Learn To Take Beautiful Photos With The Shoot 2017 Year Long Project

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Disclosure: This is a sponsored post but all thoughts are my own.

I’ve really been working hard to improve my photos this past year and I think I’ve come a long way when it comes to photographing stationary objects for my blog posts. Taking pictures of the most important things (aka- my kids) has been a harder task to master. I feel like one of them is always moving or the photos look so forced with their pasted on smiles. I want to take more ‘real’ photos that capture genuine emotions and the smiles that come to their faces naturally.

I’m so excited to share about a photography project I’ll be joining over the next year called Shoot Along 2017 which was created by award-winning photographers, Amy Tripple and Heidi Peters. Designed specifically for parents, it encourages parents to remember to pull out their cameras more often to document the every day moments of life. Weekly photography lessons are sent via email to give structure and accountability to busy parents of ALL photography levels and help parents improve their photography skills.

Shoot Along 2017 membership includes:

  • Photography Instruction: Week-by-week photography lessons delivered by email. Learn new concepts, build on your existing skills, or embrace topics as inspiration to remain technically and creatively open-minded!
  • Inspiring interviews: Respected professional photographers from around the world give a glimpse into their personal images, sharing pictures of their own families. They will describe how they get shots that are meaningful and authentic.
  • Discounts & trends: The Shoot Along leaders keep an eye on what’s happening in the photography community so that you can concentrate on photographing your family. They’ve also arranged exclusive discounts for members throughout the year from suppliers of beautiful photo products.
  • A Supportive Online Community: The Shoot Along Facebook Group is a supportive online community where members connect & share photography throughout the year.
  • BONUS Editing Tutorials*: Step-by-step videos delivered by email each week will show you how to add magic to your images. *Editing uses Photoshop Elements 14, which must be purchased separately

The year long course covers all of these things:

Looking through the images from Shoot Along 2016, I’m inspired by all the parents that have been participating. I see unique angles, unusual crops and tiny details captured in ways I would have never thought of.

This is an example they showed on their site of how much techniques and creativity can dramatically improve your photos. Can you believe that these pictures below were taken just seconds apart with the same camera and same lens?

Here’s what past participants had to say:

  • “Shoot Along had been a tremendous resource for me. I was new when I joined… my boys see to it that I don’t have all that much time to participate, but I’ve taken away so much in the small amount that I have been able to be involved. I’ll definitely be joining again next year!
  • “[Shoot Along] has been an amazing resource for me as a photographer. It has been a great frequent reminder to get out and shootpictures of my own kids, which (as someone who does family photography part-time) I sometimes forget to do!”
  • “The lessons have been a great way to expand my creativity and try new things in my photography style. It’s been fun to see my work progress from what I thought was “pretty good” into something that continues to get better and better. I now have a collection of beautiful photos of my family that I’ll cherish forever!”
  • “The project has allowed me to capture experiences of my family that tells a story of who we are. From looking at lighting differently to seeing my everyday surroundings – these projects have really helped to open up what was definitely a narrow mindset.”
  • “I feel like I have such a better understanding of what goes into making a great image, from the basics of focus and composition to more artistic elements such as framing and color and texture. I will definitely be back!”

Want to join Shoot Along 2017? Now is the time to sign up because it starts January 1st! Typically this year long photo project costs $159, but it is on-sale for $129 through January 1st. Sign up here.

I also get to host a giveaway for Shoot Along 2017 so one lucky Making Time For Mommy reader can participate for free! See the giveaway below. Since this giveaway ends after the lessons start, I’d suggest signing up now so you don’t miss any lessons and then if you win you will be refunded for what you paid.

 

Our Family Christmas Pictures

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Disclosure: This is a sponsored post but all thoughts are my own.

Holiday photos of my family, both of me as a child growing up with my siblings and now of my own children, are some of my most cherished possessions. Looking at holiday photos makes me happy and I love being able to look back at how my family has changed and grown over the years.

While I get the kids pictures taken a couple times a year, we haven’t had a family portrait taken since Lucas was a baby. This year we decided it was time for another family photo so we headed to our local Portrait Innovations to get Christmas pictures taken. I wanted some of our family, some of Sinisa and I as a couple, some of the boys together and some of each of the kids individually. I loved that our photographer took into consideration what I wanted and made sure to get shots in different poses, and on a number of different backgrounds, so I’d have many choices to choose from. (As you can tell, I really loved their holiday background.)

Portrait Innovations specializes in giving customers a customized portrait studio experience with creative options for beautiful, professional portraits. Our photographer ended up taking close to 100 images during our photo shoot and I got to go through all of the images and pick my favorites. I loved that I didn’t feel rushed to go through the images and make my selections in a hurry as I have in the past at other studios. Another great thing about Portrait Innovations is that the packages are completely customizable so you aren’t stuck with a bunch of prints in random sizes that you’ll never use. You can also request edits, like cropping, on images to make sure all your images are perfect.

Want personalized gifts and keepsakes? Portrait Innovations makes it easy to create them while you are looking over your images in store or from the photo CD if you choose to purchase one. Photo gifts are perfect for holiday gift giving. I chose to create some ornaments and a canvas. I also got some photo Christmas cards to give out to my family.

Best of all, the prints were ready within 15 minutes of the order being placed. I like that I didn’t have to wait weeks for my prints. I am excited to get frames for our portraits and put all of our beautiful pictures up in our home! I also got the picture CD so I could share the images online and make more prints in the future if I want.

Do you still need to get your family’s holiday photos taken? This holiday season, preserve memorable moments in the best way with Portrait Innovations! They currently have a great deal going on now through December 11th. You can get a package with 42 holiday portraits for only $19.99 (Regularly $24.99), plus a free gift of your choice- either a mug or holiday ornament- (Regularly $25).  The Portrait Package includes 1-10×13 Wall Portrait, 2-8x10s, 4-5x7s, 4- 3x5s, 16-2x3s, plus, 5-5×7 Greeting Cards and 10 Gift Tags. There are never any sitting fees so this is a great deal! Find your closest Portrait Innovations here.

Do you get holiday photos taken every year?

Our First Month Of Summer {In Pictures}

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Summer break has been fantastic so far! I know I don’t share as many pictures as I used to so I wanted to share some of my favorites from the past month. These are all taken in the evenings and weekends since the boys are in camp during the day. I can’t wait to see all those pictures at the end of the summer! They’ve been to the zoo, horseback riding, golf, the movies and lots more fun places with the camp :)

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Christmas Pictures {Wordless Wednesday}

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A few weeks ago we went to get the boys pictures taken with their cousins. Here are my favorite images:

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Soccer Game Pictures

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Saturdays = soccer game days in our household this Fall. The boys both play in the same league but different age groups. I was so proud of Jacob who was player of the week last weekend!

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Fall Pictures {Taken By Mommy}

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While we were on our picnic the other day I wanted to take some pictures of the boys since I actually had my nice camera and not just my phone. I haven’t touched up the photos, just posting the raw images. I think they came out pretty good considering I don’t have much experience taking pictures.

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Jake & Luke’s First Acting Audition {Wordless Wednesday}

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Can you guess which child probably wouldn’t have gotten the job?

(Disclosure: I received tickets to the Hollywood Wax Museum in Branson, Missouri but purchased this portrait with my own money.)

Fast Forward 11 Years…. {Picture}

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I just sent my big boy off to Kindergarten this week and Sinisa sent me this picture. Mommy is NOT ready for this yet!

(It should go without saying but the keys are not in the ignition, the car is parked, and their dad was right there)

First Day Of School 2013

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My Soccer Stars

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The Summer soccer season ended today. The boys were so excited to get their trophies.

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It was a great season. Now onto Fall ball! :)

Free Back To School Printables

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Have a child heading back to school soon? Check out these great new back to school printables from Paper Coterie that are perfect for those first day of school pictures! There are preschool through twelfth grade ones available. Download them free here.

Image courtesy of Paper Coterie

 

Meijer’s “Most Likely To” Photo Sweepstakes

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(Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.)

Finish this sentence….”my child is most likely to…..”

What comes to mind first? For Jacob I’d say, “find something he is passionate about and get a Doctorate in it” and for Lucas I’d say, “be a fashion designer and develop a line of pink clothes for boys/men”.

It’s kind of fun to think about what they will be like when they get older. Meijer is inviting shoppers to post a photo that shows their kids’ unique talents and interests in becoming the next great valedictorian, athlete, humanitarian chef, etc., for the chance to win a $100 Meijer gift card (25 grand prizes). The ‘Most Likely To…’ photo sweepstakes runs from July 28 – Sept. 8, 2013.

Simply visit http://bit.ly/MeijerMostLikelyTo and submit a photo showing what your child is most likely to be when he/she grows up.

Birthday Celebration 2013 {Pictures}

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Both of my boys have birthdays in June and my brother has two kids with birthdays in May and July. This year, instead of two or three different parties, we decided to do one family celebration. We wanted to find somewhere that wasn’t too expensive, fun for the 3-6 age range, and that had room for the adults to sit and chat. We decided on Chuck E. Cheese’s. Here are some of my favorite pictures from their party.

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(Disclosure: This is not a compensated post. My mom and dad ended up paying for the kid’s party this year. We are so blessed!)

Little One In Overalls {Wordless Wednesday}

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Lucas in overalls as a baby

 

My Little Santa Claus {Wordless Wednesday}

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I was going through pictures from past years and came upon this one from 2009. My youngest, Lucas, is Santa Claus and my brother’s youngest, Madelyn, is Frosty! Aren’t they adorable!?

10 Halloween Photo Opps Not To Forget

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Image courtesy of Shutterfly. Do something special with you Halloween pictures and make a Halloween photo book! Currently their photo books are 50% off :)

(Disclosure: I was sent a Trick or Treat bag from Shutterfly with no requirement to post. I’m posting because I think these are great tips.)

My Little Bears Fans!

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Image Courtesy of JcPenney Portraits

Love this shot we got at JcPenney Portraits today!

And the pictures were only $4 a sheet! At that price I got one of every pose I liked :)

{Disclosure: This is not sponsored. I paid for these pictures myself.}

The Stories Of Autism Gallery Is Live

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Last month I told you about Stories Of Autism and the great photography experience we had with Megan of Firefly Nights Photography. {If you missed it you can find that post here}. I have been checking to see if the gallery was live pretty much every day and I’m happy to say that it went live this past weekend! Along with the beautiful photography are some stories and words full of love from the parents that raise these amazing children. {You will notice mine is a little short but that’s because I thought we were only supposed to write a couple sentences.}

**CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE COMPLETE 2012 STORIES OF AUTISM PHOTO GALLERY!!**

Shutterfly.com Gift Certificate Giveaway {A Tisket A Tasket Hop}

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Welcome to A Tisket A Tasket Spring Giveaway Hop coordinated by ShePromotes.com!

Over 100 bloggers have wonderful prizes valued at a minimum of $25 to help brighten your spring! So make like a bunny and get hoppin’!

GIVEAWAY:

$30 Gift Certificate to Shutterfly.com

You can use it for prints, photo gifts, cards, calendars and a variety of other items.

HOW TO ENTER:

(Do any or all of the following, leave a comment for each entry)

1) Leave a comment telling me what you would do with a Shutterfly gift certificate

2) Share this giveaway on a social network

3) Enter another one of my giveaways (found here)

Giveaway ends April 22nd at 11:59pm Central time. US only.

(Disclosure: I am being given a gift certificate for posting about Shutterfly but I am giving my gift certificate away. All thoughts are my own.)

Enter more giveaways here:

Stories Of Autism & Firefly Nights Photography

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In December, Lucas was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. We found out about this wonderful non-profit, Stories of Autism, that is “dedicated to heightening autism awareness through the exhibition of its portraits and stories of children and adults on the autism spectrum.” They match children who have Autism to a local photographer to tell the children’s stories through a picture and we were matched with Megan of Firefly Nights Photography.

I was kind of nervous because our last experience {at a department store photography studio} was an absolute disaster. My children were antsy and didn’t want to sit still which made it difficult to get a good picture but, even worse, was the negative attitude of the photographer. Every minute or so she’d make a comment or disgusted noise every time my 3 year old son moved. Not only did she do this in front of our family but she made the comments loud enough for people outside the room to hear. I was embarrassed and furious at the behavior of this so called “manager” of the studio so I finally just blurted out that they had special needs. It stopped the constant stream of comments on her end and I got a “sorry, I didn’t know”. I was so upset that, after over 3 and a half years of going to the same photography studio, I never returned to get pictures taken there again. I even received a coupon for free portraits as an “apology” from their corporate office but my experience was so horrible that I don’t intend to use it. I didn’t want anything free. I just wanted assurance that these photographers would receive training on dealing with children who had special needs so no family would ever have to go through what ours went through.

I didn’t know that there were photographers out there who specialized in taking pictures of children who have special needs.

After being matched with Megan I looked through her site and saw that she took stunning pictures. That was wonderful but what really excited me was that she had experience working with children who had special needs and was the mother of one herself. Even more reassuring was the contract that I had to sign that had a rule saying parents could not apologize for their child’s behavior. It was comforting to know that I was not going to have to stress out if Lucas didn’t sit still or if he had a meltdown. She would understand because she’s been there, too.

On St. Patrick’s Day we headed over to her photography studio. My mom came with so she could help with Jacob while Lucas was getting his pictures taken. The Firefly Nights Studio was nice and spacious and Megan encouraged my two little sensory seekers to run from one end of the room to the other while we got set up. Deciding that it would be tough to get pictures of Lucas while his brother was there my mom took Jacob out for a walk. We started with trying to take pictures of Lucas jumping on the bed but he didn’t want to do that. Megan did get some great shots of him on the bed laying down. Here’s one of them:

Megan was very patient and had no problem switching up what she was doing depending on Luke’s cues. She didn’t try to force any poses {which my little opinionated Lucas would not have allowed anyways}. Eventually he ended up sitting on a crate in another part of the studio, eating a lollipop and playing with a box of band-aids. Megan assured me that she could edit some of the shots so those distractions wouldn’t be in the pictures. She ended up with a beautiful photo to send in for Stories of Autism that I absolutely love. You can see which image she chose over in her blog post.

I am so thankful for Megan donating her time to Stories of Autism. I wanted to share that she also does something special for Autism Awareness Month in April. She has two days that she offers mini sessions to families with no session fee and no minimum order. April 14th she is offering sittings for children with Autism and on April 22nd she is having “sibling day” and taking pictures of children who have a sister or brother on the spectrum. You can learn more about these very special days on Megan’s blog. Sessions are filling up fast (if not full already) so make sure to contact her as soon as you can.

If you take your child, with special needs or not, to Firefly Nights Photography I’d love to hear about your experience and see the pictures you get taken!

(Disclosure: My son received a free photography session and we are receiving a disk of images since we visited through Stories Of Autism. I was not compensated to write a post about our experience but I wanted to because we had such an amazing experience and I want other families in the Chicago area to know that getting pictures taken of their special needs children can be a great experience.)