Experimenting with Various Film Stocks: Kodak Ektar 100!

Kodak Ektar 100

I’m going to start with Ektar in this series of posts, because it has definitely been a favorite of mine! The whole previous post I published last week about my time at the farmers’ market was shot with Ektar, so I won’t repeat those shots here, but please do check it out! One interesting thing I have learned while shooting Ektar is that your regional location has a white balance unique to that area and it greatly changes the results you get. I know, that sounds a little silly and like common sense. But when I shot Ektar on a winter day in North Carolina versus on a sunny March day in the desert of Joshua Tree, California, the results were different than expected! But I still loved each set of shots!

Why I love Ektar: (1) I can overexpose it by one or two stops and it looks gorgeous; (2) some people think it looks to red/pink for portraits but you’ll see below that that’s not always the case and I love it for portraits; (3) grain is minimal unless you’re shooting it in low light, which I also love (seriously, I’m a sucker for film grain!); (4) it gives you gorgeous, punchy colors so it’s awesome for produce, tropics, urban environments, etc! My favorite rule for shooting Ektar is that there are no rules. Seriously. Try it every which way in every type of environment in every type of weather situation and see what happens! You’ll see with all of my photos below that you can get such fun, different results shooting it every which way!

All of the following Ektar photos were scanned and developed by The FIND Lab, and shot with my NIkon F100. All are unedited by me so you can see what it looks like coming from the lab.

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Falling in Love with Pittsboro, North Carolina: The Local Farmers of the Chatham Mills Farmers’ Market… on 35mm Film!

Small towns are the soul of, well, everything. Go to any small town in any country, and you will immediately see the true heart of where you are. My family and I have lived in a lot of different places — thank you Air Force for taking my childhood around the world, and then I married a husband with a spirit as adventurous and wanderlusting as my own!). But two years ago fate brought us to Pittsboro, North Carolina. The sweetest small town that I have fallen head over heels in love with. The type of place where your fellow business owners know you by name, and everyone mutually supports each other’s endeavors. Local, indie businesses thrive on community support. Pittsboro has proven itself to be nothing short of incredible as I have set up shop here in town and began rebuilding my client base when I re-established my business here after our big move from Austin, Texas.

One of my favorite happy places to spend time with other awesome, like-minded locals is at the Saturday morning Chatham Mills Farmers’ Market! The farmers are all so sweet and fun and interesting to talk to. So two weeks ago I finally decided to load up my F100 with some film to document all of the beauty just bursting from the gorgeous produce and other handmade goods that the farmers brought out that weekend. The only part that bummed me out a little was that Fiddlehead Farm wasn’t there– they have the BEST bread, jams, and other treats!! I guess I’ll just have to go back with my film again and catch them another time. 😉

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Too uninspired to click the shutter? Here are some excellent pieces of advice straight from other artists (and some great eye candy along the way!)!

Yesterday I had one of those rare mama-solo-outing opportunities… you know, sans kids — nobody throwing shoes at you while you drive, or asking for food every 3.7 minutes, or insisting on turning up Starfox to 11 on his Nintendo DS from the seat behind you to drown out The Lumineers that you so carefully chose to play to suit your mood for the day. Hubby was home and refreshed from a weekend away at HeroesCon, so he sent me on my way for a break and to recharge my batteries! Wahooooo! So, naturally I grabbed my Nikkormat, my F100, and a few rolls of film and was completely determined to shoot ALL of it.

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“Your child has a potty mouth!” “No, he has apraxia.” Life Inside the Apraxia Bubble: Challenges, Resources, Lessons Learned, and a Light at the End of the Tunnel!

Ohh the “profanities” that people think my child is saying! “No, he said CLOCK.” “Yes, sweetie, that’s a TRUCK!” You get the point. And, even if he DID say something profane, who cares! He’s talking!! How many parents have you met that will celebrate ANY word comes out of your child’s mouth and would never dream of telling them to be quiet? 😉

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Joshua Tree on Black and White Film: Desert Adventures and a Luz Studios / Leah MacDonald / Encaustic Photography Workshop!

In March, I had the pleasure of attending a Luz Studios Desert Revival Workshop, hosted by two stellar artists/photographers who joined forces with the always amazing Leah MacDonald, to teach us the art of encaustics + photography in the form of a crazy inspiring retreat in the desert! I don’t know the last time I felt so alive and fulfilled and inspired, totally in my element doing the things that make me oh-so-happy. This post is a collection of my favorite black & white film images from the trip, either shot on my Rolleicord (if it’s square format) or my 35mm Nikkormat (thank you Photovision for the awesome developing and scanning!). My friend and colleague Rachel even took it upon herself to setup a desert sunrise maternity shoot, one of the images from which you’ll see below. She also took some incredible images of me throughout the trip that I’ll share soon! And I’ll upload my color film shots in a later post (my computer died recently and is holding my work hostage for the time being!)!

Oh, and did I mention that in August I’m hopping on a plane across the entire country to Canada to do a part II to this amazing workshop with the same group of incredible artists and instructors!? Ahhhh SO giddy! You still have a few days to snag your seat at the early bird pricing (which is in Canadian dollars, by the way, so cheaper for us U.S. folks!!). It’ll be so worth it. I promise! Join me for an amazing few days in the Canadian PNW!

Lea Ciceraro - Love Me Simply Photography - www.LoveMeSimply.com


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A Beautiful Bridal Session at the Leslie-Alford-Mims House by Love Me Simply Photography | Holly Springs / Raleigh, NC

I have had the pleasure of photographing John & Kourtney’s journey from proposal to wedding day! A few weeks ago, Kourtney and I went to the new Leslie-Alford-Mims House in Holly Springs for her bridal portraits and it was just amazing! I also absolutely loved working with Priscilla and Brooke — such lovely ladies who did an incredible job with this venue! I had an amazing time photographing Kourtney’s bridal portraits, and I am so excited to finally be able to share them with you! I’m looking forward to shooting more portraits and events at this venue in the future.

Love Me Simply Photography Bridal Session

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Why the Daily Photo Challenge / 365 Project / Photo-a-Day Assignment Isn’t For Everyone (and my issues with oversharing in an oversaturated digital world)

I know there are a lot of people who are really into these “projects.” I have friends who are. This is not a diss on you! I love seeing all of your lovely photos and I love when you commit to something and follow through (if it actually is meaningful to you to do so). And if you’re doing something like photographing your child every single day, I do see a lot of value in that because our precious babes grow up so quickly (side note: I’m participating in a film challenge that involves using just one roll in one sitting to photograph your child once a month and I’m so excited about the group of photographers also involved in this community– a manageable and fun learning experience)!

This post, however, is all about what I personally learned after intentionally setting out to take at least one photo per day myself for the last month.

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Engagement Photography in North Carolina | Coffee Shops + Baseball & Softball + Outdoor Adventures = LOVE

Exactly three months from today, two of the most beautiful souls, both inside and out, get married. In three months, John and Kourtney become a family, officially, in the mountains of Asheville, North Carolina.

Photographing love, in every shape and form, is my absolute favorite. So much so, that I wrote my manifesto about what love means to me.

I met John and Kourtney in 2013, and shortly after, John asked me to secretly photograph his proposal to Kourtney at sunrise in December (BRRR!). It was such a special life moment to be a part of!!

Last Fall, I had the pleasure of shooting their engagement photos, and let me tell you, it was amazing!!! The three of us worked SO very hard to make sure it was so uniquely THEM, with a special meaning behind every bit of it. We spent three hours together and went to three different locations!

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show me your heart

Growing up, I was definitely one of those kids who easily gave in to peer pressure. And now I’m comfortable enough in my own skin to admit it. There’s nothing wrong with that since it didn’t lead me down any destructive paths. Everything I experienced growing up, shaped who I am today. I used to want to be one of the “cool” kids (whatever that means). Sometimes it meant trying to hang out with people who only dampened my spirit, and who actually weren’t even being true to themselves. Sometimes it meant dressing in clothes that didn’t speak to my own individuality. I wanted to fit in, and not be an outcast or made fun of. Luckily, my awesome mama frequently told me to ALWAYS BE NICE TO EVERYBODY. Can’t we all just get along and be ourselves? Can we all agree to forever keep the innocent childhood enthusiasm and passion that is so contagious (that’s me in the photo below, by the way)?


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Black & White Challenge

There’s been a nifty little photography challenge going around social media called “The Black and White Challenge.” When someone nominates you to participate, you’re supposed to post a black and white image once a day for 5 days, and nominate a new person each day to participate. I was nominated by a neighbor down the street, and two awesome photographers (and quite incredible women, to boot!!): As Ever Photography and Karen Renee Photography. I’m a bit of a black and white film junkie anyways, so I was more than happy to participate!

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For the love of grain.

Recently I went on a little solo photo excursion to capture some of the uniqueness surrounding our little North Carolina town. I’m quite the black & white junkie, so that’s what I took with me. I shot with my 1972 Nikkormat, and started off with a roll of T-MAX P3200 (expired & discontinued) film (thanks to a friend gifting it to me!). I knew the grain was going to be a challenge with those factors working against me + fading evening light, so I rated it at 1600 (the highest I can rate it with my good ol’ Nikkormat!) and pushed it +1 in processing with The FIND Lab. Once that roll was out, I switched to T-MAX 400 (not expired), and took the same shot! I accidentally left the rating the same, but also pushing that roll +1 helped bring out some contrast. You can see their comparison below (P3200 on top, 400 on bottom). As my husband said, the 400 looks a little less haunted. 😉

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Happy First Day of Fall!

If you’re anything like me, you start soaking in all-things-Fall well before the official first day. For some, it’s the first day Starbucks brings back the Pumpkin Spice Latte (yummm!). For me, it’s usually the start of September that transforms me instantly into Autumn mode! My oldest baby will be five on Halloween (also one of the best holidays) this year (omg!), and my youngest turned one on September 3rd. The hubs and I will celebrate our 16-year (dating) anniversary on October 3rd. Plus, cooler weather means it’s time for pumpkin patches, apple picking, campfires, s’mores, and cozying up with hot chocolate or tea by the fireplace. Plus, the changing leaves and incredible colors are just to die for, too! And not to forget, even my own awesome mama’s birthday is in October (as well as one of my dear friends, Sarah, from Punctuated with Food!)! Oh, now that I mention food, I can’t forget looking forward to Thanksgiving, too!! We lovvve cooking up a good ol’ feast! Fall.is.my.favorite.

Hellloooo Autumn!



www.LoveMeSimply.com | Philosophy | Photo by Rachel Gomez

I am more than a photographer. I’m an artist.

I believe in searching for the right artist that believes in you and understands you, to preserve the love and life that you are living. To preserve your life. One day, a picture might be all you have left to tell your family’s story and keep the legacy going.

I keep authenticity in my work by telling the stories that mean everything to you. I will stay true to you and your life. I will help you have a memorable experience with your loved ones when we’re creating the photos you will hang on your walls, because you deserve some fun downtime while having those moments preserved by someone who truly cares. My clients walk away from our sessions feeling refreshed, happy, and at ease… all of which show through in their photos when they see them with pure giddiness in their eyes. You will feel so happy that you chose to make these photographs a priority, and hired someone with my experience and passion.
Working with me is a personal, one-of-a-kind experience because I am an artist who has devoted my life to my craft. I feel deeply about giving you images of the fleeting moments you never want to forget. Like the moment you chose to spend your life with your soulmate. Or the tiny wrinkled hands and feet of a newborn baby. And milestones, birthdays, and growing families of every variety. Happy moments in between the hard ones. When I photograph you, I don’t want perfect, I want honest, because real life should not be forgotten.It’s important for me to connect with you and your story so we can develop a relationship that lasts for years through many sessions together. I want to be a part of your journey.

Your photos will not be lost or fade away into digital clutter on hard drives that might crash one day. I believe in creating something tangible with a genuine heart that shows honest love. We will print your families memories!

Because true, passionate love is messy but worth remembering. It’s worth hanging on your walls and mounting above your fireplace. It’s worth passing on to your grandchildren through heirloom albums. Why? Because even though life is short, love never fails and must be preserved with photography.

A Soft, Lovely, Musical Family Session!

I met Rebecca and her daughter when I moved to North Carolina last year, and we instantly clicked because she was once a fellow Austinite, just like us! Everyone in her beautiful little family are very impressively musically inclined (and Rebecca has a gorgeous singing voice, too!), and they are just sweet as can be. When she told me she wanted to bring their instruments along for a session, I was so giddy and immediately knew where I wanted to photograph them just doing their thing. Coincidentally, it’s where we had our own family photos taken a few months back: Fearrington Village! I had been dying to do a shoot there since we moved here, but I was waiting for the right family to come along! It’s one of the most beautifully places around here, and happens to be just a few minutes away from us both! The environment suited them perfectly and we had so much fun. Her family and myself were a match-made-in-heaven for this session, because not only did we have a lot of the same interests and aesthetic tastes, but she believed in my vision as much as I did. I love photographing families in their happy place just having a good time with the ones they cherish. Rebecca and her family are actually moving to Chicagoland any day now (major sadface!), so I really wanted to get this blog post up before they skipped town. We’ll miss you, Rebecca! Thank you for being awesome!!!


Copyright 2014 Lea Ciceraro | Love Me Simply Photography | North Carolina


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A Look in Our Life

What makes a house a home? Lots of love. Personal touches. Memories. Planting roots and making the space your own?

Life in general can easily throw a lot of curveballs your way, which sometimes makes it harder to focus on the beauty and happiness that is quite literally right in front of you. Some people complain that others only ever post the glossy, pretty, happy highlights from their lives on social media. But what if that’s just their way of having a go-to pick-me-up scrapbook of happiness to help pull them through the really hard stuff? Because everyone has hard days. Why criticize them for focusing on the happy moments, or try to compare your life to theirs?

Here are a few glimpses into life inside our four walls. I snapped all of these today! 🙂 These are things that are making me smile today. Right now. In this moment.The past has shaped who and where we are, and the future is uncertain. So look around you today to hold close what is truly important.

Side note: I did a great post on StellerStories that gave a glimpse into a day in our lives. 🙂 It’s such a rad app, in case you haven’t checked it out yet!

What has made you smile today?


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The Why.

When a person decides to move from creating art for personal purposes, to also creating art for others, a true artist has a real, passionate, all-or-nothing reason behind doing so. It has to be more than just to make a profit. That’s a given. For those who start a business, in the end of course they hope to make some money (and people have different reasons driving that goal as well, which I will also discuss). That’s just a result. However, there has to be more to it than that to really leave a lasting impact on this world.

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