I wish I could take credit for this idea, but I’ve seen a bunch of bloggers sharing their favorite things for the month so I’m totally jumping on the bandwagon. There’s no rhyme or reason for the items I’m going to share, just things I’ve found helpful or inspirational this month.
Your Summer Story Photo Challenge
I had to lead with my summer photo challenge, of course! We’re just getting started so it’s not too late to join. Just click this link and sign up! In our next lesson we’re going to talk about how you can take photos that tell a story so that you can capture your summer in a way that is memorable.
Hand Lettering Practice for Kids
I stumbled on this fun activity from Prairie Letter Shop while browsing Instagram and bought it for the girls and I to do together. It’s a super simple thing to do when you’re looking for a way to get the kids off their devices. It’s a downloadable packet with 18 pages that include simple handwriting, shading, cursive and doodling. I’m going to print the pages and probably use tracing paper over them to start. You can also stick them in a sheet protector and use a dry erase marker as well. Here’s a screen shot from a sample page.
DIY Sidewalk Chalk
Another Instagram find! @poppyspreschool has a great recipe for DIY sidewalk chalk that I can’t wait to test out. In fact, she’s got a ton of great ideas for play. Check out the highlight called DIY Kids on her account and you’ll find recipes for homemade play dough, finger paint, bubbles, and more.
Free Design Ebook from Sarah Joy
Now that the addition on our house is nearing it’s completion, I’ve been soaking up all the design inspiration I can get. I love following Sarah Joy for all things home decor and was so excited when she put out a free e-book with her top 5 design tips. She’s got paint recommendations in there, tips for buying faux greenery (which I have a ton of because I can’t keep a plant alive to save my own life!), and more. Follow this link to snag your copy!
If you end up loving any of these things like I have, leave a comment and let me know. Can you believe we’re headed in to July already?!
Do you ever feel like there’s a ton of pressure on us moms to make summer absolutely amazing? Like every day has to be full of fun celebrations and unforgettable memories? I hope I’m not alone in this! All I can think about are the long days with no set schedule and the inevitable, “Mom, what are we going to do today?”
If you’re like me and you’re looking for some simple ways to enjoy summer without totally losing your mind, I want to share a few ideas with you.
First, some friendly advice …
Try to avoid over the top expectations. Instead, think quality over quantity. You don’t have to do it all!! The goal is to be present in the time that you do have.
Create a Summer Bucket List
This might actually be anxiety inducing for some of you – coming up with a list of activities that you feel pressured to check off. But, it doesn’t have to be that way! Think of a summer bucket list as inspiration. The fun part is coming up with ways to connect and finding activities that you and your children will enjoy doing together.
The items on your list don’t have to be expensive or extravagant. Less is more sometimes. Here are a few examples.
Wear pajamas all day long. Go for a family bike ride Have a backyard picnic Pick flowers Host a lemonade stand Chase fireflies
Have Dinner Together
I feel so terrible admitting this, but we don’t eat dinner together a lot during the school year. It always seems like someone is running off to a game or activity or I’m heading off to work. It’s something I wish we did more and I think summer is a great time to start over. I know some of you are just as busy during the summer with sports and activities, but try to make it a priority to have one night that is just yours. A simple way to make family dinners memorable is to play a game. Fill a mason jar with questions that help spark conversations to keep you at the table longer. Here are a few ideas for you.
If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be? What is something you love about the person sitting next to you? If you could have any pet in the world, what would you choose? When was the last time you had a lot of fun? Who were you with?
Family Movie Night
My girls love this because it’s something we can do together after the baby is in bed. The hardest part is deciding on a movie to watch though! Here are a few of our top picks.
The Parent Trap Cheaper By the Dozen Daddy Day Care Jumanji (old & new) Harry Potter The Karate Kid (old one) School of Rock Zootopia Grown-Ups The Sandlot Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs The Princess Bride Goonies
Take Lots of Photos
You knew I’d have to work in a photo related idea didn’t you?! There are actually tons of really fun photo opportunities in the summer. Besides vacations and holidays (4th of July!), summer is the perfect season for bright, colorful props. Think ice cream, ice pops, straw hats, sunglasses, bubbles, fruit, sparklers, lemonade, etc. Props can add to your summer story without making it look overly staged. Plus, it gives your kiddos something to do without noticing that they are having their picture taken. Water is a fantastic prop in the summer. A pool, the ocean, a sprinkler, the lake, a water slide, water balloons – the possibilities are endless!
I hope this inspire you a bit to relax and enjoy your summer without feeling like you have to be supermom. Remember – quality over quantity!
Can I ask you something? What’s keeping you out of photos with your kids? Let me guess – it has something to do with the way you look. I get it. I really do! I use the same excuse. But it’s a lame excuse. Your kids don’t care what you look like. They care that you’re there every day loving on them. Wouldn’t it be nice for them to have photos that show that?
So I’m going to ask you a favor. I want you to make an effort this Mother’s Day to step in front of the camera. It’s not that hard. Really! You just need a few ideas and that’s why I’m here.
I asked a few of my favorite mom bloggers/instagram rock stars to share tips and advice to encourage you to get in more photos with your kids.
First things first though, I want you to silence those voices in your head telling you you’re too heavy or you hate your smile or you’ve got bags under your eyes. Wait, those aren’t the voices in your head? Just mine? Mmmkay.
Check out what some of my favorite mamas on Instagram have to say.
First up is Alyson Owen of @the.owen.life. This sweet mama of 3 does an amazing job of wrangling 3 little ones for photos. She also makes sure to get a picture with each one individually so they have some special time with their mom. Alyson took time out of her busy schedule to answer these questions for me.
What would you tell a mommy friend who was interested in taking better photos of her kids?
“I try to ONLY use natural light. Sometimes it’s hard because it’s a dreary, rainy day or night time, which means you are limited on when you can actually shoot. I try to catch them doing their cute little everyday moments that I never want to forget, and then quietly sneaking upon them and then snapping the photo. Those are the photos that I love the best, just them in the moment. Of course, I do love a good staged photo too, but lets be honest here: those staged photos of kids will put your stress level at its max! Try to capture the real and the raw and make the photo look beautiful.”
How do you include yourself in your photos?
“I try to get in a few photos a week with my kids. I try to switch it up a bit and take an individual photo with each of my kids and also take one with all three of us together. I want them to remember that I was there too and I try to balance out getting in the photo with both of them. I always use the self timer to capture myself in the photos because my husband never takes them as I want them, and it always just ends up in a fight. So, the self timer has been the best thing for me.”
Why are photos important to you as a mom?
“Photos are important to me as a mom because I want to look back and remember the little moments with my children and remember this stage of life. I don’t only want to have memories of the big events like easter, Christmas, birthdays, etc. I want to remember the everyday. The moments that make me so happy. Also, I think it’s sort of a therapeutic thing as a mom too. It is a new found hobby of mine and brings so much peace and joy to my life. It gives me a drive to create and to have fun creating and capturing beautiful moments of my children that I hope to look back upon someday and smile.”
Do you think photography has changed the way you look at or feel about motherhood?
“I believe photography definitely has changed the way I look at motherhood. When I capture the beautiful moments that I never want to forget, it helps me get through those really tough days as a mom. When I have a hard day, I get to look back on all the good moments and remember that the good definitely outweighs the bad times. I also feel like it makes me look for the everyday magic in childhood because I am always looking for those little details that I never want to forget rather than just surpassing it daily. These are the days and I never will forget them because I have plenty of photos to spare.”
Next up is Emily Yewchuk, a lifestyle photographer and mom of 3. Emily inspires me everyday. Her instagram account @yew.photography is filled with beautiful images of her and her children. And the photos are always so creative. Emily has an online course called “Life in Pictures,” where she teaches mom how to photograph their families beautifully. Inside the course there’s a bonus guide on self portraits and here’s just some of the amazing advice.
Think outside the box. You don’t always have to capture a front on portrait of yourself. Just capture your hands holding your babes, or your feet or the back of you, just something to show you existed!
Get ready to delete a lot of images! Don’t be discouraged about the number of images that you immediately delete. Sometimes I’ll have 100 images to go through and only keep two or three…especially if children were included! Everyone makes funny expressions, and body parts don’t always look right, especially if you’re posing yourself with no one directing you, but if the end result is one image that you love that YOU ARE IN, then it’s all worth it!
Photograph the moments that mean the most to you, that you want to remember. For me it’s how my babies feel in my arms after bath time. Make sure you capture all the little moments, reading stories, putting lotion on their soft skin, cuddling, feeding, nursing etc.
Ask for help. My husband would never think to take a sweet portrait of me and my kids unless asked. Sometimes if I have a concept in my mind that would be tricky to achieve on my own, I will get everything set up in place, set the camera settings exactly how I want them, and then I will hand my camera to my husband (could be a friend, sister, mother etc) and tell him exactly where to stand where exactly to put the little focus square and what button to press. The whole process is 3 minutes for him. By removing all the guesswork of this activity he doesn’t mind helping and it produces the image I want because I’ve done all the prep and planning. This image was captured with the help of my husband, directing everything 🙂
Have fun and practice practice practice! You’ll get so much better at it the more you do it! It will also start to be quicker and less of a ‘thing’ the more you do it. I adore having lots of images of my kids to choose from when building our photo books or hanging our photos on the wall. And as the years go by these images become more and more valuable to me, as they will you.”
Next up is Kasia with @motherlandblog. This mama of 2 does a beautiful job of capturing the everyday. Whether it’s breastfeeding her baby or making silly faces with her toddler. Like most of us, she has a hard time getting in front of the camera.
“I honestly struggled with it for so long also, but decided I wanted to be in the frame because I want my girls to remember me being there too! I realized I took so many pictures of them and my husband and I often wasn’t in a single one! I started even just taking selfies and then moved to using a tripod and a remote timer to try and capture those moments! My husband very rarely takes my photos so it’s just me and the tripod! I usually try and think about what kind of photo I want and then plan for how to best capture it. I’ve taped up my phone to the ceiling to get a top down shot or perched it on a tripod out in front of our garage. One final thing I’ll add is that at the end of the day, I like to capture these images so my daughters will have something to look back on. It’s not just for an IG post for me, I really do appreciate the memories they’ll create.”
Valerie from @chasing_nostalgia is a girl mom who shows up all the time on Instagram. She shared her favorite editing apps to give your photos a boost.
“I love taking photos. It’s a way for me to express my creativity while also preserving precious memories of my girls. I keep it simple and easy by taking photos with my iPhone. I use A Color Story app and the Lightroom app to edit my photos to give them a nice pop of color. The simplest photos to get of my girls is when they are just playing. The candid ones are really the best and most meaningful to me.”
Jenna from @rootedjoy is another photographer mama who feels being in photos is important.
“Being in photos with my little ones is important to me because, I feel like there’s not enough of my mom and I when I was little. She has so many photos of us and my sisters, but very rare that she is in any. I love to see how she looked when I was little. Her hair, outfits, smile, etc. The earliest I remember my mom I was probably 13 years old. I honestly can’t describe how she looked any younger. I hope my girls will appreciate the photos of me with them and can see how much I loved them when they were little.
I’m in the frame a decent amount on my camera roll. Do I post those? No. The other day I snapped a picture of my daughter sleeping while her nose was touching mine. She always falls asleep with her hand on our face and it’s just the sweetest. Did I have 3 chins with no makeup? Yes. Will she notice that when she looks back on? Nope. It was a really special moment that I want to look back at. I make my children photobooks online that they will have when they’re older and all of those unfiltered photos are always included.
Honestly, I just flip my camera and frame it up and snap a few. I like snapping a few because Isla’s face changes so much in each image and it’s hilarious to see. I need to get my big camera out more and take more portraits with them. Some of my favorites are ones my husband takes of us where we are looking at each other, laughing and kissing. I feel awkward to always smile right at the camera sometimes.”
Abbie Orr from @ourorrdinarydays is “journaling her life through photos.” She’s making sure to include herself in her family’s story. Otherwise it’s not complete.
“Get a tripod for your camera! DSLR or iPhone! Either way it really helps. It’s one way I have gotten myself into photos. On top of asking hubby to snap shots on occasion. Also just occasionally snapping a selfie whether I am by myself or with my girls. Sometimes those random/in the moment photos end up being my favorite.”
I hope these mamas have inspired you to take action this Mother’s Day! I’d love to see how you get in a photo with your kids. Head over to instagram and post a photo! Use the hashtag #moms_getinthepicture to share and encourage and other mamas! And feel free to tag me @stacymaeandco.
Teaching kids about photography has so many benefits. Not only is it a great way for children to express their creativity, it’s also a fun way to help develop their voice and identity. Photography can teach them how to see things from a different perspective. They’ll learn to tell stories through their photos. Plus it’s a confidence booster. Photography is art so there’s no right or wrong way to do it. There are no mistakes in photography. Only ways to grow.
It’s also a wonderful way to bond with your kids. If you explain to them that they aren’t just snapping a picture, that they are freezing time and capturing a moment that will last forever, all of a sudden cameras become magical.
Last year on Take Your Child to Work Day, I let Jaime, my 12 year old, stay home from school and help me photograph Olivia for her one month pictures. We talked about camera settings and light and she loved experimenting with angles.
She also loves to bake so we’ll often take pictures of what she makes.
When Olivia was born, both girls started taking more of an interest in getting behind the camera. They love to get shots of her smiling and I love that they are interested in what I do for a living.
If you’ve got a child who’s interested in photography, I’d love to share a few simple things you can teach them to help develop their skills. Before I do that, let’s talk about what camera they should be using.
what’s the best camera to use?
The easiest way to teach kids about photography is to let them use your smartphone. I know, I know – aren’t we supposed to be getting them OFF cell phones? But, there are basic rules you can learn about light and composition that don’t require a fancy digital camera and an iPhone is a great way to do that.
If they want something of their own to practice, try an instant camera like the Fujifilm Instax Mini. It’s inexpensive and they get the instant gratification of seeing their photos in print. Plus, it’s great to have for doing some of the photo projects I’m going to share with you at the bottom of the post.
Also, don’t be afraid to let them use a DSLR too. Maybe you’ve got an older model laying around. Or think about buying a used one. That’s what we did for Julianna, my oldest daughter, as a Christmas gift a couple years ago. We bought a used Canon Rebel T3. That camera is discontinued now, but any of the Rebel models are great for a beginner. If you’ve got young ones, I still think it’s ok to let them use a bigger camera as long as you make it a rule to keep the camera strap on at all times.
5 simple rules for good photos
Now that you’ve got an idea of what camera to use, let’s talk about some rules you can teach your children. Some of these concepts might need to be tweaked according to your child’s age. All of these rules assume you’re going to be using a smartphone.
1. Teach them how to focus and what to focus on. Most smartphones have the ability to move the focus around by tapping the screen. This is pretty easy even for young kids and it makes such a huge difference when what they want in focus is actually in focus. You might also want to explain that what they are focusing on is called their ‘subject’ so that when you talk about their pictures later on, you can ask questions about why they chose their subject.
2. Teach them about exposure and what it means. A picture is overexposed if it’s too bright and underexposed if it’s too dark. Your smartphone should have the ability to adjust the exposure of a picture. On an iPhone if you tap the screen and hold it down, a little box with a sun icon will pop up and you can slide the bar up or down to brighten or darken your image. Have your kids experiment with this. Exposure will adjust automatically if you tap on certain parts of the picture too. Tap on a bright spot and the rest will darken. Tap on a dark spot and the rest will brighten.
3. Help them learn how to find good light by showing them how to keep their main light source behind them. You are more likely to get well lit pictures this way. So, for example, if you are taking a picture using window light indoors, have them keep the window behind them. It’s also important not to block the light as they stand in front of the window.
4. Teach the ‘rule of thirds’. For parents, the ‘rule of thirds’ is a design concept where you divide your photo up into 9 squares. By doing that you get 4 intersecting points. The idea is to place the most important part of your images on one of those 4 intersecting points. You don’t have to necessarily explain this to your kids. Just tell them that their subject doesn’t always have to end up in the middle of the photo. You can help them practice this by turning on the grid on your iPhone. You’ll find it under Settings.
5. Tell them to move around: Kids actually move around more naturally than adults when taking photos so it’s a pretty easy concept for them to grasp. Encourage your kids to get high, get low, get close, get far. As they start to move, they’ll see more ways to capture a photo. They should also be thinking about whether they want the photo to be horizontal (landscape) or vertical (portrait).
She was born on Good Friday last year and we came home from the hospital on Easter Sunday so it feels like this is her birthday weekend all over again.
We still haven’t done much for the holidays yet, but I did put together a small basket with books. I also took her out in my backyard for a few pictures in a bunny dress from Pat Pat that I bought before she was even born. I can’t even take how cute she is! She loves being outside. I brought a couple of her Jellycat bunnies out too.