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!

Sober Friday Night

My Top Shows to Binge Watch in the Winter

A few years ago, after much hemming and hawing about the subject, Trent and I finally cut our ties with the cable company. We have gone with and without cable TV on and off for years, but we got to the point where we just couldn’t justify the cost. With this came tons of benefits…we read more. We spend more time away from the television. We don’t have the TV “on” for no reason or in the background. Our television watching time is definitely a bit more intentional.

Netflix and Chill : Movie Recommendations

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not a saint and I still watch TV! In fact, I probably still watch more than I should. With the combination of Netflix, Amazon Video and Hulu, I surely get my fix. But these days I’m finding shows I love and binge watching them, instead of spending time watching shows I feel pretty “meh” about (I’m looking at you, Bones and all CBS crime dramas!).

Over the holiday break, I gave myself permission to be a lazy as possible, and with the addition of some sick kids, we ended up spending a great deal of time stuck indoors…perfect chance to get started on some quality binge watching! Here are my Top 4 Favorite Shows to Binge Watch if you’re stuck inside this cold winter.

1. The Man in the High Castle (Amazon) – I had heard rave reviews about this drama from Amazon, but although the pilot was released early in 2015, the rest of the episodes weren’t made available until right before Thanksgiving. Based off the book of the same name written in 1963, the show follows an alternate universe, in which the Allies didn’t win World War II and the United States ends up being taken over by the Nazis and Japan. It follows the journeys of members of the Resistance, who are collecting videos to deliver to the mysterious “Man in the High Castle.” When they watch the videos, they see OUR history (ie. the Allies winning the war) and the show takes off from there. What is real? Are their multiple timelines? Who is the Man in the High Castle? It’s a mystery, sci-fi and historical drama all wrapped up into one. Bonus: The costuming and sets are INCREDIBLE.

2. Marvel’s Jessica Jones (Netflix) – I started watching this one right before Thanksgiving, but it’s pretty heavy, so I’m still working on finishing. The Marvel brand has made other great shows via Netflix before (like Daredevil), but I love the character of Jessica Jones and her world. The acting and story are really superb, and I really enjoy the idea of making a “superhero” just a regular person, instead of all dressed up in a mask and tights. Bonus: David Tennant is really disturbing and amazing in his role as the villain, Killgrave. Bonus #2: Luke Cage. Enough said.

3. iZombie (Netflix/Hulu/The CW) – Okay, I’m not gonna lie. The name of this show is super dumb. Like…so, so ridiculous. But once you can get past that, it’s a really fun, quirky program with a lot of dark humor. The pretense is that a successful doctor gets turned into a zombie, but no one in her life knows. She realizes she can remain mostly human by eating brains, so she get’s a job at the medical examiner’s office, where she can eat the brains of crime victims. A side effect is that she gets all the memories and characteristics of the person who’s brain she consumed. So she uses that to help solve their murders. Yep, it’s a zombie crime drama/comedy and it’s way more amazing than what I just described. It’s made by the same team that made Veronica Mars, and you can tell. The look and feel are quite similar. I know this is a hard sell, but trust me, give it a chance. Bonus: Season 1 just came out on Netflix, yay!

4. Making a Murderer (Netflix) – It’s hard to avoid all the online buzz about this documentary series that follows the case of Stephen Avery, a man who served 18 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, only to be released and charged with murder two years later. I am only on episode three, but from what I can tell…this is going to be a wild ride. Bonus: Critics are calling this show a television version of the podcast “Serial”…

What are you binge watching lately? Anything I should add to my list?

Thankful 2015

In All Things…Gratitude

Thankful 2015

I just wanted to write a quick note to express my extreme gratitude for everyone who reads, follows and has supported me on this crazy, little adventure I’ve found myself on. If you would have told me a few years ago that I’d be here today, I never would have believed you! The fact of the matter is I wouldn’t be here at all without the love from everyone in my life that has held me up along the way.

Happy Thanksgiving from my family to yours! I hope your list of things to be thankful for is as long as mine!

Pie Cookie

Oh, and in lieu of pie, we made sugar cookies that look like pie for the holiday…because why not?

Five Tips to Look Great in Photos

I was super excited to be asked back on the Fox 4 News Morning Show here in Kansas City today, this time to talk all about how to pose for photos! With the holiday season quickly approaching, there are going to be lots of events, activities and parties where you’re probably going to get your photo taken. Whether it’s with a friend’s cell phone, a selfie you are taking yourself, or even if a professional is behind the camera, there are a few tricks you can use to make sure you’re always looking amazing. I brought along my incredible niece, Sloan, to model the tips for me on air, and she did such a fantastic job. Thanks to Nick, Kim and the entire Fox 4 team for making us feel so welcome!

Here are five tips to look great in photos!

1. Create Angles! – Drop a shoulder, bend a knee, tilt your head…creating angles creates visual interest and will make you stand out.

2. Don’t Suck in Your Stomach – This creates a barrel chest and makes your face look tense. Instead, stand up straight and throw your shoulders back. You’ll look slim and healthy!

3. Close Your Eyes and Take a Deep Breath Right Before the Shutter Clicks – It will calm your face, widen your eyes and create a healthy glow. This also ensures you won’t have your eyes shut in the photo due to a flash.

4. Push Out Your Forehead to Eliminate Double Chins – Don’t stick out your chin, it will look awkward and strained! Plus, everyone will be able to see up your nose! Instead, softly push out your forehead. Keep it subtle, and your double chin will be history.

5. Selfie Tips – If you’re shooting a selfie, hold the camera at an angle slightly higher than your eyeline. Also, if you’re having trouble tapping the button to take the image on your screen, try clicking the “volume up” button! This functions the same as the main button, and also allows you to hold the camera a bit more steady.

Halloween 2015

Halloween 2015 : The Nerd Awakens

Halloween 2015

Yes, I know, it’s a little late for Halloween photos, but as it’s my busy season, I should be thankful I got these photos edited and uploaded at all! The weeks leading up to Halloween this year were completely insane, in every good way. I was fully booked for photo sessions, had four large writing deadlines for freelance projects AND did two segments on television all about making a DIY Halloween. Ironically, my family had no interest in wearing any of the 15 costumes I conjured up for these news segments, and instead were insistent we go as “Star Wars.” Okay, then. Luckily, my awesome neighbors threw a Halloween party and put me in charge of the photobooth area, so the costumes did get some use.

Last year my husband made us all promise we’d do a group costume this year, but when it came time to decide, there were a lot of disagreements in our house. First we were planning to be ghosts. Then vampires. Then Star Wars. Then Lucy refused to be Star Wars because she wanted to be some character from a Disney show. Then Trent ordered Star Wars costumes for himself and Tate. Then Lucy convinced Tate to go as vampires. Then we nixed that idea because we already had the Star Wars costumes. What followed was a lengthy negotiation, wherein Lucy promised to be Rey from Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but only if she could be a vampire for trick or treating. So this group costume lasted about 15 minutes, but still…small victories, you know?

Tate went as the newest Star Wars baddie, Kylo Ren, and Trent went as a Storm Trooper (I said he was Han Solo in a Storm Trooper costume from A New Hope, because we all know how I feel about Han Solo). I went as Princess Leia from the Hoth Rebel Base in Empire Strikes Back because I am totally over the cinnamon bun hairdo from the most popular Princess Leia costume and I refused to wear a gold bikini.

Halloween 2015

Thus ends the nerdiest post-Halloween belated post ever in the history of blogging. How will we top this next year?!

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