When I was home in Kansas a few weeks ago, we were so lucky (and happy) to meet up with an old friend of mine to do a quick portrait session.

Laura Doney Benitz is a childhood friend of mine from Wathena, KS. Some of my earliest memories include Laura and her twin brother, J.R. Running around her farm as a little girl. Sleepovers (including one where I scared her home in the middle of the night by telling her our large window was where the boogie man came in from during the night). Bus rides to sporting events. Cruising Main Street.

When Laura first started doing portraits professionally, she asked me for some guidance as she didn’t want to be seen as another MWAC….

Mom With A Camera.

Ugh!!  Those nasty women with no camera skills, who do nothing to invest in their growth, who know nothing about posing or lighting or the Rule of Thirds charge next-to-nothing for pictures that look like crap.

It’s a sore spot for me….they drive the photographers who are serious about the craft out of business. Why would anyone want to pay hundreds of dollars for beautiful portraits when they can pay nothing to a friend for okay pictures…

It seems in small towns where there are a lot of families, these moms are everywhere. Anyone with a digital camera these days thinks they can become a photographer by taking pictures of a friend. It’s bullshit, really. Pointing a camera at a person and taking pictures doesn’t make you a photographer.

Quitting your day job to do it full time does. Making little to NO money the first year while you learn does. Shooting friends for free so that you can get them to refer people to you does. Buying equipment and actually learning how to use it does. Investing in expensive workshops does. Laura has done all of these things, and for that I respect her.

Either way, her business Tender Portraits has grown and grown and is becoming well-known throughout the wedding industry in Kansas and Missouri. Her pricing is more than fair for the level of interest she takes in her subject and the amount of time she spends with them to create exactly what they are hoping for with their portraits. Her business has grown solely on word-of-mouth and referrals, without investing unnecessary monies in marketing and advertising; which, just goes to show, that her talent speaks for itself.

So, when we went home last week, we decided to do a Mommy & Me shoot capturing this really smiley, gooey, special time between Reeve and me. It’s just a matter of time before he’s Daddy’s Buddy, but for now, he’s all milky and clingy to me….

Go check out her blog to see some of the pictures from our session.

Seriously, click HERE to see them….

It was so much fun! Fun to catch up with Laura, gossip a little and share my little man with her.


If you live in Wathena or St. Joe or within driving distance I highly recommend a session with her. Time just goes too fast. Before you know it, all you will have left is just pictures…not even the memories most days.

photo courtesy of Laura Doney Benitz at Tender Portraits


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