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What to Wear on your Photoshoot

What do I wear on my Photoshoot??

If you are the type to have anxiety over choosing just the right look, you are NOT alone! Everyone has a little trouble planning for their first photoshoot. It is difficult knowing exactly what to expect.

If you follow a few simple rules, this part is easy! I’ve put together some guidelines to help prepare for your next photo session.

Keep it Simple!

Ok, let’s start with the easy answer.

Keep it Simple! Select something which makes YOU feel comfortable, confident and beautiful.

Here are a few things to keep in mind.

  • Darker colors have a slimming effect; and light colored clothes provide a fresh, lighter look.
  • Prints and patterns should be avoided UNLESS… used in small doses or as a splash of color.
  • Avoid sleeveless clothing and short pants. (Think hairy man legs in your photos. Ya? No!)
  • Accessories can add flair but don’t over do it!
  • If you wear glasses, make sure they are clean.
  • Get a hair cut at least a week prior to your shoot.

baby girl crawling between parents bare feet

When in doubt, choose comfort

You don’t want to be tugging at your pants or readjusting your top because it doesn’t fit quite right! Therefore it is important to wear something that fits you well. Choose something that flatters your figure and you are bound to beam with confidence.

Heels might look great but it’s smart to bring along another pair of comfy shoes. They don’t necessarily have to ‘look great’ but it’s something you’ll want if your feet are anything like mine!

My feet always ache, even after a bunionectomy! Thus my comfy go-to shoes are my Ariat work boots with custom insoles. Yup. That’s how I roll these days.

AFTER you’ve chosen what YOU will wear, then it’s time to make decisions for everyone else. Easy right?

amaples-seperator-blog-page

toddler in floral shirt mom laughing wearing jeans

Choosing Colors for the Family

It’s best to use the good ole design theory, rule of threes

Rule of three  Choose 2 colors that work well together + 1 splash of color!

Personally… I love applying this rule to creamy whites & ivory’s with a splash of color. Once you have your color palette to three colors, the rest is easy!

Vary your use of color by opting for a different fabrics with varying textures. Look at how each texture absorbs or reflects light. Pair with accessories that add bits of color and personality.

Solid colors or small simple prints work best.

Typically, only children should wear small prints while the adults stick to solid colors. If you want to incorporate plaids, bright colors and patterns- just tone it down by layering with a neutral jacket or sweater.

Stick within a tonal range:

  • Pastels (pinks and blues)
  • Primary colors (red and blue)
  • Earth tones (navy, tan, burgundy, or green)

You can safely add cream, whites and ivory to any color combination.

Preparing Family for a LARGE Family Group Photo

Large family reunion type groups need special consideration. If you are the lucky person organizing for this, determine if your family is more formal or casual.

It is important all family members know the “theme” of the photo. If one family comes in suits and dresses and another comes in jeans and T-shirts, it might look a bit odd. Women will often be seated, so be certain skirts cover knees and are comfortably loose.

Again, keep things simple!

  1. Give them three colors
  2. Encourage variety in fabrics
  3. Suggest jeans or khaki’s
  4. NO shorts & NO sleeveless

COUPLES & INDIVIDUAL PORTRAITS

Simplify– choose clothing without a lot of detail- it will distract from the portrait.   Couples should coordinate their clothing together, following the same rules.

Keep in mind where the portrait will be taken.  If you are planning a shoot in the park, green would probably not be the best color.  Choose something that will add to the scenery.  Adversely- neutral colors, earth tones & whites can look fantastic on the beach at sunset!  If we are shooting at one of KC’s many fountains, decide before the shoot if you want to get wet.

Choosing Clothing for CHILDREN

Soft colors and pastels work well for babies & toddler. Although truthfully, chubby cheeks, budda bellies, stubby fat fingers & toes are some of my favorite things that define children as children. I don’t like to complicate things

Avoid large animal characters or logos! Your clothes shouldn’t take away from the photograph and large logos are almost always photo-shopped out later. I often take shoes off children because I like to photograph their toes.

If you go with something dressy, bring dress shoes and socks to match.  I often suggest simple sun dresses for girls and khakis for boys.  When photographing groups of children, I suggest coordinating their outfits together.

It’s a good idea to bring a favorite toy or something that can keep their attention.  Keep in mind this shoot is about bringing out the personality in your child and if they enjoy reading or playing catch think about incorporating those things in the shoot.

Tips to Remember:

  • Ladies remember to lipstick and powder.
  • Men don’t forget to bring a belt.
  • If you need a haircut, have it done at least a week before so that it has time to look natural
  • Don’t be afraid to mix it up to make your portraits unique- For instance, if you have a fun dress for your little girl (as seen below), select colors within the outfit to dress the rest of the family.

For more ideas, visit our Pinterest Page with things to get you inspired!

Learning from Failure and starting again

At some point, I simply stopped writing.

My inner critic stood in my way. Her voice, harsh and painful, reiterating my darkest fears of ‘what if?’.

Every time I sat down to write, she immediately began criticizing my efforts reminding me of my failures. The last year was one of the hardest of my life and my inner critic shut me down. I struggled to accept a truth: my marriage had failed.

But that did not mean I was a failure. Some things are bound to fail. Sometimes, it’s truly the best thing to happen.

For a while, creative endeavors that once fed my soul, seemed impossible to complete. I was running but with no sense of direction. Every time I sat to pour out the words, I remained still silently recounting my fears.  My inner critic paralyzed my ability to move forward; for a little while, she won.

Failure leads to the Greatest Success.

This is a hard concept to grasp when in the throws of a major life crisis. We operate on survival mode maintaining our daily lives.

I maintained a sense of ‘normalcy‘ for my daughter when her father moved out. He wasn’t around much anyway. His new career in law enforcement had him working all hours and when he wasn’t working, he was asleep or who knows where… It was hard to accept, but I knew I needed more than what I was getting.

My situation had to change.

Our daughter was quickly turning from clumsy toddler, to an independent thinking child. The tension in the air was palpable and she was always encouraging ‘family hugs‘.  But we hadn’t functioned as a team in almost a decade and whatever we once were together had long ago disappeared.

When he said he was moving out, I found myself beginning the journey into remembering who I was and the dreams I once had. I needed time to mourn the death of one dream and time to welcome another.

Accept failure then MOVE forward

I’ve spent the last year re-evaluating before stepping into the future. My harsh inner critic, still stands there, reminding me of all those times I’ve failed, telling me I am still that scared little girl who’s afraid to take a chance on herself.

But I am pushing forward, taking deep breaths and starting again.

I am not defined by others. I will no longer Justify, Apologize, Defend or Explain my actions. I am an artist. I am a mother. I am determined; therefore, this is not the end of my story. This is just the beginning. 

‘Try and fail but never fail to try.’ -Steven Kaggwa

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Four tips to help push forward after failure

I poured through some websites online to grab a few gems as I worked through this process. I found this by Charles Franklin via www.mindofawinner.com.

  • Acceptance: Don’t sugarcoat failure. It feels like crap and it should. Don’t deny or ignore the feelings you have on failing. They are key in motivating you to try again or try differently. Give yourself some time for your brain to process what happened.
  • Control: Take stock of what you have left. Not every failure is final, nor is every final complete. Take a minute to see what failure actually means to you in this moment. Realize that your meaning of failure will change with time, but address any urgent issues or questions you have now.
  • Trust: Believe in your brain. Failure only has the meaning we ascribe to. In other words, the fact that you didn’t get that client, that business, or that relationship doesn’t mean you failed. We tell our brain that we failed. Because we are the person that defines failure, we can also redefine if we allow our brains to do its work of asking questions and seeking answers.
  • Lean In. Wonder about your failure. Pema Chodron, a Buddhist teacher and author, offers a very unique way to understand failure in her book, “Fail, Fail Again, Fail Better”. In that book, Chordon suggests that we deal with the uncertainty of fear with questions. Failure doesn’t tell you what will happen the next minute, next hour, or the next year. It can only tell what happened before. Because of that, your failure does not impact what can happen next. Take some time to wonder, “What does this mean?” and see what comes to mind.

These four observations represent a pathway from failure to lesson.

We first have to accept what’s going on, control what he have left, using that control to build trust and wonder. It was that process, unintentionally, while trying to redefine myself from scratch. Learning that it was OK for me to take some time to redefine my failure into a lesson gave me the insight I needed to actually learn from my failures.

We’ll all failed in life… in SOME form or another.

When reviewing these failures, what did you learn about yourself? Was your process going from failure to learning the same or did you encounter something different?

Failure can be the road to self discovery if you ask questions!

Until Next Time-

Artistic Newborn Portraits

thumb-artistic-newbornsHow do we achieve Artistic Newborn Portraits?

Newborn portraits, they look easy, right? The baby just sleeps. The photographer puts them in a basket, or props their tiny head on their hands and the magic just happens, right?

Well that’s not exactly what we do here. Actually newborns can’t support their heads by themselves. So those images are actually a product of Photoshop!

Rather than rely on PhotoShop to create something post-produced, I prefer to shoot what is right in front of me. Using light, texture and a limited color palette, I can create a unique still life every time I work with a newborn without finding any need for elaborate props. (Although, a few personal items can add a fun personal element!)

To be honest, I wasn’t always great with newborns! One of my early newborn sessions was when I myself was just 8 weeks pregnant. The baby cried the entire time I was there. I hung around for FOUR hours in a futile effort to provide assistance.

I didn’t know what to do!?

I felt worthless and I didn’t know how to help. As it turned out, the baby was suffering from acid re-flux but at the time, none of us knew.

I didn’t have the skills to calm a baby or comfortably maneuver them into something photo worthy. Initially, I didn’t think I was cut out for this particular vein of photography; yet motherhood was just around the corner to teach me the lessons I needed.

It’s taken a lot of patience and practice.

A lot of patience. After the birth of my own child, spending day in and day out with a newborn, gave me the understanding needed to handle newborn babies. Now I work with newborns on a regular basis and my images reflect the vision of a mother instead of whomever I was before.

I enjoy snuggling these precious babies and capturing the perfect moments of their newness. These days I have an arsenal of time tested tricks that help me capture these fleeting days with your newborn baby!

newborn baby boy cooingnewborn baby portraitsnewborn baby little brotherlittle brother artistic newbornfamily with newborn baby boynewborn portrait with big brothermom and day with newborn

Pushing Limits and Conquering Fear

The training wheels didn’t come off my bike until I was almost ten.

My brother, David, decided I was far too old for training wheels; therefore enlisting his best friend, Barclay, to convince me to give up my ‘baby wheels’.

They cornered me after church one Sunday afternoon, determination in their eyes.

“I can’t do it! I shook my head. Fat crocodile tears rolled down my cheeks.

I was afraid of failing.

Terrified of embarrassing myself, I panicked at the thought of removing my safety gear. I didn’t trust in my own abilities to balance without the extra support.

What if I couldn’t achieve the goal and disappointed my brother? What if I crashed in front of Barclay?

What if I got hurt?

These doubts were racing through my head. I couldn’t turn them off. Those incessant thoughts were stopping me from taking action and believing in myself.

But my brother was resolute, refusing to take ‘NO’ for an answer. He knew I could do it and he made certain I got back on again and again. Failure wasn’t an option.

My brother was an entrepreneur early in life.

He was brave, overly extroverted and was involved in a wide variety of high school activities from the debate team to theater to the student body. He made friends easily and was accepted within every social circle.

Without any encouragement, he started his own paper route when he was 12 and launched his first business when he was just a teenager.

Did he truly believe his first business at 16 would be a success?

Knowing David, he probably did!

But I couldn’t tell the difference. Perhaps he was faking all of that confidence but not once did he fail to try. He took initiative and he took risks.

From where I stood, my brother never failed.

Now that I am an adult I know this isn’t true. Of course he missed a few steps along the way. But looking back, I can only recall the things he achieved. 

That’s the point, though, isn’t it?

Even then, he pushed me to try something I was afraid of doing.

That Sunday afternoon they ran alongside my bike, guiding me through the church parking lot. They cheered me on, building up my confidence. Before long I was soaring! I was experiencing a newfound freedom that comes with conquering your fears.

Conquering my Fears…

Over the last few years, I’ve only dipped my toes into the icy waters of social media. It’s difficult finding my voice and determining how to proceed into this new arena of direct contact and instant gratification.

It’s a new way of doing business and it’s scary without training wheels.

If you take a step back, it’s easier to see the bigger picture.

We are social creatures and we NEED others to help lift us up and move us forward. Let’s make social media have THAT purpose!

It looks perfect on the outside

The cold, hard truth is that social media gets us focusing on the outside success of other people while simultaneously obsessing over our own failures!

With instant access to everyone you’ve EVER known, I can easily get ‘sucked in’ only to find myself an hour later wishing I had a new car or a puppy or that cool thing-a-ma-gig…

This never ending cycle gets us scrambling to document every mediocre detail of life and this contributes to our feelings of inadequacy.

And it isn’t healthy for children to begin feeling inadequate at such a young age. That’s for their teenage years! Ha.

I want to help forge a new way to interact online. Create online communities.

So here I am, pouring my words onto a blank screen choosing to move forward in positive and productive way. Social media is not a place to openly air your grievances or chastise others.

It should be a place to share, support and learn from one another. Knowledge is power and it’s right here at our fingertips!

So here I am hoping on the social media bicycle. I am blogging again, telling stories with words. Pushing forward into uncharted territory.

I’m ready to feel like I did that day on my bike… flying free, watching the ground beneath me drop away. Zooming forward into a brand new day.

Until Next Time,

Accepting Social Media and finding the Positive

Accepting Social Media; How can you BE part of a positive change? #bethechangeinsocialmedia

The connectivity that comes with Social Media

A decade ago, I heard about this innovative photographer, Jasmine Star stopping through Kansas City on tour and I made a point to see her speak. She talked about authenticity and selling yourself to your clients instead of just ‘services.’

Authentic and magnanimous she ignited the room with her words. Offering sage advice for those attempting to break into the photography market. Afterwards, everyone clamoured for her attention.

All the while I thought to myself; this woman could lead a revolution. —

Personally, I’ve had a difficult time coming to terms with social media and a few years ago, I checked out.

One can easily slip down the rabbit hole.

We hop online, scroll through the latest ‘highlights’ from others. 

We see their perfectly crafted happy little world while concurrently devaluing ourselves and our own sense of worth. It’s a self perpetuating cycle that can lead to depression and anxiety.

We must break this vicious cycle and teach our children how to responsibly utilize the power of social media & the instant gratification that comes with a screen.

the ever changing information age graphic

My daughter will grow up with technology and social media intricately intertwined in her life. 

It’s really scary to think about the direct access my child will have to her peers & limitless information from unsavory sources. 

The information of the world will be at her fingertips; both good & the bad. It’s up to all of US to teach the next generation how to use the influence of social media in a positive, responsible way.

A new set of rules must be established.

Fortunately I’m not the first to realize the impacts from progress of technology & social media. In a search to find my own answers, I stumbled across plenty of inspiration: Simon Sinek, Common Sense Media, Screenagers among others already taking the lead in this revolution.

‘Common Sense is the leading independent nonprofit organization dedicated to helping kids thrive in a world of media and technology. We empower parents, teachers, and policymakers by providing unbiased information, trusted advice, and innovative tools to help them harness the power of media and technology as a positive force in all kids’ lives.’ *(Common Sense Media)

Again I stumbled across the lovely Jasmine Star when searching You Tube to find information videos. She is always positive, honest & willing to share her failures in order to offer others inspiration. I purchased a membership to Social Curator, to give me a head start on my jump back into Social Media & online marketing.

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If you are having trouble getting inspired, then I have a some GREAT resources for you.

Find your why? And inspirational idea to start your journey begins here: https://startwithwhy.com/

Check out Social Curator ; a monthly membership fee will provide you with content for your business & the inspiration of Jasmine Star.

Which again… my point, THANKS to connectivity we should take advantage of the benefits & share our discoveries with others!

This IS our revolution, this IS our opportunity to BE the change.

This is how together we WILL change the world.


But it only works if we join forces with like-minded others than share similar values. Together we can do better. Do you want to start living life better??

Mean Girls; Raising Compassionate Daughters

woman hero quote in pinkRaising a Compassionate Daughter in today’s world of Cyber-space is quite the challenge.

At bath time I notice my daughter studying her seven year old figure in the mirror. She turns herself from side-to-side attempting to straighten her posture & suck in her belly.

Momma?‘ she hesitates… ‘When will my belly go away? The girls at recess were teasing me…’

All at once, my past and her future flashed before me.

mean girls broadway cartoon drawing

Girls are just plain mean.

I was the naive little girl who inevitably walked right into the traps other girls set for me.

In 8th grade, one of the most popular girls in school suffered an embarrassing break-up. The boy LOUDLY made the announcement to everyone just before the first bell.

I was under the impression this girl was my best friend. After all, she lived down the block and she was the first ‘friend’ I’d made when I moved in with my dad. 

Empathetic to her plight, I slipped a hand-written note into her locker just before lunch.

The note thoughtfully pointed out the reasons why the boy was an idiot before I began gushing about why she deserved someone better. Then I decorated the page with colorful hearts, flowers and swirly’s- making it extra special.

At lunch, everyone was buzzing. It seemed a lot of fingers were pointed in my direction and I felt like all eyes were on me as one of the popular boys approached my table.

He took a seat across from me and took a piece of paper out of his pocket.  I immediately recognized my own handwriting as he carefully unfolded the page and laid it in front of me.

embarrassed cartoon girl with red cheeks

Heat rushed to my cheeks, I swallowed hard trying to suppress the tears.

“What’s this all about, ehe?’  he pretended to be concerned but his words were empty.

“There are copies making the rounds all over school! You know… everyone thinks you are in love with Michelle?”

I was mortified.

It was just two weeks before summer break and I was the laughing stock of the school. I imagined this is all anyone would be talking about over the summer. Conversations at the beach would be centered around the silly little girl who was stupid enough to think Michelle was her best friend. Ha. Ha. Ha.

But the other children did forget quickly.

Within a week, their minds were racing towards summer vacation. Everyone went back to being children and eventually the humiliation took a back seat in my brain as well. No one seemed to remember the following year and I moved onward.

The internet doesn’t easily forget.

Fortunately, my mortifying event took place during the days of dial-up internet.

Thankfully Facebook and Instagram were non-existent so it wasn’t yet common practice to take a photo and immediately post online.

‘Regardless of age, women of all walks are drawn together into a posse by their very need for constant reinforcement.’

While mean girls who prey upon the less popular have always existed; today cyber bullying is vicious and it’s leading to teen suicide in alarming rates. This is something that needs to be combated early. We need to teach our daughters to be better.

Together we can Change the Standard for Social Media

While social media is still a relatively new concept to my generation- kids today are growing up with direct access to all of their peers. We are just beginning to understand the overall arching impact this will have on our children.

We all do it… slip into that ‘mean girl’ mentality when we feel insecure or threatened. It’s easy enough to pick someone else apart in an effort to feel better about ourselves. ‘Insecurity breeds hostility and contempt.'(3)

educate together we can change

Today we have direct access to hurt feelings and destroy someone’s self confidence by simply hitting the return button.

‘Being bullied by a mean girl is a kind of social torment that often exists without parents and teachers even noticing. Social media has given mean girls an entirely new avenue to harm others. In addition to in-person bullying, mean girls also engage in cyberbullying.’ (1)

Facing personal insecurities and finding your own tribe without putting others down.

At my age, I am still insecure in some situations but I manage to force my way through the doors… I put on a smile and fake the confidence necessary to get to the other side of the room. This is a requirement in my profession. When I am wearing my camera, I don’t think twice about entering a room.

My camera gives me the confidence to enter any social circle and take control. I often employ this confidence when I enter a room without my camera. I attempt to smile and make eye contact with others, nodding to acknowledge their existence.

I use this same technique when I take my daughter to the playground.

While other parents are aggressively typing on their phones in an effort to avoid eye-contact, I go the opposite route. I smile and engage with their children

This isn’t always easy, especially for those whom have anxiety in social situations. It’s important to learn coping mechanisms and ease into a social dynamic that might make you uncomfortable.

Five Ways to Help your Child 

As kids navigate friendships and cliques, there’s plenty parents can do to offer support. If your child seems upset, or suddenly spends time alone when usually very social, ask about it. Here are some tips:

Talk about your own experiences: Share your own experiences of school — cliques have been around for a long time!

Help put rejection in perspective: Remind your child of times he or she has been angry with parents, friends, or siblings — and how quickly things can change.

Shed some light on social dynamics: Acknowledge that people are often judged by the way a person looks, acts, or dresses, but that often people act mean and put others down because they lack self-confidence and try to cover it up by maintaining control.

Find stories they can relate to: Many books, TV shows, and movies portray outsiders triumphing in the face of rejection and send strong messages about the importance of being true to your own nature and the value of being a good friend, even in the face of difficult social situations. For school-age kids, books like “Blubber” by Judy Blume illustrate how quickly cliques can change. Older kids and teens might relate to movies such as “Mean Girls,” “Angus,” “The Breakfast Club,” and “Clueless.”

Foster out-of-school friendships: Get kids involved in extracurricular activities (if they aren’t already) — art class, sports, martial arts, horse riding, language study — any activity that gives them an opportunity to create another social group and learn new skills.

*(excerpt from: Helping kids Cope with Cliques- Kid’s Health)

  1. Signs of A Mean Girl
  2. Dealing with Mean Women
  3. The Psychology of Mean Girl Cliques

Raising Boys; From a Mom of Three

Raising children is a dirty, exhausting, whirlwind of trial and error. Each child requires something different and it is up to the parent to discover what works for their family. As a mom of little girl –whom is currently ALL girl–  I recognize the vast difference it takes raising boys. Since I am no expert on raising boys, I turned to a mom who I believe has a great handle on managing the needs of three strong willed boys. (I wasn’t sure if I should include the husband in that total or not!?)

raising-boys-destructors

Top tips on Raising Boys

  • Embrace the chaos. Little boys are a whir of constant motion that puts the Energizer Bunny to shame. They bring with them a cloud of destructive energy in everything they do. Try to harness the energy into every creative outlet you can think of, and at the end of the day, embrace the growth that the boys had in making the mess before you.
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff (and don’t buy nice things until they’re grown). Boys in their infinite energy destroy EVERYTHING. No matter how many times I tell my son that the couch is in fact not a cliff diving platform; I find him standing on the arm of the furniture for take-off, time and time again. Every item in the house has been used as a sword or gun so my superheroes can save me from bad guys (and no, guns are not allowed in our house… doesn’t matter to them). Every chair I own has streaks of peanut butter and ketchup from dirty fingers that didn’t think to use a napkin. I’ll have much more time than I’d like to clean all of these things in afew years, so for now I try to keep my cool and let them play out their fantasies.

raising-boys-mommas-boy

  • Start a savings account for your future grocery bill. All that energy requires more food than you can imagine to refuel. All little boys turn into bottomless pits at some point, so you might as well prepare asap. An equal saving to whatever you plan to put away for college is probably a good start.
  • No matter how you dice it, little boy are dirty, smelly creatures by nature.  So invest in a good stain stick and air freshener you love. You will use both daily. (Buncha Farmer’s is our favorite) You can’t fight nature, but you can try to save your clothes and your nose. On a similar note, you’ll thank yourself for making sure every possible fabric in your home is stain-resistant AND machine washable.
  • Teach them to clean at a young age. I don’t love laundry and my boys produce A LOT of it. I put little stickers on the washing machine settings they should use to wash their clothes. No, I don’t make my 3 and 6 year-old do their laundry by themselves (yet), but they love pushing the buttons and I like a glimmer of hope that I’m raising self-sufficient children who will learn to take care of their own messes as they grow.
  • Speaking of messes, teach them to wipe up potty messes early! My boys are easily distracted and have horrible aim – I’m talking pee on every surface of the potty, baseboards, and bathroom floor. Long story, but I’ve even had pee accidents in my pantry before (Did I mention life raising boys is always an adventure?!) If you don’t like the idea of chemicals in little hands, the norwex envirocloth is a great non-toxic tool to get this job done (*note- I am not a norwex consultant, just sharing what I’ve found that works for us).

raising-boys-loud-dirty

  • Buy clothes in bulk. Boys will wear pretty much anything you put in their dresser drawers, so you don’t need to worry about them being picky. We literally buy our shorts and jeans a dozen pairs at a time. Remember, I don’t like doing laundry!? Each boy can easily go through 2-4 pairs a day! A dozen pairs of each size means I don’t have to do laundry more often than once a week. As long as I’m diligent with my stain stick, (and buy high quality in bulk) most clothes get handed down from boy to boy.
  • Teach them manners. I believe establishing manners early on will create life-long habits which will translate into my little guys growing up to be true gentlemen. When one of them has managed to find and destroy a treasured item they weren’t meant to have, I’m less likely to completely lose my cool on a little boy who just sweetly held the door for me or remembered to say please and thank you at the dinner table.
  • Teach them to be a little tough. I didn’t embrace this one at first. I was determined to raise sweet, polite children who kept their hands to themselves and played with toys the way they were meant to be used. I laugh now reading that expectation. As my children get older, I realize that boys aren’t made to sit still or use toys according to directions on a box (I told you everything in my house is turned into a weapon). Roughhousing is a language to them, they truly use it to communicate their energy, strength, and power to each other. My rule is no whining to mom about bumps and bruises that occur as a result of rough play (only broken bones and cuts deep enough to require stitches or a blood transfusion are allowed to be brought to my attention). If they break anything that isn’t theirs in the process, they pay for it out of their allowance or do chores to make the money to pay us back. That being said, I also want my kids to know that mom and dad are a safe place to be vulnerable, and they don’t need to be tough all the time. Boys have strong emotions and they need a safe place to let it all out sometimes, too.
  • Hug them A LOT. Boys won’t always tell you that they need physical affections, but they do! My boys probably each get hugged at least 30 times a day, and this will continue to happen until theyreach the age when they tell me it’s not cool for mommy to hug them. And then I will sadly and begrudgingly back off…. a little. Hugs are powerful tools to communicate affection, compassion, acceptance, and to bring a sense of security to the chaotic energy of their little worlds. They truly can’t be loved on too much.

raising-boys-teddy-bears

  • Embrace the loud, messy, smelly world that is raising boys. Kiss those sweet, sweaty, dirt-streaked cheeks every chance you get. When the chaos overwhelms you (and it will sometimes), treat yourself to a girls’ night, or a pedicure – whatever makes you happy. Recharge your batteries and then jump back into that chaos with both feet. All boys are mama’s boys for a while, but they grow too fast. The days are exhaustingly long, but the years are painfully short. I never pictured myself as a boy mom, but I’ve been blessed with three of the best boys I could ever dream up. I work hard to embrace every sweet, smelly, messy, adventurous, frustrating, crazy moment with my guys. I know they’ll be grown in the blink of an eye. My world with them in it is the best adventure of all, so I’m determined to sit back and enjoy the ride.

** The images below are of the youngest boy enjoying a smash cake for his first birthday photo session.
raising-boys-first-birthday-cake-messraising-boys-first-birthdayraising-boys-hard-wonderfulraising-boys-first-birthday-cake-smash

You’ll Never be Any Good

‘You’ll never be any good at this’

savannah college at night

Believe it or not, these words were spoken to me by my photography professor in college.

It was my softmore year & I was taking my first photography class of my collegiate career.

By this point, I’d already dedicated two years toward obtaining a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. The Savannah College of Art & Design required students to finish all core classes before taking classes within your major.

With my core classes complete I was finally back in the darkroom, where I belonged.

Photography is a very expensive hobby

Before digital technology made film & processing costs irrelevant, I was spending thousands of dollars on film, paper and other basic needs.  I was still shooting with my first film camera, a Minolta X-370 and the camera body hadn’t been serviced in years- if ever?!

Everything was manual. And I mean E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G!

Exposure was determined by an internal light meter which measured ‘middle gray’.  Focusing, metering & changing out fixed lenses was just another part of the process.

As a college kid on a diet of ramen noodle, I didn’t have funds to purchase anything fancy. While I was envious of my classmates and their shiny new lenses, I pushed forward with what I had learning the hard way.stock photo of minolta film camera

My instructor was Jaclyn Cori. It was early in her years of teaching but she was already known for ripping people apart. I recall her as impeccably dressed, petite woman with beautiful olive skin.  Something about the way she carried herself made her intimidating.

I haven’t forgotten the sinking feeling I had when I met with her for my midterm review.

‘You’ll never be any good at this.’

She said coldly from across the room. She rose from behind her desk and floated across the room, closing the door behind me. She circled back and sat on the edge of her desk before inviting me in to take a seat.

I stumbled into the room dazed, like that of a frolicking deer shocked by the sudden burst of headlights.

She pulled out a stack of black and white contact sheets from a folder on her desk.

Contact sheets were essentially xerox copies of your film.  We’d slide our film negatives into pockets on an 8.5×11 sheet made for preserving 35mm film.  Then we’d create a positive print of the entire page- like a copier. This was how we were graded and helped us determine good vs. bad exposure.

‘Do you know what you are doing wrong?’

She asked as she handed over the contact sheets which I recognized as my own. I shrugged working hard to hold back tears, trying to find the words to speak.

It was true I was struggling with my exposure. My images lacked contrast. While I was writing down every exposure & corresponding frame (yeah, that’s how we did it before digital), somehow I was missing my mark every time?

I was frustrated and hoping for something, inspiration perhaps?

She continued, ‘I’m not exactly sure what you are doing? But these exposures are all muddy. It looks like you are consistently underexposing 1-2 stops? If you want true blacks, meter for middle gray and reduce two stops.’

(If you missed that, it was all photo gargon for: you are not exposing properly but mostly you suck at this.)

SCAD Savannah – Fall 2015 – Facilities – Bergen Hall – Interior – Photography (PHOT) – Photography by Chia Chong

Try, try and try again.

I didn’t let this talk discourage me. In my next class, we ran tests on our camera’s and I discovered my light meter was off 2 stops!  Pushing forward in spite of my own doubts, I built a website and launched my business my senior year.

When I originally built my website, I had nothing but time. It was my senior year and I was taking a computed class with Professor Tan. He was a Turkish man who spoke often about the conflict in his home country.

He was an inspiration. I always enjoyed his class even if we spent the day hearing about stories from his youth. He knew his stuff and I took advantage. While the other students were completing a final project on animation, I got his approval to build my first website and get it online.

After graduation in 2002, I’d already begun picking up jobs and slowly adding the new equipment I needed.

Jaclyn called me shortly after graduation.

She’d recently gotten engaged and stumbled across my website while searching for photographers. She remembered having me as a student but she didn’t remember the conversation in her office quite like I did.

She was impressed with my site and congratulated me on the work I was producing. I hung up the phone ready to charge forward again. It was just what I needed at the time in order to get me to the next level.

Until next time-

 

Great Wedding Gift Ideas

personalized belt clip

Best Guy Gifts. Seriously!

The holidays are just around the corner and those close to me are asking my advice on gifts.  I’ve got a-zillion ideas for the ladies but when it comes to the men in their lives?!

Zilch. Zero. Whaaaa??

The truth is I love helping find the perfect solution to celebrate friends! And while beautiful photography would be my first suggestion 🙂 we need other ideas now and then!

For years, my brides have relied on my advice when shopping for their groomsmen. It’s important to think about individuality, without spending too much energy collecting gifts for everyone.

Here in Kansas City, I direct them to work with a company that puts together personalized Kansas City gifts! It’s a great way to support the community AND give an unforgettable gift.

This summer I received a call from a small business working out of Connecticut: Groovy Guy Gifts.

After working within the wedding industry for many years, they noticed how few gifts were available for the guys. Viola! Simple business model- great gifts for guys + personalize it with their name. Affordable, easy and thoughtful.

BAM! Why didn’t I think of that??

Support other Small Business.

This is truly the BEST part!

I’m an advocate of shopping local and supporting other small businesses; however, I’m often directing my out of town friends to buy something online via Amazon.

Personalization is their specialty!!!

‘we truly believe by engraving a name on the gift, it becomes more meaningful.’

The best gift ideas for ANY kind of guy! Whether you are shopping for grandpa, your nephew or the man in your life- this is the PERFECT solution.

Check out this amazing list of gifts for ANY type of fella.

shaving kit gift

superhero customized flask

mug worlds best lawyer

The gift that keeps giving

Ultimately, photographs are the most personalized gifts that you can give!

You’ll never forget the experience of celebrating your most cherished moments through professional photographs.

But for a quick fix, these Groovy Guys have you covered!

xoxo adrienne signing off

 

Parenting in a Digital Age

https://blog.mamashealth.com/organs/human-brain/

Parenting in a Digital Age

cute girl princess dress crown

All at once, my little girl is seven.

Just like that… she is nearing the end of her childhood and I feel as though I’ve missed everything. Now classmates are showing up with cell phones?

WHAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat!? Silly me, caught off guard, I thought I had more time?

Recently I attended a talk put together by the local PTA. Here I listened to reputable, professional sources sharing some ground rules we can implement that will make a difference TODAY.

Join me by educating YOURSELF!

WHY are screens bad? Follow the research on Brain development-

Everything in moderation

“Try reading a book while doing a crossword puzzle that’s what you’re doing every time you use the Internet.” says author Nicolas Carr

We all know the brain isn’t fully developed until our mid-twenties. But until recently, something I didn’t consider was the cumulative impact mobile devices are having on my daughter’s developing brain.

The pre-frontal cortex is the LAST part of the brain to develop {the organizing, planning, decision making, focusing part of the brain}. It’s the part of the brain that requires LOTS of sleep and LOTS of time in the real world to develop properly.

quote about the price of everything

Screens stimulate our central nervous system, creating an emotional reaction when we turn them off. Neurotherapist Susan Dunaway compared this effect to the likes of a merry-go-round. You feel out of control when you ‘jump off’ of the merry-go-round aka. screen.

I’ve ‘tested‘ this myself… unintentionally proving the point by pulling the screen away from my daughter when she doesn’t listen to me.

A full blown meltdown ensues.

{Yes, some Sundays… I have been known to give her the ipad in the morning for waaaay longer than I should…}

Eyeballs are important!

When I close down my laptop, I’m acutely aware of the headache that’s been rising. My eyes ache and the world is blurry.

In order for our eyeballs to develop properly, we need sunlight! It’s silly simple when I think about it. But everything moves so fast these days. I haven’t really considered how the screens in my life might adversely affect my daughter as she grows up.

Making eye contact; Good for eyeballs; Good for micro-interactions

Feeling known and knowing others; Relationships take time to develop and eye contact is an important component of micro-interactions with others. These micro-interactions are important for our social brain to develop properly.

Myopia- nearsightedness- has increased by 20% in the last few decades!! Wowza.. that’s a dramatic increase and a direct result of mobile screens.

Our children are build to learn and play. When we hand them a screen we are limiting their imagination, handicapping the brain and hurting their eyeballs.

Establish Boundaries; Here are the ground rules

AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE. Set these boundaries for yourself as well.

I am taking the advice  of Natasha Burgert, whom reviewed 3 boundaries that are important for reducing risk of our children engaging in risky, deadly dangerous behaviors online during adolescence. Detective Moore from the Overland Park Police Department reviewed some scary statistics… I’ll spare the details for this blog post.

Believe me, you’ll thank me later. Just start here.

rules for technology boundariesLet me simplify 3 easy rules- 

  1. No Tech at the Table. Family meals are a valued ritual that connect us to one another and build reliancy. FOUR times a week, 18 minutes. That’s all. PB&J is ok!! It’s the time that matters.
  2. No tech in the bathroom OR bedroom. {Yes, this goes for you & me too. You’ll live & sleep better!} We all sacrifice sleep for screen time. Be the example and you’ll be more present & productive during the day.
  3. Just because it’s mobile doesn’t mean it’s mobile!! Establish expectations & limitations. We shouldn’t ALWAYS be on our screens when waiting in line, at the doctor’s office or at the RED LIGHT- try starting a conversation instead?!

Where do we go from here?

  • Stay Engaged
  • Stay Involved
  • Stay Educated

And what about our good friend.. social media???

Establish age limits that you can abide by in your house.

Personally, I’m still working through MY challenge with managing social media… I don’t think it’s a healthy place for the adolescent brain. So I plan to spare my daughter the option of having a choice in the matter.

This summer I got back to engaging online.

Each and every time I get online, I actively choose to make a positive impact. Get online with positive intentions! Spend time online WELL setting and achieving small goals while you are there.

I set a small goal of positively interacting with at least THREE people each time I am online. Give yourself time limits on social media, achieve your goal then log out!

So… I’m getting offline and engaging!

Like RIGHT NOW..  after I hit publish, I’m turning off this computer, throwing my phones in the drawer and starting a dance party with my little girl…

Because tomorrow WILL come… and she won’t be so little-

xoxo adrienne signing off

__________________________________________________________________________________

*Resources:

Dr. Natasha Burgert is a KC based pediatrician, National Spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics and a member of the AAP’s counsel of Communication and Media. She shares her expertise in child health as a regular contributor to NBC’s News Parent Tool Kit, US News and World Report, and KcKidsDoc.com.

Susan Dunaway is a Neurotherapist and board certified in neurofeedback, a specialized technique that improves the brain’s ability to communicate, task and use energy efficiently. She helps clients at her clinic, Amend Neurocounseling and speaks occasionally about technology’s impact on society through the Face2FaceMovement.

Books you should check out:

Websites for Reference:

Common Sense Media – Reviews on Apps, Video Games and other research that will help you navigate as new media gains popularity.

Screenagers – Great information for tips and research. Find contracts to hold your child accountable with their smart phones

 

 

 

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Hi! I’m Adrienne

I'm a southern gal who invested in Art School to learn the secrets of film photography before digital re-invented the market!

 

I love my emoji pj pants, fresh garden tomatoes, and working from home beside my daughter.

 

My mission? Capturing beautiful moments with my camera, inspiring others, and teaching others the art of story-telling!

 

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