How to use nature as your props: Winter Edition

For the last season edition of nature of props I am going to tell you how you can use the winter to your advantage. Yes, it may be cold out. However, these winter photos can be magical. I am telling you when I say to go on Pinterest and look at “portraits in the winter” photos, you will be blown away. I am going to give you some ideas on what props you can use in nature during this snowy season.

1. Snow

This comes in so many forms: snow men, snow angels, and playing in the snow. It would be so easy to use this as it is EVERYWHERE! It’s great for kids, families, individuals and couples. It’s great for everyone.

2. Frozen over body of water

Ice skating is where I am going with this one. Only recommend this if the ice is thick enough or if you don’t plan on falling/breaking the ice. If you still want to incorporate this, a good idea is to be cuddled in a blanket next to it.

3. Snow covered branches

These work well as backdrops, or even going right into the branches. One of my favorite things to do is “shove people into bushes/trees.” Meaning, I use greenery to make amazing photos. Having snow on the branches will only help enhance this beauty.

4. Christmas Tree lot

It is about the same as the previous one, but you can also use it to frame the subjects. I love being able to use a tree lot because it screams winter and you don’t need snow for it. I know that the snow likes to take it’s time into late December/early January so this is a great option for when you are waiting for that.

I know this list is small, but it may give you some ideas that you haven’t thought of for your session.

5 ways to make your holidays memorable

It is now the month of all the special holidays that allow family and friends to come together and celebrate. I for one want to make the most of it. Last year, my family and I went through a pretty tough time and it really made me want to cherish the memories every chance I could. I wanted to share some ways for you to as well instead of being caught up on what everyone else is doing (aka being on social media).

1. Only Take photos at events that are posed (i.e. everyone gets together and smile for the camera) and then keep your phone/camera away

I am really big on keeping your phone away during family events. I don’t even like to bring them out on dates. However, these are good times you want to keep. I get that. However, I have recently came to discover that the more you have your camera up, the more you miss what is actually happening. Have you ever noticed that? You are so concentrated on keeping the subject in the frame and in focus that you aren’t actually watching what is going on. You miss those moments in real time. This is why I say you can take photos, but leave it for the posed ones. Then, PUT IT AWAY!

2. Journal after the events

So how will you remember everything if your not taking pictures that aren’t posed or “in the moment?” By keeping a journal. It’s honestly the best way to do that. You will then be able to reflect on your memories. It is also a good way to caption your album or photos later on.

3. Do an activity at events

It may sound crazy, but I honestly thinks this helps a lot when it comes to remembering things. At one of my families gatherings, we get Christmas Crackers (Find out what they are here). Each year we open them after dinner around the table and it comes with some sort of toy/gadget/trinket, two jokes and two riddles and a paper crown. We go around the table and tell the jokes and riddles one by one (some repeat so it doesn’t go on forever). Last year we even got wind up penguins and had penguin races. This is something I look forward to every year and it is so much fun. My family may get a little out of hand with it because by then we have had some beverages and we all love to voice our opinion in everything. (You can even take a look at buying some here!)

4. Stay off your phone

In today’s world it’s something I really want to stress. I can’t tell you how disheartening it is to go to an event and see everyone just scrolling on their phones. It makes me want to scream “go talk to someone", or “how about you help grandma/little child out with something.” I am totally guilty of this in the past and it makes me ill thinking that I missed out on catching up with my family and making new memories. If you don’t know something about someone, ask them. I know it makes my grandparents world when I talk to them and just listen to what they have to say. So put them away for the events. Nothing life altering is going to happen during them. If you MUST have your phone on you, put it on airplane mode or do not disturb mode.

5. With the pictures you do get, add them to an online album (i.e. Facebook, Google Photos, Amazon Prime Photos, etc.)

AFTER you have left the event, add them to an online album. I have my phone set to automatic backup with Google Photos when I get to an area with Wi-Fi. From those photos, I can select the ones from an event and make an album. I can share these with anyone I send the link to and they can download it as well. This way, my photos are always backed up and if I ever want to see them again, they are organized and on a platform I can get to from anywhere with internet.

I hope these ways can help you enjoy your holiday more and have more memories with your friends and family. Trust me when I say it is worth it to be present instead of preoccupied with your technology. Now go make some memories.

What I am grateful/thankful for

Post November 27

It’s that time of the year that you get to learn a little bit about me and also share a little tradition with you all. I love sharing what I am grateful for at this time because not only does it help me reflect, but I can share something more personal with you. Without further ado, here is the list of what I am grateful for and why.

  • My Job

    I am so grateful for my job. Not only the fact that they employ me, but because I have the most amazing co-workers on the planet. We all get each other and are willing to help each other out all the time. I have had work friends in the past, but none like this in a long time. I know of so many people who don’t have these types of relationships with co-workers and it makes me truly grateful.

  • Family

    This should be a given, but I am so grateful for each and everyone in my family. They support me, give me guidance, are a shoulder, and love me unconditionally. Not everyone gets this in their life and it truly makes me sad that someone can’t experience that. My family does so much for me everyday, whether they know it or not.

  • Friends that I don’t see very often

    I am forever grateful for the friends that I am not able to see very often, but understand that life is forever busy. I love that I can call them up and just start up a conversation with them like we haven’t even left off. I love that they understand when we don’t talk or if I forget to text them back and then end up never doing so until they call me. I love these friends. We are all busy and it makes it so much easier when people understand that.

  • Being able to access to learn almost anything

    Technology these days is crazy. There are so many things online that you can use to learn just about anything. I use EdX and Duolingo a lot as well as Ted Talks. I can listen to podcasts and audio books. There are so many options to learn. For someone who can’t sit down and do classes all the time, but I constantly want to learn, this is perfect. I can learn on the go, on my lunch break and when it’s convenient for me.

  • Books

    I have a new love of books this year. It’s something about just holding an actual book that leaves me nostalgic. Now I don’t go out and buy a bunch of books. I rent them from the library first and then if I know I am going to read it again, I will try to buy it at Half Price Books and if I can’t find it, I will get it on Amazon. So I am even grateful for these places that hold the books as well.

  • My dog

    This girl of mine is my fur child. I don’t have any children so she is what I refer to as my child. I am so grateful for her because she constantly makes me smile. She cuddles so well with me (especially in the morning which brightens the morning), runs with me, and smiles at me constantly. Sometimes she even has conversations with me (literally she “talks” back to me).

  • Traveling

    This year I got to go on an awesome adventure to Europe and I loved it so much. It was one of the best times of my life and I am so thankful that I was able to go on that trip. It makes me want to go ahead and plan my next one. It’s so easy to plan one nowadays and I love being able to go and explore what the world has to offer.

This is one of my favorite things to do and it’s honestly something I encourage. Make a list of what you are grateful for and why. It will really make you appreciate everything that you have and to cherish the moments with all of them.

Some of my FAVORITE Thanksgiving recipes for you to try

Post November 20

As many of you know, I LOVE food. I love to eat all the food. Seriously, put me in a buffet and I am one happy camper. With Thanksgiving around the corner, I wanted to share some of my favorite and unique recipes for you to try this year. You may even be inspired to make some and bring it to your table.

Cranberry Sauce

This may seem really ordinary, but I heard of this “secret” recipe from a podcast I listen to Optimal Living Daily.” I had to add it to this post because I couldn’t not share it with everyone to help make their sauce even better.

(Original Recipes can be found at: Optimal Living Daily Recipe & Mom Time Out Recipe)

Green Bean Rice Pilaf

I am including this one because you can substitute the rice for a few different options. You can use Cauliflower Rice, Orzo Pasta, Quinoa, or Rice.

Goat Cheese with Dill

Roasted Brussel Sprouts

I love this one because you can add so many different combinations here. I have included a list at the bottom for you to choose from.

Mini Apple Crisps

(Original Recipe from: Oh So Delicioso)

Bake Brie with Cranberry Sauce

(Original cranberry recipe is from the same as the first sauce. Optimal Living Daily Recipe & Mom Time Out Recipe)

Roasted Carrots

(Original Recipes include: Cooking with Curls, Maple Dijon, Garlic & Herb, Honey Glazed, & Parmesan)

Don’t these make your mouth water? Gosh I am now super excited for Thanksgiving so I can make these to eat. Yumm!!

Why it's important to book your holiday card mini session NOW

The holidays are quickly approaching us and before you know it, they will be here. It’s hard to believe this year has gone so fast. That’s why it’s so important to book your holiday card mini session NOW before it’s too late. There are many reasons to back that up.

1. To make sure your photographer’s available

I can’t stress enough how important this is. As a photographer, I can tell you that we book up fast. Plus, we need time to plan your session and get all contracts/payments squared away. This takes time. It’s a very busy time for photographers and making sure your session is on the calendar is important.

2. To make sure everyone involved in these photos are available

Anyone you need in these photos also needs to be available. With my family, this is the absolute hardest part. We all have very busy lives and trying to find a time when all of us can get together for anything is near impossible. Unless it’s months in advance. I always have more than one date prepared to give to my photographer just in case they are not available, so make a few with your family.

3. To have time to design/pick out your cards

The photos may take a minute coming back from the photographer, so be prepared for that. But once they do, you will want to design or pick out a card. I use three different services: Basic Invite, Minted, and Nations Photo. All three I like and they have different varieties.

4. Shipping from card company

Once you have designed and ordered your cards, the card company will need to make them and send them to you. They will do all the work and send you all the envelopes, so it will take time. Expect anywhere from 3-4 weeks.

5. Time to get all mailing addresses

While you wait for your cards to arrive, you can collect all the mailing addresses you need. There are some card company’s that may address them for you and if so you’ll want to do this way ahead of time. I keep mine every year and just update them if need be. I always check to see if I know anyone who may have moved or changed addresses in case I need to update them.

6. Time to get them to the post office and mail them out

If you decide to do the mailing labels yourself, this can take a minute to add them to all of your cards. I also stuff some and some have stickers on the envelopes. I also have to add all the stamps. This is all the prep work I need to do before I even get to the post office. But, once they are there, it’s now all out of your hands.

7. Mail carrier time

It does take a little bit for the mail carrier to actually deliver the cards. Also, things can get lost in the mail, cards can get returned. There was one time I had a card returned to me 3 weeks after the new year and I sent them two months before. Things happen. So plan for mishaps.

This seems like so much happening when it comes to just some simple card that someone gets in the mail during the holidays. Even though it may seem that way, just know you are telling someone that you love them or that you enjoy them when you send them a card. I even do it. I send them out to all my clients and to my family and friends. I know I feel special when I receive one every holiday season.

So, make sure you plan accordingly and get that session booked now! Especially since you are thinking about it now.