Tag Archives: family photos

Chatbooks

Chatbooks

When I was little, my parents had a giant steamer trunk full of a dozen or more photo albums and hundreds of loose photos in boxes.  I loved looking through it; I could, and DID, spend hours going through those pictures.

We have a few albums around here, but not as many as I’d like.  My kids probably don’t even know what they really looked like as babies because they don’t see a lot of photos of themselves.  I feel like that’s bad.  I’ve said before I wanted to remedy the situation, but the project never really got off the ground.

A friend of mine recently recommended Chatbooks to me, which I’d never heard of but which I now LOVE.  Chatbooks is a service that creates albums for you from the photos you post on social media — Facebook or Instagram — and every time you hit 60 new photos, they automatically send you a new album.  It’s a 6″ x 6″ little treasure trove of good memories. 

I joined and had enough photos in my Instagram feed to already fill 15+ albums.  The first ten arrived already and not a day has gone by where I haven’t found one of the kids flipping through them.  More are on the way.  And I love that every so often I’ll just get one in the mail.  It’s like getting a present!

I still need to get my crap together and get some photos of my children as babies in albums for them to see, but at least Chatbooks guarantees that we’ll have albums with our current adventures.  I highly recommend it.

If you’re interested in signing up, you can get your first book free by using the code TTUZ6VKQI put the info up in the top right corner of the blog — feel free to share it! [Full disclosure: if you join using my code, I’ll get a dollar off my next album.]

What’s your favorite way to share, store, print photos? 


Also, my failed first attempt to get some albums made (this time I will not fail!), and great tips for a family photo shoot from a professional photographer!


 

Prepping for Family Photos

Have you ever done a family photo shoot?  We haven’t done one in a while — our last was back in the fall of 2014 — but I love them.  It can be a daunting process, however, requiring some planning in advance in order to make it the most enjoyable experience possible.  It’s totally worth it when you get those photos back, though!

My friend Jamie is a great family photographer based in Boston.  I’ve known Jamie a long time — we went to junior high and high school together! — and I think her work is amazing.   A mother of two and a professional photographer, Jamie knows what it’s like on both sides of the camera.  She’s offered some tips on how to prep your family for a photo shoot to make it fun and enjoyable:

Prepping Kids for a Family Portrait Session

  1. Let your kids know about a week in advance that you’re having a portrait session done.  Really explain what that means for them, but keep it brief: “We’re having our photos taken with this photographer named Jamie. She’ll be taking photos of our family at a park near our house. We’ll put on a nice outfit and sit for a few minutes while she takes our photos.”  Make it sound fun!JHay 1_600px
  1. Remind them casually every few days and add in a few more bits of information. Avoid making it into a photography lecture though — you don’t want them to dread it before it even happens!  “We’ll take photos all together. Some with just the kids. And some of each of you alone.”   The more information they’re given, the more likely it is that your children will enjoy the process.  As you’re explaining, tell your kids how important these photos are to you — you always want to remember how they look just now, even when they’re all grown up!  If your kids know why the photos matter, they may be more agreeable with the process.JHay 3_600px
  1. Be honest. You can tell your kids that it might take a while and they’ll really have to listen to the photographer’s instructions.  You can tell them that it may not be the most fun they’ve ever had – though any photographer worth their salt will try hard to make it a fun experience – but that cooperating is the best way to ensure the session is done fast and is successful. “The sooner we do this, the sooner we can be done” is a good line for a reluctant kid.JHay 4_600px
  1. Bring rewards for good behavior.  I’m never above a good bribe! Should you bribe your kids with donuts and M&Ms to get their homework done and clean up their rooms? Probably not. Is it OK for a one-time bribe to get over a rough patch mid-session? Absolutely! Of course, it depends on the age of the children involved, but if you sense resistance there’s nothing wrong with setting out a reward for good behavior. And if you don’t want to be the briber, ask the photographer in advance to offer it instead of you. Many times, I’ve been told the favorite treat of a client in advance and brought that bag of fruit snacks or a handful of munchkins to a session – I’m happy to do the dirty work if a parent doesn’t want to set an example of rewarding with sugar.JHay 2_600px
  1. The Most Important Tip of All: Keep your cool and go with the flow. (Easier said than done, I know!)  Sometimes parents start to get frustrated mid-session. If I ever see a parent start sweating or gritting their teeth, I immediately take a break by suggesting we pick a new location/backdrop in whatever area we’re in. The process should not ever be dreadful and the kids will, at some point, lose their patience a bit. (And you may too!)  But try, try, try your hardest to understand that kids are just that: kids!  Forcing any pose or smile is only going to result in the child pushing back. We’ll take our time, try out different poses and methods to get a great, genuine smile, and we’ll have fun. The only one that should be sweating and hustling around is the photographer. If we can keep the mood light, the children are MUCH more likely to stay calm and happy.JHay 6_600px
  1. Secret Photographer Tip: Follow steps 1 – 4 with any dads, grandfathers, or uncles that may be involved! Often times, I find it’s the dads that are feeling the most resistant (read: shy or embarrassed) throughout the session. If you let them know how important it is to you to have a great family photo – and maybe have a good bribe thrown in too – it may be just the trick to get him to open up and smile a bit.

I know from experience that family photo shoots can often start out fun, but that the kids can lose patience pretty quickly.  Jamie’s advice is really great — my favorite part is the tip for reluctant dads!  You can check out Jamie’s work on her website or follow her on Facebook.  (And any of my Massachusetts people looking for a family photographer should definitely talk to Jamie!)

Have you ever done a family photo shoot?  What other advice could you add?


Also, here are our family photos from 2013 and 2014!


 

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

jay_sunsetbeach

Last year, I decided I wanted to learn more about photography.  I am a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad photographer, to be honest.  And I thought I could improve, but I was wrong.  I did try, but really, it’s just not my forte.  I don’t have the eye for it.

Talented photographers seem to run in Matt’s family though.  Matt is pretty good.  Bridget and Gabe are actually demonstrating quite an eye for taking pretty pictures lately.  Matt’s cousin Lucy did our family photos several years in a row and they always came out amazing.

And Lucy’s brother Jay (also Matt’s cousin, obviously) is a photographer too — and his shots are AMAZING.  Just so, so good.  Go to his site right now and check them out.  And then order one or two or ten because there is no room anywhere that couldn’t be improved by one of these beauties.

themillsunset_jaysphotos

Cool photos are my favorite art form: I love that photos capture reality, but what I really love is how much better than actual reality a good photo can be.  Normal, every day scenes are elevated to extraordinary by a good photographer.

bull_jaysphotosI love this guy.  He belongs on my wall. 

Instead of lamenting my inability to take gorgeous photos, I have finally decided to just leave it to the experts.  And Jay is one of them. Check out the rest of his work; you won’t be disappointed!  I especially love this shot and this one too.


Also, if we’re talking about artists in the family, my sister is pretty amazing as well!


 

Snapshot

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Every year when Q’s preschool has class pictures, they open up the day to siblings so that families can bring their older and younger kids in and get photos all together.

It’s been a few years since I’ve done it, but this morning we all went in together and got the kids photos done.  Since all my children went to preschool there, it’s a nice little walk down Memory Lane for them, and their old teachers love seeing them grown up and off to elementary school.

We do lots of photos in this family.  Lots.  Because there’s so much about their babyhoods and toddlerhoods I don’t remember until a photo jogs my memory.  So I try to take lots of photos so that years from now I can look back and remember how B still had cuts and scabs on her knees from playing outside when she was almost 11, and how G used to spike his hair in a very carefully crafted faux-hawk every morning, or how O had this one super dangly snaggle tooth for months before it finally came out, and how Q used to eat his upper lip every time he smiled.

I’m not great about printing out pictures and putting them in albums, though, and that scares me.  What if I lose all these photos because they exist only digitally and then I basically can’t remember anything about my children when they were little? (Slightly overdramatic, maybe, but whatever.)  I’m trying to get better about it–I ordered a hundred or so prints a few weeks ago and am planning to do that monthly until I can catch up.  But that will take a while–we’ve got ten years of photos to get through.

It will be worth it though, to be able to look back and see these sweet faces and remember.

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