Outdoor Portrait Sessions | Nikki Gardner Photography

I’m happy to announce that I’m offering outdoor portrait sessions! Now that businesses are reopening in Massachusetts, I’ve come up with a plan to safely begin photographing sessions again.

For outdoor sessions, I like fields, parks, and backyards. I use a wide angle lens for environmental shots and a telephoto for portrait shots—a perfect mix for adhering to the new business guidelines and practices. The location will be carefully chosen with socially distancing guidelines followed so that you won’t need to wear a mask during the shoot. 

Sunrise and sunset times render the best lighting conditions. If those times don’t work for you, don’t worry. Lighting tricks are my specialty. I can work a little lighting magic throughout the day. As long as we remain 6 feet apart, we’re able to have a safe session together.

Safety practices that I will be implementing:

  • Keep a safe distance during our session by staying at least 6 feet apart
  • Jazz hands greeting because hugs and handshakes are out for now
  • Sanitize my hands and all of my equipment before and after each session
  • Request you bring your own blanket, quilt, stool etc. for any seated shots
  • Continue to wear a mask and to practice social distancing in my daily life 

This will be the new standard for portrait sessions for awhile. I’m excited to make portraits again and to reopen for outdoor shoots. See you soon!

Daily Photo Journal Project—April Highlights

I am a journaler. I started penning my life as a kid. This has always been the basis of my work. A space where stories are born. 

I love this quote by Joan Didion, “I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I see, and what it means. What I want and what I fear.” 

This, to me, speaks to both writing and photography. I learn from what has been written and photographed about what I am thinking at that moment. The real magic happens when the words or images evoke surprise afterwards. But, mostly, my journals are a place to return that feels like home. A reflection of home, all the memories, time, and fictions that happen over the years. A place to dream.

With a desire to create a new body of photographs, I started a new photo journal project in April 2020 as a way to mark time, ideas, thoughts, emotions. It has become the new routine. Small noteworthy moments photographed and taped to journal pages offer comfort during these endless days. 

I thought I would share highlights from April’s photo journal.

Do you keep a journal documenting your life? If so, what kind? Send me an email, I’d love to know…

What’s In My Film Camera Bag | Northampton Portrait Photographer


Happy Monday and Happy (day after) Mother’s Day to all the mamas out there! I hope you and your families are staying safe and happy during this phase of COVID-19. During these past few  weeks, I have been planning out how to manage photo shoots once the stay at home advisory is lifted (possibly on Monday, May 25th) for phase 2 businesses. Mask, gloves, and keeping a safe distance are all in the plan. I’ll report back here as well as in my newsletter (you can sign up here) with the reopen date for the studio. Onto the bag…


A few weeks ago, I wrote about What’s in my Digital Bag in my Digital Bag in answer to a question I get all the time. Today, I want to share what’s in my favorite film bag. 


1. The 4x5 sheets of film are 13x larger than a 35mm negative (resulting in amazing clarity and depth that still champions outperforms the very best digital cameras)

2. Super slow mo photography (each image is made with care and precision)

3. Beautiful portraits in studio and on location

4. Shooting with a large format allows you to move and reposition the lens for complete focus and perspective control

5. Creative and fun


  • Graflex Pacemaker Crown Graphic 4x5 press camera from the 1950s. The camera uses 4x5 sheets of film individually loaded into double sided film holders. Due to the film’s light sensitivity, the film has to be loaded in a dark bag or a darkroom. 
  • Graflex Optar 135 mm f/4.5 lens (right now I use the original lens that came with the camera) 
  • Tri-X 320 or Ilford HP5 400 4x5 black and white negative sheet film (I have a black and white darkroom, so I do all of my processing in the studio), box of 50 sheets
  • Polaroid 600 black and white film
  • Portra 400 4x5 color negative sheet film, box of 10 sheets
  • Polaroid 600 color film
  • (4) 4x5 film holders
  • Black changing bag (to load and unload film in total darkness)
  • Large clean paint brush used for dusting the camera, lens, and film holders (before each use)
  • Manfrotto tripod
  • Long (30ft) Bulb cable release (to trigger the shutter)
  • sync cord (to connect camera with studio lights) 
  • Sekonic L-358 Flashmaster light meter (a must have for all of my photo shoots)
  • Dark cloth or scarf (to focus using the ground glass screen on the back of the camera)
  • Camera bag: Black Tenba shoulder bag

Using Format