More Joy & Color

{screenshot of Ingrid Fetell Lee’s TED Talk}

A sweet friend of mine posted a clip of this Ingrid Fetell Lee’s Joy TED Talk on my FB page and I just had to share it. I mean, a talk on joy and color, what could be better?!

Ingrid is a designer, writer, and the founder of The Aesthetics of Joy website and community. As an expert in design and joy she took the stage to talk about our fundamental need and desire for, you guessed it, joy.

“On the most basic level the drive toward joy is the drive toward life.” 

In her research on joy she found that even though “the feeling of joy is mysterious and elusive, we can access it through tangible physical attributes, or what designers call aesthetics.” She began referring to these moments of joy in the world as the “aesthetics of joy.” Boy does that speak to my creative heart!

The aesthetics of color, patterns, multiplicity, and the shapes of objects in our world are definitely a few things that get me excited, I may even jump up and down. It’s true joy is mysterious, but wherever we find it we need to surround ourselves with it. As Ingrid notes, “each moment of joy is small, but over time they add up to more than the sum of their parts.”

I believe she is right, to live a joy-filled life we need focus our hearts and minds on the things that bring us that jump-up-and-down feeling. To pursue joy rather than happiness helps us find the richness and abundance in life we inherently crave.

Hopefully this talk and her website can inspire and encourage you to take the time to notice the aesthetics of joy around you and focus the things and moments in your life that lift you up. Maybe your joy will be contagious and inspire others to pursue more joy. You may even find a way to infuse joy into your sphere of influence through your skills, talents, and giftings. I’m excited just thinking about it!

Here’s to a joy-filled day!

kdg

Follow The Aesthetics of Joy on Instagram and Facebook

Scented IDentity

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Have you ever noticed how a smell can remind you a person, place, or moment in time? It has always intrigued me how memories can be triggered by our senses. Whenever I wear something my mom has worn it smells like her perfume and it makes me smile. One day while wearing one of her shirts my oldest said, “You smell like Mimi.” It made me want to find a scent that would be my own, so when an opportunity came up to take a workshop on perfume and create my own custom scent I was thrilled.

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I first learned about ID perfumes through a FB community post by a friend sharing about her collaboration with Idit the owner. The two tennis mates had created a beach inspired line of diffusers, combining Diane’s loves of the beach and collecting sea glass and Idit’s expertise. The diffusers have been a huge hit in our community!

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Idit started the workshop off by sharing a bit about her background. She used to work for a few big name cosmetic and body care companies, where she gained her knowledge of scents, marketing strategies, and theories about what people like. Hilariously, she  also learned that the most popular lines were actually her least favorites and it made her wonder if there were others out there who felt the same. While at an intense perfume and scents conference she was struck with inspiration: what about custom scents? She was so inspired and excited about the concept of customized scents that she decided to create her own personalized-perfume shop.

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Next, she shared a broad history of perfume to include the Egyptians and Napoleon’s affinity for carting around his custom scent as he attempted to conquer the world.  Idit also, educated us on the differences between eau de toilette, eau de perfume, and perfume, which essentially comes down to how concentrated the essential oils are in each (see what i did there ;-)). Then she tested our senses of smell with a few commonly used oils, only half of which I could identify. It was fascinating! I found myself making connections to what I know about the psychology of color, including the concept that they both trigger memories and feelings! I know, NERD ALERT!

When it was time to create our own scents we learned that perfume is two tiered, the top scent that fades after a couple hours and the base which remains well after.  To create the top tier of our scent Idit had put out several bottles of essential oils labeled with traits or characteristics. She instructed us to select a few traits that described ourselves and then smell them to see what three we were attracted to most. My final three were not surprising creative, innovative, and passion. The other girls selected oils ranging from sexy and romantic, to peaceful and calm. It was hilarious to see what we were all drawn too. Every single mixture was different.

Then we each filled out a personality surveys with questions about our favorite drinks and how we wear our hair. The survey would help Idit to guide us to a good base for our unique tastes. We then combined the three oils to our base selection to achieve our custom scents. It sort of felt like chemistry class with the beakers and measuring, but way more fun!

Idit challenged us to name our scents, which was a bit tough. I landed on Salty Redlines, because my scent ended up being a refreshing, laid back scent like the beach and redlines are a part of the creative process. Of course I was inspired and made a quick graphic just for because.

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The whole workshop was such a unique experience. Idit is lovely, down to earth, inspiring, and engaging. We got along so well that we are talking about collaborating on something in the near future. It is so fulfilling to work with and support other momepreneurs! Thank you again Idit for the fabulous time!

If you are in Israel, I highly recommend checking out her stylish studio and taking a workshop. You can also check out ID perfume on Etsy and follow them on Instagram and Facebook.

Cheers,

kdg

Inspiring Creative: Marissa Moss

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Nurturing creativity in our children is one of the most important things we can do for them. Last week, Lindy-Ann shared an inspiring TED Talk by Sir Ken Robinson. He eloquently and wittily shared that our public education system, around the world, is broken when it comes to this crucial skill set. For this reason, I am so overwhelmingly thankful that we are able to send our son to the American International School here in Israel, where he is given opportunities to flourish creatively and encouraged to embrace how his brain thinks. The most recent celebration of creativity was a week of workshops hosted by children’s author and illustrator Marissa Moss.

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Marissa spent the week holding writing and illustration workshops for each grade. Through her stories and her own personal experiences she encouraged each child to embrace their unique story because, as she puts it, “everyone’s life is interesting.” Marissa also taught them the importance of making mistakes.

On Friday, at our monthly Parent Teacher Association (PTA) meeting, she spoke with us parents about some of the activities they did and how important it is to help our kids hone their visual storytelling skills. She even answered questions on how to encourage our budding creatives in ways that would challenge them lovingly and encourage with sincerity, not false praise. She also encouraged us, as parents and teachers, to help the children harness their innate critical reading and thinking skills, because “kids won’t read bad books; if it’s not good, they’ll tell you.” This critical reading by her own sons is how Marissa knew that children would enjoy her books. She even told us that her sons are her best and most brutal editors.

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There are two truths that Marissa hoped to leave with our kids that I think hold true for everyone, no matter what age you are.

Truth #1 Revision is your friend

In working with the second grade classes, Marissa had them work on crafting and revising a great opening sentence. As you can imagine most kids struggled with the fact that their sentence was not perfect the first time and did not want to revise it. In order to help them understand that revision is a good thing she showed them one of her sketches of a first draft – all lines and scribbles, and then the final published revision. Reworking and revising can actually be fun and exciting as you get closer and closer to that “A-Ha!” moment and the children were able to learn and experience that.

I asked my second grader about his sentence, and he exasperatedly told me he had to do it twice, but in the end it was a great hook: Peter has a big secret.  Did I mention Peter is a piece of toast. I’m intrigued, aren’t you?

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Truth #2 Mistakes are opportunities

I first heard this exact truth from my incredibly talented artist friend Joy, as I struggled to perfect a craft we were doing for fun at a girls’ night. Silly Katie.

Back when Marissa was an art teacher she saw this struggle in her own students and she was inspired to use one of their true stories to help other children see the beauty of making mistakes. She wrote and illustrated Regina’s Big Mistake and has helped other children be bold and just get something down on paper. It is the ideal book for the little perfectionist in your life.

Funnily enough, even when signing the books I purchased, she misspelled my son’s name and beside it she wrote “sorry, I make mistakes all the time.” It’s truly a great life lesson for everyone, not just creatives.

“Let yourself explore, take risks, and make mistakes. You never know where a mistake will lead you.” -Marissa Moss

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After hearing Marissa Moss and Sir Ken Robinson words I’m impassioned to encourage my boys and the other children in my sphere of influence to take those risks and be creative. I want them to be a part of this creative revolution we are experiencing and help shift the tide.

Learn more about Marissa and her books here. I also recommend the After School Monster, which I bought for my 4 year old. It’s a great story of being brave and conquering your own monsters.

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A NOTE OF THANKS

Marissa, thank you for your time and your heart for our children. I know all you taught them will impact how they see their {art}work going forward. Hoping the all best for you and your new authors!

Cheers,

kdg

Do schools kill creativity?

When I was in high school, I was being lovingly guided by two parents who both wanted what was best for me. My dad decided that computers were the future and that I needed to learn computer programming, become some IT guru and end up with heaps of money and a thriving career. My mom saw that my interests and strengths lay in the arts so in support of me pursuing my dream, my dad had me take computers in my final year as a backup.

Art won.

The art school I attended after grade 12 brought me to a great career that I loved and enabled me to earn a good living. Luckily for me it worked out. With my own children entering school I keep a close eye on their own developing interests and strengths and do my best to let them grow into the wonderful humans that they have been designed to be, and not put them in a bubble that I have crafted for them from my imagination. When a dear friend sent me this video, I gave it a standing ovation. There’s a reason this is the most viewed TED talk to date.

Cheers to the creatives getting the same respect as scientists.

la

A few pixels at time

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Have you ever been through a time in your life when you were being consistently challenged to pursue things you were not confident you would be able to make happen? Fake it ’til you make it right? Well, this is the season I’m walking in write now. Things are changing, big things are coming, I can feel it. Lindy-Ann and I have seen so much growth in each other and our community over the past year (shout out to all our awesome photogs who are making their dreams happen!) and there is more to come…seriously I can feel it in my bones!

Truth be told, it’s exciting, overwhelming, and a little scary all at the same time.

It’s stretching me that’s for sure, and I am still processing it, mostly verbally in true Katie style. (Thank you for listening family and friends!!)

It’s that moment when you are doing what you are supposed to do and it’s good, maybe even really good, but there is an ache for something else. Hear me here, I am not saying it’s “a grass is always greener” scenario, but it is the need to do more. The tug on your heart that says, “keep moving forward, grow, evolve.”

We have all heard the sayings that “life’s a journey” and “it’s all about the process,” IT’S TRUE!  If we are not growing and stretching ourselves we are not meeting our full potential. Especially as a creatives, staying stagnant leads to feeling uninspired, and feeling uninspired leads to bitterness as the flow of creativity dries up. Believe me, we have been here too.

What to do?

There is no right or wrong answer to understanding your journey and calling, it’s different for everyone. That said, here is what has been helped me this season.

  1. Pray about it.
  2. Write it out (aka blog about it!)
  3. Talk about it with trusted confidants and mentors.
  4. Process it, chew on it, and then do it all over again.
  5. Really be thankful for where you are in your journey – maybe write that out too…
  6. In the midst of all that the most crucial action (because I am a ‘do-er’) is to keep moving forward. Take the next step as it presents itself and cross off the ‘to-do’ list one item at a time.

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There is a reason we do not see the whole picture. If we did we would be paralyzed and  overwhelmed with how we make it happen rather than enjoying the process. The process is what stretches and grows us to get us to that point. Instead we have this small portion in front of us, just a few pixels of the high res photograph of our life, and we work with that. When we look back in a few months we will see what/how it all happened, what we learned about ourselves through it all, and enjoy the beautiful picture of our lives unfolding in front of us.

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I want to encourage you today, whatever season you are in, breathe in the process. Whether you just came out of the growing season and are confidently walking in that or being stretched, it is good. Be thankful. Share your story with others and celebrate theirs. That is another great way to not get overwhelmed. Change your focus, take a minute to encourage another or be their sounding board, it may even inspire you!

This is me: sharing, breathing, encouraging, being thankful, and growing…what a grand adventure right?!

cheering you on!

kdg

 

 

Seaside Styled Shoot

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At the heart of It’s A Colourful World and Lindy-Ann and I’s collaboration is the desire help and encourage others, especially other entrepreneurs. We were practicing “community over competition” in Kuwait, before we had even heard about the incredible cultural shift that was happening stateside in the creative world, initiated by leaders like the Rising Tide Society and conferences like the Creative @ Heart Conference.

We felt that our gifts and talents were better served by lifting others up rather than tearing them down or being jealous of their success. This is not always easy, especially for creative souls. There are definitely days when one or both of us wonder if we are fulfilling our callings or if we should throw in the towel. On those days we turn to our mentors, families, and friends and they set us straight and remind us of our focus.

{Oh, how we appreciate you all!!}

We love being that for others! We have joyfully assisted in branding, developing concepts, refining visions, and generally being sounding boards for our friends pursing their callings. Let me tell you, brainstorming ideas and concepts over coffee maybe one of my favorite ways to spend a day! A close second, would be seeing those ideas come to life.

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This past week I had the extreme pleasure of making one of those such chats happen and it was amazing! I spent a morning executing a styled product shoot for my jewelry designer friend, Ana….on the Mediterranean Sea with my gorgeous photography student and babysitter, Grace. Pinch me!

When I first met Ana, about a year and a half ago, she shared that she didn’t really know what her calling was. She knew she loved being creative, but she wasn’t sure where to focus. A few months later she was hit with loads of inspiration from her many walks on the beach collecting sea glass and started making jewelry. It is really exciting to see how much she has grown in both skills and demand. Hope you enjoy these images as much as I enjoyed creating them!

For all you still seeking your callings and sometimes second guessing yourselves, we are cheering you on! Keep pursing your passions and, even if it just touches one life, one heart, then you have made a difference and it was worth the journey! Not to mention that there is only one of you and the world needs your unique perspective, don’t buy the lie that it doesn’t.

On that note, follow Treasures by Ana on Facebook and Instagram. It is always fun to see what she will come up with next, because, like you, each of her pieces is unique.

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Cheers,
kdg

Our Must-Have Photography Accessories

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Many of our tutorials or blog posts are inspired by mentoring conversations and workshops sessions we have with our DGRCP community of photographers. One topic that arises almost every time is “what are our ‘must-have’ accessories”. Lindy-Ann and I can only speak to the items we have used ourselves in the field, so this list is not all encompassing. That said, if you don’t see a brand or item on here that you love, share it with us! Our goal is to help others get the most out of their photography journey and build community, so we are always open to hear from you and about your experiences!
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1. UV filter There are several types of filters out there, but this specific recommendations is for protecting your lens. I have firsthand experience of when a UV filter protected my lens during traveling when I opened my bag and the filter was cracked, but my lens was safe. Filters are dependent on the diameter of your lens and there are several good brands out there, with prices range from $15-100 depending on the quality of the glass. The downside to any filter is that it is one more piece of glass for your image to go through, which can possibly degrade it. However, weighed against the potential for scratching your lens, I would use still use it.
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2. Lens pens – this is a great gift for photographers! Throw them in your bag or car and pull them out whenever you see a smudge or dust spec on your lens. They are a awesome!
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3. Flash Sadly, the kit flashes that most cameras come with have ruined many a photograph. We all have to shoot in low light settings at some point and an off-camera flash (also referred to as a “speed light”) is a huge improvement on your kit flash, with the ability to bounce light off the wall or ceilings to add diffused light to your subject. There are good third party alternatives to the main camera manufacturers that are quality products and less expensive for the novice or hobbyist photographer. That said, I highly recommend looking at your brand specifically (ie. Canon or Nikon) as the camera and flash will be able communicate well and the TTL (auto settings) will be better paired.
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4. Camera bag This is one of those subjective accessories. It is highly dependent on your style and specific needs. There is a great market of stylish bags that don’t even look like camera bags! I have had two Kelly Moore bags and I love them, plus their customer service is fantastic. Lindy-Ann has Epiphanie. One of our manly photog friends loves his ONA bag.
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5. Straps Ask any photographer and they will tell you that the strap that comes with your camera is not very forgiving and can cut into your shoulder as you wear it. I recommend getting a softer, padded, and more stylish one. They even make infinity scarf options that are soft and look great! I really like the patterns and styles from Mod Straps, another brand we really dig.
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6. Tripod There is a tripod for every possible need and use! When selecting a tripod, it is important to consider your budget, your goals (capturing yourself in the images, night photography, etc), and read reviews. Here is a link two great articles listing their recommendations: The Wire Cutter and The Shot Kit.  A gorilla pod is great for traveling, light, and malleable, I just used it over the weekend camping for a shot of our whole group! I also have a  Zomei that I use for most tasks. It is sturdy and can change from tri to monopod easily.
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7. SD cards  Using a dSLR, you will definitely need at least one of these. From personal experience it is important to have backups, so let’s say you need at least two! I recommend Sandisk or Lexar brands and you can purchase these almost anywhere. It is important to note that if you are shooting in jpgs (not RAW) the lower storage may work for you. That said, in addition to the quantity of the images the memory on the card is capable of storing, I would consider the speed of capture (looks like: 95MB/S). If your card’s writing speed is slow it will cause you to miss the in-between shots and won’t be able to keep up if you’re especially trigger happy.  I personally use 32MB and 64MB cards with high speeds of capture.
We hope this helps you as you consider your equipment needs. Just remember it is never the equipment, or the stylish accessories, that makes the photographer, it is about you and your unique perspective. Get out there and snap away friends!
Stay tuned as Lindy-Ann kicks off our new “what’s in your bag” video series, where we, and our photog friends, will share what we carry to and fro living the photog life!
Cheers,
la-kdg-signature

The Simplified Planner by Emily Ley

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A few months ago Katie and I wrote up a review on Grace Not Perfection by Emily Ley, we mentioned in that post how she is the designer and creator of The Simplified Planner. Since we read her book, Katie and I both were itching to get our hands on one of them. That itch has been scratched. In South Africa our school year went from January to December, it took some getting used to when the kids started school here and the new year went from September to June. To help that, I opted for this version of The Simplified Planner the academic year, going from August 2017 to July 2018.

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The Simplified Planner comes in 4 different designs, I chose the floral print. Katie went with the Gold Dot.

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I ordered it on Amazon and it arrived last night, one week into the first school term. (See why I need an organiser). It came in a very strong, high quality, easy to open, navy blue packaging box. I will keep this for future travel to add extra protection to my planner in suit cases. The planner itself was covered in bubble wrap and an extra layer of plastic. They made sure no water or dust could get in anywhere with this packaging. And I love  the attention to detail, even in shipping!

Emily has also included a handy little start up brochure for people like me who need a little extra beginner’s encouragement.

As a self taught designer she combined her love for design with her passion for helping others simplify their lives to produce something that is not only useful, but it is beautiful and intentional too. I love her use of colour on different pages, her space allocation for things like meal planning… (Something I have also only recently starting doing and oh my gosh has it been life changing).

Possibly one of my favourite features is her sticker page. I’m a sucker for extra detail splashed with fun.

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She has recently launched her Yearly planners as well going from January to December, for all our SA readers, those not in the school aged season of life, or if you just prefer yearly planners – there’s a beautifully designed option for you too.

Much like Katie’s post about starting fresh this fall and setting your intentions, I hope this has encouraged you to get organised and prepare yourselves for the year ahead. One thing Emily stresses, which both Katie and I are trying to implement more and more, is the power of saying “No.” To intentionally save blank space in your schedules for down time, family time, or just a little time-out time. These quiet moments are just as important, but we need to be intentional about it – especially in our ‘Always On’ society.

Cheers!

la

Once a designer, always a designer

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Seriously, you cannot turn it off! Whatever your passion, occupation, or education, you approach the world through that filter. You simply can’t help yourself! I walk into a space and move the furniture around in mind to make the flow better. In daily life I see potential photographs framed and composed. And don’t even get me started on how I see color and how happy it makes me when a group of people unwittingly coordinate.

You may already know that, although I’m a photographer and graphic artist, I went to school for interior design and worked at a commercial architecture firm, STUDIOS architecture, for 6 years before we became an expat family. Those were 6 amazing years for me. I learned and grew so much. I was blessed with fantastic mentors and work colleagues, as well as design experiences that inspired and changed me forever. There are days I’m nostalgic for the old days (and nights), my design buddies, the thrill of the creative process, and working in the city. That said, there is a season for everything, right?

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Five years later, it seems that this season will include interior design again. Thanks to my Mindfulness  buddy, Ms. Stacy, I have been tapped for my knowledge and experience in interior design..a lot. Being the exhorter that she is, she has shared the work we have done together on her house and her fabulous classroom. Thanks to her recommendations, I have space planned a few residential interiors, as well as the office of our Head of School, and consulted on ways to update the Elementary School office.

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Now I’m honored to teach and guide a group of High Schoolers that manage our campus Genius Bar as they design their newly renovated space. (Think student-run help desk a la Apple Store.) So far, we have had three workshops or, as we say in design, charrettes, with their teacher advisor as well as my buddy Brian, the Director of Technology (my guru who taught me the “faux app” trick). The students have been really receptive to learning about the process and it is so fun for me to share my knowledge and experience with them! I will recap our design adventure in the coming months, so stay tuned!

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I don’t know where all this design work will lead me to next, but I’m enjoying the journey and the memories.

On a side note: If you are in a place where you have a set of skills or knowledge that you don’t know what to do with, I say share them. Let me encourage you to volunteer those skills, talents, and knowledge. You never know what could come of it. We believe “stay-at-home” parents, particularly, are an untapped resource. Not only were we all something else before we had little people, those little people have made us better with perspective and, believe it or not, wisdom. Talk about the old days with your friends, your school, your kids, and just maybe it will put you on a path to your new purpose. Be encouraged, we are cheering for you!

with love,

kdg

When Lexi turned 2

I would not call myself a “kids party” photographer, nor do I see myself going in that direction professionally. But for my dear friends, it’s a privilege to capture the freeze-frames of celebration, endless amounts of fun, contagious laughter and abundant love. Not to mention that kids parties are full of one of my favourite things to photograph, – no, not the kids….COLOUR!

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Two years ago, when my new friend at the time, Debbie, asked me to photograph her daughter Lexi’s 2nd birthday party, I was a little nervous. I had never photographed someone else’s kid’s party before. My own kid’s parties, yes. However the pressure another’s once off, no chance of a reshoot, precious memories in my hands, that was new. I swallowed the nervous lump in my throat and went for it.

When I arrived at the scene, it was clear that this mom was skilled. I mean the put-Martha-Stewart-to-shame kind of skilled. The happy scene was infectious. I was even able to have some photography fun of my own, and truly capture the memorable event.

Camera – Nikon D90

Lens – Nikon 10-105MM f/3.5-5.6

Conditions – Indoor shoot, medium light with low light in places, shoe horn flash needed

Prep – To prep for this shoot I met with Debbie a few days before to have a conversation about what the job would entail, in this briefing we got to know each other better and laid out each others ideas and expectations. I then met with her at the venue the day before the party to take a good look at lighting and environment so there wouldn’t be any surprises on the day of the shoot.

I arrived early, brought a large water bottle, extra memory cards, extra batteries for both flash and camera, and wore comfortable clothing that did not attract attention. I was ready and settled with the decor shots out the way before the first guests even arrived.

Lessons learned – I only brought 1 set of extra flash batteries, it was about 3-4 hours total of shooting and I underestimated how much power the flash would use. Luckily when the flash batteries ran out for the second time it was at the end of the party and I was just getting a few extra shots here and there which I was still able to get with an adjusted higher ISO and a little extra love in Photoshop.

Top Tips – When photographing groups of children keep an eye on aperture – you don’t want the back row of kids in group shots to fall victim to depth of field blur, and Shutter Speed, kids move fast, enough said.

  • For anyone photographing kids indoor with a shoe horn flash or speedlight, you need to pay extra attention to your Shutter Speed. If you set it too fast you will essentially out shoot the speed of the flash and end up with half your image correctly exposed and half your image in black. So just keep that in mind.

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I went on to photograph two more events for Debbie and her amazing family before they moved on from Kuwait, but I will always hold this particular celebration close to my heart, as the first one.

Thank you Debbie for all your attention to detail and your impeccable style. Your love, joy, and friendship is a blessing to all who get a chance to know you.

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Her family really is every child photographer’s dream client.

Cheers,

la