The Value of Hiring a Professional Photographer

Today everyone and their grandmother has a smart phone.

The cameras on these phones are improving with each new version. I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t I love using my phone to capture everyday moments of my friends, family, pets, and take fun selfies with my husband. I find that snapping photos with my phone is a convenient way to help me remember the events in my every day life. 

My husband complains that my cell phone photos are so much better than his. Well, I should hope they are! I’ve been photographing professionally since the concept of camera phones was just someone’s wild idea. 

With all of this easy access to cameras, why hire a professional? In this post I’ll share with you why I value hiring a professional, as well as how I believe that I bring value to my clients. 

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The Best Local Art in Austin, Texas

Are you searching for new pieces to begin a stunning collection of fine art, or are you curating an ever growing collection?

*"Rise" 24x24 beeswax, resin, pigments, photography on birch panel. 2017.  SOLD

*"Rise" 24x24 beeswax, resin, pigments, photography on birch panel. 2017. SOLD

Perhaps you're casually seeking pieces that speak to you? Austin is a great place to begin your search for stunning local art. It has such an eclectic and vibrant art scene, mirroring the rich culture of the city itself. The area has become a national powerhouse, and it is no surprise that many artists pick Austin as their home. As one of  the most unique and diverse cities in the world, you’re sure to find something locally that fits your taste!

The number of galleries in the city continues to grow, and these serve as a great local source for stunning pieces. I’ve highlighted some of my favorites below:


CAMIBAart has two galleries and focuses on exhibiting artwork of established artists alongside emerging talent. The curation specializes in concept driven contemporary art with a focus on materials, an emphasis on the quality of craft, and an attention to detail.

Russell Collection Fine Art Gallery

This gallery has assembled a collection of approximately 100 pieces that span the history of art. In addition to this permanent collection, the gallery consistently highlights new works from contemporary artists.

Art on Fifth

For almost two decades, Art on Fifth has curated a mix of local Texas national and international artists.  It is currently Austin’s largest contemporary gallery, with a rotation of over 40 artists alongside many traveling exhibits.  Art on Fifth also showcases original contemporary works that don’t fit any genre, so if you are looking for a unique piece, this is the place to start.

Capital Fine Art

Capital Fine Art specializes in prominent contemporary artists and important estate pieces. A small sample can be found online here.

Women & Their Work

This nationally recognized gallery has been around for almost 40 years, and has actively developed the careers of more than 1,800 artists. The gallery has pieces available for purchase, and a small sample can be found here.

Flatbed Press & Gallery

Flatbed Press was established almost 20 years ago and is located in East Austin near the University of Texas at Austin. While Flatbed Press is a publishing workshop that produces limited editions of artists’ work, Flatbed Gallery is a private art gallery that specializes in original prints. Flatbed Gallery is home to many great artists and works.

Gallery Shoal Creek

Gallery Shoal Creek has been a major player in Austin’s art scene. Founded over five decades ago, they have continued to grow, adapt, and focus on a cohesive range of art. One can find unique styles, as contemporary work meets traditional forms in paintings, works on paper, and three-dimensional installations.

What are some of your favorite sources for local art?

When a Portrait is More Than A Bunch of Photographs – My Commitment

family photographer austin, texas My commitment is to make all of my portrait sessions about more than just the tangible photographs. Yes, my intention is to ultimately provide each of my clients with a variety of unique images from their session. However, I also want the images I provide to artistically convey multiple aspects of each family -- whether that family is a couple with a dog, an individual with a cat, or a family comprised of humans and fur children.

My portraits are more than simply a bunch of photographs.

The experience of creating the images is almost as important to me as an artist than the final artwork. I see tremendous value for my clients in the memories created during the session. When they enjoy the artwork years from now, I want them to remember how they felt that day as they held their loved ones close to them in front of my lens. Photography is powerful in that way. I’ve always loved the magic of photography and its ability to emotionally transport us to moments we cherish. Because experience is such an important part for me as an artist, I don’t rush my clients. I take my time and make sure they are comfortable and enjoying themselves during the process.

During this time of hyper technology, we take hundreds of photographs with our phones a week. It’s such an incredible tool. I’ll admit that I'm a little biased, but I am confident in the fact that the experience of being photographed by a professional and being included in the photographs is an entirely different experience than taking selfies or never being in your own family portraits.

Part of my commitment as I continue to grow as an artist is to further tap into the portrait experience for my clients. In the coming months, you’ll see some shifts in how I approach my work. My audio portraits are becoming a vital part of my portrait experiences for my clients, too, further adding to their experience. I am looking forward to sharing more of these with you very soon. I am so grateful for the clients who continue to value the experience of my portrait sessions and final artwork they receive as a result.

Why You Should Choose A Lifestyle Shoot

This family!

I had the chance to photograph this family a couple years ago when they only had one little boy. Now they are a family of four and are cuter than ever.

This foursome had moved out of town but were back in Austin for a long weekend and asked if I could capture their expanded family with a lifestyle approach. Normally I photograph in and around my clients’ homes, but this adorable rental home made for a sweet background and comfortable environment. I loved photographing them in this space during a holiday weekend where they were enjoying themselves and taking advantage of all that Austin offers. This weekend getaway was a fun part of their lives, and I loved capturing these moments for them. The little girl was so energetic that morning. Sometimes this can be a big challenge during portrait sessions, but I’ll tell you what – I’d much rather have a child full of excited energy than unhappy and fussy. The energy, the movement, the moments – they're all part of lifestyle photography. I much prefer a little “joyful chaos” to static, tense, perfect posing.

Lifestyle is different for everyone, and that’s one thing I love about it. I love capturing people in their spaces, in their moments. It is more natural than posed photos at the park and lends itself to a more authentic connection. Even though this wasn’t my client’s home, it was a space and time wherein they were comfortable and relaxed, which is the first step to a successful portrait session.

Why might you choose a lifestyle session? Consider that we are all unique. Each of our families are different from one another, and that is something that I think should be celebrated.  I believe photographs of our family are all about honoring relationships and our lives as they are right here, right now. It’s not about perfect or about making our lives look like anyone else’s. That’s why I use the phrase, “capturing the colors in your life.” It’s about you, your lifestyle, your family and your relationships.

Tips for Flying with Kids This Holiday Season

tips for traveling with kids Jessica Rockowitz

Thanksgiving and the holiday season is a time for us to gather with family and friends, eat delicious food, and celebrate all that we’re thankful for. Though the traditions and meaning behind holidays are important, there is no doubt that they can still be considered a stressful time of year. Traveling with kids requires a lot of headspace and patience, especially when you have younger kids who require tons of equipment like strollers and diapers. As a mom of three who has traveled across the country for family gatherings many times with kids in tow, here are some of my best tips for flying with kids:

Choose your plane times strategically. Do your kids still nap? Are they happiest in the morning? It might be worth the extra splurge, if applicable, to decrease your stress level and choose flights that work best for your family’s schedule. That way everyone is stress-free and well-rested during travel time.

Dress appropriately. Have you ever seen how tiny those plane bathrooms are? Now is not the time for elaborate buttons or zippers. Dress your kids in comfortable clothing that can be easily removed or swapped. Choose shoes that are easy to slip on and off, and make sure that you have some socks for chilly feet -- not to mention that planes aren't the cleanest of spaces.

Babywear over dragging the stroller. Save yourself the hassle of going through security and having yet another item to drag to the gate. Check your stroller or even better, borrow one from a friend or family member while you’re visiting your destination. Wear your baby instead! You’ll be hands-free, and with less items to keep track of.

Bring the sanitizer. Airplanes are notoriously filled with germs. Make sure you travel with hand sanitizer so you can wipe down little hands during the flight.

Pack a Busy Bag with new toys. My daughter and I used to fly at least four times a year from coast to coast. I always ran to Target the week of a flight and bought her a bunch of new, low cost toys and other items to keep her busy. Our lineup for each flight included: a new coloring book, play-doh or clay, magnetic dolls, sticker books, a few new books that fit in her backpack, and one new movie. This was back in the era of portable DVD players! Now that we have iPads, you can just download a new movie or show series for the plane ride. You do not have to spend a lot of money to keep your kids entertained. Scope out the Dollar Spot at Target, rent movies on Amazon or iTunes to keep costs lower, and borrow books from the library!

If you can, get the baby a seat. I know that kids under two are free, and it’s amazing to save the money – but if you can swing it, having that extra seat is priceless. Having a space to keep my kids in their carseats helped make the flight much smoother, not to mention that it’s much safer. However, I have had to travel without an extra seat plenty of times, too, and we survived!

Prepare for any discomfort. Do you have a child who is prone to nausea? Consider chatting with your pediatrician about remedies you can turn to before and during the flight. Do your child’s ears pop? Make sure you’re stocked up on chewing gum, and request bottled water during take off and landing to swallow. Prepare for the discomforts of flight, because you never know which ones your child will be susceptible to.

Pack extra diapers, and don’t forget the trash bag. You just never know how many diapers you’ll truly need, and having a few plastic grocery bags and ziplock bags – just in case – might end up being the best decision you’ve ever made.

Stock up on snacks. Everyone has different philosophies on this. I used to treat any plane ride like a vacation, which meant letting my kids choose some fun junk food that I wouldn’t normally allow them to have. I found that this kept them quieter and well behaved, but some people find the opposite to be true. Do what works best for your family, but do anticipate that your kids are going to need a lot of snacks! It’s better to overpack and be safe on this one.

Remember that this too shall pass. Sometimes we do everything that we possibly can, and flights still go terribly. Maybe it’s a screaming baby or an overtired, whiny kid, but inevitably, some flights just won’t go your way. Give yourself grace and know that not only will you likely never see any of these people again, but you and your kids are human! Now go pour yourself a glass of wine and hand them off to the in-laws.

What do you think, Austin parents? Are you traveling with your kids this holiday season?


About the Author:

Jessica Rockowitz

Jessica is an East Coast girl originally from Boston, MA but recently transplated to Austin, TX. She is a Content Manager and Brand Strategist, helping businesses with their social media presence, SEO, and brand strategy. When she’s not busy blogging or strategizing, you can catch her chasing around her three busy kids and rescue fur baby. You can also follow her antics on her personal blog or Instagram.

The Best Pet Friendly Hotels in Austin, Texas

Best Pet Friendly Hotels in Austin, Texas Jessica Rockowitz

Whether you're heading down to Austin for a staycation or traveling from afar to our wonderful city, many people don't want to be without their furry friends. Where, then, can you stay? We are fortunate here in Austin to have a lot of great options around various parts of the area. Here is our list of the best pet friendly hotels in Austin, Texas:

Archer Hotel

3121 Palm Way, Austin, TX 78758

This beautiful boutique hotel is part of the fun, fashion forward DOMAIN Northside. The hotel accepts dogs up to 25 lbs on request. Do keep in mind that a non-refundable $150 cleaning deposit is required for your stay.

The Highlander Hotel 

6200 Middle Fiskville Road, Austin, TX, 78752

Located in the Highland area of Austin, the Highlander has a fun, funky vibe that Austinites are loving. The fact that they're pet friendly is an added bonus!

Holiday Inn Austin Airport 

6711 East Ben White Blvd Austin, TX 78744

This beautiful, new, and affordable option is located near the airport with easy downtown access. Pets are allowed, but keep in mind that there is a $50 pet deposit per stay, plus an additional $15 fee per night.

Four Seasons Hotel in Austin

98 San Jacinto Blvd, Austin, TX 78701

This luxury downtown hotel sits on the banks of Lady Bird Lake, with resort-like features and gorgeous views. Dogs, cats, and other domesticated animals under 60 lbs are welcome. There are also a variety of complimentary add ons for your furry best friend!

Hotel Granduca in Austin

320 S. Capital of Texas Hwy, Bldg. B, Austin, TX 78746

Located atop a hillside oasis on Bee Caves Rd and Loop 360, the Hotel Granduca is easily accessible to the Westlake area, as well as a quick drive to downtown. Pets under 50 lbs are welcome with a maximum of two total pets per stay. There is a $125 non-refundable fee for your pet, which is donated to a local shelter.

What do you think, Austin pet parents? Are you planning to stay at any of these hotels?


About the Author:

Jessica Rockowitz

Jessica is an East Coast girl originally from Boston, MA but recently transplated to Austin, TX. She is a Content Manager and Brand Strategist, helping businesses with their social media presence, SEO, and brand strategy. When she’s not busy blogging or strategizing, you can catch her chasing around her three busy kids and rescue fur baby. You can also follow her antics on her personal blog or Instagram.