The Best (and easiest!) S'mores Bars Ever!

In middle school I had the classic bestie. (Think “best friends” heart necklace and passing notes in the hallway between classes.) But things turned south in 8th grade (Think “Mean Girls” secret three way call where the goal was for me to divulge incriminating evidence—didn’t work, btw.)

Fortunately, even though we parted ways I came out on the other side with one of my favorite recipes of all time. Her mom would make these amazing S’mores Bars and I quickly procured the recipe for my own mom to try.

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The first time she did it didn’t go so well. The graham cracker crust was delicious, but the directions never stated the order to put the chocolate chips and marshmallows and in typical “bar” fashion my mom placed chocolate chips on the very top. They were fine, but not spectacular, and I insisted she made them wrong and to try again by putting the marshmallows on top.

She dismissed my sassy middle-school-girl comment and it took months for me to convince her to make them again. She did and placed the marshmallows on top, and although I hate to say it, I was right. This version of the bars were sooo much better and quickly became a staple in our household as well.

I inherited the recipe and make them All. The. Time. They’re a total crowd pleaser. And they’re E-A-S-Y.

And I am gifting this treasure to you so you can be the hit of the party. You’re welcome. Just be sure to put the marshmallows on top because they need to get nice and toasty, and if they’re under the chocolate chips they will NOT get toasted. So enjoy and share the love. And let’s be honest, most of the time you’ll be doubling this recipe and making it in a 9x13. Trust me.

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August: One Roll, One Kid | Minneapolis Newborn and Family Photographer

Can I let you in on something? It honestly feels wrong to type this, but I think it gives insight into this month’s round of the project and could serve as a reminder to myself in the future. So here goes: this month I started feeling bored of this challenge.

So now I sound like a jerk, but let me explain why I’m admitting this out loud. There are plenty of areas as a creative that can at first feel all fresh and fun and then as it starts to drag on it feels monotonous and much harder to rouse up the inspiration.

But I think that’s when the magic happens.

I’m NOT saying these are magical shots, but digging past the boredom and finding the creativity is a magical action. And one that I believe leads to more creativity and more magic in the future.

Sometimes feeling fresh and new can lead to default motions because I’m inherently excited about what I’m doing. When I’m not inherently excited then I have to start digging deep within myself to find the inspiration in unexpected ways. And let me tell you, that inspiration isn’t the same kind of “I can’t wait to shoot this!” I felt at the beginning. It’s more of a “let’s throw these ideas to the wall and see what sticks.”

It’s much less exciting to be sitting in the latter camp, but we. all. find. ourselves. there.

This is NOT to invalidate the other months of this project. I love getting my kids in the studio or following them around for the month to capture who they are, but I had no need to dig deep those months.

This month I took the opportunity to do something I had never done before, which is pull a roll of film. If you’re confused about pushing vs. pulling film (and don’t be ashamed if you are!) visit the article I wrote for Shoot It With Film.

I took a roll of Kodak Tri-X 400, rated it at 100 and pulled it only one stop (so I developed it as if I had shot it at 200. These times are found on the Massive Dev Chart app, which I use every time I develop black and white film.)

I also played more with double exposures and just overall let my kid be grumpy about taking photos. Sometimes you just gotta work with what you have. I also used my Epson v600 to scan these after the PC died that I had my Noritsu scanner hooked up to. It was a month full of firsts; some of them conjured and some of them forced upon me.

So although I hope you enjoy this round, I’m more excited about pushing past and digging deep when the creativity isn’t naturally flowing. So push past; dig deep friends.

Be sure to check out the entire round of talented ladies; start here with Jennifer Stamps!




July: One Roll, One Kid | Minneapolis Family, Newborn, and Senior Photographer

So, yes, this post is late. BUT in all fairness, I shot this roll in July, I just didn’t get the post up until August. This month was the Baby Of The Family’s turn and with the weather being gorgeous, we shot the roll outside. He was willing to do the shoot if he could bring his favorite toys with him (a race car being his most treasured possession and the police car being among his top 5 faves.). I obliged because I know I will want to remember his obsession, especially with the race car. He carries that thing around everywhere; other children have their stuffies and blankies, but he has his hard, metal toy that he has completely gutted out of some act of extreme love.

So without further ado, here is July’s submission for One Roll, One Kid. These were shot on a Nikon F100 with Kodak Gold 200, rated at 200, self-developed, and scanned on a Noritsu LS-600.



June: One Roll, One Kid | Minneapolis Family and Newborn Photographer

Does anyone else feel like June flew by? The beauty of developing and scanning my own film is I was able to sneak this project in even though I didn’t do it until the last minute 😬 It was my middle kid’s turn to be the star of the project in the month of June (although he didn’t see it that way. I definitely had to bribe him with TV time to get him to cooperate.). I tried to do something different this month, so I hand fogged the film and I did lots of double exposures. The hand fogging is such a wildcard and this round turned out very subtle; I swept the film with pink and blue and you can just kind of see some pink color shifting across the images and small splotches of blue if you are really looking for it. The double exposures were mostly a miss but I’m posting them here for you to judge as you wish 😂 These were shot on a Nikon n80 on Fuji 200 film. To get a rundown of my studio set-up, visit my January post for details and links! Be sure to check out Charlene Hardy’s take on the project for this month!



May: One Roll, One Kid | Minneapolis Family and Newborn Photographer

For May’s submission to the One Roll, One Kid Project I convinced my eldest (my most camera-adverse) to step into my “studio” (read: basement with a backdrop and strobe light) and I was in shock when he actually cooperated. I think all it took was bribing him with a granola bar so I can tell he’s maturing.

Lately he’s been into all the dance moves and if you have an elementary schooler, you’ll know all current dance moves come from Fortnite whether or not your child is allowed to play the game. I found out my eldest told his friends he plays it because they all said they play it; his teacher confirmed she hears him and his friends chatting about Fortnite and it’s clear none of them actually know what they’re talking about 😂

I was convinced this month’s submission would primarily be shot outdoors because May is typically a glorious month in Minnesota but it’s been cold and rainy. One of the coldest Mays on record, so we’re all just trying to survive. I shot this roll on HP5+ on my Nikon F100, rated it at 400 and pushed a stop. I definitely overexposed, so you can see it’s relatively flat and has increased grain. You win some, you lose some.

Here’s hoping for a nicer June and some outside photos!



April: One Roll, One Kid | Minneapolis Family and Senior Photographer

I admit that my children are growing impatient with my taking photos for this project; I think I’d have to buy a new backdrop to get them excited ;) So for April many aspects of this project are different than other months.

1. I couldn’t convince all my boys to get an entire roll. In fact, I couldn’t even get one of my kids to cooperate for an entire roll in one sitting so the roll is more of a survey of the month. Some are in “studio”, others around the house, and the last ones at a playground.

2. This month only features my littlest because he’s the most cooperative and he’s home with me all day so there are more opportunities.

3. This set is in black and white, which I realized none of my others have been! I absolutely love black and white but for whatever reason haven’t been using it for this project.

This set was shot on my Nikon FE and self-developed in HC-110b (If you want to learn how to develop your own black and white, click here!). I’ve been trying to force myself to pick up my FE more often because I realize my muscle memory for manual focus has gone down the drain and I’m wanting to force myself to recover that. I only had a 50mm and 85mm that worked with this camera, so after Christmas I went out and got a new-to-me 24mm 2.8 for those moments I needed a wider view and so far I am loving this little $70 lens! These were shot on Kodak TMax 400 at 1250 and pushed 2 stops in development.

There’s a whole crew of us tackling this One Kid, One Roll project in 2019! Be sure to check out Jennifer Stamp’s April results here!


March: One Roll, One Kid | Minneapolis Family, Senior, and Newborn Photographer

It’s the end of March and finally the sun is giving off its warm, spring light and copious amounts of snow are in the process of melting. After a pretty brutal winter, 45 degrees is feeling more like 70 and the children of Minneapolis are hopping on their bikes for the first time in months in spite of the lingering remnants of winter.

Fingers crossed April’s project will be shot more outside (not because I don’t love my studio set up but because my kids - and possibly you - are getting sick of it.). But for now, enjoy a BRAND NEW BACKDROP that actually has color!

Once again I totally “cheated” on the One Roll, One Kid parameters of the project. This time I photographed all three of my children on 1.5 rolls of film. AND when I was photographing my eldest, the littlest walked into the frame and they had some moments together. I included those because they’re too cute.

I also know when to pick my battles and with how reluctant my kiddos were, I allowed them to wear their pajamas for the shots. This means there’s ALL THE COLORS in these shots, which is a little shocking to the eyes, so beware.

The films I used were Kodak ColorPlus 200 (rated at 200) and Portra 160 (rated at 160). The ColorPlus turned out way more saturated than I expected and I’m not in love with it, while the Portra 160 is just exactly as I hoped it would be. Portra 160 is one of my FAVES and I’m loving experimenting with it outdoors, with strobes, and pushing it. It’s versatile and skin tones always turn out sooo pretty!

I also self-developed these in extremely old chemicals and the Portra 160 handled it beautifully while the ColorPlus seemed to have issues, so if you see some weird coloring and water spots, I apologize but also ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I’ve had some people ask about my studio set up lately so I am including a link to everything I used:

+ Savage Seamless Paper in Turquoise

+ Backdrop Stand

+ AlienBee 800 Strobe Light (I found mine used on Facebook but you can find them here too.)

+ Diffuser Umbrella

+ Yongnuo Triggers

There’s a whole, amazing crew participating in this challenge in 2019, so be sure to check out Charlene Hardy‘s March contribution!






















Session Intention | Amy Berge Twin Cities Family, Newborn, and Senior Photographer

I was engaging in a discussion with some other photographers about our intention when creating portraits , especially regarding commissioned work, and it suddenly dawned on me that although I have given my own intention A LOT of thought, I don’t communicate it. 

I try to communicate it through my portfolio but it’s helpful to read what these intentions are. Hiring an artist is an investment and it should be my job to give you information so you know you’re making a choice that’s a good fit and ultimately worth your hard-earned money. 

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Any time you hire a photographer you are commissioning her to create art.  And because art is subjective there is no one-size-fits-all photographer.  Photographers range from studio to on-location, strobes to all-natural light, film to digital, light and airy to dark and moody and all the greys in between. 

And just like you wouldn’t expect an artist to be an expert at watercolor and charcoal, you shouldn’t expect a photographer who primarily shoots beautiful weddings to also rock it for head shots.  (Some do! But don’t assume 😉)  

So where do I fall on the spectrum?  

These are probably the things you DO see in my portfolio but it’s worth mentioning them. 

 I do most of my work on location, either outdoors or in-home.  

I do have a backdrop rig, most often for headshots, but not a studio (although the idea is extremely intriguing, it’s not feasible at the moment.)  

I always shoot with natural light at outdoor sessions and use a strobe (think the flash from school picture day) for in-home sessions that need an extra boost of light.  

I had to use a strobe at this in-home session on a classic Minnesota dreary, winter day. Strobe makes it dreary-no-more!

I had to use a strobe at this in-home session on a classic Minnesota dreary, winter day. Strobe makes it dreary-no-more!

I am an all-film photographer who loves vibrant, warm colors but also a rich, contrasty black and white shot, so I wouldn’t label myself as either light and airy or dark and moody. 

I love photographing seniors in high school, families (including maternity and newborn), and headshots.  So basically I don’t do weddings ;)  

Now on to the particulars you might not know about my commissioned work.

I take creating art for you very seriously and it has taken me years to refine my goals and how to achieve them at a session. 

 I don’t see that refining process ever being complete during my tenure as a photographer; as I change and mature and study I know it helps me hone in on what to achieve and how to approach sessions.  

Headshots are their own beast so the rest of the journal will be specific to seniors and family sessions.  

For these sessions I see my goals as three-pronged :

1.  I want to capture the smiling, everyone-look-at-the-camera shot. It doesn’t excite me creatively but it is SO, SO IMPORTANT. 

For seniors this would be the classic yearbook shot and for families this is the shot where you can see everyone’s face; it will be passed down the generations because it documents who was there and what they looked like at the time.  

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I don’t spend a lot of our time getting this shot, and although I might revisit this shot a few times during our session, I will only include a few of them in your gallery (more for seniors so they have a perfect yearbook option).  I don’t see a need for 20 of these from a single session.  To me, this shot is akin to the “vacation shot”. You know, the one where you want to make sure you document the family vacation so you hand your camera off to a stranger and cheese.  It’s a super important one to have but you don’t need a lot of them and basically anyone can do it.  

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2.  What excites me are the emotion-filled shots and these are the bulk of what I shoot and deliver.

 A high school senior spinning, feeling excitement and trepidation on the precipice of adulthood. A mama smelling her new baby.  Siblings fighting and laughing.  A father swinging his little boy who is growing all-too-quickly.  These are the shots that tell a story.  

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Because I am not a documentary photographer, I come into sessions already having something to say about being a family, having a newborn, being a high school senior.  BUT lest you think my vision will supersede your reality, think again.  I could (I don’t, but I could) have the exact same shot list in mind for every single session and no two sessions would turn out the same.  At each session, I intersect with you.  I bring my intentions and you provide your own dynamics and that’s where the art is made.  

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3.  I also like to try to leave room for some experimentation. 

This could involve shooting a roll specifically so that I can try a technique on it  (maybe fogging it or doing film soup on it.)  It could mean shooting some new double exposures or funky posing I have in mind to communicate my thoughts on family or high school.  But no matter what it is, I view these as in addition to category 1 and 2.  Sometimes they don’t turn out but when they do I feel reenergized as a creative, so I do my darnedest to try to fit some experimentation in.  

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What excites me about the second and third categories is that this is what I want to hang as a giant canvas on MY walls.  The smiling shot matters but the commissioned art comes in the latter categories.  I want the emotion filled, light leaked, film souped, blurry love hanging on my walls.  That’s the stuff that speaks to real life, tugs on my heart, makes me think. These are the shots that can only be created when you and I come together to make art.  

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Are Newborn Photos Worth It? | Twin Cities Lifestyle In-Home Family and Newborn Photographer

I was recently talking with my husband Dave about a friend who is pregnant and he asked me “Do you think they’ll get newborn photos?” I was a little surprised by this question and I responded that I had no clue, but then I asked him if he thought they should. I admit I was taken aback by his adamant response that they absolutely SHOULD get newborn photos.

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Now, don’t get me wrong, I obviously find newborn photography important but I was just a little surprised that Dave felt the same way. We’re not known for luxury or frivolous spending, but as someone who has completely bought into the value of photographs I view sessions with the right photographer as a luxury but most definitely not frivolous. I realized he felt the same way as he started to go off about how important newborn photography is.

Before having children I would bet that he would’ve thought newborn photography rather unnecessary, but now that our children are 7, 5, and 3 we have hindsight to our advantage.

There are many reasons to get newborn photos, but in this entry I will highlight the top 3 reasons Mr. Berge and I found as being the most important.

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This too shall pass!

As Gretchen Rubin said “the days are long but the years are short”. After having a baby, my friend awoke to her husband talking in his sleep and he was saying “slong.” In his dream this was the word he was using to talk about the contradiction of this time of life.

Those newborn days are truly a slog and yet before you know it 7.5 years have passed, you have three children, and two of them are in school. I felt like our eldest was going to be a baby forever, but -spoiler alert- he wasn’t. So putting off having photos is only putting off capturing this fleeting time and your sleep-deprived self can’t afford to do this 😉

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They change so darn quickly.

Before you know it your newborn will be a baby and your baby will quickly turn into a toddler. Within 6 months you will have forgotten just how small your baby was at birth. Without photos you’ll forget that soft tuft of hair she was born with, the expression he gave as soon as you picked him up, the way she constantly calmed down when you swaddled her. Because before you know it your baby won’t be this same way anymore and it’s my job to capture it before it’s gone.

That being said, if you’ve missed getting newborn photos within the first couple weeks, do not let this deter you, but I encourage you to book now. Even if your sweet baby is 1, 2, 3 months old he still has plenty of changing to do for the rest of his first year. Those things he does and the way he looks at 2 months will quickly become distant memory as he turns 6, 9, and 12 months. Capturing your baby at any time in the first year is a good thing!

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They want to know their story and you want to remember it too.

Let’s be honest, those new baby days are blurry ones. I had to remind my husband how he would walk or drive one of our babies around just so I could get some sleep at night—he had actually forgotten he did this! I am completely convinced if I hadn’t taken so many photos even more memories would be forgotten.

Photos have a way of preserving memories and at this time of life you need all the help you can get. Having photos helps you remember and retell the story of your kiddo’s beginning. My boys each love picking up his baby book, perusing through the photos, and hearing about how fussy he was, how much he loved his brother, and the way he ate his carrots. But even more importantly, when children look at photos of themselves with their mom/dad/sibling they see they’re loved and that they belong. That’s their story and they love seeing it.

For these reasons (and more) it’s become a motto around here that:

“You never regret the pictures you have taken.”

AKA

You regret 100% of the pictures you don’t take
— Wayne Gretzky-Michael Scott-Amy Berge





February: One Roll, One Kid | Minneapolis Newborn, Family, and Senior Photographer

We’re two months into the One Roll, One Kid project and I’m still in love with it. I think it’s nice to start projects like these in the winter months when I need a little help with inspiration for personal work. The kids have had 6 (SIX) snow and cold days in the last few weeks so we’ve gone a little stir crazy around here (I don’t think I had six cold and snow days in ALL my K-12 years!) But I’ve put them in my basement “studio” quite a bit to try to entertain us. My oldest really hates having his picture taken and my other two are hit or miss, but for some reason they kind of seem to enjoy being in front of a backdrop and doing their thing. Maybe the flash of the strobe makes them feel like it’s a legit photoshoot and not just Mom snapping her camera away at them. Who knows, but whatever it is I’m enjoying it! I won’t do this challenge studio-style every month but I’m super into it right now so just enjoy it for what it is 😉

For over a year my only backdrop has been Storm Gray Seamless Paper by Savage but I want to buy alllll the colors, so this month I branched out and invested in Pure White. (Spoiler alert: I bought an actual color, which recently arrived, so don’t worry I’m not all whites and greys.). I am fortunate enough to have a local photography store that I bought this from so it was instant gratification.

I shot off a roll of Portra 160 on my Nikon F100 and developed it the next day. Just like in January, I kind of broke the rules this month, but this time I just shot all three of my kiddos on one roll. But I photographed them one at a time, so I feel like I followed the spirit of the project, ya know?

If you’re wanting a list to my studio supplies, you can find them in my January’s One Roll, One Kid post!

There’s a whole crew of us doing this project in 2019; click here to check out Dena’s February post!