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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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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Portland Family Photography: Tommy!

I met Tracy last fall–A mutual friend introduced us because we were both pregnant, and fairly new to Portland. We met up and chatted–she was so nice and we had a lot in common, besides the bellies–we both had worked in education, and had both traveled in Europe while pregnant. It was fantastic to talk to someone going through the same kinds of experiences as I was.

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She had her son about a month before I had my twin boys. We’ve talked about how fun it will be to have playdates with all three boys! I got to meet Tommy a couple times before this, and he’s just adorable and fun. He has this great big smile, but also a very serious gaze. So I was really excited to photograph him and the whole family!Β Tommy (and his parents!) did such a great job playing and being cute for the camera. πŸ™‚ Look at them–such an adorable family, right?!

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We’d meant to do this as a six-month session, but ended up rescheduling a couple times–so Tommy was eight months old. We did this session in their home, so he was very comfortable in his surroundings. He was not sure what to make of me at first, but I think he warmed up to me. πŸ™‚ Since we were in the living room with all his toys, he showed me all his favorite things–he loves to jump, play the guitar, gaze at books, and he just started crawling–like while I was there!

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NYC Senior Portrait Photographer: Battery Park Friend Session

This was a really fun shoot for me. These two girls, M and M, were my students six years ago, when I was teaching sixth grade English out in Queens. Both of these girls were smart (one was a little sassier than the other!) and I liked them a lot. They each got into top New York high schools (Stuyvesant and Brooklyn Tech!) and became/remained good friends. So this session was the first time I’d really seen them since they were in middle school. We got to catch up and I had so much fun talking with them (about books, boys, college, careers). They are still sharp, smart, thoughtful interesting young women and I could not be prouder of them. Enjoy these shots of these two great senior girls who are graduating next week!

New York City Family Photography: Baby Julian

A couple weeks ago I had the pleasure of meeting and photographing an adorable family on Roosevelt Island. Julian is six months old, and full of joy! Look at him–he had just woken from a nap with nary a peep, andΒ  within a minute was smiling all over the place!

Parents J and D have a side book business, so we made sure to pose him carefully with a big pile of books. (Don’t you love those chubby hands and arms??)

Seriously happy baby!

All three of them are a really sweet family.

They live on Roosevelt Island, and their building has a beautiful roof deck with an amazing view of Manhattan.

Don’t you just love them!