visit Jayme at her WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM pages today!

Registration is OPEN to EVERYONE!

This workshop is offered for the Rock the Shot Forum Members price of $275 for Full Participation Registration and $150 for *Study-Along Registration

If you are a current member of Rock the Shot Forum, please register HERE. Under the “Add/Renew Subscription” tab, you may add the workshop.

This workshop is offered for the Non-Members price of $300 for Full Participation Registration and $175 for *Study-Along Registration

Non-Members may register HERE, and will receive FREE access to the forum for the duration of the workshop

(total class size will be limited to 35 Full-Participants and 45 Study-Along Participants)

*Study-Along registrants will have full access to the materials, and may study along; however, will not be able to post questions or photos for critique.

The workshop will begin on Thursday, May 7th. See you then!

Please note: Workshop seats are non-refundable, and non-transferrable

NOTE: After you complete registration you will receive an automatic email with further details for the workshop (please check your spam box if you do not receive this email). If you have any additional questions, please feel free to email

Photographer Spotlight: Katie Shuler

We are so excited to welcome the amazingly talented Katie Shuler to the Rock the Shot Blog! Take a moment to learn more about her beautiful wedding and lifestyle photography, and be sure to visit her website Katie Shuler Photography. Thank you so much Katie for taking the time to share your work with us today!

Where did your inspiration for photography begin?
My inspiration for photography began after shooting a friend’s engagement session. She was trying to save money and knew that I had been itching to try out my mother-in-law’s “nice camera.” I had always appreciated beautiful photographs, but had never picked up a camera. After the shoot, I was hooked. I had no clue what I was doing but immediately fell in love with light and capturing romance. During my husband’s deployment to Afghanistan and for a couple years after he returned, I struggled with anxiety and depression. Photography became a creative outlet for me and I believe it truly helped me heal. What started out as a hobby has now become my full-time job and obsession!

How would you describe your photography style?
My photography style is full of light, romance, and anything whimsical. I’m drawn to breathtaking locations and candid moments. I seek to blend the beauty of nature with raw emotion to create timeless images.

Did you study photography in school or are you self taught?
I’m completely self-taught and am still learning new things every time I shoot!

What brand/model camera do you shoot, and what is your favorite lens?
I shoot with a Canon 5d Mark ii and my favorite lens currently is the Canon 50mm f/1.2L. However, I’m hoping to break into the world of film and am saving for a Contax 645! I’m excited to see where this new adventure takes me.

Do you have any tips for photographers on how to find the light?
Light is always the most beautiful in the early morning and late afternoon.  When shooting engagements and weddings, I love backlit photos and overexposing the shot to create a soft and romantic feel.  When shooting something edgier, it’s fun to play around with harsher light and shadows. But most importantly, I think you should shoot the type of light you love. I’m personally not a fan of studio lighting or direct sunlight but someone else may be! Although I don’t choose to shoot in those lighting situations, I appreciate when a fashion photographer puts out an awesome collection that has been shot with artificial light in a dim apartment or something cool along those lines!

What is most challenging thing about photographing weddings?
My favorite subject to photograph are weddings! I love capturing each couple’s unique story. Seeing it unfold behind the lens, and witnessing the special details, intimate moments, and essence of the day is unlike anything else.

What is a good lesson you have learned this year in photography or in your business?
A good lesson I’ve learned this year in photography is to be mindful of what inspires me.  As you grow as an artist, it is important to shoot things that push you creatively and help you reach your goals. This year I decided to focus mainly on weddings, engagements, and boudoir and improve my skills in those realms.

If you could encourage a new photographer in one area, what would it be?
I would encourage a new photographer to not compare themselves to their peers! Ultimately, I don’t think it’s the healthiest thing to do and can be discouraging at times. A photographer friend of mine once said, find your idol in photography, someone far beyond your current level, and let that person inspire you. Strive for more and don’t get caught up in the local competition wheel.

What do you love most about being a photographer?
What I love most about being a photographer, is being invited into people’s lives if only for a moment.  Witnessing a couple’s love and traveling to beautiful places where I’m exposed to different traditions and cultures is incredibly rewarding.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Professionally, in 5 years I hope to be consistently shooting film and traveling the world to capture weddings.  Personally, I hope to be the best wife and mommy I can be. My husband and I are expecting our first child at the beginning of March!

About the Artist: Katie Shuler is a Wedding and Lifestyle Photographer based out of Southern California. She is inspired by light, love, and nature, and it shows in her work.  Katie lives in Thousand Oaks, California, with her wonderful husband, Duncan, and their rambunctious pup, Murphy. When she is not taking photographs, Katie enjoys hiking through the local mountains, road trips, and psychology.

Visit Katie at her WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM pages

Featured Vendor + Giveaway: Animoto

Today we are featuring the amazing Animoto.  Animoto makes it easy for anyone to create professional-quality videos.  Check out all of the fantastic options they offer for photographers, and don’t forget to enter the GIVEAWAY for a chance to win one of TWO Animoto Pro subscriptions, valued at $249 each – how SWEET is that?!

About Animoto

Animoto Pro makes it easy for you to create professional-quality videos to market your photography business. Just upload photos and video to our site, choose one of our dozens of video styles, and select music from our huge Triple Scoop Music library. In minutes, you’ll have incredible marketing videos for your website or beautiful client videos to include in photography packages.

Animoto Pro customers have been seeing success when incorporating video. From increasing sales averages to getting new clients when posting video marketing online, we’ve heard from many photographers who have seen a boost in their business and brand when using video.

Not sure how to begin or want inspiration? Animoto partnered with portrait photographer Sue Bryce to create the Video Marketing Challenge. Since then, our Facebook Challenge group has grown into a creative and supportive community that has been producing some extraordinary videos. It’s a great resource for advice and support. And Animoto Pro is always free to try (no credit card needed!) with our 14-day free trial.

Because we’re huge fans of Rock the Shot + can’t wait to see what RTS readers will create with Animoto, we’re giving away 2 Animoto Pro subscriptions, valued at $249 each. You can also use code RTS15 to save 15% on a monthly or annual Animoto Pro plan until April 15th, 2015.

About Becky: Becky Brooks is the head of the pro photo division at Animoto. She’s been at Animoto nearly since the start and has enjoyed seeing all the imaginative ways photographers use Animoto videos to make their business better. 


Enter the Giveaway for a chance to win one of 2 Animoto Pro subscriptions, valued at $249 each!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Hurry! Giveaway ends on Tuesday, April 14th.  Winners will be announced on Saturday, April 18th.

LEGAL STUFF: This promotion is in NO WAY sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. You will NOT be notified publicly via Facebook if you are a winner. You MUST be 18 to participate. By entering this giveaway, you are providing information to Rock the Shot and NOT to Facebook. Prizes do not have cash value. There will be no returns/exchanges on any of the items. Giveaway is open to US/CA residents only.

Congratulations to Monda Goette Tapp and Elizabeth Pyo on winning an Animoto Pro Subscription!! Monda and Elizabethplease email me at in the next 48 hours to claim your prize. Thank you all for participating and have a wonderful weekend!

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