Q & A Photographer Edition
What Camera do you currently shoot with?
I am a die hard Canon user so my baby is my 5d Mark IV but I also love my 6D Mark ii for video and dual shooting during my weddings. Canon is known for their color in camera and that's what drew me in from the get go! Canon lenses are also magic so I don't see any brand switch in my future.
What kind of camera did you start photography with?
My beginner camera is a Canon T7. It was perfect for me when I was first starting out but I quickly knew I needed to move up to a full frame to capture the vision I had for my sessions and deliver the quality I longed for for my clients. I still have it to this day because I just cant let go of my first baby!
My oldest daughter has already shown a lot of interest in photography so It will be really special to me to be able to hand it down to her when she's old enough to learn to use it and take care of it.
What is Your favorite lens?
I have a few favorite lenses because I use them each for something different. I only use prime lenses because I personally think they are way sharper & since I dual shoot occasioanlly it just works best for me. If I had to pick my most favorite lens it would definitely be Canon 50mm 1.2. That is just a little piece of the magic from my images.
What are three things that you could not live without as a photographer (other than your camera)?
My dual Camera harness (THANK YOU ETSY)
Give me ALL the SD cards
Do you shoot in Natural or Studio Light?
BOTH! I Love, love, love natural light but I also use studio light as needed. Sometimes I also like to mix the two depending on exactly what kind of vision I have for the session. I think its super important to understand light before you even pick up a camera. Photography is light and once you get a better understanding of how you can play around with it or what to look for your opportunities are endless.
What kinds of sessions do you do?
Newborns, Seniors, Family, Extended family, Weddings, Engagements, First Birthdays, you name it! Once I find the perfect studio space I would love to get more into Boudoir Sessions for my ladies!
What is the best advice can you give to a new photographer?
#1 Don't stop. Keep getting yourself out there even on the days you feel like it might be impossible. Work hard, pray, dive into education, and give yourself grace. If your heart is in this and you feel that God has lead you here don't let what anyone else says or does stop you. I have entered plenty of valleys on my way to the mountain but I won't let others or my own doubts get in the way to where I'm going.
#2 Surround yourself with others that are going to motivate you and be a motivator yourself! We aren't made to live life alone so find your photographer besties and hype each other up!
#3 Community over competition always. We all have a different vision and style. No two photographers will ever be the exact same.
How do you juggle running a business and a family?
Some days I still wonder If I am doing enough!
Am I giving my business enough attention?
Am I staying up to date on my education?
Am I pouring enough into my kids?
Have I made my husband feel loved enough today?
I think that every mom wether your working or staying at home always wonders if we are enough and Its simple. I know Im not.
I need God to step in every day and help me be enough for my family, for my kids, for my husband, for my clients, for my business, and even myself. Im no where near perfect and I love that I have a God that doesn't need me to be. But that doesn't mean I don't have to work my tail off and sometimes get overwhelmed. That still happens on the reg.
Where do you see yourself in a few years?
When I began Sierra Hayes Photography I simply just wanted to love people. In a few years I hope to still be loving and serving lots of people and continue to make new friendships, capturing special moments in peoples lives. I hope Im still crying with my couples that find out their finally getting their little rainbow baby, chasing around silly kiddos, cleaning smash cake out of my hair, capturing the tears of a handsome groom, laying in the mud to snap the perfect angle for my favorite couples, help freeze time with the worlds best grandparents, and tiptoeing around a sleepy new babe.
I honestly never thought Sierra Hayes Photography would be where it is today and for that I am humbled. I owe that all to God for pushing me here. I am thankful for a support system that believed in me every step even on the days I didn't believe in myself. I have met beautiful, supportive, ambitious people on my way to wherever this photography journey is taking me and for that I am grateful for this opportunity.
Often though I think If it all ended tomorrow, I feel that this season has been nothing short of a blessing and It has opened my eyes to what I am capable of. I have learned so much from each of you and how perfect imperfection is. I feel stronger knowing I have shown my children what is possible if you trust in him (even when I was afraid). His plan is so much bigger and beautiful than what we think we can achieve.
Putting your heart out there for others is SCARY but it's worth every second when you get to connect with people that you may have never crossed paths with or had the chance to visit with again. Who knows where the next season will take me but for now I have so much peace knowing Im doing what I am suppose to be doing- serving my people, praying for them, and loving them every chance I get behind my lens!
Thank you a million times for all of your support, prayers, and love to myself and my family!!
The Story of a Photographer
Im Sierra Hayes- Momma, wife, sister, daughter, friend and that girl behind the camera.
I love meeting new friends and snapping photos of precious moments like any photographer but Its so much more to me than a few cute photos.
When I get the opportunity to stand back and capture the light my heart LEAPS. As a Natural Light photographer you might be thinking Ummm.... yeah Sierra, the sunlight has to be your favorite light. You're a photographer!! But friends, as true as that may be thats not the light I'm talk about.
The light I love, the light I jump for....... is the light in my clients eyes when they spin around with their new fiancé. Its the light in those babies smiles when their Daddy throws them to the sky. Its the light that Nana has all over her when her grown daughter kisses her cheek.
Life is moving fast. We are all growing, healing, loving, hurting, praising, and changing.
My purpose as a photographer when I get behind my camera is to help capture your story because to me it is so beautiful and so worthy of documenting Every. Little. Moment...And Yes, photography takes education, equipment, and LOTS of practice but most of all you have to be able to look through a lens of love.
I am thankful for every one of my clients for making it possible to keep doing what I love, my family's support on this wild ride, and God for giving me this mission field of creativity and the desire to serve & love my clients well.
If you've made it this far, THANK YOU for taking the time to read into what goes through the mind of that girl behind the lens.
Have the best day friends,
so.. When Did you start getting into Photography?
When I think about this question I can't help but smile. Not because it's out of the ordinary for someone to ask a photographer, not because there is any humor in my story, and DEFINITELY not because this decision was made on a whim.
I smile because I think back to when I was a kid. I was obsessed with photos. I still picture the baskets of photo albums my Mom had sitting around our living room. I loved looking through them. I loved all the feelings that they pulled out of me. I loved the happy, the silly, the weird, the cute, and even the sad.
Fast forward and now Im in Middle school. I would spend countless nights up late on the weekends scrapbooking photos or pasting them to posters. I loved picking photos of the ones I loved and finding their perfect place. It made me so happy when I finally had the finished product and I was so proud.
When I got to High School like any teenage girl I remember taking photos every opportunity I had with friends and even my little sister when I could talk her into it. We loved being silly and making collages and video mash ups and thinking about it now, there are waaayyyy too many photos embarrassing photos hidden away somewhere not only of me but a ton of my friends (Don't worry, I won't name any names...haha).
As I grew up and had my own babies you rarely caught me without my phone snapping away all the silly and sweet moments I could. I always felt like maybe, just maybe all the photos would help me bottle up the feelings and I could look back on them one day. My sweet husband saw how happy these memories made me and what they meant to me so surprised me with a camera.
Thats when something happened inside me that I can only give credit to God for because from that moment on everything lined up in a direction I had once only DREAMED about.
So friends I H U S T L E D. I started staying up late taking courses after my babies when to bed, I filled up notebooks with notes and research to look back on, I listened to countless videos on technique and lighting every morning in the shower, I practiced every single day and I PRAYED my heart out that if this is the direction God wanted my life to go in he would walk beside me every step of the way.
Now I know, I know. This may sound like Im getting off topic but Im telling you this to answer your question. For me I didn't just wake up and decide Hey! Im going to be a Mom Photographer now. It was a long process of realizing what Photography does for my mind and my heart. It was putting in the work and jumping at the opportunities that were put in my lap. It was my desire to serve and love my community. It was getting up every day and doing the thing instead of waiting around for it to just happen. It was to show my babies you set your own limitations.
Those faces you see in my gallery.. THEY are what is most important and how I make them feel means the world to me. Photography allows us to document so much more than a few nice pictures. Yeah, finding your style can be hard, editing is a learning curve, lighting is important, and even landscape can transform your photos but Photography is about capturing laughter and true, raw love. Photography should make you smile, it should make you laugh, it should make you cry.
I pray that God uses me over and over again to give each person that same feeling I get when I see someone I love on that little piece of paper hanging on the wall. I don't know what's in store for me next but I am so faithful wherever He leads me. One thing is for certain though, I hope to see you along the way.
Blessed with a MESS
This, this is not quite what I imaged my next post to be so bare with me for a second.
I love the idea of always radiating positivity, expressing my creativity, and uplift everyone around me but ya know what? I. AM. DRAINED friends. I use to think that if you showed struggle it somehow made you a failure but who really wants to always see the perfect anyways? Not me. Give me the real, give me the joy, give me the candid, give me the wild, give me the broken, give me the raw, give me the messy.
Today Im drowning in laundry.
Im covered up in work.
Im STILL drinking this mornings coffee (1:20 pm).
Im coparenting my way through a Quarantine
My mom guilt is cranked up full blast.
These summer showers are killing my scheduled sessions.
And I'm craving a date night with my guy.
So NO I don't feel Social media worthy today. I don't want to post a posed picture of myself carefully edited and properly posed so its a mom bun in my favorite T-shirt.
Im zoning in on editing and clearing out my DMs while the babies take their nap praying God allows me to serve my clients with love at the speed of light.
Ive been searching my mind since my feet hit the floor this morning of what I can do to just be a better Mama so unplugging from my phone and giggling with my kids on the floor it is.
My creative, outgoing side NEEDS to connect and love on people so Im saying extra prayers for beautiful weather in the next few days...or forever (fingers crossed right?).
Ive planned a dinner for two at the Hayes House reserved approximately after bath and bedtime to listen to my favorite guys day.
And I choose to see all these "messy" things as beautiful..
Life is a wild ride but there's always a way to make it through your day and shine a little light on whatever is on your plate. The good and the bad will always come in waves (praise him through both) but If we always expect for things to be perfect based solely on our own capabilities and always try to match our real life to a Karen's highlight reel ( Sorry to actual Karens lol) we will no doubt be disappointed.
At the end of the day, no matter if you gave it 100% and rocked every obstacle life threw at you we all still need one thing to keep a float...and his name is JESUS. So call it preachy, call it sappy but here's a little reminder friends: Whether your day is going on without a hitch or you can barely roll yourself out of bed in dread of what's in store for you KEEP MOVING. Not one person knows what's next for us. . You may be in the valley or you may be on the top of the mountain but the Bible tells us in Ecclesiastes 3:1 there is a time for everything, and a season for everything under heaven.
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
Ecclesiastes 3:2-8 (Check out more in this chapter & I promise you won't regret it)
So when you cant quite dig up the beauty in your mess, He is with you. When life is a dream, He's beside you. On days your worry has taken over, He's loving you up. When you feel like you don't have anyone, guess what he's still right there. During a session where you just wanted one good family photo and the kids are just not having it, YEP he's still right there..... admiring all the mess you have been abundantly blessed with.
So take a moment and look at your "mess".
Take it all in.
Im willing to bet its pretty dang beautiful.
And capturing those beautiful messy moments through my lens, to me...that's what it's all about.
Be kind to her too
Photography has been such a place of therapy for me in these last few months. I get to express myself creatively while meeting new people and serving and loving them. Im not kidding when I text you about how excited I am to see you. I LOVE hanging out with my clients which end up becoming more like friends and family. It makes me so happy when I see photos of your little babes hitting big milestones when it seems like yesterday I was just shooting their newborn session. I get excited when your little guy makes his first goal a few days after I got to hangout with you for your family. I WILL post all the heart emojis on instagram when I see that my senior is happy and enjoying the last year of High school. I get SO excited when I see the bride and groom from a few months ago are announcing there's a new little life on the way! This small business has become one of my BIGGEST blessings because of YOU!
YOU are what make me keep doing what Im doing. Your prayers and encouragement for me and my family push me to go the extra mile and when I serve you and get to love you my cup runs over.
But I want to be honest with you friends. For about a week or so I wasn't thinking about those things.
A few weeks ago I had a horrible reaction. My face blistered up, my eyes started to swell, and I was SO embarrassed. I went to three different doctors in one week. I was trying everything I could to get it to go away. Was told I couldn't wear makeup for months, I would have to use a cream every day, and I needed to stop using my contacts for a little while. I was so mortified to see people, especially my clients.
I was a photographer. I was suppose to be a an example of picture perfect. Who would want someone that looked the way I did to take their photos in the peek of the season?
So I decided to wear a mask. I wore my mask to every shoot explaining that I didn't want to "hurt my clients" eyes and it would go away soon but I was miserable covered up, fogging my glasses, and worrying that I would make them uncomfortable and they may not choose to use me next time even if they insisted they didn't mind.
Then one day It just hit me. Why did you start photography?
You guys It wasn't because of the way I looked, the way I dressed, or the way I presented myself.
It has always been about the way I love, serve, and offer my creativity to you.
I was telling my clients how amazing they looked no matter what but I wasn't telling myself.
I wasn't being the example I wanted to be to my seniors, little girls, or even my daughters.
My clients were literally telling me to take off the mask because they didn't book with me because of how I looked.
They booked with me because of how I hype them up when they nailed a pose, how I literally jump up and down when we get the perfect shot, how I squeeze their babies when we wrap up a session, or how I spend an extra 30 minutes with that new Mama that needs a friend just for a little bit.
So I took my mask off and do you know what happened?
I was still booking sessions
I was still hugging those babies
I was still giving Mama a minute of normalcy
I was still screaming for my beautiful seniors
Remember why you're here and what gets you up in the morning.
For me it will always be my family and what I feel God has led me to do.
In this season of life, its to love and serve YOU!!
Everyone goes through insecure, hard, crazy, wild, times in their lives.
WE ALL HAVE BAD DAYS
WE ALL HAVE BAD WEEKS
WE ALL DONT HAVE TO LIVE THERE
And when one of my daughters comes to me and shes gotten a little off course. Ill tell her exactly what I am telling you.
People won't remember what you looked like or what you did, They will always remember how you made them feel. Remember why you're here and why you're doing what you're doing.
And one more thing, remember to be kind to yourself too.
What brings you through it
I should be in bed.
I have little people to dress, feed, chase, and love early tomorrow morning...but late nights have become more and more common in this busy season of life. We're all hustling and bustling around preparing for all the holidays, making sure its special for our little ones, and more so on my end squeezing in family sessions for gifts and Christmas cards.
More and more this holiday season I realize that my plate is full of large families and I love every second.. but I also want to remind you of a few things:
Families aren't perfect.
They are quirky and silly.
They laugh until they cry.
They have dark days together.
They have heavenly days.
They support each other through their struggles.
They are awkward.
They are blunt.
They lift each other when one may not be able to move one more step forward.
They all have little bit of heartache.
They all take turns lifting the other above water.
And then forgive again.
We are all tied up in the idea that everyone else around us doesn't struggle, that they have it all together, or they have no worries in the world. It's so easy to fall into that trap. Even I get caught off guard when people make comments to me that Ive got a perfect life or I have it all and while that's flattering and I wouldn't change my crew for the world I just want to shake them into reality. In my mind I think to myself I just want to show you some of my darkest days.
It happened again at the grocery store last week. " You must have never had to deal with XYZ. Maybe one day Ill get to where you are."
This gives me knots in my stomach.
I know I have been blessed beyond measure. I will never compare my worries and trials to another hardships but friend, we ALL have troubles. I have had to do more healing, working, forgiving, praying then I could have ever imaged to get here.
And then I started thinking "If only I could play a rewind of the days where I didn't know where life was taking me. The days I was scared. The days I didn't know how I could ever get through some of the mountains or the people trying to pull me off course. The days where I didn't know if I could cry another tear. The days where the only thing that could keep me going was my family's love and a whole lot of Jesus's grace... ONE MORE TIME SIERRA... my family's love and a whole lot of Jesus's grace.
like a train, it hit me. I've been giving the dark parts of my story way too much attention.
Because our darkest places aren't even what its about.
It's what brings you through it.
What heals your heart.
What brings you back down on your knees.
Now don't get me wrong, I LOVE capturing perfect photos that you can hang on your wall. What Mama doesn't? BUT I hope when you look at your family photos you don't JUST see happy smiling faces. I hope you see all the feelings of healed heartache, honored loss, cheering each other on, laughing at life's messes, crying together, laughing together.
I hope it strikes the emotions of triumph or unity that you have conquered if you are part of the family pictured.
I hope it makes you feel happy when you see a family spending one of those heavenly, belly laugh days in front of my camera.
But most of all I hope even on the worst of days you look at your family photos and remember what brings you through it too.
Hes Got You
You are two. Your feet are dangling off the side of the bed. You're trying to get down but you're afraid. You know the ground is right below you but your little legs don't quite make it. What if you fall? Your Mom is behind you. She tells you its okay, just slide down. She knows you aren't going to fall. You are so close your little toes almost graze the floor. She's watching you and telling you she promises its okay but you know you need her. You love and trust her but want to feel her before you let go. She knows you need her and leans down to help you. Instead of picking you right up she lower you to the floor. She wants you to see just how close you were and how you knew you could do it even when you didn't believe in yourself. She wanted you to do it yourself even if it was her holding you on the way down. She knew you could hear her but your fear was holding you back.
Im always wondering just how far the fall will be when I know its time to take the next step. Sometimes even thinking a few steps ahead makes me want to crawl under the blanket. I know God wants me to jump but Im afraid.
I can see my dreams.
I can see my goals.
I can see a future I have always wanted but it feels too far away.
It feels impossible. He's watching me. He's telling me to
but I need to feel him. I need him to sign, date, and deliver the sign that it's time to do the things he has laid on my heart. I know Gods there but I am always waiting to feel him before my toes hit the floor.
But just when I think Im about to fall, just when Im questioning all my decisions, just when Im starting to cry for him he lowers me down to the floor. He shows me just how close I actually was. It felt so far away but he brought me flat on my feet in seconds. God has always been there to pick me up but he wants me to slide down by myself. He wants me to know I am brave enough and when I hear him its time to let go.
I get busy and carried away with things that really aren't that important. I was rounding up my kids getting them all ready for school this morning when my littlest babe just couldn't make it down her bed without me beside her.
Thats when God grabbed my attention and I knew right then he was there and I had to share this with you too. I know its so hard to believe in yourself or trust the one who sees the floor inches from your feet but being faithful is a choice. It's always been a choice.
One day my small girl will realize she is brave and choose faith. She will hear my voice and jump off her bed without even looking down. I am learning to brave. I am learning to choose faith. .
If your still hanging from the side wondering how in the world you're going to get down or even if you could even survive this fall.....Listen for the voice thats telling you everything will be okay.
He's got you..