You will never regret documenting your family and your days within the walls of your home.  Embrace the chaos. I am reminded of so many amazing moments that were lost in the fog of motherhood because I chose to document our days.  It is a new year and ahead lies a new opportunity for you to resolve to document your days too.  Give the gift of memory to your small children of the beautiful laughter and madness-filled days that you shared together.

I encourage you to embrace the mess.  Embrace the tangly hair.  Embrace the spaghetti sauce on the ceiling and the water that spills over the walls of the bathtub. Find humor in the meltdowns. Document it all in all its glory.  Think less. Try less. Just shoot. Gain access to all my best tips here but here a few little insights to get in the game…

Capture “Normal”

The kids brushing their teeth.  Dad reading a bedtime story. Kids running around sans clothing.  Kids getting dressed to head out the door. The most mundane seemingly ordinary things are so unique for that given time that they deserve to be documented.

Slow Down

Chances are – it can wait.  It probably won’t be the end of the world of your kid show up late to dance practice or is late to school.  The grocery store or gym will quite likely be there if you show up 10 minutes after you intended.   Take a moment to savor the moment and if you want – grab a photo.  My daughter was no less than 20 minutes late to her first of few ballet practices and I did not and will never feel bad about that.  She quickly realized she didn’t like ballet but at least we got the leotard pics to remember it.

Don’t over-think it

We have a crazy amount of storage in our phones and memory cards.  Just shoot.  You can delete it later if you want.

Lighting

Indoor lighting can be difficult but it adds interest! Go with it.  It gives each image a character and tells a story.  The lighting might not be perfect but the moments are.  You can make things easier in the day and open windows and turn off the lights but you don’t want to limit yourself to only taking photos in easy situations.  Embrace the grain of dark photos.  Embrace the harsh shadows and inconsistent lighting.

Moral of the story

There are times to create beautiful look at the camera and smile-ish portraits.  There are also times to shift your thinking to the importance of the little moments that make life worth living.  They are worthy of the frame. I encourage you to slow down and tell your story the way nobody else could.

 

xo, Susie

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The day will very likely come if you are a digital photographer.  The error message.  The pit in your stomach.  Your memory card is corrupt.  Profuse sweating and/or illness might ensue depending on what it is on that particular card.  The card pictured below was the card that single-handedly made me lose nearly two weeks of sleep.  The images on there were of a clients wedding day.

Tips for Memory Card care and general use…

  1. Store them carefully – I love my ThinkTank card memory card wallets. Just be sure you pick the one for your memory card type – SD or CF.
  2. Avoid filling your cards completely
  3. Format your cards – but be sure you have multiple copies of the images on various locations prior to doing so
  4. Format the memory card in the camera you want to use it on
  5. Remove cards safely when connected to your computer
  6. Insert the card safely into your camera
  7. Don’t turn off your camera too fast after taking an image
  8. Two is better than one if you are a professional – Consider investing in a camera with two memory card slots!
  9. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket – Shoot on multiple cards so if one is corrupt you aren’t at a complete loss

I think my card is corrupt!  What do I do?

  1. Don’t panic!
  2. Stop taking photos.  Don’t delete anything.  Don’t format anything.  Just stop.
  3. If you are trying to import on your computer and nothing is happening check the connection between the card reader and your computer
  4. Try a different card reader
  5. Try importing direct from your camera with the camera cables (that are probably still in the box)
  6. Download a recovery software – there are many free options available online (recuva for windows or photorec for mac or card recovery for windows and card rescue for mac)
  7. Check your local camera store – they often have more advanced recovery options available you can try
  8. Remain calm!
  9. When all above options fail – reach out to the team at LC Technology.  I shipped these guys my memory card when I had exhausted all options.  They were my very last hope!  I had a sick feeling in my stomach as I carefully packaged the card and sent it off in the mail.  They disassembled and access portions of the card I didn’t know existed.  They called to tell me they had recovered the images and I actually cried tears of joy on the phone.  This is how the card was returned to me next to a disc with all the recovered images.  I can not possibly recommend them enough.  When you think all hope is lost – Please reach out to them!

**It is important to note that if you have any suspicion that your card is corrupt and even if you were able to recover images off the card in question.  Get rid of it!  Save yourself the headache of going through this again and get rid of the card for good.  I usually sharpie a big X on mine before tossing them out for extra measure.

Please do not overlook this very important part of photography.  Amazing images mean nothing if you can’t access them when you are finished taking them.  I hope you don’t encounter this situation but if you do I hope this information helps you!!

xo, Susie

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You may have seen some type of photography project going around whether it be a theme-based project or a Project 52 or a 365 Project.  These projects are a wonderful way to grow creatively with photography.  Here is a little information on each project to see if one might be a good fit for you.  Also, some tips on how to get the best out of it and take your photography to the next level!

What is a photography project or challenge?

There are any variety of projects or challenges that you can do on your own or through a community to hold you accountable.  Let’s look at some of the most popular ones a little more…

  • Theme-based Project – These are often set up by a moderator in a photography group who decides on a daily or weekly theme.  You can make their own interpretation of that theme.  It helps if you are feeling a little photographers block to challenge you and help you find inspiration in varying circumstances you might not otherwise.
  • Project 52 – This is a weekly photography project that lasts the full year.  This is a great way to ease into a documentary style without the full commitment of a 365 project.  This can be theme-based as well or more documentary style.
  • 365 Project – This one is a doozie!  It is exactly what you think it is.  You commit to documenting a photo every day for a year.  It requires a lot of dedication but the outcome is something amazing!

Photography Project Tips

  • Accountability – Tell someone you love or do a social media post so you feel the extra motivation of being accountable for follow-thru.
  • Storage – Make sure you are storing your images and backing them up (dropbox or google drive).
  • File Naming – Name the files so they are easy to find and follow a sequence.  (365_Project_01_01_18)
  • Posting to Social -Find a schedule that works for you (once or twice a week maybe).  If you are posting every day you might get exhausted and burn out.
  • Document – Take photos of things you would never think to take photos of (when the kids are brushing their teeth or putting their shoes on)
  • Get Uncomfortable – Get out of your comfort zone. You will be amazed at the images you can create!  It’ll nudge you into taking photos in tough or busy situations you never would normally (in the dark, in the rain, during bedtime routines, at breakfast, getting out the door).  You don’t know how valuable those moments are until you catch a good one.
  • Create a Keepsake – When you finish create an album to commemorate your achievement.

 

I have done a couple 365 projects and if you have followed me for a while you might remember them.  I still look back on these with the greatest pride.  The images weren’t “perfect” but they were us.  They are the greatest gift I ever created for myself or our family.  You will never regret taking the plunge!  Getting serious about taking your photography to the next level in the process? Sign up HERE to get all my freebies and guides not found here on the blog!

xo, Susie

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Hi friends!

I’m going to be sharing with you some simple tips on how to edit photos on your phone. This example being on how you can get colors to look accurate and whites looking white even when using just your phone for editing. Think of a good before/after on a Tide commercial!  Your white balance can be the difference in a good photo and one worth framing.  Here is a before and after of a photo I took on my iPhone while my daughter and I were at an art studio.  The lighting was very yellow and it was a gloomy day.  The images were a bit blah so I did a little magic to spruce them up…

App to download:

  • Lightroom (**freebie PDF** here are a couple other apps I love and why)

I like LR because it allows you to make slight modifications to enhance your images without overpowering them (and dating them) with trendy filters.  This is a very similar but scaled down technique for how I edit the images from my camera on the Lightroom desktop application.

 Lightroom App

Ok let’s go.  You’ll be amazed at the difference a simple white balance correction can make to improve the look of your photos and Lightroom has a really easy feature that helps.

  • Select your image from your camera roll
  • Find color option on the bottom menu (image 1)
  • The white balance as a default is set to “as shot”
  • As you can see the “auto” white balance feature can overcorrect. (image 2)
  • It detected a lot of magenta from the paint and overcompensated to make it way too green.
  • You will see on the right side a dropper tool *your new best friend* selecting it will create a little target on the image
  • Move the target around the image until you find a portion of the image that is slightly off-white
  • Note: It can’t be too bright or or else it won’t be able to read the color (image 3).
  • Try a wrinkle in a white shirt, the trim on a window, light colored building, in this case I used the crease/shadow on the edge of the plate. (image 4)
  • Selecting this area and hitting the check mark will create a Custom White Balance. Ta daaaa!

This little trick will help getting accurate skin tones and accurate colors in all your images.  Once you have your white balance set you can adjust your exposure and add a little contrast if you like to jazz it up.  Having crisp whites accentuates all the other colors in the image.

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It’s almost Thanksgiving and it just hit you. You don’t have any gifts and possibly scarier you may need to figure out how to bake a turkey and a homemade pie. Your friends are flooding social media with their new family pics and you don’t have one. Don’t worry!  I have you covered on one thing. This was me last year without a family photo and I AM a photographer.  Whether you just didn’t have time or it wasn’t in the budget this year for family pics you still have time to whip one up.  Chances are you have some event in the next week (eh-hem Thanksgiving) where you will be tidied up and the kids hair will be brushed so how do you take advantage of this and take your own family picture…

Tip #1

Do it BEFORE the event. Tell the kids “we GET to do a fun family photo to send our friends before we do ___!” This sounds waaaay different than “You WILL do this …or else.”

Tip #2

Find a spot with nice even lighting. Shade is easiest especially if you are using an iPhone.

Tip #3

Ask someone to take a couple pics if possible. Ideally one vertical and one horizontal and have the phone/camera far back enough to include space above and below you (cause we know you haven’t picked the card out and we don’t know where any text might be). You can ALWAYS zoom in but you can’t zoom out.  If there is nobody available you can use a self-timer or a remote.  I have THIS one from amazon that works magic for us.

Tip #4

Be goofy!! Say something silly to make the kids laugh. Ask them how many pieces of pie they are gonna eat. Make your best turkey sound. Whatever it takes!

Tip #5

Order cards however you choose but one HUGE time-saver is the Minted stand alone pre-addressed envelopes! Two years ago I managed to order the cards but didn’t have time to address them all so I only sent out half before giving up. I created a file for Minted and now I the envelopes arrive already addressed. It’s amazing!!! The kids stamp the return address (though Minted also has return address options) and VOILA!

how to take your own family holiday card picture

This is how we took our own family picture last year.  We had my sister Katie do a quick picture of us before a breakfast with santa (this was honestly 10 days before Christmas) to put on a card and mail out juuuuust in time.  I absolutely love how it turned out and hopefully you will love yours too! The reason I recommend doing it before is because if we had done it after they would have been covered in hot chocolate and consumed 10 donuts each.

This is obviously no substitute to hiring a professional photographer to get lots of fun shots and candid moments but it does the trick if you need one good shot for a card if your family pics aren’t up to date. The lovely Sherry did our family photos a few weeks ago and I LOVE them and could never have done anything remotely close to them myself or without the help of an incredibly talented photographer like her to make the kids burst out laughing for an hour straight.

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you all have the best turkey day surrounded by those you love and eat lots of pie!!

xo, Susie

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