All for the City!

Check this out! Recognize anyone? I was super lucky to be invited to be a part of this Sporting KC ad that is now airing on TV here in Kansas City! It’s been really fun hearing from people that have seen it and wanting to know if that was me saying “Olathe”…yes, it’s me! We filmed this a few weeks ago, and I had no idea it was airing, so I was pleasantly surprised to hear it was on during the Royals home opener AND the finale of The Walking Dead.

(And for those of you who have asked…no, I’m not actually from Olathe. TV magic!)

Clearwater Beach Travel Diary

Travel Diary : Spring Break 2016

We’re back! And we’re only mildly sunburned!

This Spring Break was probably my favorite family vacation yet. As the kids get older and our jobs get busier, I know we don’t always do a great job of spending “quality time” together, and this trip was a chance for us to spend time just being together. This time around I made myself the goal to try and capture more video of our family together. While I will always love still photographs, my background is actually in video production, and I love seeing moving images of our kids at different ages and stages. While I enjoy making these sorts of videos for clients, I haven’t been making them for our family lately, and I missed it!

The whole reason I got into this business in the first place was to document my own family’s lives, and while client work is amazing, this is the kind of stuff that gives me goosebumps and that we all crowd around watching in bed, laughing at our silly moments and remembering our adventures. There was a time not so long ago when my life certainly didn’t feel this joyful, and I feel like it’s my duty to capture these memories because it shows me that no matter how hard things are, life can and does get better. It takes time, patience, and lots of gummy bears, but it’s true. I hope many more of these Travel Diaries are in our future.

Music : La La Love by Animal Island (used with permission)
Filmed With : Canon 60D + Go Pro Hero4
Locations : Honeymoon Island, Florida + Clearwater Marine Aquarium + Clearwater Beach, Florida + Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach

Vacation Photo Tips and Tricks

Tips + Tricks for Great Vacation Photos

I can hardly believe it’s already almost spring…and for many of us that means SPRING BREAK! It also marks the beginning of travel season for lots of families. Whether you are taking off for some fantastic locale or hanging out close to home for a “staycation,” capturing moments in photos is important to all of us. I get asked all the time how we come home with such awesome images (and video) from our family trips, so I wanted to share some of my favorite tips to ensure you will enjoy your vacation memories for years to come!

Check Your Gear
Now, you don’t need to spend a million dollars on gear to get great images, but I wanted to give you a little breakdown of what we use when we travel. Keep in mind, RARELY do we take all of this gear at once, but instead we tend to grab one or two things depending on what type of travel (airplane versus road trip), who is coming (kids or no kids?) and the location (family farm versus faraway beach).

Smart Phone Vacation Photos

  1. Smart Phone – The best type of camera is the one you have with you….this means it doesn’t matter what you have on hand, as long as you have SOMETHING to capture the moment. Often our cell phones have great cameras, and since we carry them everywhere, they can be the best option to capture a moment as it happens. Learn your camera settings and look into downloading some apps to edit your images and make them pop. My current favorite apps are VSCO Cam (for iPhone and Android) and A Color Story (for iPhone and coming soon for Android). These simple apps can really take your images to the next level and are very easy to use.Vacation Images DSLR
  2. DSLR – As a photographer, it’s hard for me to go anywhere without my DSLR camera! The images captured on my DSLR are far superior to anything I could get with my cell phone, and it’s capabilities allow me to take photos in situations that would be impossible with a point and shoot camera. Some examples would be in darker locations, quick motion images and macro detailed images. However, there has been more than one occasion where I lugged my DSLR on a trip and never even took it out of the hotel room, because it’s bulky to carry around or I didn’t want something to happen to it. So you have to weigh whether it’s worth it to bring this beast along.2016-03-06_0002
  3. Fuji x30 ($399) – One solution I had to my DSLR problem was to purchase the Fuji x30. When Trent and I went on our honeymoon in St. Lucia last year, I knew I would want to take beautiful images, but I didn’t think I’d use my DLSR enough to warrant dragging it along with me. The Fuji was a perfect compromise! It’s compact, and technically a point and shoot (you can’t switch out lenses like with a DSLR), but you can control the settings in the same way you can with a DSLR, giving you the option to get some amazing images and HD video as well. It also has settings that replicate Fuji film AND it has wifi capabilities, which makes sharing your images on social media super easy.Underwater Photos
  4. GoPro ($200) – A few months ago my husband bought a GoPro Hero 4 Session, and while we haven’t traveled with it yet, we are definitely looking forward to it!  It’s water resistant for up to 10 meters, so it’s perfect for beach vacations. It’s also pretty indestructible, which makes it awesome with little kids. It can capture video and photos, and since it’s so compact, it’s very easy to travel with. We can’t wait to use it this Spring Break.
  5. Diana F+ or Disposable Cameras for the Kids – Sometimes handing off your expensive camera to your little ones can be a bit scary…so we tend to skip this all together and buy disposable cameras for the kids. You can get an underwater disposable camera for around $6.00, and the kids can carry them with them during the whole trip. The best part is when you take the film to get developed and they get to see what they captured! It’s always a great surprise! We also have an old school Diana F+ ($39.99) which we often bring and give to the kids to take images. This old plastic camera produces dreamy, radiant, and lo-fi images, which are so gorgeous and are often my favorites.

Be a Documentarian…an Observer

It’s tempting to gather our families up in a big group and command everyone to say “CHEESE!” but you’re way more likely to get amazing images if you take a slightly different approach. Instead of creating scenarios to photograph, be a fly on the wall. Some of my favorite photos of my family is when I stayed back and let them do their thing, instead of telling them what to do.

Vacation Photos Tips and Tricks

Look for Different Perspectives

Get down low, shoot from above, shoot behind the action…these are are simple changes you can make to enhance your images to tell the story of your family. When you look for different angles and perspectives, you are creating the puzzle pieces of your own story. This also makes it easier to put together an album of your trip, without having the same five images repeated over and over again.

Vacation Photos Change Perspective

Get in the Photo

As a mom and a photographer, this is something I really struggle with…many times I will have tons of gorgeous images of my family, but I’m not in any of them! It’s as if I wasn’t on the trip at all. It’s important to remember to include yourself in the frame, because you want your kids to look back at these images and remember that you were a part of it too, not just the face behind the camera. Set up a tripod and a self timer, invest in a remote for your camera, ask your spouse or a family member to snap an image of all of you, or even take a selfie! Just don’t forget to include yourself! Vacation Photo Tips Get in the Photo

Display and Enjoy Your Images

One of the worst things we all do is take 100 images on vacation, post a few to social media, save the rest on our computers, and then never look at them again. Don’t forget to find ways to display the images and memories around your home! The point of taking photos is to enjoy them, admire them, and remember happy times with friends and family. Hang up images on your walls, get albums or photo books printed (I love for family photo books). If you take videos, edit them together using something simple like iMovie so you can watch them, instead of just dumping the files on to your hard drive. You took the time and effort to capture these memories, make sure you enjoy them!

1 Second Everyday

I am a huge fan of photo of the day projects, and of documenting my family’s life in interesting ways. I have found myself in the role of memory keeper for my little family, and while I relish the job, it’s sometimes a bit boring. I mean, how many photos can one person take? The answer, if you’re wondering, is approximately a billion.

Last year I found myself having a difficult time keeping up with daily photo projects. I’d start one, and then it would flounder as life got busier and busier. I have learned enough to know beating myself up over not finishing a family photo project is just silly, but I still wanted to find an easy, interesting, new way to document our life in 2016.

Enter 1 Second Everyday! I heard about this app via the Elise Joy Blog, and downloaded it at the beginning of January. The app makes the project so simple! I’m not going to lie, I definitely had some issues remembering to film each day, but I’m finding it easier as it becomes a habit. I love the idea of having one second snippets to remember the small, but significant moments of your life. You’d be amazed at what you can capture in one second! Everything from your kid’s laugh to their first soccer goal…it’s all big and small and wonderful. I hope to do this throughout the year, and at the end I’ll have a six minute video of 2016.

This is a great project to start at the beginning of the year, but if you missed January, I still think it’s worth doing. You could start at a significant date, like a birthday or anniversary, or start with an event, such as the birth of a child or a wedding. The possibilities are endless!

Galentine’s Day Gift Guide

It’s almost that time of year again…one to celebrate those we love most! No, silly, not our husbands or boyfriends, but our very best lady friends! It’s almost Galentine’s Day!

I love the idea of celebrating the awesome women in my life, so I was super excited when Fox 4 in Kansas City asked me to come on their morning show and share my favorite Galentine’s Day gift ideas. Watch the segment, and then see the links below to find all the local, KC-based businesses where you can purchase all of these great products!

Peanut Butter Protein Balls – T. Loft
Blow Out Appointment – Posh KC Blowdry Bar
Facial – Bare Med Spa
Heart Sweater, Keychains, Giving Key Necklace and iPhone Case – Available at Etiquette Boutique
Letterpress Cards (Hammerpress), Shine Co. Candle (Shine Candle Co.), Sweetkiss Brigadeiro Treats (Sweetkiss Brigadeiro) – Available at Hand and Land
Valentine’s Day Party Box – My Fete Box

Special thanks to Kathryn Elise Studio for helping pull this segment together!

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