New Favorite App

Rhonna Designs is my new favorite app. Holy moly. SO MUCH FUN. I can't believe how much bang for your buck is in this one little app. It might even help me get blogging again!

As you've (not) noticed (who blogs anymore?), I have been MIA for MONTHS. I have 5 kids. They are growing up. They have lots of "things" going on. But this? I can do from a bench at ballet or swimming! It's fun for me to have a creative outlet.

New Favorite Product, by Courtney Price (photographer & designer)

I love taking pictures with my phone. And I love a lot of the resulting images very much. Are they worth blowing up and printing huge? Sometimes. But I love this. 196 of my favorite phone images from 2013 all in one classy place.
 I could stare at it all day. Visitors have taken quite a lot of time looking it over. It's a conversation piece as well as a memory prompt. Very fun!
Most images are a little smaller than an inch square... mounted on foam so that it doesn't sag. You can frame it, lean it on a ledge or shelf, or even attach it straight to the wall with command strips for a low-profile look.
Send me your 196 faves and let me make one for you!
$100 (Plus tax. Shipping fee only if you cannot pick up in Lynden, WA.)


Photography on a Budget

Because I am a photographer, of course you are going to expect me to say that you need custom photography in your home.

Well, as a person... I still believe that! However, I realize that in reality, sometimes there are things that need to happen first. Bills need to be paid. I still think it's a worthy goal to save for: seeing beautiful images of your loved ones is proven to boost your mood (it can dull pain as well as give you a burst of adrenaline). But in the meantime, you can still get that natural high without forking out the big bucks.

First, trust your gut. Put your great snapshots up anywhere! Anything that makes you feel happy counts as a great shot. Be creative. It's all about having fun. One of the lessons I have learned this year is to print pictures. Just print them, the rest will follow.
Second, don't rely too heavily on pinterest for ideas. I know... I love that place too, but some of the ideas are downright silly. A 3 foot by 5 foot print from an office store glued onto a thin piece of wood is going to look terrible. Trust me. There are so many ways it can go wrong.

Also, this is a professionally printed canvas (the background, tape, and Polaroid look are all created in Photoshop):
If I tried to glue a regular photo onto canvas (this idea is all over pinterest), it will just not look the same. The image starts curling off the canvas, the canvas warps... it's just a hot mess.

If the idea is too good to be true or tries to say that it is "just as good" as a professional product, it's not. But there are still a trillion good ideas. One thing I get complimented on all the time at my house are these frames:
 $1 each at Ikea. At times I have had pro canvas right next to them and the little white frames still draw the compliments!
 It just goes to show that simple can be very elegant.

The third thing to remember is to use things in a different way than they were intended. You might be surprised at what you can find. This is just an old frame that I didn't have anything to fill at the time, so my daughter just taped things to the front:
This is very changeable. Whenever you get a few new prints you can mix it up without feeling like you spent a million dollars.

This window was found at the ReStore for a couple bucks:
I distressed it with black and blue paint and I swap out the pictures or artwork whenever I feel like a fresh look. I use windows in many rooms in my house because they are so easy, cheap and changeable. You can hang them on the wall or lean them on a shelf.

Now that I have knocked pinterest, I do have to say that there are many great ideas there! I've seen ideas as simple as sticking pictures on a wall in the shape of a heart. I have always found that the ideas that are simple look the best. Some of the best tools are washi tape, sticky-tacky and clothes pins!

The bottom line? Don't be afraid to print what makes you happy and get it up where you can see it! The results are good for the soul.


Better Snaps

There she is again. That mom on your social network of choice who always has great pictures. She might be a professional photographer, but even when she shoots with her phone, those images are better than yours too! What gives?

There are really two main things to keep your eye on when snapping a photo. And really, it only takes a couple of seconds to assess the situation, once you know what to look for.

1. Keep the background simple. The "stuff" of life is very real and I don't think that you should pretend to be someone you are not by "hiding" an imperfect scene. However, if you want the focus of the image to be your child, pose them away from the garbage can at the park, or just move the dirty rag on the counter before you snap the image of them making a big mess while they eat cake. I have plenty of bad examples of this, would you like to see one?
There is just way too much in the background of this photo. If I would have moved myself, it probably would have looked nicer to just have the storefront behind them instead of cars, people, chairs, bike-racks... you get the idea!

It is always a good idea to move yourself around a bit.
Another angle of the above picture has the line of buoys going straight through his head and another has people that we don't know walking through the frame in bathing suits (I don't love pictures of strangers in bathing suits). Those things take the focus from my boy. By moving around on the beach, I got the shot I wanted, just using my phone.

2. Look for light. It does not matter what camera you are using, lighting always comes into play. There are many difficult situations to watch out for.

On an overcast day, light is really diffused and doesn't have a real direction. On those days, have your child look up at you to catch the light from the sky overhead. Otherwise, you'll end up with shadowy sockets where their eyes should be. That's no fun!
If you're inside, turn toward windows or doors. Again, more light on the face= happy momma! I think that good lighting really showcases a child's inner glow.
If it's super sunny, watch out! That can actually make for the worst pictures. Let me give you another bad example, lest you were under the impression that I think I'm perfect!
Ugh! That light it ruining his cute face! In these conditions, it is best to head for shade. Put them entirely in the shade, but just on the edge (and still facing the light). This makes for gorgeous lighting and is also known as "open shade" because it is open to the light, but still technically shade. For instance:
The girls above are just inside the shadow of an awning. And now we can see their pretty faces. If they were standing out about 3 feet, I would only have squinted eyes to look at.

And lastly, be sure to pop out your camera at dusk...
 ...and at dawn.
Because that is when the light is just plain magical!

So, next time you are about to take a picture think about where the light is coming from and what is behind your subject. Move yourself accordingly and boom! A great shot!

More next time on what to DO with those fabulous images!

(This article was featured on Mom Meet Mom!)