Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Photographing Your Kids

With advancements in photography technology over the last decade it has become possible to capture frame-worthy memories on consumer level cameras. Today every smartphone on the market boasts a pixel rating that far exceeds most of the cameras from the early part of the 2000’s. With this rise in quality, parents can now take quality pictures of their children with most basic cameras…that is if you could just get all of them to smile naturally and at the same time. So how do you get a frame-worthy picture of all your kids?

Photo by thejbird

1)  Location.  The backgrounds should be interesting enough to entertain your children, but not so much so that it is distracting in the photos.  Because of the differences in lighting, outside is usually best.

2) Candid shots.  You have to accept that photographing children is very different than photographing adults. Children struggle to sit still much less strike a pose on cue for your picture. The easiest way to get quality pictures of your children is to just let them be children and snap away furiously. When kids are forced to pose the results you are looking for are often hard to obtain. Let them be themselves and they’ll forget you are trying to photograph them.

3)  Change levels.  Unless you have some serious photography skills - and can get some abstract, artsy shots- photographs of a child will come out better if you get down to their level.   It will certainly be easier to capture the moment down there with them, then shooting from above.

4) Focus on the different objects.  Great photos of children often come from focusing on their faces, specifically the eyes.  But you want to remember all of your children's awesome little features, right?  Get some shots of their hands, feet, eyelashes... it's often those little details that we parents cherish in photos in the years to come.

5) Try black and white.  Even if you take your photos in color, changing the photographs to black and white lends a different feel to the photo.  It's calming, serene.  Certainly if you are planning on hanging a wall collage, black and white can unify all your photos for a more pleasing display.

In summary, allowing your kids to just play while you snap away furiously, down on their level, focusing on different features, will allow you to capture spontaneous photos that you will cherish. You may have to take a hundred shots to get three or four that you love but with digital photography the amount of photos you take is not a concern.

Although photographing children can be tricky, if you just let them be kids they will entertain themselves and give you ample opportunity to snap a beautiful memory that will hang on your wall for a lifetime.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Artwork, Artwork Everywhere!

My kids are the most amazing artists in the world.  No, really - they are.  As a testament to their creative genius, I save it.  ALL of it.  From every tiny drawing, to large painting projects, I keep it.  But what do you DO with all of it, you may ask?  Excellent question. Storage is most definitely  a problem.  Clutter drives me insane, so I certainly cannot have container after container of art just sitting around taking up valuable shelf space.  The garage or attic doesn't work, because there it's not accessible enough to look at it when I feel like reminiscing about how cute they look finger-painting.  My brilliant solution?  SCAN! SCAN!  SCAN!  Scanning their precious portraits is a wonderful solution to the artwork dilemma.  Having a digital scan on my computer not only sorts their work by date, but it provides an excellent medium to view their work without dragging out all the originals. 
Here is what I do:
1) Keep a nifty storage container accessible to keep artwork accessible.  I choose a basket - attractive and functional.  I keep it hidden in our entry way armoire, where all of our "stuff" - book bags, handbags, keys, mail, etc. stay hidden.
2)  Once a month, I usually do this the last weekend of each month, take 15 minutes and scan in their most recent art projects.  I keep a folder in my computer  appropriately titled "Art" with subfolders for each child.
3) After scanning is complete, store original artwork in a more out of the way place; a box in the attic or garage works great.
This ongoing project takes just a few minutes each month and is oh so worth the time and effort.  Not to mention, having a digital scan of all these beautiful designs really opens the door for TONS of other creative projects that can be made with their work! 
Any more creative suggestions for storing artwork?  Please let us know!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

SPB's Top Five Healthy Snacks For Kids

Most parents with children spend a good amount of time worrying about what our children eat.  Do they get enough fruit? Veggies?  Calcium?  Protein?  Are their nutrition needs being met?  And what's with all those additives in food?  It scares me to think about some of the additives in commercially prepared food. If I can't  pronounce it, I don't want to eat it and I certainly don't want to feed it to my babies.  So what to feed them? 

Our Top Five Healthy Snacks for Kids
1) Popcorn.  Who doesn't love it.  There are all natural varieties that are DELICIOUS.  They actually taste like salty corn. Yum-o!  Orville Redenbacher  All Natural Lightly Salty is a fav at our house.

2)  Trail Mix.  I prefer to make my own.  The beauty of this is that you can't go wrong and you can choose your family's favorites.  I typically make mine with raisins, almonds, cashews, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, dried cranberries, rolled oats - you get the idea.
3) Any of the above ingredients in trail mix make awesome snacks on their own. 
4) Fruit/ Veggies.  Fruits are sweet and refreshing and most kids will eat it if you give it to them.  Crunchy apples, sweet bananas, kiwis, pineapple, grapes and melons have great nutritional value and they are delicious.  Focus on what's in season for the best taste and best price. Veggie snacks - Carrot sticks, cucumber slices,  sweet grape tomatoes, sugar snap peas, etc  are all delicious on their own and even better with a dip like hummus or even ranch dressing.   The secret to making fruits and veggies a QUICK snack anytime is to prep them when you get home from the store. This way they are ready in a second when your kids are hungry.  Chop the veggies/ fruits and store them in individual containers accessible to your children.
5) Low fat Dairy.  Yogurt, cheese sticks, and low fat milk are all wonderful snack options.   Yogurt parfaits' with sliced berries and some homemade trail mix sprinkled on top makes an awesome snack and a yummy breakfast!
With a little thought and planning, your kids can reach for a healthy snack option easier than they can grab the commercially prepared variety!  Enjoy!