Archive: ‘TPAs: Teen Photo Attempts’

How To Catch A Teen!

Monday, March 26th, 2012

We all know that photographing a teen is pretty challenging. 

You know what I mean.

I call the whole experience a TPA (Teen Photo Attempt)… It is an attempt. Remember that. You won’t always get it on the first try so don’t get discouraged at all; just keep trying!

The moon and the stars must be lined up just right as well as the shoes, the weather the mood the clothes and … everything else. I will say that getting some extra help can be a must if you are the camera mom. A cousin or friend will do (and is very necessary) to provide the bit of distraction necessary for a successful shoot. It is also a good idea to leave your house and go someone fun and different. We went to the area around our little local library.

This happens to be one of the least stressful shots (below)- – I recommend it for all moms of teens : )


So head out to a pretty place… and take some practice shots….of the scenery…



Then with friend to distract… start snapping a few of the flowers of course and see what else you might get : )


“Yes honey I am getting ….


the flowers!”


As you know the face is not necessary to tell the full story…


but the face is what we are after!  “Got it!”

You have to be quick, the smile may not last too long….


Don’t forget the teen jewelry and other details that define her personality.


The tracks were also fun and interesting for her to get distracted …


Back to the flowers; after all that is what we went out for! Right?


Make it fun and happy. Hand your teen the camera and see what she comes up with too:


Lord knows that these tricky teen years are full of exciting times…


mixed in with a little stress….


a little uncertainly…


and a lot of decisions.


No need for the photo shoot to be anything but fun and happy! Get if done today – –


Enjoy your sweet minutes with  your teen; she is growing up right before your eyes : ) Grab a tissue and grab your camera. Go get your teen off the computer or iphone and head outside to take some pictures of the flowers and see what else you might get!

Happy Spring!


Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

Have you ever tried to take good photos in poor restaurant light? It can be frustrating but it is fun to take photos at your favorite places so hopefully  you will pick up a few tips today.

This is a great yogurt place just in case you need to add another one to your list!


Photography is all about ‘light’ and what your camera does with it. So when you get to a place with strange or low light you have to quickly adjust your settings to get the shot. Remember we don’t like to use the  ‘on camera’ flash…it is not very flattering to anything out there and I recommend only using it in emergencies.

I set the ISO to 640 and the f stop to 2.8. I got by with a shutter speed of 1/100 because I wasn’t shooting a moving object. The slower  shutter speed allowed me to keep the ISO a little lower and resulted in a less grainy photo. Notice that with this shot the low f stop meant a real blurry background  as I got closer to the subject. So just a little bit of this photo is actually in focus the rest is thrown out of focus: a shallow depth of field. The further away you get the deeper your depth of field and more of your subject is in focus.


Photographing food is really fun because the colors are rich and…it doesn’t move!


You can also position the food to get the best light possible!

Are you getting hungry yet?! Melissa sure enjoyed her creation! Shooting at an angle allowed me to get my daughter AND the dessert in the photo – up close shots can be tricky but once you turn the camera a bit you will be amazed at what you can fit in the frame.

Another tip: teens are usually happy when food is in the picture! A prepared camera mom will get remember to get those rare shots!



We completely enjoyed our yogurt outing….this is a photo- story for sure!


Look all around … I was intrigued by the lights in this place!


This was actually hard to photograph – – I ended up with a much faster exposure time to get the detail of the light fixture. 1/800.  If I had a slow shutter speed I would have had too much light coming in the camera and the shot would have just been a white ball. Because there was enough light for the shot, with my camera directly pointing at the light, I was able to lower the ISO to 400.

Bon Appetite!

A Creative Photo Shoot for a Very Creative Teen!

Tuesday, August 9th, 2011

I have a very talented photographer niece. We all saw her work on a recent post…her photos of a graduating senior. Well, my niece just graduated herself so we decided to get some senior shots of her while she was here. I wanted so badly to capture her creative personality in these shots so the pressure was on!

We worked together and came up with some shots she was happy with. I was behind the camera but she had a lot to do with the posing and ‘feel’ of the shots.  It was really fun working with her. Most of the time when you work with teens they are not so happy to be in front of the camera so this was a fun time for me!

I used a very inexpensive reflector for some of these shots. Using a white foam core science board also works well to get the light back on your subject’s face even when you are outside and you think you have plenty of light.



She really liked the different angles and poses so I let her lead the way!



I personally liked this pose a lot..try it with your teen or any age child. Again, it helps to have the white board to reflect some light back on their face especially if they are this close to the ground or they are not facing the light source.


Keep moving the camera to try something that you generally don’t do.


Different expressions bring out different parts of her personality.



I think the biggest tip is to let your teen participate in the photo shoot and don’t be the ‘boss’ telling them what to do. Ask them what they want and keep asking…you will be pleasantly surprised with what you end up with! But most importantly, they will be too!



Most of these shots were taken with my 50mm fixed lens (love that lens!)

Everything is Better at The Beach!

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011


Don’t you agree that Everything is better at the Beach??!!!



Smiles are bigger!




Hair is blonder!


Digging in the dirt is more fun!


Frisbees fly faster.




Apples taste much better after you have been in the salt water for a long time!


…once you get the sand off!


Candy taste much better too!


Collecting bottle tops….


and playing with ‘trash’ is more fun!


The water is way more exciting…


and the fish is fresher!


The trees are bigger!


and the flowers seem brighter…


Treasures are more valuable…


and handstands are straighter!


It is true…EVERYTHING is really better at the beach…

…even the end of the day!


Other beach tips!

  • * I love the ‘then’ and ‘now’ shots…. get them when you can…

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  • *Change the angles. I also love the artsy feel of the angles…try tilting your camera to get a totally different feel:


  • * BRING your good camera  to the beach. I know a lot of people don’t like to take their nice camera to the sandy beach but if you keep it protected  it will be OK. I wrap mine in a small clean towel when I am not using it and always put it right back in a quilted zipper bag  in-between shots. So glad to have my photos!
  • * Take lots of shots and try to tell the story of what you did and ‘felt’ with your camera.
  • * Keep the light to  your back. Make sure that your subject has light on their face or they will be too dark.

this is the sun behind Evan….(facing me)


this is the sun facing Evan (behind me)


  • *Final thought – -  teenagers are usually easier to photograph on the beach…like I said EVERYTHING is better on the beach!!!


How to Plan a Vintage Cowboy Birthday Party!

Monday, July 11th, 2011

Knobby knees and birthday parties mark the beginning of summer at our house!


I got the idea that my boys needed to learn what a real Cowboy was when they dressed up in a cowboy hat and bandana and put their Star Wars lightsaber in their belt!  Even though I’m sure it is perfectly fine for a Cowboy to use a lightsaber, I felt the need to set the record straight and teach them what a real cowboy was and that they didn’t have lasers and R2D2 in the Wild West : )


So we went the library and got some books and read up on real Cowboy  life and what they did years ago. I actually learned a lot too!


Then Andrew started drawing cowboy ‘stuff’…

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(don’t forget to scan your kids art and make them jpegs so you can put them in your digital books.)

and we  came up with an idea for the invitations…

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I found these great drinks at Cracker Barrel  – –

and ….. the idea for the Cowboy Birthday party was officially born!


So the boys decided that if we were gonna have a Cowboy Party we needed Wanted Posters for their friends (they made up the crimes!):

Wanted Posters 12 x 18 - Page 004  Wanted Posters 12 x 18 - Page 005  Wanted Posters 12 x 18 - Page 006 Wanted Posters 12 x 18 - Page 007  Wanted Posters 12 x 18 - Page 008 Wanted Posters 12 x 18 - Page 009  Wanted Posters 12 x 18 - Page 010  Wanted Posters 12 x 18 - Page 011

and if we had Wanted Posters we would need new spurs for our boots ..


(“Remember not to squat with your spurs on.”)

and if we had new spurs we needed bandannas and hats for everyone…


….and new cap guns from the dollar store….not the orange plastic kind….


As you can see the ideas grew and grew and the party planning took on a life of its own!

So how do you prepare for a real old fashion vintage Cowboy backyard birthday party when  you are 7 and you have a twin brother who you can team up with and share ideas?

Well, you start with candy of course…






and if you have candy…you have to have Moon Pies!


and if you have Moon Pies you have to have toys…



and if you have candy, moon pies and toys you may as well set up a General Store because your mom won’t want you to keep all that stuff for yourself….



and if you have a General Store you have to have play money to buy stuff.


The best part about planning the party is watching your big brother and big sister play with the stuff and pretend they are 7 again!

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You grab the red stars off the wall in your room and help your mom put up a few decorations.



Put some art up and set up the games…

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And you sleep in your cowboy outfit the night before with your guns under your pillow in the fort you and your brother made in your room… after all you only have one more night to be six.

You can’t wait for tomorrow for your friends to arrive.

And tomorrow seems like about a million years away…

when you are six!

Stay tuned for more party pictures in my next post!!

Tips from a Teen: How to Shoot Beautiful Senior Photos

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

My niece Olivia is a rising college student. She and I love to get together and talk ‘photography shop’ and she is here this week visiting. It is so fun and so important to have another person (I call them Photo Friends!) to share your photography passion with as you learn  about this amazing art through the eyes of others and of course through practicing….a lot.

When I stepped-up to my ‘extra big girl’ camera I was happy for Olivia to inherit my Canon Rebel; she was doing really amazing stuff with her point and shoot and I couldn’t wait to see what she would do with a real SLR! Olivia has an eye for creative composition and style that is so fresh and ‘confident’! Your confidence level is very important with any skill but especially with photography. If you hesitate to get the shot, you will lose it every time. Confidence is required to get out of the box and learn new things, explore new ideas, try new angles, look for new emotions and create a new style … all needed for beautiful photography (unless you want to get a job taking passport photos!). 

Olivia is gifted with a few things that make her a beautifully successful photographer:

  • She has the CONFIDENCE FACTOR that so many young people have allowing her not to worry too much about camera rules or failing. She has a good balance of the technical skill and the creative skill but without the confidence factor it wouldn’t matter.
  • She has the motivation to PRACTICE a lot and try many different things till she gets it right.
  • She is an ‘old soul’ who sees beauty in amazing places and knows how to make everything more unique and beautiful with her camera.
  • Like every amazing photographer she is in love with her camera…and it shows!

Olivia had her first professional photography job this month (which means she was paid!) She shot senior portraits of a peer friend of hers. 

Here are some of Olivia’s tips for Senior Portraits:

1. Use a meaningful setting. She very smartly used their high school for the set. Why would you go anywhere else?



2. You will find great light in the most unusual places. The light was perfect on her face in this shot with the shadow behind her head; if there was more light behind the subject this would not have worked so well.


3. Look for iconic backgrounds that are unique to the school and frame your subject around them.

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4. This shoot was at 3 in the afternoon but the side of the building was shaded so she had soft light on her face. (also note: address and meaningful plaque in composition).


5. Don’t be afraid to experiment with unusual angles and multiple changes of clothes!


6. Shoot extreme distances and close-ups…. and get the class ring.

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7. Don’t put your subject in the center…your eye will naturally follow them. (Rule of Thirds.) The buildings in the background made these shots more meaningful.

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8. Not every photo needs to be serious!


9. Shoot wide angle and then …


…..a close up of the same scene.


10. A short detour to a local train yard provided yet another wonderful urban setting.


11. Don’t be afraid to trespass…(and possibly get kicked out!)…just don’t tell the moms…you will still get to keep the shots!


12. Natural and manmade textures can add a dynamic twist to your photo. And finally, have fun with your subject, that is the only way to capture their true unique candid personality!

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I wish for all of you that you will find someone in your life that inspires you to get out of your box and try new things with your photography….don’t be surprised if it is a teen! Thank you Olivia for the wonderful tips….I’m excited to see your next project!

Even though Olivia is a ‘M Girl” (manual setting), most of these shots were shot on the ‘no flash’ setting on her camera with little post editing outside of adjusting the contrast. On the Canon it is the little box that has a line through the lightening bolt symbol.

ss 1/160,  f-stop 8, ISO 400

The Beach: Teenagers And Heroes!

Monday, June 6th, 2011

The beach is so fun, but it is one hard place to get good shots especially if there is full sun….which is generally all the time!  Teenagers are fun, but it is hard to get good shots especially if they are acting like teenagers and are a bit moody…which is generally all the time!  So when you combine the two, getting good shots can be a challenge…but not impossible for the confident camera moms out there!!

Here are some dos and don’ts and a few things I have learned about photographing teens and the beach and teens on the beach.

Do bring your camera. I know it sounds stilly to even say this but a lot of people don’t want to get sand in or on their camera so they don’t even bring them down to the ocean. I say go for it!  It is better to get some good shots with a little sand than no shots at all. Wrap your camera in a small towel and put it in a bag for protection. I use a quilted bag with a zipper. After I use it, I zip it back up and pull it in and out during the day. Don’t forget to always put the strap around your neck when you are using it to keep it from falling in the sand.

Do avoid the middle of the day sun… if possible. This is not a deal breaker but the light is much easier to deal with early in the morning and late in the afternoon. Believe it or not, this shot was taken in the morning, if it was much brighter she would not have have been able to open her eyes.


Do look for action shots. These ‘in the ocean’ shots are hard to get because the light is bright in the background and the subject tends to be too dark. Some advanced photo/camera techniques can help with this but for now I just did a quick edit to brighten it up a bit. The time of day can make these water shots easier. This was at high noon but very hazy making it difficult to shoot.




The photo below was from another trip, you can see that it was brighter and not so hazy for this shot. The shutter speed was also very fast to get the drops of water. Try your sports setting for these shots and a good zoom lens. I don’t recommend taking your camera in the water!


Don’t be afraid to request a few action shots. Melissa has been doing handstands since she was little so I like to get these shots when I can.


The YMCA shot always gives them something silly to do for the shot– which is a good thing. As a camera mom it is good to have some suggestions for what to do in your bag of tricks when the camera comes out.  It can mean the difference in having them run from the camera and staying for the shot.


Do get the funny stuff. Get your camera out when they start doing something funny, but be quick, these shots come and go fast!


When the brother starts picking on the sister it is generally worth a shot!


Don’t leave out the big picture. Look around at your surroundings and get the ‘other stuff‘ on your beach for your photo story. There is always more to the beach than sand and water.

The pier for example.


The inside  shot of the pier.

Simply unbelievable!


Don’t give up. If  your kids are not cooperating, look  for other interesting things all around you and practice!

a cute toddler:


a black dog and his Frisbee:.




Oliver North….

did I say Oliver North!!??!!

Yes! We met him on the beach walking his dog! So glad that I wasn’t worried about taking my good camera down to the beach!


Don’t use a flash. A standard rule of mine. Even though the photos may be grainer, I think they look better without the harsh light of a flash. This shot below was taken when it was really dark (9 pm), but a little moon light, high ISO, low 4 stop and some lightening up in post editing helped get enough light to keep the flash off.

Yes, she is kissing the fish!! The fishermen next to us said that she had to kiss the first fish! So she did. If only I had that kind of influence on my kids!


This shot is grainy but I love the look on her face and our friend in the background. I would not have liked this shot with the flash.


Don’t give up on he sunset shots. They can be are difficult to get the true color. Try setting your shutter speed high and see if you can get the color to look more natural.


To sum it up, When you are at the beach don’t be afraid to take your good camera. The morning and evening is usually the best light and if you have teens just try to get them in their world.  A few posed shots are Ok but you will tell a much better story with the candid shots that come along….oh, and don’t be afraid to get the the famous people walking by too!

Ten Photo Tips For Summer! (Plus One Bonus Tip!)

Monday, May 16th, 2011

Summer is knocking at our door and we need to get prepared to capture it!

Our full weekend reminded me of a few summer photo tips that every Camera Mom needs to know.

Tip 1.   Photograph what make you smile (and what you love to eat!) For my birthday this year Chris ‘made’ me a Krispy Kreme donut birthday cake! It was perfectly divine!


This photo also reminds me of a good ‘life’ tip to ask for what you want instead of always just going with what everyone else wants : )  I think I will frame this and  put it on my desk…next to my kids of course! Check out the Oreo donuts!! The ‘middle’ was inside! (Chris scored lots of bonus ‘’husband points’ for this yummy cake!)


Tip 2. Photograph what makes your kids smile. My kids get the biggest kick out of me writing their name in Ketchup on their plates (I use the retro-style squeeze ketchup bottle that is refillable).


I don’t know why this is so much fun for them, but they love it! Of course our friends love it too!


Tip 3. Photograph cuteness. Whenever you see something that is just down right awesome cute grab a shot, you have to it is your job!


Tip 4. Ask for the group shot. I know it is cheesy but when you have a large group go ahead and ask for the group shot and don’t be afraid to spend a few seconds ‘arranging’ it. You will be glad you did and so will they.

Since most people don’t know what to do with their hands in a photograph, make some suggestions. Also, anything over about 8-10 people needs a second row. Check your background and make sure the light is on their face and your are good to go!


Tip 5. Ask for a funny shot too! When teens are in a group they don’t mind doing things that they otherwise would not do (peer pressure—take advantage of it!) Also, for this shot I asked another girl to get the kids to do it …not my daughter. I have learned that in public/teen friend settings my kids friends listen to me better than my own kids : )..shocking I know….


Tip 6. Be prepared for the spontaneous hugs. If  you have teen girls you know what I mean. They do this without asking…I just love it! Life glitter at it’s best!


Tip 7. Everything photographs better in natural light. Move the cake outside undercover  for some shots, the kitchen light just isn’t as flattering.  Remember: No Flash.



Tip 8. Ask for help. Ask another mom to cut the cake or serve the food so you can be free to get the shots. I just noticed how nicely she was color coordinated with the pink towels!


Tip 9. Use the ‘sports’ setting on your camera. I am a big fan of shooting on the M button but there are times when the sports setting is awesome…especially for outside shots. You can hold the shutter down and it will continuously shoot. I think my camera does 6 frames a second…increasing my chances of getting the shot!


Tip 10. Shoot action shots of your friends kids. Moms love it when you capture their kids…it is a love language between moms.  Remember photos are a gift of love, give them often!


Bonus Tip. Take lots of shots. It doesn’t take long to get plenty of shots and I can promise you that one or two won’t always get you what you want of a pose. We live in a very inexpensive ‘digital world’, you can keep shooting for virtually no cost and it has never been easier for the Camera Mom to be successful with her camera. You can never have too many photos!

Summer is a time for fun and friends and photos! Think about what you want to capture ahead of time but be prepared for the spontaneous moments and life glitter that will appear. Most of all, have fun with your camera…that is the best camera tip I know!

Photograph Your Favorite things While on Vacation.

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011


How do you photograph an amazing trip?

You photograph your favorite things.



Our trip to Boston this weekend for the National Gym Competition went way beyond my expectations. When you have four children it is hard to find time alone with each child, we had a blast with Melissa. I like this shot above because this is one thing I remember about this 13 year old year. … skinny jeans and those purple shoes; I don’t ever what to forget it!

This weekend won’t be easily forgotten.

There is no way that I can share all of the wonderful memories/photos  we had but I can share a few of my favorite shots…and hopefully inspire you to click away when  you are on vacation. Even when it may be a bit inconvenient, it is worth it to have the photos when you come home.

This shot of Melissa is not perfect but it is perfectly her. The wind was blowing her hair everywhere but I just love the look on her face….so un-posed with her  natural ‘sometimes hard to get’ sweet smile! These natural looks can be few and far between with teens;  you will treasure the ones you get.


She was really having fun and that is the teen photo tip for this next photo…start clicking when they are having fun don’t wait for them to stop or ask them to look at you just pay attention  to what they are doing and it will work. She ran up to this pavilion and just started dancing, I started clicking. If I had asked her to dance it never would have worked.


I will go ahead and admit that I have some sort of fence obsession! Every time I saw one I was captured (I also really love fences in snow!). I could not get enough of the rod iron ….it was everywhere.


The details were amazing.


The ‘inside jokes’ when we are together are always a must for our family vacation photos – -  “Why?” might you ask, and how did I end up with about 15 photos of all the different Dunkin Donuts we saw in Boston? It was a ‘you had to be there’ story that I will put in my scrapbook that made us laugh over and over; so glad I have the photos to remember it!


There is no way I can show all the wonderful shots here of the beautiful historical buildings … but I took plenty! I like this one through the trees; always try different angles of your favorite shots.


We stayed in the wonderful town of Hingham, MA (pronounced Hing -M) with some of our best friends who recently moved there. It was as quaint as the sign on main street and as full of character as a Norman Rockwell painting.


Do you know what famous retail store calls Hingham, MA it’s home?


The original Talbots – -  red door and all!


The charm was everywhere.


I re-discovered that the best time to get great photos was early in the morning. My friend and I went to get coffee and some great photos early one morning leaving everyone at home sleeping.  Nothing beats that wonderful morning light for a soft romantic feel. Remember that tip when photographing people too. The houses were simply beautiful…I took tons of these shots as each house had its own unique personality and I had to have them all!


Downtown Boston was full of history and one photo op after another. Here are the Teammates at Fenway Park. My twins love this shot!


The famous Cheers bar (just the outside.)


(don’t be afraid to do a horizontal crop, it will change the feel of the photo)

Beautiful historic graveyards.


And more fences!


But my favorite shots were the churches, I took way too many to post but they were begging me to capture them….so I did.


It was so hard for me to write this post and narrow down all the stuff I want to share! I tried to make a Trip Tip List below but I will continue to add to it as we head into the summer vacation season! I am also working on a tip list for gymnastics and baseball so stay tuned!

A few Photo Mom Tips for vacation shots: 

  • Take more photos than  you think you will want but don’t put them all in your book : )
  • Make a list of what you want to get and get it early in the trip if possible; don’t ‘wait’ till you see it again to take the shot, you may not see it again.
  • Get scenery shots but don’t forget to put  your family in some of them.
  • Early morning light makes for wonderful flattering photos.
  • Shoot the funny things that happen that are unique to your family.
  • Since many vacations include scenery shots, crop horizontally to be bold be different.
  • Pick a theme for some shots  i.e. doors, windows, churches, fences! etc.…
  • Bring plenty of memory cards and charge  your battery every night.
  • Bring a back up pocket camera.
  • Hand your kids a camera.
  • Tell the story by taking ‘sign’ photos.

I will leave you with one final shot. What we did on the airplane! I also learned how to play Angry Birds! Whoo Hoo for this mama!


Color Everywhere This Weekend!

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011


We have been in New Orleans the past few days for our daughter’s Regional Gymnastics Meet and it was hard to keep my camera in the bag!

The hotel stays are so fun especially when there is a new pool to investigate. This one was especially pretty at is it was on the 9th floor with a beautiful view! The sunset over the pool was awesome!


These next two shots are good examples of how to look for the light and get it in the right place.  This shot ‘looked’ fine from where I was standing but obviously the camera didn’t see it exactly the way I saw it and their faces were too dark:


The simple solution was to have them turn so I could see the light on their faces and in their eyes… keeping the camera settings the same, just a simple change of position gave me a better exposure:


Sometime you have to ‘stop in the name of love’ for the TPA (Teen Photo Attempt)!


Then other times they are happy to have you get the shot!


The meet was great with Melissa placing once again in the top 10.  All her events went well.


But the most exciting was her beam…her last event that secured her place.


This shot below tells a huge story of my very serious gymnast as she was a bit excited about the outcome of her routine:


Her coach was just as excited as she was:


We headed out to celebrate..


….and like I said … there was color everywhere!!




How about a little cactus with your salad?


There was shopping….shopping ….shopping….



But the jewelry store was the girls favorite place…why does that ‘jewelry thing’ start so early ?!


As night fell I tried to get the ‘dusk’ shots. Remember to get the ISO high and the F stop low so you can keep the shutter open a bit longer to get the ‘lights’ to show up..I was trying to get the lights on the bridge.


This shot was taken when it was dusk but my camera settings helped keep it light.


It was really dark (notice the grain) but I just had to get these beautiful horses as they quietly walked up behind me!


The magic man really fooled us all!


The food was wonderful but hands down, my favorite was the dessert!


It was a good thing that I had my camera as I would have never remembered all the things we saw and did without it. These weekends are exhausting but great fun and full of wonderful stories that I can’t wait to add to my family album.  My photos aren’t perfect and I still have a lot to learn, but I  can’t learn unless I practice a lot…you can’t either : )

Keep taking pictures of your family and their stories…  you will be so happy you have those storytelling shots to help you remember the good stuff that is in your life!

Camera Mom Tip: The day will end quicker than you realize  so be ready to adjust  your settings for the shots in the dark. Keep your ISO high and your shutter speed slow to get the shots without the harsh light of the flash. 


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