How to Get the Most Out of Your Photos

Do you display your photos in your home? Or are they all sitting on your computer? In this age of digital photography, we are so fortunate to be able to take as many photos as we like without having to worry about cost. My daughter can't imagine how we used to take photos with a camera that didn't have a screen. "How did you know if the picture looked good?" My, she knows how to make me feel ancient.

But along with the blessing of being able to capture every moment we want to remember comes the tragic loss of actually enjoying our photos. When I was a little girl, one of my favorite parts of visiting my grandmother's house was sitting down with all of her photo albums and spending hours looking at each photo. I have so many fun memories from my childhood ingrained into my mind, not just because they were memorable experiences, but also because I revisited them as often as I had the chance. 

Now we take a zillion photos with our phones but those photos almost never make it any farther than Instagram or Facebook. Don't get me wrong; I love sharing photos on social media. If you know me at all you know that's the case! In fact, I kind of look at Facebook as my personal scrapbook. But I don't often have the time to sit down and look through my Facebook albums the way I used to look at my grandma's albums when I was a kid. And my children certainly never get to see whatever is posted on social media. That is why it has become increasingly more important to me to print my photos and to display them everywhere I can!

So let me share with you how I have photos displayed in my home to maybe inspire and encourage you to get your photos off of your phone or computer and into your home! Before I share, just let me say this: I know I am not a talented home decorator. So if I can find a way to display my family's images, then anyone can do it!

Let's start with the obvious, shall we? The easiest place to display photos is in your hallways! My hallway display has various sizes and groupings of photos which makes it super easy for me to change photos out whenever I want to without having to change every single photo if I don't want to. I try to keep my hallway photos pretty current with nothing over a year old. But there are no rules about that sort of thing, so put whatever you want in those hallway frames!

The mantel is another super easy place to display your photos. I am still searching for the perfect smaller frames to add to my mantel, but I plan to layer two or three more photos in with the things that are already displayed on my mantel. A lot of people like to put a large canvas on their mantels, which I LOVE, but I chose this frame because when I saw it in the store I knew I couldn't leave without it! And since large prints are more affordable than large canvases, I'm able to update this photo every year and keep it current. As fast as my littles are growing and changing, those annual photos are a must!

I love frames that hold multiple photos for lifestyle and documentary (or candid) shots. I feel like sometimes it's easy to assume that there is some kind of rule that only perfectly posed and styled images belong in frames on the walls. This just isn't true! If it's a moment you want to remember, or an image that perfectly represents the subjects (say, perhaps your 3-year-old rolling around on the living room with her favorite blanket and no pants) then hang it up and enjoy looking at it often! The images in my white frame are such perfect captures of what I like to call "our extraordinary ordinary." I stop and look at these every day!

I also love displaying older photos. In our master bedroom we have these photos on display from the year we got married. Almost ten years have passed since then and we both look a little different now. (Okay, a lot different.) But these images take me back to some very vivid and extremely special memories. And I think it's important to keep those magic moments close by!  

I love my cheap little Ikea bookcases! I have absolutely no idea how to style them and I don't have enough books on them yet. (It could be because I still have a box of books in the garage that I haven't unpacked since we moved in over a year ago, but let's not focus on that.) But I do know that they are the perfect place to put smaller photo frames! They are also where I store my photo albums and books. In the past I have ordered books from Shutterfly. I now order them from a pro lab, but the idea is the same. Make at least one book a year documenting the highlights of our year in photos. I love to pull these out and go through them with my girls. My littlest will point at each photo and tell me who and what she sees. My oldest likes to look through the books from when she was really small and ask me about everything that she can't remember. It's so fun! 

I also love Chatbooks. They are very inexpensive and require no effort at all on my part. I simply connected the Chatbooks app to my Instagram account and after 60 photos have been added they ship me a new book automatically. It's a nice way to preserve the photos I take with my phone as well as the fun little shares from my "big camera." And since they're so inexpensive, I don't mind the kids looking through them as often as they like. They are such an easy way to make our family photos accessible to the kids! You can also print Chatbooks from other social media accounts or just add photos directly from your phone. They are so fun!

Don't forget to display your photos in bedrooms and even bathrooms! In my older daughter's room I hung a message board to put her favorite photos on. I try to be purposeful about taking photos of her with her friends. We often take photos of our kids with family, but how often do we remember to capture their friendships? She loves having these photos in her bedroom! And her friends feel so special when they come over and see their pictures hanging on her wall. 

I also love these bathtime images hanging in the girls' bathroom. It's kind of hard to know how to decorate a bathroom that doubles as the children's and guest bathroom. I'm not big on things like nautical and beach themes, as they don't reflect anything about our family or experiences. But I loved this idea when I first saw it because it just makes sense in the bathroom and it's so darn cute!

When it comes to hanging photos be as creative as you like. Group small photos together or hang great big giant ones. Put them in frames or mod podge them onto painted plaques. Layer them on shelves or place them on tabletops. It doesn't really matter how you display them, just display them!

One final note about printed images: Where and how you print them really matters. Please, please don't pick up your prints from the drug store. There is a reason those prints are so cheap! If you have gone to all the trouble to dress your family nicely and have professional photos taken, why would you then take those gorgeous photos and have them printed somewhere that doesn't do them justice? Finish what you started and order them from your photographer; or at least order them online from a reputable printing company. (I recommend MPix.) Trust me, you'll thank me once you see the difference in quality!

How do you display your family's photos? I'm always looking for ideas! Leave me a comment below! And happy photo framing, y'all!

Take Better Photos With Your Phone

You all have heard me say over and over how important I think it is to capture those ordinary moments. Because ordinary moments are the ones we will want to look back on the most. That's why lifestyle and documentary photography is so important to me! But what about those times when you don't have a photographer around? What about an ordinary day when your toddler starts doing something cute and all you have is your iPhone? Is it even worth trying?

The answer, of course, is YES! Now we all know that today's phone cameras, while being infinitely better than they were just five years ago, still have major limitations. But let's just start with these three basic tips that will help you get better photos regardless of what camera you're using.

(Also, enjoy these goofy photos of my oldest who was only sort of humoring me after I had asked to take a few iPhone photos of her in our home. She "didn't feel like smiling." Goofball.)

 

(1) Look for the light

Before you snap a photo of your little one looking oh so cute in that funny outfit he picked out, or your big kid making a funny face, find out where the light is coming from, and shoot from there. When you make sure that the light is pointing toward your subject, rather than coming from behind her, you'll get better colors, nicer skin tones, and a much more flattering picture. It's worth moving around to the other side of your subject if necessary to get a photo that will do justice to your memory!

(2) Watch your angle

It is so common to make the mistake of shooting from way above your child, rather than stooping down a bit to capture them from a more natural angle. If you're not careful, your child will look weirdly proportioned or just plain tiny because of the way you can hover over her while you're taking her photo. Taking her photo straight on may mean getting down on your knees, so take the extra second to do that before you snap!

(3) Try to get "catchlights"

Okay, humor me here. I'm not trying to get super technical with you, but catchlights were one of those things that I couldn't believe no one had ever mentioned to me before I started studying photography. You won't be able to achieve this in every photo, but when you can, it makes such a difference in your image! Catchlights are the little white reflections you can see in your subject's eyes, or what you might even call a "sparkle" in their eyes. By simply directing my daughter to look at the window instead of the wall or somewhere else in the room, the light from the window created a bright reflection in her eyes that really seems to bring the photo to life - even if she refuses to look happy; good grief. If you want to capture catchlights, just ask your subject to look towards the light. And then pat yourself on the back for knowing about catchlights!

(One final little bonus tip for iPhone users: Turn off your "live photo" setting. Just tap that fancy looking circle with the dotted edges at the top of your screen and you'll see the phrase "live off" appear. Live photos take up WAY more storage than regular ones and you don't want to run out of storage on your phone!)

Now that you are armed with these three basic tips, grab your phone (or camera) and start snapping! Those memories aren't gonna save themselves! Happy documenting!

What to Wear for Your Family Lifestyle Session

"WHAT SHOULD WE WEAR?"

A lot of people struggle with this question. What on earth are you supposed to wear for family photos anyway? It can get even trickier when it comes to lifestyle sessions. Since we're relaxed in our home, should we dress more casually? How casual is too casual? If we're not careful, we can get stressed about the session because we are so worried about our clothes. I'm here to help.

When dressing your family for a session, keep it simple. Wear simple clothes that won't detract from the subject of the photos - your family. You don't need to match or all wear the same color. In fact, it's best not to do those things. But you should coordinate. That just means your clothes should look nice next to each other.

Actually, it's more about what you should not wear than about what you should wear. Here are a few tips:

DON'T HAVE EVERYONE MATCH EXACTLY

The days of everyone wearing plain white shirts and jeans are behind us. If you're too matchy-matchy, you are drawing attention to the clothes instead of the people and the memories being captured.

www.aliexpress.com

www.aliexpress.com

AVOID BRIGHT COLORS AND LOUD PATTERNS

Notice, I did not say no colors or patterns. But there is a difference between bright primary colors and soft pastels. In terms of color, stick with light or dark and avoid anything that would be labeled "bright." (This rule wouldn't necessarily apply to an outdoor session, but for a lifestyle session inside the home, there is enough going on that the bright colors are a bit too much.) There is also a difference between a bright, large floral print and a soft plaid, or gray with white stripes. So in terms of color and pattern, remember to keep it simple.

www.mauishirts.com

www.mauishirts.com

STEER CLEAR OF GRAPHICS

That means no silkscreened T-shirts. This rule applies to both children and adults. No cartoons, no sports teams, no pictures or large letters. The one exception I would make to this rule would be allowing older siblings to wear a "big brother" or "big sister" shirt if a new baby has just arrived.

www.customink.com

www.customink.com

"So now that I know what NOT to wear, what should I wear?"

MIX NEUTRALS AND SOFT COLORS

Neutrals include black, denim, khaki, white, off-white, gray, and even navy. Colors should be either soft pastels (pink, light blue, pale green) or dark colors (burgundy, dark green, deep plum). Keep in mind that the colors you choose for each family member do not have to match, but they should look nice together. Ideally, you would choose two, or no more than three, colors for the entire family.

http://stephaniesunderland.com

http://stephaniesunderland.com

PATTERNS ARE OKAY, BUT CHOOSE THE RIGHT ONES

Patterns can make your wardrobe look less boring and add some texture! When choosing patterns, look for small simple patterns in soft or neutral colors.

PAY ATTENTION TO FIT AND COMFORT

Be sure everyone's clothing fits well and is comfortable. Clothing that is too large or too small can be distracting, even on children. Make sure clothing is wrinkle-free and easy to move around in. It would be a pity to dislike your photos because you think it looks like you have a muffin top or your husband's belly is showing.

www.ashleywestphotography.com

www.ashleywestphotography.com

BONUS TIP: GO BAREFOOT

We all know that during your in-home lifestyle session, the photographer is going to go for the infamous everyone-on-the-bed shot. This would look weird if you were all wearing shoes. If you can't stand the thought of your bare feet being in the photos, sit in a way that hides them. But please, whatever you do, don't show off your socks in the photos! Socks just aren't attractive and they will distract from the rest of the photo. Barefoot is the way to go!

www.heatherarnitaphotography.com

www.heatherarnitaphotography.com

RELAX!

Now that you know how to pick out your clothes, relax! Most likely you already have pieces in your closet that will work. At most, you may need to buy one or two pieces, but you shouldn't need to go out and buy entire outfits for each member of your family. Being happy with your clothing choices means you'll be even happier with your photos. And now that you have your wardrobe taken care of you can sit back and enjoy your session and the fun time you're sure to have with your favorite people!

Is A Lifestyle Session Right For You?

 

Do you enjoy having your portrait taken? I must confess, I hate having mine taken! I feel so self-conscious trying to figure out how to stand, where to put my hands, whether I should smile or not, where I’m supposed to be looking. Most people I know feel the same way. Having our photos taken can feel awkward, so many of us put off having our photos taken for as long as we can.

 

The thing we are forgetting when we fail to schedule family photos because of our own insecurities, is that one day we will look back and wish we had more photos of the whole family together. We all know that life happens so fast. As the saying goes, the days are long, but the years are short. Your family is changing, your children are growing, your life is passing by!  That’s why it’s so important to have your family photographed at least once a year. You need to document those changes and that growth!

 

 

But what if you could do more than just capture what everyone looks like this year? What if you could capture the essence of your family? What if you could document your favorite weekend activities together? What if you could frame the way your children interact with each other, rather than just how tall they have gotten? What if you could capture the way your husband plays and jokes with them? Or the way your youngest child still likes to snuggle on your lap? What about the way your toddler still curls up her finger and sucks on it. You might want her to stop sucking her finger, but you don’t want to forget how she looked when she was doing it.

 

That’s what a lifestyle session is all about! It allows me to capture so much more than how you look. It allows me to capture who you are! Imagine having professional quality photos of your son playing with his favorite dinosaur toy on the top bunk. Or a canvas worthy photo of your entire family giggling on the couch. You can have meaningful photos that evoke memories!

 

So what can you expect from a lifestyle session? How is it different from a regular portrait session? Well, for starters, a lifestyle session can happen anywhere! More often than not, lifestyle sessions are photographed in the home. The beauty of an in-home session is that it does not have to be subject to the weather. These cold winter months are the perfect time to schedule a lifestyle session in your home.

Another difference between a lifestyle session and a regular portrait session is that a lifestyle session allows you to be less formal. Yes, there will still be a few suggestions regarding dress, but you can feel comfortable dressing casually and looking more like yourself. You can be barefoot and wear your favorite pair of jeans because the goal of a lifestyle session is to preserve the memory of who you are, not to make you seem perfect.

 

And the most important difference between these two types of sessions, is that during one of my lifestyle sessions there is no formal posing! You will simply be able to enjoy the people you love in your own home while I capture you interacting with one another. You may be nervous that this will seem awkward, but trust me, it’s not!

 

What if you want frame worthy photos? Trust me, you’ll be more likely to stop on your way down the hall and enjoy the photos hanging there if they evoke emotion. A picture of your toddler laughing? Perfect for a frame. A photo of your little girl twirling? That’s the way you always want to remember her.

 

If you have been considering a lifestyle session but have just been a little be nervous about the unknown, I would love to answer any questions you have and walk you through what a session in your home might look like! Feel free to send me an email and I’ll be happy to give you some more information. I’m sure that once you get an idea of what a lifestyle session could be for your family, you’ll be excited to book one!

 

You can contact me at kristipalmerphotography@gmail.com. Can’t wait to hear from you!