Monthly Archives: August 2016

Supporting your local small business

Ok ya’ll!!!  I know I’m super biased because I’m his mama… but seriously, I die of cuteness overload!  Is this not the most handsome little soccer player in the pee wee world?!!!

Monday afternoon we picked Linc up from pre-school and brought him home to something incredible:  the worlds smallest soccer cleats!  You see, now that Linc is 4 we just barely made the cut off for him to play fall soccer!  Linc was beyond excited and he couldn’t get dressed and out the door fast enough!

We watched him hustle out onto the field with a rowdy bunch of 4-6 year olds that we had never met before and played hard for an hour straight!  My heart was so full and also so incredibly grateful!

You see friends:  without YOU, this would not be possible!

When you take the time and choose to support a small family business like mine and other’s like mine, YOU are making moments like this possible!

When you purchase a family session or a mini session, your help put those tiny little cleats on excited little feet!  You make these moments of “firsts” possible.

It’s easy sometimes to forget in the moment.  I know because I’m frequently someone who loves to live on amazon!  But there are so many small businesses that are amazing and incredible right in our own neighborhood.

Stop by and check them out and remember that by supporting them, you are supporting a family!

Linc loved every second of that first soccer practice and can’t wait to go back again this week!  I realized as a mama that there won’t be a single practice or game that I will miss!  He’s growing up way to fast and although we are just starting this new season of “firsts” and sports and so much fun to be had… I can already feel it flying by faster than I can click my camera!

Before practice I made him pose for me for a few quick shots!  He is super silly right now so standing still and “posing” is just not his thing!

But I will cherish these for as long as I live!

Supporting your local small business Supporting your local small business Supporting your local small businessOh man ya’ll these next ones… my fave!!!

Supporting your local small business Supporting your local small business


We will be recreating that pose above when he goes pro!!!

And then of course… when it’s raining out (because it’s Florida and it’s September) we have to do a duck face!

Supporting your local small business

Out on the fields with coach Ben!  My child is the smallest child on the field by far!

Supporting your local small business

It’s like where’s waldo but Where’s Lincoln!!!

And then… my favorite:

Supporting your local small business

The second he gets in the car, the shoes and the socks come off!  It took us a while to peel the shin guards off but they came off the second we got on the porch!  The house door was open and this kid flew in the house and when I turned around was already INSIDE the fridge with his dirty toes!

Lord help us!!!

Thank you to all of you who have believed in this crazy dream of mine and supported this small business!  Thank you for helping make this soccer season a possibility for Linc!!


I am a beach girl through and through!  I love the ocean and I always thought that I would live by the ocean in Virginia Beach where I grew up for the rest of my days!

I pictured myself living there, no more than 5 miles away from the boardwalk and the sand where I learned to walk and made memories before I can even remember them.  But, it’s funny how life happens and where our adventures take our hearts.

Now here I am with my family… living a bit farther from the ocean and the sand than I ever initially pictured, but a beach girl in my heart!

This little town actually stole our heart in a weird kind of way.  I remember my friends telling me the kind of peace and sense of well being they felt when they use to drive over that bridge to the Outer Banks or when they flew over their homes after visiting!  I never fully understood that feeling!  I understood it in the sense of I heard what they were saying and I was happy for them, so extremely happy for them that they had that kind of a place;  a place of peace and solitude and comfort!  It wasn’t until Tuck and I came back in January to look at potential houses and we drove into Celebration with it’s Spanish moss hanging in arches that I finally understood!  I understood having a home away from my home.  That’s when I knew our “let’s go look at potential houses” talk of moving that was pretty serious at the time, was actually extremely, put an offer down very serious!

I haven’t spoken much of this little town on the blog and maybe that’s because I still have such a deep rooted love for my home town.  Maybe it’s because this place also feels so much like home to us and for some reason I don’t want to jinx it!

brooke tucker photography children and family lifestyle blog

Celebration reminds me of a different time, a time when you and I grew up as kids!  It’s a town where we know everyone and everyone speaks or waves hello (and just about everyone knows who Linc is!)  The town itself is about 10 miles long and you can walk, run or bike anywhere you need to go!  There are so many charming things about this small town that might sound silly to some but they are all things that I love;  things that made us fall in love with this town!  Things that I feel I will always appreciate!

  • We have maybe at most 2 stop lights and both are as you enter our town!  Once you are in the town, there are only stop signs!  (I actually never noticed this, or even thought about it!  Elizabeth Friske brought it up when she visited and now I never forget it!)
  • There are NEV’s and NEV designated parking spots only!  Those are the neighborhood electric vehicles and a lot of people drive them!  (They look like golf carts!)
  • Most people walk, ride bikes or NEV places!  We typically ride bikes if we can.
  • There is one school for K-8 and one HS.  This was a huge bonus for us because it meant, and still means, that Linc will have a core group of buds that he will remain solid friends with for his life!  The kids he is forming friendships with right now in pre-school will be his core group all the way through HS!
  • The only place that has delivery is upper crust pizza!  So there is no eating out for us unless we go out.  Even still our options are limited unless we decide to venture out of the “bubble”.  So this is great for our family, we actually cook and eat as family together more now and I love that!
  • Neighbors!  We actually live closer to each other here in Celebration but it’s a different feel!  Every so often each of the “alleys” or courts have block parties and these are pretty huge!  Four or five streets come together (animals included) and provide food, drinks, and activities for all the kids for hours!  It’s really amazing!  There is such a sense of neighborly kindness here and friendship.  In fact… our neighbor and I constantly text each other “hey stalker!” and wave whenever we walk the dogs!  It’s a running joke but we love it!  In fact… I usually walk with her and run out of the house to chat with her when I see her!
  • Trails:  Our town shares a conservation so we have these amazing boardwalk trails that run all through our town!  We have several lakes that lead into these trails as well that are meant for walking and biking.  Along each path, the town has set up stations that are “pet friendly”.  Linc loves to take Tipper on “alligator walks”  as he calls them and there is nothing I cherish more than the time I have with him and the talks we share while we look at all the different wildlife we have!  (And friends, wildlife we have from deer that you can basically touch to birds and bugs and snakes and turtles!)
  • Silence!!!!  This is a huge one and something I didn’t think I would really notice but I do!!  There is no real noise at night and by noise I mean no sirens at all.  There is no jet noise at all.  The only sound I hear are the frogs and the cicadas and well the fireworks!
  • Disney Fireworks!!!  Ok I would be a liar if I didn’t admit the benefit of Disney!  We are in Disney’s backyard and every night if the wind is right we can see (and hear no matter what) Disney and/or Epcot fireworks!  We can also see the stars here!  I could see the stars in Virginia Beach, of course!  Here, they are just so different.  I can see a lot more and it might be because we are farther back and there are less lights but the sky is a lot more clear!
  • Downtown:  Downtown Celebration is cool!!!  It’s modeled after Main street in the Magic Kingdom ( I think… I heard that somewhere and it may just be a rumor so don’t bet your life on that).  It’s pretty awesome though and the colors remind me a lot of Charleston, SC!  I adore that we can bike there, grab ice cream at Kilwins and then let Linc splash in the fountain until he wears himself out and then bike home!
  • Celebrations!!  Ok this is obvious the town is named Celebration!  We haven’t quite been here for a celebration yet but I”m incredibly excited for this!  We hear that Halloween is a big grande affair and we saw a taste of it when we were down here last year!  The decorations in this town are amazing and the town goes all out!  Several of the houses are featured on those crazy TV shoes for how amazingly crazy they get for both Halloween and Christmas.  We know they have a fall celebration where the leaves fall from lanterns downtown; and also it “snows” in or snopes in the winter with a complete ice skating rink as well!  These are all a part of the reason we chose to move down here because celebrations like this are all a part of the experience I had as a child growing up and I wanted Linc to have that!
  • The town was built for community!  The weather and the houses and the landscape of the town all has a purpose and it’s meant to create a sense of togetherness and community.  Each village has a pool and a park and is meant to bring neighbors and kids together.  This weekend for example, Tuck had to work so Linc and I spent the weekend at the pool and met so many new friends.  Every night is a gathering whether you intend it to be or not.  Play dates happen on the regular whether you intentionally set out to have one or it just happens by itself because the community lends itself for socialization!  I love this and it’s been so great for our family!  We walk out our door and find ourselves in bike rides with play mates or pool dates with friends and it gets us out of our house!  I am a homebody by nature and sometimes I tend to want to hide in the house (and I did in our house in VB).  Here, we have to walk our dog and we have to venture outside and when we do, we see everyone else walking their pets and taking their toddlers with them and magic just happens from there!  Homebodies just aren’t really allowed here!

This move has taught me so much.  Before, I always thought that I would live in Virginia Beach forever.  I felt that because it was my home and because it was my heart!  Moving will never change that!  What moving taught me was that it’s ok to be adventurous and just like they say in one of my favorite movies “It’s ok to have roots and wings!”  Can anyone guess what movie that’s from!!!

There are so many wonderful things this move has done for our family!  We have been able to slow down a bit here and really take advantage of some great quality time together doing things outside with friends and away from electronic devices!  It’s taught me that the rush and hustle and bustle of the creative work world will wait!  My family is so important and these years, well they won’t wait!

Our house here is much smaller than our house in Virginia Beach… and you know what, we love that!  We wanted that!  It isn’t about the house friends.  It’s about the people inside the house and the memories you create with them!

It isn’t about the stuff friends… it’s about the moments you make with the stuff whether that’s a cardboard box or a million dollars worth of the newest and greatest toys!  My kid prefers a box honestly!  Well that’s not entirely true, Linc prefers a mud puddle that he can sling against our back door window which he did just Monday!

Our little town is all of that… it’s mud puddles and friends that run half naked in the street!  It’s barefoot alligator walks while we chase lizards and hunt for squirmy wormies!  It’s back alley block parties and one stop light waving!

I love it all… and am grateful for it all!  The ocean will always call to my heart but it’s OK… it’s either an hour drive away or a flight home!

Here are some of of favorite things to do and see around our town!

brooke tucker photography children and family lifestyle blog brooke tucker photography children and family lifestyle blog brooke tucker photography children and family lifestyle blog brooke tucker photography children and family lifestyle blog brooke tucker photography children and family lifestyle blog brooke tucker photography children and family lifestyle blog brooke tucker photography children and family lifestyle blog brooke tucker photography children and family lifestyle blog brooke tucker photography children and family lifestyle blog


I’ve been getting a lot of great e mails and texts lately from friends and clients who are looking to either dive into the world of photography as a business or just loving photography as a hobby and looking to learn as much as they can about taking it a step further!  What’s great about both these different types of e mails scenarios is that they have the same thing in common, they both beg the same questions:  “Where should I start?”  “What is the best lens for the types of portraits I want to be shooting?”  “Sometimes when I shoot, my images tend to come out blurry and I’m not sure why or what should I be doing differently?”  “My kids are so fast and I can’t seem to keep up with them with my camera!”  

I love answering these types of e mails and questions because when I was starting I had all the same questions and I had wonderful mentors who were kind enough to help me find my way through similar situations!  If we don’t share our knowledge and information, then we aren’t helping our selves and our industry!  We all had to start somewhere and we all had someone who helped us along our path!

I’m absolutely no expert!  I shoot canon and I am 100% still learning:  every single day!  I think we all are!  I can only offer what I have learned in my journey in hopes that it will help others find their way much faster than I did 😉

Here’s what I shared with my friends!  I feel like there are three basic tips that can answer these questions and they have to do with focus!

beginner photographer tips by brooke tucker phtoography

  1.  A GREAT PRIME LENS!  Ditch the Kit Lens!  This is the lens that came with your camera when you bought it!  I used this lens for years (and I mean years before I learned about the magic of the prime lens).  I rocked my kit lens and believe me there is no shame in the kit lens!  If you have been ruling your kit lens and loving it, pat yourself on the back and give yourself a bonus scoop on cookie dough with your coffee in the morning! But friend, the prime lens is going to change your world!  It was my friend Katie Pegher who first introduced me to the prime lens and it was the 50 mm 1.8 that first caught my eye!  I did a fun little lifestyle model shoot with her in the snow in Maryland and let me just tell you, before we even drove home to Virginia Beach, Tuck and I had already purchased that baby!  The 50 mm 1.8 runs about $125.00 and that’s a great deal in the world of prime lenses!  It’s an incredible first prime lens to start!  I exclusively shot with that lens for years!

Let me explain what we mean when we say “prime lens”.  I didn’t understand this terminology and that’s important to me, because well I’m awkward like that!  Prime basically means it’s a fixed focal length!  In other words, if you want to move closer or farther away, you have to use                 your feet! A prime lens is so sharp and so clear!  You will be amazed at the difference!  This is just a basic explanation!  There is so much more to the definition of a prime lens and if you want to know more about aperture and speed,  you should absolutely check it out!  It’s pretty                      interesting!

Here is a list of all the prime lenses that I have in my bag today:

  • 85 mm 1.2 This is my all time favorite!  It’s best for up close portraits of children, detail shots, and especially mother and child shots!  I also adore this for birthing shots when mom has baby in her arms for the first time!  This is just a creamy and beautiful lens!  🙂
  • 50 mm 1.2  This is my lifestyle session work horse!  I finally just upgraded this from the 1.8!  That’s how long I have used that one lens and that was back in 2010!  This is a serious power house for portraits! It’s just right as in 3 little bears just right!
  • 35 mm 1.4  Wide angle lens for family portraits, super fun for children to create that little kid/big world feel!  I also love to use this creatively and break rules!  This is also my underwater lens!
  • 100 mm 2.8  Macro lens This is my detail lens for newborns!  Details for fantasy sessions shots and any other super up close needs!  To be honest, this just sort of stays in my bag unless I remember to bring it out!  I’m trying to get better!

beginner photographer tips by brooke tucker phtoography


2.  BACK BUTTON FOCUS!  This was was a game changer for me in terms of focusing and gaining tack sharp images!  I didn’t start back button focusing until 4 years ago when Andi Grant switched it for me while I was second shooting a wedding with her,  so this is actually a newer             thing for me as well!  Back button focusing changed my images from 50-60% tack sharp nailing focus where I wanted, to 90 % nailing focus and having tack sharp images!  That’s huge friends, especially when all of us want clear, beautiful images!

Back button focusing is a little tricky to explain without having the camera right in front of you and remember, I absolutely do not claim to be a professional, especially at explaining the technical terms.  This is how I explained back button focusing for my friend Suzie, who is getting               ready to take an amazing trip to Europe and wanted to make sure all her images whether they were portraits or landscape were 100% tack sharp and clear no matter what lens she was using!

When most of us start shooting with our cameras, we use the shutter button to not only take the picture;  but also to focus on our subject as well!  We are essentially using this one button, the shutter button, to do two things at once and that’s the reason most of our images come out                blurry or shaky half the time.  This is where Back Button focus comes in and saves us!  Back Button focus takes the focus job off of the shutter button and gives it to a button in the BACK of the camera!  This way you are using two separate buttons instead of one!  So for example… if              you want to take a picture of a child in the middle of a play session:  you would use the Back button to focus on the child first (hold that button down telling the camera “Ok camera this right here is the subject in which you are supposed to focus and keep sharp!”) and then when you               are ready to take the picture, use the shutter button to capture the moment!

Two separate jobs, two separate functions!  That alone right there is why it made it so much easier for me to nail those beautiful clear and sharp images!

Setting up back button focus is super easy:  just google your camera model and find a guide online to set back button focus!  You can also refer to your camera’s user manual but in my case it was so much easier to just google!  Once you set it up, make sure to practice!!

*This is the last bit I will say about back button focus:  it’s not for everyone and not everyone uses back button focus!  So if it’s not for you don’t worry!  For me personally this is the only way I shoot!  This is absolutely how I nail focus for portrait sessions with toddlers that love to run!               I set my back button focus and I trail them with my camera!  This also allows me to run and be a part of the play during the session!  I don’t have to worry about the focus so much because I know back button has my back!
beginner photographer tips by brooke tucker phtoography


3.  WHAT’S YOUR APERTURE?  This is a great question to ask yourself when you are shooting portraits!  What is your aperture and how many people are in your portrait?  If you are just starting to learn manual or play around with aperture, I learned a great little rule of thumb                      from one of my mentors a long time ago that I still value today!   The number of people in your portrait should directly correlate with your aperture!

OK… so what in the heck does that mean?!  Right?!  If you aren’t quite sure what aperture is, this is a great article by the digital photography school that will explain more about it!  Basically aperture is the opening in the lens that allows light to travel through the camera!

So… when we were talking about the prime lenses before we also included numbers like 1.2, 2.8 etc.  Those numbers were the apertures!

The rule of thumb that was given to me was if I had 2 people in my portrait, I should never let my aperture go below 2.0 or 2.5 depending on how comfortable I was in that range!  If I was shooting a large family portrait of say 7 people… aperture should be in the range of 6.0-7.0.                    This way I could ensure that every single person in the portrait would be clear, sharp and in focus.

Now:  once you get the hang of shooting at different apertures and you practice, it’s absolutely OK to branch out and change up the numbers a bit!  It’s OK to break the rules!  For example:   I love to shoot a mother and her child at an aperture of 1.8 or even 1.2 but that depends on                    the feel of the shot and what I’m looking for creatively!  It’s always nice to have a general rule of thumb as a guide to fall back on when you aren’t sure and this always works for me especially in a large family setting!

I hope this helps someone out there!  Again, not a professional and absolutely not any who is amazing at explaining the technical terms!  I’m just someone who has learned a lot from others that have been helpful along the way and want to share and be helpful as well!  I absolutely adore receiving e mails asking these questions… the same questions that I had when I was starting!  I love learning and I love shooting my children and family clients!  I love being behind the camera and so if I can help share the information I’ve learned along the way with people who are brave enough to ask me and trust me to answer them, I will happily provide anything I can!  I just hope this post is helpful to someone else out there!

xoxo and Happy Tuesday Friends!





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