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Tips for Taking Great Pictures of Your Own Kids | http://www.roseclearfield.com

Taking great pictures of your own kids is one of the best gifts you can provide for your children as well as many future generations of your family. The whole cliche about how the years with kids fly by is true. Putting in the effort of not only taking but taking great pictures of your own kids enables you to look back on these cherished moments for many years to come.

Please note: I am not a professional photographer. I’m not offering tips to those who are interested in becoming professional portrait photographers. I’m simply offering my best tips for taking great pictures of your own kids to help fellow moms (and dads!) improve their photography skills.

Tommy Easter 2018 | http://www.roseclearfield.com

Take a lot of pictures

There is a common misconception that professional photographers, and really anyone who takes great pictures, is able to take just a few shots to produce stellar images. In truth, when you see great images, you’re seeing a very small fraction of the pictures that a photographer took during a given session. If you have any experience photographing kids, you know that you end up with a lot of images where the kid is looking the other way, has his eyes closed, is moving, etc. The same is true for all photographers! When you take a lot of pictures, you’ll get a few that turn out just the way you like.

Memory cards are cheap. Camera batteries are cheap. If you’re taking pictures with your phone, clear out your phone storage periodically. Additionally, keep an external battery handy, so you don’t wear down your whole battery on a photo shoot. With a little extra prep for your session, you’ll be able to take as many as you like, ensuring you’ll get a few keepers.

Get your camera out of auto mode

Ultimately, you’ll take better pictures when you’re in full control of your camera settings. I know, you’re thinking “but I bought this [phone/mirrorless camera/DSLR camera] because it takes good pictures.” That’s great! Using a good camera will definitely help you take better pictures. However, it’s only a part of the equation.

Initially, you may also be thinking “but my camera makes better settings choices than I do.” Learning camera settings is intimidating, especially for those of us for whom math doesn’t come naturally. But it’s critical for good photography. I share a few tips for making the transition from auto mode to manual mode.

Tommy First Christmas Outfit 2017 | http://www.roseclearfield.com

Learn some basic editing techniques

Once you’ve started adjusting your camera settings, you’ll take your pictures of your kids up another notch by editing them. Don’t get caught up in watching tons of YouTube videos about kid photography editing techniques. Start small with basic edits, such as straightening the horizon, lightening or darkening the image, and adjusting the contrast or saturation. Any editing program, even the most basic ones, such as Google Photos or the built-in Instagram editing program, will allow you to make these type of edits. If you do own a mirrorless or DSLR camera, I highly recommend shooting RAW and editing your photos in Lightroom or Photoshop, particularly Lightroom. It’s a intuitive program, and I guarantee you’ll see improvement in your RAW images immediately.

Brighten up the eyes

With that being said, if you’re going to learn ONE more advanced editing technique to create great pictures of your kids, it should be to brighten up the eyes.  I see so many portraits, including professional portraits, with dark eyes. Unless you’re shooting in ideal light conditions and catch your subject just right, most likely the eyes will be dark. This is such an easy fix, though, and really takes your portraits to another level.

Brightening eyes during editing is very easy and takes just a few extra seconds. You can brighten eyes in any photo editing program with selective editing capability, meaning you can apply an edit to part, as opposed to the whole, photo. I use the adjustment brush in Lightroom. My base eye brighten setting is Exposure 30, Highlights 30. For really dark eyes, my base setting is Exposure 60, Highlights 45, Clarity 5, Saturation 5, Sharpness 5. As with any adjustment brush, you can and shoot tweak these settings as needed for your specific photo.

Tommy 9 Months | http://www.roseclearfield.com

Minimize distracting elements

One of the simplest, cheapest, and most effective ways to make your photos look more polished is to get rid of distracting elements. Don’t stress about clearing the area of toys, stray shoes, etc. every time you want a shot of your kids. Instead, focus on choosing spaces with clean backdrops and minimal distractions when you want a nice portrait. For example, instead of having your daughter stand in your cluttered kitchen, take her outside and position her against some trees.

When you edit photos, look for additional opportunities to minimize distracting elements. For example, when you took a photo of your son, you didn’t realize that the dog’s paw was right at the edge of the shot. Simply crop the paw out of the image.

Get down on their level

You’ll almost always create a better photo when you move to create the exact composition that you want. Kid photography is no exception. Instead of taking a picture of something cute your kid is doing and moving on, think for a few seconds about how you want to compose the shot. In many instances, you’ll produce a stronger image when you kneel or sit right at your kid’s level. Not only will you have a superior angle but you’ll connect with the child, further increasing the quality of the final shot.

Tommy 7.17.18 | http://www.roseclearfield.com

Shoot in the best lighting available

Find the best natural lighting in your house, and shoot in this area whenever possible. Avoid turning on lights, as incandescent bulbs give everything a yellow tint. When weather allows, head outside for kid portraits. Shoot early or late in the day, steering clear of glaring mid-day light, which creates harsh shadows. When you are shooting mid-day, choose overcast days or look for locations with partial shading to create optimal light without harsh shadows.

Plan for photo sessions when your kids will be at their best

No one wants to pose for an extended shoot when they’re tired, hungry, feeling sick, etc., kids included. Choose a time of day when you know that your kids will be well-rested and well-fed. For example, if your kids are early risers, plan for a morning session right after breakfast. Bring water and snacks along. For little kids, toys and other small distractions may help break up the session and keep them engaged and happy as well.

Tommy at the Beach may 2018 | http://www.roseclearfield.com

Watch for candid opportunities

Some of the best shots will happen when you least expect them. Watch for candid opportunities both during portrait sessions and when you’re out and about with your kids. As you become more comfortable with your camera and get a few great candid shots, you’ll have an easier time spotting these opportunities and creating these shots.

Start following fellow moms or portrait photographers whose work you really love

One of the best techniques for improving your skills in any creative field is to learn from the best. My favorite platform for following great photographers is Instagram. Even with the ridiculous feed algorithm, browsing the feed is still quick and easy. You can always pop over to specific profiles to catch up with their latest images as well.

As you study great kid photos, take a few seconds to think about the images. What do you like about them? What technique(s) make them great photos? How can you apply this insight to your own photos?

Invest in a prime lens

For DSLR camera owners, investing in a prime lens is well worth every penny. Prime lenses are so versatile. You’ll find yourself reaching for this new lens all the time, not just when you’re taking pictures of your kids. Most people start with the 50mm f/1.8, which is a great choice for portraits. Personally, these days, I use the 40mm f/2.8 lens most frequently. I talk more about why I love this lens so much here. The 85mm f/1.8 is another great, affordable prime lens for portraiture.

[Disclaimer: There are a few affiliate links in this post. Thanks for your support!]

Do you have any additional tips for taking great pictures of your own kids?

Share your insight in the comments!

More photography resources:

5 Tips for Improving Your Photography | http://www.roseclearfield.com

5 Tips for Improving Your Photography

Photography 101: Never Stop Learning | http://www.roseclearfield.com

Photography 101: Never Stop Learning

Top 10 Common Photography Mistakes to Avoid | http://www.roseclearfield.com

10 Common Photography Mistakes to Avoid

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Fall and Winter Avocado Toast Recipes

Fall and Winter Avocado Toast Recipes - Avocado Toast with Grapefruit and Almond Milk Ricotta via Lee From America | http://www.roseclearfield.com

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I know, I know, avocado toast became so obnoxiously cliche, basically overnight. While I’m inheriently weary of anything trendy, I really love avocados. So I’m okay with the abundance of avocado toast recipes out there. Today I’m focusing on fall and winter avocado toast recipes. Personally, I get in a bit of a food rut as the weather gets cooler and we’re no longer consuming tons of fresh fruit, Caprese skewers, and grilled meat. Also, I know that many people are looking for quick, healthy breakfast and lunch ideas for the busy school year months. Enter fall and winter avocado toast recipes. You fill up on delicious seasonal flavors while spending minimal time in the kitchen. Win-win.

Fall and Winter Avocado Toast Recipes - Autumn Avocado Toast via How Sweet Eats | http://www.roseclearfield.com

Autumn Avocado Toast with Pears, Gorgonzola, and Cinnamon Toasted Walnuts – How Sweet Eats

Fall and Winter Avocado Toast Recipes - Avocado Toast with Persimmon Pomegranate and Fennel via Floating Kitchen | http://www.roseclearfield.com

Winter Avocado Toast with Persimmon, Pomegranate, and Fennel – Floating Kitchen

Fall and Winter Avocado Toast Recipes - Avocado Toast with Pomegranate Salsa and Goat Cheese via Dishing Out Health | http://www.roseclearfield.com

Avocado Toast with Pomegranate Salsa and Goat Cheese – Dishing Out Health

Fall and Winter Avocado Toast Recipes - Avocado Toast with Turkey and Cranberry Sauce via Seasonal Cravings | http://www.roseclearfield.com

Avocado Toast with Turkey and Cranberry Sauce – Seasonal Cravings

Fall and Winter Avocado Toast Recipes - Maple Walnut Avocado Toast with Apple via Peaceful Dumpling | http://www.roseclearfield.com

Maple Walnut Avocado Toast with Apple – Peaceful Dumpling

Fall and Winter Avocado Toast Recipes - Avocado Toast with Blood Orange and Edamame via Feed Feed | http://www.roseclearfield.com

Avocado Toast with Blood Orange and Edamame – Feed Feed

Fall and Winter Avocado Toast Recipes - Fall Avocado Toast with Kale Pesto and Ricotta via Brewing Happiness | http://www.roseclearfield.com

Fall Avocado Toast with Kale Pesto and Ricotta – Brewing Happiness

Fall and Winter Avocado Toast Recipes - Avocado Toast with Smashed Chickpeas and Pepper Relish via Chili Pepper Madness | http://www.roseclearfield.com

Avocado Toast with Smashed Chickpeas and Pepper Relish – Chili Pepper Madness

Fall and Winter Avocado Toast Recipes - Winter Avocado Toast with Cheezy Pumpkin Seed Sprinkle via One Green Planet | http://www.roseclearfield.com

Winter Avocado Toast with Cheezy Pumpkin Seed Sprinkle – One Green Planet

Fall and Winter Avocado Toast Recipes - Sweet Potato Avocado Toast with Hemp Seeds and Pistachios via Vegetarian Gastronomy | http://www.roseclearfield.com

Sweet Potato Avocado Toast with Hemp Seeds and Pistachios – Vegetarian Gastronomy

Fall and Winter Grilled Cheese Recipes - Smashed Avocado and Sauteed Mushroom Toast via Blissful Basil | http://www.roseclearfield.com

Smashed Avocado and Sauteed Mushroom Toast – Blissful Basil

Fall and Winter Avocado Toast Recipes - Winter Avocado Toast Two Ways via How Sweet Eats | http://www.roseclearfield.com

Winter Avocado Toast, Two Ways – How Sweet Eats

Fall and Winter Avocado Toast Recipes | http://www.roseclearfield.com

Did you make one of the fall and winter avocado toast recipes?

I want to see it! Tag your images #RoseClearfield on Twitter or Instagram.

More recipe inspiration:

Fall and Winter Grilled Cheese Recipes - Sweet Potato and Kale Grilled Cheese - twopeasandtheirpod.com | http://www.roseclearfield.com

Fall and Winter Grilled Cheese Recipes

30 Days of Healthy Chicken Dinner Recipes - Easy Weeknight Chicken Tacos via How Sweet It Is | http://www.roseclearfield.com

30 Days of Healthy Chicken Dinner Recipes

100 Healthy Snacks | http://www.roseclearfield.com

100 Healthy Snacks

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August/September: What I Read

August/September 2018: What I Read | http://www.roseclearfield.com

I’m excited to share another couple of months worth of reads with you today!

In August and September: I listened to:

  • I Remember Nothing: and Other Reflections by Nora Ephron. I Remember Nothing is okay but not amazing. There wasn’t a lot of substance, and many of the stories simply weren’t relatable (and worse yet, weren’t interesting) on any level. It had its ups and downs, and there were a few chapters worth listening to. But there are so many better celebrity memoirs to read.

 

  • The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien. I don’t think that I could have picked a more random book to finish out the last two months of audio books. Jake has been a huge Lord of the Rings fan for years…and I’ve never read them. It’s awful, I know. So I’m working my way through the audio books. I could only get them on CD, and it’s been fun to listen to together in the car the past couple of months.

While not a book, I also listened to David Sedaris: Live at Carnegie Hall (you can rate it on Goodreads, so that counts for something, right?). If you’re a David Sedaris fan and can get this for free through the library or as part of your Audible subscription, it’s definitely worth a listen.

In August and September, I read:

  • The Rosie Effect: A Novel by Graeme Simsion. I’m a huge fan of The Rosie Project. It’s one of those rare, really memorable novels that sticks with you for years. The Rosie Effect has the same great writing and characters as The Rosie Project, although not quite the memorable scenes. It’s hard to beat the DNA party collection and other such scenes from The Rosie Project. I still enjoyed The Rosie Effect a lot and loved getting another segment to this story.

 

 

  • Failure is an Option: An Attempted Memoir by H. Jon Benjamin. I love Archer and really enjoy Bob’s Burgers and would have read just about anything by H. Jon Benjamin. I was hoping for a little more substance, particularly about his professional life. But the book grew on me. I think some of the stronger chapters are later in the book, particularly the chapter about his parents thinking that they’ve discovered this little hole in the wall restaurant called P. F. Chang’s. (Again, not exactly a deep story or incredibly interesting professional account, but very entertaining.)

 

  • Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah. Hands down, Born a Crime is one of the best books I’ll read all year. I sped right through it in just a few days. Trevor Noah is a fantastic writer. If you know anything about his background, you know that he has quite the story to tell, and he does so brilliantly. I learned so much about South Africa from Born a Crime. Whether or not you love Trevor Noah’s humor and political bent, Born a Crime is well worth a read.

 

  • 32 Yolks by Eric Ripert. I liked 32 Yolks but not nearly as much as I’ve liked a few other food memoirs/non-fiction, namely Life on the Line and Back of the House. It was heavy on the memoir part, which frankly wasn’t that interesting, and light on the professional food/restaurant side, particularly his most successful years.

 

  • The One That Got Away by Bethany Chase. The One That Got Away is about as good as it gets for chick lit, which is to say solid but nothing amazing. It’s well-written, and there is some depth to the characters. It’s incredibly predictable, one of those books where you know exactly what’s going to happen by the end of the first chapter. I think that there was potential here for real character growth, and that just didn’t happen.

 

 

  • Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu. Moxie is a fun read and exactly why I love young adult fiction. The characters and plot are so strong and relatable.

I actually don’t have any re-reads for August and September, which is a first for 2018. I’m still re-reading Ready Player One and haven’t picked up Harry Potter again after finishing Fellowship.

[Disclaimer: There are a few affiliate links in this post. Thanks for your support!]

What have you been reading and loving lately?

I’m always looking for new suggestions!

Previous reading posts:

February March 2018: What I Read | http://www.roseclearfield.com

February/March: What I Read

April/May 2018: What I Read | http://www.roseclearfield.com

April/May: What I Read

June/ July 2018: What I Read | http://www.roseclearfield.com

June/July: What I Read

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2018 Goals Update: September

2018 Goals Update: September | http://www.roseclearfield.com

In an effort to keep myself accountable, I’m sharing monthly progress updates for my 2018 goals.

Reach five figure monthly blog page views.

To reach 10K page views by the end of December, I need to increase my page views by about 372 per month. Here are my 2018 monthly page views benchmarks and actual views.

January benchmark – 5,610, actual – 7,373
February benchmark – 5,982, actual – 10,151
March benchmark – 6,354, actual – 12,129
April benchmark – 6,736, actual – 9,956
May benchmark – 7,108, actual – 8,072
June benchmark – 7,408, actual – 8,050
July benchmark – 7,780, actual – 9,303
August benchmark – 8,152, actual – 9,914
September – 8,524, actual – 11,500

September 2018 Google Analytics roseclearfield.com | http://www.roseclearfield.com

September is one of the best traffic months I’ve had in 2018, with the highest daily traffic average to date.  As you can see in the Google Analytics graphic above, I had consistent traffic all month, with slightly higher daily averages during the second half of the month. My other highest traffic months, February and March, weren’t quite as consistent. I have a few seasonal posts that get views in September but nothing significant. My evergreen traffic was just really strong all month, which is exciting.

There are two primary methods I’m using to achieve my page views goal, which are as follows.

Reach 4,000 Pinterest followers.

To reach 4,000 Pinterest followers by the end of the year, I need to gain 138 new followers monthly or 4-5 followers daily. My September benchmark was 3,579 followers. My actual September total was 3,201 followers.

1 million Pinterest engagement September 2018 | http://www.roseclearfield.com

While nothing amazing, my follower growth this month was solid, one of the better months I’ve had in 2018. More exciting, my monthly viewers number grew exponentially and reached a new all-time high. The screenshot above is from the middle of the month when I cracked the one million mark for the first time. Currently, I’m around 1.7 million and still climbing every week. My monthly engagement numbers are up quite a bit, too. Currently, monthly engagement is around 49,700 users monthly, which is nearly double my average for August.

I’m keeping up with my 2018 Pinterest strategies, which are as follows:

  • Schedule my own blog content and content from other bloggers via Tailwind. I’ve been working way ahead on scheduling lately and am currently scheduling about two months ahead.
  • Manage my photography group board.

Publish one article per week on Constant Content.

I snuck in a couple of Constant Content articles right at the end of the month.

I’m still way behind for the year and will be pushing to catch up during the final quarter of 2018. I didn’t have any Constant Content sales in September.

Button Charm Bracelet Autumn Leaves by randomcreative on Etsy | http://www.roseclearfield.com

Paint and decorate nursery #2.

Now that I’m done with nursery #2 and our new adoption profile book, I’ve been devoting time to one of my back burner projects: my Etsy jewelry shop. I shared a shop update earlier this month. I re-stocked (and re-photographed) a handful of best selling items, most of which I haven’t offered in a couple of years. My goal is to keep the best sellers I’ve restocked in stock for the time being and eventually, start adding new items to the shop, at most one or two new items per month. Adding new items to the shop again will be a higher priority in 2019.

Spanish Countryside Granada June 2017 | http://www.roseclearfield.com

Finish editing my Europe photos, and keep up with current editing.

To meet this goal, I need to edit a little over 90 photos per month through the end of the year. I edited about 60 photos in September. I don’t have any new Europe posts up, as I haven’t finished working through my Alhambra photos yet. I’m still close to my target and am hoping to push hard through these last few months to meet the goal.

I did pretty well keeping up with current editing in September. I’ve finished backing up and clearing out photos through early July and have finished editing through mid-July. I’ve finished editing the majority of my remaining July and August folders. With another upcoming trip, my 2018 photos total will remain high through October. But I’m happy with my progress, given how many photos I’ve taken lately.

Read 36 books.

My September reading total was 5 books, bringing my 2018 total to 49 books. I’ve already met my reading goal for 2018. But I’m not slowing down my reading pace and am still sharing my reads here and in my bi-monthly reading posts.

In September, I listened to:

In September, I read:

I didn’t finish any re-reads in September. I started re-reading Ready Player One by Ernest Cline while we were in Montana and am about halfway through it. I finished Fellowship later in the month and haven’t picked up Harry Potter again yet.

I have a post with two months worth of reads scheduled for Friday. Stay tuned!

[Disclaimer: There are a few affiliate links in this post. Thanks for your support!]

Did you set any 2018 goals?

I’d love to hear how they’re going! Feel free to leave a goal update link in the comments!

Previous goal update posts:

2018 Goals Update: June | http://www.roseclearfield.com

2018 Goals Update: June

2018 Goals Update: July | http://www.roseclearfield.com

2018 Goals Update: July

2018 Goals Update: August | http://www.roseclearfield.com

2018 Goals Update: August

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Casual Fall Outfits Inspiration

Casual Fall Outfits Inspiration | http://www.roseclearfield.com

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Hello, casual fall outfits inspiration, aka my style in a nutshell. The four casual outfits I’m sharing here are all outfits that I would 100% wear. I actually own most of these pieces myself (or very similar pieces) and create slightly different versions of these outfits week after week throughout autumn.

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