RACHAEL HOUSER » photography for couples & families

Sarah is an amateur photographer from the area but currently living in St. Louis with her husband and two little girls. They were coming home for Halloween and she looked me up for a family session and some head shots. I could not have been more happy to do this for her! I don’t do a ton of family session anymore because I spend most of my time with my couples but I absolutely LOVE the change of pace every once in a while. This family was a breathe of fresh air!


By this time, little sister was DONE… that’s OK let’s move on to big sister portraits!


Family sessions last an hour, but kids can only hold out for about 45 minutes. And that’s fine! The last 10-15 minutes is saved for mom and dad… they’re still a couple even after becoming parents and it’s important for them to remember that!


Head shot time for Sarah! Gosh, she is gorgeous!!!


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Last Thursday I posted Zak & Kayla’s engagement session, mentioning that the following Monday you’d meet Kayla’s sister, Hannah and her fiancé James. Well, I looked at my blog calendar wrong because obviously, I didn’t blog James & Hannah’s post yesterday. Sorry for those who were looking for it :/

But today is James & Hannah’s day here on the blog and I am so thrilled! Hannah and Kayla both got engaged within a month of each other and came to me together, saying they wanted little ole me to photograph their weddings! Nothing would make me happier, plus keeping things in the family is similar to shopping at small business as opposed to chains. Well, it is to me anyway! I love shopping at local places, helping our community, etc! Anyway… and even thought their weddings are months apart, we scheduled their engagement sessions during the same weekend so that I only have to make one trip down to Cookeville TN, a 3 hour drive. Friday afternoon I left Paducah and made it to Tennessee Tech University for Zak & Kayla’s session, which ended at a local park. That night James put me up in the hotel at which he works so that I would already be in town for James & Hannah’s session the following afternoon. I spent the time in-between sessions by myself which was a nice break from the real world. Ah, who am I kidding?? I did the same thing I would have done at home, ate various (yummy) foods and worked! Had I thought about it I might have gone to see a movie or something, since that’s something I never do but love. But I digress…

Saturday afternoon I met James and Hannah at their apartment and followed them to Burgess Falls, a local park that boasts THREE full fledged waterfalls! They were amazing! Unfortunately, though, we could only get so close to said waterfalls. The first few minutes of our time together was spent reminiscing about how the two of them met. James claims he has no memory of this but according to Hannah, they met a year before they formally met. We joked that Hannah was stalking James in between those two incidents ;) When they officially met, Hannah saw him from afar and when she recognize him (from their prior meeting) she eagerly waved to him and shouted his name. James looked up and saw this beautiful woman, who he didn’t know but obviously knew him. He figured, so what if I don’t know her, she beautiful! It only took a few minutes with her to know she so much more than just a beautiful woman!

Our second location, TN Tech, was a little rushed… we were losing light fast!… but we definitely made it work and James and Hanna rocked it out! Can’t wait to spend more time with them come their wedding in May!


I’ve been shooting a lot of sessions with dogs lately! Some photographers might argue that they’re not dog whisperers and I am definitely not but I say, bring ’em on! I love love LOVE dogs!!! This is Prissy and she is the sweetest!


Hannah’s ring is so beautiful and unique! You just don’t see rings like hers anymore. Love me some vintage!


Don’t let the following images fool you. It was DARK y’all! Just like with Zak & Kayla’s last few shots, the sun had set and only a tad bit of light was lingering in the sky. Keep in mind two things here: I pay top dollar for my equipment so I knew my camera could handle the low light situation but I also know how to push my camera to the limit yet still get very useable images. *steps off soapbox*


Feel free to totally steal this idea because I’m pretty proud of it! lol Initially we were going to go inside the library and they were going to get all snuggly and read the comic together. Then we got to library only to find out it had closed 10 minutes before! Bummer! However, I LOVED the idea too much to scrap it… so thankful I had my iPad with me! Not only did I use the light from the iPad to illuminate their faces (the focal point) in the dark outside (I positioned them on the steps of the library) but it also leads the imagination to believe that the story in the comic is coming to life! Haha!


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Makenzie -

Great idea with the iPad! Cute pics!

If you follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram, you may remember seeing a few of these images from early October when I and 140 other Christian women photographers/creatives met up at the Winshape Retreat Center in Mt. Berry Georgia for the 2nd annual Pursuit 31 Conference. What followed were the 3 most influential days of my life. I really don’t want to go into detail about the conference because I want to keep it a surprise for those who plan on attending next year for the first time. Also, I can’t possibly write out all there is to know about the conference… it’s simply too much! Highlights it is!

My friend Makenzie, of Makenzie Lynn Photography, and I drove the 5+ hours from Paducah to Mt Berry on Tuesday, arriving at the Winshape Retreat Center in time to check in, unpack, and hang out a little before dinner. During check in everyone’s small group leaders gifted each of us with a tote full of goodies. The tote itself was embroidered with the week’s Bible verse and theme We have this Hope as an Anchor to our souls, firm and secure, and which enters the presence behind the veil – Hebrews 6:19. I’ve carried it so much since receiving it that it’s broken! Nothing I can’t fix with a sewing machine!! The following, among many other, items were found in the tote…


A lovely handwritten note from one of the conference leaders… I just love how she penned my first name! and the 5th volume of Southern Weddings magazine!


At each place setting on the dinner table at every meal was a card, on one side was the P31 logo, and the other side had an inspirational verse that tied into the week’s theme. Everyone received a small notebook to write in during our sessions throughout the week. This VERY MUCH came in handy! Not pictured here but found in the tote bag were several coupons for various items and services that any photographer would love to have. I’ve used about half of mine already!


Myself and Makenzie, right before the first evening meeting and the backdrop for the week.


Wednesday, our first speaker was Bob Goff, author of Love Does. If you haven’t read the book, read it. If you ever get the chance to hear him speak, take that chance. You will NOT be disappointed! Our second speaker was the beautiful and super talented Promise Tangeman! I kind of really have a girl crush on her <3


Our third speaker(s) was Lara Casey, creator and editor of Southern Weddings magazine, and Emily Ley, designer and owner of Emily Ley Paper. These two ladies are incredibly inspiring and just so happen to be best friends! On Thursday, Lara and Emily teamed up with Gina, their friend and photographer, for a teaching session. I also got to spend time with Gina during the special small group time. Makenzie and several others joined us to chat about infertility.


Every night, Stephen & Gabrielle von Heyking and their band provided us with worship… I sang my ever loving heart out!


Mary Marantz taught a session on posing and shooting couples on Wednesday and then held a teaching session on Thursday . She literally BLEW my mind! Another mind blowing experience happened on Wednesday when Hannah Brencher of The World Needs More Love Letters spoke! Never have I ever heard a more eloquent speaker!!


Katelyn James Alsop taught a session on shooting details on Thursday right after speaking to all of us about asking God to run our business for us. Amazing and eye opening!


Thursday night, I remember telling Makenzie that I didn’t think I could possibly cry any more. And then Jane Johnson spoke. And I cried again. Some people might think that a week full of tears is not something they would look forward to. However, I seriously cannot wait to have another week just like it!


Our small group… miss these ladies so much!


Makenzie and I made a few really great friends… friends we still keep in contact with every day! Left to right: Amanda, me, Makenzie, Sabrina, and Sarah.


Friday morning, before we all left to return back to the real world, we through our faithful leader Karen a surprise mini baby shower. She was sooooo thankful!


On thursday morning, Makenzie, Amanda, Sarah, and I did head shots for each other. So much fun!! First off is Amanda!


Next up, Sarah!


And last but definitely not least! Makenzie!


Think you might be interested in growing your personal life and creative business with God at the head?? Click here to learn more about Pursuit 31!

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I’ve been working with Brandon and Kaitlyn for almost a year now, so even though I was hired as their wedding photographer, their friends and family treated me like one of their own. I joined Kaitlyn and her girls at The Wild Rose Hair Salon at the beginning of the day and they later met me at the Murray Women’s Club where I’d been photographing bridal details. Both Brandon and Kaitlyn were getting ready at the club and they were doing a first look so we had to be extra careful once the guys arrived. Which basically looked like me running back and forth between the guys and girls, making sure one knew I had the other out of their area!

After the ceremony, the wedding party drove to Murray State’s Quad for portraits, which is pretty much a MUST if you get married in Murray, especially if you met at MSU (which Brandon and Kaitlyn did!). I really don’t think I could ever get tired of shooting there! It had been fighting off rain all day and we were able to quickly finish Brandon and Kaitlyn’s portraits before the rain started. Thank goodness!


Ceremony & Reception | Murray Women’s Club
Florists | Kaitlyn, the bride!
Dress | Davids Bridal
Bridesmaids | Dillard’s
Groomsmen | Dillard’s
Coordinator | Maryann Morrison, friend of the bride
Hair & Makeup | Wild Rose Salon
Invitations | Bed Bath and Beyond
Cake | Katie Williams, cousin of the bride
Catering | Hih Burger Inn
Rentals | Celebrations of Murray

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I’ve been so ready to blog this session… for like… days! BUT I have this blog calendar that I make at the beginning of the month and since I went so incredibly long without blogging a few weeks ago, I had so many sessions and weddings that were ahead of this session. But it’s finally the day! Meet Zak and Kayla! Kayla is Neil’s cousin… And on Monday you’ll meet Kayla’s sister Hannah (which is another session I’ve been DYING to blog!!) – yup, BOTH sisters are getting married and I get to photograph both weddings next year! Seriously, I love my job so much!

Zak and Kayla were kind of matched up ;) Zak rides motorcycles and one afternoon his buddy invited this girl (hint hint… it’s Kayla!) to ride. Zak was told to bring an extra helmet for this girl who was to ride on his bike with him. He didn’t think much of it until he saw this girl. DAW! Zak didn’t say this in so many words but I read between the lines – it was pretty much love at first sight! They both attend Tennessee Tech in Cookeville, TN so I took a weekend and drove down there to shoot both their’s and Hannah & James’ engagement session. Two birds, one stone.

We started off on campus, in the quad, and man oh MAN was the light just gorgeous!! It was one of those times where I’m just looking around in awe of God’s creation. Only He could make something, anything, THIS beautiful!


They brought me to this street light because it’s where Zak asked Kyla to be his girlfriend. I love that “kids” still do that these days! Now, the photographer in me at first didn’t want to shoot beside/under a post that had a NO PARKING sign on it but I said to heck with it because I care more about telling their story! And honestly, they can make anything look good!


I had this image in my head before I asked Zak to do it but when he did it and I looked at the back of my camera, it suddenly became so much more than a good-pose-idea-turned-picture. There’s something so raw about the loving sigh he made when I asked him to rest on her hand and feel the softness against is face. GAH, one of my favorite images from the day!


THIS look right here! It’s the look a woman gives when she adores her man and I just LOVE it!


And this look is the look a man gives when  he cherishes his woman…sooo loving!


Zak and Kayla just fit so well and natural in this pose, I could have kept them there all day lol


Our next stop was Cain Creek, just outside of town. By this time the sun was already starting to set so we worked quickly…


I don’t take a lot of silhouette pictures but there’s something so moody about them, it’s definitely needed every once in a while!


So I’m including the image below, not because it’s a prime example of great photography or anything (because it’s definitely not and because a photographer would point out that it’s too noisy, blah blah blah), but because even though we had run out of light, I still wanted, no needed this shot. The sun had set, it was beyond dusk, and I was working with the tiniest bit of light that was left in the sky and the street lights from the parking lot a hundred yards away. I positioned them on the dock and placed myself behind and tree. I broke out my 70-200mm f/2.8 (for those that care), cranked up the ISO and turned down the shutter speed, and framed them out with hanging leaves from the tree. The result is an image I truly love. I actually like the grain (noise)! Sure, I could have used an off camera flash but I really wanted to bring out the colors of the leaves in the foreground and the leaves of the trees in the background. It’s just a reminder to myself that not every image has to be perfect technically to be perfect emotionally. *steps off soapbox*


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