Why I Still Shoot Film | Twin Cities Family and Senior Photographer

 A film image taken of a film camera….very meta.

A film image taken of a film camera….very meta.

When people find out I shoot film, I often hear a response of shock and wonder (and sometimes confusion). Sometimes clients don’t even realize I shoot film until I’m reloading during a session. The people who think it’s cool love that it’s just so retro…so analog. (It’s maybe no surprise that in my house we also have a collection of records.) And to the people who are confused, I get it. Why, in a world of digital and all of its conveniences, would I CHOOSE (on purpose) to shoot film?

And you’d be right, digital is easier than film in so many ways, two of the biggies being that it’s more convenient and cheaper. Film shooters can’t chimp during a session and they have to buy film and pay costs associated with developing it and scanning it; why would anyone do this? It’s a totally fair question and I’d love to tell you why I still shoot film.

Dear film, you are amazing.

1. Let me clear the air of this right away: for me not being able to chimp is a feature, not a bug of film photography. When I shot digital I would leave sessions with hundreds (and I mean huuuun-dreds….sometimes over 1,000) shots taken in 1-2 hours. And it’s not because I was seeing 1,000 awesome moments to capture, it’s because I wasn’t taking the time to set up the shots I wanted to capture and then waiting for the magic to happen. This is not to say that I don’t have magical shots from my digital days, I do; I just know that if my face is behind the camera for 1,000 shots during a session, that means I’m less able to connect with my clients and that’s the opposite of my goal during sessions. Shooting film has just meant I’ve learned to become an artist with intention and that’s a win for everyone.

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2. I think the real confusion sets in when I tell people that I scan my negatives so I can have digital files to edit and send to clients. Huh? Why in the world would you shoot film just to end up with a digital file? To the people who say this: you have good logic. To answer this (really good) question, let me first be briefly techie. When digital photographers shoot, most often they shoot in RAW and then take that RAW file into some sort of editing program to work with it. These RAW files are exactly how they sound; they’re like uncooked meat, they are meant to be edited before sending them to clients. This is when photographers spend money buying or time creating presets to get the look they want. I spent a lot of money on presets trying to get just the right look out of my digital files, and I was ultimately never satisfied with them; I still had to make plenty of edits after applying these presets and that meant a LOT of time in front of my computer.

With film, I scan the negatives to get a jpg file but the film emulsion does the work of a preset. I get a fully-cooked file when I digitize them. And when I edit, I’m often only tweaking the brightness, white balance, and maybe contrast. My husband loves that I barely spend any time editing and I’m HAPPIER with my final result.

3. Speaking of negatives, in this age of illusive files and things living on ephemeral technology, it is incredibly important to have something tangible. Obviously I encourage my clients to print their photos but unlike immaterial files living in a cloud, negatives are tangible and last a very, very long time. In 2011 my eldest son had his first Christmas and the digital images from that time are gone. I even had my computer backing up to an external drive, but due to the unpredictability of technology even those disappeared. If I had taken those photos on film, the images wouldn’t be lost forever because I could re-scan the negatives.

 I. Love. Light. Leaks.

I. Love. Light. Leaks.

4. Film is nostalgic and imperfect and beautiful. It’s what the photos of our youth were taken on; having that connection to the past excites me. Taking photos of my children that they will cherish forever on a camera that was built before I was born and using a film that I used to buy at the local drug store when I was a teen links the past to the present to the future, and how beautiful is that? I also love that it isn’t as crisp and sharp as digital; the grain adds texture and dimension to images and makes them feel more like stolen moments and ultimately speaks to me as an artist.

5. Experimentation. Oh my word, I LOVE that film lends itself to so much experimentation. Light leaks! Fogging! Film Soup! I love it allllll! One of the signatures of my work has become light leaks (these are achieved by slightly opening up the back of the camera to get sweeps of color over an image). I love light leaks because they’re unpredictable and ramp up the emotion of any image they touch; they also add even more dimension to images (and clearly adding dimension is a fave of mine ;)

6. Ultimately it’s the medium with which I best connect. Some artists connect with watercolor, some with sculpture, some with words, some with digital cameras, and I with film. No artist should apologize for the medium they love!

This was about as concise as I could make my love of film. If you still have questions please drop them below! ,

Taking The Stress Out Of Outfits | Minneapolis Family And Newborn Photographer

Far and away the most frequent question I get from moms after booking a session is:

What should we wear?

 For my own family’s photos I chose a color palette of blues, grays, and pops of red. (Image by  Ally Wasmund )

For my own family’s photos I chose a color palette of blues, grays, and pops of red. (Image by Ally Wasmund)

Gone are the days of matchy-matchy or everyone coming to a family session all dressed in Canadian Tuxedos, but you know what? Not wearing the exact same outfit makes choosing outfits that much more challenging. If you dress your entire family in black shirts and jeans you can cross that item off your list almost immediately. Coming in perfectly coordinated outfits is much, much more challenging.

That being said, there is a formula for coordinating!

The bad news is that it takes more effort than matching. The good news is that I’m going to give you my formula here. The extra good news is that you’re going to look SO STINKIN’ GOOD in your family photos.

Before I give you the formula for outfits, let’s set some parameters. Not all outfits are created equally and these parameters are meant to help you feel and look good.

If you listen to anything I say here, let it be this: Moms, pick your outfit first. Let it be something that you feel fabulous in.

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You are beautiful and you should FEEL that way at your session; this is why your outfit is the most important. Do not be afraid to get totally gussied up, even if the session is in your own home. I’m a big believer in the mom wearing a long, flowy dress or skirt because there’s something so beautiful and romantic about that. (and I find it very difficult to not feel great in a flowy outfit). As a bonus, long dresses/skirts are easy to sit in or squat in without tugging and worrying about modesty.

Beware of plunging neck lines. I do a fair amount of shooting overhead and if you’re worried about a straight shot down, either don’t wear it or put a camisole underneath. There’s nothing sadder than not being able to use a fabulous photo because you’re showing awkward amounts of skin.

Also be careful about sleeves. For example, large bell sleeves add additional fabric to the arms, and while they can look fantastic in person, when you’re on camera they can have a tendency to widen people’s arms and bodies. Stick to sleeves that are delicate and don’t have any more fabric than necessary.

At a loss as to where to shop? I recommend checking out stores like Gap, Asos, Rolee, and Clad and Cloth.

Avoid stark whites and blacks because they can photograph like giant blobs on camera. Opt instead for creamy ivories, delicate pinks, deep charcoals, and navys. It will give something for the film to grab onto.

Be aware of the location.  When shooting in nature, wearing green can be tricky, but light pinks or blues will definitely go with the surroundings. The trend right now is definitely on the romantic side (airy colors, and light earthy tones including creams and khakis).  These muted colors also tend to complement a nature setting, as opposed to competing with it.  

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My last parameter is to play with textures and layers! From chunky knits to fuzzy vests to eyelet shirts or layering on a cardigan or taking that plaid shirt and pairing a sweater over it…these are going to give plain colors added depth and dimension and up your crew’s outfit game.

You’re finally ready for it….

How to dress your family to coordinate without matching:

Depending on your family size, pick 3-4 colors for your family to wear.  Not everyone has to wear all the colors, but each person should be wearing a color that at least one other person is wearing.  (For example, if someone is wearing a pink skirt, someone else might have pink detailing in a dress, or a pink shirt.)

Obviously, rules are made to be broken. But if you’re looking for a jumping off point, this formula will get you headed in the right direction!

If you want more inspiration, click for a Pinterest board featuring families on their outfit A-game.

Don’t forget: as your photographer I’m here to help you! You’re always free to text me clothing options and I would love to help you make decisions!







In Defense Of Posing | Minneapolis Family Photographer

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When I first started photographing families and I created my website, I touted the fact that I was a “documentary-style photographer”. And yet, I wasn’t going into peoples’ homes to document their daily living, I was taking them to a field, expecting them to act “naturally” (whatever the means), and praying they’d do exactly what I had in mind. In all honesty, I wanted to photograph the love, energy, chaos, and intimacy of a family but I didn’t know how to do that.

If you’ve ever been on the other side of the camera you know that the one thing you want is to be told what to do.

When you’re on that other side, you have NO idea what you look like, what the scene looks like, how the energy is reading, and it makes you feel insecure. When you don’t know what to do, your default is to stand up straight and smile at the camera for every. single. shot.

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Ironically, NOT posing can make the entire session feel stiffer than what good posing can do!

At photo shoots, I think of myself as a director, guiding the people on the other side. When you stop worrying about WHAT to do, you can relax and focus on the love for and connection with your family. Not only is that kind of photo shoot more fun but it will also give you pictures you will cherish forever.

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Photographing Seniors Has Never Been More Fun | Minneapolis Senior Photographer

If you saw my last post you read my confession about family photography; I didn’t always love it and it took a very special community to open my eyes to the possibilities. Photographing seniors, on the other hand, I have always loved.

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This may be a little “chicken and egg”…but do I love photographing seniors because I have worked with teens for many years or do I just love working with teens which is why I like photographing seniors?

Either way, senior photography will always be near and dear to my heart.

It remains my one outlet for working with teens. After 5 years of teaching high school math and 6+ years volunteering in youth ministry, I am extremely grateful to still have this contact with high schoolers.

So why I do I love photographing seniors so much? Part of it has to do with the fact that for 1.5-2 hours I get to focus on a single person. I get to learn about the senior’s classes, friends, passions, and potential future. It’s truly an intimate experience and by the end I am genuinely sad it’s over.

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The teen years are ones when they’re just trying to figure out who they are and their place in the world. Some days it can feel like a minor miracle to just feel comfortable in their own skin. I LOVE that it gets to be my job to empower teenagers and get them to not only feel comfortable in front of the camera but love the images they see in their galleries. My favorite compliment is hearing that extremely tentative seniors had lots of fun and enjoyed their sessions <3

I know finding that one photographer in a sea of photographers can be stressful and I hope this eases your mind. I truly love senior photography and I can’t wait to photograph you.




I Used To Be Scared Of Photographing Families...Now I Love It | Minneapolis Family Photographer

Let’s address the elephant in the room: this is my first blog post in about 5 years. I’m not even sure what happened to my old blog; I’m probably still paying for it ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. It took about five years for me to be in a place where I could dedicate more time to my photography business. Two of my three kids are in school, my littlest is three, and already I can foresee a day soon enough in which I will be home alone all day. (And by “all day”, I mean until 2pm when they get home.)

Amy Berge Family Photographer Minneapolis Fun

Photography has remained my outlet and I hope to never stop doing it; it allows me to connect with others yet retreat to my computer (the perfect combo for my part-extroverted/part-introverted self) and it forces me to be creative, which it turns out excites and energizes me.

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The biggest thing that has changed in the last five years is my love of family photography. I have always loved senior photography, and I will touch on that in a later post, but my love of family photography is kind of recent. Truth be told, I used to like it okay, but only for people I already knew. In my mind family photography entailed people looking at the camera and smiling and if you’re lucky, maybe a few shots of them playing.

But one day I joined a Facebook group and it so happened that quite a few of the members were family photographers. And what they posted blew my mind. They weren’t showing photos of families stiffly smiling at the camera, they were showing photos of families as families.

That’s when I saw family photography can be emotional, powerful, beautiful, art.

Don’t get me wrong, I am still out to capture the ever-so-important photo of the entire family smiling at the camera, but now I know that I can capture ALL the feels. The love, the energy, the chaos, the excitement of being a family will show up in your gallery. Something that felt scary is now one of my very favorite things to do. And that feels freeing.

Amy Berge Family Photographer Twin Cities Fun