Our Documented Life {August Part Two} - When Harvey sent us to Austin

I'm excited to finally be able to write this blog after documenting Hurricane Harvey's devastating aftermath in Houston. This post is a simple story of our evacuation time in Austin. We found beauty amongst the chaos and while it was hard being away from home, we also found relief.

We stayed in a charming home we found on airbnb, and even though the owner didn't list her home as a free place to stay for evacuees, she later refunded most of our charges. It was glorious. We prayed for that, and God answered.

We were so stir crazy after being cooped up in our home back in Houston for three days. I took the boys and my sister to Barton Springs, knowing the creek would be flowing due to all the rain.

It didn't disappoint, y'all. It never does.

Houston Candid Family Photographer
Houston Candid Family Photographer
Houston Candid Family Photographer

Confession: I bought two canvases for Charlie and Noah last Christmas. Last Christmas, y'all. We brought them with us when we evacuated (all thanks for Charlie who gradded them and threw them in van with their other toys) and had a little paintin party.

Why didn't I do this with them before? Sometimes it just takes a hurricane to get you to do something. Like shave your legs. I did that too for the first time in... well... two months?

I told you it was confession time.

This may have been my favorite part of the trip: visiting the Austin 360 Bridge.

We captured the sunset over the lake, found perfect spots to grab a few pictures and exhaled deeply, knowing soon enough we'd be going back home where the cleanup efforts would be in full swing.

It was lovely.

We left for home the next day. The trip back was lovely, well, except for the gas shortage and that most of my crew indulged in Taco Bell. Really guys?

We got to witness a convoy of special forces driving toward Houston to aid in the cleanup. I saw vehicles I didn't even know existed. It felt oddly peaceful knowing they were heading toward my city the same time as us.

Thank you, truly, to all who have helped us.

6 Sensible Steps when Looking for a Family Photographer

I've learned so much after my first year of being a family photographer in Houston. One of the most important areas has been narrowing down my niche and learning that saying no is just as powerful as saying the right yes. This helped me to really figure out what I want to do with my camera- what type of photographer I really want to be.

My style is candid and authentic, true to what real life looks like.

My style is candid and authentic, true to what real life looks like.

It's incredibly important to hire a photographer that's right for your family. Many people are primarily focused on pricing, understandably so, but when I receive emails to this effect, I say what I think about photography and how important it is to find someone you really like before considering investment. The last thing you want to happen is to make a decision based solely on money, only to meet your photographer at the start of your session and realize you made a big mistake.

One of the things I've learned about being a follower of Jesus is to not make decisions solely based on money.

You need photos of your family. When you choose to hire a quality photographer to capture your unique family, it requires more than just considering how much the session costs. Your money and time are valuable and so is your photographer's. Honor yourself, your family and your photographer by doing some worthwhile research and choosing the best person for your specific needs. You will not regret it, dear ones.

Houston Candid Family Photographer

To help you accomplish this in a sensible, no nonsense way, I've put together what I consider are six of the most important things to look for in a family photographer. *What can I say except you're welcome!* Thanks, Maui. :-)

#1 - Style

This is THE first step in finding the oh-so lovely photographer for your family. There are two aspects of style to consider: shooting style and editing style. Shooting styles include portrait or candid/lifestyle, and while editing styles vary, two most sought after are bright and clean or moody with a matte finish.

Let me show ya some lovely images by a couple different photographers to show you what I mean...

  • The first photo is very candid with a moody matte editing style shot in the family's home. This is lifestyle photography.
  • The second photo is a styled portrait on location with bright colors, no matte and intentional posing designed to be creative and flattering. This is portrait photography.
  • The third photo is on location, posed and somewhat candid with a gentle, soft edit and light matte finish. This is also lifestyle but with some portrait style as well.
  • The final photo is in a family's home, candid and is edited bright and natural. This is my photo and is mainly candid with some guided posing as needed.

Depending on your preference, one of these images will appeal more to you than the others. Love deep mattes? Want to be posed and flattered? Adore candids? Prefer in-home or on location? Do you prefer bright and colorful or dark and moody? These questions matter when hiring a photographer. Find what you like. Find what makes your heart skip a beat.


Sensible Tip: Go to the photographer's website and social media page (I recommend Instagram when viewing photos) and look through their recent work. Find a theme in their images. Does it match your desire for your family's pictures?


#2 - Customer Service

Okay, this could tie for first. Photography is a service industry. Photographers exist to serve and woo you not only with their magical photo taking skills but also with uplifting and encouraging words and actions. Not every photographer does well in the area of customer service. Some of us just want to make a quick buck, shoot a session, deliver your digitals and be done.

After a year of being a professional photographer, though, I've learned how valuing and truly caring about potential and former clients is of the utmost importance. 

As you start narrowing down your options to about five or so photographers based on their style and how it fits with your family's needs, ask your friends is they've heard of any of them.

Also, give them a call. Chat with them for a few minutes. Ask a question about their style or the session experiences they offer. Hear their voice. Hear their heart.


Sensible Tip: Google a photographer's business name and read through their Google reviews. Facebook reveiws also show up on Google so this is the only place you need to look.


What are people saying? What do they love most about that particular photographer?

#3 - Investment

Most photographers have an investment or pricing page on their website. While choosing a photographer with the right style and quality customer service are important, making sure you're paying what you can afford is important too.

Here's what you must remember when hiring a photographer- each one has their own goals, standards and budget. While some pricing is competitive, most photographers make their pricing based on their experience, financial goals and expenses. There's no real pricing standard in the area of portrait and lifestyle photography, so you're likely to find an array of pricing for sessions and even print products.

Be mindful of package details and make sure you understand what you're paying for when you book a session.

Some photographers include digital files in their session packages while others do not. You may see a "cheaper" price for a session with one photographer but after reading further you see that digital files are an additional cost. Add these two numbers together for a real cost comparison.

Hiring a photographer in an investment in your family's memories. I know, it sounds cheesy, but it is very true. Only you can determine what that's worth. If you find a photographer you absolutely love but their pricing is a bit high, save up for that photography experience! It's SO worth it.


Sensible Tip: If available, sign up for a photographer's newsletter. This is the surest way to learn about special offers and mini sessions. Also, follow them on social media. After a newsletter, this is the next best spot to hear about offers.


#4 - Personality

The type of photographer you're comfortable with will likely also depend on their personality: extroverts and introverts, excitable and shy, social and soft-spoken. Now, without making a phone call and actually talking with someone (I know, crazy right?), this may be hard to decipher. Don't be shy! If you've made it to this point in the "find your perfect photographer" scenario, you'll benefit from hearing their voice and asking some questions over the phone.

An About Me Page is super helpful too. These pages aren't just for bragging but should actually help you determine if their lifestyle will serve you as a photographer. Read their page and see what they're like. Are they personable? Professional? Likable? Funny? Do you get a sense of how their background can serve you as a potential client?

Do they give you reason to hire them?


My passion for photography grew even more when my husband and I started having children. Boys in fact. Two of em. I value family and creating traditions and celebrating birthdays and all that goes with growing a family. This perspective helps me when capturing sincere moments for your dear family. I'm in this with you!


#5 - Experience

Experience is kind of a big deal when you're investing in a family photo experience. You want to make sure you're hiring a photographer who knows what they're doing and will be comfortable telling your family what to do and encouraging natural connections. How can you make sure you're getting this?

Again, make sure you've read their Google reviews.

Then, take a look at their blog posts. Photographers with more experience are likely blogging their sessions and other various posts on a regular basis. Look through some. Make sure you're seeing a consistent style and voice in their work.

Check out their Instagram feed. Style and experience usually go hand in hand. When a photographer has found their style, their unique perspective when taking pictures and editing style, experience is usually in the bag.

If you see a lot of different editing styles, though, this is a red flag that a photographer hasn't found their voice just yet. Look for consistency. This is one way you can trust a photographer before you even meet them.

This is important to you because you need to know what you're photos will look like before booking a session. 


Sensible Tip: If you're willing to hire a lesser experienced photographer, but still someone who is skilled and matches your family's style, you may be able to spend a little less on your session. Some photographers scale their pricing with their confidence and experience.


#6 - Are they helping their community? Do they donate their services?

I have an easier time spending money on something I want or need when I know the money also goes into the hands of someone needing support. When photographers serve their community, donate services to events for nonprofits or volunteer their services to support a cause, you know the money you're investing in your family photos are also helping serve people in need.

As an example, Jennifer Sue Photography advocates for children in foster care by donating services to photograph kids. They need photos for potential adoptive parents. It's an important aspect in the adoption process that is often out of reach for local adoption agencies due to cost.


Jennifer generously donated her time to our non-profit. The kids were thrilled to get their pictures taken and they had so much fun with Jennifer choosing locations and trying new poses. It was such a positive experience for our kids who rarely have an opportunity like that and the pictures turned out beautifully!
— Ashley Fields, Founder/Director of The Way Home Adoption

I also donate photography services to local nonprofits like GiGi's Playhouse Sugar Land, an organization dedicated to supporting and empowering families with down syndrome. Last Fall I offered an event in which 20% of my proceeds made during the Month of October were donated to GiGi's. (October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month. It was a blast to give to them.)


Sensible Tip: Just ask! If you can't find any information on the photographer's About Me page or on a recent blog post, just ask them when you call.


These six steps won't let you down, y'all. They're sensible, easy to follow and are a worthy investment of your time. Let them serve you in finding the right photographer for your sweet family.

I'd be remiss if I didn't say it: Holler at me if you're local to Houston and are interested in booking a candid family session. It's my jam- I love it so!

Fun Family Session at the Park | Houston Family Photographer

As a Houston family photographer, I have so much fun with my clients taking pictures at the park. The kids are free and uninhibited, knowing an adventure awaits them hiking through the woods, walking around a park or overlooking a marsh full of turtles and fish.

This kind family was happy to be outside, even if little brother started getting tired by the end. Sometimes young kids need a little more TLC. I was happy to capture the last image as he was hiding under his momma's lacy top.

Jennifer Sue Photography - Houston Family Photographer
Jennifer Sue Photography - Houston Family Photographer
Jennifer Sue Photography - Houston Family Photographer
Jennifer Sue Photography - Houston Family Photographer
Jennifer Sue Photography - Houston Family Photographer
Jennifer Sue Photography - Houston Family Photographer
Jennifer Sue Photography - Houston Family Photographer
Jennifer Sue Photography - Houston Family Photographer
Jennifer Sue Photography - Houston Family Photographer

Want to book a FUN park session with your family?! Contact me for inquiries. You can also head over to my investment page to see what session experiences I offer and the benefits of each one.

Bluebonnet Family Adoption Session - Houston Family Photographer

I began Jennifer Sue Photography as a Houston family photographer with the mission to support foster care and adopting families. I knew I would love serving these special families, but I had no idea how much I would fall in love their kids.

Meet Sweet Girl. I photographed her and her foster mom and dad this past Spring in anticiaption of their one-day adoption. I WISH I could share the images of her face with you. She is adorable!

Privacy is important for children in foster care, and that's why you will not see their faces on my blog. But that doesn't mean their images are any less beautiful!

Jennifer Sue Photography - Houston Family Adoption Photographer
Jennifer Sue Photography - Houston Family Adoption Photographer
Jennifer Sue Photography - Houston Family Adoption Photographer
Jennifer Sue Photography - Houston Family Adoption Photographer
Jennifer Sue Photography - Houston Family Adoption Photographer
Jennifer Sue Photography - Houston Family Adoption Photographer
Jennifer Sue Photography - Houston Family Adoption Photographer
Jennifer Sue Photography - Houston Family Adoption Photographer
Jennifer Sue Photography - Houston Family Adoption Photographer
Jennifer Sue Photography - Houston Family Adoption Photographer
Jennifer Sue Photography - Houston Family Adoption Photographer
Jennifer Sue Photography - Houston Family Adoption Photographer

If you or someone you know is adopting from foster care or internationally and are wanting photos, please message me. I would LOVE to talk with you and learn of your story and the story of your son/daughter-to-be.

Sunset Maternity Session | Houston Candid Family Photographer

Houston offers such diverse settings for family photography, and this beautiful sunset maternity session at a Houston park was so sweet and fun and, did I mention beautiful?!

Part two of this maternity session took place in their home so be on the lookout for that next week. While in-home sessions are my favorite, getting outside and on location during the golden hour offers light like nothing else.

Jennifer Sue Photography - Houston Family Photographer
Jennifer Sue Photography - Houston Family Photographer
Jennifer Sue Photography - Houston Family Photographer
Jennifer Sue Photography - Houston Family Photographer
Jennifer Sue Photography - Houston Family Photographer
Jennifer Sue Photography - Houston Family Photographer
Jennifer Sue Photography - Houston Family Photographer

Check out part two of these happy parents-to-be maternity session in their home sweet home. Interested in a maternity session? Message me! I'd love to chat with you about how I can serve you through the art of candid photography.