Photographer Interview: Petra Grace

Hey everyone! I’m excited to launch another guest post with one of my dear friends from cross-country, Petra! She’s been a huge blessing in my life, and I just recently realized that she’s a lovely photographer, too! I couldn’t let the opportunity to have her here pass me by, so today she’s joining us to share some tips that will blow your world.

Hey Petra! I’m really glad to have you here today. Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and your blog, Petra Grace Photography?

Thank you for having me, Aliyah! Well, I’m a fifteen year old sophomore and the oldest of my family. I’ve always loved photography, but it wasn’t until recently that I got very serious about it.100_3396 (2)
Last year around this time, I began blogging my photography experiences. It was very fun, but it wasn’t very serious (my pictures weren’t all that good).

Your blog revolves primarily around photography. What or who inspired you to pick up photography?

Honestly, I think that I was born with an interest in photography 😉

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When my family first got a point-and-shoot camera (something like 6 years ago), I was the one who used it the most. I loved fiddling with the settings and seeing the different results. Last summer, my parents gave me the option of taking a photography class. When they asked me, I think that my reaction was along the lines of, “ARE YOU SERIOUS? OHMYGOODNESS, THANK YOU!!” I went into the first class, not really knowing what to expect.

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My teacher was amazing. I can hardly put it into words. She made the classes fun and interactive, but she also seemed to build the skill level every time that we met. She also spent a lot of time outside of class answering my questions and mentoring me on the side. I would definitely say that my teacher was a big part of the beginning inspiration.

What do you absolutely adore about photography?

The thing that I love most about photography is the depth of what it captures. One millisecond of all of eternity… And you’ve got it frozen in time. Photography is about capturing the moment, and expressing yourself.

DSCF7344 (2)God has created a moving picture for us to live in; much prettier than anything we could capture (and try to recreate) with a camera. God is in everything beautiful. And when we capture something beautiful on camera… It’s really hard to put into words.

When is your favorite time of year/time of day to shoot? When is your LEAST favorite time of year/time of day to shoot?

I don’t have a favorite time of day to shoot. They all work beautifully for me.

DSCF7281 (2)Ah, the age-old question. I love every time of the year, I really do. However, I would have to say that my favorite time of the year to shoot is autumn.

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Not only is the scenery beautiful, but it doesn’t take that much effort to just go out and do it (you’ll understand what I mean in the next sentence, or so). My least favorite time of year is winter. I’m not hating on winter, believe me. It just takes a lot of extra effort to get good pictures. Between the gazillion layers of clothes, the foggy lenses, and numb fingers… It just takes more time. However, the tradeoff is the pictures that you get in the end. Winter pictures are gorgeous.

What area of photography is your favorite (i.e. landscape, macro/plants, portrait, etc.)?

This is a tough question. Recently, I’ve been doing more landscape/plants/outdoorsy type of things. But I LOVE doing portraits. I would have to say that portraits are definitely my favorite.

DSCF7161 (2)Flowers are great, but you can’t really ask them questions about their family.

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And they never laugh at my jokes, which is a little bit discouraging.

Is there an inspiring bit of advice were you given as a beginning photographer that you’d like to pass on to us?

One thing that my teacher told me time and time again is to just keep practicing. Practice makes perfect, as the old saying goes. And in this instance, it’s true. The only way to improve your pictures is to practice your techniques.

What’s the #1 mistake you’ve made in photography that you’d like to steer us away from?

Without a doubt, comparison. You should never compare your photos with somebody else’s. One thing that almost crippled me at the beginning of my journey was comparing my pictures. Look at other photographers’ pictures. They can be very inspiring. But don’t compare their apples to your oranges. I say that because no photographer uses the same techniques.

DSC_2739 (2)Everybody is different in the way that they approach things. Starting out, your pictures aren’t going to look like the pictures of an experienced wedding photographer. Chances are, they have totally different gear and years of practice.

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Use great photos to set your standards high, don’t use them to tear your spirit down.

What kinds of cameras have you used and what kind do you recommend?

I have had different experience with different cameras. Honestly, I don’t really care what the camera is. I adore my camera, but I’m not married to one brand. I began on cheap point-and-shoot cameras, then I stepped up to a film DSLR, my next one was a really nice point and shoot, and then I found a really good deal on a digital DSLR. My camera is Nikon brand and I do like it, but I haven’t really had experience with other brands. There is a really good resource that I found, which makes buying a camera 100% less stressful: This website features and sells gently used gear for amazing prices. I was shocked at the good deals that I found. I was able to purchase my body camera for around $70.00 and a new lens for another $70.00.

If you could take pictures of any place in the world, where would it be?

This is a great question. All of the places that first came to my mind are in Europe. I’m just going to say Europe 😉

Thank you for having me on your blog, Aliyah! This has been fun!

My note: wasn’t that one of the best interviews in the world?! Give her a big hand, all of you. She did fantastic.

Welcome, November!

Mmmmm. Vanilla ice cream with fall leaf sprinkles.
Mmmmm. Vanilla ice cream with fall leaf sprinkles.
With the time change, I can now see the sunrise without getting up super soon.
With the time change, I can now see the sunrise without getting up super soon.


FROST. Isn't it lovely?! Click to zoom in and look at the ice crystals. So gorgeous.
FROST. Isn’t it lovely?! Click to zoom in and look at the ice crystals. So gorgeous.


One of my favorite shots from this fall. I love the delicate blue sky with the vivid leaves.
One of my favorite shots from this fall. I love the delicate blue sky with the vivid leaves.
A rosy pear sitting in our windowsill.
A rosy pear sitting in our windowsill.

Making Up For Lost Time…

…with a collage! I love the look of a storyboard-style photo collage, so I grabbed some of my more recent photos and put them all together in this way!


Top left corner, from left: Kenan (2) standing against a friends’ house on the 4th of July, my cousin and I hanging out this past week, a star we drew out of sparklers (also on the 4th), and my sister & cousin jumping together. 😉

Bottom left: a hot air balloon we saw yesterday! It was such a pretty night, and I was glad to have gotten a picture of it.

Top right corner: a dark chocolate Hershey Kiss. Enough said.

Bottom right corner, from left: the gift and card for my grandma’s 70th birthday (I hand-lettered the card, and my sister, Sarah, wrapped the gift with her beautiful paper flowers), Micah (5) jumping, a strawberry for this week’s photography challenge, and some fireworks from the 4th.

July was a busy month, and for some reason I didn’t take a lot of photos other than the ones from the 4th, but August will hopefully be different. Check out my first photography challenge post here. 🙂

Born On The Fourth Of July!

First born.

Elijah turns one today. I can’t believe it’s been a year, and that he’s grown up to be a lot bigger than the newborn with the perfect fuzz of hair he used to be. I was looking through photos and thought I’d share a month-by-month visual of Elijah’s life.

One month old.
One month old. Truly “the cutest”.
Two months old. Aren't his smiles perfect?
Two months old. Aren’t his smiles perfect?
Three months old - grinning at himself in the mirror.
Three months old – grinning at himself in the mirror.
Four months.
Four months.
Five months. This was when he really started looking like himself.
Five months. This was when he really started looking like himself.
Six months old.
Six months old.
Seven! :)
Seven! 🙂
Eight months old, and in his older brother's favorite outfit.
Eight months old, and in his older brother’s favorite outfit.
Nine months old.
Nine months old.
Ten months, all sweaty and sweet.
Ten months, all sweaty and sweet.
Eleven months old and walking all over the place.
Eleven months old and walking all over the place.
And the best twelve month shot I have at the moment. :)
And the best twelve month shot I have at the moment. 🙂

I love you, Elijah! May your birthday be blessed and sweet!

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2015 Summer Plans

First, I am in love with the design for above featured image. Trust me, it wasn’t my original idea, but something I’ve seen a couple times and finally got around to imitating. It’s a fun way for me to incorporate colors into design . . . colors aside from black and white, which are the only colors at the moment I feel safe working with. :/

Now, onto the “summer plans”. I am doing a lot more things in July this summer than anytime else, which to me is funny, because July usually reminds me that the summer is ending. I have summer camp in 12 days, which I’ll admit is making me excited and nervous all at the same time. This will be my third year at the same camp, and the second year with roommates other than my sister. I really enjoy having roommates, especially since I share a bedroom with four of my sisters at home. When I’m just with Sarah (age 13), it’s quite boring compared to normal nights. 😉

There have been several nights where I’ve actually had dreams about getting to camp and forgetting everything I was supposed to bring (clothes, contact case and solution, hairbrush, etc), so I was left only with the clothes on my back. I guess it means I need to make a to-do list for camp soon! At least it’s only 12 days away now, so there’s a bonus.

I’m also trying out Camp NaNoWriMo. I know, I know. Your response is what on earth?! NaNoWriMo (as well as the Young Writer’s version of it) stands for National Novel Writing Month, which takes place in November. The program is basically designed to encourage kids and adults to set a goal for themselves and complete it in a month. I wrote 30,000 words of Sunrise in November 2014, which brought me to a grand total of 50,000 words total. Now, with Sunrise at 92,000 words and in severe need of editing, I’m going to edit the one-third of it I have left through Camp NaNoWriMo, the summer edition of the National Novel Writing Month. It’s a lot to take in, but check it out if you get the chance, because it truly has helped me pursue my writing more. Anyway. Sunrise’s editing should be complete by the end of July, if I follow through with this thing. 😉

Also in July/August: My siblings and I will probably start running with a homeschool cross-country group over the next two months. I ran for the first time in a while a couple of nights ago, and let me just say . . . um, I’m sore. I hope to run here at my house and not just weekly with the group, so we’ll see how it works out. It’s interesting, because I’ve never been a very coordinated person in general when it comes to sports, so I’d basically given up all hope of trying anything at all. But, when I realized how good exercise can be for you, and was introduced to a running group, I went for it. We’ll see how long it lasts. 😉

As for photography and graphic design goals? I want to start challenging myself to actually make something other than “blog whatnot”, as I’ve tagged it. A couple of weeks ago, I noticed my need for thank-you notes was getting great, so I got on here, designed a batch of thank-you cards, and high-quality printed them at my church for $1. I then proceeded to wrap them up to give to my friend at her graduation party, which wasn’t a bad thing, but only left me with six cards and no envelopes, as we packaged most of the cards with all the envelopes in the house we could find. All that to say, it was something I made and actually ended up being useful, and I want to do more of it. So . . . expect design stuff in the near future, once I come up with an idea. 🙂

I’ve been thinking about these verses for a little while now:

“The Lord frustrates the counsel of the nations; He thwarts the plans of the peoples. The plans of the Lord stand forever, the purposes of His heart from generation to generation.” (Psalm 33:10-11)

I taught a devotional some time ago on the topic of joy. We went through this entire psalm, because I think it goes through all the phases of joy (a post on this later), but I hadn’t remembered it until my dad read it aloud to us last week after the Supreme Court’s ruling on marriage. I have applied this section of Scripture to small things (my everyday stuff) and big things (the way our country will be from now on), and no matter what I apply it to, it doesn’t change the surrendering attitude I have to have.

To admit that I am His and not my own is so hard, because not only does He thwart the plans and the kingdoms of others, but He thwarts the plans and the kingdom of me. He tears down my walls, my expectations, my comfort zone, my heart’s desires, and my will, all so that I might be more like Christ. It is hard. So this summer, my plans might get a little messed up, but you know what? I’m okay with knowing they will be.

Every time my plans have ever been messed with, glory has been given to God. It’s hard, but I will trust Him. May your summer be the best yet, and all glory be to God!