Friend headshots | kDarling Photography

This dear friend of mine recently had a birthday, and I didn’t have a chance to get her a gift. BUT I am remedying that tonight when we meet for our quarterly Central Illinois Professional Photographers meeting in Monticello. I have her gift ready to go and we’re riding together and will be eating Jimmy John’s once we get there! I know, so random. LOL

Seriously though, Kristin is one of the kindest people you will ever meet. She usually has some purple in her hair, she’s always just a text away, and she is a great listener and confidante. We, along with our friend Emily, call ourselves the Three Amigos, and we try to meet for lunch at least once a month to decompress and talk shop. We recently swapped sessions with each other and I photographed her daughter Mackenzie, and Kristin photographed my daughter Hadley. And then in July, Kristin is going to photograph my family at the fair with all the fun neon lights — can’t wait!

I hope 2019 is your best year yet, and I look forward to many more lunches (or brunches?), conferences, road trips, and texts! See you tonight, friend!! <3 By the way, what’s your Jimmy John’s order??? :D

My wedding photography style


It took me years before I was able to efficiently articulate what my photography style was. I knew that I always gravitated toward bright & clean colors and editing and that I preferred a classic style of both shooting and post-processing. My hope is that my wedding photos will stand the test of time, and I think by having vivid, true-to-life colors, my craft fully embraces that.

One day a couple years ago it dawned on me that color was my signature “thing.” So I started using the hashtags #thecolorfulphotographer and #mybrandiscolor. I started crafting my Instagram feed in a way that showcased the color spectrum, and began purposefully selecting my social media posts based on color usage.

colorful wedding party photography

Another MAJOR thing that has always been super important to me is proper skin tones. I think with many of the current photo trends, there is a tendency to have underexposed, overexposed, or orange-y/reddish skin tones. I prefer my subjects to look like themselves, and look to future generations as they actually did on their wedding day. A huge part of getting skin tones right is properly exposing the image in the first place. I have trained myself to shoot with proper exposure most of the time, and that is in part due to my same-day slideshows that I set up at most of my weddings. If the images aren’t correct in camera, it’s nearly impossible to do a slideshow since there is basically no editing done to the slideshow images.

colorful wedding photographer with accurate skin tones

The last major component of my photography style is my use of flash. It is true that most of the wedding day is photographed with natural light, but for most receptions and family formal photos, artificial light is an absolute necessity. I firmly believe that a wedding photographer should thoroughly understand and know how to use their flash and preferably also use off-camera flash. There are so many components to a wedding and action happening in so many places (often not right in front of the photographer), that I think it is best to have your bases covered with 2-3 flashes (if not more). I take comfort in knowing that whatever is happening, I am sure to get a good photo of it because of my use of flashes.

off-camera flash wedding photography

Typically my set up at the beginning of the reception is to set up a two flashes on stands and start with one of them pointed at the doors where the bride and groom will be introduced, and then another one nearer the head table so that I can capture the action as they walk across the length of the room. Then for the toasts, I will point them about 60º from each other toward the head table and adjust slightly as each person speaks. I use a similar setup for the rest of the evening — cake cutting, first dances, dance floor photos. During the open dancing for the guests, I will move my flashes to either side of the band or DJ and then mostly take photos from the other side of the dance floor, using my on-camera flash as fill light. Without getting too technical, off-camera flash is great way to maintain the ambiance of your reception space in your photos while still being able to see the people in the photos thanks to the flashes.

using flash for proper lighting skin tones and color

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Disney World 2015 | Summer Family Trip


My mom started talking in 2014 about taking my son Maximus (now 5) and my nephew Nevan (now 8) to Disney World this year. We decided that my daughter was too young to go, so my husband Aaron stayed home with her, and Mom and my stepdad Joe invited my brother Nate, sister Stephanie and I to go along too if we paid our own way. So we came up with a week that worked well for all of us, which happened to be mid-August, so it was a -- how should I say? -- WARM trip to Orlando! Our trip included Hollywood Studios, Blizzard Beach (which we LOVED!), Magic Kingdom (of course!) and Typhoon Lagoon. I don't have any photos from the water park days with my big camera to post here since I kept it in the room safe those days, but we DID get the Memory Maker package, which I thoroughly ended up loving! (I was a little skeptical as a professional photographer.) I also took a lot of iPhone photos which I haven't posted here either. Suffice it to say that the trip was well documented! Haha! Anyway, a friend of mine booked two engagement sessions at Disney just by blogging another session she'd done there, so I thought I'd give it a whirl. I am available for travel and would LOVE to capture your family's memories or engagement session at the happiest place on earth! (Edited to add: our trip was planned by the fantastic Lenora at Mouse Ear Magic Travel -- if you're thinking of heading to Disney, she is awesome!) Disney Hollywood Studios family group

Disney Honey I Shrunk the Kids

Disney family group photographer

Hollywood & Vine character lunch

Jedi training Disney photographer

travelling around the Disney parks

Downtown Disney T-Rex restaurant

Downtown Disney at dusk

Disney World Magic Kingdom castle

Magic Kingdom teacups Nikon picture spot

Disney candid and portrait photographer

Be Our Guest Haunted Mansion Little Mermaid

Disney Wishes Fireworks

Fantasia illuminations firewords