Delaware Wedding Photographer, Blonnie, serves Philadelphia, Maryland, & New Jersey

Instagram Picture Garland Christmas Tree Craft

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Since this is the first Christmas in my Delaware Photography Studio I bought a lot of new Christmas decorations to make the place more cozy and inviting for the holiday season. I really love the warm twinkly lights and glow of a Christmas tree! I wanted my tree to have a photography theme so here is a cute idea I thought I’d share with you. :)

Using Social Print Studio’s Print Studio app, you can print any image directly from your iPhone or Android device using your Instagram Account (or any images on your phone, for that matter)!

By the way, you can see my Instagram account here. Be sure to follow me if you have an account!

After discovering this app, I printed a ton of their minisquares to use as a photo garland on my tree. I was so excited when I got these in the mail because the quality was excellent (and shipping was super fast)! They are printed in a smooth matte finish on a thick piece of card stock-like paper. If you don’t use Instagram and would rather print images from your phone in the normal 4×6 ratio, you could always select their miniprints. In addition to the minisquares, I also purchased hemp cord [Amazon] and these little hinge clips [Amazon]. I decided to use hinge clips instead of just punching a hole in the images, so I could keep and reuse the photos after I remove them from the tree.

I measured my cord by stringing it around my tree to see how much I’d need and then cut it to length. Next, I tied a little knot around each of the holes on one side of the hinge clips. I tied my clips about a foot to a foot and a half apart, but of course you can tie yours as close or as far apart or as close as you desire. A tip: Before tying on each of the clips, you might want to cut the long string in half (or even thirds/quarters if your tree is large). I cut mine in half, because tying on each of those clips with such a long piece of string can get a little unwieldy. After the clips were all tied on, I clipped together two minisquares back to back so there would be an image on each side, even if the clip twirled around. After I clipped all of the images on, I strung the garland around my tree and I was done! :)

If you don’t want to make a garland, I’m sure you could make these simply as ornaments instead, by tying a loop on each of the hinge clips with the hemp string.

I love seeing some of my favorite memories hanging on my tree and best of all I think the entire process only took me about 20 minutes!

Instagram Christmas Tree

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Announcing My Delaware Photography Studio

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Delaware Photographer

If you follow me on Facebook, you may already be aware that I recently opened a photography studio in the Hockessin / Yorklyn, area of Delaware! I am constantly tweaking the space, but I think it is finally complete enough to make the big official announcement!

The studio is in a building that was once the science lab for the National Vulcanized Fiber Plant in Yorklyn, Delaware. Since the NVF factory closed it’s doors in 2008, the area fell into a bit of disrepair, but is currently undergoing revitalization in partnership with the state of Delaware. You can read more about the improvements and progress for the area on Yorklyn Village’s website detailing their restoration and redevelopment.

Collin O’Mara, DNREC Secretary, says: “This recreational space and redevelopment plan will create a destination for Delaware unlike any other in the country. With the beautiful, historic setting of Yorklyn as a backdrop, we believe the synergy created by the master plan, that includes a trail, an antique car loop, and railroad will make this a uniquely Delaware destination.”

The end vision for the studio was to give it an industrial loft sort of vibe, combined with a bright and airy feel. Much of the contents are recycled pieces reclaimed from the surrounding factory, and even the floor was reclaimed wood from another old factory that was listed for sale on Craigslist. I am so thankful to everyone who helped this all come together – they all know who they are, as I have thanked them profusely and as often as possible. :)

I was so lucky to find this hidden gem of a space filled with beautiful soft, natural lighting. The studio is in a nice tucked away place in the Brandywine Valley area of Delaware, and truly something special with multiple gorgeous backdrops and landscapes at my disposal. I can’t wait to photograph more and more clients in and around the studio. If you’re in the neighborhood, let me know – I love visitors! :)

Be sure to stay tuned this coming week for a special announcement detailing my official studio opening reception in December – with a very important visitor!

Without further ado, I’ll let these pictures speak their thousand words. :)


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Happy Holidays from my family to yours!

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Delaware Family Christmas Photos

Every December since December 2006 when my daughter was 6 months old, we have taken her to see Santa Claus at the Christiana Mall here in Delaware. Every.single.year, she has smiled her beautiful smile while sitting happily in Santa’s lap. We now have 7 Christmas photos of her with Santa – all with her wonderfully radiant smile.

As the years pass quickly by, and I watch her growing through these seasonal images, I realize that one day she may no longer care to visit Santa. One year may very well be the last photo I get of her sitting on Santa’s lap (or as was the case this year, sitting beside him, because she is getting too big to sit on his lap!) I won’t realize it that year. I won’t realize at the time, that it will be the last, but it will come, and pass casually by. Moments like these are so important to me and I hope to never forget. But inevitably, I will forget things…. this is one reason why I cherish every single photo I have of Sheridon. Photos taken by me – photos taken by the photo-mill like businesses her school hires for student headshots – cell phone snapshots – and the photos taken by the mall staff of my child sitting happily by Santa’s side. Every single photo contains a potpourri of memories that I hope to always remember every time I glance at those pictures. Especially when I’m a grandmother myself (if Sheridon so chooses) and I see my grandchildren in the very same photos I’ve watched Sheridon growing in through the years.

This Christmas I decided to do something a bit different and stand further away while Sheridon had her yearly visit with Santa. I love how I was able to capture her personality, Santa’s charm, and their tiny interactions that are not usually seen in the standard “photo with Santa.” These are exactly the type of photos I strive to capture during weddings. Photos that show the interaction between two people who are truly interested in one another. The “in between” moments when people are not posing for my camera. The moments when people are genuinely themselves. Photos that show who the people are and not just how they look.

So without further ado, here are a few more photos from Sheridon’s visit with Santa. I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season and enjoy the happy moments with your family members, young and old.

Delaware Children's Photographer
Delaware Family Photographer
Photographers in Delaware

Delaware Family Photographer: Photos with Santa

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My Pulchritudinous Daughter – Longwood Gardens Children Portraits

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Have you ever looked through photos and become so overwhelmed with emotion… so overwhelmed with memories and love, that they flood into your heart, crashing with such a force that you can’t hold back the tears that well up into your eyes? I feel that way when I look through these portraits of my daughter. I have never before known love in the way I know love with her. I am sure that the parents reading these words fully understand what I am trying to convey in that simple statement.

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I’m a BMW 328i Contest Finalist!!

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I need your help!!! A video I’ve created is one of thirty videos selected by BMW as a finalist to win a BMW 328i. Now – I need your votes!

Please vote for me by going here and clicking on the Christmas red rectangular video. The title is “Green… say Go!” My video is a completely hand drawn animation of a traffic light morphing into a rainbow, then heart and eventually a BMW:

Please, please, please, (I’m begging here) Pleeeeeease vote for me once a day! You can cast only one vote per video (mine, please!) each day until April 9, 2012. Anything more than one vote per computer will be excluded by BMW. Also, it would be *wonderful* if you would share this information/post with your friends… I could use every single vote!

Thank you!! :)

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Facebook Banner Image Template (Updated: 4/27/2012)

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Update: As Facebook has a tendency to do, they have made a change that affected the banner template I’ve provided here. The icon image is now slightly larger, but the image inside is slightly smaller, so I have in turn enlarged the icon in my template. However, the new method that Facebook uses does not seem conducive to creating an easy template to work with. Because of Facebook’s tendency to change things without notice (and seemingly often) I will not be able to keep the template updated. I’m sorry for the inconvenience!

On March 30th, Facebook’s Timeline will automatically go live for everyone whether they have prepared by switching over their pages ahead of time, or not. For my personal page, I switched long ago and have gotten quite used to Timeline. I actually kind of -like- it, but the opinions I’ve seen among my friends are very mixed.

The new customizable banner image is one of the most obvious and prominent features of Timeline and one that I really love. Yes, yes, it could possibly have the tendency to look a little gaudy and Myspace-ish but if we all keep that in mind and make tasteful/beautiful banners for our pages, we can do our own little part to prevent this from happening. :)

For my personal page, I simply used a photo from my albums, but for my business page, I wanted to do something a little special. Some of my favorite Facebook banners managed to make the icon appear to be a seamless element within the main banner image, so I decided to do a little work in Photoshop and make something similar for myself. My banner/icon integration is very subtle, but with the right selection of photos the look can be even more obvious.

Blonnie Brooks' Custom Facebook Banner

You can view it live on my Facebook Page. Be sure to “like” me while you’re there! :)

I also designed one of these banners for a friend, Neil van Niekerk, who runs a very popular photography tutorial website and he received a lot of positive feedback. Since there seemed to be quite a bit of interest on how I created the banner, I thought it’d be nice if I created a Photoshop template to share. This template and the following instructions should help you create your own Facebook banner with a seamless appearance between the user icon and the Facebook banner itself.

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Neil van Niekerk’s Photography Workshop Review

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I have taken many workshops and courses in an effort to continuously improve and advance my photography skills. One aspect of photography I am always working on is building a more solid understanding of lighting and flash photography. A few years ago while Googling the phrase “flash photography”, one of the first pages I accidentally stumbled upon was that of Neil van Niekerk’s Tangents photography blog. I read as much as possible and eventually purchased both of his books. One is a book about on camera flash and the other is a book about off camera flash. Both were very helpful, but I wanted to learn more with a real live teacher.

In October I had the opportunity to take Neil’s photography lighting workshop in NYC. Listening to Neil speak and explain things in real time, really made his books come alive for me. Bells were going off left and right. I finally felt like I was “getting it.”

Neil taught us the bare basics up to more advanced techniques and along the way he made sure each and every participant reached a firm understanding before we moved on to the next lighting concept. He makes sure the foundation is solid before building and adding more, so nothing was ever confusing or overwhelming – just enlightening.

We learned how he uses his famous black foamie thing to create studio quality lighting with only on camera flash, off camera flash, gels, video lights and how to balance flash photography with natural lighting.

My only regret is that I didn’t take this workshop years ago when I first started photographing weddings and taking photographs of my daughter inside my house, where the black foamie thing has been a particularly useful concept.

Below are a few of my favorite photos from the workshop. Thank you so much to Neil and the beautiful models — I had a great time and learned a lot!

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Delaware Snow

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Here are a few photos from the snow we got in Delaware last Saturday. Now we’re due for another wallop tonight and tomorrow!! I can’t imagine what it’s all going to look like!

This is definitely the most snow I’ve ever seen. Growing up in Texas, it was a wonder to just see it falling from the sky, much less actually accumulating! Of course, this is the most snow in one season that everyone else here has ever seen as well – as long as the predictions come true.

The previous record was set in the 1995/1996 winter with a measurement of 65.5 inches and we have already gotten to 56.3 inches this year with the latest prediction estimating another 12-18 inches on its way!!

February Snow in Delaware

Our summer picnic table doesn't look very inviting

Sheridon and Ken on her slide

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Imaging USA 2010 – Nashville, TN

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In January I had the privilege of attending Imaging USA in Nashville, TN. Imaging USA is Professional Photographers of America’s (of which, I am a proud member) photography convention and trade show.

While at the conference I had the opportunity to attend many classes on photography and marketing from some of photography’s most successful industry leaders; all of which, were extremely inspiring. The majority of classes I attended were focused on wedding photography, with a few technology, marketing and portrait classes thrown in for good measure.

Here are a few paparazzi photos of photographers I ran into while walking around the tradeshow.

The Bebbs (with funny background expo-attendee) & Allison Rodgers
Steve & Jen Bebb and Allison Rodgers

Celebrity wedding photographer, Joe Buissink
Joe Buissink

California photographer Becker (see my friend Karen’s blog for a picture of his actual face :p)

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Dear Internet

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*Walks up to the mic* — *tap*tap* — is this thing on? Hi! My name is Blonnie Brooks, and I’m an addict. I’m addicted to taking pictures. I’m addicted to editing pictures. I’m addicted to looking at photographs. I’m addicted to learning about photography. I am so thankful for this addiction, because it helped me realize my dreams and discover what I’m going to spend the rest of my life doing.

I bought my first camera from a gypsy peddler on the side of the road. First, she told my fortune — My fate is to be an extremely talented, unique, world-renowned photographer. Next, she brought out an ornately carved silver box and told me that within it lay the key to my destiny. She opened the box slowly and a smokey glow began to envelop her caravan. Heavenly music filled the air as she carefully removed a turquoise Kodak Pazzazz 110 film camera. From that moment on, I knew my future as a photographer had been set. It was destiny.

Ok? Ok. Actually, I just wanted a fabulous story to share about how I knew I was going to be a photographer.

To be truthful, I don’t have a wonderful story about how I “always knew” that photography would play such a large role in my life. I wish I had realized it earlier — because maybe I’d have actually gone to college with the sole purpose of being a photographer. I would have been on the fringe of still being able to learn about film and dark room development methods, while still being young enough to enter into the digital age with ease.

So the real truth: My first camera was, in fact, a 110 film Turquoise Kodak Pazzazz. I took pictures of my friends at school – that was about it. Film was expensive and my parents paid. The transition I had into photography was very gradual. I wish I had realized where my interests were leading me sooner, so I could have begun my “love affair” a little earlier. I actually started by using Photoshop — without photos. I made my first webpage in 1994 with my own graphics that I’d designed in Photoshop. I have played with Photoshop from that point on (and had a webpage from that point on as well).

I bought my first digital camera in 2000 – another Kodak – a DC210. A 1MP camera. Seriously. But I loved it.

Izzy - Shetland Sheepdog

Around 2002, I started to get very involved in restoring old photographs. I would beg for people at work to give me their old torn and stained photos just so I could have fun seeing how well I could fix them. I would even find antique photos online and restore them just for fun! I had no one to give them to; I just wanted more to play with. I also did a little bit of digital painting in Photoshop with my Wacom tablet (I wasn’t all that great, but it was fun :) My favorite digital painting was of my doggy, Izzy!

Scully - Australian Cattle Dog, Audrey Hepburn, Izzy - Shetland Sheepdog

We eventually got a better camera – this time it was a Canon PowerShot S400 (I still think that is a great camera!) I began taking it with us on motorcycle rides and would photograph pretty scenery from the back of the motorcycle. I never knew if the picture would turn out — but I took many and hoped that one or two wouldn’t be blurry! This was my ‘shoot and pray’ era.

The big epiphany for me came (like many other photographers of my generation) when my daughter was born in 2006. There were not many pictures of me as a baby. Actually, just a few (about 4?) and I had resolved that this would not be the case for her. I upgraded to a Canon G7, learned how to use it in manual mode and eventually outgrew the camera’s capabilities (I still use it as a casual/walk around camera – it is great!) I upgraded to a Canon Rebel XTi which gave me the opportunity to learn about RAW files and finally gave me the capability “develop” my photos in my own “digital Lightroom” (literally!)

I have since upgraded to my current camera, a Canon 5d Mark II. My DREAM camera. I am in love with it… seriously. If I weren’t already Mrs. Brooks, I would gladly be Mrs 5d Mark II, if it would have me. My “love affair” has reached an entirely new level.

During this time, I believe I have taken more pictures of my daughter than she will probably ever even get to see! In fact, my goal this year is to take -fewer- photos of her, but make the ones I do take, very meaningful. I want to capture the true emotion and detail in the moment and show exactly why I took my camera out to photograph her, in as few pictures as possible.

My beautiful daughter

My journey into the depths of photography has only just begun…. I would love for you to follow along with me by keeping up with my blog. I hope to fill these pages with tidbits about my life, notes about my favorite things (sometimes photography related and sometimes not) and most of all, beautiful pictures.

Orange, Yellow and White Spotted Butterfly.  Photo Taken at the Cockrell Butterfly Center in the Houston Museum of Natural Science

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