Friday, December 26, 2014

Party Photo Booth

We always host the family Christmas Eve gathering at our house.
This year I wanted to add some extra fun, so I set up a
"Photo Fun Booth"!
It was a HIT!
Everyone loved posing with my colorful props.
I posted the photos on Facebook and people tagged, shared and saved them.
It was so much fun, I decided to do it for our New Year's Eve party...
and you can do it, too!
What you will need:
Colored card stock paper or glitter paper
Grilling skewers
Wide mailing tape
Cool glue gun
A white sheet, blanket or white wall
I bought lots of glitter paper at our local Scrapbooking store.
You can find it at other craft stores, but the scrapbooking stores
have die cuts for you to cut out various numbers and sayings.
I cut out three sets of the year 2015,
and Happy New Year.
Scrapbooking paper is perfect for this project as
you need the weight of cardstock for the shapes to hold up.
Simply think up fun hats, crowns, champagne bottles and glasses and
use your glue gun to create them with the glitter paper.
On the back, use wide mailing tape to adhere the skewer
to the right or left of your creation. 
Point side should be UP and covered in tape. 
It's fun to have my kids home so they can pose for me
and I can actually get in a photo!
These are the props that I created.
They don't have to be perfect.  Have the kiddies help!
They only have to be FUN!
I set up my booth in the garage!
I created that white board to use for my professional portraits,
but you can hang a white sheet or blanket from the ceiling or use a
white wall.
I ADORE garage light.  Make sure it's just beyond any harsh rays.
The natural light in a garage against a white background is exquisite!
This is a good way to start your party.
Have your guests stop in the garage as they arrive.
You can take photos with your camera,
or simply let your guests capture their photos on their own phones!
The photos are a wonderful keepsake for your guests
to remember your FAB party!
Here are some of the wild and crazy photos from the New Year's Photo Booth.
Everyone loved it and posted their photos on Facebook and Instagram!

This would also be a great idea for a birthday party,
plus wedding or baby showers!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Eve

It's so close to Christmas, and if you have little children around,
I know that there is plenty of excitement in the air!
I want to share some photos I took last year and posted for Christmas Eve.

The idea for  this next series of portraits came in a vision
that popped into my mind when I found the Santa sack at Goodwill for 99-cents.
I have told you before that I get clear visions of what
a portrait should look like when I find certain clothing or props
at thrift stores.
These visions are very detailed and I feel COMPELLED to
re-enact them to a TEE.
In this vision, I clearly saw how the sack was laying on its side with gifts pouring out.
I also saw my son's old yellow Tonka dump truck next to the sack,
with a little boy staring up at Santa in awe.
I had this scene set up in my living room for a week worrying how
I would get the little 2-year-old to cooperate.
The day he arrived, he was having a crying tantrum.
I decided to stay calm and let my vision play out. 
I felt if I was given a vision, I would just have to trust it
would come to fruition.
I laid down on my belly on my family room floor and had my
camera set and ready to shoot.
I instructed the mother to stand on my hearth to the left of this photo.
I coached the dad to place the child in front of the toys.
I then had the mother call his name so he would look up.
The moment was perfection! 
I was having one of those tingling moments
when my vision plays out!!!
His mother told him to look in the sack for a treat.
Click! Click! Click!
The utter purity of these photos brings me to tears!
2-year-olds are absolutely PRECIOUS!

He had no idea that he had created magic.
He just wanted to play with the big yellow truck!
I hope you are having a magical holiday season!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Christmas Card Portraits 2014


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My very busy Christmas card portrait season is completed!
The Christmas portraits are always my favorite of the year.
As I have shared here many times, I LOVE scouting thrift stores
for clothing and props for my portrait work.
When I found this gorgeous vintage dress at a thrift store
over the summer, I knew it would take a special gal to wear it
because the waist is SOOO teensy!
Eleven year old Madelyn wears it so well.  I decided to
use it for this Christmas shoot after I found the pink
ornaments and pink pointsettia...of course, at a thrift store!
Fabulous winter wear is also a FAVE find, so
this year, I shot both indoors and outdoors.
Christmas trees make a wonderful, colorful background.
Just shoot with an aperture on the wide side. This was shot at f 2.8.
Place your subject as far from the tree as possible to
create the gorgeous bokeh.
In these photos, I had six-year-old Isabel facing a large window
to brighten her face with natural light.  I never use a flash.
Then it was outside in this wonderful thrift store coat, hat and gloves.
The ho! ho! ho! sign...also from a thrift store for 99-cents!
We didn't get snow as I was shooting my Christmas portraits,
but I show you how to add fake snow HERE.
All props come from...yep...thrift stores for pennies!
After I've used them a few times, I return them so others can find these treasures.
Yes....I found the green skirted a THRIFT STORE for $20!
I have used it many times in photo shoots.  I keep the furniture for reuse.
To snag my sparkly snow overlays that I used in these photos for HERE.
Isabel's birthday is Christmas Eve, so I pulled together this
pretty look using my thrift store finds and adding snow techniques.
My grandniece Fiona is extremely photogenic with her natural
ringlet curls.  I photographed her in her grandmother's gorgeous
toile bedroom with natural light.
Her grandmother now has a 20 X 30 portrait of this framed
and matted hanging in that bedroom! 
Great idea to take a portrait in a room and hang it in the room!
Fiona should be a model.
At three years old...she is great at posing!
I ADORE natural light!
Just look for windows and pay close attention to how
the light is falling on the face.
I love Fiona's outdoor look in this creamy thrift store ensemble.
The muff and hat set is from Ebay where I won the bid at $12.
I have lots of thrift store flowers to spruce up hair and hats.
I simply hot glue them to little clips.
The inspiration for Miss Ella's cookie baking shoot
came when I found that cute Christmas apron at Goodwill.
I sewed the baker's hat from red scrap fabric and added
one of my flower clips.
The green vintage bowl was inherited from my husband's Aunt Blanche.
Ella needed lots of added snow to wear this
festive winter cape for her outdoor portraits.
I hope this post gets you to think outside of the
box for portrait sessions.
Thrift stores are a gold mine of props, clothing and IDEAS!
I'll share more of the portraits on Christmas Eve.
Enjoy your holidays!

Sunday, November 9, 2014


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I'm so excited to share my Cinemagraphs I created over the summer!
Cinemagraphs are photos in which a part of it is moving video.
You are probably seeing these all over the Internet.  Thought I'd share
a few tips I learned while I was experimenting.
First, you need a camera that takes video.
Take a short video...say 10 to 20 seconds long of a static subject with something
in the photo that is moving.
One fun and easy Cinemagraph is blowing bubbles as seen above.
I had to do this over three times trying to get it right so here are some pointers:
You must be on a tripod or have your camera steady on a table or chair.
Start your video recording and let it go for about 5 seconds to steady the camera
then have your subject blow the bubbles.
Have the subject hold their movements as still as possible.  I know they
must move to blow the bubbles, but have them remain still after they blow.
I tried this with a young child, and she could not be still enough.
In this next Cinemagraph, you can see a slight wobble in the hose head
because the little boy could not hold it steady.

The same thing happened with their mouths in this next Cinemagraph.

Sometimes, it's just easier to  have your subject sitting
still while the action happens in the background like
with this waterfall.

I followed this great TUTORIAL from PHLearn
and was able to edit my Cinemagraph fairly easily in Photoshop CS6.
To share them online, load them onto a
site such as Photobucket.
I hope this helps you to create some FUN Cinemagraphs!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

How to Create Orb Photos

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This blog post has been almost a year in the making.
I'm so excited to share ORB photos with you!
I came across orb photos on a photography forum and knew
I HAD to try them!

So, over many months, I created orbs whenever I was
photographing outside at night.

It's actually fairly easy and VERY fun to create orbs.
I started by following THIS TUTORIAL on
how to make the lights used to create the orbs.
My photography pal Lucy came over one winter afternoon
and we wired several colors.
I have no experience or talent for electricity or wiring,
but even I could follow these simple instructions.
Then we went down into my dark basement to try our hand at spinning the orbs.
We followed this great TUTORIAL from Evan at
 to learn how to spin the lights and capture it with the camera.
The biggest tip is to place something like a coin on the ground
and always aim to swing the lights over the coin.
That's the BIG trick to making a great orb!
The settings I use are:
ISO 100
Shutter Speed:  20 sec.
Aperature:  Between 8 and 16 (you will need to experiment
depending on your light.)
Use a strong flashlight to focus,
then turn off the autofocus on your lens.
Next, I introduced the orbs to our Photography Club
and we decided to make it our signature. 
We would take an orb photo on each field trip we took at night.
The first one that winter was the Big Red Lighthouse in Holland, Michigan.
Here's the first attempt by members who were just
learning to swing the lights...ha ha!
Since they did not move, you can see their ghosts.

One person, who will remain nameless,
could not catch on

Nope...they did NOT catch on!  ha ha!!!
I admit, it is a bit of a challenge to swing it over the same spot over and over.

So we kicked that person out of the shot and I spun this orb.
This is my favorite orb photo!

Our next try was on Silver Beach in St. Joseph, Michigan in the summer.
We set up and practiced as the sun was setting.'s going to take lots of practice!
My sister and niece were just learning.

Notice that you can see the ghosts inside the orbs.
That's because it was still too light outside.
It's best to wait until about ten minutes after the sun dips
below the horizon when the sky is a rich, dark blue.

YEAH!  We pulled it together with THREE orbs!

Next, I brought the orb lights on my vacation to Napa Valley a few
weeks ago.
My friend Ellie was wonderful to help with the orbs
down by the hotel pool.

Shockingly, just a few hours after these photos were taken,
Napa was struck by a 6.0 earthquake...their largest in 25 years!
This very pool was swaying and sloshing!
I'm so grateful we were not doing these orb photos when the earthquake hit.
We could have hit our heads on the cement and
my camera would have crashed with the tripod!

Ellie caught on immediately and she tried swinging
two colors at once. 
In this amazing orb, she swung the colors at different lengths.
Great job, Ellie!!!

In this one with two colors, she swung them together
at the same length.

This last one was taken at Bay City's Wenona Park
on an outing with the photo club.
Where ever we do the orbs,
people come over to ask what we are doing
and they ooh and ahh when they see the results
in the camera.
I hope you will try this technique and have
a blast with it, too!