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3853 Deer Run Ln
Ames, IA, 50014
United States

(515) 292-9605


A little bit of insight and behind the scenes from the years of portrait photography experiences of the JP team.


Seniors, Seniors, Seniors

Cari Hague

Seniors: FREE Book and more…

Attention Class of 2016, it’s time to start thinking about senior pictures.  (Class of 2016 parents, it’s time to start thinking about your son/daughter’s senior pictures.)

Seniors, Seniors, Seniors… We’ve packed this article with info, insight, tips and a pretty sweet deal, and tailored it just for seniors (and their parents).

What do seniors want?  What do a senior’s parents want?  Can you have both?


  • Showcase individuality
  • Pictures to turn out perfect/to look like a star in a magazine
  • To have fun


  • Capture their child’s unique personality and real expressions
  • Create beautiful artwork to display in their home
  • Receive a good value for the investment

Sometimes the senior and parent’s wishes are the same and other times it seems like there is no way both can have what they want.  Specifically, we are talking about senior pictures, but this rings true in many areas doesn’t it.  The lists above contain some of the top desires that we hear regularly.  While we don’t have magic wands, we strive to deliver results that satisfy the senior and the parent.  Here is what one mother said:

“It can be difficult trying to choose the right photographer to capture your children the way you see them and not just an image of them. Jacquelyn does just that! She has a way about her that just makes you so comfortable that you can relax and can be photographed so that your personality is captured.

I looked at multiple websites, but there was something about the natural essence of the pictures she gets. It was their smile. She has the ability to capture their genuine smile. That is what sold us. Not a background or prop, and not a perfect pose. 

My children were her subjects and she made them shine. She captured moments in their session that allowed us to see that beautiful smile from when they were a little child or that little glint in their eye that reminds you of something only you remember.  I couldn't believe how many expressions she captured from them. That was what I wanted for my children's senior picture memories, I wanted to see them.  Jackie made that happen. I am grateful for her work, her patients and her gift. She is a talented lady.  Thank you Jackie!!” ~Dawna D.

Apparently, a bazillion years of experience these days can leave us with an image that we are outdated or incapable of keeping up with the latest trends.  While we don’t have any desire to be so trendy that the validity of our images are out as quickly as a Seventeen magazine, we love learning from our senior clients about what excites them locally in fashion and style.  We educate ourselves with relevant fashion and décor trends through travel and research and use the inspirations to stay fresh and creative. 

We always strive though, to stay true to our philosophy that the best design and art will be classy and timeless.  Our goal is to deliver a spread in the Artist’s Book worthy of an A-listers spread in Vogue or GQ magazine, to truly showcase a senior the way a star would be featured.  We also create images from every session that could be featured in a home décor magazine as they hang as fine artwork on a parent’s walls.

Over the years, we have delivered senior portraits in many different ways, and are always listening to what works well for our clients.  There are a variety of choices currently on the market and we realize that our options may not be the ideal fit for everyone.  However, we have received a ton of positive feedback that our current packages are a great value and have been a worthwhile investment for our clients.  The First Package includes the Artist’s Book, the session time with the photographer, complete professional retouching and finish artwork on all the files, finished digital files for archiving with a print release for gift portraits.  The Second Package includes an upgrade to Wall Art  which we have so much fun helping you to design.

According to most parents, children grow up way too fast and sometimes according to the seniors, they don’t grow up fast enough.  Everyone has a story, trust us to reveal it in the most beautiful and natural way.

FREE – This super fun mini duplicate Artists’ Book is free for a limited time…

Isn't this mini book adorable?

Isn't this mini book adorable?

A fun new product that came as an evolution of some previous books and album products is our Artist’s Book.  Launched last senior season, we love the use of this format to deliver the variety we see at our senior sessions.  It is so hard to tell a senior’s story in one image or one expression.  We really enjoy delving in to reveal many sides of a senior.  In the Artist’s Book we can showcase fun and playful, close up beautiful eyes that peer into their soul, that artistic composition amongst a beautiful scene, and the familiar relaxed smile.  

All our session packages come with the 8” Artist’s Book.   For a limited time you can get the 4” mini duplicate for FREE.   Book your session, or make your session reservation by May 31st to take advantage of the offer.

Tips for Perfect Senior Pictures (& a Super Secret behind how we Reveal Seniors True Beauty)

  1. Communicate.  If there is something you really want, or really don’t want let us know.  We have tons of ideas so no worries if you don’t have any, but we still haven’t perfected mind reading so please tell us what you are thinking.
  2. Just have fun with it.  Laughing helps and makes great pictures.
  3. Relax, we know that you are not a professional model or a superstar that has taken classes on how to pose.  However, we are experts at posing.  Before you think stiff, stuffy and how “posing” sounds horrible, let me share a secret.  Shhh, seriously this is our secret weapon, even most professional photographers take it for granted or haven’t given the time to master this art.  This is how with the turn of a foot or the roll of a hip or the placement of your hand, we can help you look relaxed and natural.  Whether a photographer lets you pose yourself (aka stand/sit however you want) or helps coach you (suggested protocol) the pose makes the difference in results like, 15lbs. visually and a masculine or feminine tone to the image.
  4. Clothes matter.  You want to be seen and not have clothing that is so distracting that it takes away from you.  See details about making good clothing choices here.  We suggest bringing several choices and let us help you make the final decisions, sometimes we have an idea for pairing an outfit that you didn’t think of together. 
  5. Come with an open mind.  We are creative artists so the best sessions happen when you let us “play”.  A wacky-off the wall idea we haven’t tried before may work and turn out to be that money shot and may not.  We shoot a bunch and then narrow it down to the best using our expertise.  It’s okay to have some specific requests, but if you are game we will bring the magic.
  6. Relax, okay so I may have said that already, but if you ask past clients, as much as some of you may be dreading this, it will not be painful.  Your prime quality expressions have a limit.  (We know you can last a little longer than the toddlers do, but we also know you’re not a professional model so you won’t last all day.)  With the years of experience, we have worked hard to become very efficient, to make the best use and be respectful of your valuable time.  Plus, if the session is a complete disaster, and you don’t love your images, we will schedule an additional shoot.  Yes, we guarantee our work, though in decades of sessions, we can count on one hand how many times we’ve actually had to do that.

Hopefully this has given you something useful or entertaining at least.  Of course, we’d love to hear from you with questions or thoughts or to book your senior session.  If you haven’t checked out the article on our favorite months for senior sessions be sure to scroll down.  Check out available session times here and don’t forget to take advantage of the FREE mini book special.


Why May & June Sessions Rock

Cari Hague

Our most requested season of the year for family sessions is fall, which makes sense with all the beautiful colored leaves and for seniors it seems to be early August before they head back to school.  However, for Jackie and I, our favorite season for family and senior sessions is May & June.  We love the Iowa seasons and all the varieties of beautiful sets we are blessed with here.  Right now, we look outside and the grass has started to green, indicating that it won’t be long before the outdoors is abundant with the lush green settings.  Maybe I have a little fonder appreciation of all our green gorgeous trees because I spent several seasons in the not quite so green Arizona.   Don’t get me wrong there were definite perks, especially in the photography business, like not worrying about many sessions getting rained out, but I dearly missed the big green shade trees and deep green multidimensional backgrounds.

So, for seniors, May/June offer us endless natural sets and while August is great, it can be hot and humid.  Usually, May/June temps are moderate and more pleasant to wear those long sleeve and layered outfits that photo so well.  We also lose a few of the settings if it gets too dry so we have more options and more flowers early.  Also, we don’t have that feeling of the back to school rush that seems to come every year (in our house too).

For families, I think the popularity of fall sessions half comes from the beauty of the colors and half from the last chance to get the holiday card portrait done for the year.  While it is tough to think of doing a session in May/June for your holiday card, it can be fun to have it done early.  This is also a great way to add variety to your wall art, if traditionally you have fall colors.  With the lush green, cooler color palates are a more viable option than they are in the fall where warm tones are best.

Well, hopefully whether you’re thinking of a senior or family session this year, you will consider booking May/June to take advantage of this beauty, one of the many reasons we love Iowa…

 …rich green grass,

deep layered leafy backdrops,

colorful blooming flowers,

ponds and creeks at their peak,

walking through the woods,

fresh green fields and meadows,

& two excited photographers full of inspiration.

Flowering Trees on Campus

Cari Hague

Flowering Trees on Campus

I don’t know about you, but spring flowers make me smile.  Today, just the thought of the coming spring flowers makes me smile.  We are so lucky to be here in Ames and have the beautiful ISU campus to enjoy.  One of my favorite times on campus is when the trees flower in the spring, that also happens to be a beautiful time to photograph on campus.  However, the tricky part is that this is Iowa and we don’t have an exact date for when the trees will pop, they also don’t last very long, so that can make scheduling portrait sessions a bit challenging. 

Enter the “on-call” list.  For those tricky to schedule, weather dependent, circumstances, like specific flowers or fresh snowfall, or rain (yes some people actually request a session in the rain) we find it easiest to use an “on-call” list.  We go through the normal session booking process, but instead of selecting a set time we leave it at TBD.  Then as soon as it looks like we have possibly good conditions, we will call you and work out an actual time.   When you book, we will discuss the details like clothing so everything is ready to go and the only thing left when the time comes is to coordinate schedules.

The flowering trees make beautiful backdrops for family portraits, especially if you traditionally have had a fall scene, this would be a great way to add variety to your portrait legacy.  For seniors looking for a unique setting, the limited nature of this situation is ideal, making it tough to copy.  Of course, you can bet I’m going to drag my little munchkins to campus for one of these sessions, I’m thinking Charli in a very girly dress and the boys in springy colored sweaters or button ups, what do you think?  Ok, I’m super excited (we may have had some serious cabin fever set in in our household this winter) and hope some of you will join me.

There will be a limited amount of time we will have the flowering trees this year, so that means there will be a limited number of available sessions.  Call today to reserve your spot on the ISU Flowering Trees On-Call List We would also love to chat about other session ideas for taking advantage of the beauty of the Iowa seasons.


Coming up…

  • Why May & June are ideal for Senior and Family sessions
  • New Art Prints released
  • Planning a photo shoot to honor my Grandmother’s legacy

Happy Spring

Cari Hague


Did you see our Annual Letter?  With the seasons of Iowa, comes variety and that itch for Spring to arrive after we’ve all decided that winter is officially long.  Our photography calendars at JP revolves around the Iowa seasons, with our wrap up and recharge time in late winter, and the new year beginning with the new flowers of spring. 

Our new Annual Letter was our version of a holiday letter (if you missed it, scroll down to check it out) and announced our refreshed website and some other changes we launched and tested in 2014.  During prime season, we get so into our sessions and creating beautiful artwork, we haven’t made much time for website updates and such, but it was a fun project to tackle – I won’t say complete as it is never really done.  We shall see if this year the site gets the ongoing updates we are intending. 

Our plan is to post printing specials from our new photocard partner on the cards page.  Our other goal is to share personal insight into our portrait photography world by sharing our personal portrait projects and the concepts and inspirations with you.  Jackie has been a professional portrait photographer for 35 years and I have professionally been in the business for 17 years.  Our business is personal and we strive to give our clients what we do for our own family and closest friends so we thought using our personal sessions and projects to share ideas would be ideal.  This new format of sharing for us also allows for comments, questions and feedback, so that should be fun.  You can subscribe to receive an email notification when something new (and hopefully interesting) has been posted.  See you soon & Happy Spring.

Coming up…

·      How to take advantage of the flowering trees on Campus

·      Why May & June are ideal for Senior and Family sessions

·      New Art Prints released

The New Annual Letter (Holiday Style)

Cari Hague

Dear Clients,

The holidays seemed to whirl by this year, for that matter, 2014 went by in a flash as well.  Traditionally, I send a holiday letter with my Christmas card (when I actually get it accomplished, but had to forgo the letter this year as I just kept finding more exciting things to occupy my time).  However, I thought it might be a fun new tradition to send our clients an annual letter now that the rush of the New Year has calmed.

2014 was filled with many wonderful sessions.  We love seeing how your families change over the years and meeting the new generations. It is always exciting to see what’s trending with the new seniors, but that the excitement remains the same year after year during that amazing time of life.  We treasure getting the privilege to experience some of the most special milestones in a close up way with our lifelong clients.  We also enjoyed meeting our new clients and look forward to those sprouting friendships.

Every year we usher in the exciting changes to our business.  Our competitive side embraces the changing photography industry and sees the challenge as a way to stay fresh and current. 

We remain passionate about Revealing Life’s Beautiful Stories. Our mission to deliver artwork that will become a family’s legacy and a way to proudly display those values of love and relationships remains unchanged.  Another constant is our approach as artists; we are free to be the most creative when we forge strong relationships with our clients.  Our expertise is easiest exercised when we can approach a session as we do with our own families and close friends.

So what has changed?   We are striving to embrace current technology and trends to make delivery of the art the most simple and effective while maintaining a standard of JP quality.  The current JP team is minimal, efficient, and highly skilled.  The packages have been modified after reflecting on what we really wanted for ourselves and what we feel our closest friends and family really need for their legacies of art. 

To start, we need to let you see what we see.  To deliver to you our vision and interpretation of the subject, the whole picture from the session.  We have created a new Artist’s Book that really represents what JP captures.  For example, at a family session, we may capture several moments: a playful interaction, a brief calm, and a well-orchestrated natural pose that depicts the current life stage and intertwined relationships.  For a senior we may see expressions of their many sides through different outfit choices and glimpse into their soul when their eyes open up in a serious, close up pose, while the next moment shows a dimple or laugh that is just so them.  Every session is now delivered with our version of the story revealed in our beautiful Artist’s Book.

We also are now including an image stick with the digital files for you to archive.  As files have become very large, it has helped with quality of the digital process, but storage solutions have changed to make the most effective option for each client to store their own images on a personal cloud type server (off–site).  If a catastrophic event should cause your artwork to need to be replaced, then you can bring the files back to JP.   With the image stick, we have begun including print releases to allow you to make gift size reprints (8x10 and smaller) anywhere that is convenient, though we recommend continuing to order through the studio for best color and quality of portraits.  We also have a new photo card partner that allows you to instantly make design selections and changes on your own computer.

While our minimum package doesn’t require you to purchase wall art, we strongly encourage everyone to showcase your commissioned piece of art on your wall.  We love collaborating on wall art design.  Over the years, we’ve heard “I don’t like putting pictures of myself on the wall” or “hanging a big picture of my kids up is ostentatious”.  We emphatically believe that a well done portrait captures you in a flattering light and is finished with a quality of fine art, and that our clients love and value their families and themselves, and should confidently and proudly display artistic expressions of those values.

More changes included moving out of our downtown office space at the end of the summer in an effort to simplify our business.  Partially due to technology advances, partly from making a conscious decision to be more selective with our services and products offered, and also making sure our clients are the correct fit for us and us for them, we no longer needed the size of staff we once housed at that location.  We are now able to operate with a small but stellar team, and give a more personal experience by again utilizing the office space above the studio.

Speaking of the team, we wanted to share our family holiday portraits with you.  Jackie’s session was a take two.  The first round was a five-minute impromptu attempt at Clear Lake.  With four kids, four kid’s spouses, at the time - four grandchildren, it is tough to find time when everyone is in the same state.  The quick - throw on something to take a picture - ended up with more distracting outfits then we realized and sans Baby Hayden (to be born after this attempt).  So, take two was on Christmas Eve with better thought out outfits, but still crunched for time.  It was cold, I’m not sure what happened to Baby Hayden’s socks, Charli had consumed too much sugar - which caused a meltdown to cancel the Nana & Papa with the grandkids shot, it was too windy for the banner Anj made to work properly, I’m not sure who was supposed to comb my boys hair, and we needed to get to church, BUT we ended up with a pretty awesome “growing family tree” themed card for Jackie (mom) and a beautiful wall grouping for her living room.

Mindan had a hard-to-top session last fall, so she decided to wait until after our super crazy fall studio time and do a snow shoot that included her niece, for a cousin picture.  It ended up that her mom brought her niece and happened to be wearing the black and plum colors (and was of course looking great), so she was able to jump in and used the images for her own holiday card and a wall portrait for her home. 

Tracy was by far the most on-the-ball of our crew.  But if you’ve had a chance to hang with her, you know that her love of the art of portrait photography is infectious.  While fall colors are beautiful, my favorite time in Iowa is summer.  The lush green depth that the outdoor locations give portraits is unrivaled.  Tracy’s family knows the drill (Brandon has some great childhood images from JP in a timeless 80’s jean jacket).  Her boys always look forward to the adventures at the studio – they are hopeful they’ll see one of the frogs and they know we don’t pull teeth.

Ok, lastly to Bob and Cari (me).  I loved our images this year! (Check out my wall grouping on Facebook.)  I’m a classic procrastinator, so it started with a trip to Kohl’s the day before to grab outfits – no set color, it would depend on what was available.  Mom had stumbled across this new location of a rural gravel road and bridge on a bike ride a month before and I had not actually done a couch-on-a-road pic for myself so when the time came, we threw the couch in the back of the truck and were off.  However, by the time we got the kids ready we were losing light fast so it was hustle and on to the next spot.  We ended with this awesome silhouette that has Eli pointing at Charli – this is the perfect summation of our current stage – Charli is rambunctiously trying to keep up, Eli is often annoyed with her and telling her so, Brody is the calm that keeps it together, and yes we still love each other as we celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary.

So that kick’s off our new leaf of sharing our own stories and images with you.  If you are interested in more of our stories, we have re-launched our website and there we will feature more insight and images as we go along with our story and philosophies and you can sign up for an email to stay up to date with the articles.  We look forward to another amazing year to share with you, our clients friends and family.

Warm Regards,

The JP Team