RACHAEL HOUSER » photography for couples & families

Last Wednesday SHOULD have been a Wedding Wednesday, but instead it was a I-got-crazy-busy-and-frankly-just-forgot-to-blog Wednesday. I don’t foresee that blog series making its way into my blog calendar ANY time soon ;) So even though today is Monday, let’s just pretend it’s a Wedding Wednesday, OK?


After your session or wedding with Rachael Houser Photography, you will receive an email with instructions and the link to your online PASS gallery. This is an amazing gallery for a few reasons.

1. Images are easily DOWNLOADED & VIEWED from all your devices – computer, iPad, and iPhone!
2. Images are easily SHARED with all your friends and family.
2. Images are easily FAVORITED & ORDERED.

So here’s how it works.

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Click “Enter the Gallery” button underneath your names to enter the gallery. Ta-da! Your gallery will open up and you’ll be staring at your header. Under the header image you’ll see a bar that says “Scroll Down, View Photos”. Go ahead. Scroll down :)

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The first three images, although not as exciting as the other images on the page, are very educational. Trust me – you’ll want to know what those say. The first image is instructions on how to use your PASS gallery to its fullest. The second image is instructions on how to order prints from your PASS gallery. And the third image is the print release, which you’ll need if you choose to order prints from anywhere other than the PASS gallery or me. Click on the images to enlarge them and therefore, read them better.

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The other images on the first page are “Rachael’s Favorites”, or my favorite images I chose for your blog post.

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At any time, on all pages, there will be a tool bar at the top. Let’s take a look at it now.

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The very next thing you need to do is log in! Notice the 3 horizontal lines in the top left corner of the screen – Click it! This open a menu on the left side of the screen. There are several menu items but what we’re going to look at first is at the very bottom of the menu: Account > Login.

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You need to log in to “favorite” images (which I’ll need you to do if you’re ordering an album), order prints, and download your images from your PASS gallery. When you click on the “Login” link this is what you’ll see next:

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If this is your first time using the PASS gallery: Friends and family – feel free to log in using your Facebook account information. This will be easiest (and still safe!) for everyone but the bride and groom (or primary client). Bride & Groom – please create an account by clicking on the “Create Account” link under “Login using Email” and follow the instructions to “create an account with email” using ONLY the email address you use to chat back and forth with me. The password, however, can be your secret ;)

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Once that is complete, you’ll be automatically logged in and will redirected back to the first page. Click on the 3 horizontal line button in the top left corner. Next we’re going to look at the Collections…

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The top collection will be “Rachael’s Favorites” which you’ve already seen on the first page. Your wedding day has been divided into collections by time and category. To view each collection, simply click on the collection title.

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Click on an image to enlarge it…

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From here you can click the arrow on the left to view previous image…

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Or the arrow on the right to view the image coming up…

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Now let’s look at more features! While viewing an individual image, click the “+” button on the top right corner.

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A menu will appear on the right side with options to “Share (the) Photo” on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Email. You can also click the “Download” link to download that individual image. If you do not plan on downloading the whole wedding gallery, you can download the images you want by this avenue. Otherwise, I would wait.

From this menu you can also add the photo (image) to your favorites and order prints! To a print of the image you’ve enlarged, just click “prints”…

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Choose your size and quantity by clicking on the “+” buttons beside your choice until you reach the number you want to order. If you’re done ordering prints, click “View Cart” but to continue viewing images, click “Keeping Shopping”…

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Click outside of the enlarged image to view the gallery behind it.

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Finally, let’s download the entire gallery, shall we?! Click on the 3 horizontal lines button on the top left again and click on the “Download All” button at the bottom of the menu.

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Options will pop up… Click to choose which collections you’d like to download. The images in “Rachael’s Favorites” and “My (Your) Favorites” are automatically in the other collections, btw ;) Click “Start Download” to get started!

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A few minutes will pass and your PASS gallery will email you the link to click to get your download. Your download will come as a zip file that should automatically unzip when you open it. The files in the unzipped folder will be high resolution jpeg image files! The zip file/folder will download to wherever you tell it to OR to a location already determined by your computer/internet settings. Usually a folder entitled “Downloads” but NOT determined by me or your PASS gallery. I get this question every once in a while and I’m sorry but I can’t help answer that.

All there’s left to do now is SHARE (and please credit “Rachael Houser Photography”) and ENJOY!!!

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I am so thrilled to introduce you guys to an up-and-comer in the fashion blogging world – Miss Kortney Lane!

She also happens to be my sister-in-law’s sister, which makes her family, which makes me more than excited that she’s stepping into a world very similar to the photography… and I get to help her make her dream a reality!

My business and I are only where we (can I say “we”?) are today because I had and have people around who are very supportive of my passion-turned-into-profession. And I love to see other succeed in any form of the arts because in our area of the world (i.e.: Western Kentucky), true artists not very prevalent. There are a ton of people who post their outfit of the day (#ootd) on Instagram and call themselves “fashion bloggers”, just like there are those out there who purchase a DSLR and the very same day advertise themselves on Facebook to shoot other people’s weddings. But that’s a whole other blog post ;)

Of course, I do follow Kortney’s Instagram but more than just that, I see her in person all the time – I know she has style even when she’s not posing in pictures! So when she mentioned that she is interested in fashion blogging I knew I was meant to help her. We got together last Sunday evening to do her first (of several I hope!) shoot with just a few of her favorite summer outfits and then finished out the night over dinner, planning out her new blog and much MUCH more! I even taught her a little about her DSLR! I see a very bright future for this lady and I can’t wait to see her get there!


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Peggy Barnes -

I love you in the jeans.

I find it only slightly silly that my mom does not like it when I travel alone for my job. I find it incredibly silly that she recently insisted upon accompanying me down to Chattanooga for an engagement session! Silly momma!

So off to Chattanooga we go, my momma and me! I had mentioned to Kayla & Michael that Neil would probably join me and we’d stay the night since it is a 4 hour drive (8 total). Imagine their surprise to meet my momma instead of my husband! As the title of this blog post suggests, their session was in downtown Chattanooga so my mom was busy taking in all the sights and walking around the town. Which is pretty much exactly what Kayla, Michael, & I did the whole two hours!


The four of us ended the night at Tony’s Pasta Shop for dinner, because they are just too cool to NOT hang out with! Can’t wait to hang out with them again soon!

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I’d been paying attention to the weather the entire week before Stephanie & David’s wedding – just like I do before any wedding – and as the day drew near, it was looking worse and worse. They were calling for rain all the night before and the day of. Being a natural light photographer, I would MUCH rather shoot portraits outdoors but can definitely make indoor portraits work if we have to. However, Stephanie & David’s wedding was planned to be at outdoor ceremony. Sure, they had a Plan B but Plan A was just soooo much better! We hoped and prayed and it did rain a touch Saturday morning but come that afternoon it was clear and sunny as far as the eye could see!

I arrived to find The Lodge at Emerald Waters bustling with friends and family decorating both the deck for the ceremony and the inside of the lodge for the reception. I found both the girls and guys getting ready in separate areas in the lower level of the lodge. It was bustling down there as well! I greeted both Stephanie & David and their wedding party and then got to work. There was no time to waste, there was too much to photograph!


On her right hand, Stephanie wore her grand mother’s ring…. it was absolutely beautiful, but better yet, it was a family heirloom!


The boys had a time tying their bow ties but thankfully one groomsman had done it a time or two and saved the day! I admit that it was very entertaining for me though!


Stephanie’s dress – oh my goodness it was a sight! Lace is my weakness, y’all.


David’s suit wasn’t too shabby either…. check out this stud! The bow tie turned out pretty dapper as well!!


The beautiful bride! You were stunning Stephanie!


This little man was posing for the camera too! I had to snap a picture before his daddy noticed and removed him from our background lol


Can you tell which ring bearer actually LIKED me and my camera? Haha!


It’s show time! David seeing his bride for the first time. No matter if it’s a traditional reveal or a modern reveal (first look) – it takes my breath away every time!


He couldn’t and wouldn’t take his eyes off of her!


What a great looking bunch!


The ceremony started at 4:30 but Stephanie & David opted to shoot their portraits during the golden hour, which wasn’t until 6:30 – because they are awesome! Thank you guys so much for trusting me! I mean, just look at that light! We couldn’t have gotten these beautiful portraits any other time!!


Ceremony Venue | The Lodge at Emerald Waters
Reception Venue | The Lodge at Emerald Waters
Bridal Gown | Pronovias, The White Room
Bridesmaids Dresses | Polo Ralph Lauren
Suits | Polo Ralph Lauren
Stationary | Wedding Paper Divas
Hair Stylist | Profiles Salon & Spa
Makeup Artist | Profiles Salon & Spa
Caterer | Southern Reds BBQ
Cake Artist | McAlpin’s Sweets and Treats

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Hannah Hutslar -

As I was watching you work your magic on this day I knew the pictures would be amazing, but they are even more breathtaking than I imagined! Wow!!! Thank you for working so hard to capture their beautiful fairy tale!

(cousin of the groom)

Kaitlyn Craig -

The pictures are beautiful. I love the picture of our son in the window. I didn’t know that happened, but it’s sweet. Stephanie and David look great in all the photos and will cherish these for many years. Thanks for all your hard work. I know there were a lot of us and some crazy ones. Love all these moments captured!

(Bridesmaid & Sister-in-Law)

Last Thursday I blogged the first of three posts about our hardwood floors – the before. Today is all about the during! Images in this post were taken with both my camera & my phone. I kind of just grabbed whatever was closest at the time :)

The first step was to pull up the carpet, carpet pad, carpet nail strips, and staples. You can imagine that was a tedious task. Don’t let the images foul you… there isn’t one step of this project that wasn’t tedious! Which could explain why it took us two months from start to finish! Underneath the carpet we found particle board in the living room and hallway and old brick patterned laminate roll out “tile” in the dining room.


Yes, Neil created a make shift TV shelf so that we could still record our TV shows during the whole process! It definitely came in handy… we watched TV while we worked and that made the work not seem so… tedious!


Did you know you shouldn’t lay hardwood over particle board? You can’t. So we pulled up the particle board and found several broken/rotten planks of solid wood sub flooring. I’m surprise this 45 year old house didn’t have more than that! Easy fix! We replaced those boards but very carefully – there was a possibility that the laminate flooring had asbestos! A week after sending a piece to analyzed, the results were negative! Yay!


Under the particle board and laminate was tar paper, which was falling a part. Again, 45 year old house people. We puled that up, ripped off the baseboards, and cleaned cleaned cleaned.



Next was the (first) tricky part… instead of purchasing engineered hardwood or paying someone to install unfinished hardwood, we decided we would MAKE our own! Yea, we’re crazy and genius like that ;) Introducing high grade plywood! I was incredible meticulous in choosing a 3/4 inch thick plywood with a grain that I loved. We cut the sheets into 6 inch planks because it’s what I’ve always dreamt about! Our garage is still a mess from the project!


My favorite part is up next! Nailing the planks down with a nail gun! I didn’t think I’d like it as much as I did!


We used hardwood spacers between the planks and walls and a line of wood nails between the planks themselves. This was a personal choice, btw. I’ve seen some tutorials that used a larger spacer and some that didn’t space them at all. I’m very happy with my decision – I think it adds a little country and age to them.


Half way done with the living room…. It’s so beautiful!!




Believe it or not, the easiest part was sanding! We closed up the kitchen and the bedrooms and rented a vacuum sander. Took about an hour to sand the whole floor and we only had to sand twice! Once before we wood puttied (where it was needed) and once after.


We vacuumed and damp mopped the floor after sanding the second time – this is important!


This was the part we disliked most: staining! In order to get a consistent stain, only one person could stain at a time. And it took forever! Luckily, I’d picked a stain that was the color I wanted with just one coat!


I started, Neil gave me a break, and I finished the next morning.


The stain can suggested we wait 12 hours before applying polyurethane… we applied three thin coats…


And then sanded with finishing blocks.


Part of the floor was sanded with a dry wall sanding poll and finishing sand paper. BAD IDEA. Don’t do it, no matter how tired you get of sanding on your hands and knees!


This is what will happen! The sand paper and pole do not bend or give or flex at all so any minor rises in the wood will have the stain sanded right off! We caught it in time and I added the stain back with a q-tip but it could have been a big mess.


We vacuumed, damp mopped, and scrubbed the dust out of every single nail hole (with a tooth brush and water no doubt! What can I say, we’re dedicated!!!) before applying a fourth thin coat of poly. It still wasn’t where I wanted it. Perfectionist, I know. So we did one last thick coat and allowed it to dry for a full 7 days before we moved furniture onto it. Here’s a sneak peek of the after, which I’ll be blogging soon!


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