Welcome Charley Paige!

I feel like life has been full of amazing and joyful moments lately, I’m often overwhelmed by all the goodness in my life. And this DEFINITELY falls under the category of GOODNESS! In January, we were blessed with the birth of our brand new niece, Charley Paige. Have I mentioned how much I love being an aunt? Because it is simply the best. I became an aunt for the first time 18 years ago, but I still get a happy feeling in my heart when I think of a new niece or nephew to love on.

I’ve taken a bit of a break from family portraiture, but I couldn’t resist sneaking off to Western Kansas to photograph the newest addition to our family and shoot some video as well. I loved being able to capture these moments with sweet Charley, who has already changed so much since we took these images! It’s incredible how fast these little people change and grow, and I think it’s so important to capture these fleeting moments if we can. Because we all know that with a new baby in the house, we’d never remember them otherwise!

I’m so excited to see my in-laws, Ashley and Adrian, take on parenting for the first time! It’s such a beautiful, messy, fun, exhausting ride, and they are just at the beginning. So much love and laughter is in their future, I can’t help but smile every time I think of it!

If you’re interested in capturing family or newborn images on film or in video form, sent me a note at megan@crazybananas.com for more information…I’d love to work with you!

Holiday Photo Tips

Five Tips for Photographing Your Holidays

Is it just me, or did this year fly by? I feel like I just took down our Christmas tree and packed away our Menorah, and yet, it’s time to pull everything out again! I have to admit, while I tend to be a bit Grinchy in general, I am one of those dorks that just LOVES the holidays. I put my tree up early and I am UNASHAMED! My favorite part of the day is waking up early in the morning for some quiet time before the rest of the house wakes up and reading/journaling in front of the Christmas tree. I light candles, snuggle up in a warm blanket, and basically totally embody the Danish word “hygge.” Comfort, warmth, togetherness…to me, that’s what the holidays are all about.

Holiday Photo Tips

The holidays give us the perfect chance to bust out our cameras and take some beautiful photos of our lives. In fact, after my Summer Photo Challenge last year, the number one request I received was to do a Holiday Photo Challenge (keep an eye out during the 2018 holiday season…a challenge is in the works!). While a full challenge couldn’t happen this year, I did want to share some of my top tips for snapping great images over your holiday. It’s easier than you think!

1. Bust Out the Big Camera – If you’ve been reading here for a while, you know my general rule for photography gear is “use whatever you’ve got with you.” I don’t think anyone needs to spend a ton of money on gear to take beautiful photos, however, if you HAVE a nice camera that’s gathering dust, this is the time to get it out! During the holidays there are a lot of low light situations (candlelight on the face, your little one gazing up at the Christmas tree, etc.) and most of the time, a cell phone camera won’t due that justice.

Holiday Photo Tips

2. Look for the Light – This is a tip I use year-round, but in December, it’s even more important. Natural light is much harder to come by, since the days are shorter, but you can still find pockets of light everywhere. Like I mentioned above, use the abundance of soft light from candles and holiday lights to your advantage. Gather around the fireplace and watch the shadows dance across your children’s faces. Find inspiration in the light around you.

3. Put on Your Coat, And Go Outside! – I know, it’s cold. But trust me, it will be worth it! The natural light in the winter always feels like magic to me, doubly so if there is snow on the ground. If you’re trying to capture falling snow, make sure you are not shooting into direct sunlight, or it will be washed out of the frame. Even if the landscape seems dreary and grey, you can take an interesting image by focusing on a bright hat or coat on your subject.

Holiday Photo Tips

4. Look for Real Moments – It’s easy to want to pose everyone perfectly for the quintessential holiday portrait, but candid moments are just as beautiful, and can sometimes be more memorable. When your family gets together, focus on the moments, and try to capture them. If it’s a little blurry or the light is weird…who cares?! You’ll be so grateful you have an image of grandpa reading the Christmas story or your aunt baking cookies with the kids. Don’t get caught up in capturing perfection, and instead find the beauty in the imperfections.

Holiday Photo Tips

5. Get in Front of the Camera – I am as guilty of this as anybody, but it’s super-important that if you are the photographer in the family, you make a point to get in the photos as well. There have been holidays where you can’t even tell I was there, even though I was the main director of all of the fun, because I was so busy taking photos of everyone else, I wasn’t in any myself! Hand over your camera or phone to a relative and ask them to snap some images of you with your kids by the tree. Put the camera on a self timer (here is how you can do that on an iPhone) or use a remote trigger (did you know your Apple headphones double as a remote trigger for your phone camera?). Again, don’t worry about making it perfect, odds are it may be out of focus or not a technical dream. Just make sure you are a part of the picture, not just an observer.

Holiday Photo Tips

I hope this helps you get set to take some amazing holiday photos this year. And if you’re interested in learning how to use your big, fancy camera a little better OR if you get one for the holidays as a gift (fingers crossed!), make sure you sign up for the Crazy Bananas newsletter! In 2018, I’m going to be offering some camera workshops for beginners, and I want you to be the first to know so you don’t miss signing up!

First Friday Photo Exhibition : September 1st!

In October of 2016, I traveled to Greece to visit a refugee camp for Syrian’s fleeing civil war. I found an amazing place, the Bê Sînor – Sinatex Cultural Center, where volunteers from around the globe focused their attention to a small, forgotten camp, half an hour out of Thessaloniki. Camp Sinatex is a family camp of 300 Kurdish refugees, nearly all Syrians. At first the volunteers concentrated on aid supplies and non food items, but soon realised that the most important thing they could do for the people, especially the 120 children, was to provide them with lessons and informal education. The proceeds from this photo exhibition will benefit the Bê Sînor – Sinatex Cultural Center and the local group KC for Refugees, which does wonderful work in the Kansas City community connecting people who want to help with refugees who have been resettled in our area. Helix Architecture has generously donated their space for us to use for this amazing event!

September 1, 2017
6 to 8:30 p.m.
Helix Architecture
1629 Walnut
Kansas City, Missouri

UPDATE: We will have a kid-friendly space at this exhibition, so please feel free to bring your children!

About the Bê Sînor-Sinatex Cultural Center
After the evacuation of Idomeni, an informal refugee camp on the border of Greece and Macedonia, in May 2016, thousands of refugees were placed in military camps across Northern Greece. Camp Sinatex is a family camp of 300 Kurdish refugees, nearly all Syrians. Almost half of those residing at the camp are children. The global migrant crisis across the region has disproportionately affected children. Nearly half of the 4.9 million Syrians on the run from the brutal and deadly civil war are children. According to UNICEF, the Syrian conflict has put 2.8 million children out of school, including 2.1 million inside Syria and 700,000 abroad. The volunteers at the Bê Sînor-Sinatex Cultural Center realized the most important thing they could do for the people, especially the 120 children at the camp, was to provide them with school lessons and an informal education. The set up for the informal school is very basic. There are two tents and some benches, plus one notebook to cover all subjects. They found a piece of private land and began teaching. There are seven teachers from the refugee community who are teaching Arabic, Kurdish, math, science and geography. They also provide Kindergarten for the youngest children at the camp, and volunteers from all over the world are teaching English to all ages, including the adults. These children have been deprived of everything, and many of them have never been to school in their lives because of the war. The effects of the loss of education on this young generation could be detrimental. While 91% of children around the world are enrolled in school, only 50% of refugee children attend primary school. Without the chance to study, an entire generation is at risk. According to the United Nations High Council for Refugees (UNHCR), “In times of displacement, education is crucial. It can foster social cohesion, provide access to life-saving information, address psychosocial needs, and offer a stable and safe environment for those who need it most. It also helps people to rebuild their communities and pursue productive, meaningful lives.”

About KC for Refugees
We provide Greater Kansas City’s diverse community and organizations a platform to welcome our local refugee families through our core mission of education, connection, support and collaboration.

EDUCATE community groups and organizations on the refugee settlement process* at national and local level
CONNECT community groups both with local refugees through social activities and with each other
SUPPORT refugees by working with local agencies and encouraging people to donate time, funds and household items
DEVELOP alliances with regional and national organizations working toward the same vision

* How The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) works with designated local agencies in the selection, placement, and support of refugees and their families.

About Megan Peters
Megan Peters is a photographer based in Kansas City and founder of August Light Studio, a photography studio focused on creating imagery for professional and commercial businesses. Megan has a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism from the University of Kansas, and is an award-winning photographer and writer. In 2016, Megan traveled to Northern Greece with her good friend and academic researcher Theresa Frey, where she visited the Bê Sînor-Sinatex Cultural Center, an informal school within the Camp Sinatex, a camp for 300 Kurdish Syrians fleeing from civil war. Her photographs from this trip have been used in academic research to showcase the reality of education opportunities for refugee children. In 2015, Megan was the featured photographer for the Phoenix Project, a community art project, which included Megan’s photographs of domestic violence survivors. Megan was awarded “Artist of the Month” by the South Mass Street Art Guild (SMAG) for her work on the Phoenix Project. In 2013, Megan was the recipient of a grant from the beauty brand Olay, who funded “The Motherhood Project,” a collection of photographs of women, which capture the strength, joy and melancholy of motherhood and all its challenges. You can learn more about Megan through her blog, crazybananas.com or at augustlightstudio.com.





Introducing: August Light Studio

Can you believe it is already close to the end of August? I can’t either…summer flew by this year, and for good reason. I had planned to slow down the business a little bit, restructure, focus on my advocacy work, and spend as much time at the pool with my kids as possible! By those standards, I’d call this summer a success!

One of my largest projects this summer has been creating a new business, and I’m so excited to be finally launching it TODAY! The name of this new project is August Light Studio, and if you’ve been following me on social media this summer, you’ve probably seen the name bouncing around! I wrote a post over on the August Light Studio website explaining more about the in’s and out’s of August Light, but I wanted to post something here as well, because I’ve had a ton of questions from friends and family wanting to know, “Wait, does this mean it’s the end of Crazy Bananas?!”

The short answer is NO! Crazy Bananas will still be here, just like it has been since 2004 (OMG, I’m seriously a blogging dinosaur, you guys). But things will change a little bit.

One of the main reasons I wanted to start a new brand is because my family life has been slowly changing. I suppose that’s actually one of the mainstays of this blog…it’s constantly evolving based on my life situation. When I first converted this space from a blog into a business almost three years ago, I had just quit my full-time job and one of my kids was still only in preschool part time. I wanted to find a way to convert this space into a place where I could still write about our life, but also share my photography and freelance writing projects, in the hopes of building a sustainable business. I focused on photography, because that was a place where I felt I could grow myself and create a business that would work for my family. I could be home (mostly) during the days with my son, and then work at night and during the weekends. It was a great fit! And by keeping it all in one space, here on Crazy Bananas, I didn’t have to reinvent the wheel. I already owned the domain, all the social media handles and had lots of content from all of my blogging years. It worked wonderfully!

But in the past year I’ve felt a big shift in my life and my family’s schedule. Both of my kids are in school full time, but are very active in evening activities. I found myself hiring babysitters to take the kids to and from skating practice and soccer games. I was missing out on important moments, like helping with homework and evening time together as a family. I realized that while I love having a flexible schedule, I needed to focus more of my work hours during the day, between 8:30 and 3:30, when my kids are in school.

With my background in public relations, advertising and marketing, I realized that I had something unique to offer to small businesses and commercial brands. I have extensive knowledge of social media marketing, online branding, and more…and I wanted to combine those skills with my photography business to help brands get more clients and do better work. In the last year I’d started taking on a few business-to-business commercial photography projects, such as headshots for staff or project photography for architects and engineers. It felt like the perfect fit for me, but not necessarily a perfect fit for Crazy Bananas.

The idea for a new studio was formed, one that focuses on branding and business photography, as opposed to personal and family portraiture. I’ve worked for months on putting together a business I’m proud of, and I’m so, so excited to be launching today! Along with our online home at augustlightstudio.com, I have moved into a new physical studio space at the Bauer Building in the Crossroads District in downtown Kansas City. This is literally a dream come true, and I’m so fortunate to have this opportunity!

I have to give a huge shout out to the amazing Jenna Murillo from J. Lynn Designery, who created my logo, branding look and website. She is simply incredible, and her process was simple, streamlined and fun. I always loved getting her emails because I knew there would be something beautiful inside! If you’re looking for a web designer or someone to refresh your brand look, I highly recommend her! Please head over to the August Light Studio website to see more, and make sure to follow August Light Studio on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. You can also sign up for the August Light Studio newsletter by clicking here.

Now, back to what this means for Crazy Bananas Creative Studio…don’t worry, it will still be here! I created this blog over 13 years ago, and I have no intention of quitting now. The blog will still exist as it always has, a space for me to share my thoughts, loves, happy moments, advocacy and life in general. The photography section of the site will also be around for the time being, as I plan to continue shooting personal and family portraits. As August Light Studio is only focused on business-to-business and commercial photography, I’d like to keep my portraiture side of the business right here for now. So if you’re looking for family photos, newborn sessions and senior photos, Crazy Bananas is still the place to be. This may change in the future, but I’ll be sure to let you know if and when any changes occur!

Finally, I have to thank my family for their endless support and love as I navigate this new adventure. I don’t really have a rational, linear brain, so the idea for this new studio came in bits and pieces and was often difficult to articulate, but I’m so excited they stuck with me and trusted me to make something great! Onward and upward!

Announcement : First Friday Art Show!

I have some incredibly amazing news, friends! My images from the Bê Sînor – Sinatex Cultural Center in Greece are going to be featuring in a gallery show for First Fridays in the Crossroads Arts District! I can’t believe it, and feel honored and humbled by this opportunity. The proceeds from the show will benefit the Bê Sînor – Sinatex Cultural Center and the local group KC for Refugees, which does wonderful work in the Kansas City community connecting people who want to help with refugees who have been resettled in our area.

I am still working on all the details for this event, but I am actively looking for sponsors to help this come to life! If you own a business (or know someone who does) that is civically-minded, I would love to chat with you about sponsorship. There are many different ways to help, and no act is too small. Please send me an email at megan@crazybananas.com if you might be interested!

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