Thursday, December 18, 2014

10 Tips For Taking Better Photos of Your Kids With Your Phone

I've really been wanting to learn how to take really good pictures of my kids. They are so cute and different at each stage of life, I want to capture it but in the way that I see it...faded background, faces in focus, soft a dream. So I got some help from our amazing photographer friend, Alicia Brown of Write You On My Heart. She recently started a blog about taking better pictures of kids with your phone and you HAVE to go read it! She's even put out a free e-book with more tips and tutorials. You will definitely want to check it out! 

Alicia spent several hours with me and my kids and showed me how to use my phone and how to "set the stage" for awesome pictures. Here are the tips:

1. Download a camera app such as VSCOcam (that's the one she recommended I download).

There are presets that come with it but you can also download more. Some are free, some cost a few bucks. Just play with the app to figure out what does what.

2. Wipe camera lens on back of phone clean

You can use your shirt or a napkin, etc. You don't want any smudges on your lens.

3. Turn sound off

This way your kids have no idea you're even taking pictures and they feel much more relaxed.

4. Use Focus and Exposure Icons

When you have your camera on, tap the screen with two fingers and two icons will come up. Use your finger to move the exposure around on the screen. When it's over something light the exposure turns darker and when it's over something dark the exposure turns brighter. Most the time you'll want it right in the middle. You want to see good skin color in the subject's face. Then tap on the icon to lock it. 

Move the focus icon to whatever you want to focus on. Most the time you'll probably want it on the subject's face. Sometimes you may want it on whatever the subject is focusing on if you're taking from behind or above the subject.

5. Square phone with background. 

You want the lines in the background to line up with the lines of your screen. If there's something in the background you don't like, move it or move your position. You want to shoot straight on, not at an angle. If you're taking a picture over a wood floor, even lining up the wood planks with your phone helps.

6. Get level with subject

When taking pictures of kids it's best to get down to their level. It's part of squaring with the background. Or if you want an overhead shot, get directly above your subject and shoot straight down.

7. Hold phone very still

This is the hardest part for me. I always forget to hold my hands very still as I take the picture. One trick Alicia taught me was holding my finger on the snap button and when I'm ready to snap the pic I release my finger. This helps to not jerk the phone around by tapping it with your finger.

8. Take lots of pictures

Sometimes I will snap constantly and take 20 pictures if my kid is moving, such as the twirling picture. My girl was twirling around and I kept snapping. Out of the 10 or 15 pictures I took of her twirling, I got one or two good ones. And I took 20 or so pictures of her sitting on the chair by the window but only a few were really good.

9. Edit picture using a preset

Most of the presets are very harsh, but you can adjust them by clicking twice on the preset you want. By moving the bar to the left it brings it closer to the original photo. I usually adjust mine to somewhere in the middle.

10. Use other editing tools, but not too much

I always sharpen just slightly, sometimes fade just a touch and once-in-awhile warm up the temperature. If you find a preset you like you won't have to do much to the pic after adjusting the preset. I like the A6 preset because it automatically warms up the picture to my liking. And for black and white pictures X1 is used a lot. 

I love that we can take beautiful pictures now with our phones...something we ALWAYS have with us and can pull out in a second. Kid's are so spontaneous and clever, I love that I can catch those moments now thanks to these tools. 

I also had Alicia help me a little with my DSLR. These are the pictures I captured with my "fancy" camera...

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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Christmas Home Tour 2014 FAVORITE time of year! Our house is getting REALLY close to being done...I mean I can almost SMELL it! So this year I had a lot more fun with the Christmas trimmings than I did last year, when I was still overwhelmed with projects and figuring out what looked good where. 

My inspiration this year came from these wrapped and white. I've never liked black before and now I'm obsessed with black French stripes and half-painted walls in black and white. (That might be a little teaser for a reveal coming up after the New Year). 

So, I went out and bought a bunch of black satin ribbon. That's pretty much it. I also ordered brass bells off of eBay. Let me tell you, these bells have the most beautiful, delicate, angle-like ring to them. I wish I could jingle them for you right now.

I made my wreaths. They were so easy, I didn't even have to use a wreath frame or thick wire to hold the circle. I just used a thin floral wire to fasten one branch to the next. I love the imperfection!

Yes...I still use florals in the winter. But I do add some wool and fur textures to warm things up.

Do you like my new sofa?? Over the summer I fell in love with a Pottery Barn sofa. It was more than we usually pay for furniture (since I always buy at flea markets), so I thought about it a lot before I brought it up to the husband. Since all our furniture was old, I thought he would be all about something COMFORTABLE...and not falling apart. Well, when I asked him he replied, "I kind of like that everything in our house is old." WHAT GUY SAYS THAT!?! Of course I love him for saying it, but the thing is my style is headed back in the "modern" direction and he's still catching up to my primitive, shabby look. 

So being the generous guy he is, he says "yes", but I still couldn't just go spend so much on a sofa. But then I found this one, on Joss and Main. It's the same look, but half the price and best of all, it's a slipcover! That is of course appealing to a mother of 3 little ones. So Happy Birthday and Merry Christmas to me!

I really wanted some black French striped stockings, so I made some...LAST NIGHT! 

I know...they desperately need to be ironed! But my iron is up in the attic right now because the husband is working on my laundry room (YAY!). How did I make them? Drop cloth, a sewing machine, duck tape and a black Sharpie. 

Oh, how I love these bells. Can you tell??


These are my favorites out of all my vintage ornaments. I felt like they'd be overlooked on the tree so I put them in my...big antique jar of some I can see them. If you know what these jars are called please let me know! I have only ever found ONE (on eBay), and they called it a conditioner jar from a drug store. These are real thick glass and 2 of the 3 have the lids. 

I painted the iron legs on my table so that they would pop since the floor is dark.  

 My salt glazed of my favorite finds! I don't even know what makes it so beautiful. 

I did not deck the kitchen halls with much since it's already so busy. I've been feeling my kitchen is a bit cluttered. It wasn't 6 months ago. But my style has changed so much lately and I've been going towards this "minimalist" look. My poor, poor husband. 

Thanks for letting me share and Merry Christmas, everyone! 

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