So, Um, I guess I haven’t blogged in a while.  Like, over three months.  Eeek, that is not the kind of record I was going for!  We moved half way across the country (loving Kansas City! But more on that in another post :), had all kinds of crazy fun adventures and travels during the summer, got settled in our new city and new house and got the boys settled in their school, sports and fall activities!  Whew, we have been busy!  I have certainly had plenty to blog about, but I kept letting the weeks slip by…

So what is different today?

Something Big.  Something Really BIG.

Those of you who have been with me for a while know what a huge fan I am of my photography mentor, Rachel Vanoven.  She is just one of those people that once you connect with her you want to be her best buddy – for life.  I will never forget the first night I met her.  I was waiting in the restaurant and I was absolutely giddy.  I was so nervous that I called my husband and told him I felt like I was meeting Jennifer Aniston or Hugh Jackman or something!  And then I met her and she was just this warm, loving, wonderful Mama photographer who loves her family, her work and her students.  The workshop I attended that weekend was an absolutely priceless experience and was most definitely the birth of Renee Stengel Photography Studio as it is today.

That was over two years ago and since then I have had the privelege to be a part of a private forum on Facebook with other women (and two men 😉 who have attended workshops with Rachel.  Rachel’s input and critique of our work is extremely valuable.  But there is also this wealth of knowledge within the group that helps us continue to learn and grow together – we help each other with everything photography related from posing to lighting to business structures to taxes!

This brings me to the purpose of my post – Rachel is releasing a brand new Family eWorkshop tonight.  I am beyond excited.  As a former workshop attendee I was blessed to receive an early copy ~ and let me tell you, I almost peed my pants when I found out that I was on THAT list!

RVP Family Workshop Photo

I cannot explain how amazing this guide is.  Seriously.  And not just to an established professional photographer like me. We all start somewhere right, and I remember starting out a few years back and there was SO much to learn – but I just didn’t know where to start! Rachel’s guide starts with the basics – she explains the difference between a full frame and a crop sensor camera, she outlines the cost of an entry level, mid level and pro level gear and what each of those has to offer, there are photos showing the same shot with different lenses to help you understand the difference between what a 50mm and a 135 can offer, she breaks down shooting modes and explains aperture, ISO, Light metering, the list goes on and on.  That type of thing all in one spot?  Say what?  That would have been SUCH a gift for me three years ago!!!

And then it gets really good…

Creative lighting, posing, croping – um, basically it is 65 pages of how to create family photo MAGIC.  Oh, and did I mention she breaks it down by age of child?  And then goes into post processing? I have to stop – there is more and more and more, but I have to stop because I need to just sit and absorb all that is in this gift of a workshop…

But before I go, I had to save the best for last…

Rachel released a Newborn eGuide last year.  It was, beyond a doubt, amazing.  I have read it at least a dozen times and it has come close to helping me improve my newborn work as much as my in person workshop did.  It is a source of review that I have at my computer any time I want.  The single best part of that guide ~ the VIDEOS!  I have watched them over and over and over.  Every time I have added a new pose to my newborn work I have started with reviewing Rachel’s videos and watching her teach the pose a dozen times first to make sure I understand it from all the angles – safety is so important to me with all children, especially newborns!!

Well, you guessed it, the family guide has VIDEOS!!  In my opinion, this is what sets Rachel’s guide apart from anything else out there. The pdf itself is amazing and worth every penny (I was fully intending to purchase it at full price when I found out I would receive it as a workshop attendee this morning!!)  Having the opportunity to watch Rachel in action is extremely valuable.  It is one thing for someone to say don’t shoot at xx level, shoot at xx level, but seeing her do it and seeing the resulting shot has a very different impact.  And then there is the way she interacts with kids and families.  I have admired her family sessions for several years because it is so clear that she has great interaction with the families – everyone has FUN!  In the video we get a sneak peak into that fun and how she creates it for her families.

Thank you Rachel for the hours and hours you have clearly poured into this.  I cannot wait to spend hours and hours absorbing the information, learning and implementing!!  This isn’t a “throw it all out the door and start over” workshop, but a “take my own style and skills and build/improve from there” guide and for that, I will be forever grateful…

Here is a shot from my spring session with my boys this year ~ the challenge is on to improve from here!!





And PS ~ I have so many more things I want to blog about, so thank you Rachel for helping me break the silence 😉



  1. Going to be a total creeper here! I live in the KC area as well and would LOVE to network with some photographers around here! I’m saving up for this guide for sure!!

    • admin says:

      Hi Shauna – I love connecting with local photographers! Send me a message and we can make a plan 🙂
      (And the guide is definitely worth saving up for!!)