This blog post is well overdue. I wanted to write about this amazing experience I had this year so many times, but well life got in the way and I never got the chance to sit down and actually put my thoughts on “paper”.

Last year I learned about this event that the Chamber of Commerce of the Mid-Ohio Valley put on called the Women in Leadership conference. It was too late by the time I heard about it to attend and I was very disappointed because I love conferences that empower women business leaders! So this year I made a point to not only join the chamber of commerce but also to attend that conference. Well, next thing I knew I was being asked if I wanted to join the Special Events committee to help plan this year’s Women in Leadership conference on June 23rd! It sounded like something that I would enjoy doing since I love planning conferences (did a lot of that in college for Circle K, the collegiate version of Kiwanis). I was having lots of fun brainstorming ideas with other amazing female business leaders in the area during their first meeting and then we got into the nitty gritty of who was going to do what. Of course I volunteered to be the official photographer of the event because that’s what I do – event photography (except weddings)! Since last year’s photographer moved out of town, it was very logical for me to replace her. But then they needed a co-chair of the event to help things go smoothly! I have a serious problem with volunteering for things, because next thing I knew I was raising my hand for that as well!

I have to say I don’t regret that one bit. It was a great experience to work alongside all these brilliant women and to help create a very empowering day for local businesswomen. I loved the energy in the room as the women listened to our keynote speakers talk about communications and mindfulness, did some stretching (wellness) activities, shopped the vendor tables, or came over to my booth to update their LinkedIn headshots. It was a really amazing day and I loved every moment of getting to know all these wonderful local ladies. If you have not had a chance to attend the Mid-Ohio Valley Women in Leadership conference, I highly recommend it! And thank you to Jill Parsons and Megan Hardway for agreeing to let me be the co-chair (with Lisa Johnson of PDJ Accounting), as well as the photographer! Check out some of the photos below!

2017 Mid Ohio Valley Women in Leadership Conference - Jill Kirtland Photography

Last year during the first week of May I participated in my first Clickin Moms Clickin Walk event in German Village in Columbus, Ohio. It was so much fun to get together with a group of ladies who were all into photography to get out of my comfort zone and do street photography! Clickin Moms sponsors this event in various locations all over the world every year. Two people from each location lead those who register around town on a specific route and sometimes either before or after the walk meet up at a restaurant for further networking. Some people travel from out of town for it, just like I did last year (traveled two hours).

This year I decided to stay local due to time constraints and co-lead the walk with one of my Intro to DSLR students Abby Haught on May 7, 2017. We led the event in the beautiful river town of Marietta, Ohio whose tagline is “Ohio’s First Adventure.” This picturesque town sitting on the Ohio River boasts historic buildings, quaint shops, historic monuments, bridges, and a relaxing park. Two hours did not seem like quite enough time for us to capture all that Marietta offers. That day the sky had big fluffy white clouds and a beautiful blue backdrop that only a photographer could dream up. It’s almost as if Bob Ross had painted the sky for us.

We had about seven people join us that day soaking in the warm sun and fresh air, focusing on the beautiful architecture and subtle details of Marietta. To me capturing the buildings at special angles, the people enjoying the park, the history and the atmosphere was crucial. I also experimented with various lenses and devices.

I used my Canon 5D Mark IV with my 70-200mm lens on these photos.

Clickin Walk 2017 - Marietta, Ohio - Street Photography - Jill Kirtland Photography

On these photos, I decided to use an iPhone 6, sometimes with my Olloclip lenses (wide angle or fisheye) and sometimes without but I did use VSCO filters.
Clickin Walk 2017 - Marietta Ohio - Street Photography - Jill Kirtland Photography

Processed with VSCO with b5 preset

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

Processed with VSCO with g3 preset

On these photos, I used my Lensbaby Twist 60 specialty lens on my Canon. This a fun lens that gives swirly effects and vignettes depending on how you tilt the lens.
Clickin Walk 2017 - Street Photography - Marietta, Ohio - Jill Kirtland Photography
Although my specialty is not street photography, I do enjoy dabbling in it on occasion. Clickin Walk is not just about exposing myself to a different genre of photography but also networking with other photographers and sharing that passion. It’s truly a fun day!

On April 28, 2017, five hundred women came together all dressed up in gorgeous formal dresses in Marietta, Ohio to raise money for childhood cancer. Over $42,000 was raised this past weekend through admission tickets (that sold out online in mere minutes!), raffles, and donations. The BrAva Mom Prom committee worked very hard this year to put on an amazingly well-organized event.

From the BrAva Mom Prom website: “BRidget Crock and AVA Nichols are the inspiration for BrAva Fight. The nonprofit organization, based in the Mid-Ohio Valley, seeks to help other families facing the same challenges and to raise awareness of childhood cancer. Every day, in this country alone, 46 children are diagnosed with cancer. Because of the wonderful efforts of our community, our volunteers, and our sponsors, BrAva has been able to give more than $120,000 to local families affected by childhood cancer and to CureSearch for childhood cancer research.” Their mantra is “Until there is a cure!”

It was an amazing night full of delicious food catered by Marietta Brewing Company, scrumptious desserts donated by Lisa’s Sweet Shop (Beverly, Ohio), dancing (DJ’d by Premier Productions), and socializing. For a full list of sponsors, click here.

There was a very emotional moment during the night when 3 women were recognized by being Queened. These women have endured something that no one ever hopes to endure: their child either is battling cancer or has battled cancer. Not a dry eye was in the room.

To lighten things up later on, a flash mob erupted on the dance floor as hundreds of women followed their fearless leaders in a fun dance.

What a night! I was so honored to be a part of the photography team for this event. I was tasked with capturing all of the candid moments of the night (outdoors and indoors). I feel very strongly about giving back to the community through special causes such as this one. As a small business owner, I try to donate my photography services or a raffle item to a few charity events each year. I hope to do it again next year!

Here is a photo of the BrAva Mom Prom photography team (Life Happens Studio , Melissa Rose Photography and Jill Kirtland Photography).

There were so many amazing moments captured as well as photos of all the lovely ladies who attended and you can view the gallery here! All money from the photo purchases will be donated directly back to BrAva!

What is stopping you from hiring a lifestyle photographer? Many times I have potential clients who say things like, “Oh my family is not that exciting, you wouldn’t have anything to photograph.” or “I hate my house.  I don’t want photos in my home.”  or “My house is so messy and chaotic.” or “I really love studio photos because I want a good family photo to put on my wall and give to the grandparents.”

All legit concerns but I promise you this:  1)  You’ll love the ease of not having to get too dressed up, get everyone together and in a car to get somewhere on time, and try to get your children to cooperate in front of a studio background.   2)  You’ll look back at your lifestyle session photos and love how your family was captured in that moment in time, in your home, as you are.  Yes, there may be chaos and there may be clutter, but that’s your life.  That’s everyone’s life with little kids (or big kids or pets or spouses – really anything!).  3)  You get to include your pets!!  Not many studios are receptive to you bringing all your pets to be included in the family photos!  4) If one kid is having a meltdown, I can take photos of the other kid playing or photos with the parents. There is so much flexibility and creativity with lifestyle sessions.  5) You can capture raw emotion in the moment.  And you don’t have to look at the camera!! During a studio session, perfect smiles and looking at the camera is expected.  That’s very challenging with children (and sometimes husbands, too).

What does this look like, you ask?   Here is a session I did recently with the Perry family.  They have a 2 month old and a 2 year old and 2 dogs.   This is as chaotic as it gets (speaking from my own experience with 3 kids and a dog), and yet I was able to capture this life of theirs in an authentic and beautiful way.  I know they will cherish these photos forever and they will look great hanging on their walls, telling their story!  I even got what I call ‘photos for grandma’ (posed family photos) – in the comfort of their living room!


This little guy I photographed while he was in his mommy’s belly and then when he was a newborn. I was so happy when his mom hired me to also take his 1st birthday photos. I love being able to watch my clients grow up and be there to capture their special milestones!

Jill Kirtland Photography offers special discount packages for multiple milestone sessions, or maternity/Fresh 48/newborn sessions. I do it in a special way with lifestyle sessions in your home or lifestyle outdoor sessions on my 40-acre country property. It is so much easier to photograph babies when they can be themselves and I love capturing their little personalities.