Photography + Workshop Launch!

Happy Friday!!! Hope you all have had an amazing week, who is excited for the Superbowl food & commercials this weekend?! I am excited about today’s post for a few reasons, many of you have asked about the camera that I use & how I edit my photos and I wanted to jump right in and share some of the basics.

I currently shoot with this Canon Rebel, which is far from top of the line in terms of DSLRs, but I love it because it is super easy to use & it was much more affordable than some of the Canons that I originally had my eye on. I mostly shoot with my 50mm lens, and I have this wide angle lens for shooting rooms and such, I wouldn’t say I love it necessarily but it was relatively inexpensive & gets the job done.

The reality is though, that on most days I am taking pictures with my iphone, and there are definitely some ways to make the most of iphone photography and get the photos that you want. The number one key to getting the best photos (really whether you are using your iphone or your DSLR) is to shoot in natural light. Of course when you are just taking pictures of your toddler smearing yogurt all over their face at breakfast, this doesn’t apply, because those pictures are just great all on their own. But knowing when you get the best light in certain rooms of your home or heading outside on a perfectly overcast day, will always get you a better quality photo. Using the grid lines feature on your iphone will help you to set up a straight shot, and tapping your finger on the subject of the photo will also help you get the best focus (although be careful with this because sometimes it can blow out the light in the background and your shot can be over exposed). I also like to make sure that I am adjusting my perspective when I take pictures, especially of my kids. It is habit to take out your phone and just hold it in front of you and snap. Instead, try sitting on the floor and being eye level with your kids, or standing on a chair and shooting down from a birds eye view.

As far as editing goes, the more filters you add on your iphone, the lower the quality of the photo will be, I especially stay away from using Instagram filters. I like to stick with adjusting my brightness, contrast & temperature using Afterlight, then jumping over to VSCO or A Color Story for a filter at low strength. The key is finding filters and styles that you love, getting in the groove of editing them all the same, and developing your own style by keeping everything consistent. I usually use the same few edits and filters for all of my photos, so I encourage you to play around with editing tools and find a style that speaks to you.

So, we have some exciting news! Last Spring, I co-hosted a beginners photography class with my fav photograper team here in Atlanta. And after months of work and editing, we are so excited to share that The Good Snaps Workshop is now available as an online course! In this class (which you can do right from your couch in your pajamas at your own pace) the photographers who have taught me just about everything I know about shooting in manual, will teach you how to use your camera! You’ll learn basic camera functionality, how (and why!) to shoot in manual, tips for getting the best shots of your kiddos & you’ll get to sit in on the actual Q&A from our workshop. And as a bonus, a full PDF of my shooting & editing process (no photoshop required!) from the point of view of a non-professional. 😉

The course will only be available for a few weeks, I am positive this class will help you take the photos of your dreams, and I cannot wait to hear your feedback!!!

Winter Favorites for the Home

Once the Christmas decorations come down & the house gets put back together, I always get the decorating bug. We have so many spots in the house that are unfinished, and for me, I would rather have empty rooms or blank walls than fill it with things that I don’t absolutely love. We have been slowly collecting things for the built ins, are hanging curtains in our family room, and are working on finishing the playroom for the girls. Late night pinning & searching for the perfect pieces to make our house a home have led me to a few of these beautiful finds, so I thought I would share a current round up of some of the things I am loving lately.

 Cozy Throw // Pink Chair // Wire Basket // Wall Art // Pretty Planters // Polka Dot Pillow

Obsessed with that cozy throw & wooden wall art, I could find a place for both of them in just about every room of the house! Time to go snuggle up on our couch & watch last week’s episode of This is Us.

Happy first day of February!! XO

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Embrace the mess.

One of the questions I get most often is how we handle kids toys everywhere & where we store things. Let me preface this by saying I am a pretty messy mom. If you saw my closet vs. Brandon’s closet, my side of the sink vs. his, or the inside of my van vs. his truck, you would never know we were even the same species. Opposites attract, right? 😉 But at the end of the day, we want to teach our kids how to take care of their things while still having fun, and of course we do appreciate the house looking like a home instead of a toy store.

So I am sharing five ways that we keep the toy clutter under control & keep a (semi) organized home with toddlers running around.

1. Get rid of toys often, or at least put them on rotation. I am not even sure how we accumulate so many things in the first place, kids meal toys, things the kids bring home from grandmas, and a birthday or holiday every other minute that lands them with a new doll and puzzle, toys get out out of control fast. We make routine trips to goodwill to get rid of things, once a month at least, with clothes we don’t wear or the girls have outgrown, toys they don’t play with or other things around the house taking up space.  It’s hard with three kids of different ages developmentally, while we want to hold on to baby toys, the reality is Claire never touches them and really only wants what the big girls have (or a snack) so we try to be realistic about it. The other thing we do is keep rubbermaids on hand to rotate toys, things like their magna doodles, puzzles or noisy alphabetical alligators on a pull string (what even is this toy and it’s purpose?) will go in a tub, and every few weeks, we will switch it for other things. It makes their toys new again & leaves less to pick up daily.

2. Baskets are the answer to pretty much everything when it comes to toy storage for us. A couple baskets in the play room, in each of the girls rooms & in our upstairs media room keep all of the toys under control. It is super easy to just throw everything in baskets if we have guests coming over and you hardly even notice the toys. It takes no more than ten minutes to throw things in baskets. I prefer baskets from Target, Home Goods, etc. that fit with our home decor rather than kids toy baskets or boxes, an easy way to keep things looking tidy!

3. Make use of non-traditional toy storage. We park the girls baby doll strollers in our shoe closet, keep all of their crayons & art supplies in drawers, and keep puzzles in the bottom drawers of our night stands. Finding an actual place for things is half the battle. PS. Play kitchens are a dream because they hide so many toys!

4. Make it a routine for kids to pick up toys. I’ll be honest, this is hard, sometimes it is way easier just to leave them rather than deal with the whining and crying about picking up. But after just a few nights of doing it routinely before their wind-down-before-bed movie, they usually do it without being asked. We usually tell them we are going to play a song and we have to hurry to pick up all the toys before it’s over, and our goal is at least for them to get all of their toys out of the other rooms and put in the playroom, even if they don’t put everything where it actually goes.

5. Embrace the mess. Something we have to remind ourselves of often is that one day, we will miss this mess. We will miss finding goldfish in the couch cushions, stepping on doll house furniture and legos, and seeing little crumples of paper with your kids names scribbled on them in every room of the house. I don’t mind a basket full of doll clothes sitting next to my bed & I love a good pile of kids books on the coffee table. If you stop seeing it as a mess, it will no longer feel like one.

I hope this is helpful, and if you have any tips & tricks to share, we would love to hear them! Happy weekend, friends! XO