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American Fork Senior Session | Utah County Family Photographer

I am already booking Fall senior sessions, so I thought I'd better post another Spring senior session! Seniors are so fun, because we get to try lots of extra fun tricks, and I like trying to get them to loosen up and be themselves during a shoot. It's sometimes hard for them to act natural in front of the lens, but we always get their natural personalities to shine through. We had a lot of fun during this shoot, and even got her mom in on the action, which is always the best. Whenever we are close to my neighborhood, of course I always get those girls up on my favorite hill at some point! 

Back to School | Film Session {Pleasant Grove Utah Photographer}

I am loving my film work SO so much that I decided to try a little back to school session all on film. I'd love to start offering it to clients, and this seemed like a good way to see how it goes. I had SO much fun, and this adorable outfit and darling girl did not make things harder!! After I got these scans back, I decided I'd try a few more film portfolio sessions. So I'll be doing FOUR more of these back to school minis for just the price of film! $50 for a 20-minute session. You'd receive around 10 digital files that you can print and share as much as you'd like. So contact me if you're interested in a session!

I will also be doing family in-home sessions. I have booked one, so I need one more family and an in-home baby session (baby needs to be under 4 weeks old). Family/Baby sessions will be $150--again, just the price of film/development! Around 40 digital files will be included. 

Let me know if you want in on either of those awesome and magical film sessions, and enjoy this cute girl getting ready for school!

Outdoor Family Session | Using Your Own Backyard {Lehi UT Lifestyle Photographer}

Family sessions don't have to be in a pretty field or mountain location. This family wanted the comfort of an in-home session but all the fun and nature of an outdoor session, so we used their beautiful backyard! We had such a fun time, playing on the trampoline and the hammock, using the soccer goal, picking and eating fruit they had never tried before from their own trees! Although our session was cut short due to a CRAZY storm that popped up out of nowhere, and the light was dark and dismal, we still created some magic. And we even ended with the traditional "Porchrait!" Doesn't hurt when your families look like models! 

Lehi Bringing Home Baby | In-home Lifestyle Newborn {Utah Family Photographer}

Oh, don't you love with when a new baby has giant amounts of soft fluffy hair? It's even better when they also have gorgeous blue eyes. I love doing baby sessions in the home, especially when there's a little sibling around. They feel so comfortable there and it just feels more like playtime than a session. What in the world that the big bro ALSO had a gorgeous head of curly hair! I was in details heaven here folks. 

Newborn In-hospital Session | Baby Girl Fresh 48 {American Fork Utah Lifestyle Baby Photographer}

Hours-old sessions are an absolute favorite of mine. I just can't get over those first few moments of life when and the connection when the mom is connecting with this new life and discovering all those little details of her newborn baby. It's such a privilege to be there and capture it. 

Mountain Green Family In-home Session {Utah Lifestyle Photographer}

What happens when you take a darling family, a beautiful house in an incredible mountain location, pancakes, bubble baths, and s'mores? You get a magical in-home family session that makes their photographer super happy. Seriously, let's have more sessions just like this one please! I love it when families feel comfortable enough to just do their own thing while I'm there. It makes every shot so authentic. 

I couldn't choose just a few shots from this session, so get ready!

Publications and Contests! {Utah Family Photographer}

This year I have made it a goal of mine to enter contests and submit images for publication whenever possible. You never reach your goals unless you actually try for them, right? Luckily there's very little actual rejection involved in these submissions, as you just pretty much never hear back if you aren't selected. So I usually submit and then forget about it. There are a few ways I have submitted work, and I have had so many successes in such a short time, I feel completely honored.

First, this next image, which I wrote about earlier as being a Click Pro Daily of the Week winner, was also selected to be featured in Click Magazine! I did not submit it, but I did post it on the Daily Project where they often select images for publication. This was my very first published image as a photographer, and I may have cried some tears. I am so happy it was in Click, because Clickin Moms has been such a huge part of my journey as a photographer.

DP Girls In Wind-1.jpg

Next, I submitted some work to the Dear Photographer black and white issue, and I actually had one selected for publication! YAY! Of course it is a self portrait, so that is extra scary and exciting, I guess?! It was one I was a little self-conscious to even post on Instagram at the beginning, but it has gotten a lot of attention. Another reason to put yourself out there!

Blog Self Portrait-1.jpg

 

I was accepted in the National Association of Professional Child Photographers a fe months ago, but  I wasn't quite sure what to do with that membership. I thought I'd start with a contest. So I entered the photos below in the "Color" and "Water" categories.

Blog Lavender-1.jpg
Blog Water-1.jpg

And today I got an email that said I was in the top 100 images! I didn't know which of my images had been selected, so I tried to see a list of finalists or whatever, and finally found this collage:

Top100Blog.jpg

If you look at that collage 3 rows above the title bar in the middle, you will see BOTH of my images!! If they hadn't been so close together, I never would have seen them both! CRAZY! So, it's a pretty slim chance that either of these images will actually win, but it's so nice to be a finalist! This is a gallery event, so although I won't actually go to Atlanta to see my images in the contest, they will be printed and put in the gallery and I'll eventually get the prints back. So that's fun! 

So, I just wanted to share some of that fun news! I have LOTS of blogs planned and on my list of to-dos every single day that I ignore. An in-home family session, an outdoor family session in their beautiful yard, a bringing home baby session, and lots and lots of personal session, especially on FILM!! I'm so excited about film, and I can't wait to start offering it to clients as well. There's such a classic and timeless look to film. I'm going to do my next baby session on film, and we will see how it turns out! Stay tuned!

My Very First Film Session

I have come across a few people posting photos they’ve taken with film over the last several months, and though mildly impressed, I was a little confused as to WHY. Leave it to photographer Stephanie Bryan, who explained why she chose film during a Q&A at Insta Inspire Retreat, to convert the entire room in 5 minutes. I went home and bought a used Canon Rebel 2000 film camera on Amazon for $35 and some random rolls of film, and I was off! Little did I know there’s so much to learn about film stock, metering, rating, exposure, labs and how to choose one and communicate with them, etc! I was fairly certain my first two rolls I sent in were going to be either all white OR all black, and I wasn’t sure which! 

But the experience I had while TAKING this very first roll was worth it. I'll explain about that in a minute. 

When I finally got my scans back from Indie Film Lab, I might have shed a little tear. They were beautiful, despite my Fuji Superia 800 film 2 stops overexposed, my guessing without a light meter, and my not quite being sure how to focus my camera. I had just spent hours editing a session from a month before, and then these arrived and they were done. A couple needed straightening. I may have tried to get that 800 ISO grain under control a bit. But otherwise, no culling, no editing, no fretting. They were just...finished. 

I even find I LOVE photos I probably would have thrown away. There are some that might never have seen the light of day if I’d take 5 other almost identical shots, but I love them for their authenticity. 

Ok, so let's talk about that very first shoot. 

With digital, it’s not unusual for me to take hundreds of shots in just a few minutes, constantly looking at the back of the camera, trying to get the kids to do something again or something different. Then I am anxious to get inside, go through those hundreds of shots and find keepers. I’ll spend an hour or two editing and finally have 20-30 shots I love and will never do anything with besides post a few. In the meantime, I’ve missed my kids actually having fun and being kids. I do my best to just capture the moment and be there, but sometimes it’s just more about photography and that’s that.

So when Stephanie Bryan described this exact scenario and said it made her put down her camera for a long time, I think every mom in the room could relate. Then she explained how film fixed all of that.

I was skeptical, but I thought it would be a good challenge, so I jumped on board. Then one day when I was all set, and the light was beautiful and it was warm and summery, I threw some dresses on my girls and pulled their hair into messy ponytails and asked if they’d like to go to a meadow with me. We even decided to bring the dog.

What happened next was pure magic. When I saw something beautiful happening, I took a shot. One. I asked them to sit down for a bit and then just let them kind of talk and play and took a couple more. The dog ran around having the most fun and made them laugh. They hid in the long grass and enjoyed the summer air and being sisters. 

Then the roll (24 shots) was done. I didn’t have another camera—not even my phone. I couldn’t look at them or edit when i got home so there was no need to rush. So I sat, and they played, and I watched and played too. Magic, people. 

I sent in my film and waited (patience?!). When the scans arrived, they were beautiful. I didn’t wish there were more or that they were different. They were just “perfect.” Just like that. 

If that doesn’t make you want to try film, I don’t know what will. I’m not done with digital, but people, I’m pretty sold. Magic!!!
 

Film VS Digital: An Experiment

I'm participating in a 100 days of summer on FILM challenge. (I'm shooting all personal sessions on film, unless I need them fast for an assignment or loop. But I'm trying to plan ahead so everything is film!) I've never shot film with a film SLR before this summer, and I wanted to try. It's been glorious, and I will post about why I wanted to try it out, my very first film shoot, and why I got hooked pretty soon here. But for now, I wanted to post the results of a little film vs. digital experiment I've been doing so I can link for my Instagram peeps! 

THE QUESTION:
Is the time you save doing film vs digital worth the expense of the film? Are the digital shots SO much better than film shots? Do I end up with just WAY more from a digital session? And is that a good or a bad thing? Let's explore. 

THE EXPERIMENT:
I wanted to do a classic summer watermelon shoot in just a few minutes in my backyard. Nothing fancy. I had both a film and digital camera on me and alternated taking photos every few shots with each camera. I stayed out for about 5-10 minutes (the time it took my girls to devour their watermelon). The time I spent SHOOTING is no different for either, and will not be considered in results. I'm also trying not to pay attention to the actual poses/facial expressions as much, although that does play a role, as I had more to choose from on digital. But you know what I mean. If I'd ONLY been shooting with one, I may have caught what I got on the other, etc.

THE DATA:

DIGITAL (Canon 1DX with 135mm lens)
Shots taken: 120
Keepers/edited: 37
Unique shots/postable: 9
Time spent culling/editing: 2-3 hours.

FILM (Canon Elan, 80mm lens, Fuji Superia 800 rated 400)
Shots taken: 16
Throw-aways: 0
Unique shots/postable: 9
Time spent culling/editing: 5 minutes
Money spent on film/lab: Around $25

THE RESULTS:

DIGITAL collage

300 dpi collage.jpg
 

FILM collage

300 dpi film collage.jpg

I used consumer brand, super cheap Fuji Superia 800 stock for this shoot, and if I'd spent a few more dollars on some pro film, I may have gotten even better color. (I think this still turned out great.) Of course there is money in the digital too (HUGE equipment and software costs compared to film), and there's time spent driving the film to the lab, and I really can't get some shots with film that I can with digital + editing, etc, so this isn't an exact science, but you can see that I ended up with the same exact number of shots, and I really like them about equally, so in this case, I have to decide if I like 3 hours of my life or $25 of my money better. 

For summertime family documentary sessions, it's really a no-brainer. I've just loved the discipline, challenge, patience, excitement, and results of the film, I've had more time to spend with my family, and I have more willing models in the end. Is there a chance I'll offer film sessions to clients? Maybe in the future. But for now I'll keep shooting digital there. I see a need and a desire for both digital and film in my life, but I think I'm definitely going to do more of my family on film all year, and I think I'm going to love it. 

Utah Lake with My Girls {Highland Family Photographer}

I have been shooting mostly film this summer for my personal work. But the life of a photographer is not always as simple as shooting just what we want and being able to wait 3 weeks for film scans! No, sometimes you have an assignment for a class or an Instagram loop that needs a specific theme, and you just have to shoot digital. This time, I needed a "sand" shot, and I didn't plan ahead enough to have one on film. I have to say, even though I'm totally in love with film this summer, I have missed shooting with my Canon 1DX and being able to creatively edit my shots, just a little. So this session felt pretty good. 

So, funny story--we went out to eat and to the store before heading to the lake, and Nora's dress was looking PRETTY grimy. But there we were at Target, so I just bought her a new one! Phewf! Easy enough. Then we headed to Utah Lake where I had done a senior session recently. There is every kind of sand there from gravel to super fine to mud, so they played in that for a while, but there was no way they weren't getting in the water! So in they jumped and splashed about and had the most fun in the gross swampy water! HA! 

I have been struggling with freelensing lately (a technique where you detach your lens from your camera and tilt it to achieve selective focus), and for some reason I felt like trying it with my giant 135mm lens, and it WORKED so well! So, when you see those shots in here that look a little bit hazy over most of the frame, you'll know I was being super dangerous by exposing my camera workings to sand. HA!

 

Extended Family Mountain Session {Utah Lifestyle Photography}

Families choose to have outdoor family sessions for several reasons. For some it's a yearly documentary session, or a way to remember this fun moment in their lives. For others, it's an effort to record a certain time before big changes. This wonderful family was getting ready to say goodbye to some who were moving away, saying hello to some new ones about to be born, and wanted to shoot at their wonderful family cabin where they had so many good memories together. It was a dream and so much fun to capture their families in this time of transition up in the beautiful Utah mountains!

Senior Portraits at the Lake {Highland Utah Photographer}

Sometimes there are moments as a photographer that make you giddy. One of those moments might be when a gorgeous senior girl asks you to take her portraits, and she wants to include some shots with her horse. OH my goodness! You know, her white horse she's going to ride bareback, and she wants to take him down to the lake. WHAT?! Yes, my friends, this truly happened to me. And it was amazing. 

But I had to get some shots of her in her dress up on the hill first, let's not forget those. 

Early Spring Engagement Session {Provo Riverwoods Utah Photographer}

My oldest sister's oldest son is getting married. The first of all the nieces and nephews! This is a momentous occasion and makes us all feel very old. HA! His beautiful fiance wanted to take their engagement photos at the Provo Riverwoods for a sort of Urban feel, with some classic cobblestone and throw in some greenery while we were at it. We went a little too early, so we perhaps took a million shots waiting for the sun to get low enough for some magic. But we had lots of fun, and I got WAY too many keepers. But they were just too beautiful! Here are some of the fun snuggly shots we got.  

Aren't they just the cutest?! I mean, seriously, we should all be so gorgeous and in love. 

Doing engagements isn't all that different from doing lifestyle family shoots. My objective is always connection. And I didn't have to do much to get it out of these two. :)

Click Pro and Other Fun Photo Features!

I have SO many blogs planned and haven't had any time to do it. Big things have been happening. I just turned 40, I'm going to Hawaii this week, I'm way behind on my editing, and I've been working my tushy off on getting things running with some new business software and booking new sessions from Spring all the way to Christmas! But there are a couple things I wanted to mention here before I go back and blog all the awesome sessions I want to talk about. 

First, I can't believe I haven't written here about becoming a Click Pro with www.clickinmoms.com! This has been a big goal of mine, and I really love that site for the amazing educational and support opportunities. I have lost count of how many workshops and breakouts I've done and how many tutorials and blogs I've read since I discovered it in September of 2017. As soon as I realized that you can apply to be a Click Pro, I started working on my portfolio. Click Pros have opportunities to be published in Click Magazine, write for the blog, enter contests, write tutorials for the Clickin Moms forums, and other awesome perks. You have to submit a portfolio of 150 photos which are graded on a rubric that scores each photo 1-6 in the following categories: 

Exposure Triangle
Color and White Balance
Use of Light
Composition and Posing
Processing Cohesion and Polish
Technical Basics
Creativity, Expression, and Intention

You have to get at least 4 or 5 in every category to become a Pro (you can only get a 4 in 3 or fewer categories). I redid my portfolio so many times, but in January, I finally just decided to apply just to see how close I was. In February, I was accepted! I maybe cried a little. And since then I've been overwhelmed with all the things I can and should be doing to really take advantage of being in the program. But for now, I've just been posting on the Click Pro Daily Project, a blog where the Click Pros can post something every day. Once a week they choose a Daily of the Week, which is featured on the sidebar of the blog for that week and in the DOTW page forever. The Click Pros are all still kind of celebrities to me, and their work is amazing, so it's intimidating for me to even post on the Daily Project, and I didn't expect to have a photo chosen as the Daily of the Week for years, if ever. 

Well, friends, this week, the very day after my 40th bday, one of my photos was chosen as the Daily of the Week!! WOW! It's just very exciting for me. They even change out your original post with a pretty version with a badge. :) Like so:

DAILY OF THE WEEK.jpg

So there it is! My pretty girlies all dressed up for Easter and freezing in the Spring wind! YAY! I love this photo so much, and I'm so glad it was chosen as the DOTW. It was also chosen as the Canon Photo of the Week and will be featured on the Click Magazine Instagram account this week, and will also be featured on the Hello Storyteller blog. It was also featured on 10 other photography hubs the week I posted it! YAY! I had a lot of photos I really loved from this session (I'll blog several of them later), but this is definitely the gem of the session. I am going to print it very large and put it . . . somewhere. I don't know.

BUT THERE'S MORE! I also had a wonderful feature on an awesome blog by the amazing photographer Tanya Moon of www.tanyamoonphotography.com. She interviewed me for the "Photographers Who Inspire" series she does, and the other photogs she has featured are so amazing and inspiring. I love being part of such a supporting community that likes to feature and uplift and inspire each other rather than compete! She said such nice things, and it's my first interview as a photographer, so it warms my little heart. :) Go give it a read and ignore how may times I say "HA!" 

It's so fun to have your work recognized in any small way, and these ways seem very big to me. Considering the years I kind of took off from photography, and my recent obsessive way of working on it like a full-time job, it's nice to be validated and recognized as a "real" photographer. I'm excited to keep improving, keep working with fun clients, keep teaching, and hopefully gaining more opportunities as a Click Pro and maybe even have my own breakout or workshop some day! Oh, that's definitely my dream! 

The {Pink Skirt} Session: How Personal Work Impacts Professional Work

It's the off-season for photographers. Most people got their family pictures taken during the fall, it's still brown and cold outside, etc. I have a few baby sessions and some seniors planned, but that's about it. During the off-season, sometimes photographers get in a sort of rut, not even wanting to pick up their cameras after the hustle and bustle of the busy season. During this time, I really miss my family sessions, but I really love having time to focus on photography as art and just documenting my own family. 

One of the ways I like to stay inspired is by taking classes and breakouts (short inspirational/creative classes where a photographer just kind of spills her secrets and gives you assignments) on www.clickinmoms.com and other websites. I have done a few lately and have learned a few tricks and been inspired to shoot a lot! 

Another way I keep myself shooting and growing is through photography groups on Instagram and Facebook. There are monthly challenge groups, breakout groups that continue to help inspire and support you, and even Instagram loops where you post on a given theme at the same time as a group of photographers and link to each other's photos! After a while, all of these assignments kind of add up, and it's hard to keep track!

One day I decided to try to get ALL my assignments done in ONE SHOOT! I was going for the color Pink, backlight shining through material, breaking rules, iPad reflection, movement, minimalism, details, and a couple others! Oh my! Luckily, my pretty niece with her pretty skirt was up for a shoot my sister was doing and I jumped in and got everything I needed and more!

One thing I love about this shoot so much, besides getting some of my favorite images ever, is that it evolved from one thing to another as I followed the light and the moment. Things didn't turn out the way I planned, they turned out much better. I also experimented with several editing styles, and it's interesting to see how things changed as I moved through the session as the light and the mood changed. What an enormous variety of looks you can get with one outfit, one girl, and about 30 minutes! This shows exactly how personal projects can help with client work! If I had given up after the first few shots, I would not have ended up with some of the best work I've ever done, which will give me the ability to adapt and use these techniques in client sessions! 

Look how I ended up with some shots of my fellow shooter/sister in the end! We shot every last bit of sunlight there was! Shooting with other people is another awesome form of inspiration, and it's interesting how her shots are gorgeous and nothing like mine! It really show how different each artist can be. 

Fine Art School Portraits {Utah portrait photographer}

I have hated school portraits for so long--first because it was a ridiculous $40 for one 8X10 and a class picture, but mostly because my kids always looked ridiculous and nothing like themselves. The photographers weren't even TRYING to get a genuine smile out of my kids, let alone something truly beautiful! The object is documentation, and that's it. Maybe back in the day when I was a kid and we weren't running around with cameras on us at all times, that was important. But why we have continued to use studio portraits with one shot and ridiculously-priced prints is beyond me. One of my instructors recently gave me the idea of doing fine art portraits for schools. There's just NO reason we should have to settle for one pose with an ugly half-smile that doesn't look like our kid in this day and age! It only takes me 1-2 minutes to get a genuine smile or a beautiful serious look out of a kid, no matter who they are or what their age. I don't remember a time when I have failed at that during a session.

So I thought I'd give them a little test with my own kids who are notoriously hard for me to photograph. And as you probably know by now, I am not a fan of (or any good at) studio light or backdrops, but I just got a pop-up plain black portable backdrop and used natural window light, and treated these portraits just like I would individual shots during a family session. And seriously, friends, I love them all! They look like MY kids, they were super fast and easy, and they are something I would not mind framing. (And I probably will!)

I'm doing my Nora's preschool class portraits this year, and I am going to offer these portraits to my Ethan's charter school next year for my volunteer hours (I hope they take me up on it, because I never get CLOSE to the 40 hours I'm supposed to do!), and maybe from there, I'll see if any other schools are interested. I'm sure it could be hard to break into the public school district, but there are plenty of charter and private schools around here that may appreciate having something better than the usual standard portraits. Friends, I'm not in this for the money--I'll probably have a pretty inexpensive digital package for parents to dowload with 3-5 images. I'm in it to change school portraits! Hideous photos no more!! 

In-hospital Newborn Session | Riverton Baby Boy {Utah Lifestyle Photographer}

There's just really nothing better than getting the call that there's a fresh hours-old baby that needs someone to come snuggle him and take some pictures (in that order). This little boy was mom's 7th, and sure she's a pro when it comes to babies, but that new crazy influx of love you feel when you cuddle this new little life never gets old. It was so wonderful to watch her just snuggle and talk about this newborn person with such adoration. And there's just really nothing more beautiful than a mom holding her new babe, right? I can never just get photos of the baby without the mom, because I know they'll be inseparable for a good year, and this is just the beginning. 
 

Find me on Instagram @bluehillimages and Facebook @bluehillimages

Lifestyle Sunset Family Session {American Fork UT photographer}

Sometimes you meet a family you instantly love, and then even if you don't see them for the better part of 10 years, you feel like no time has passed at all when you finally see them again. I knew this darling family when we lived in Maryland, and then we moved here to Utah, and they moved away to Korea, and we thought never the twain should meet again! But here they are! Living just minutes from my house. So we had to take advantage of our amazingly warm winter weather once again and get a sunset session. We were able to stay long enough to let the sun set and get an amazing view of snow-covered Mount Timpanogos behind them!

Sometimes I tell families they just have to pretend to like each other while we are taking pictures. HA! But this family did not have to pretend. I hardly had to direct them at all, and I usually got distracted from taking pictures of one group of happily cuddling people, because other people were happily cuddling or playing in gorgeous light directly behind me, just because that's what they do. It was a dreamy session, and if I could do one just like it every day, I'd be a happy lady. 

My goal is usually to get the dad to say, "Well, that wasn't so bad!" But this time, my happy moment was when the mom texted me to say her 3-year-old got in the car after an hour-long photo session and said, "That was fun!" I mean, right?!

Also, they kept calling me Auntie. 

"Run to Auntie, Miles!" :) :) :)

Find me on Instagram @bluehillimages and Facebook @bluehillimages

Sibling lifestyle sunset session ~ {Utah County family photographer}

It has been a super strange January. We've had beautiful golden hours at a balmy 45 degrees! (Listen, in mid-winter, that seems like summertime.) So we took advantage of the beautiful light and perhaps a LITTLE bit chilly weather and did a fun sunset session with part of this family. Brady was turning 8 and needed some baptism pictures, so we also decided to do some sibling shots, and some snuggle shots with mom. Eight or not, he's the baby of the family, and I'm pretty sure they'll all think of him that way forever. I also got to really take my new lenses out for a spin, and have some fun. And that's never a bad thing! Hooray for sun haze and sun rays!! 

Find me on Instagram @bluehillimages and Facebook @bluehillimages

In-home Christmas Lifestyle Session {Highland Utah Family Photographer}

So . . . if I could be a house, I might choose to be the Grovers' house. Not just because it's beautiful, but because it's full of fun and happy people doing fun and happy things. They like making pancakes each Saturday, and flipping is Dad's job, but he lets the little ones help. They like playing piano, reading, and snuggling. They make snowflakes and hang them above their dining table every Christmas. They climb on bookshelves, jump off the hearth, and have little Christmas trees in their bedrooms. They let the little sister put the star on the tree. And also, when a photographer comes to do an in-home family session, they are total pros and just have a lot of fun.

Also, it's gorgeous, and they are gorgeous, and that's that! It will be hard to narrow down the kajillion pictures we put into their beautiful 40-page album to post here, but I'll give it a try . . .

And just so we all know, this session was the birthplace of the term "Porchtraits" which has now become a traditional shot for my in-home sessions! Thanks Instagram for helping me out with that. :)

Find me on Instagram @bluehillimages and Facebook @bluehillimages