RACHAEL HOUSER » photography for couples & families

It’s Wednesday! You know what that means? Wedding Wednesday is here! Today I’m reposting a post I blogged back in October because, in my opinion, it’s an extremely important topic – worth mentioning twice :)


Since I started shooting weddings, I’ve included a complimentary portrait session in my collection. Only a few occasions have I had someone forgo the complimentary session and at the beginning I was fine with it. For the past couple years, however, I’ve really pushed the engagement session on my couples and those couples have thanked me in the end. But just the other day, I had a bride ask me, Is the engagement session really that important?? Here is what I told her:

When was the last time the two of you had professional photos taken of yourselves? In most cases the answer is never. It’s funny what happens to couples when they get in front of the camera together for the first time and are asked to do simple poses. Holding hands and looking into each other’s eyes turns even the most down to earth people into deer-caught-in-the-headlights. Suddenly, the idea of being even remotely affectionate with each other seems like the biggest act of PDA ever witnessed. Don’t worry, this goes away after a few minutes of warming up, but without an engagement session this is exactly what you’ll experience the moment we go to pose you on your wedding day.

Sometimes it’s the very first meeting you have with your photographer. It happens more and more often – people are increasingly busy, live out of state, and I don’t always get the opportunity to meet with my couples until the engagement session. Even if we have met before, it’s nice to have that time to catch up. By the time your wedding rolls around, I feel like an old friend instead of a stuffy vendor who has to follow you around all day.

Practice makes perfect. By the time your wedding day arrives, you’ll know just about every pose I can possibly make you do. The scenery changes, and there’s more of a time constraint, but it’s pretty much exactly the same thing. You’ll feel far more comfortable and I’ll know exactly what work and doesn’t work with your two.

Some advice to prepare you for your engagement session. The best advice I can give you two on the day of your engagement session is just to be yourselves and have fun. As hard as it sounds, try and forget I’m there for a little while and just enjoy being in each other’s company without distractions.

Choosing a location. Engagement photos don’t have to be taken at sunset in a field (but they totally can be!). I always tell my couples to try and do something that’s meaningful to you both. You both love ice cream? Have your engagement session in a ice cream shop! You met at a local university? How cool would those pictures look? Give yourselves something to do, even if that means going on a picnic. You’ll feel more relaxed and the picture will be more unique rather than generic photos that don’t really speak about you as a couple.

I hope this post encourages future brides & grooms to seriously consider the complimentary engagement session. Happy Wednesday!

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I love photographing sessions AND WEDDINGS in new and different locations. Case in point: Aarika contacted me to shoot her Bowling Green wedding in September and while we’re at it, their engagement session there at their house and at Nolin River Lake! I absolutely love to travel, even if it’s just a few hours away!

I met up with Aarika & Wells at their brand new house…. and it’s lovely! I completely understand why they wanted a few shots of its front porch! Then we made the drive to Nolin River Lake to Wells’ grandparents’ cabin on the lake. The light! A natural light photographer’s dream! Aarika & Wells, thank you so much for inviting me!


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Lindsay -

I had the pleasure of spray tanning this gorgeous girl and she is just as sweet as she is gorgeous! I’m so happy for this couple! ❤️ These pictures are amazing!

Leah -

Beautiful!!! What more can a proud aunt say!! You are going to be an even more beautiful bride!!

Aarika (the bride) -

We have recieved so many compliments and warm congrats from these pictures because they capture us so beautifully. The whole experience totally exceeded our expectations. Thank you, Rachael!

susan crews -

Beautiful pictures!

Happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me, happy birthday to meeeeee, happy birthday to me!


Yup! I’m 28 on the 28th! I’ve been looking forward to this birthday for a while. No, I’m not having a big party but I am getting together with family tonight and then with a few girlfriends tomorrow night. And it’s just what I would want to do! As far as gifts, yesterday I went on a small shopping spree in my favorite store The Limited, paid for by my parents (Thanks Mom & Dad!!!) and Neil gave me custom hardwood floors! Best present ever and I can’t wait to share them with you!

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I cannot thank Jamia & Cory enough for introducing me to this beautiful location: Blue Sky Vineyard. Jamia had been telling me how pretty it was but you just never know until you get there. She was SO right! Definitely pretty enough for their wedding but they opted to choose their own wedding vendors instead of having the vineyard’s preferred vendors. And for that, I say THANK YOU. The venue they chose, the Bell Hill Bed & Breakfast, is going to be just as beautiful if not more!


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Something that’s been knocking heavily on my proverbial door for the past 6 or so months is a little thing called boundaries. I knew when I went full time with my business that they were going to be incredibly important – no, essential – to a healthy life/work balance. I am a Type A workaholic who loves change. That’s me in a nutshell (oh yea, and a Disney fanatic) and I use to rationalized it as being okay, being my “normal – the way things were. I rationalized it because I was a full time nurse, full time photographer, and part time student.

Needless to say, my life/work balance was more “work/life and no balance”. I placed work above everything. Above sleep, food, my husband, my friends and family… even above God. You may think I’m exaggerating but ask anyone close to me and they’ll tell you. Something had to change and I sincerely thought that quitting nursing and school would fix it. In truth, it helped (tremendously!!!) but something was still missing. I thought I would magically find more time during the day for friends, family, devotional, etc. How was it that I was even MORE busy than before? Where were these extra hours in the day that I didn’t have before?

Again, I rationalized it, saying it was going to be like this during the “transitional period”. I remember my mom asking me, How long is this transitional period?? It wasn’t until the Pursuit 31 conference in October where it seemed like every single speaker was speaking directly to me. Boundaries, boundaries boundaries! Life is more than work! Your family and friends should come BEFORE your work… GOD has to be the priority! I finally realized that God wasn’t the head of my business, or even my life, and it wasn’t going to get any better until He was. The stress I feel with my business (all the time?), the burnout I briefly experienced was not because I wasn’t doing what He called me to do… which, thank God because I wholeheartedly thought I was! It was Him telling me, Hey, remember Me? I gave you this business for you to do My will. I’m the boss here, not you.

It was SO convicting! That week in October changed me. It changed my business too but you wouldn’t know it by looking at my work/life as of late. But a few weeks ago, at Connect, I was reminded of those feelings I felt in October and more pieces were added to the puzzle for me to finally put it all together. I now know what I have to do and it’s freeing. They say that you can’t blame others for how they treat you because from the beginning, you are training them on how you want to be treated. Once I realized that, the boundaries were easy to establish.

Starting April 28th, 2014 (My Birthday!) my office hours will be as follows:

MONDAY & TUESDAY 10 am – 4 pm

Wednesdays, Thursdays, & Fridays I’ll be working at the hospital and Saturdays are weddings days (duh). Sundays and week day evenings will be spent with friends and family.

On Mondays & Tuesdays I will only open my email three times a days for about 30 minutes each time: first thing in the morning, right after lunch, and right before I quit for the day. On Wednesdays, Thursdays, & Fridays I will open my email for about 30 minutes each evening. Saturdays and Sundays are no email days.

I’m shutting off all social media on Sundays. WHOA. That’s going to be a big change for me but it’s definitely necessary. No Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram – none of it. Here’s another necessary change that might take a while to get use to for you guys:

I will no longer be checking or responding to Facebook messages on my personal or business page.
If you need to reach me, please email me.

As in, I will no longer be shooting on Sunday. Sunday is suppose to be a day of rest but I’ve not been treating it as such. I will be using Sunday, ALL OF SUNDAY, to spend time in communion with family, friends, and most importantly God. I use to freak out over the thought of not doing anything work related on any given day but I’m actually looking forward to this!

When I started photography almost 4 years ago, I would photograph whatever whoever whenever. Anything to get experience. Now that I’ve found my niche, I am going to start doing what I’ve never done (or been able to do) before – I am going to start saying “no” to photographing anything other than what I feel I am actually good at photographing. That would be anything other than weddings, engagements, couples in love, and senior girls. I will still photograph newborns and families for my very close friends, but that’s it.

Now that I’ve returned to nursing (part time), it’s even more important that I stick to these boundaries or my life will run right back into the rut it was in this time last year. Some of these won’t happen overnight but I am committed to working on them until they’re second nature. Some people would assume that having boundaries causes you to be inattentive, unreachable and/or rude. Paradoxically, it’s the opposite. Having healthy boundaries allows you to be more free to focus on the important things, those that truly matter, thus allowing your work to be better. Setting boundaries is just one of the ways that I intend of simplifying my life this year to make things happen!

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