This last year has had some amazing moments for our little family. Here are a few of my favorite memories from 2016!
- Exploring will always be our favorite thing. But you know when you get those funny ideas like… driving 2222 miles with a five year old and a two year old? In a car?? Well.. Sean and I love to explore so we thought, why the heck not. My only regret is not live-tweeting Chase and Lilah’s conversations, their complaints, the potty breaks and accidents, and Chase yelling at the mini DVD player “I’m ZERO SCARED” while watching Disney movies. Sidenote… We live in the coolest place. We don’t have to drive more that 50 miles to end up on a beach, a mountain, or a freaking awesome historical ANYTHING. So we explored our butts off.
- Celebrating any holiday with my family super rocks, but when you get to celebrate our Nation’s Freedom in the Capitol city… It SUPER rocks. The 4th of July in DC was amazing and all of Sean’s family was able to be in town for that so it was just the bees knees.
- Chase will be officially starting school this year, but he was more than ready to start learning now. So! We got him going with homeschool and it has been such an amazing experience to have a front row seat to his brainpower as he learns and absorbs everything we put it in front of him. He does math… For fun. (He is obviously his dad’s child, which is fitting since he was always said to be a carbon copy of Sean as a little boy)
- I have had some amazing photo sessions and met some amazing clients over the years, but in 2016 I had my first destination wedding and let me tell you… The client? She is one of my favorite people ever and I was beyond thrilled to be able to go with their family and take their wedding photos. It was amazing.
- My 30th. Ok you guys. I had literally been dreading it. I thought the anticipation was going to crush me into a nice green smoothie. I have no idea why, but I was really not super-hyped about being another year older this year. Well, Sean and my cute friend, Kelsey, threw me one humdinger of a 30th surprise party and I entirely forgot in that second that I had ever been dreading it in the first place. Because my tribe! I was overwhelmingly loved and from that moment I haven’t had a single issue with 30. #mytribeisthebest. And on the plus side, I only accidentally flashed everyone there once! (Note to self: Don’t wear a flowy tee shirt dress and then jump. Just don’t.)
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Working out with kids!!! If you’re anything like me it doesn’t always go like the cute videos you see online.
Let’s talk about how my workout today actually went…
- First, despite my repeated warnings about the dangers of bringing kids to the gym, Lilah insisted on bringing ALL of her children (2 dolls, 1 Elsa, and a kitten to be exact) onto the mat with us.
- She was seriously offended when I suggested we workout without said-babies.
- She insisted on using the center of the mat and not equal sharing.
- She insisted I get off the mat so she could show me how to do it.
- Finally, I just gave up and handed off the mat.. because.. apparently sister needs to get her cobra on.
Of course, I adored every second so I guess I’ll count today as a win and just be happy I didn’t have to sweat too bad. 🙂
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Our photographer for these beautiful images was Linnea. She is amazing and such a joy to work with. Visit her here.
I have to tell you, the most important thing in this life besides my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, is my family. My beautiful, intelligent, loving, and crazy and rowdy family. These children of mine are growing so fast. The other night, it occurred to Sean and I that we only have a few more years with Chase still believing in the magic of Santa and then a few more years before he is out in this big world. How quickly this journey through childhood is flying by. I pray every single day that I am raising them to be kind, full of grace, loving, charitable and, most of all, Christ-like. May we be quick to love, quick to offer service, and quick to forgive.
Thank you for being here. Thank you for reading this. And thank you for sharing your grace with us as we grow together.
Merry Christmas to you and your family from ours.
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As some of you may or may not know, in addition to being a mom, Instagrammer, blogger, and a million other things it seems, I am a professional photographer as well. (You can visit my Photography page here). As a photographer, naturally I get a lot of questions from people wanting to make their pictures look more professional. So, here are my top 4 tips:
Tip 1. LIGHTING LIGHTING LIGHTING.
Lighting can literally ruin or create an amazing image. Here are a few of my lighting rules:
a. NEVER SHOOT OUTSIDE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DAY IN DIRECT SUNLIGHT. phew. Okay there I said it. It will give you blown out photos, crazy harsh shadows, AND squinty eyed subjects.
b. If you must shoot outside and the light isn’t soft, FIND SHADE. yep.. all caps again. I’m just trying to emphasize the importance of this. 100% shade. Not partial shade that casts wonky shadows. Full. On. Shade.
c. Golden. Freaking. Hour. Sometimes called magic hour, this is the hour directly after sunrise or before sunset. Not to get too science-y, but when the sun is near the horizon, sunlight travels through more atmosphere and reduces the intensity of the light. It is redder and softer then when the sun is higher in the sky.
In other words, it will help you take amazing photographs.
In the evenings, you should be able to shoot for an hour, maybe even longer, as the sun is settling down in the evening. You can also do this in the morning, but really, who is up, dressed, and in full makeup at 6am? Not I! said the little duck. When I shoot, I arrive about 1 hour and 45 minutes before the sun is scheduled to set. This gives me plenty of time to scout, then shoot shoot shoot.
Bonus tip!!! Shoot INTO the light. The wedding photos above are great examples of gorgeous backlight. The two photos below of myself in overalls are as well.
Also, one little extra note I have discovered! A photo that is a bit closer up gets more likes and comments on Instagram. People LOVE to see WHO they are following and your darling features. So post outfits, post full-body shots, but don’t forget to include some really great close ups!
Tip 2. Learn to pose
Okay here is the deal. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Practice/pose/practice. Let’s say, for example, that you see a photo you love as you are scrolling down your gorgeous Instagram feed. You know you were meant to take a photo with that shoulder action, chin movement, lip smirk. No joke. You get your husband to take a photo and you can’t wait to see it… then… umm.. well.. boom. mess. ick.
Trust me. I’ve been there. It’s nothing like what you saw. Okay ladies. We need to practice if we don’t just know what to do. As a professional photographer, I know first-hand that people don’t just get up in front of the camera and auto-look amazing. Over time we get better at it. Why? Because. We. Practice. So I highly suggest you find your favorite images from a magazine or your favorite Instagram feed, then, using your gorgeous/useful full length mirror, work the shiz out of that thing. Practice until you know what the moves feel like. You’ll be able to get up in front of the camera and just nail the pose and look completely effortless and, most importantly, UNPOSED. You’ll just look like you. But without the awk. (Also, side note? It will make your husband feel like he all the sudden became an amazing photographer because every shot will be amazing.)
NEXT. You have to make it happen. Say you want a photo of you laughing? Okay then. Laugh. You can’t just wait for something funny to come along. No one really gets up, gets perfectly ready, and then laughs at just the right time, keeping that chin down, and closing their eyes delicately without trying a teensy. So if you want a full-on laugh? Give it a nice big fake laugh and then let the real giggles follow. (Not kidding. Fake laughing gets me and most of my clients every time.) Let’s say you want a photo of you romantically snuggling your husband? Well then, snuggle that man right there in front of the camera. Yep. Feel awk. But look adorable. Just do it.
If you want to take photos you’ve got to make them happen. DO it. Do it. DO IT.
BONUS tip: Work that shoulder and chin combo ladies. Bring your chin around and towards the shoulder that is closer to the camera when you are sideways. Do not rest your chin on your shoulder. Create a little space and tip the shoulder towards the camera.
Tip 3. Gear.
This is something where we do the best with what we have, but we also need to remember we are investing in ourselves and our businesses. And gear is one area that is probably worth investing in. A good rule of thumb: better gear + better lighting + better editing programs + lipstick = better images.
Now, I get that gear is expensive. Cameras. Lenses. Editing software. They all start to add up. But this is one area where you get what you pay for.
So here are a few tips:
I know you want that blurry background that you see in professional photos. (This is actually called bokeh) Getting the right gear will be important for that. If you shoot on a camera that allows you to swap lens, I would say go for the 50mm, 85mm or the 24-105mm. These are all amazing portrait lenses. I particularly love the look I get with my 50mm or my 85mm. Using a prime lens will generally give you a better bokeh effect. (Prime means it has a fixed focal point and does not zoom.)
You can see a little of my gear below. I have been shooting on the Canon, 5d Mark ii (although I’m upgrading to the newest 5d Mark iv) and I work between all of the lenses I have listed in this post. You can get the two prime lenses for a very reasonable price. The 24-105 and the 70-200 are a bit more expensive. Also pictured below are a couple of different flashes that I have used, but I only shoot with them when I’m photographing a wedding or an indoor event with inadequate lighting. Now again, gear can be expensive. But it so unbelievably worth the investment. (Also note, this is not an advertisement in anyway. I just am sharing what I use and the knowledge I have gained.)
A few great options for camera bodies:
- Canon Rebel T3i
- Canon Rebel T6i
- Canon 70D
- 5d Mark ii or 5d Mark iii. These are expensive but they are great full frame cameras that will shoot amazing images.
Here are the lenses I use:
- Canon EF 50mm-F/1.8
- Lens EF 50mm-F/1.4
- Lens EF 85mm-F/1.8
- Lens EF 24-105mm F/4.0
Next up: Editing software. A good editing software is another critical tool that will help you take your images to the next level. Luckily this is an area that won’t necessarily break the bank. While Adobe Photoshop used to cost $600+, you can now get a very affordable monthly subscription. If you have never used Photoshop before, it can be a little like… huh? what? Honestly, it’s not always very intuitive. This will definitely require a significant time investment. Youtube videos will be your friend here. There are lots of free tutorials that can help you learn just about everything you need to know. I even have some tutorials on my own Youtube channel, found here, specifically on editing, lighting and others, with lots more coming.
I use editing for blemishes, lighting, and for sharpening the eyes or outfit details. I use it to remove oopsies that were not seen during shooting and to make my photos really shine bright. I have many ask what “app” I use to edit. The answer for that is I don’t. A nice photo editing software will be worth your investment.
What if all you have is your phone? Well, the good news is you can still get great photos. I will be doing a post on getting great, professional-looking images with an iPhone later so don’t forget to subscribe to my blog and follow me on Instagram so you don’t miss it!
Bonus Tip on creating a nice Bokeh effect and a blurred background: When shooting, the closer the subject is to the camera and the further that subject is away from the background, the more blur you’ll be able to get. In photog speak, the more shallow the depth of field, the greater the blur. You can see the difference in the images below.
Tip 4. Well hello there beautiful GIRLY girl.
There are a few things you can do that will be noticeable in images. I always exfoliate my lips and moisturize my skin. Chapped lips never look good in photos. Trust me. It’s a thing.
Also, hydrate. Drink a ton of water. This helps clear your skin up and you will thank me later because it makes for a much smoother editing process.
My makeup must-haves for a good photo:
- MASCARA makes your eyes pop.
- Blush/Bronzer gives you a glow.
- I personally do a light contour. I’m not in LOVE with my nose (Or my ovaries but that’s another story!: )
- And don’t forget your Lipstick, even if you normally don’t wear any. It’s so important for photographs! Lipstick makes you look finished and put together.
Follow these 4 tips and practice, practice, practice, and I promise you’ll start shooting some amazing photographs. Don’t forget to subscribe to my blog and if you have any questions, I am always happy to help! Just drop me a question in the comments section or on my Instagram.
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How do you dress those amazingly short stems you’ve got there!? Well… I was once mistaken for a little person/dwarf, which I’m not. and I quote “Wow people like you usually have short arms and stubby legs! You look very well proportioned!” umm.. I’m not a little person. But thanks??? I’m 5’2 on a good day and I stand as tall as possible. Thank goodness for the help of neutral colored heels.
So how the heck do I dress my legs? I wear whatever I want basically… My go to is not always jeans or leggings. I’m a bold print kind of gal. Or leather. Leather is always good. So for this I paired my leopard print skinnies with red lips and top with caramel colored heels. I would consider navy, black, nude or leopard print my neutral colors for shoes. I also love dresses, ones that poof and come to just below my knees are my go-to. I also love a long trench or sweater to make my body look longer.
You’ll also notice I never stand square on to the camera. I always pop a hip out or turn side on so that I look leaner and longer. I push my hips back and away from the camera. You know, smaller away, smaller assets.
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Today is a day where I struggle a little bit more. It’s a day when I look back at photos of my children as babies and I shed more than a tear or two. Today is a day I long for a regular pregnancy. You know. One that doesn’t cost as much as a new car. Today, I yearn for the little tiny feet that are not in our home. Today the pain is white hot and today, I’ll allow myself to cry a little.
Years ago as a young newlywed, Sean and I talked about babies and dreamed of filling our hearts with memories of pregnancies and children. We had so much hope and we knew that we would do everything we could to be good parents. Well, years later, injections, doctors, $$$$$, and so much blood work, not to mention a ridiculous amount of legwork with insurance companies, we do have two children. We have been unbelievably blessed. Well… We can all feel it in our hearts that we want to have another baby.
“Dear Lauren… insurance costs are skyrocketing, treatment costs are rising, babies are further from you than ever before. Sincerely, the world..” Now that it’s December and open enrollment is going on, I am looking at the cost and the coverage. As always, a sick feeling in my gut as I call companies to double check their coverage and the words “no infertility coverage provided” along with “patient’s out of pocket expense 100%” is a hard one to read. Of course, I can have many other things that I won’t even get into on here because #politics and yet… my ovaries get zero help without the cost of our monthly premium basically going sky-high.
Anyways, that’s all. I just had so much pain in my heart today that I wanted to look back on my beautiful children as babies and remember that joy. Remember the day we had a positive pregnancy test. Remember the two times that taking a pregnancy test didn’t end with me feeling like a failure. Getting it out of my head helps.
So I guess today I’ll blog.
#iui #ivf #injections #infertility #wishfullady #emotional