Childhood Unplugged

the stork & the beanstalk _ childhood unpluggedI’m moderating the feed over on Childhood Unplugged this week, sharing images of motherhood. Feel free to join in by hashtagging your images with #cu_motherhood. Also want to take a moment to give love to all the women out there – both the ones that are mothers and those that long to be. There is so much surrounding conception and pregnancy and birth and life that is out of our control and while it is important to celebrate those that have children here on Earth, it’s also nice to acknowledge those who’s children live in dreams or heaven or in another form all together. I imagine this last weekend was difficult for many and I hate for their pain to be buried, or unheard.

iPhone shots “most liked” from 2015

IGfavoritesHave you noticed how seemingly curated instagram has become? So many galleries seem to mirror one another; the Christmas garland, for instance, was starting to make me puke. That’s not to say it’s not beautiful, it is. I just can’t help but think that some people go out and go to the hassle of caring for that kinda thing for the sole purpose of it appearing in their feed. Maybe I’ve become too cynical. Whatever the case may be, I haven’t had the best of tastes left in my mouth from instagram these days.

I really value the images I capture with my phone and though I post a few from my blog that are shot with my DSLR, I wanted to take a moment to look back on images captured with my iPhone, all shot in 2015 and edited with the VSCO app. A reminder to myself, and maybe to you too, that it’s not all about professional photography and well-curated feeds. Sometimes the raw and cheap can be just as beautiful and memorable.

Can you tell the difference between DSLR shots versus iPhone shots that show up in your feeds? Do you care? What do you shoot with most?

An Instameet + Play Date

I have met so many new-to-me friends through Instagram. It’s been especially helpful with meeting new moms in our new area and super fun connecting
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with other photographers and creative
s.

My girl Cindy (@butmomma) and I hosted an instameet the other day at the Bolsa Chica Wetlands and it was a blast. Meeting other moms, watching all the kiddos play, and even spotting a couple sting rays and a baby shark; it was good time, indeed. We’re hoping to organize another one at some point in the future.

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His & Hers

Never has there been a more dynamic duo. Well, in my book anyway. I suppose Simon & Garfunkl and, perhaps, Cheech & Chong may say otherwise but Jimmy Marble and Amanda Jasnowski go together like peanut butter and jelly. Everything these two touch turns to gold. Jimmy’s style is reminicent of a contemporary William Eggleston and when mixed with Amanda’s out-of-this-world relationship with light, these two can do no wrong. Take a look for yourself.
HIS @jimmymarble
HERS @hokaytokay
Wonder what a collaboration between these two would produce? Wonder no further. They teamed up last summer for ReForm School’s summer catelogue. Check it out:
Now if that ain’t eye candy, I don’t know what is.
And, seriously, all this isn’t enough, Mr. Jimmy he-does-it-all Marble also sells banners
I mentioned the Like Knows Like project in my last feature of his & hers, long ago. Recently featured was Amanda (@hokeytokey). You can check it out by clicking here.

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Instagram: The Pros + Cons

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Joining instagram, for me, has become more than joining some social media app; in joining instagram, I’ve become part of a community of mothers, photographers, and like-minded people. Whether it be one of those days where caring for two young boys has got the best of me or one of those days where recovering from surgery has me feeling more or less defeated, the community I’m part of on instagram always lifts me up. I’ve received an overwhelming amount of support and encouragement that leaves me feeling incredibly grateful and humbled daily. That’s pretty special.
I am my own worst critique. Truthfully, I can’t stand looking back at stuff I shot just six months ago because I feel like my vision is constantly evolving. Being able to shoot and post on a daily basis, even if it is just with my iPhone, keeps this vision I speak of fresh and new and ever-changing.
It keeps me humble. There are so many talented people that post award-worthy images every single day.
They say with everything, you get better with practice. And it’s true. Shooting daily with my iPhone has encouraged me to see things differently through my real camera; to adjust settings, expose differently, capture light in new ways. The more you do something, the better you get; plain and simple.
Never before have I thought so far out of the box. Scrolling through my feed, little seeds are planted and, in time, they sprout and grow into something entirely their own. I’m sitting on so many ideas that literally sprint back and forth in my mind and the creative energy soothes me like heroin to an addict.
I’ve met people through instagram that quickly became real life friends. And friendships are always beautiful and treasured things.
Instagram has been a great way to connect me with clients. It feels so good when someone contacts me about a session and mentions they found me via instagram. To me, this means that they like my work on a daily basis and that’s one of the best compliments around. I consider it one of the biggest honors and privileges to photograph other people and/or families, so to be chosen in an era where the photography market is saturated with photographers, it’s pretty special.
I love supporting others. Though it takes a lot of time and preparation, I love taking over the @childhoodunplugged feed because I love getting the opportunity to showcase the work of others. It feels so good to give back and introduce others to images that have touched me or influenced me in some way. Again, this speaks -in part- to the beautiful instagram community.
– – –
Art gets monotonized. It’s bittersweet. At some point, someone snapped a lovely picture of themselves from above enjoying their latte and the next thing you know there were a thousand photos from other photographers with their favorite book on the table and their hand holding their coffee mug, from above. Same thing with shadows on the wall; makes me wonder if any of us can refrain from placing our kid directly in the afternoon light on the wall in an effort to create something we saw before. Want to know what kind of shoes someone owns? Just search their feed for a #fromwhereistand photo; pretty sure we all have one. I’m guilty of these too, so in no way am I pointing fingers or naming names. We influence each other and, as I said, it’s bittersweet.
Art produces energy and, at times, I sense a negative energy; I think it stems from some sort of weird competitive aura. People get all weird about how many likes they get on their photos or how many followers they have. I hate having to wonder if people tag me in an image because they are hoping I tag them back (and thus bring them some new followers) or because they really care #widn (what I’m doing right now). I’ve read posts where people have admitted to feeling anxious over what to post and if people will like it. Others have attested to being in “posting ruts”, which insinuates that there is some sort of weird inner pressure to post something even when you’re not feelin’ it. People get carried away and seem to lose all sight of perspective.
By the same token, I recently learned that there is an app that notifies you of when someone “de-follows” you, which I think is just pure craziness. Again, when it becomes more about the numbers and less about the content or the relationships, a tragedy has occurred. I personally like following many different people who shoot a variety of things and in an effort to keep it intimate, I like to keep the number of people I follow to a minimum. And thus, I “un-follow” people all the time so that I can follow someone new instead. It doesn’t mean that I don’t like their work, not at all. You wouldn’t go to a museum over and over again if they continually featured the same artists, right? I like to mix it up and it hurts my heart to think that some may take offense to that.
There are a ton of very, very successful photographers that don’t have a huge instagram presence or following. So, when I come across someone who hangs to every follower as some magical number that’s going to launch their photography career, I’m reminded that there are small picture thinkers and big picture thinkers. The take home message: ignore
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Let’s be honest, it’s a time suck. And talk about sending the wrong message; “No, Hooper, you cannot watch another episode of Curious George” -says the mom who has her face buried in her phone as her thumb goes up and down the screen flapping back and forth like a motor on a boat. Perhaps just as important as picking your phone up is putting your phone down. My children are still too young, but I feel for the parents who confess that their children have given them a hard time for spending more time documenting their lives than being present in their lives. It makes my heart ache because it’s impossible to do both.
Robots can take over your feed. Who knew? I know nothing of this nor do I want to, but it’s weird. By the same token, kinda creepy when you see someone you’ve never met steal photos of your kid and post them as if they are their own photos of their own kids. Again, this has yet to happen to me but I’ve seen it happen to many others and it makes me cringe with disgust and disbelief. I’ve also come across others that have had their images stolen and used for advertisements with no credit given to the artist. This infuriates me.
The amount of “likes” you get, or don’t get, on a photo can affect you as an artist. For example, I always get more likes on the photos I post of my boys. As soon as I post a well shot image of my best friend, or husband, or a plant, I don’t get as much love. You have to remember the platform you’re using. The general public seems to like bare naked baby butts over an artistically shot image of a plant. It’s important to remember that not everyone on instagram is a photographer, rather the instagram community as a whole is a mere representation of the public in general. I don’t let the amount of “likes” I get, or don’t get, affect what I shoot or what I post.
What are your pros and cons to using instagram or social media in general?
*All images shot with my iPhone 5

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iPhoneography

Times have changed, haven’t they? Nowadays, anyone with an iPhone can call themselves a photographer. And for good reason. Have you seen what some people are creating with just their iPhone? It’s incredible. And so fun. I’m a huge fan of instagram and the community I have found within it. I’ve made friends with loads of other moms, photographers, and bloggers alike. Prit-E cool.
Every now and again, someone will ask me how I edit my photos either here on my blog or on instagram. Truthfully, I hate this question. I hate it because there is so much more to a photo then how it is edited. In my opinion, there are three key ingredients to producing a beautiful image and they are exposure, lighting, and composition. And all three of these ingredients need to be present at the moment the photo is taken. There is not much you can do, in terms of post-production, with an over-exposed, crappily lit, and ill-composed photo.
With all that said, I want to share some tips I’ve learned along the way; Simple tips for improving the photos you capture of your everyday life on your iPhone.
1. Shoot in landscape mode. This isn’t a setting on your iPhone, rather I’m suggesting you hold your phone horizontal as opposed to vertical when taking a photo. You’ll be able to see the frame better. 
2. Experiment with AE/AF lock. You can read about how to use it here. It makes focusing easier. I use it some of the time.
3. Shoot by windows or doors. It’s amazing what natural light can do. If the kids are playing, sometimes I’ll set up a trap and plant myself where I want them to go. I’m like a magnet, they always find me.
4. Think about your composition. Ask yourself what’s included in the photo and why. Don’t rely on cropping later, include only what you want in the shot when you shoot it.
5. Take your phone out of your purse. Sure, there’s that fine line of being that annoying mom constantly hiding behind her iPhone snapping shot after shot of her kid instead of just being present in the moment. I get that, I do. Sometimes I like putting my camera down just as much as I like picking it up, so you have to find your own balance and what works for you. What I would encourage, however, is to take your camera out during the seemingly mundane moments. There is so much beauty in the everyday; the morning light when you’re just waking up, your child brushing her hair before school, you husband walking in the door after a long day at work… Everyone remembers the birthday parties and the first day of school, but I’m telling ya, there are beautiful things happening everyday. 
5. Take multiple shots of the same subject, espcially when photographing kids. I think I took at least six different shots of the one above, all within less than a minute, but you’d be surprised how different each of the six were… between movement and blinking and distraction… you’ll need at least six tries (or I do anyway). Though I should mention, funny enough, I almost always end up chosing the first photo I take anyway. But insurance feels good, doesn’t it? That’s why we all pay out our butts for car insurance we (hopefully) never use.
6. Try different angles. If I’m photographing my kids, I like to get down to their level. Shoot from above, shoot from below, shoot into the sun, shoot away from the sun. You’ll learn quickly what works and what doesn’t. That’s the beauty in digital, right? Your mistakes are never a waste.
7. Edit your photos. Sure, exposure, lighting, and composition are the main ingredients but editing is the quintessential icing on the cake. Never rely strictly on editing to make an okay photo great. An okay photo will always be an okay photo, in my opinion anyway. I edit almost all my iPhone pics with the VSCO app. Other apps I like are PicTapGoSnapseed, and Afterlight. Each of these apps also have their own cameras with different settings. The VSCO app, for example, has separate focus and exposure rings. 
8. Share em’. Join Instagram, yo. Your life will never be the same. You can follow me @thestorkandthebeanstalk.
What are your tips and tricks to iPhoneography?
*All images in this post were shot with my iPhone 4 /iPhone 5

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Instameet at the Huntington Gardens

I had the privilege of meeting up with some beautiful and creative ladies a few months ago at the Huntington in Pasadena. The Huntington is one of my favorite places… you can check out some of my previous visits here and a family session I recently posted here. This particular day was dreadfully hot. Van left with heat rash. Hooper’s hair was, um, sweaty. All for the sake of the gram,
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right? (Willy’s going to kill me for using the word “gram”… and I’m not gonna lie, I kinda hate myself for using it too).

So you better believe we were “those people”. You know, those ones that walk with their phone out in front of them like it’s a metal detector looking for treasure. We were also those people that may have asked to use your umbrella for a few moments cuz’ it made a good photo prop. Sometimes ya just gotta be that person. Hooper and Van tagged along, so ya know, people have a hard time looking at you like you’re crazy with the munchkins in tow.
I try to learn from every photo situation I find myself in. Here’s what I added to the list today:
-Stop blaming the heat. Every time it’s hot, I blame it for zapping my creativity. When I’m in it and the sweat is dripping down my front and back, I use it as an excuse. When I get home and look at what the ol’ camera has on it, I think of at least 5 other great shots I could have done. In the comfort of my air conditioned home, the juices start flowing again. So, I need to get over the heat.
-Leave the kids at home. Sure, this doesn’t always work out. I would have loved to leave them behind for the couple hours that we were there but paying for a babysitter doesn’t always make financial sense and no one was around for me to leave them with. So, you do what ya gotta do. Maybe I could teach them how to fan me so I can get over the aforementioned.
In any event, it was a great day and I really enjoyed meeting some new people. Special thanks to the lovely Sisilia for arranging the meetup.
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You can check out the other lovely ladies as well: @butmomma (super fly), @cottagejournal (she’s crafty she gets around), @melissasonico (would love to photograph her again), @punodostres (homegirl oughta be a singer, she has a voice that’ll make your panties wet). You can follow me on instagram @thestorkandthebeanstalk and you can check out all of our photos under #huntingtonmeetup2013.

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His & Hers

I decided to post another edition of His & Hers (an Instagram lovefest) in the spirit of Valentine’s Day. Today’s power instagram couple is from Ann Arbor, Michigan. She’s a graphic designer and letterpress artist; the Primary Designer for Kinfolk Magazine. He’s in law school. They are Amanda Jane and Cree Lane Jones. And, oh ya, she’s pregnant. You can find them on instagram under @amandajanejones and @creelanejones.
Their images are warm and rich and make me want to pour a cup of apple cider and build a fire. They also make me want to go shopping, she’s as cute as can be, no? You can almost palpate the love in their portraits of one another. The glimpse into their lives via instagram will keep you coming back for more, rest assured.
Here’s some of my favorite images from the duo:
Wishing everyone lots of love on this lovely Valentine’s Day. You can check out the last edition of His & Hers here.

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His & Hers

The world wide web is a never-ending sea of inspiration. It’s no wonder why I get stuck behind the computer screen so often. The computer is the new TV, isn’t it? Well, I want to pay tribute to those that continuously serve as a source of inspiration. Individuals, via instagram, who enrich the time I spend on my ass breastfeeding. So today, I’m starting a little His & Hers Instagram lovefest where I’m going to share some couples I follow on instagram. Couples whose photography and lives I admire.
And there’s no better way to kick this off than with Matthew (@matthewdennis) & Katie Dennis (@katieanndennis). 
 These two are currently featured in the Like Knows Like project. Haven’t heard of this project? I think you will. Well, duh, you’re hearing about it now. But mark my words, you’ll hear of it again.
Like Knows Like is a fabulous film project that serves to closer connect admirers with those they admire. Those behind the project state, “The digital world we live in is often criticized as volatile and shallow. We miss a bit of the human touch and perspective sometimes. That’s how the idea was born to make a series of small documentary films about the people we follow and admire. With our films, we celebrate the bond between follower and artist. We’re convinced documentary film can go deeper into getting to know a person better and might satisfy the curiosity we and fellow followers have”.
Here is the Like Knows Like film featuring Matthew & Katie. Aren’t following them on instagram? Then you’re missing the F out.

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