Fun Family Photo Project #1: Calendar!

Do you take tons of pictures of your kids? Little one has some adorable bedhead, or puts on some perfectly-mismatched clothes, or shows off a missing-tooth grin, and out comes your smart phone to snap a pic. Isn’t it great to capture those small, everyday moments?

But how often do you actually get to see those cute pictures? And are *you* in any of them with your adorable children? I bet not.πŸ™‚

I’ll be doing an occasional series here about fun projects to get all those personal photos out of your computer and into your life to enjoy them on a daily basis. First up: a family photo calendar!

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Yes, I keep all the calendars. They’re like mini photo albums!

I actually started one on a whim years ago, as a surprise gift to my then-boyfriend (now husband) for our one-year anniversary. I gathered up the photos I’d taken of the two of us all year and filled in a calendar. This was seven years ago–I still had my first digital point and shoot. Almost all the photos were arms-length couple selfies. Nothing special, nothing formal, just us together doing fun things (including our first trip to Europe together!). But it always made me happy to see our smiling faces up on the wall! I wasn’t aiming for something artistic, I knew the photos were ‘just’ snapshots (and looking back, the photos are terrible, my goodness)–I cared more about the story behind the snapshots.

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The first calendar’s caption.πŸ™‚ We’ve definitely had our share of adventure since then!

Every year I’ve continued the project, but I added a twist–I’ve made sure to take at least one photo of us together every month. (I’ll do another post about tools for this!) Sometimes they’re photos I set up myself, and sometimes they’re snapshots from a passing stranger while we’re out somewhere. Those photos go into next year’s calendar for the same month (so last August’s beach photos will be in this year’s August calendar page).

Arms-length from Top of the Rock.

Arms-length from Top of the Rock for an anniversary.

The point of a project like this isn’t technically perfect photographs, the point is nice pictures of ourselves throughout the year–out and visible for us to see all the time. Not buried in a folder on my computer, forgotten. And since I take them every month, we always see new and updated photos of ourselves–we see haircuts and favorite outfits, not to mention the interesting places in the backgrounds.

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The Brooklyn Promenade; we lived nearby at the time.

We love our photo calendars; it’s one of our favorite traditions. Every month we take a minute to turn the page together, look at the photos, and reminisce about the time that it represents. The 2011 calendar was all about our engagement and wedding (which took place between April and August of 2010)–a mix of our personal photos from Costa Rica, where we got engaged, plus professional photos from our engagement session and wedding (both from the amazing Sarah Tew Photography in NYC).

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Engagement session in DUMBO.

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Wedding details.

Our 2013 calendar (photos from 2012) was especially fun, as it included a trip to Central Europe, a cross-country road trip, a burgeoning belly, and finally two teeny tiny babies. That was a hell of a year! And the next year we got to relive it in the best and easiest way possible.πŸ™‚

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Left, Prague. Right, Vienna. I was eight weeks pregnant and moving *very* slowly–it was quite an effort to do that jump!

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Two-month-old twins.

It does take just a bit of organizing, but it’s easy, I swear. Here’s how I do it: In the My Pictures folder, I have a separate folder for the monthly photos. Every once in awhile, I’ll scan through all my photos in Picasa (which is free, easy to use, and has some really helpful tools for organizing/creating – cropping and making two-up collages being my favorites) and copy over the family photos to the year’s calendar folder. Sometimes there are more than one set of family photos, and I throw them all in there. PS–this is a great way to get those cute holiday photos out and about!

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Hilarious Valentine’s Day photo from last year!

Then, around the end of the year, I have to sit down to put the whole thing together. (I’ve always used Snapfish, and they always have sales in December. I’m sure Shutterfly or anyone else is also great, and everyone has sales around the end of the year.) It does take some time–partly because I often end up going back through my photo folders for more interesting pictures to add to each month, and because I want everything to be as nice as possible, so I hem and haw about which photos will be best, and what is the best arrangement of them. Sometimes I only have one good photo for the month, and sometimes there are way more than that, and I have to figure out what kind of mosaic will look best.

Keep in mind: if your favorite shots are from your phone, the resolution may not be high enough for one large photo. So you can either create collages in a program or app and upload that, or just use a multi-photo layout for that month’s page. Multi-photo layouts are great anyway, because you can get more adorable photos up for display.πŸ™‚

Also, since Snapfish allows you to add photos to any square of your calendar dates, I like to add in portraits for birthdays, and relevant pictures for holidays.

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Celebrate with pictures!

I don’t love the hour that it takes to put the calendar together — often I put off doing it as long as I can (this year it was almost in January!). But it is so worth it! Since I have a terrible memory, I always forget the layouts, so it’s a fun surprise each month all around.πŸ™‚

A bonus is that it’s an easy way to show our babies a lot of different pictures. We keep our calendar in the kitchen, and they have been drawn to look at it from a pretty young age. We like to show them the calendar, point out who is who, and they always look and smile and sometimes point with us. It’s a lovely little way to celebrate our family together, for just a moment, at random times.

(Super extra bonus–this could make a wonderful grandparent gift for the holidays!)

So in case you can’t tell, I feel pretty strongly about having a lot of current photos out in plain sight! There’s definitely a place for displaying images from professional family photography sessions, but please–get those “everyday” photos up on your walls too! Take photos of your family on a regular basis–your whole family, yes, including you. You will not regret it! Imagine what it teaches your children to see lots of pictures of your entire family together — love, togetherness, acceptance, unity, happiness. All kinds of good things.πŸ™‚

Best of all, you can start this project TODAY! Go on, grab a camera and do an arms length of you and your loved ones. Take a look through your photo folders and choose your favorites to put in a new calendar folder.

Have you ever made a calendar with your own photos? How do you organize/plan it? Let me know in the comments!

Hoyt Arboretum Portland Family Photography: Tara and Family

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Tara and her family do a family portrait session every November–so I was honored that they chose me for their 2013 session! I met Tara, Jim and their daughter Eriana at Hoyt Arboretum. As you can see, there was plenty of beautiful autumn foliage for us as the backdrop. We spent our session walking a little loop trail behind the main visitor’s center, but there are many miles of trails throughout the park. I will definitely be returning there to explore!

Little Eriana was almost three. She was so very cute, and she also did not want to interact with me! Well, not initially, anyway. But of course I knew that we could get to her.πŸ™‚ First, the classic Daddy toss loosened her up, and then I wore down her defenses by pretending to chase her. She finally started to laugh and squeal and show her true colors. I loved seeing it, and I LOVED capturing it. That’s my favorite–getting those genuine, happy moments that really show someone’s spirit.πŸ™‚

I had such a great time photographing this family! These pictures still make me smile. Lovely people.πŸ™‚

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Thank you, 2013! Hello, 2014.

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Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year to you!

This past year was a big one for me–it was our babies’ first full year (that’s them up there; they’re 13 months old now–I can’t believe it!); in March I went back to work at my day job; and then later in the spring, I began working on re-launching my photography business here in a new city, basically from scratch.

I’ve met a lot of people here, virtually and in person, and I have really enjoyed meeting every one. I feel so privileged and grateful to have worked with the clients I photographed this year! I have SO much fun at every single session, and honestly, I always wish that we could just sit and gab at the end of a session–it feels like we’re just becoming friends.πŸ™‚

Balancing two jobs plus hanging out with family has been probably the biggest challenge of the year, which is why I have been so slow in doing things like getting sessions up on this blog.

I have a number of goals and hopes for 2014, and since sharing is a great way to stay accountable, here we go:

-One important goal is to create some structure and schedule for social media and blogging–so I hope you will join me! I plan to blog more often/more regularly, so please feel free to subscribe or ‘like’ the blog so you see the updates. And of course, you can find me on Facebook and Twitter. I also just started on Google+, so you can follow me there too.

-I plan to do some branding/appearance updates to my blog and website–hoping that will be completed in the next month or two.

-I have a few fun promotion ideas in the works for this year, and of course I will be announcing and sharing on social media, so keep an eye out. In fact, one will be coming very soon!

-I will be creating a referral / reward program for past/returning clients.

-I will also be creating and sending out an occasional e-newsletter with info on special promotions and offers. I’d love to have you on that list–please click here to subscribe!

-Most importantly, though, my goal is to continue taking photographs and making people happy.πŸ™‚

Can’t wait to find out what 2014 will bring! What are you looking forward to this year?

Portland Family Photography: New Baby Lydia

This was such a special family session! Karly and Jeff were having their daughter and wanted to document their son meeting the new baby for the first time, only a few hours after birth. Aren’t brand-new babies just magical and miraculous? I was so excited for them and their new addition. It was truly an honor to witness and photograph them in their first moments as a family of four.

Congratulations to this sweet family! Thank you for allowing me to photograph this special day!

Portland Hospital Newborn Photography_0001 Portland Hospital Newborn Photography_0002Ellis, who was just about to turn 6, seems like he’s going to be a wonderful big brother. You can see he was nervous at first, but he was quickly smitten! He loved looking at little Lydia, and touching her face or hands. She opened her eyes and looked right at him when he spoke! What a wonderful bond they will have. Portland Hospital Newborn Photography_0003 Portland Hospital Newborn Photography_0004Portland Hospital Newborn Photography_0006 Portland Hospital Newborn Photography_0005Portland Hospital Newborn Photography_0007 Portland Hospital Newborn Photography_0008 Lydia was a very calm, happy baby. She was very upset to be taken away from mama to be given her very first swaddle! However, then she calmed down, and loved being snuggled by her family. And her family loved snuggling her! Can you blame them? Here’s daddy and grandma, looking incredibly thrilled with the precious new baby. Portland Hospital Newborn Photography_0009 Portland Hospital Newborn Photography_0010 Portland Hospital Newborn Photography_0011 Portland Hospital Newborn Photography_0012 Portland Hospital Newborn Photography_0013 Portland Hospital Newborn Photography_0014Portland Hospital Newborn Photography_0020 Portland Hospital Newborn Photography_0015 Portland Hospital Newborn Photography_0016 Portland Hospital Newborn Photography_0017 Portland Hospital Newborn Photography_0018 Portland Hospital Newborn Photography_0019 Portland Hospital Newborn Photography_0021

Portland Courthouse Wedding Photography: Julia and Luke

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This courthouse wedding was a brief event, but it was really lovely.

I met up with the couple before their appointment with the judge. The Multnomah County Courthouse is in a lovely area of downtown Portland, with a stretch of parks right across the street. We wandered through a couple of them, taking portraits as we went. I only got to chat with Julia and Luke briefly, but it was clear how much they enjoyed each other! They were adorable together and obviously so excited about getting married. They both looked so elegant too!

After the couples portraits, we did some formal family portraits in one of the parks. Both of their families and a few good friends had all come into town, and it was a fairly large group. Right when we had everyone gathered together, the sprinklers in the lawn suddenly came on! Happily no one was in the direct path of the water. (And all my equipment was safe too–phew!) That provided a nice laugh though, as we all filed into the courthouse. The wedding ceremony was in a judge’s chamber, and it was short and sweet. The bride and groom were so thrilled and in love!

Enjoy a sampling of my favorite photos from the evening. I had a wonderful time photographing them and witnessing the start of their married life together! Congratulations, Julia and Luke!

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Portland Family Photography: Sweet Tiny Twins!

I’ve photographed several hundred newborns in hospitals, and so now I hope to make the natural transition to doing lifestyle baby photo sessions in the home.

Please meet Brooklyn and Dakota, sweet little 6 week old twin girls. The family is part of the same twins club I belong to here in the Portland area. Aren’t they adorable?? My own twins are so big now, and I loved getting to see and hold such tiny babies again.

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