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24 July 2014

5 minute photoshoot -- Preschool

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Time for another 5 minute photoshoot!  
This time we have a sweet as honey and silly as a goose preschooler.

The photo above was the "money shot" that I was going for.  He makes that smile when he has said something clever, is proud of something he has made or has a joke that he is about to play on someone.  I want to remember that -- not some posed smile.  So here is how we got it...

MINUTE 1 --Take photo of something similar colored on the porch floor background and adjust settings without mentioning a photoshoot to our kiddo.  With an older child, you can do this with the child, but a preschooler will not have the attention span for it.  Caucasian skin and a cardboard box will get pretty close as a stand-in for color.

MINUTE 2 -- "Hey baby!  Be silly!"  This is the time for closeups.  When a preschooler is first told to be silly -- they do ridiculous faces.  You want the "afterglow" of silly, so use this minute to capture those chubby hands between baby and kid years, cute little toes, ears, that crazy hair -- whatever.


MINUTE 3 -- "How old are you?"  After a minute of silly, kiddo is loosened up and an easy, but serious question will make him answer with a smile and look me straight in the eye.  You get one shot at this photo.  Your child will answer with a smile and then FLASH, it is gone.  Be ready for this one.


MINUTE 4  -- Time to get your kiddo to tell that joke...


Keep shooting during the joke because the photo you really want is the "proud face":

MINUTE 5 -- You might get a few more smiles and profiles, but you will have to change locations 
and your moments of attention are probably gone.  That is why Minute #1 is so important!



Want more DIY Photoshoot Ideas?  I have a bunch!

5 Minute Photoshoot for Infants

5 Minute Photoshoot for Babies - 6 WEEKS

5 Minute Photoshoot for Babies - 6 MONTHS

5 Minute Photoshoot for Christmas Cards

5 Minute Photoshoot with Older, Active Children

5 Minute Photoshoot with a Preschooler

How to Photograph Your Family with a Self Timer

How to Survive a Photoshoot with Kids

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23 July 2014

The History Keepers ::: School Photo Adjustable Gallery Wall

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School photos are a lot like TBall photos. Yesterday, we talked about eschewing the traditional, boring portraits for something that "speaks" to your kid's personality a little better for a lot less $$. Well, I am back today to share another way to "beat" the school photography system and help record those cute little faces AND those cute little personalities.

You have probably seen a photo like this floating around the internet:


It is simple really.  Take a photo of your kiddos on the first day of school, on picture day, any day near the beginning of the school year.  Pop the photo in photoshop or picmonkey and add a few of your kid's "favorites".  The way I get them to give me interesting and accurate desciptors is to ask detailed questions like:

What is your favorite think to drink outside?
Where is your favorite place to go with Daddy?
What is the best part about summer vacation?
What would you do RIGHTTHISSECOND if you could do ANYTHING?

The beauty of this system is that you are pairing a more natural photo (compared to those stiff, one-pose school pictures) with actual words from your kiddo about what they value at this stage in their life.   Both are valuable and both hold a lot of sentimental value.

The problem with these prints is that you have to have the sizing EXACTLY right when you go to print or words get a little too close to the edge or get cut off and it takes a lot of finagling to get your photo aligned correctly to print.  My solution?  A three photo canvas setup.

The large portrait (up and down) rectangle is for the actual photo, the smaller, top right rectangle for the name and grade and the bottom right rectangle for the "likes".  It is a WHOLE lot easier formatting these canvases than attempting to format one photo with text overlay (trust me -- I've tried!!)

Here is how I create the text squares.  I work on the name first, choosing a font and staying consistent with it throughout the canvases (This particular font is a free font called NeoRetroDraw).


To achieve the green background that blends in perfectly with my child's photo, I took the blurred out green background of the original photo and used the clone tool to make a "canvas" of blurry green.  

Not sure what the clone tool is?  See that little button below?  It will be on the toolbar on your far left in photoshop.  Click it, then hold down the "ALT" key while you select the area of the photo you want to copy.  Then let go of the "ALT" key, press the left button of your mouse again to "paste" the selection you have made.  It sounds complicated at first, but the tool is very easy to use after you get used to it!  Alternatively, a white background with a complimentary green text will work too!


Once the name is complete, I move on to the "likes".  I make sure to save this file as a psd (photoshop file) AND a jpeg so that I can come back and easily edit the same background and font for different children and different years without having to redo the whole file from scratch.

I also like to mix up the fonts a bit in the "likes" section, so I added the complimentary NeoRetro Shadow to the NeoRetro Draw font.


Once you get your photos uploaded into Shutterfly, make sure you check and check again that your photos fit well and are not going to get cut off.  Notice the name below?  Oops!  I needed to make the font smaller as well as making the whole photo a higher resolution (see that little orange warning triangle?  Take those seriously and fix the problem before ordering!)



See how the text will bleed if I don't fix the issue?

Always make sure to preview your prints before ordering -- particularly expensive canvases.

You will be KICKING yourself when you get a beautiful canvas and ONE LETTER is drifting off the side -- grrrr.


Once I ordered my canvases, along with some extra prints of the first day of school, it was time to figure out how to display them.  I knew I wanted them in a grouping of some sort, but wanted to keep the kids individually separate as well.  I decided on displaying them on these IKEA grids I found years ago in the as-is section.


Each boy gets their own grid, showing off the different years of school.


The canvases are attached with simple s-hooks, while the prints are even more simply clipped on with clothespins.  
Both can be easily adjusted and changed through the years as more and more "first day" photos are taken.


The beauty of this system is that individual prints can be changed out on a whim, while the pricier canvases remain a constant.  
The look can change up slightly without breaking the bank every time!  Win-win again!


How will YOU capture the memories of each school year?


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Quotebooks (If you make ONE THING from this series, make THESE!)

The Journals (yes, these are different than the quotebooks, but just as easy!)

Footprints and Handprints (CAPTURE those tootsies!)

A Gallery Wall (PRINT and DISPLAY those photos!)

Life Sized Cork Board (A solution for ALL those art projects!)

TBALL Photos -- A Better Way (I KNOW you are sick of them too!)

Book Canvases (...for the mom who needs some art motivation)

SCHOOL Pictures  (An improvement on tradition!)


21 July 2014

The History Keepers ::: TBALL [and other sports photos] A BETTER WAY

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I've mentioned the job of "history keeper" several times now (See HERE and HERE) and today's post covers history, but in a little more lighthearted way.  You see, sports pictures are a BEAR and dealing with how many to buy, what package to get, etc, etc is NOFUN.  So I came up with a better solution this year and I am excited to share it with you.  Are you ready?


So you know the drill.  Show up on a hot, summer day in the middle of a field, literally swarming with little boys and girls, all colors of the rainbow on their tball shirts.  The blue team here, the red team there -- hustle through team pictures (come on now Junior SMILE!  James, quit pulling her hair!), then the individuals.  Each kid is cycled through with the same recycled bat -- same recycled pose -- same bad sunny lighting.

Then -- THEN -- you get to buy the pictures.  Have you ever REALLY examined the prices of those pictures?  Astronomical, especially considering the pictures are all carbon copies of each other and show little of your kiddo's personality.  Now, I will admit that we sometimes buy the TEAM photo if one of our kids has a really great team they want to remember, but the individuals?  50 wallets of the same pose along with a few "free" 5x7's and the $20 8x10 just never seems to make sense to me.  Instead, let's do TBALL pics BETTER!

*All products pictured were provided by Shutterfly.  All opinions are [clearly] mine!

This year when we received the brochure of various photos we could buy, the photo company included 
"premium" add-ons like water bottles, nametags, mousepads and more.  Can you guess what happened?

Let me walk you through the scenario....

A.  Rushed and basic pictures are taken.
B. Brochure is given TO THE KID.
C. Said kid sees cool pictures of "premium" add-ons.
D. "Mom!!  These are really cool!  Can I get one?"
E.  "How much are they?"  OH.  ummmmmmmm........
F.  Let me check *Shutterfly.


Well.  See that water bottle above?  It was NOT a premium add-on.  

You know why?  Because there are MULTIPLE photos of my child, doing tball things the way HE does them and even a few of him IN A GAME.  
You know what else?  THIS water bottle was CHEAPER than the "premium" add-on from the photo company.  (Thank you Shutterfly!)

DON'T BE AFRAID TO TAKE YOUR OWN PHOTOS!  You can do this!  

Of course, once I got started looking around the Shutterfly site, I really wanted to shock my little tball player with 
MORE than just that water bottle he so desperately wanted.  I decided to give him a little double take...


That is my son.  ON THE WALL.  Almost life-sized.
The premium add-ons don't even offer that....but Shutterfly does!

Walk up the stairs to our kid's loft/play area and front in center there is a little TBALL player running to second base.  

Cool, eh? 
(I think he likes it...and I think his brother might want one :) )


This particular vinyl decal is the mid-size, but you can go up another size for even MORE impact!


All in all, I decided to order a bunch of cheap prints of our tball photo-session, the "supercool" water bottle 
my son so desired, that awesome full size wall decal and a luggage tag for him to hang off his backpack.  



What would YOUR little TBALL player rather have than 50 wallet sized photos of the same pose?
PS -- If you DO want 50 wallet-sized photos of the same pose -- Shutterfly can do THAT too!  Just cheaper.



Pin It

Quotebooks (If you make ONE THING from this series, make THESE!)

The Journals (yes, these are different than the quotebooks, but just as easy!)

Footprints and Handprints (CAPTURE those tootsies!)

A Gallery Wall (PRINT and DISPLAY those photos!)

Life Sized Cork Board (A solution for ALL those art projects!)

TBALL Photos -- A Better Way (I KNOW you are sick of them too!)

Book Canvases (...for the mom who needs some art motivation)

SCHOOL Pictures  (An improvement on tradition!)

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