I got to play on the Mamalode Instagram feed on Monday. Not a hugely remarkable thing, but--in combo with the suddenly spring weather--the excuse to have my camera out all day made it feel like an unofficial holiday.
While I think we probably all need to put-down-the-gosh-darned-phone more, I love having such an always-ready tool to notice things. I like being able to save the best of those "noticings" and carry them around in my pocket. I know there are other ways to do those things--journaling, paper photos, or even just tucking beautiful images away in your mind--but my phone camera just makes it so darned easy.
And then I can share some of it with you all, so that's nice, too.
From top to bottom: 1. Last fall's seed pods still hanging on. 2. The day's egg haul. 3. A whole big conglomeration of the Kiddo. 4. My tangled mess of scarves. 5. A quote from my office wall. 6. Sweet Tori, my lap chicken.
Shameless plug: My instagram feed is mybitofearth, let's be friends there!
My friend and I carefully tramped out into an icy field last Sunday morning to capture her beautiful baby bump. I stumbled once trying to walk quickly in the cold, but luckily she was more sure-footed. And the results were worth the tiny injury to my pride.
She always has been gorgeous, but the little pregnant glow really puts her over the top, right?
It broke my heart to disappoint him, but thankfully his mama had come prepared with munchies for him and all of his adorable cousins, too.
The New Year's Day family was one of my favorite groups'o'regulars. They have the drill down at this point, although I don't think I've ever had to coax them to smile through such frigid cold before. Thankfully, they were good sports and I was quick!
[The Kid's Sunday morning watercolor art through the eyes of my SLR alone, and then through my Instax and then my SLR.]
I bought myself an instax camera as a post-holiday treat. On the one hand, it's a toy. On the other, it's very good training, particularly when it comes to composing shots well.
I have never been the least bit ashamed of using editing software to make my photos better--it's just one more tool. And I love that, with the invention of digital cameras, I can take 10 shots of the Kid running around and not feel wasteful when I only keep the best one.
But there's something to be said for really making yourself stop and think before you press the shutter button. About making each photo cost a little something (close to a buck a piece, actually). I don't know that it's better or worse, just different and interesting.
As an excuse to practice, I've been participating in Raincoast Creative Salon's #foliophoto alphabet project on Instagram. Pretty simple idea--starting with "A" each day we're all photographing something that starts with a different letter of the alphabet. It's made for some beautiful photos, so if you're a fan of such things I would encourage you to check out the hashtag. Happy Friday, friends!
Naps are being taken under profuse numbers of blankets.
A quick walk around the kiln on campus to see if I could photograph the ceramic heads in the snow. Alas, the heads have been spirited off to another home, but the rest of the snowy field was still full of pottery.
My tipsy paperwhites, growing out. Alcohol/dirt on the right, water/dirt on the left. The ones growing in pebbles are catching up now that I've turned them into the sunlight. All smell heavenly.
The ladies heated waterer keeps coming unpluged so it's lots of trips outside to check for not frozen water.
Wool socks, flannel pants--wish I could wear them everywhere.
November 24. Oh hey. There it is. Silly me. How could I have ever gotten in the Christmas mood before I pulled out the twinkle lights?
November 26. I'm a sherpa who gets paid in fingerpaintings. Luckily, I really love hand turkeys.
During the weekends of November and December, I can often be found ducking out to take family photos for my friends. This year, instead of photographing every one on seperate days, I decided to have one big ole' "Christmas Card Picture Day" and invite all the "regulars".
It was a long day, but a fun one. I had 12 families scheduled--at my friend Jen's event facility, the Little White Schoolhouse--in half hour increments. With a couple of backdrops and my Christmas play-list cued up on itunes, it was a very merry space for a photo shoot.
Notes to self for next year: Half an hour is perfect. No green icing on the sugar cookies. Hot cocoa and kids in dress clothes? Seriously, what were you thinking? Have them all pretend to drink from the Santa mugs. For reals.
;) Thanks to everyone who came out!
November 17. I had a lot of fun, but I could never be that "on" every day.
November 21. Sometimes you can't get to the real camera fast enough, but it was their first father-son home improvement project so--grainy as it is--it's a keeper.
November 22. Friday donut date! Such a nice bit of fun that we could all squeeze in together.
A few of the fun families I've had the honor of photographing lately....
Up top: As I was taking photos of these two, it occurred to me, "Isn't this about the time you got married last year?" In fact, it was the exact same day. They're making a tradition of doing photos on their anniversary each year. Talk about ideas I wish I'd had nine years ago!
In the middling area: One of my college roomies with her family and kids. All three of her children are darling, but I could have taken the baby home with me, he was such a sweetie-pea.
Down low: A Christmas gift from daughter (in the blue) to mom (in the red)--pictures of the entire family. All told, it was three good puppies, two pretty ladies, one tolerant boyfriend, and a very patient cat.
It all got me thinking that I really must do some pictures of Moe-moe soon. It's been far too long since the last time I tortured...er, um, photographed him.
November 12. Apparently not a single musical instrument in our house is in tune. We play on anyway.
November 13. I'm so tired of writing mad, but there's no end in sight. Good thing I stopped for coffee, at least.
November 15. As she walked us back to the cells, she said she knew a prisoner who said he had forgotten what tree trunks look like. I never feel so blessed as when I get home from there.
We painted and stenciled and duct taped until it was reasonably held together. Then I wrestled the Kid into a pair of overalls so we could test our Thomas out.
Just as we pulled out the back gate though, Sweet Husband noticed, "Ah! We forgot to put a stack on him!"
Gosh darn it.
Fortunately, we have a spare oatmeal canister, some extra paint, and a few days still to recitify the problem. Also, the Kid has no clue, so even if we don't get around to it, it's no biggie.
Also, I think we may need some hot glue. Because, despite these pictures, we discovered that our Thomas could use some structural reinforcements. But isn't that half the fun of Halloween?
This little doll-face's costume, on the other hand, is perfect in every way. Her mama--a friend of mine who asked me to take these pictures--made every bit of it, except for the wings. I am informed that her antenae may need repairs after our romp in the park, but isn't that tutu adorable?
She's not just any butterfly, as she would proudly tell you, she's a monarch butterfly.
Can you tell I like this Halloween costuming bit? Just a little?
And, all of a sudden, this little girl is getting such personality!
Her parents are good friends of our good friends, so--while we're certainly friendly--I don't see this family a ton outside of taking pictures of them. With 3 or 4 months between sessions, I really notice the changes in a way that you don't when you see a kiddo everyday.
For example--hello teeth! And giggles! And walking in that adorable toddle-y way!
How do they do it all so fast?
At this child's first birthday party, he toddled right up to me, looked up beseechingly with his baby blue eyes, and raised his hands to be picked up. That was about a month ago, but, let me tell you, it takes awhile to forget how your heart melts when a little guy picks you out of a crowd like that.
Turns out that he just wanted bites of my cupcake, but, still, I can't think of him without wanting to gush with love and baby talk. He's such a mellow, happy wittle chap. I blame his parents.
Obvious admission: I love photo sessions where I show up and the baby is happy and the kids are all in good moods and everything goes like clockwork. How could I not, right?
Teensy bit of a secret: I like the ones that don't go like clockwork, too. The ones where the baby cries for her mama when she's put down for even an instant, and big brothers are a little tired from last night's slumber party with grandma...and then it starts raining! I know it may not seem like that would be fun, but I love it because the pictures always end up so real.
And I hesitate to use the word "real", because all families who love each other are that, of course. But, you know what I mean--it's a real moment.
It's the shot they'll flash up on the screen when little brother is giving the toast at big brother's wedding. It's the photographic evidence--that she'll point to with mock seriousness at Thanksgiving when she's 25--that her big brothers have always picked on her.
I know that opinions differ on whether it's appropriate for the mantle above the fireplace--my grandma, for example, is pretty strict about the looking at the camera, smiling thing--but, gosh darn it, I'll take the real ones any day!
In addition to fresh notebooks and sharpened pencils, for parents of pre-schoolers and grade schoolers, back-to-school also means that a flood of artwork, projects and papers will shortly begin anew.
If you believe the mom blogosphere, there are some parents who have adopted elaborate filing systems to keep track of what would otherwise be a mountain of clutter. A box for each kid, a folder for each grade — you get the idea.
While I can appreciate that level of organization, I couldn’t keep it up and I wouldn’t want to. For one, most children’s artwork isn’t made to be archived. The paint crackles with time, and the colors fade.
For two, I’m not sure what my child would do with that box in 20 years. It would be fun to look through once, I suppose, but then what?
Nope, meticulously filing away my child’s artwork is not for me. Instead, I prefer to use and enjoy it now. Here are three of my favorite ways.
Put it in a frame gallery
In our dining room, we have a grouping of empty black frames with no glass in them. They house a rotation of my son’s artwork, favorite photographs of mine, and other bits and bobs that I think are pretty.
When a particularly fun paper comes home from school, with just a few nubs of ticky-tacky I can have it on the wall in seconds.
Pinterest abounds with similar ideas. Perhaps a clothesline or picture wire would work better in your house? Or maybe some vintage-looking clipboards attached to the wall?
Whatever system you choose, the key is to make it finite. To use my gallery as an example, we have eight frames. Once those are full, something must come down for something new to go up.
Use it as wrapping paper or cards
I don’t ever buy wrapping paper. In addition to using brown paper sacks and fabric scraps to wrap presents, I also like to use my son’s artwork. Even a letter-sized piece of paper will wrap a small gift, and you can patch larger art together for big boxes. With the addition of some funky ribbon or leftover yarn, you can quickly and easily make fun packages.
Likewise, leftover artwork makes great cards. Just cut the paper to the size you need it to be and fold it in half. Voila — a handmade greeting card, just waiting for you to write something inside.
Take a picture
I love to take pictures of my son’s artwork and work them into our family photo albums. This is bordering on storage-y, I know, but it takes care of most of the cons associated with putting your child’s artwork in a box somewhere.
With a picture, you don’t have to worry about the artwork fading or tearing with age. That finger-painting will always be as vibrant as the day your little Picasso painted it.
Also, taking pictures lets me group the artwork in meaningful ways. One finger-paint smudge by itself is pretty, but three together, painted over the course of a month, can show something about a child’s growth and development, too. A painted rock paperweight is nice, but a picture that shows the size of your child’s hand as he holds the rock tells even more of the story.
Which brings me to the last “pro” — taking pictures is great for 3-D objects that may not lend themselves to easy storage. That intricate, fragile diorama made for the science fair? Take a picture. That Play-Doh sculpture that will crumble to dust in a few months? Take a picture. And again, by putting some thought into how you group or frame the object, you can make the photo more relevant than just the object itself.
Taking pictures even helps for you folks who must still catalog all of your child’s work. Once you have the shot, apps like ArtKive will let you tag your photos with your child’s name, age and the date. Then you can print them off into books or even onto coffee mugs for the grandparents.
Less clutter and easy Christmas presents? Now that’s the kind of organization I can get behind!