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  • Hello there…

    I'm Jolene Bresney, a lifestyle and portrait photographer located in Bloomington, Illinois. Let's see... a little bit about myself: I love books. It's the words I'm drawn to. I love how simple words, entwined, create something beautiful. Art and expression as one. It's probably why I love photography. I can say so much without uttering a single word. I am a perfectionist, never quite content. A blessing and a curse. Music. It entices my creativity...I can get lost in a song. I love the ocean... she is constant and steady. Yet, every time she hugs the shore, she brings the promise of a new beginning. The mountains... a reminder of how small and insignificant I really am. Nudging me to look up. Always, and for everything. I have 3 kids. Without them, none of this could ever have been. Through them I have found myself. No words can express my gratefulness and love for them. They have taught me about unconditional love, and grace. Through them I see the beauty in the everyday. I love summer. Her evening song, the carefree days of sunkissed play. Sunrise and sunsets, again so constant, yet breathtaking every time they grace the horizon. Enough about me... I want to meet you! If you like what you see, you should call me.

So you want to take better photos?

Are your photos  just okay– missing that wow? There are a few things you can do to improve your photography.  I see photos that are underexposed, blurry, over-edited, harsh lighting with sun spots and squinty subjects, lacking composition, little depth of field… the list can go on.  So what can you do?  First and foremost— lighting.  Lighting is everything, truly.  It’s the lifeline to photography, not equipment, believe it or not.   I am always paying attention to light. Even when I’m not shooting, I’m study the light all around me.  No one looks good in harsh light. No one. Mornings and evenings are best for outdoor sessions.  An overcast day is absolutely perfect!  A natural light diffuser.  Expose for shadows– doing this will create images that are dreamy and luminous.  Understanding light will bring your photography to a whole new level.  I promise.  Once you understand lighting, you can play around with different looks and find a look that defines your unique style.

Now on to the technicals… there are three components involved. Your ISO, aperture, and your shutter speed.  There’s more leeway with film than digital photography, but the good news with digital is that you can see your image immediately and make adjustments accordingly.  In bright lighting– the lowest ISO is your best choice.  For low lighting– a higher ISO.  Keep in mind, the higher the ISO, the more grain in the image.  For your light in-between I typically set ISO somewhere between 200 and 600.

Your aperture is the size of the opening in the lens when you take a photo.  I love a shallow depth of field and shoot wide open as often as possible.  However, the number of subjects, how close you are to your subject, etc. are variables you have to consider when setting your f-stop.  A quick tip is: close-up f/2 or less  more than 8 feet away f/4.  Another tip is to keep your f-stop close to the number of subjects.  2 people- f/2, 3 people- f/3, and so on…

On to shutter speed.  Shutter speed is your exposure time– the length of time your shutter is open to expose light into the sensor.  If your speed is fast, you can freeze time.  If it’s slow you can capture motion blur.  Lower than 100– use a tripod to avoid camera shake.  For beginners, trying taking the same image at different speeds and compare them.  Your winning image will capture the mood you are wishing to convey.

Here I wanted to freeze time to capture the energy in the moment — My settings were ISO 250, f/1.8 at 1/200 of a second.

In this image, we were at the end of our session.  The sun had gone down– I liked closeness and mystery of the image. My settings were ISO 300, f/2.5 at 1/320 of a second.

 Here, the lighting was perfect.  My settings were ISO 100, f/1.4 at 1/500 of a second.

In this image I wanted to convey intimacy and privacy.  I chose to underexpose here.  My settings were ISO 640, f/2.8 at 1/100 of a second.

Here, the lighting was absolutely incredible as you can see.  I did very little post processing to this image.  My settings were ISO 200, f/1.8 at 1/1000 of second.  I did not want to overexpose because I would lose the colors and details of this beautiful sunset.  I wanted to capture the sun flare to add to the magical feeling of this image.

Hopefully, these tips will get you on your way to taking better photos.  Practice, practice, practice and you will see improvement in the quality of your images.  There are many components to mastering photography.  I have been in the business for 6 years, and studying photography for 9 years.  AND I’M STILL LEARNING!  *I do offer mentor sessions, please email me for details on those if you are interested:

Happy happy Sunday!

An Ella kind of morning…

The moments I want to remember. Forever.  Childhood… full of wonder and excitement.  Without a worry in the world (except making sure you get a yummy snack for school! AND, you get more than your brother and sister!) The days fly by… even the bad ones.  I’m holding on as long as I can… loving so much that I’ll let go when I have to.  Till then… the mornings, the evening cuddles, and everything in between are mine.  What does your morning look like?

 Also… I still have room for 2 sessions in La Jolla!  I’ll be there April 11-14.  Cannot wait!!:) The beach is calling…


Loving the warmer weather… savoring sunsets and enjoying the fresh air.  It’s been a LOOOOONG winter.  Come on spring, we are ready.


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