Photography Blogs

I follow several photography blogs, but I wanted to share links to some of my favorites. I narrowed down my list by choosing the photographers who update at least semi-regularly, and who I gain something from–whether it be photo inspiration (which is sometimes in the form of inspiring me not to do a particular style/pose/etc. :)) or knowledge about photography.

Most photographers take several types of pictures, but I’m sorting them by what seems to be their specialty or preference.


Photography by Meg
I love a lot of her stuff, and she’s fairly new to photography, according to what I’ve read.

Phreckles Photography

They do children’s photography, but check out their recent photos from India–stunning!


Kacy Kizer
She does weddings, too, but I’m going to put her in this category so Michelle Moore doesn’t get lonely. Also because I see more senior portraits in her blog, and that’s why I added her to my reader!

Michelle Moore
I’ve gotten a lot of inspiration from her senior portraits–she’s very talented.


Jasmine Star Photography
She’s one of the most well-known wedding photographers right now because she really knows how to market herself (and has the right personality to attract a lot of fans). I mainly appreciate her blog for the FAQ posts and funny stories about her everyday life. Her success story is pretty inspirational, too.

Jenny Sun Photography
A wedding photographer in Australia. I really love a lot of her work.

Jessica Claire Photography

Jessica Feely Photography
Hey, it’s a good name.

Jose Villa Wedding Photography
I wish he’d update more–I love his stuff. I believe he shoots exclusively with film. He also has a book out that I want just to look at the pretty pictures!

Todd James Photography
I particularly loved the behind-the-scenes video he posted awhile back. It’s so fascinating to see the photos that result from various setups and poses.


Ethan Meleg Outdoor Photography

John E. Marriott

Phillip Colla

Niebrugge Images
Yes, his watermark is in Comic Sans (as is his main site), but don’t let that keep you from admiring his photography!

There are so many more, but I had to limit myself. Let me know if you have any favorites or recommendations for me to add to my reader!

Snapshot: Wedding #2

The other day I talked about the first wedding I photographed, and now I’ll talk about the second.

My cousin S (who is one year younger than me, so we were close growing up and did a lot of traveling together) had gotten engaged and decided to have a very small wedding on the coast. This was almost exactly four years ago in March of 2007. She thought it would be neat to have a family member do the photography, so she asked me. Again, I was hesitant, not wanting to ruin her big day if I messed up. Again, my hesitation was met with encouragement and persistence. I sent her and her fiance over to my portfolio to make sure I could provide what they were looking for, and they were excited and enthusiastic about having me.

Despite my insecurities about my own abilities, I was really excited about this opportunity: a weekend on the California coast where I could not only watch and photograph my cousin getting married, but join in the festivities. I should’ve been paying them for such a nice weekend getaway!

Here are a few of the photos. Be kind–it was my second wedding ever, and I made plenty of mistakes (just like in the first one). But I do feel like I covered the important stuff and did the best I could with my skills and equipment.

(Don’t worry, [aunt] K–I cleared this with S and she and her husband are pretty much the only ones pictured. :))

(Okay there is one other person pictured.) S rented a house on a cliff overlooking the ocean in Gualala, CA. It was a really cute place, and it was a nice, sunny day (though windy, which is to be expected).

Some details.

Most of you have seen this photo before, since it’s part of my portfolio.

It was a cute coincidence that the couple’s initials were S and I, with the last name starting with K. S loves to ski!

Β She looks serious here, but she was very happy. πŸ™‚

We did the couple portraits before the ceremony, which started at sunset.

S, waiting to go out to where the ceremony was being held.

The dinner was catered, and we all (twelve of us?) got to sit at the same table, so it was really fun. And I got to eat–this is my food! Usually wedding photography means you’re too busy to stop and eat, so I felt spoiled to sit down with them.Those potatoes au gratin (on the right, under the steak and green beans) were SO GOOD that I still think about them. The whole dinner was amazing.

Thanks S, K and families for giving me this opportunity. It was really fun. πŸ™‚ And it was fun remembering it while I wrote this post.

I think I’ll leave more of my wedding photography thoughts for another post.

I made the switch

So, I made some changes to my blog. (You can see it here, if you’re seeing this from a blog reader.) The new URL is, but it points to the same place. This shouldn’t affect your bookmarks or blog readers, except that it’ll still say Critical Jess in the listing. You can rename it by clicking on the drop-down menu that shows up when you click on my blog in the left-hand column.

I’m not planning to drastically change my blog content, I just want to identify myself more as a photographer and make my site and blog more of an obvious team. I’m still trying to work out this whole photography business thing, and it’s been slow-going since I have a full-time job (plus a part-time job). Also, I’m just slow.

If you come to my blog directly, you might notice changes here and there as I figure out what I want it to look like. I’m not entirely happy with it so far, but I didn’t want that to hold me back from the switch.

Thanks for being so great, and I’ll leave you with a photo to make this post a little less boring.

I’ve seen so many rainbows from my back door this year! I can’t stop taking pictures of them, but it also reminds me that I need a lens with a wider angle. πŸ™‚ Anyway, this is one (actually it was a double, but you can’t really tell in this photo) as it was starting to get broken up by some rain. I thought it looked pretty cool.


Awhile back I shared one experience that I feel played an important role in getting me to where I am with photography. Now I’ll share another.

T was probably the first friend I made when I moved to Oregon. She was one of the people to interview me for my job, and I remember connecting with her right away, as we were in a similar phase of life and had some other things in common.

I did some of the photography at my job, but it certainly wasn’t my primary role and I was still feeling very beginnerish. That’s why, when T got engaged and asked me to be her wedding photographer, I’m pretty sure my initial answer was that I couldn’t do it. But she persisted and got me to at least agree to do her engagement photos as a trial run before I made a firm decision.

After the engagement shoot, T and her fiance basically forced me to agree to do their wedding. πŸ˜‰ After seeing how easy they were to work with, I agreed, but was still very nervous (and yet excited). It helped that they weren’t expecting perfection, knew I was an amateur, and just wanted someone they were familiar and comfortable with. They were the perfect fit for my first try.

They let me come to the rehearsal and get to know my way around their church, they were okay with me wandering around to get the right shots during the ceremony, and they never seemed annoyed with me as I took a thousand photos of their “first look” and other portraits. They were so patient and sweet about it all.

My worries and insecurities hold me back from a lot, so it’s encouraging to see how God has placed people in my life that have not been put off by my hesitation, but instead have applied gentle pressure (in a helpful, friendly way) so that I would stretch myself. Thank you, T (and your husband T!), for always being confident in me and knowing when to push me a little farther than I’d be willing to go without any outside influence.

I’m so glad I got to photograph T’s wedding. I know it was a stepping stone for me. I have learned so much about photography (and photo editing) because of–and since–that experience that I often wish I could redo it now with my new equipment and knowledge. I still have a ton to learn, but there are many things I know I would do differently, so I’m just very glad they had the grace to give me an opportunity to make lots of mistakes.

Later I want to talk more about wedding photography (my very limited experience, and why it is limited), because it’s kind of been on my mind recently.

Springy things

I updated my blog’s design for spring! If you’re reading this in a blog reader, go over and check it out. If you want to. πŸ™‚ And now here are some pictures I’ve taken over the past few days.

The lovely violet-green swallows are back!

The right photo is of a tree that’s been chewed on by beavers.

Cheesy Biscuits

I decided I wanted biscuits with my chili the other night and found this recipe, which I liked because it has basic ingredients. I made a few adjustments and I didn’t have high expectations (I’ve had disappointing experiences with biscuits in the past), but they turned out very well–soft, moist and flavorful.


1 teaspoon olive oil
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons dried parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 cup (give or take) shredded cheese (I used Mexican blend)
6 tablespoons softened butter
1 cup milk (I used 2%)


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Using olive oil, grease a baking sheet.

2. With a fork, mix together the flour, baking powder, parsley, salt, sugar and cheese together in a bowl. (The original recipe also calls for thyme, which I didn’t have, but I’m sure many different herbs would work in these.) Use the fork to cut the butter into the flour-cheese mixture until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Lightly stir in the milk just until the dough holds together.

3. Drop spoonfuls of dough onto the prepared baking sheet, and bake for about 10 minutes, depending on how large the biscuits are and how brown you’d like them to be. I made half a batch, which yielded 9 biscuits, and 10 minutes in the oven made them perfectly moist, without being underdone. They weren’t brown, but I was fine with that.

I’ll have to make them again and take a better photo–I wasn’t really happy with the ones I have here, but you get the idea. πŸ™‚

Death Valley: Red Rock Canyon

Red Rock Canyon (RRC) is not in Death Valley, but it’s all part of the same trip, and I wanted to keep the titles consistent. In case you wondered. πŸ™‚

Welcome to my final DV post! If you missed any, look to the right and you’ll see my blog topics listed. You can click on any of them to see all posts with that tag. Magical!

On my final day of the trip, we headed over to Las Vegas where I’d be flying out. RRC is about 20 minutes west of Vegas, so we stopped there on the way and took lots of pictures. I also took photos once we got to Vegas, but none of them were very good, so they won’t be showing up in this blog. πŸ™‚

This is actually just a photo from the side of the road in DV. We saw some color and my dad stopped so I could get a picture, since we didn’t get to see many wildflowers on this trip.

I took way too many pictures of these adorable ground squirrels (my dad says they aren’t chipmunks but related).

On the right you can see some people were rock climbing.

I don’t have a lot to say about these photos.

My dad pointed out that this resembles an animal skull.

This is two photos put together. Click on it to see a larger version.

Okay, that’s it! Thanks for looking. πŸ™‚

Death Valley: Ubehebe Crater and Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes

I’m not very proud of these photos, but I do want you to see the things I saw, so they’ll have to do. After Scotty’s Castle we made a couple of stops…

There is actually a series of craters here, but we just looked at the largest one. The hike to the others was going to be too difficult, especially at this point when we’d been walking around all day.

My parents at the edge.

Speaking of the edge…a sign depicting my fear!

That speck on the left is my dad!

The sand here was kind of a charcoal color.

I told you I photographed these bushes a lot.

Okay, next stop: sand dunes! I was really looking forward to taking pictures of this classic desert scene, and was disappointed to find that the good photo-worthy dunes were soooo far out. We didn’t have the time or energy to hike through sand for an hour, so I just had to make the best of what I could get to.

Here’s a little panoramic view of some of the dunes. When clouds cast shadows on them, some would look almost black. It was so weird, like they had actually changed color vs. a shadow making them dark. Click the image for a larger version where you can better see what I mean.

More salt.

I’m not sure if I mentioned that it was too early for many flowers, so any sighting was worth photographing. πŸ™‚

Sorry, I wouldn’t typically tease people in public, but hopefully they won’t ever know about my blog. I just found it amusing how this guy was posing his girlfriend for sand dune photos. I didn’t take the photo of them on purpose, I just realized after taking it that they were in the frame, so I cropped it closer for you. I’m nice!

My parents.

Okay, I think I have just one more set of DV photos coming later this week. πŸ™‚ Thanks for all of your nice comments about the previous ones!

Death Valley: Scotty’s Castle

On Monday we visited Scotty’s Castle. My dad had been years ago and thought we’d like it. I loved the style and took a ton of photos, so bear with me! Many aren’t great quality, but I wanted to post them here anyway.

The name of the house is actually Death Valley Ranch, but they call it Scotty’s Castle now due to the story behind it. Short version: a rich man (and his wife) moved to the desert (in the 1920s, I think) for health reasons and built this house. Scotty was actually a con man who ended up becoming friends with the rich guy (Albert Johnson?) and staying at and near the castle (with his expenses paid by Johnson). Johnson didn’t want the fame that went with being the owner of this place, so he and his wife let Scotty lead people to believe it was his, and visitors would come and listen to Scotty’s (untrue) stories about it.

You can see from the photos that the house is in a Spanish/mission style, which is a look I love–it makes me feel all vacationy. There’s a spring on this property that supplies way more water than necessary, so there are trees and the lot is like an oasis. You hardly remember you’re in the desert! I really liked it.

Some of the exterior.

Those tiles on the bottom left are all stacked up in the basement. They were for the swimming pool which was never completed. I’m not sure why they don’t sell them or something–they’re really neat and just sitting there!

More of the tiles and some other details inside the house. They appreciated fine craftmanship and tried to incorporate some pieces they saw on travels around the world.

The top left is our tour guide, dressed in period clothing. Top right is an old car that belonged to the owner and is still parked in the garage.

There was a pipe organ in part of the house, and at the end of the tour the guide turns on the automatic piano and organ that do a duet. It was really fun! She’s standing in front of where the organ music comes out in that top right photo.

For some reason I wanted to take a million photos of this spiral staircase. It’s photogenic! My parents and I were also admiring the tile floor–how all the random pieces fit together so nicely.

I’m sad this photo is overexposed, because it’s one of my favorites. It was very dark inside the house and I had my settings all wrong when we briefly went outside again.

Okay, that’s enough. πŸ™‚ Have any of you been here?

Death Valley: Dantes View

Sunday evening we drove up to Dantes View to watch the sunset. The sunset wasn’t all that spectacular, but the view was awesome. Of course, these photos don’t exactly capture it all that well.

Those are my parents walking down one of the paths. I’m not really afraid of heights, but I am paranoid when people are near edges and in seemingly dangerous situations, so I was a little jumpy up here. Sometimes an edge is not as steep as it appears from a distance, so my dad would be safe but I’d be telling him to move from the edge and having to walk away so I’d be less freaked. πŸ˜› What if there was loose gravel? You never know!

[I was the same way at the edge of a crater we visited later, and also when our older tour guide was standing at the very edge of a staircase, telling us how they’ve had to life-flight people out of there for injuries. My mom and I couldn’t even look at him! MOVE AWAY FROM THE EDGE OF THE STEP, MAN! Does anyone else have this problem?]

This is what I meant about the salt looking like lakes from a distance. Don’t the white patches seem like water of some sort?

Desert plants.

I’m way more comfortable (and equipped) photographing small plants than large views/landscapes.

Looking down at the road that took us up to this point.

The moon was pretty cute that night when we got back to our campsite.