Sarah McAffry | Voted Knoxville's Best Photographer | Family, Senior and Teen Photography in East Tennessee » Knoxville Family, Senior and Teen Photographer in East Tennessee

One of the main objectives when we meet with our clients for the first time is to nail down the perfect location for their photo shoot. Besides deciding on what to wear, it’s one of the most important details. Some choose a natural location in a park or a field and others go for a more urban setting. If we can’t decide on one, we do both!


One of my favorite places to look for a good natural setting is beside parking lots. I can typically find overgrown areas that look gorgeous through the camera, but that are easily accessible. Let’s be honest, we don’t want to be trekking way out into a huge field. This way, we are just barely stepping into the field, but it looks like we’re all the way in. It’s all about illusion here! The most important part though is that the parking lot acts as a neutral reflector so we get the best light for gorgeous skin tones. It’s less about what what is in front of the camera, and more about what is happening behind the camera.


Just like with the natural setting, what’s happening behind the camera is just as important for indoor settings. In the studio, we have huge windows that diffuse the light perfectly. With the white walls everywhere, the light is bounced off of each wall filling the room with no need for additional light. The other indoor setting below isn’t quite as bright, so we had to maximize the little light coming through the window. Bringing the subject right up to that light was crucial.


Whether we’re downtown or around a historic building, I’m always looking for the shade. Sometimes it’s the shade of the building and other times it’s the shade of a tree. Either way, I have to make sure that whatever is in front of my subject is going to cast good light on their skin. If I place them across from a red brick building, their skin will look red. If I place them in front of a huge tree, they’ll look green. No good! The best option is just the wide open blue sky, but if that’s not available, a white or gray building or even a parking lot is a good option.

Obviously, when you’re looking for locations, what you see in front of the camera is most important, but a close second is what’s happening behind the camera. Watch for good neutral reflectors either with the open sky or a white or gray building or parking lot and you’re set up for a beautiful image.


The McAffrys just survived one of the busiest weeks of our lives. It was stressful, long and exhausting. But we made it out alive.

I have a feeling we’re not the only ones who feel this way. Our collective lives are busier than they’ve ever been, and while sometimes the answer is saying no to more activities, other times we have to find a way to work through it the best we can.

Admittedly, I’m not an expert at finding the ever-elusive balance that we’re all seeking. I have, however, done it wrong enough times to have learned a few survival tips.


We typically have plenty of notice for these busy seasons in life. The week before your crazy season arrives, take time to prepare yourself. Indulge in some alone time, schedule a massage, or carve out time for a nap – whatever brings relaxation and rest for your mind, body, and soul.


Get some quality time with your favorite people on your calendar. It doesn’t have to break the bank or take hours of your time. It might be sitting down to the dinner table or reading an extra book at bedtime, but show up and pay attention. Put the phone away and be all there.


A messy house just adds to the unnecessary chaos in our busiest seasons. A little extra cleaning and organizing in the days leading up to your busy season goes a long way in maintaining a peaceful home.


Don’t expect a perfectly neat house or perfectly behaved children. Give yourself and everyone around you a little extra grace when life is at it’s peak of stressfulness. Everything will get back to normal soon enough!


When life gets back to normal, make time to refill your tank. Running on empty isn’t good for anybody, so schedule some time on your calendar for those things that will fill you back up. For me, it’s time with friends and family, working on projects around my house and maybe even a spa treatment. Once I do some of these things, I have the energy I need to pour back into my family again.

How are you getting through life’s busy seasons?