July 31, 2012

Summer Morning Meandering …

through downtown Laguna.  Before the crowds arrived.  (I only tripped over a couple photography shoots in session – grin).  Before the sun came out.  I might even have meandered through a couple stores and bought some clothes.  A not unpleasant way to spend a morning. 

telephone cornerIMG_6024ice cream shopIMG_6060lagunalaguna quadIMG_6059IMG_6063laguna diplaguna1IMG_6065laguna triptIMG_6074laguna2IMG_6076

And a little Laguna via Instagram …

laguna instagram

July 30, 2012

Newport Vacation :: Orange County Family Lifestyle Photography

Such a fabulous summer vacation!  C-Family was celebrating their one year anniversary and the merging of their two beautiful families into one beautiful family.  It was my distinct pleasure to hang out with them as they recouped from their fun day at Disneyland and got ready for their sunset dinner on the beach.  From the happiest place on earth to one of the prettiest places on earth.  We snapped away until the Beachcomber Bistro had their dinner table ready...

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Ok, so here’s the deal.  I think it’s time I lay my cards out on the table.  Yes, I take “portrait” pictures.  Yes, I even do some loose “posing” – meaning, I’ll move you into close proximity and see what unfolds from there.  And yes, back in my beginning photography days, my website originally promised 25-35 images from each session.  Now my website promises a minimum of 40 images. But, here’s the real low-down:  I’m unabashedly a “lifestyle” photographer.  I provide a *boatload* of images from each & every session I photograph.  I shoot your family the same way that I shoot my own:  to tell a story.  To capture the details, the stuff that helps you go right back to that moment in time, smell the smells, see the sights, feel the feelings, remember the love.  All the pictures, they go together.  They belong together.  As a whole, they tell your story.  It's why I always encourage my clients to buy the digitals or to get an album that has all the pictures together.  

C-Family, I know some of the pictures I took might seem downright silly, inconsequential – “why would she take a picture of that?”  Here's my intent:  that you would look upon these images and always remember that darling-baby-girl was constantly in motion as she approached her 2nd birthday.  That she was adored by all and rarely not being held and loved on by someone.  That bougainvillea bloomed abundantly everywhere in Orange County. That grandpa, after 50+ years of marriage, unabashedly carries grandma’s purse and is none the less manly for his service.  That grandma is one stylish lady (I love the bling on her jacket!).  That the fireplace in Newport came in handy to ward off the chill of the July marine layer (a not uncommon phenomenon during “summer” in SoCal).  That Dad is eminently at ease behind a bar and loves to serve up a tasty drink to one and all.  That there was joyful exuberance in jumping.  That the sun rays burning through the clouds were awe-inspiring.  That the silly songs sung on the shuttle made everyone laugh.  That grown-up "children", who didn't grow up together, carved time out of their busy lives to come hang out together and forge new family ties.  And Mr. & Mrs. C, that on the eve of your one year anniversary, you are not only still deeply in love but that you are clearly best friends.  I hope these pictures help you always to remember this lovely moment in time.  Thank you for allowing me to be a witness to it all.  

lifestyle collage

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Newport Beach Family Photographer

July 28, 2012

How Much More?


If then God so gloriously arrays the flowers, 
which are today in the field, and tomorrow are cast into the furnace; 
how much more will he clothe and care for you, O ye of little faith?
Luke 12:28


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July 24, 2012

Summer Yum: Honey Lime Chicken Enchiladas

honey lime chicken

I found this very yummy recipe here.  I made a couple substitutions.  I used the cheese mix I already had (cheddar, jack, asadero, queso blanco - not lowfat).  I used Trader Joe's Salsa Verde instead of green enchilada sauce.  I used fresh unbaked tortillas (cooked them up first, of course).  I've never seen nonfat half & half, so I used the real deal.  I used super awesome chili powder from Penzeys.  It was quick & easy.  And it was DELICIOUS. And perfectly summerly.  I would serve it to guests (btw, this is our highest compliment. Our rating system goes like this: 1. Do you like it? 2. Would you make it again? 3. Would you serve it to guests?).

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July 23, 2012

Summer Tradition: Tie Dye.

tie dye collage2


This is our best batch yet, methinks.  So in order NOT to forget the steps we took, I’m taking notes that I can revisit next year …


1.  We used a Tulip kit this time.  But now that I have all the bottles and instruction packets, I’ll just buy the small dye packets next year.  Each bottle will simply need about 1/2 t. to 1 t. dye powder.  Add hot water & shake to dissolve.


2.  Dampen t-shirt *before* adding dye.  (way better for letting dye soak in.  otherwise, dye tends to puddle up & spill off)


3.  Wrap dyed t-shirts up in plastic grocery bags and let sit for 7-8 hours.  (next year I might try leaving them to soak for up to 24 hrs)


4.  Important:  *before washing* in machine, rinse t-shirts thoroughly with cold water until dye stops bleeding off.  This helped hugely to keep the white parts of the t-shirts white (instead of turning them all pink, or whatever the dominant dye color is).  All our efforts in the past have created not-white t-shirts.  Then wash shirts in washer in COLD water, no soap, with a little bit of vinegar.  Hang to dry.  2nd wash will be with light soap.

 5.  Wear t-shirts til you all outgrow them.  And then pass on to younger cousin.  Winking smile

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July 20, 2012

Life is kinda messy.

Literally.  And cluttered.  And grimy.  And in the summer, full of games, puzzles, bionicles, and down time.  IMG_5772


Someday, I’ll have a neater house.  With less clutter.  And certainly without grimy oak coffee tables, and fingerprints on the microwave, and hand/dirt/smudgemarks on all the walls 4’ and down, and disgusting bathroom … (ewww, let’s not go there) … Someday.  Someday in the not too distant future; probably within a decade.  And I’m probably going to get all sentimental and miss these things.


Oh, who am I kidding?  I’m not gonna miss the sticky fingerprints or the dirty walls or the bathroom disgustingness.  But this cluttered coffee table with life happening all over it?  I’m gonna miss it.

July 17, 2012

Let’s Talk Instagram.

The pluses.  The negatives.  The convenience.  The dangers.  Instagram vs. real camera pictures…

My First Mistake:

I’m new to IG.  Just dipped my toes in the water last Friday.  I immediately dumped a bunch of pics in my feed.  And thus from the get-go, broke one of the biggie “etiquette” rules of IG – don’t bog down your followers’ feeds with a bunch of pics.  But hey, I’m new.  And don’t have followers.  So I’m not bogging.  Much.  [sheepish grin]

Why I Avoided It So Long:

I’ve stayed out of IG waters til now for a variety of reasons.  In the beginning, because I didn’t have an iphone (still don’t, but IG is now available for android phones).  In the middle, because I didn’t really want another “social media” outlet.  And more recently, because I’ve feared becoming one of those photographers who seems to favor IG over real camera photos.  (I have good friends – you know who you are!! – who have begun taking almost all of their personal pictures on their phone – because it’s super simple, fast, & convenient – instead of going to the trouble of using or bringing along the “real” camera (y’know, the one where you actually have to choose your focus, set your exposure, compose, shoot, import, edit, export? – I know, it’s a pain!  But, hey, at the end of the day, you actually have a great picture that has better than 2” resolution!).

instagram pageant 4x4-1

Why I Caved:

Dare I admit it?  I really like the simple Instagram filters.  And the tilt shift.  I love the tilt shift.  I wanted to “fancy” up my phone pics.  And sometimes and some places, I just don’t feel like hauling along the real camera gear.  I wanna travel light.  I just want simple phone pics.
But.  Back to this whole Instagram etiquette thing.  I’m not supposed to post a bunch of pics.  So my typical storytelling-by-taking-a-bunch-of-pictures-that-together-show-the-day style isn’t going to work on Instagram.  (after all, that’s what a blog is for)   Ok.  So I need to restrain myself and post only one (or maybe two, grin).  But I still want all the phone pics edited similarly …

A Tip:  How to Use Instagram Edits Without Posting to Instagram

I learned that I can apply all the IG filters I like and just not upload to my feed by … putting my phone in airplane mode (turning off the wireless) so that the upload fails.  But still saves to my phone.  Win-win.  I get my edits.  I don’t bog down the IG feed.  And instead I can make a big ol’ collage that tells my “story” and post it right here on my blog.


1.  Have you fallen prey to shooting with your phone instead of your real camera?  How do you find the balance?
2.  What are your favorite apps that play along with Instagram?  I’m looking for one that will allow me to post a full vertical or full horizontal with white backdrop (to fill out the square).  I’ve yet to find such an app that works with android.
3.  Are you guilty of over-posting?  Or do you only post every once in a blue moon?
4.  How often do you check your IG?  Continuously?  A couple times a day?  Every once in a purple moon?
5.  Is your feed public?  Or Private?  What drove your decision?
6.  Did your other social medias (ie. blogging, Facebooking, Pinteresting, twittering, Flickr-ing) take a backseat to Instagram or just come right alongside?
7.  Is Instagram here to stay?  Or just the “flavor” du jour?

The end result that I want from Instagram: 1. cute edited phone pics that I can include in my annual family album and 2. to feel like I’ve had a quick daily interaction/“conversation” with my favorite photographer friends.  Instagram could be just the ticket for those two goals.  Feel free to look me up:  shortonwords .  I promise not to bog down your feed :-).

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July 15, 2012

Instagram Etiquette for Newbies …

Instagram, Instagram, how fun are thee? Let me count the ways … !

beach overdose 1

Back in July I finally joined the social media phenomenon, Instagram. And I didn’t want to be that newbie dummy who broke all the rules of conduct right out of the gate. So I googled all the Instagram etiquette rules I could find. Here is some of what I discovered in my research.

The big “rules”, the dos and don’ts, the “etiquette”, if you will:
· Don’t overpost – don’t flood the feed (that’s what Flickr or Facebook albums are for). A good post rate is 1-2 pictures per day.

· Do make each picture profound in some way – be creative.

· Post phone pics only. If you must post dslr pics, make sure to label them as such (#dslr, #notphonepic). If you don’t label them as such, I promise you’ll get a barrage of “Is this a phone pic?” queries.

· Keep it classy – save the cleavage shots for Myspace.

· Be friendly, “like” pictures, join the conversation.

· Go easy on the food pics.

· Avoid the iPhone vs. Android bashing.

· Instagram is not for status updates (that’s what twitter & facebook are for).

· Don’t post nearly-the-same-picture of your pet every day.

· Or your baby.

· When you begin following someone new, comment or like one of their photos; don’t be Creepy-McCreeperson.

· Endless self-portraits get … old.

· Don’t drown your post with oodles of hashtags, because #too_many is #too_much and it’s #annoying and #unsightly.

· Don’t beg for followers – it’s considered tacky. And desperate.

· This should go without saying, but … don’t steal pictures and repost them as your own – super bad form. And illegal.

· Following someone doesn’t mean that they have to follow you back – don’t overthink it, don’t stress about it.

· Leave words, tweegrams, notes & pins off Instagram. Instagram is for *pictures*.

· Somebody had the audacity to suggest only limited use of tilt-shift. As if. (That’s almost my whole driving factor for wanting to begin Instagram – grin!)

· It’s ok to break the “rules”. (see tilt shift nonsense above!)

Breaking the “Rules”:

I decided the embrace that last “rule”. Grin. And I think I’m in pretty good company. My IG friends all seem to break the rules, too. (yikes, I’m hearing my mom’s voice in my head: “well, if all your friends decide to jump off the bridge, will you jump also?”)
I admit. I freely use my IG stream as a visual “status update”. And I do it all the time. Like when my dudes and I tie-dyed earlier this summer:

tie dye status update

And when we went to the beach:

beach overdose 2

And when we went to the art exhibit:

art exhibit

All of which brings me to the second biggie “rule” I break. I flood the stream sometimes. I am completely incapable of picking just one photo to represent an event/outing/activity. I am a storytelling photographer. It’s rare for me to capture the “whole story” in just one image. Exhibit: our biking adventure on the Hiawatha Trail. I took (and posted) a boatload of pictures:

hiawatha 1hiawatha 2

Endless self-portraits may get old, but I *love* to see my friends post pictures of themselves. It’s almost like being able to walk out my front door and wave at a neighbor. It fills my heart to “see” my friends, see what they’re doing, and feel connected across the miles. So I try to post occasional pictures of myself, y’know, to return the favor, and welcome the return waves.


I do promise not to drown you in pictures of my dog (just a few, now & then), food, my cleavage (which doesn’t exist!!) or my baby (who isn’t a baby anymore!). But I can’t promise not to immerse you regularly in pictures of the beach. We go there all the time. It’s beautiful ALL THE TIME. And I can’t resist posting regular doses of all that immense beauty.

dog dude
beach overdose 3

So, I guess what I’m really trying to communicate through this little post on Instagram “etiquette” is: go forth and have fun with it. Don’t worry about the “rules”. Be respectful and practice moderation in all things. Know your audience. Be ok with your own decisions and don’t be overly concerned by what everyone else is saying ;-). Oh, and if you want to follow me (I promise, I’m not begging. Or desperate!), you can find me as @susankeller_shortonwords