Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Lots of Smiles {Kansas City Children's Photographer}

As in TEN of them! Talk about a fun photo shoot. If you've been following along for a bit you might recognize a couple of these sweet faces from THIS session in November. They've got all their cousins in town this week and we grabbed the whole gang for a photo shoot.

I was brainstorming ways to pose 10 kids 10 and under without too much posing...and came up with the idea of using several brightly painted chairs. I've been wanting to have a collection at my disposal for photo sessions anyways, so I seized the opportunity. I used some leftover paint from some household projects and a couple of cans of spray paint. I love the punchy colors!

Of course we pulled out the tutus and hair flowers for the girls...couldn't resist making them all feel like a princess for the night!

And the boys are pretty dapper too huh?

We took individual family photos as well and I couldn't pass up sharing this one in particular. Such beautiful girls and sweet smiles!

And I just LOVED this one. Little man was so not into the whole portrait experience (come on now...what 2 year old is?) I loved the composition of him poking his big sister :)

And we did individual shots too...still processing the family and single images...but this one struck me immediately when I saw it...isn't she gorgeous?

Thanks for a fun night kiddos! You guys were tons of fun!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Help me name my NEW BABY! {Kansas City Children's Photographer}

There's a new baby at our house. She's lovely...soft...and warm. I've been wanting and waiting for her for a very long time. So long, in fact, that I had completely stopped looking. And that's when it happened. I was out combing one of my favorite stores for some wooden chairs for an upcoming photo session when I spotted her nestled back in a corner. She called to me. I answered. It was love at first sight and as I darted across the store to meet her for the first time my heart was pounding "please be cheap, please be cheap, please be cheap". And she was. And I was SO happy! I couldn't resist taking her out for a spin last night to see how she photographs. So off we went in search of a country road and a bit of sunshine....

She's built to last...not a thread out of place on her lush upholstery or button missing from her tufting. Her wooden frame still has its original gleam. Some might call her golden. I feel almost guilty for the small price for which she became mine.

I'm hoping that her cushions will hold many family memories...captured on film.

These photos received a likety split post processing so that I could share our addition here. I would love to add some texture to these and frame them in a grouping in my home (if I can find any wall space). I wish that I didn't loose clarity on the images once loaded onto my blog. I have tried several of the suggestions posted here (repeating the unsharp mask feature at the new resolution) but I'm still not satisfied with the end result.

Oh I how I love these little faces...sun kissed and tired after a fun-filled summer afternoon.

And my handsome little man. Always ready with an eager smile!

My little girls...best friends...full of mischief and silliness...and lots of hugs!

I am working on hosting Christmas Card Mini Sessions this fall incorporating my new find. If you haven't booked your fall session please contact me soon. October is already quite full!

And just for fun. Let's NAME HER! Post your name suggestion here and if I choose your name...I'll send you something lots of fun!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

a winner at last!

Thanks for all the fun questions! The winner will receive this fun set of tidbit trays. There are four shell plates with silver starfish handles...plus a little shell handled knife! Perfect for yummy appetizers or desserts...your guests will be oh-so-impressed :) I purchased these in the gift shop on Roanoke Island. Did you know that was the spot of the first American colony??

And the winner is.....

Email me your address and I'll get it right out to you!

Lots of neato pictures to share soon of my "new baby"...

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Answers volume 2

WOW have we had a busy week! I took the girls to Suzuki violin camp. My in-laws came to visit and help with Sam and my sister came to help me with the girls. With all the craziness...there was just no time to blog. And while the week was exhausting...it was wonderful and rewarding to see the progress the girls made (their photographer mom forgot her camera so unfortunately there won't be any cute photos of the events).

So now it's time to share a few more answers to some questions! These fall under the "other" category...mainly about life with my family and other personal things :) I'm hoping these aren't killing you all with boredom...not many comments on the previous post. Please tell me that is coincidental ;)

{On a side note...this grouping of photos was taken on the beach on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. I experimented with an action to provide a washed out/sun worn feel...kind of a dreamy memory of a wonderful vacation away from the stresses of life. Not my typical post processing...but I think I love the feel of the end result.}

1. Do you think you will EVER do any custom kid's clothing designs again?
Probably not. I still enjoy sewing for my own kids and hope to find time to do more of it again this fall. But to be completely honest...it was a relief to pull away from ebay and all the pressures to list frequently. I'm finding I really don't miss it at all and that is how I know I made the right decision. I do still love to sew and have mounds of fabric calling to me (if anyone is interested in buying fabric in bulk please contact me!) but I think I will stick to the occasional outfit for one of my own kids!

2. Do you still make your girls clothes? Do you miss sewing?
See above post :) But also...YES I miss sewing (just not the listing on ebay part). I would love to sew for my girls more. One of the problems is that when you aren't sewing frequently (as in every day) you become much slower at putting things together. It takes me so much longer to whip up a little outfit now than it did a year ago...but I do plan to continue trying to have at least of couple of "take a bow" outfits in their closets each season.

3. I assume you made the blouses your girls wore to Sam's party. They are ADORABLE!!! I would love to know what pattern you used.
Carter's Outlet :)

4. My question is, since you are no longer doing kids clothing would you be willing to reveal your source for those fabulous knits you always seem to have.
I'd be happy to share regardless if I was still selling or not. I have purchased knits from numerous sources but my favorite is The Fabric Fairy. I noticed a few months ago that Hobby Lobby is also starting to carry a few jersey knits as well (they may have been carrying them for awhile but I don't get down to the fabric/notions area very often anymore!)

5. My question is, Do you have more than 24 hours in your day? I'm amazed how much you seem to fit into a day, what's the secret??? :)
HA! I wish :) I'm a do-er...not sure it is a good thing...but I have a hard time sitting still. I have always been very active (sorry about that Mom and Dad) and need to stay busy or I get bored. I tend to gain energy by doing...so I love to always have a project brewing on the back burner :)

6. I love the party ideas and themes/colors/outfits always coordinating .... What has been the best birthday theme and/or party you have thrown? Why? What was your favorite part/item?
A had a kitty party for her 5th birthday that was so adorable! She is a total animal lover and she chose the theme. I made her a stripworked twirl skirt out of glamour kitty prints in pink, aqua, and black and appliqued a black tee with a kitty head and rhinestone collar. My friend made her cake which was a 3D mommy cat with her kitten. We played pin the tail on the kitty, did a kitty pinata, and made jeweled collars for the stuffed kitties we gave as favors. I took a picture of each little girl with her kitten by the front door and we used that photo for the thank you cards after the party ended. I loved the entire party...it was perfect for my kitty loving girl :)

7. ...which one ended up not turning out quite as good as you visioned?
I'd have to go with J's 4th birthday for that one. The party itself was quite cute...she had a pink princess theme...but I spent the entire party at the local ER so I missed the whole thing. One of the reasons I love parties is that it gives me a chance to show my children how special they are to me. I thoroughly enjoy planning all the little details and love to see their reaction when they realize that "all the fuss" was for them. I don't believe in spoiling my kids day to day but it is SO fun to give them one day when it is all about them :)

8. My question would be: do you do any sewing/crafting yet... and if you do show us some stuff!
I'll try to get right on that! I have been so busy this spring with photography clients I have put some of projects on hold. But that is one of my goals this summer...to get back to sharing (and doing) more things around my house! And I promise to share....hold me to it ;)

9. ok, here's my question: are you a bonafide human being, or do you just exist as a figment of my imagination? you are just all sorts of amazing, girl. :)
Well other than my bionic arm and ability to become invisible at any moment...I'm mostly human ;) This question cracked me up...because if you have ever visited Nic's blog...you know she is "all sorts of amazing" times TEN. Plus she is a constant source of inspiration for me. In more ways than she knows. And we've never even met in person. And that's a shame.

10. I guess I could ask how the house selling situation is coming along?
Not so great. As in...we lost the house. We put in for an extension on it while we were on vacation at the beach, only to find out when we arrived home, we had lost it to another offer. Kind of a depressing way to end our vacation. I think I'm over it (mostly) and ready to move on to other options. We are still sorting through how we want to move forward (looking for another house or renovating our current home). We are considering an addition here...we'll keep you posted on what we decide. I'm still a little bitter about the 8 weeks of extensive cleaning that I did while our house was on the market....but I figure I have at least 6 months now before I really need to pick up the vacuum again :)

11. How did you and your husband meet?
On my first day of orchestra my freshman year at William Jewel Collage, I sat down next to an incredibly cute violinist named Paul. And after I managed to convince him to dump his current girlfriend, the rest was history :) The faculty from the music dept. all felt personally responsible for our marriage...we had plenty of "help" getting together. We got married between my sophomore and junior years (yes I was just a baby) and lived in married student housing. He totally completes me. He is my reserved, controlled, level-headed counterpart. I'm so thankful for him!

12. Favorite food?
Chocolate. And in case you don't consider that food (shame on you) I'll go with pasta.

{the first night we tried to do a photo shoot we ran into low light and heavy winds...I didn't get much from that session but loved this more dramatic shot!}
13. Favorite family night?
Carry out, a movie with the kids on the floor, and a sleep over in our sleeping bags.

I will be back tomorrow with the WINNER of the GIVEAWAY!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Answers volume 1

It was fun to read the questions posted in my pre-vacation post! I'm never quite sure anyone is really reading along so it is nice to know there are a few of you who stop by! I can't imagine that my answers are going to be real scintillating Internet reading...but here goes!

{I've opted to throw in some vacation photos throughout the next few posts...a bit of an insurance policy that even if my answers bore you to tears...at least there will be pictures of cute kids!}

I'm going to post at least 2 separate entries so this doesn't get to long. In this post I'll do my best to answer all the photography/business related questions.

1. First, any tips for capturing catchlights? The eyes of the subjects in your photos are always so beautiful and radiant. Any tips on light angles?
It is always the eyes that draw me to a photograph. You'll notice that on my website...almost all of the photos are straight on shots of my subjects...because the way light is caught in the eyes tugs at your heart. I do have several photos that are more storytelling in nature...but I think my true style and passion comes from the face. From what I have found, it is best to have the subject at an angle from the light source. In my house I put the large picture windows directly behind me so that my subject is facing the window or standing at a 45 degree angle to it. Outside, experiment by having your subject move slowly in a circle...you will see the eyes "pop".

2. Second, lately I can't seem to get the "sharpness" function to work in Picasa. When it does, by the time I save/export it loses it back again. I know you probably use Photoshop more these days, but any thoughts?
I use Picasa to import and organize all my photos and love it for that! I like the sharpen feature as well. I think it works as well as the feature in Photoshop (although I typically use both). If you are losing clarity in the photo once importing it to your blog it probably has to do with re-sizing the image. I just learned this a few weeks ago thanks to several commentors (I am SO not a computer savvy kind of gal...SO wish I was!) Sharpen your image in Picasa, re-size it and export it to a folder. Then try re-importing it back into Picasa as the smaller size (you can do this under File, add file to Picasa or Ctrl +0). The sharpen again and save back to the folder. Let me know if that works!

3. What lens do you use most often? I converted from a Canon to a Nikon so I'm looking for tips.
I use a Nikon D80 body. I've had it for several years and can't come up with a solid reason to upgrade right now. I HEART this camera (although the movie option on the D90 is quite a temptation). I use my prime lenses almost exclusively. I have read photography blogs that suggest trying many lenses to see what really appeals to you. I'm not a zoom kind of gal. I love the look of the prime lens...love how the subject pops off the background...love the interaction it requires...love the creativity of framing the shot, etc. I use my 50mm/1.8 and 85mm/1.8 for almost every shot. I'd love the 1.4 but couldn't justify the expense right now. My next purchase will be the 28.

4. I would love advice for super-beginning photographers. Like those that don't even have an SLR, just a digital that has some manual capabilities that I don't take advantage of. Help me! I get overwhelmed by most photography books/sites very easily.
I know it sounds trite...but practice, practice, practice. I am still learning something new every time I pick up my camera...and it will continue forever. Watch the light...study it at different times of the day. Get to know how it enters your house: Where is the best light? When is the best time of day? The more light you have available the better your images will be...they will always appear more in focus and more clear with good lighting. Pose near a large window or open doorway. Look for creative ways to frame your shot...even if it is a snapshot...try a new angle. AND GET TO KNOW YOUR CAMERA. You DO NOT have to have a super expensive camera to take good shots. And having one won't make ho-hum shots immediately better. I have a middle-of-the-road DSLR and have resisted upgrading for this very reason. Make sure you are setting your camera to take pictures on the FINE setting and at the highest resolution! Don't be intimidated by all the camera "jargon"...it's ok...really. I don't know what half of it means either ;)

5. Have to know where you get those tutus and other fun accessories! (Not sure if this is photography related or not but it seems to fit here!)
I have a collection of tutus. I have one from Belle Ame and several from Oopsy Daisy Baby. The rest I picked up at TJ Maxx one week when they got a slew of adorable (and cheap!) tutus in stock. I am ALWAYS looking for fun props. The hair flowers and crocheted caps I have are from My Bella Bows on etsy. I have headbands I have picked up at Forever 21 and other retails stores. Many of the bows I've made myself (I actually started on ebay doing hairbows). I have a collection of fun props that I have picked up at garage sales, flea markets, antique stores, and CRAIGSLIST. Ah...craigslist...LOVE IT! (DISCLAIMER: If you live in the KC area and beat me out of a cool chair on Craigslist after I just shared this I will have to beat you with a wet noodle!)

6. I would love a recommendation for an all around fabulous lens, I just got a Canon Rebel. I'm also wondering how\where you store all of your photos?
Start with the 50mm/1.8 or 50mm/1.4. It is a prime (or fixed) lens meaning it DOES NOT zoom. If you want to zoom into your subject you must physically move with your feet. It will encourage you to get creative in how you frame your shots and will provide that yummy blurriness (bokeh) in the background of the image that makes the subject pop!

I upload my images to Picasa and save them in files within the program. I have folders created on my hard drive for each client that includes their session images, edits, gallery images, and blog images. These are backed up onto DVD after each session. Family images are saved in a directory by date.

7. I have never played with a story board but love that one so I may have to give it a whirl! Did you buy it or download it and from where?!
There are oodles of free downloads on the Internet for storyboards that can be customized to your specifications. Plus...several well know photography blogs/sites sell templates as well. I LOVE the simplicity of THIS 3 opening storyboard. If you google free storyboard for photoshop you will likely find hundreds of options!

8. How did you learn the photography basics, exposure, finding the right light, etc.?...and...What is your post processing like? Do you use any particular actions? How did you learn this part of photography?...one more...Any tutorials in your future?
Again...practice, practice, and um...well...practice :) I spent 5 years sewing on ebay and taking photos of my girls. I can't even begin to think how much I learned during that time. Lala...remember the igloo cooler? I read and read...practiced with lighting...and experimented. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Most of the photographers I have met have been happy to help me if I have a specific question. There is no easy fix other than taking time to make a commitment to learn!

I usually do a couple of quick fixes in Picasa (sharpen and add highlights if necessary). I use Photoshop CS4 mainly. Some shots require very little editing. I like the free actions available from Pioneer Woman. MCP also offers some nice options (some free and some for sale). A good friend of mine showed me the ropes on using actions. From there I did A LOT of experimenting and trial and error :)

I've had some emails regarding tutorials and mentoring...and while I won't rule it out in the future...I can't imagine I know enough yet to make it worthwhile :)

9. What would you recommend as a step above a digital camera that could be built upon slowly?
I think the Nikon D40 is a nice option and a solid camera. I have never shot on Canon before but know a lot of photographers (professional and amateur) who love the Canon Rebel and EOS series. My dad just got a Canon EOS for Father's Day and I had some fun with him on the beach playing around with it! I would suggest foregoing the kit lens that comes with the camera as you will likely not use it much. Ask about getting a 50mm lens with the camera body!

I'll be back with volume 2...and the WINNER of a really yummy beachy PRIZE soon!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

back in Kansas...there's no place like home.

We just flew in a few hours ago. The laundry is already going and the unpacking has officially begun. We've got visitors coming tomorrow and a full week of violin camp ahead of us so there no use in waiting around trying to get out of vacation mode.

We had a wonderfully, fantastically, refreshingly nice time. I took about 800 pictures. Although I challenged myself to use manual the entire trip. So a few of those will end up in the junk folder I'm sure :) I battled the inner struggle the entire trip between "I should be catching that in a picture" and "I should put the camera down and just enjoy myself". I'll be sure to share some of my favorites soon.

The week was full of exploration and fun. I completely and utterly fell in love with my kids all over again. They are so quirky, sweet, and silly...and those little tushies in a bathing suit helped too :)

I've got a handsome gift for the winner of the contest....and lots of questions to answer! I promise to be back soon!

Friday, June 12, 2009

GIVEAWAY - post your questions!

It is no secret I absolutely LOVE storyboards. I think they give you a great bang for your buck being able to incorporate several images into one print! And when ordered mounted...they come ready to hang right up on the wall which is SO easy! I've been playing around with this template a lot lately and decided to try adding a bit of text.

I love how it turned out! Now...can anyone help me with this?? Why are the colors so much more vibrant in Photoshop? When I load it into blogger (I'm hosting the image myself) it takes on a grey cast. I've never had any issues with my original files when I send them to the lab so I can't figure out what might be the problem!

I'm working on a whole new blog to debut soon. More room for BIGGER images...some fun new graphics...and lots of new posts. I've debated back and forth about having two separate blogs (one for business and one for family) but ultimately decided to stick with just one. I like that my clients get to see the personal side of my life...and that my friends and family can keep tabs on what I'm doing with my business.

What do YOU think? What kinds of posts do you love to read? Does my business rambling bore you? Any suggestions for posts you'd love to see? Come on...now is your chance :)

We are heading off to THE BEACH in less than 24 hours for a MUCH needed getaway. So let's have a little fun while I'm away...ASK ME ANYTHING! I get lots of emails each week asking all sorts of things: photography tips, where I shop, what my kids are up to, etc. Put your questions in the comment section and when I get back I'll answer ALL of them! And to make it even more fun...I'll throw in a giveaway for one lucky commenter...something BEACHY from my trip!

You all talk amongst yourselves...I'll be back in a week to join in the fun!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

sister love {Kansas City Children's Photographer}

I've mentioned before how much I love to photograph the bond between sisters. And even more fun...twins! These beauties popped out of their car and I did a deep sigh...gorgeous.

And, oh were they fun! I spent the evening chasing after them at the park. They had the moves. I may hire them to shoot second for me...they were all about the poses and doing the model walk for me ;) They were so sassy and sweet!

I had to create a storyboard for them using one of my Mom's favorite lines. I grew up with sisters. And on the rough days when I wanted to borrow my sister's appliqued teddy bear sweatshirt (and she wouldn't let me)...my Mom always said, "your sister is a friend for life". She must have said that a billion times. But I'm glad she did....because it stuck. And I can't imagine my life without my best friends.

I love their coordinating outfits...so fun, bright, and girly!

Can you believe they are only six? Their mama is going to have to LOCK THEM UP in a few years!

The girls had an amazing bond. And the bond ran deep. We walked for a bit...then I'd say "let's see some of that sister love" and they would entwine their arms like only twins can do (I guess they remember the cramped space they used to share together). I have twin nephews...but I never tire of seeing how twins relate. How fortunate they are to have eachother!

Girls, you were lots of fun! Let's play model again soon!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Happy Birthday Mr. Peepers!

It doesn't seem like THIS was too long ago. I was so anxious to meet my baby boy after 9 months of extreme sickness and 9 weeks of bed rest. The induction was 10 hours late...and I was getting cranky. But an hour after the induction started...I had this amazing new person...to love. Forever.

I've done a mini photo session with him every month around his "monthday" to try to capture his growth. I literally have hundreds (or thousands) of photo memories of this sweet face and I love that each stage will be documented forever!

This past year has been such an amazing experience for me. With each new child I have grown as a mom. I'm learning everyday...growing...and changing. These little people are molding me into someone so very different than I used to be. And I am so thankful to them for their patience with me...their curiosity...their silliness and laughter...their squishy little hugs....their unconditional love.

My Sam. Mr. Peepers. Super Sam. Lil Digger. You've changed us so much this past year. And you've done a bit of changing yourself!

a dozen special tricks at one year:
1. speed crawling
2. walking behind anything you can push
3. taking a few steps on your own (6-7)
4. feeding yourself "big boy" food like grilled cheese, chicken nuggets, and french fries
5. talking: mama, dada, nana, no, hi, uh-oh, baba, night-night
6. sleeping with your special blankie all night
7. playing the "uh-oh" game
8. flirting
9. clapping your hands
10. doing "touchdown"
11. giving slobbery kisses
12. waving bye-bye

Every morning I wake up and thank God that He has given me these young lives. I'm overwhelmed by the sheer weight of the task at hand in raising them...and overjoyed that they call me mommy. Sam has been the perfect addition to our little family. He is like the missing puzzle piece we didn't know we had lost...he completes us.

I pray God will give me the strength to raise him to know his Lord, to live with integrity, to be a friend to those who need it, and to be honest and trustworthy. I pray that those chubby little fingers will work hard to make a difference in the lives of others. I pray that his tender smiles will be given freely and without reserve. I pray that his inquisitive mind will keep seeking answers. I pray for my little one.

Happy Birthday to our little man. We love you!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Click HERE to see all the festivities from his BIG BIRTHDAY BASH!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

my life {Kansas City Family Photographer}

I received some news earlier today that put me in a sour mood. And as I re-read the email that was responsible I had a choice to make...allow the negativity to fester...or throw it away. I'm choosing the latter. And although I've peered into the trash can a few times already this afternoon, I'm making a concerted effort to look at the MANY things I've been given that make my life so abundantly full.

This weekend we headed out to capture a few family images. I took a few (hundred) images of the kids and my sweet husband maned my camera for a bit. We managed to get a handful of images that I LOVE and will always treasure. And he was SO sweet to play along with my endless critiquing (although in my defense he did cut off our feet in about 50 pictures).

My girls are growing up way too fast!

And this sweet one...with her silly toothless grin (sigh)...

I'm so thankful for the chance to get in front of the camera. A friend and I were recently discussing the phenomenon of having your portraits done as an adult. There is such struggle between how we *think* we look and how the world really sees us. But to put it off, you are merely delaying the gratification of having precious memories with your children. And hair that needs to be colored, a few extra pounds, or no new clothes hanging in your closet just don't seem to matter when you think about how little time you have to capture those early years together.

My poor hubby was having an awful allergy attack. His eyes were SO red and puffy I thought they were actually going to swell closed at one point in the evening....what a trooper :) All part of the memories, right?

This was my favorite image from the night. It reminds me of the image of me and girls on our last beach trip (in the right sidebar)

We attempted a family portrait too. A friend tagged along and we traded some photos back and forth of the families together but the perfect shot seemed elusive. But I'm not done trying. We'll be heading to the beach in a week and I've already got the wheels turning on some fun ideas.

My life. My family. My happiness.