January 31, 2012

A Puppy Came to Stay …

for a couple days, that is.  There was running, there were brief moments of rest, there was more running, there was slobber flying.  There was much napping (for both dogs!) after puppy returned to his real home.

puppy visitpuppy visit 2puppy visit 3

puppy visit 4

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January 29, 2012

True Beauty.


Your beauty should not come from outward adornment,
such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes.
Instead, it should be that of your inner self,
the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit,
which is of great worth in God's sight.
1Peter 3:3-4

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January 25, 2012

Super Low Tide

made for a wider than usual playing field …

IMG_0246IMG_0253frisbee 2IMG_0245frisbee 3IMG_0247IMG_0267IMG_0269IMG_0287frisbee 1IMG_0400

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Orange County Family Lifestyle Photographer

January 19, 2012

Making Family Photo Albums - Organization & Creation Tips

Please.  Don’t let your family photos merely live in your computer.  I know we’re living in a digital age, but I still believe that there is just something special about a printed picture.  Or a whole bunch of printed photos all combined together.  In a book.  That tells a story.  That documents YOUR FAMILY.   My goal today is a simple one:  I want to encourage you to make family photo albums.  And PRINT THEM.

4 years' albums

I make an annual photo album for my family.  I just completed my 6th year’s album and am excitedly awaiting its delivery.  It was compiled from my 10,000 (!!) photos from 2011, which I culled down to my favorite 800, and spread over 100 pages.  If I can do it, so can you.  I promise.  I know it seems like a daunting task …

How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time.

For me, that means I start working on my annual family album … Jan 1st.  Yup, you read that right.  It’s a brand new year.  Get started on this year’s album NOW.

I start with a file structure, and I keep it super simple.  My parent folder is named “2012 Photography”.  My sub-folders are simply the months of the year.

file structure

I use Lightroom to catalog, key word, chronologically organize, sort, cull, and edit my photos.  I export edited pics from LR directly to a folder for my album.  (So I have one folder for the year with my 800 most beloved pictures.  Tip:  This is the one folder that I am sure to burn to a disk to keep in addition to my other photo backup systems).

Lightroom as an organizer

I begin creating photo album pages at the end of January.  My family album pages typically fall into 3 main categories:  1) simple chronological progression; 2) a specific activity; and 3) roadtrip/travel excursions.

merchant of venice
summer roadtrip hike
summer roadtrip hike2

In a perfect world, I would work often on my album and keep totally current.  The reality is, I usually sit down and power out two or three months at a time.  The important part for me is not to fall too awfully far behind.  Because then the task seems too big.  I need “one-bite” portions.

Which brings me to a super important part of being successful in completing this annual photo album project.  I need to remove mental roadblocks that might hinder my progress and keep me from finishing my project. What I mean by this – a specific example:  I wish I was a journal-er type person; that my family albums included thoughtful commentary about our daily life and keen, insightful notes about my amazing kids/husband.  But, I’ve got to be realistic.  I’m not that person.  I don’t like putting words together.  If my album creation depended on me writing words to perfectly accompany my pictures, my annual family albums would. NEVER. happen.   So I don’t write much.  And I’m ok with that.  (I feel a Stuart Smalley mirror moment coming on, because, “I’m good enough.  I’m smart enough.  And goshdarnit, people like me…”  grin).

So figure out what your “roadblocks” are and eliminate them.  If you hate editing everything, then stop feeling like you can only print an edited photo.  If page design is not your thing, then find a book publisher that has ready made templates that you can simply drag & drop your photos into.   I’m sure you get the idea.  Figure out the part of the process that you don’t like, and find a way around it, a way to “let it go.”

Ok, on to actually making this album…

I design all my pages using Fotofusion software.  I’ve saved all my past pages as templates, so now I can pretty much drag & drop to my heart’s content.  Of course, YOU don’t need to generate pages this way.  Most publishers have free templates for their books.  Or you can use Photoshop or Elements or Gimp or any scrapbooking software.  You can even design pages directly in Lightroom.   Just pick whatever works best for YOU.   Organizationally, the key for me is to have a simple chronological progression (usually a double-page spread per month) and fit activity pages & travel pages into their proper chronological place.
snipit of fotofusion

I export all my designed pages to a new folder (“completed album pages” – I know, I’m so creative in my naming) as I complete them.  I make sure to duplicate this folder on my backup hard drive, because, yes, I have had my computer crash and I’ve lost all my work.  Talk about a roadblock!  These “completed album pages” are the jpgs I upload to the publisher/printer at the end of the year.  MyPublisher is the printer I use (and love!), but there are many consumer level album printers that you can choose from:  Blurb, Shutterfly, Snapfish, Kodak, iPhoto … Pick whatever works best for YOU!

The last step of the process:  after I upload and pay, I tap my feet unceasingly & impatiently until my album arrives on my front door step.   And when it does arrive, I squeal with immense joy as I flip thru those pages, because … I’ve eaten an elephant, bite by bite, and it tastes ever so good.

family portrait 2page spread
P.S.  If you would like to see other examples of my family photo album pages, you can find more on my blog, here and here.

January 17, 2012

More Quiet Snippets ...

When he was nearly nine, I feared his spelling was always going to be atrocious and I despaired that he was never going to be a recreational reader...

hunger games



puzzle 1



I. was. wrong.

Today he inhales books for fun and plays with letters just because he can. He regularly wipes me out at Bananagrams, and when I get hung up on Every Word (Kindle game), I hand it to him and he finds the missing words for me. I'm happy to say that I can still [usually] solve the Wheel of Fortune puzzles before he can (tho, sadly, that's only because I have some small familiarity with the people and song lyrics that he's never heard of).

ps. Isn't that the most awesome, ittiest-bittiest puzzle ever?!?

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