Please tell me I’m not the only one who hasn’t taken our annual Christmas card photo yet? Ugh! Why can’t I ever be the organized mom who gets things done ahead of time in stead of always waiting until the last minute? If you’re like me and have no clue where to begin, here are a few of my best DIY Christmas card tips for you.

1. TIMING IS EVERYTHING. If you’re headed outdoors, pick a time where the light will work to your advantage. Either early morning or late in the afternoon about 2 hours before the sun sets. Make sure that you’re either placing your kids in the shade or the sun is at their back. It’s also important to choose a time when your kids are happiest. Avoid naptime and don’t cram a photo shoot into a day that’s already packed with sports and activities. 

2. SHOOT FOR THE CARD. Browse through sites like Tiny Prints or Minted and choose a card you love. Then, set up a shot that coordinates with the card. Think about the colors on the card when you’re choosing outfits. Also, keep in mind the orientation of the images. If the card features horizontal shots, make sure yours are too. It won’t look good if you’re trying to put a vertical shot in a horizontal space. 

3. KEEP IT SIMPLE. Don’t go into the attic and pull out every single holiday decoration you have. If you want to include props, choose items that are classic like a teddy bear, a red wagon, an ornament, or even a festive blanket. Other fun things like a candy cane, fake snow, milk and cookies, or wooden letters work too. If you have little ones, giving them something hold might help keep them in one place for a few minutes. It’s also important to keep your background clear and uncluttered. Use a location without too many distractions. Steer clear of busy parks or streets lined with cars. The kids should be the focus!

4. START A TRADITION. Think of something that you can photograph the same way every year. If you vacation at the beach every summer, have the kids put on a Santa hat and sit in the sand. Maybe you visit the same tree farm every Christmas. Why not use that as your backdrop? Or perhaps you dress them your kids all in the same holiday pj’s. Make that the front of your card this year. Your family and friends will love seeing how your kids grow and change each year. And when you look back, you’ll remember those traditions as well. Capture a cherished family tradition/activity.

5. USE YOUR DSLR. Cell phone shots just won’t cut it this time of year. Don’t spend all that money on a card and then slap a low quality image on it. Using your digital camera will allow you to get better quality photos and also help make your subject stand out.

Bonus Tip – Go with the flow. Have a little fun and don’t take yourselves to seriously. If your kids refuse the wear the outfits you picked or someone is making a funny face, just go with it. I bet it’ll end up being your favorite card.

If you liked these tips and want to know more about how you can document the heart of the holiday season, keep an eye out for my new online course, “Capturing the Magic of Christmas.” It’s going to be filled with practical tips and festive ideas to help you celebrate the season with the people you love.

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I can’t decide if the best part of Halloween is the candy or dressing up. Either way, it’s one of my favorite holidays. Oh, who am I kidding, I love every holiday!

Halloween is extra fun because of the costumes though. The kids have a blast picking out their favorite character and I love taking pictures of them all dressed up. Over the years, I’ve learned a few things to make taking photos less stressful and more fun. Here are 5 tips for the best Halloween costume photos.

1. Don’t wait until Halloween. This one will save you lots of stress, I promise. Take the kids out a few days before and make it fun! Have them get into character and they’ll love it! Plus, you’ll have time to try again if the weather doesn’t cooperate.

2. Think about light. Light is the most important element in photography. It can make or break a photo. The best time of day to shoot is either early in the morning or late in the afternoon. The sun is low in the sky so you won’t have to worry about harsh shadows or super bright sun. I shot these pictures about an hour before the sun set after it had rained all day. The sky was so pretty! If you have to shoot indoors, get your child close to a big window and open the blinds. You need to let in as much light as possible.

3. Choose a location that is clutter free. Whether you’re shooting indoors or out, you want to make the costume the star of the show, not the mess in the background. Just do a quick clean up or choose an angle where you don’t see the clutter.

4. Get in close. There are usually a lot of fun accessories with a Halloween costume. Don’t forget to capture them! Get in nice and close and grab some detail shots. I love the headband from my daughter’s costume. So cute! And don’t be afraid to try some interesting compositions. Shoot close, far away, from above, from below. Be creative!

5. Include a few props. As long as it makes sense for the costume. Is your child dressing up as Snow White? How about including a basket of apples! Do you have a Star Wars fan? I bet your child would love showing off his/her lightsaber moves. Olivia is a toddler on the go so I knew she wouldn’t sit for a photo unless she had something to play with. We brought along R2D2 and it worked great.

If you’re feeling a little ambitious you could try taking a few short video clips and making a slideshow. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. You could use your iPhone! Just another fun way to capture Halloween! I took this a few years ago when my middle daughter was Wonder Woman for Halloween.

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I LOVE Halloween. Like, seriously love it. If I didn’t have a mortgage to pay or mouths to feed, I might spend all of my money on decorations for the holidays. It’s a problem.

Since that’s not really practical (or nice), I have to show a lot of restraint when it comes to decorating. One really cute way I’ve discovered to add big impact for very little money is to use digital art.

There are so many things you can do with printables. Here are just a few!

Fill frames already in your house.

Choose art with color that compliments your decor and make sure it’s the same size as your frame. When the holiday is over, just pop the photo back in and store the printable in a folder to re-use next year. I love the way Aurelie from @aurelie.erikson framed the Ghouls Rule prints from @indyandpippa.co in her living room alongside photos of her babies.

Decorate your child’s play space/bedroom.

The kids would have a blast helping with this. Use some festive washi tape to secure the prints to the wall or get creative and place them on chalkboards or mirrors. Courtney with @lifeofcoco_ used prints from @oliveandeveco as decor in her daughter’s play kitchen area.

Shakira from @occasions.byshakira mixed in prints with her daughter’s art work in their playroom.

Amanda with @woodenthatbesomething created a banner using her own digital prints.

Spruce up the kitchen.

This is actually a shelf in my own little kitchen area. The frame with chicken wire had a bunch of random pictures on it – a photo booth strip with my girls before Olivia was born, Olivia’s ultrasound picture, quotes, etc. I swapped out those things and added Halloween goodies. The mini prints are from Hayden and North and Olive and Eve Co. You could do something similar or add them to the fridge or your cabinets for some holiday fun!

Include them in your party prep.

Hosting a Halloween party? Use these mini prints from Hayden and North as decor on tables, snack trays, bar carts, or in goody bags.

Do you have any other ideas? What’s one way that you decorate for Halloween that’s super simple and inexpensive?

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Do you love fall as much as I do? The smell of pumpkin and cinnamon in the air. The colors of the season. Cooler temperatures. Halloween! I could go on and on. And there are so many fun family activities to do in the fall. S’mores. Hay rides. Haunted houses. Corn mazes. Apple picking and pumpkin picking are two of my favorites! It’s a tradition for my family. And I bet it is for yours too. Both of them present some amazing photo opps.

Today I want to share with you 3 simple tips to help you photograph your fall in a fun, creative way. Then, I’d love to invite you to download my newest guide. You’ll find even more tips for those weekends when you’re out checking items off your fall bucket list.

1. Try an Interesting Perspective

One of the easiest ways to make your photos more creative is to experiment with different angles and perspectives. Try shooting from above your subject or underneath. Shoot from behind or look for something to shoot through like tree branches or a doorway. Get down low to include more of the foreground. Shoot over the shoulder of your subject to get a peak at what they’re doing. Simple changes can make a big impact!

2. Take a Fun Portrait

To me, fall means fun. Yes, I want you to capture photos of who you’re with and the memories you’re creating, but I also want you to have fun with it. I’ve got two ideas for you. Most of the time portraits are photos of people smiling. Let’s mix it up. Try a faceless portrait. See what you can come up with. Ask the kids for ideas, I think this is an activity that they’d have fun with. You can also bring a prop with you the next time you’re out apple or pumpkin picking. It can be something as simple as a sun hat or bag. In the first photo, I brought along a colorful blanket and a small basket. The apples and pumpkins themselves can make for fun props!

3. Take an Action Shot

I think our first thought is always to get the posed, smiling-at-the-camera shot from any event we go to. And while I love that and always go for that too, I also try and capture the fun of the day as well. Keep snapping as the kids are exploring the pumpkin patch, running through the corn maze or reaching up to pick an apple. Maybe they’re laughing on a bumpy hay ride or trying to lift a heavy pumpkin. Anytime they are in motion or lost in the moment, take the shot.

Want to know more easy tips for photographing your fall? Grab my newest guide with bonus tips on details, leading lines, and finding good light. Just click on the image below!

simple photo tips for more creative fall photos
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Ever since we decided to add on to our home and I knew that Olivia would finally have her own room, I’ve been dreaming of creating a cozy spot where she could sit and read and enjoy some quiet time. Reading is so so important to develop literacy skills and it’s also a great way to bond with your little one. It’s one of my favorite things to do at night before bed and throughout the day. I even have a bunch of books stashed in my car!

I wasn’t quite sure where to start with creating a book nook, so I hopped on Instagram for some inspiration. I LOVE the idea of displaying books for every holiday/season so I started shopping for books that I knew Olivia would be interested in. She loves lift-the-flap books and anything that has a textural element to it. Here’s what I chose.

Top ShelfSesame Street Happy Halloween, Little Blue Truck’s Halloween, Nibbles the Book Monster, and Babies Love Halloween.

Middle ShelfWhere is Baby’s Pumpkin, Brave Little Camper Saves Halloween, Peek-a-Flap Boo, and Spooky House.

Bottom Shelf Peek-a-Boooo!, You’re My Little Pumpkin Pie, Where’s the Witch, and That’s Not My Monster.

Tips for Creating a Cozy Book Nook

-Pick a spot. The corner of a bedroom, playroom, or even the living room is a great place to start. I wanted Olivia’s book nook to be in her bedroom so all I had to do was pick the perfect corner. You don’t need a wall of shelves to create a book nook either. Fill a basket with books and stick it next to a rocking chair. Put a basket on your coffee table or your TV stand. Add some special throw pillows that are only for curling up with a book.

Make it comfy. Include soft things like blankets and pillows so that they’ll feel more inclined to snuggle up and read. Right now we have a Pottery Barn Anywhere Chair, but I’m on the hunt for some fun floor pillows to put in the corner too.

Choose a way to display your books. This little corner in Olivia’s room was the perfect spot for these shelves from Target. They are great for photos or books because they won’t fall and you can clearly see each book. If you’ve got a little one like I do, make the shelves high enough so that they can’t pull down the books. As she grows, she’ll be tall enough to pull them down herself. You can also use baskets, bookcases, a wagon, wooden crates, etc. Get creative!

Decorate your book nook! This is the fun part! I can’t wait to do this for every holiday. For Halloween, I simply added some bats and a garland from Pearl and Jane. If you don’t have a whole lot of books to fill out your shelves, add some fun, framed artwork. I love these prints from Declaration & Co. or these from Sprinkle of Whimsy.

I hope this helps when it comes time to create a space for your little (or big) ones to kick back and read. I’d love to see what you come up with!

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