Hudson’s newborn pictures

I got my 27th birthday present a month early in the form of one Mr. Hudson Michael, but today on my actual birthday I got another good present in the form of his newborn pictures!  We got these done when he was nine days old and I barely even remember it because I was such a zombie.  It was a fun surprise to get to see all his pictures today and remember the cute little poses and backdrops and such.

Hudson did not want to cooperate that day!  He was usually such a sleepy baby but that particular day he didn’t want to sleep at all, and we really wanted him to sleep for the pictures (although the ones of his big beautiful eyes ended up being some of my favorites!).  But after lots and lots of work and something like four hours (and a ton of diaper changes…we used up every diaper I had packed, little stinker!), we got some really amazing pictures.

Check out my handsome little guy!

IMG_7749 IMG_7759_2 IMG_7768_2 IMG_7791Not the best picture of my post-partum self, but I just can’t resist this sweet yawn :).  Nobody is looking at me anyway, I’m sure!
IMG_7812 IMG_7816 IMG_7838 IMG_7849 IMG_7859 IMG_7870 IMG_7877 IMG_7878_2 IMG_7886 IMG_7896 IMG_7910 IMG_7914_2 IMG_7927A precious smile!
IMG_7932 IMG_7946Thanks to Pinterest I found the cutest picture of a baby with Harry Potter glasses and knew we had to recreate it.  I love how it turned out!  We’re definitely putting this one up in our office/library.

Can I just say that I could never be a newborn photographer?  Our photographer was so incredibly patient.  She and her assistant would work for 30 minutes getting him quite and sleeping and posed just right, just to get a few shots.  She was amazing.  (If you’re in Bowling Green and need a photographer I highly recommend Shelley at Sweet Dreams Photography!)

Hudson’s hospital pictures

We never intended to purchase the hospital pictures, but when we saw how good they were…how could we not?!?

I only wish we had known we were going to get our pictures taken as well – Michael hadn’t shaved and didn’t have his contacts in; I was wearing a huge, junky shirt from Goodwill.  Oh well, we still got some winners!

{0c34156e-d1cd-47d7-b363-e0551bd4840b}_1I’m definitely getting this one (in black and white) blown up and framed
{0c34156e-d1cd-47d7-b363-e0551bd4840b}_2 {0c34156e-d1cd-47d7-b363-e0551bd4840b}_3 {0c34156e-d1cd-47d7-b363-e0551bd4840b}_4 {0c34156e-d1cd-47d7-b363-e0551bd4840b}_5This one captures his little personality so well!

{0c34156e-d1cd-47d7-b363-e0551bd4840b}_6I melt…
{0c34156e-d1cd-47d7-b363-e0551bd4840b}_7 {0c34156e-d1cd-47d7-b363-e0551bd4840b}_8Love that sweet face!!

maternity pictures…finally!

Oh y’all, getting our maternity pictures has been an insanely huge ordeal.  Please, pull up a chair and let me tell you about it.

A good long time ago I started looking for someone to book for our maternity pictures and Hudson’s first year pictures (newborn, 3 months, etc.).  I found someone whose pictures I liked and also had a reasonable price (because have you seen the price for some of those pictures?…yikes!).  I originally wanted to wait until I was further along, but I really wanted to use our maternity pictures for our Christmas cards so she suggested we do them a little bit earlier.

We set the date for Sunday afternoon, November 24.

Well, that day rolls around and it was a pretty cold day – colder than we’d been experiencing.  I was willing to stick it out long enough to do pictures (we were planning to do them outside) but she was afraid I’d get sick and wanted to reschedule.

Long story short, she ended up going out of town for a week without telling me and not returning my messages.  Then when she finally did get in touch (almost a week after we cancelled and I sent her a message trying to find another date, and a week before she’d even be back in town) and I asked if we could do them as soon as she returned from her trip she said that even if we did she wouldn’t get them edited in time for Christmas.

What?!?

She knew the whole point was for us to get these pictures taken for our Christmas cards.  I was very unhappy and needless to say told her we would find someone else.

I put out a desperate plea on Facebook for recommendations of photographers who could do a *very* last minute shoot for us.  A friend of a friend was recommended and we set up a time that next week with her.  Then we had quite a bit of ice and snow and the ground was all wet so we decided to push the pictures from Tuesday until Thursday.

Thursday I change quickly and rush over there after school and take a bunch as fast as we can as we still have some light.  Yay!  Pictures are done!

Not.

She gets home that night to upload the pictures to her computer and finds out her memory card was corrupt so the pictures are gone.

At this point I’m thinking it wasn’t meant to be, but we decided to try again one more time on Sunday.  So after church Sunday we grabbed a quick bite, changed into our picture clothes, took the pictures all over again, changed back, and headed off to my baby shower.

Amy (the girl who took our pictures) was awesome though and had them edited that night so that I could get our Christmas cards ordered.  Christmas cards have been ordered and hopefully will get here soon…and then I have to get them addressed…and then have to get them in the mail…

We’ll see if anyone actually gets them in time for Christmas.

(oh and if you do get a card from us, act surprised like you haven’t seen these pictures before, because I just couldn’t wait to show them off)

Michael was a real trooper.  It was in the 30s both times we took the pictures.  I was chilly but not freezing since pregnancy makes me feel hot all the time anyway.  Poor Michael was miserably cold but toughed it out so that I could have the outdoor pictures I wanted.  He is awesome.

Oh and guess what…these two days of pictures were colder than had we just stuck with our original November 24 day.  Ironic.

And now the pictures you’ve been waiting for.

maternity pictures 1 maternity pictures 2 maternity pictures 3 maternity pictures 4 maternity pictures 5 maternity pictures 6 maternity pictures 7 maternity pictures 8 maternity pictures 9

So ends the maternity picture saga (I hope).  Now on to finding a newborn/first year photographer for Hudson.  Sigh.

Jo Totes camera bag – Works for Me Wednesday

Let me tell you about one of my favorite things – my Jo Totes camera bag.  When I first got my “fancy” camera, I knew I wanted a bag that could also double as a purse so that when I carried my camera it didn’t blatantly yell “camera bag!”.  I fell in love with the Jo Totes bags and received one for my birthday that year; I’ve been carrying it off and on for a year and a half.  Not only do I get compliments on it all the time (people love it as a purse, and are so surprised when I tell them it is a camera bag, too!) but it’s perfect for me.

jo totes 6I chose the Rose model in Sugarplum

jo totes 5My DSLR camera (and it’s bulky camera strap!) fits easily into one half of the bag (even with the extra padding I use.  The other half I use for my purse items – wallet, Kindle, sunglasses, makeup, etc.  That section could easily be used for other lenses or various camera things if needed.

There are several pockets along the insides that I use for chapstick, gum, etc. and one pocket on the outside that hold my keys.

jo totes 7My bag came with five small padded inserts and one long padded insert.  the long one is the length of the insert of the purse, the small ones are the same size as the width of the purse.  I use three of them in my bag – one to separate the bag in half, and then one along each side of section where I keep my camera to provide a little extra padding around my camera.

jo totes 2In order for the big ‘ole camera to fit, the bag is somewhat large (although I tend to lean toward large purses so that doesn’t really bother me much).  You can see it in the picture that it’s big, but not massive.

jo totes 3It also comes with a shoulder strap that clips to the sides and you can use to carry the bag crossbody or on one shoulder.  I find that very awkward, though, so I’ve only used that strap once.

jo totes 1I find the shorter straps are plenty long enough to go comfortably over my shoulders, so I usually carry like so.

I promise, this is not a sales pitch.  I received this bag as a gift from a family member, per my request.  All opinions are mine.  Jo Totes has no idea who I am and I get nothing if you chose to buy one.  I just really love my bag and get so many compliments and questions that I thought I’d share with my lovely readers in case you’re looking for a classy camer bag :).

Linking up to Works for Me Wednesday.

a fun photoshoot

You remember the Gaines family?  The ones who are moving to Tanzania in October to be missionaries for three years?  Well, obviously that is expensive and so they have been working hard to raise money for their trip (I’m sure they would love a donation from you…go here if you’d like to help).  Sunday night Daniel did some fundraising at a church near Red Boiling Springs, TN and Michael and I went along with them.  There are some beautiful scenic spots in Red Boiling Springs, so we go there a little early for some pictures.  Ever since Tiffany read that one of my 2013 bucket list items was to take more pictures of the two of us together, she has made a point to take pictures of Michael and me.  Then we were able to take some pictures of their family.  It was a win for everyone!

First stop, The Thomas House – a bed and breakfast in Red Boiling Springs

IMG_6528Josiah had just woken up from a nap and wasn’t really in the picture taking mood

IMG_6540

IMG_6543It’s a bit hard to get a good picture of two wiggly toddler/babies.  Too bad Levi wasn’t looking in this picture.

IMG_6549Looking very solemn

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I love these pictures in front of the fountain!

IMG_6574
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Next up, a pretty covered bridge

IMG_6604
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Levi CollageBe honest, who wants to take (or look at) pictures of adults when this sweet one is around?

IMG_6639Love this little squishy

IMG_6641happiest baby I know!

IMG_6649He gets the biggest grins when you kiss his cheeks :)

hair pullingThis sequence of events happens every time I hold the little guy…he grabs my hair, I work to free said hair from his ridiculously strong baby grip

IMG_6660Pretty sure Jojo was either saying “Hi, Missa Michael!” (Mr. Michael) or “Hi, Missy Caitlin!” (Miss Caitlin).  He is the master of the yell-your-name-and-wave move…especially when it’s very quiet at church.

IMG_6680Great picture on the covered bridge

IMG_6676…then a car drove by and we lost all the boys to that distraction…yep, even Daniel

Wasn’t that fun?  I’m so glad to get some good pictures of Michael and me!  Thanks Tiffany for being a great photographer!

5 tips for photographing food (from a VERY amateur photographer)

Let’s be honest, as a photographer I have next to no experience outside of taking pictures for my blog and I really don’t know what I’m doing.  In fact, before blogging I hardly ever took pictures – mine were always shaky and blurry and Michael’s were always much better, so he took the pictures and I scrapbooked them.  But in the past year and a half of blogging, I have picked up on a few things and I can tell my photography has definitely improved.  In the hopes that I might help someone else, I thought I’d share my feble bit of knowledge.

I’ve been posting recipes since the beginning but as I read other people’s blogs, saw their recipes, and saw all the lovely pictures of food on Pinterest, I began to notice that my food pictures were definitely lacking.  All my dishes are red, green, and yellow and those are just not very appealing background colors for good.  The food was also usually just tossed on the plate and a picture was snapped in a not-very-well lit area.  So I started playing around and trying to figure out how I could improve my pictures.

When I cook a meal that I’ve previously blogged about, I’ve been trying to take new, more eye-catching picture to replace the existing ones.  The difference in my old and new pictures has been dramatic.

Check out these examples:

old rice picHere’s the first picture that I posted of my Mexican rice – looks like a gross pile of dog food…who would want to eat that?

new rice picHere’s the same recipe cooked and photographed a separate time.  Much, much more appealing!

old cinnamon rollThis is a picture I took in November 2011 of the cinnamon rolls I made for Michael’s birthday.

new cinnamon rollWhen I made them again for him a year later in November 2012 I decided to snap a new picture to replace the old picture…check out the difference!

So here are the tips I came up with:

1. Use a white background: plate, platter, serving dish, bowl, whatever.  This is the #1 tip that I’ve learned.  Just switching the food from a red or green plate to a white plate, even without changing any other factors, makes a huge difference.

rice before and aftercinnamon roll before and afterSee how much better the food looks on the white than it did on the red or green?

 

2.  Shoot in a well lit area, preferably natural light.  Amanda has a great tutorial on this.

cinnamon roll before and afterThe before picture was shot in our old poorly-lit kitchen without a window around on the morning of Michael’s birthday.  The after picture was shot also on the morning of Michael’s birthday a year later, but this time I opened up the blinds and set the plate in front of some large windows in our new kitchen.

 

3.  If you don’t have good light, then edit your photos to adjust for the bad lighting.  I was a die-hard Picnik fan but they don’t exist anymore, so right now I’m trying out Picmonkey.

I usually go to the gym after work and change out of my work clothes before Michael gets home, so the only time for him to take my What I Wore Wednesday pictures is in the morning.  This is especially hard in the winter when it’s still dark outside when we leave for work.  That means no natural light which makes the pictures looks pretty awful.  We’re still learning where the best places are in our new house to take pictures and trying to deal with the light problems, but until then we just take pictures wherever we can and deal with the bad lighting.

picmonkey oldSee how yellow the picture looks?  I uploaded it into Picmonkey and used the neutral picker object – you select something white in the picture (I used the basboard) and click on it, the software then somehow magically adjusts your picture.

picmonkey newHere it is after I used the neutral picture.  It’s still not the best picture in the world but it’s definitely less yellow.

I do the same when I’m taking food pictures at night and there is no more light outside.

new rice picThis Mexican Rice picture, while still much better than the original one on the green plate, is still a little dark because I took it when we ate supper after it was already dark outside.

riceI used Picnik to make the white more white and brighten up the colors (and add the lettering, but that’s not important right now).

 

4.  Get in close and focus on the object.  The only lens I have right now is the basic 18-55 mm lens that came with my Canon EOS Rebel T3i and it doesn’t zoom and focus on small objects really well, but I’ve found that by switching from auto to manual focus, I’m able to focus in on the small, close object (usually food) that I’m trying to shoot.

rice before and afterThe before picture is so blurry!  I have no idea if my hand was shaking or the camera focused on the wrong part of the frame or what, but the after picture is definitely much, much better.

 

5.  Spend some time arranging and staging the food.  I used to just plop it on the plate without thought but I’ve found that spending a few extra seconds with presentation makes a huge difference.

cinnamon roll before and afterIn the before picture I just slathered on the icing, since that’s how I would normally eat it (I make the icing ahead of time and keep it in the refrigerator so it’s very thick when I put it on the cinnamon roll).  Even though that’s how I eat it, it’s not the prettiest cinnamon roll, so when I took the after picture I heated the icing up in the microwave and drizzled it on.

Bonus tip: This one doesn’t have as much to do with the actual photography as it does with making your images pin-able, but I thought I’d go ahead and throw it in.  I always try to label my food pictures so that if/when someone pins my recipe on Pinterest, the picture of the food also has a label that tells you what the item is.  I don’t have any proof that it makes images more pin-able, but personally I think it helps to have the title of the recipe on the picture of the food.

cinnamon roll riceSo like I said, I have absolutely no training and I know these pictures are no where near professional, but I think I’ve grown at least a little in my photography so maybe these tips can help someone else.

Linking up to Works for Me Wednesday

30 day photography challenge part 2

Camp happened, then I started back to work and eventually I got totally and completely off track with this challenge!  Yikes!  But I’m finally back and here are the next 10 pictures I’ve taken for my 30 day photography challenge:

Source: google.com via Caitlin on Pinterest

Day 11: Something blue

Day 12: Sunset

Day 13: Yourself with 13 things

Day 14: Eyes

Day 15: Silhouette

Day 16: Long exposure

Day 17: Technology

Day 18: Your shoes

Day 19: Something orange

Day 20: Bokeh

Did you miss the first 10 days?  Go here to check them out.

30 day photography challenge part 1

I’ve completed the first 10 days of the 30 day photography challenge so I wanted to go ahead and share my progress.

Source: google.com via Caitlin on Pinterest

Day 1: Self-portrait

I chose to be much more sophisticated than the ever-popular duck lips and do fish lips instead…

Day 2: What you wore today

Since I show you my outfits every week anyway, I decided to show you how I wore my hair instead (copied from here)

Day 3: Clouds

of course this task had to fall on a day when the sky was the bluest I’ve seen in a while…this dinky cloud is all I could get

Day 4: Something green

Day 5: From a high angle

aka me standing on a chair

Day 6: From a low angle

Day 7: Fruit

watermelon = the most summery fruit around

Day 8: A bad habit

I chose to do one of Michael’s (with his permission of course) – he puts his shoes right outside his closet door, but somehow just can’t get them those last few inches to actually be in the closet…these are three of his pairs of shoes that were lined up right in front of the closet door

Day 9: Someone you love

who loves to be goofy…

Day 10: Childhood memory

my very first American Girl doll, Samantha

Ok there we go, first 10 days done.  Now I’m off to find something blue to photograph!

30 day photography challenge

I just seem to be all about challenges this year.  One of the things I wanted to do this summer was to play around with my new camera and learn how to use it better.  Have I done that yet?  Nope.  So when I saw this pin on Pinterest, I thought this might be a good, but not too difficult, way to make me stretch my photography past my usual pictures.  Here’s what I’ll be doing:

Source: google.com via Caitlin on Pinterest

 

Should be fun – I’ll let you know how it goes!

it’s a love story, baby just say yes

Four years ago yesterday Michael asked me to marry him…and I said yes.  I’ll save the proposal story for another day, but today I wanted to share with you some of our engagement pictures.

These were taken by friends of ours from college, Zach and Sarah.  If you live in the Cookeville/Knoxville/Nashville, TN area and need a photographer I highly recommend you check them out! (here is their website and Facebook page)  They are so fun to work with and do an excellent job!  These are by far my favorite pictures of us ever (yes, even including our wedding pictures).

it’s more awkward and much harder to hold a kiss for the camera than one might think…

and to hold that crouched position for so long…

coolest picture ever

this scary goose didn’t like us getting close to her babies so she chased us – yikes!

All of our pictures were taken in Cookeville, TN – most of them on Tech’s campus, where we went to school (Tennessee Tech University).