Christmas is without a doubt my favorite time of year. The excitement starts right after Halloween and I slowly start to bring out the decorations. By doing it that way I can sneak in more than if I did it all in one day. My husband doesn’t really notice the little things, but he’d for sure notice a giant Christmas tree in the living room on November 1st!

Don’t get me wrong, I love Thanksgiving too. November and December are just part of the holiday season for me. A time when we get to see family and friends more often, we make an effort to create magical memories for the kids, and we celebrate togetherness and gratitude.

I can still remember the excitement I felt as a kid when Christmas was near. I loved everything about it. The music. The shopping. Wrapping. Making gingerbread houses and baking cookies. It’s funny how the memories you have a child become the traditions you create for your own family.

My girls are just as obsessed with this time of year as I am. They love decorating the house and have now each asked to decorate their rooms as well. It’s been so fun sharing the excitement with their little sister too. They can’t wait to introduce her to Jingly the Elf. And I have to admit, having older kids who can carry on that tradition is pretty amazing. I was terrible at remembering to move that darn elf!

One of my favorite things to do each year is look back at photos from last Christmas. I’m so thankful to have a tool that allows me to capture moments and freeze them in time so that we can relive and remember them. We tell the stories behind each photo too. A camera is really the greatest gift because it gives us something we can never get back – time.

The hardest part about this time of year is trying to fit everything in. There’s always so much going on it can be overwhelming to try and capture it all. Before you know it, it’s Christmas morning and you haven’t taken one photo! I think I can help.

Introducing a brand new online course …

Capturing the Magic of Christmas is an online course to help you document your family traditions in a way that is simple and stress free. You’ll learn tips and tricks about lighting and composition that you can use with any camera. I’ve created a holiday photo bucket list you can use as inspiration for what to capture as well as 24 advent activities you can do with your kids. The same ones we do as a family!

I wanted this course to be fun and educational. I came up with a 7 day holiday photo challenge you can do with family and/or friends. Wait until you see it! It’s bananas! You’ll get a list of our favorite must-see Christmas movies, Instagram accounts to follow for holiday inspiration, my favorite places to print photos, how I edit photos on my phone, and behind the scenes videos too.

Want a little sneak peek inside the course?

If this sounds like something you’d like to do, sign up here to be notified when registration opens. We launch on Black Friday with a special deal!

I’d love to create a community of fellow Christmas crazies so come follow me on Instagram here. I can’t wait to see you there!!

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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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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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One of the most common questions I get as a family photographer is how to photograph a child that won’t sit still. I feel your pain mamas. And I’m in a unique position now to offer some advice. As a fellow mom to a can’t-sit-still-kid, I have a lot of pictures of the back of Olivia’s head. She’ll be 18 months old in a few short weeks and she’s a busy child. She loves to walk and explore. When we go to the park, she may sit in the swing or go down the slide, but those moments are short lived. She’d much rather wander off and do her own thing.

But, I still manage to capture her smile and personality in photos. So, my answer to how you photograph a child that won’t sit still is simple. You don’t. At least not in the way that you’re used to.

Follw Them

The best advice I can give you is to change your approach. Follow them instead of asking them to stand sit and smile at the camera. Eventually something magical will happen. You just have to have the patience to let it.

As they explore, be ready with your camera. Anticipate what they’ll do next.

For these pictures, we were playing in the backyard and I wanted to bring my camera out to take a few photos of Olivia’s cute ponytail. I knew that part would be easy (remember – I’m a pro at taking pictures of the back of her head!). I figured that anything else I was able to capture would be a bonus. She saw these little white flowers (weeds) in the grass and bent down to scoop one up. I knew what she was going to do next so I got my camera ready. Sure enough, she put the flower up to her nose and made the sweetest little face.

Introduce a prop

Sometimes a distraction from whatever activity they’re engaged in will give you enough time to snap a few pictures. Right after I took the photo above, I remembered that we had some sunflowers in the kitchen so I ran in and grabbed one. I didn’t make a big deal of it. I didn’t show her. I just stuck it in the grass and waited for her to see it. When she noticed it, she did exactly what I thought she was going to do. She put it up to her nose to smell. If she hadn’t, I would have asked her just to see if she was willing, but most of the time I try to let things happen organically. I ask once and then move on.

Put the camera down

This is so important if you want your kids to enjoy having their picture taken. That’s why I only ask once (maybe twice!) when I want Olivia to do something. If she’s not into it, I’m not going to force it for a photo. It can be disappointing when you have a vision in your head, but I’d much rather keep things light and playful than end up with her in tears and me upset about not getting the photo I wanted.

One other trick you can try, but only after you’ve exhausted all other efforts, is to play a game of back and forth. You take a picture, I take a picture. Include them in the picture taking process and they might hang around long anough to get a few good shots. This won’t work with Olivia right now because she’s too little to handle my big camera, but I would definitely try something similar with my smartphone. Show her how I’m taking a picture of something – a toy or a doll of hers – and then turn the camera toward her and see what she does. It might hold her interest, it might not, but remember not to force it.

Ok mamas, now tell me. Was any of this helpful? Do you have a busy toddler that won’t stop for a photo? Are there any tricks you use that I can add to this list? I’d love to hear from you! And if you’re interested, I’ve got a free guide to help you while you’re out on your next fall adventure.

Grab your Fall Photo Guide here!

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