Thursday, 24 December 2015

Tips for Photographing Children Like a Pro

We are thrilled to have our guest blogger back (yes, I, I mean...encouraged my hubby to write a post again) to help give us some tips on how to capture memorable photos of our wee ones:

We all do it...snap hundreds of pics of our kids hoping to capture at least a few winners to display proudly on Facebook or in the annual family calendar. This post will not touch on the technical aspects of taking photographs but will rather give you some pointers about how to take great shots with your existing knowledge of photography.

If the digital era has ushered in one major advantage over the analog era it is the ability to take thousands of photos, pick one you like, then throw the rest away without any consequence or cost to you.  Like cockroaches scattering when you turn the lights on, kids have a similar reaction to when you take your camera out and try to snap a picture of them.  There is no shame in taking 10, 20, 30 shots of the same pose.  When dealing with kids it is virtually the only way to ensure that everyone is looking in the same direction….hopefully.
1 of over 50 shots taken...finally he is looking at the camera!

One of the trickiest elements of photography to master is how to use a flash.  We have all seen those photos on a friend's fridge of people who look as startled as a raccoon being caught rummaging through your trash. Their eyes are red and the whole photo is bathed in a harsh white light with equally harsh shadows. So my solution, DON’T USE A FLASH!  There is a time of day called the golden hour….actually this time occurs twice a day, just after sunrise and just before sunset.  During these times the light travelling through the atmosphere gives off soft warm hues that will make your children glow. So, I know it’s hard to try to time anything with children, but if you can, try to take pictures during the golden hour.

One of the best tips to make your pictures seem more artistic and less like mug shots is to respect the rule of thirds.  Simply put, imagine your photo as a painter’s canvas, now divide the canvas into three vertical equal parts. Now next time you take a picture of your child, try to align their head with one of the imaginary lines. Therefore, your child will be slightly off center and the overall picture will actually appear to be much more artistic, balanced and pleasing to the eye. Well done….slow clap.

Ok ok, let me clarify something, do NOT point your camera at the sun.  Just like staring into the sun with your naked eye, looking at the sun can still cause retinal damage….and more importantly damage your precious camera!  That being said people always want to shoot with the sun behind them thinking that the light will illuminate their subjects. In reality it just makes your kids squint, squirm and whine that they are staring into the sun while you fumble with your camera.  Try taking some shots with the sun behind your subject.  It gives your subject a beautiful glow and their eyes will actually be open!

So in summary these are just a few pointers to help make your pictures look a little more pro!  But remember, nothing replaces PRACTICE.  Get out there and starting snapping pics!

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Gift Ideas for Everyone on Your List!

Is anyone else panicking with me?!  There are only NINE SHOPPING DAYS until Christmas!  As we did some last-minute shopping and Googling, we came across some gift ideas that we thought would be great for the people on your list.  Don't worry, Bunchems didn't make it, because it's probably not a good idea to curse in front of your kids. (All prices listed in CAD, unless otherwise stated).

Gifts for Kids
  • Re-Play divided plates ($9), bowls ($7), cutlery ($5), sippy cups ($9) and snack containers ($7.50) - made from recycled milk jugs, they're cute and good for the environment! 
  • Happy Mats ($30) - for the child who likes to throw the bowls around...this one won't budge!
  • My Monopoly game ($39) - the classic game can now be customized with your own photos, so you can personlize the board and characters!
  • Play All Day Elmo ($50) - it's the new, more educational version of Tickle Me Elmo!
  • Baby Einstein Take Along Tunes ($17) - a highly rated toy for your little one
  • Inside Out movie Blu-ray & DVD ($24) - we're all about empathy and feelings, and this movie is a great way to start a conversation with your child about them!
  • The Book With No Pictures ($15) - if you have any doubts about this book, watch this video of author B. J. Novak entertaining a crowd of kids with it!

By Camilee Designs on Etsy
Gifts for Gals
  • Color Me Swooooon colouring book ($13-$15) - a unique spin on the ever-popular adult colouring book!  Here, you can colour in your favourite heartthrob and learn stalker-worthy facts about his life. 
  • Josie Maran Argan Oil ($60) - my dad used this and people kept commenting on how much younger his skin looked!  Sounds like it's time for me to bathe in some!
  • #girlboss book ($15.16) - Part biographical, part motivational, all bestseller!
  • A pretty planner ($50 USD) - It's not just for time management anymore!
  • Personalized necklace ($48) - customize it with kids' names and have them close to her heart, awww
  • A jogger pant of some sort ($60) - they're the fashionable mom sweatpant that's great for both comfort and style
  • A beauty box subscription like Birchbox ($15/month) or Topbox ($10/month)
  • Beautiful ear jackets ($54) - the new trendy earring, where there's as much going on behind the ear as in front!
  • Luxury candles from Jo Malone ($75) - if it's good enough for Kate Middleton, it's good enough for me!
Gifts for Guys (you should also check out the list we compiled for Father's Day!)
  • Herschel Duffle bag ($90) - so you can toss that free Goodlife bag he's been sporting 
  • Leather smartphone gloves from J. Crew ($128) - cashmere-lined for warm and comfortable smartphone use in the cold winter
  • Leather coasters from Frank & Oak ($40) - not your grandmother's doilies!
  • Cedar shoe tree ($35) - for the guy who loves his shoes
  • Jack Black Power Pack gift set ($85) - certified organic facial care for men!
  • Samsung Occulus Gear VR ($99 USD) - it's a virtual reality headset so your neighbours can't see what you're watching 
  • MVMT classic leather watch ($109) - so he'll be on time for your dates? 
  • Chromecast Audio ($45) - so you can play all your music on any speaker using wifi
Funny Gifts
  • Hotline Bling Sweater ($24) - because who doesn't want a little Drizzy on their ugly sweater?!
  • Boyfriend Pillow ($40) - popularized by a cameo on the TV show Glee.  I can't decide if it's creepy or really brilliant. 
  • Reusable toaster bags ($8) - so you can make grilled cheese in your toaster!
  • Poo-Pourri spray ($14) - to prevent foul odours from escaping the bowl when you're doing #2
  • Go the F*** to Sleep book ($15) - a funny and honest look at getting your kids to sleep
  • Zombie Survival guide book ($16) - in case you haven't watched enough Walking Dead
  • Face Butt towel ($41) - so you never wipe your face with your butt ever again
Unisex Gifts
  • Kindle e-reader ($65) - This is a great gift for the commuter or traveller in your life!
  • A humanitarian gift of education, animals, nutrition or medicine (prices range) - bless those in need with a practical gift this holiday
  • Tile: The Tile App Tracker ($25) - attach this cute little square to anything you want to track, and you can find it using your smartphone if you ever lose it!  I wonder if I can attach this thing to my kids?? 
  • Nanotech Titanium Diaphragm In-Ear Monitors ($70 USD; $125 CAD) - for the audiophile in your life 
  • Humans of New York: Stories ($20.70) -  It's the new Chicken Soup for the Soul, don't you think?  (Did I just age myself there with the Chicken Soup reference??)
  • Melaleuca (Tea Tree) oil ($39) - for natural treatment of skin issues, and for cleaning around the house
  • Dyson DC34 Animal vacuum ($230) - a practical gift for cleaning crumbs, and especially great for the car!
  • Meal subscription from Chef's Plate (starting at $50/week) - get all the ingredients and a recipe; all you have to do is cook it!
Nerdy Gifts (it seems really expensive to be a nerd!?)

  • Back to the Future Flux Capacitor Watch ($50 USD) - hop in your DeLorean and grab one of these
  • Star Trek Klingon weapon replica ($240 USD) - for that friend who is constantly telling you to, "Live long and prosper."
  • Fallout 4 Vault Dweller's Kit ($110 USD) - perhaps this isn't totally useless?
  • Star Wars Light Saber ($289 USD) - you'll definitely need to get this once the movie comes out!
  • Sphero BB-8 App-enabled Droid ($190) or the remote-controlled version ($70) - seriously, my son is obsessed with balls and loves watching this thing move around (maybe I should move this one to the kids category?)
If you're still not sure what to get, you could always try a DIY, like the Mason jar gift sets we made!

What are your best picks for gifts this holiday?  Let us know, and we'll add it to our list for Santa!

Monday, 7 December 2015

Fingerprint Holiday Cards

holiday cards
I have to admit, I'm a little type A when it comes to crafting with my preschooler...especially when the craft will be given away as a gift! I really have to stop myself from cringing when I watch her change up the craft to her liking (she has this weird fascination with black ink/paint?!). Really, I should applaud her creativity and encourage her to continue thinking outside the box. This holiday card craft is for all you type A crafty parents out there. It's pretty fool proof and it looks awesome and adorable. Best of all, it's super easy and your kiddies will have a blast making fingerprint art. Relatives and friends will love receiving this holiday keepsake!
holiday cards

  • blank white cards (or folded card stock)
  • envelopes 
  • ruler or straight edge
  • black sharpie
  • stamps (red, green, yellow, blue...or any other colour you want,  you can use paint but it will be messier)
  • embellishments of your choice

  1. Using a black sharpie, draw out the design of your choice. I used a straight edge to draw the tree and menorah.

    The wreath was drawn by tracing around the bottom of a drinking glass.
    The string of lights and candy cane were drawn free-hand. 
  2. Ask your child to put their fingerprints along the black lines (or at the end of each "stem" for the string of lights and tip of each candle for the menorah).
    holiday cards
    holiday cards
  3. Decorate to your liking using stamps and embellishments.
  4. Seal with love and send away!
holiday cards
holiday cards

Takes no time to whip up these cute holiday cards! We made a whole stash in under half an hour. What holiday cards are you and your kids crafting up this year?

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