• studio3z photography {the blog}

    If you have landed here...bless your soul.  Welcome to our little tiny corner of the cyber world, based out of Cincinnati, Ohio. Below you will see favorites from our sessions we do professionally, and also loads of personal nonsense that we hope at least will entertain you.  If nothing less, you can keep up on our adorable children.  Really, they are worth the trip back here time and time again in and of itself.

    My name is Jess.  My hubby is Brett.  We are crazy about each other, our 4 babies, and our art.  Welcome to our world.

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our little schooling house.

The most difficult, time consuming, patience testing, emotional, grey-hair making, endearing, joyful, fulfilling, gratifying  job I will ever do.

(I enjoy challenges.)


“How long have you homeschooled?”

We’ve always homeschooled our kids. Priya is in sixth grade now, and that means I have seven years of teaching under my belt. Well, the kind of schooling where you sit at the table with papers and textbooks. I’m a believer that we begin teaching our children the day they are born, and everyday there after. They learn much in everyday living of life.  Technically speaking, Priya was an October birthday, which is the odd cutoff for the school year. At four she was ready to begin schooling, but would have had to wait until the September she was five to begin kindergarten. We decided to teach her, and we’ve never looked back.

Then we had Adin, Riah, and now Gabe.

“What’s your day like? How do you run a business at the same time?”

Below is a summary of our day- Mon, Tues, Thurs, Fri. On Wednesday we spend the day at our supplemental school, Classical Conversations.

I require the kids to rest in the afternoon for 90 mins. I work. They have quiet time. I work. Some people I know enjoy something called a “weekend.” I work. It’s a tough line, and a balance I continually evaluate. The biggest step this year was committing to leaving the computer off every morning, and just BEING with the children. This was HUGE, and it literally redefined the efficiency of our “schoolhouse.” It’s been going really well. Now that 10:30 part (below) rarely happens. I have to have at least one point on my schedule that remains wishful thinking. I just don’t have time to go to bed that early. Maybe someday.

“How do you teach them all when they are different ages?”

We model the old-fashioned “little schoolhouse.”  We have a 12, 9, 7, and 4 year old. I typically teach the same subject to the oldest three. Then they each break off into whatever they are capable of doing for that subject. For example, we may study Verbs. Riah will copy definitions, Adin may make charts and an example sentence, and Priya will dig much deeper into Verb Anatomy. We may read a paragraph from a book together. Priya and Adin will keyword outline and rewrite the paragraph, and Riah may reread it and choose one important point.

Occasionally, a nerf gun fight between subjects is necessary……

Kitchen redo meant new chalkboard wall! It’s so much bigger and better now.

“Do they like being homeschooled?”

This answer can vary day to day, just as I would imagine any child’s answer would. Of all my children, Riah most definitely comes to the school table with the most enthusiasm and it has always been this way. ;)  One of the greatest joys is seeing how each of their personalities work and handle tasks. Seeing their little minds compute is such a gift to me.

Being older means Priya has more work than the rest. Sometimes she needs to break away form the brothers to concentrate.

“What has been the hardest thing to teach so far?”

Grammar. Diagramming sentences was never a real passion of mine, but I am learning so much more this go-round. I’m actually enjoying learning and teaching it to them!

“What will you do when they are older and classes are harder? Will you teach Chemistry, Trigonometry?”

The older they get we will most likely implore the services of specialized classes, tutors, and mentors of particular subjects. Brett also studied engineering and science in depth in college, so he can always help out as well.  It is so amazing how large the homeschooling community has become. The options truly are endless.

We’re focusing on American History this year, and here are some books we’re currently studying….

According to many people, writing is a dying art, and many schools (and homeschoolers) are no longer teaching cursive. We are keeping this art alive and writing well in this house.

And of course, the most common question of all:

“Do you worry about their socialization?” (Interpreted, “Are they sheltered weirdos?”)

I have come to learn that this is a valid question, and can only be answered on a “per-family” basis. Socialization depends on the parents and personal family style. Obviously, if a homeschooling family is very shy they may not choose to interact with others often. This would create children of the same breed.  The same is true of children that go to school as well.

There are so many options to get homeschooling families out and interacting from every class imaginable, sports, field trips, traveling groups, you name it. Being “socialized” is no problem for the modern homeschooling family.

If you met our kids you would know that they are quite social, and have no problem making friends. In fact, I notice that being homeschooled has made them very comfortable around all age groups because they are not limited to daily interaction with only peers of their exact age. I remember first hand the feeling of being shy and uncomfortable around “older” kids. I have seen children look down on those that are younger. One of my favorite things about watching homeschooled children is the “little schoolhouse” effect. Children of all ages play together with ease, and acceptance comes easily.

Below, our friends came over for a break from school to play Just Dance. They danced it up for an hour, and we got our P.E. in for the day. Bonus. ;)

Have a question for me? Feel free to ask! I’ll gladly answer and perhaps respond in another post down the road as well.

September 27, 2011 - 12:14 pm

Emily A. - This is so sweet and wonderful! I was homeschooled all the way through high school and (on most days) loved it. I’m much closer to my parents as a result. According to some people’s standards I’m a weirdo, but I’m ok with that. ;-)

September 27, 2011 - 12:20 pm

Gail - LOVE that you’re sharing insight into your homeschooling efforts Jess. I don’t tell you often enough, but I so so SO admire you (and Brett) for being such good parents, running the business and still making time for friends and, well, cool stuff like house projects ;)

September 27, 2011 - 12:34 pm

Uncle J - i LOVE you guys!

September 27, 2011 - 12:36 pm

rich - I saw my buddy, Betsy, retweet this and I LOVE it. Our elder son turned 5 a couple of weeks ago and so we’ve had to more seriously home school since we have to be ready for what New York State will require of us next year. So far, so GREAT. We’ve already met some other local families who are going through what we’re going through (what curriculum, do you use a curriculum at all, etc) and plenty who have done it a million different ways. Reading about and seeing how you are going about it is really super cool and I’m very excited you shared this :) !

September 27, 2011 - 12:45 pm

Kara - Really love this post, especially family Bible time! I homeschool my 6 year old and will also do the same with my daughter. The social question always bothers me. When I tell people I homeschool that is always the first thing they bring up. In my case the ones who ask me about that are looking down on me for how I am choosing my son to be taught. But he definitely has no problem being social. Everywhere we go he makes friends. He walks right up to them and starts talking away. And you are right about them being comfortable around all age groups. Preston has made friends with kids as young as 3 and as old as 11.

September 27, 2011 - 2:45 pm

Samantha Ferguson - I am so very encouraged by reading this. My husband and I are photographers and we started really homeschooling my just turned 5 yo and I have been more than a little overwhelmed. I am so grateful to see another family in a similar position. Bless you and your family!

September 27, 2011 - 2:50 pm

Ray - Can you teach me? :) I think I could learn a lot from you all. Great read. Thank you for sharing. Xoxo

September 27, 2011 - 3:22 pm

Cassie - So interesting! With Jason’s experience teaching public school the last four years, homeschooling has come up much more frequently in our conversations about the future. Especially with Avram’s condition I feel like he is going to learn at his own pace anyway, so I’m very interested in how you do this! I wish we lived closer so we could meet in person; Betsy always speaks so highly of you!

September 27, 2011 - 3:36 pm

Roberta - Thanks for sharing this. Before I had kids (and taught for 5 years in public schools) I thought homeschooling was a good option, but not for me. Well my oldest is 4 now and we will begin homeschooling next year! We have many friends that homeschool and they all have well adjusted children who are comfortable around all ages as you have said.

September 27, 2011 - 3:48 pm

Lindsey - Sounds exactly like our recent convo! :) I know your kids appreciate what you do and all your hard work…I know I’d love to have you as my teacher!! :)

September 27, 2011 - 3:58 pm

bonnie - these questions were answered so honestly and beautifully. LOVE the picture of dad reading the bible with the boys. took my breath away. treasured art!

September 27, 2011 - 5:14 pm

Tina Folsom - As a homeschooling mom and photographer, I love this blog!! My biggest challenge is balancing it all with the extracurricular activities they love…it fills up my evenings. I have 4 fantastic kids 14, 12, 10 and 7. There’s baton, dance, baseball, soccer and scout schedules to keep up with and my husband works away from home. Does your hubby work from home?

September 27, 2011 - 6:59 pm

Donna - Thank you so much for sharing…we are seriously thinking about the homeschooling route next year! Your words are real and encouraging!!! Please share more!

September 27, 2011 - 9:27 pm

lucy - if this looks amazing, it’s because it is! love this post….so inspiring…even if one doesn’t have kids! love the zwo fam!

September 28, 2011 - 7:05 am

Rachel - I love your beautifully documented homeschool! And that photo of Brett reading the Bible with the boys made me draw in a sharp breath. SO PRECIOUS! – The house looks wonderful! And I can’t wait to see y’alls rebrand. I am so excited for all the good things that are happening for y’all!

September 28, 2011 - 5:12 pm

Ellee - I was homeschooled from fifth grade on. I loved it. I get many of the same questions about my experience and have had different answers as I continue to mature as an adult and consider the option of homeschooling when I have kids. Your open and grounded answers were fantastic.

I might borrow them.

September 28, 2011 - 9:49 pm

gina - can i just say…YOU ARE AMAZING! really, truly amazing.

September 29, 2011 - 3:37 pm

Jake Ford - My fiancee and I have always talked about whether or not we would homeschool or not. This definitely makes me lean towards homeschooling. What a great post! Thank you for always giving us a small glimpse into your lives.

October 2, 2011 - 9:14 am

brian rickey - Being a public school teacher for 14 years I can’t say that I blame you at all for the choice you made for your children. Good parenting is the biggest thing missing from the system today. It looks like your kids hit the jackpot there. If you ever need any history or literature help let me know! :)

August 2, 2017 - 8:55 am

Afyon nakliyat - very enjoyable :)

{still} more or less

This week is big for us. We are in our final stages before the new name and new site come A L I V E.

I am so giddy that I can hardly handle it. It’s almost as if I see my dreams that have only been visible in my head and my heart coming to fruition before my eyes. It’s a bit overwhelming.

I couldn’t think of a better post to kick off this week of daily postings (you heard that right, DAILY!) than this one from January of this year.

What was a hope of yours for 2011?

These were my hopes for 2011, more or less.

September 26, 2011 - 1:37 pm

Gabe - thank you for this.

September 26, 2011 - 1:46 pm

Betsy - This is the best post ever! So glad you reposted it. Godspeed your new brand!!!

September 26, 2011 - 2:13 pm

Reagan Z - Love this post especially the last quote. Need to remind myself of these things all the time. Looking forward to your big launch!

September 26, 2011 - 5:15 pm

Keaton - So excited for this new launch. This post was one of the first posts I came across when I first found your guys’ blog, and NOW look at where you are. I’m so thrilled for this new chapter of your life. Thank you for sharing with us. :-)

September 26, 2011 - 6:23 pm

Ellee - Inspiring.

September 26, 2011 - 8:16 pm

Kel Lee - Tanks for this post! Just what the doctor ordered for a tired first time mama! Thanks for creating such beautiful work and reminders we all need once in a while.

September 26, 2011 - 8:17 pm

Kel Lee - Thanks for this. This tired mama needed a pick me up!

September 27, 2011 - 12:50 am

wrecklessgirl - having a difficult time waiting over here; i’m so excited for you! hugs.

September 27, 2011 - 12:58 pm

amanda reynolds - This might be might favorite post of your ever!!!

September 27, 2011 - 3:56 pm

bonnie - i loved when you posted this the first time and love it again… beautiful.

September 28, 2011 - 8:07 pm

Melody - Thank you for this. Need to read this one over and over.

September 28, 2011 - 9:50 pm

gina - i see i am not alone. i loved it the first time as well and really, all of it, so true.
can’t wait for your reveal. no doubt it will all be full of personality and creativity and ‘real’ just like the two of you.

September 29, 2011 - 11:42 pm

Kelly - Hi there! My name is Kelly, and I actually went to high school with Adam, your bro-in-law. I first came across your blog when I saw Adam & your sister’s engagement pics on FB and asked him who took them. Needless to say, I’ve pretty much been following your blog since that time. My hubby Seth encouraged me to write you a little note, because every time I’m using our computer, I’m asking him to “get up and come over here and read this post!” :o ) I just wanted to let you know that I appreciate your realness and raw honesty. The way you (and your entire family) live your life is so beautiful. And if we ever need professional photos taken in the future, you’d better believe that we’ll either be making the drive up to you guys, or inviting you down to Nashville! Much love.

August 25, 2017 - 8:20 am

Kayseri asansörlü evden eve - Thank’s for sharing…

janelle & jeff {wedding}

Janelle and Jeff were married on a beautiful day in Indianapolis, IN. One element that stood out about their day was their first look & gift exchange. It was so very precious. :)But then there were the balloons that matched the girls shoe colors, and the surprise Michael Jackson dance by Janelle too. Let’s just say, their wedding was extremely heartwarming and TONS of fun!! We felt incredibly honored to be a part.

Janelle and Jeff, thanks for everything! We wish you both all the happiness in the world, and many wonderful years loving together!

jess & brett

September 23, 2011 - 2:22 pm

Janelle - My daily check of your blog was an awesome surprise today!! These pictures are just so amazing! I can’t find words to explain how much I love them either! We are so thankful that you agreed to shoot our wedding. Awesome… just simply awesome!

September 23, 2011 - 4:31 pm

Suzi Lighten - These are super duper FUN – love the lighting too! I totally see some canvas-worthy images here, like the one of them in the tree/orchard area facing forward – lovin’ that one tons!

September 25, 2011 - 10:37 pm

mel - hey i know her! :)
the orchard shot, big trees, little people. H.O.T. that needs to hang in your basement.

July 10, 2013 - 1:38 pm

Denis - Super fun wedding! Thanks for sharing. Love x

what’s in a name?

To us, quite a bit.

I can hardly believe the journey that we’ve been on over the last couple years. In fact, I find it difficult to even begin to share, but I will. Big changes are coming around here. I’ve been saying it for months (and some of you are wondering if it is really even true!) but we are getting so close. These changes are more than I expected, and also something I didn’t think would be so difficult to complete. We made the leap into the world of “re-branding” and along the way, I feel I found myself. Not sure if Brett would say the same thing, but me, most definitely. I figured out my part. I figured out I can be a good mom AND also run a business. And let me tell you, it is such a wonderful feeling when you figure out the how’s and why’s of your place in this world, and for us the world of the photography industry.

Two years ago we hired a designer. You heard that right, two years ago. (Bless you Ryan.) We’ve only been in business for a little under 5 years, but we never had a brand, look, or logo. Being “un-branded” became our brand.  In a way I feel we never really owned up to who we were because we just weren’t sure, and that’s normal. We were searching. We were gaining experience, building, shooting and growing. We didn’t throw down roots and call any “look” home….we just purchased the latest $50 website every 6 months or so, and hid there for a while. You know, “until we figured out what we REALLY wanted.” Right.

In the spring of 2009 I went to cheer my good friend Bobbi on as she spoke at a convention in Indy. It was there that I met Ryan Hunley and heard him speak. It was that day that I KNEW he would do our company’s branding. I had been holding off on getting a new site/blog because I wasn’t sure what we wanted it to look like, but hearing Bobbi and Ryan speak about the importance of your brand, I knew we needed to get going. Ryan was different……he didn’t speak business-y. Ryan spoke from his heart. He spoke with passion. He was honest. He wasn’t about to let a client walk away without feeling 150% satisfied with his work. He had energy and confidence, but was still incredibly humble. And, I was sold. I don’t think poor Ryan knew what he was getting in to. But then again, he’s a designer, and they tend to deal with indecisive people. But Brett and I…well….we’re of a different breed.;)  Sometimes Brett has trouble with decisions and over analyzing things (as in sitting at a restaurant for an hr. before deciding what to order), and I am admittedly picky as all get out. (Again, bless you Ryan.)

It was about a year and a half ago that it happened. Ryan sent over a round of studio3z logos, and they were rocking, but I just didn’t feel connected. I then realized it was the name. I knew RIGHT THEN AND THERE that we just couldn’t go on as “studio3z.” I needed a name that meant something more to me. Something that was a driving passion for us and what we do. Something people would hear and understand who we are a bit. So, the next day I (*gasp*) told Ryan I was ditching the name, and he was completely a gem about it. Then Brett and I began some serious soul searching. SERIOUS. Like praying, writing down words that we were drawn to, ideas of who we were and what we stood for, and things that were important to us. We had nights of sipping wine, mapping out our life on the chalkboard wall, and nearly coming to tears out of frustration. Imagine finally coming up with something awesome, taking it to Google just to find it belongs to someone else??! Ahhh! I just wanted the right name. Our name. Talk about putting the pressure on……

Last August we were having dinner with some good friends. They are the kind of friends who are completely honest-not afraid to lay things out there. They offered up a couple critiques about us. Ouch. But you know, the good kind of ouch you need to hear. The kind you grow from. I’m so thankful for friends like that. They listened to our dreams, where we were headed, and they were digging it. The next day Brett and I were reflecting on the previous night and we kept coming back to the same place. An idea that has consumed us and drives us. Something that sums up our mission. And then we knew…..we had found our name. And of all things, it was Brett, standing over a pot of food he was stirring at the stovetop, “So what about ________??!” Of course I was hesitant. But then about an hour later, I was sold. “It just makes perfect sense,” he said. “You’re absolutely right,” I concluded, with the biggest sigh of relief and smile across my face. We had it.

Then the journey began. That was August of 2010. This year we have dug so much deeper, and we can’t wait to share what we’ve come up with our friend Ryan, who I still can’t believe actually wants to be our friend.;)

We can’t wait to “own up” to who we are.

I plan to post quite a bit over the next week and then guess what…….


Thank you for sharing in this with us. We are giddy with excitement!!

(Photo props to Sarah Rhoads)

September 22, 2011 - 2:58 pm

tara - I am in the same space – rebranding – ugh. Not easy or fun. I can’t wait to see what you’ve come up with. Gorgeous photo.

September 22, 2011 - 3:15 pm


That’s it. :)

Your friend who’s dying over here

September 22, 2011 - 3:18 pm

April - I’m beyond excited to see everything that you’ve come up with! I need re-branding (or rather branding) in the worst way. Reading this post has both inspired & scared me :)

September 22, 2011 - 3:34 pm

emily - AAAAHHHHHH!! and then you don’t tell us?!?! that’s just mean!

Can’t wait to hear more about your changes:)

September 22, 2011 - 4:04 pm

Tina - Yay for you guys!! Can’t wait to see what it is, branding is one of the toughest parts of our job in my opinion:) Cheers!

September 22, 2011 - 6:49 pm

Kylee - I’ve been following your blog for about 3 years now, and I love everything about how you do what you do. :) can’t wait to hear more!

September 22, 2011 - 8:02 pm

Vickey Weiss - Can’t wait to hear more!!! xoxo

September 22, 2011 - 11:43 pm

Maggie - OK seriously?!? The anticipation is killing me!! This post is awesome…I’m so excited about the journey this business has lead you on. You two put your heart and soul in everything you do…it is totally refreshing

September 23, 2011 - 10:00 am

Keaton - I’M GIDDY WITH EXCITEMENT!! Ahhhhh!! I’m so happy to see what you’ve been working on.


September 23, 2011 - 11:49 am

Donna - Can’t wait!!! So excited for you all!

September 23, 2011 - 2:13 pm

meredith - Torture!!

September 23, 2011 - 2:53 pm

Ellee - No kidding – I have been waiting for this day! So excited for you guys!!!

P.S. – were we those friends in August 2010????? We had a pretty intense conversation about this rebrand?

Miss you guys!

September 26, 2011 - 9:21 am

Amber - Oh man! Leave us in suspense why don’t ya?!! I’m dying to know!

September 26, 2011 - 9:22 am

Amber - Oh man! Leave us in suspense why don’t ya?!! I’m dying to know! Looking forward to more posts about this launch!