Friday, December 6, 2013

How to Take Great Holiday Photos

It's that time of year when I am in a rush to get my Christmas cards completed and sent out.  Sometimes finding 'Christmas card worthy' photos can be tough.  Most of my friends don't want to pay for professional photos just for their holiday cards, but it is so easy to create your own setup and take them yourself.  You might be surprised to know with a few props and a bit of strategic editing you can make your photos look professional and get it done in one afternoon!  Here are some tips and tricks that I use when creating a setup in my home.

  • Find a room with good natural light and set up with that light to one side of your backdrop. (In my setup below there is a large window to the left of my backdrop.)
  • Select a backdrop.  You can use fabric or blankets, anything large enough to fill your camera frame.  You could even use a plain wall for your backdrop.
  • Add props.  Twinkle lights, Christmas Tree, hats, etc.  Your options are unlimited.
In the photo below I set up two inexpensive backdrop stands, clipped up a white cotton backdrop, and added several strands of twinkle lights.  My backdrop wasn't as long as I wanted so I also added a fuzzy white rug.

  • Make sure that you choose a room where you can stand back from your subject. 
  • If you are using twinkle lights see if you can adjust your camera settings.  I use a dslr and a lens with a very shallow depth of field which makes the twinkle lights appear as bokeh (blurred).  Some point and shoot cameras will allow you to adjust the settings, so its always good to check your manual. 
  • You can also create that blurred background look through editing. is a great free photo editing site that has tons of options and professional tools.  I use photoshop, but did very little editing to these photos. 
So here are the final results from a quick session with my favorite model.  ; )

So, now that I have some adorable photos it's time to choose a card.  I am loving all of the holiday cards at Tiny Prints!  There are so many beautiful cards that it's hard to choose just one!  All of the cards I played with were customizable, so I could choose the color, shape, etc.  Can you tell I definitely have a favorite shape?  Ha!  Here are just a few of my favorites:

So with just a bit of planning and editing you too can create a gorgeous holiday card!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Dining Room Window Before & After

I thought I would post my most recent DIY project.  We moved into a new home this year and after replacing all of the wood floors and painting the kitchen cabinets, I needed a break from all things DIY.  This month I have finally decided to start hanging pictures and putting up drapes.  We have two bay windows in our house which poses a bit of a problem with drapery hardware.  I know they sell some special bay window hardware, but it is hard to find, difficult to measure for, and can be expensive.  I saw an idea somewhere (possibly Pinterest) to make your own bay window hardware using pvc pipe and spray paint.  I cannot remember and cannot find that link anywhere, but a big thank you to whoever came up with the idea.  It worked brilliantly!  Now, you will notice the paint looks unfinished near the ceiling because we are adding crown molding that will cover that.  I thought about hanging the drapes higher, but finding suitable longer length drapes has been difficult too.  I found these linen drapery panels for $19.99 for 2 panels at T.J. Maxx! 
A great price and very nice material, so I went with the shorter length.  (They were a bit short of the floor however, so I had to rip the seam out and re-hem them.)

So here are the materials.

My husband figured out the measurements and angles that we needed, I spray painted the pvc pipe and the finials. We just bought 4 brackets that matched our spray paint color.

And ta da...

You can see in the picture that it really does look like a metal curtain rod.  I am pretty pleased with this project.  It fits perfectly and didn't cost a lot.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Newborn Photography | Baby Aliza

I got to spend last Wednesday morning with my good friend Amanda and take newborn photos of sweet little Aliza.  We also got a couple with big sister Amelia.  I thought I would share just a few of my favorites from that session.  Aliza was so calm and peaceful throughout the session, such a good baby, and absolutely precious!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

i heart face | Pets

This photo was submitted to the I Heart Faces photo challenge –

I haven't participated in these photo challenges for quite a while, but then again, I haven't posted to my blog in a year either. I'm not sure I'll start updating my blog again anytime soon, but I think I will enter more photos in the i heart faces photo contests. This week the theme is pets and although this isn't a photo of our pet, it does fall within the contest guidelines. I captured this photo on a class field trip to a local farm. My girl loves all animals, and I was able to capture a sweet moment as she was petting a baby goat. My favorite of the day!

Photo Challenge Submission

Please go check out all the other amazing 'pet' photos at

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Pictures and a holiday update!

I am finally getting around to posting again!  It’s been a busy couple of weeks.  I was sick for a week after my last post with a horrible cold and didn’t feel like doing much of anything.  Then, the Sunday before Thanksgiving my cousin Taryn and her kids (Logan & Piper) came to visit and stayed the week.  We had such a wonderful time!  Taryn enjoyed a spa day with Whitney one day and another day I was able to do a photo session with the kids.  Ana Kate and I both enjoyed the week off of school, but wow….the first day back this week was tough!  We’re already looking forward to Christmas break.  ; )  I am just now setting up my Christmas tree, so that will keep me busy this week.
And on to photography……
First a few of the many faces of Ana Kate…..random from a recent session where I was attempting to get Christmas card photos.  We may have to try again, but here is a peek:
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Also I want to share a couple of my favorites from a recent family session I did for my friends Mark & Rena (such a sweet family):
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And last, but not least… are the photos of Logan & Piper….love them SO much! (And 1 of Taryn who hates having her picture made, but she’s so pretty!)
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I will have more posts up this week, one of which will be about a really fun photo challenge!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Busy Saturday, Slow Sunday

  We had a busy Saturday and a very slow Sunday.  Saturday morning I took some family photos for some friends of mine.  The weather was perfect and I captured some great shots.  I’ll post some of them after I’ve edited their session.  We had a wedding to go to Saturday night and Ana Kate was SO excited.  She has never been to a wedding and she could not stop talking about it.  She couldn’t wait to see the bride walk down the aisle and for them to kiss.  (She’s obviously been watching too many princess movies).  She was very good at the wedding and sat still and was quiet (for the most part).  She did have a funny moment though.  I’m not sure it will sound nearly as funny as it actually was, but I’ll try to explain it.  Our friends Deric, Amanda, and Amelia were sitting beside us and Ana Kate kept sitting on Doug’s lap in order to be closer to Amelia.  At one point she moved off Doug’s lap to stand up in the aisle in front of us.  When she got up we heard a big poot (that’s the word we use for passing gas as I don’t like Ana Kate saying the other word).   At first I looked at Doug and then back at her and said, ‘Ana Kate!’ (obviously implying that we don’t do that in public, much less at a wedding during the ceremony…)  She turned around and I’m not sure why, (maybe we cause we were all looking at her) she smiled and gave us a big thumbs up!  I lost it, I can’t remember the last time I laughed so hard while trying to be silent.  Just when I thought I could stop laughing I looked at Doug and he was shaking with laughter as well.  I couldn’t see anyone else from my spot, but Amanda told me later that she had tears from laughing so hard.  It really doesn’t sound that funny and maybe it was worse because we were supposed to be quiet, but oh my….we found it hilarious at that moment.  I wish I had a video of it to harass Ana Kate with when she’s older.  : )  So that was our entertainment for the evening.  I now wonder what the people sitting behind us were thinking.  Maybe they were laughing too?  Who knows…..
We went out to eat after the wedding and by the time we got home I started feeling terrible.  I think I caught Ana Kate’s cold and on top of that I also got a migraine.  So I went to bed and spent most of Sunday in bed.  I did take a few minutes to go outside and snap some pictures of Ana Kate playing in the leaves before it rained.  The fresh air made me feel slightly better, but I just couldn’t shake the migraine until late Sunday night.  So thankful to be feeling better today!
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Monday, November 5, 2012

Beautiful Fall Weekend

We had a gorgeous fall weekend here and we enjoyed it!  My Dad surprised us with a weekend visit so we had a great time catching up with him.  Whitney also gave Ana Kate a badly needed haircut.  Rather than the usual ‘tiny’ trim we cut off about 3-4 inches and got rid of all the ‘scraggly’ ends.  It looks quite a bit shorter to me, but also much thicker.  Ana Kate is loving it because it’s much easier to brush now.  Saturday afternoon I took a few pictures of Ana Kate.  She wasn’t too into at first, but finally started posing.
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The time change threw us off a bit on Sunday, but after relaxing all morning we did some shopping.  Late that afternoon we explored the trail near the Crystal Bridges museum and it was beautiful there.  Ana Kate had a wonderful time and actually asked me to take her picture.  She also made some new friends by the time we reached the end of our walk.  : )
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We’ve been working on a couple of home projects that are almost completed.  I’ll be putting together a post of before/after photos soon!