You Don’t Have To Enter A Beautiful Baby Photo Contest To Have A Fun Modeling Shoot.

July 31, 2009

This weekend someone sent me a link to YouTube, which of course led me to click on more video clips. It is like the perfect pick-me-up, a one minute video clip can have you laughing for hours. My friends and I still chuckle about Charlie Bit My Finger and we all saw if for the first time over a year ago. One of the clips I just saw was the winner of a beautiful baby photo contest bouncing through her photo shoot and I was inspired.

My son is only a year old, so I am currently doing mostly paparazzi photos of him. I take pictures of whatever he is doing and try to catch great shots because he is at that age where posing him, or saying “Give me a smile” is a lost cause. I realized that I missed the fun I used to have with my niece and nephew when I babysat. So having a few days free, I packed up Aiden and drove to New York to surprise my family.

Everyone was thrilled when we showed up, since we don’t visit very often. I got my niece and nephew really riled up and we all piled into the play room because it was raining. At ages two and three, they are thrilled to be the center of attention. My mom and I both got our cameras out and started taking pictures of the little wild ones.

Lately Aiden’s favorite activity is crawling under and over anything so unsurprisingly he started going under the art table and peeking out before he’d loop out and do it again. Dylan and Madie grabbed all their new toys to show me and started posing with them. Dylan, all boy, all the time, started hunting imaginary animals with a squirt gun which at some point turned into a whole cowboy ensemble.

Aiden watching his cousins

Aiden watching his cousins

Madie started by mimicking her brother, but soon added heels and hats from her toy box and tried with all her might to get her swimsuit on over her jeans. I did little prompting, I just sang songs with them and asked what they were trying to be and went with it. It was a cross between a New York photo shoot and show and tell and it was thoroughly entertaining.

Just like the little YouTube model, the kids were having a great time in their element, and Dylan and Madie were able to give me very cute, very real poses. I printed a trio of peeking pictures before I left; Dylan peeking over his gun, Madie from under her hat, and Aiden from beneath the easel which made the most adorable collage. If your little ones are old enough to ham it up, grab your camera and give them an hour of your attention. You will probably end up with tons of contest worthy photos, even if that’s not your intention, it’s not a big leap from pretending to model to actually modeling.

Create Personal Gifts By Putting Photos on Mugs

July 30, 2009

Photographing your kids in rewarding in itself. The more you photograph them the better you get at it, the more used they become to the camera and you have more chance of getting that perfect shot: sunny happy smiles in sharp focus with lovely soft light, the kind of picture that is heartwarming to look at; a shot that you’ll want to share with all your family. Of course you can e-mail it to everyone. You might want to have it enlarged onto canvas for a really lasting memory. But for an affordable and personal gift to give out to your family, you can’t beat putting photos that you love on to mugs.

Having a photo printed on to a mug is easy and affordable. You can search the internet and find many sites that offer this service. Look for a site that offers a selection of styles of mug and shows samples of their photo printing quality. The cheapest option will be a standard mug, but a fine bone china mug would be a great choice to celebrate a special occasion like a christening. Keep in mind though that bone china usually doesn’t reproduce color in such intense shades as other ceramics, so choose a photo that will look elegant in more muted tones. You can also put text on the mugs and choose whether to have the photo as a wraparound or just on one side of the mug.

It would be a lovely idea to make a mug with a picture of your child each year, so that eventually you have a set showing them at yearly intervals, growing up before your eyes as you sip your coffee. Or if your child is already school age you could look out photos from each year of their life and produce a set all in one go as a special present for Grandma. In fact you’ll probably be tempted not to give them away at all and keep them for your own mug of morning coffee.

I think my favorite version of the photo mug is the collage mug, where you can use five different digital photos on one mug. It gives the mug a more graphic feel and this way you can have portraits of all the family on one mug, perfect for far flung family who don’t get to see you often. They’ll be able to share their breakfasts with you every day! This would also be a brilliant option for displaying a series of baby through toddler, to school age portraits of your child. The possibilities are endless. You’ll never again be short of ideas for really special and personal gifts. Just let your imagination go wild and keep taking photos of your kids!

Custom Gifts Have Evolved Way Past Photos On Shirts.

July 29, 2009

It wasn’t long ago that the most sophisticated and fun gift that you could make with pictures was putting photos on shirts. Now every time I browse the internet I find more interesting and unique photo gifts. Can you believe that you can take a precious memory and transform it into anything from a cabinet to an Oreo? I’m still in awe.

Usually I browse around websites when I’ve taken a particularly great picture of my adorable son. I like to have reminders of precious moments that I have captured surrounding me. Whether happy eyes are peeking at me from the canvas on the wall or the makeup bag I use every day, they fill me with warmth.

After encountering so many more possibilities I find myself planning pictures to suit the products that I want to get. Or at least they are often in the back of my mind as I chase my son around, camera in hand. As his first birthday approaches, his increased mobility means that the only planning I can accomplish is his clothes and location. Everything else is up to him.

Actually, I love the spontaneity. Photography is so much fun when you have no idea what to expect. Aiden offers me a buffet of fantastic photo opportunities every day. Pictures of simple things like his concentration as he walks behind his truck or as he examines his toys become frozen frames of insight into his thoughts.

My husband’s family has a tradition of everyone contributing a quilt square that his aunt makes into a fantastic quilt for the new baby. I wanted to follow up with one of my own, with the many expressions of Aiden in his first year of life. Luckily I did some late night web surfing before I bought photo iron-ons and material, because you can just upload your photos and have them printed on anything from woven throws to fleece.

When all the work that I have to do for such an elaborate project is sort through pictures, they have an instant loyal customer. I love that I can make any memory larger then life and functional in just minutes. The foodstuffs both thrill and amuse me. I am fascinated that they print pictures on chocolates and lollipops, and what a great idea for favors, but it seems like I have to take photos out of my son’s mouth on a daily basis. I’m not sure I want to order any specifically for him to eat just yet. If you haven’t seen these options and more on your usual photo websites, browse around until you do. You won’t believe what they can do with a photo these days.

Your Cutest Baby Pictures Could Win Big in a Photo Contest

July 28, 2009

Every Mom knows that her baby is the cutest baby ever, we don’t need to win a photo contest to prove that to ourselves! Submitting photos of our kids to some of the top online photo contests can be fun though and, more to the point in this uncertain economy, gives you great chances of winning cash prizes. Cash that can start off a savings account for your child and give him a head start in life

One of the biggest online photo contests offers monthly cash prizes, but also an option to enter their annual contest, with a top prize of a $25,000 college tuition fund. Their biggest draw card is that the contests are judged by photography industry professionals, so if you like the idea of your child modeling for photo shoots and earning an income before they’re even out of diapers this could be a great starting point!

The photographic industry is always needing child models. Just think of all the products that feature gorgeous babies and kids in their advertisements and packaging. Casting agents need a constant supply of photogenic babies and very often they look to high profile photo contests to snap up new talent.

Joining the child modeling circuit is not for every baby and mom, but can be great fun if you are both sociable, like to get out and about and meet new people. There will be a round of castings where you’ll meet other moms and babies and have time to chat while you wait to be seen. If your baby is chosen for a job, then you’ll have all the excitement of the photo shoot in a professional studio. You’ll be able to keep a scrapbook of professionally shot pictures of your baby and also start up a special savings account for their earnings. There’s nothing like starting a college fund early!

When our first two kids were babies, we were perfectly placed for them to have careers as child models. We ran a London photographic studio that was hired out to magazines for fashion shoots. Models, casting agents and photographers came through all day long. But apart from the photos that my photographer husband took of them, they only once featured in a professional fashion shoot. The photographer was a friend of ours who they knew, but they were just too shy and didn’t really like being surrounded by the bustle of a shoot, with stylists brushing their hair and arranging clothes. After that we kept them out of the spotlight and just carried on taking lots of photos of them ourselves.

So think about your child’s temperament if you’re considering child modeling for them. Outgoing children who love being the center of attention and thrive on new environments will love it, shy stay at home babies won’t. My daughter, once an unwilling, red-cheeked-from-teething, baby model, is now nine and wants to be a photographer herself. She obviously always knew which side of the camera lens she should be!

Whichever type your child is, enter their photos in a cute kid contest anyway. You can enter every monthly contest for free and only pay an entry fee to enter the big prize, once a year contest, if you want to. If you’re lucky and win a cash prize you can start building up a savings account for them, to start them on their future careers one day!

Child Photographer

Child Photographer

Keep Your Family Close, Share Your Photo Albums Online.

July 27, 2009

The best thing about the transition of photography into the digital age is the exponential expansion of the life of a photograph. A few years ago you would make your prints and album them, frame them, or give them away. You were completely beholden to the paper which would limit both the picture’s life and who you would share them with. Now you can share your photo albums online with everyone you have ever met with a few clicks.

My family is spread across the country, with some in-laws about to move abroad. I try to keep all of my son’s relations up to date on his amazing life. I utilize online photo albums all the time to quickly share pictures of Aiden’s new accomplishments and quirks. I’ve been telling them all about this new face that Aiden has been making this week, and when I finally got a good picture of him scrunching up all his features, everyone was able to enjoy it within minutes.

Aiden's Scrunchy Face

Aiden's Scrunchy Face

Would I have taken the time to mail fifty prints to all of Aiden’s many relatives? Probably not, but with the instant ease of the internet, I can send fifty as fast as I send one. For a child who lives at least four hours away from his nearest relatives, they couldn’t be closer or love him more.

Digitization has also afforded us a higher quality of photograph and lessened the likelihood for a missed shot. As long as you have a camera on you, you shouldn’t have to forfeit the capture of a precious moment because of too little light or no film. In their digital state photographs will last for the conceivable forever, to be passed on for countless generations.

Putting your pictures on the internet makes them even more immortal. They can be accessed from anywhere even if your home computer should fail. It’s the perfect insurance policy on your memories.

Whether your pictures are capturing precious moments in your child’s life, stunning landscapes, or a glimpse into someone’s soul, the photos deserve to preserved and shared. When I have the time I even scan in old photos before time takes its toll on them.

Online albums are free and unbelievably easy to start, add photos at your leisure and they maintain themselves. Start with one precious memory that you want to share, or just store, and let your photos step into the future.


Think Outside The Box

July 26, 2009

By now I know most of us have seen that challenge put out by business consultants where they show you a diagram with nine (9) dots arranged in a square shape and they ask you to draw four straight lines which go through the middle of all of the dots without taking the pencil off the paper and each line starts where the last line finishes.

The point of this exercise is that most people will try to accomplish the task within the constraints of the box formed by the nine dots. There are a number of solutions; however, you have to draw your lines outside of the box.

When you are taking photographs of your children you will want to think in the same way – outside the box. By this I mean stop thinking about the word “cheese” and asking your children to stand in those stiff straight side-by-side poses with the rabbit ears behind one of the “victims” and consider other possibilities.

For example, take some time to look through the manual that came with your digital camera and learn how to use some of the functions it comes with. Most digital cameras today give you a lot of options such as zoom, wide angle and image stabilization to take photographs of kids in motion.

Watch your children at play, and see what kind of unique things they do. Some of them, like our grand daughter, have this way of holding their head to one side and giving a look of disbelief as grandpa tells another tall tale, or the son who has this goofy way of throwing a ball as he learns coordination.

You know the looks; they are your children and you are with them all of the time. Take some time to observe your children, and then when you see they are healthy, happy and rested grab your camera and start thinking outside of the box.

Another idea is as you take your children on a day excursion think about some unusual opportunities. For example, here is a photograph of a young boy in a small airplane taken at a local dawn patrol fly in. Notice the bright colors with a red shirt and a great smile as he prepares to launch into his next adventure. CRW_4688A_SFW

Consider the clothes your kids wear when you are ready to take their picture. Try to color coordinate the outfit of the day, don’t just let them pick any old random t-shirt and pants, encourage them to wear something special for that day trip.

As a photographer who finds young children fascinating to watch and interesting to photograph I am always looking for unusual and interesting activities for children to engage in as I photograph them. Whether it is climbing on a jungle jim, sitting in an antique airplane or helping build a model T Ford at the Henry Ford Museum, I am always looking for something different.
And you can too. Just remember to “think outside the box” and you will be amazed at the interesting and unique photographs you can get of your children. So quit telling your kids to say “cheese” and get out there and take lots of pictures of your children while they are still young; you will be glad you did!

Betty Muscott, Child Photographer

Betty Muscott, Child Photographer

Oh yes, here is the solution to the nine dot puzzle: 9-dot-puzzle

All Horses’ Heads Are Down

July 25, 2009

Josiah loves to come to Grandma Nana’s house. Many times he even says “Can we go ‘home’ now?” So what’s so special at Grandma Nana’s? It probably would surprise you.

There used to be a golden retriever dog named “Shadow” outside in “The Cozy Forest” who played with the chipmunks and squirrels, and loved to greet and play with Josiah when he arrived. Josiah talks about missing Shadow a lot since Shadow passed away. But there are many other things outside to play with like lots of sticks to pick up and pretend that they are swords to fight imaginary knights with, turning over the rocks that line the drive yields many worms and many other delights. When a toad is discovered in the pachysandra, Josiah acts like he has discovered gold! Don’t get me wrong, Josiah has some real outdoor toys here too like his scooter and his bike to ride, but he has learned the magic of his imagination!

Each of these adventures presents an opportunity to take a great picture of my grandson, and I always keep my Canon digital camera handy because you never know when one of these special occasions will arise. And I have even used some of these special images to create works of art to decorate his father’s home by printing a picture on canvas. But I digress…

When Josiah comes inside the house at Nana’s, she loves to hear the sound of his voice as he pretends real scenarios that he comes up with in his mind. Josiah knows that Grandma Nana does not take him to the store to shop for new toys very much, but she does have an organization of toys stored in her basement which she “rotates” when he is done playing with a set of toys that are alike. All he has to do is ask for the set that he wants to play with next, and then he carefully organizes and packs up the set that he is playing with. And then presto, the new set arrives from the basement, and Josiah acts almost like he does on Christmas morning when he opens presents!

What are these sets all about? They are organized for different age groups and different themes. There are Playmobil sets: Pirates & Ships, Cowboys and Indians, Trains & Stations, Castles & Knights, Rescue Vehicles & a Hospital. There are Lego sets which includes parts to create several castles, carts, launchers, prisons, and an armor shop. There are Duplo sets and a large Brio wooden train set for the younger ones, plus an artwork collection that is always available.

Right now, Josiah is really into the castle Lego’s! I love to take pictures of him while he is at this imaginary play with my Canon Rebel Camera, and plan to have one of these pictures printed on canvas as a Christmas gift for Josiah’s father!

Josiah Delights In Imaginative Play!

Josiah Delights In Imaginative Play!

In the evening after Josiah has taken his bath, he begs for a few more minutes of play before having to go to bed. He hurries straight to the castle Lego’s, and begins rearranging all of the horses. Grandpa is right there, eager to know what is going on in his play. Josiah loves to tell his Grandpa everything about his creations! “The horses are going to sleep now” he says. I have to put all of their heads down!

Josiah carefully puts each horses head down and soon is sound asleep in dreamland anxious for the dawn and to get back to his horses with heads all down!

Betty Muscott, Child Photographer

Betty Muscott, Child Photographer

Why Enlarge And Frame Photos When Printing Them On Canvas Is More Economical And Beautiful.

July 24, 2009

Why Enlarge And Frame Photos When Printing Them On Canvas Is More Economical And Beautiful.

I was amazed to discover this week that for nearly the same price that you would pay to enlarge photos you can get them printed on canvas. I know the prices have been going down; I even got a complimentary one when I entered a photo contest, but you can get any thing from an 8×10 to a 16×20 for the price of dinner for two.

Considering my son is almost a year old I haven’t been out to dinner in a while so I plan to put those savings to good use. In fact, with his upcoming birthday celebration photo canvases make the perfect hostess gifts, maybe even favors. Because I live so far away from the rest of my family, I am borrowing a house from my aunt and having his first birthday party in the town they all call home.

I have had several offers to help with the party, from food to decoration, and I was looking for a nice thank you gift. The photo I used for Aiden’s invitation is so adorable that it was practically begging to come to life on a canvas.

You don’t have to worry about winding up with a less than quality canvas when ordering at these amazing prices. As long as they use archival quality ink and canvases and a UV protecting sealer, then the canvas will easily last a hundred years under normal conditions.

Unlike a picture printed on photo paper, when you have one printed on canvas it actually looks like it is woven right into the fabric. When it is pulled taut and gallery wrapped it is stunning. The finished piece is so beautiful that I rarely even frame mine. In a photo filled house like mine, that really saves me from clashing frames, and gives my home a gallery appearance.

Aiden crawling towards his birthday.

Aiden crawling towards his birthday.

With advancing technology, canvases have become the economical choice for photo decoration. You don’t even have to wait around; you can go from order to delivery in about a week. And the best part is you can do it all from the comfort of your home. As the mom of an increasingly mobile little one, I don’t even want to think about going out and trying to get my prints and the right frames to go with them. Photo canvas websites are the new one stop shops, click into one today.


Print Your Pictures On Blankets and Pillows To Create Unique Photo Gifts

July 23, 2009

It’s the middle of summer now and the holiday season seems a long way away. You’re probably busy taking photos of your kids at the beach or out in the park, enjoying the sunshine and warmth, capturing them splashing in water, digging in sand, full of the joy of childhood vacations. With a little bit of thought you could turn some of these precious memories into unique photo gifts for your family and be well ahead on the gift buying by the time Christmas does arrive!

Gifts of photos of your children are always welcome to grandparents and far flung family. Sometimes though like in my family, there comes a time when their walls are already full of framed prints and there’s no more room on the dresser to cram on another portrait. This is when you need to let your imagination take off and find other ways to present your best pictures, to create a gift that is personalized and useful at the same time.

Digital photos can be used in a whole range of ways these days. Recently I came across an idea that I thought would make a perfect gift for Christmas, Mother’s Day or a birthday. You can have your photos printed or woven into blankets and pillows. The options I was looking at included fleece throws and 100% cotton blankets, which are washable and guaranteed not to fade. I loved the idea of creating a photo collage with a few of my best pictures of my kids and putting them onto a blanket. Perfect for Gran to snuggle under on a winter night surrounded by the faces of all her grandchildren!

Cotton or linen pillows were another idea that I liked. Here the photos are smaller, have borders to frame them and there is a choice of sizes and colors, so they can fit in with any décor. You can have your photos reproduced in full color or go for an artier option in black and white with a colored border, which would fit in well with a more formal interior decor.

Using your photos like this doesn’t have to be just for Christmas gifts though. I know my kids would love to have their own blankets with photos of the whole family on. It would also be a fun way of decorating a baby’s room as there are baby size blankets available too.

So while you’re enjoying the sunshine this summer, take loads of photos of your kids, then you can spend a happy time later in the season when they are back at school, reliving the memories and making them last for ever with a series of imaginative gifts for your family.

Child Photographer

Child Photographer

When You Print Photos On Mugs You Are Creating A Classic Gift.

July 22, 2009

Some things stick around indefinitely because they are just such a good idea. It is so simple to print photos on mugs that it is no surprise that it is an instant classic. A mug is easily the most used dish. I use mine for everything from coffee to soup and that doesn’t even touch on foodless uses. Popping a treasured memory onto one for yourself or to give away is just the start of a good day.

I remember twenty years ago when photo mugs were the craft project for vacation bible school. Of course, then, they were made of double layered plastic and you slid your photos and artwork between the two panels before proudly taking them home to your parents. I find it very amusing that the same idea has perpetuated this long and is still just as simple, if not more attractive now.

There is so much variety to choose from; you can decorate your standard mug or a lovely latte mug, even stainless steel travel mugs. It doesn’t stop there; my husband came home from a bachelor party last month with a personalized beer stein which was absolutely fantastic. Because of their prominence in office environments, corporations have been using mugs as advertisement for decades.

There is no doubt that you already know the countless liquid free uses for mugs. However, if you are looking for an original gift, instead of filling it with candy, try a window plant. Even more personal, you can make multiple mugs with different grandchildren’s photos and use them to grow favored flowers. They will last much longer than the ones they picked from garden.

If you have printed a picture in the last few years, either from a website or an in-store lab, than you have seen the wide array of products onto which you can print your photos or pop art. From aprons to paperweights, you can really do almost anything.

When was the last time you ordered a photo gift for yourself? I have one with a beautiful collage of my son coming next week. It is to celebrate my return to caffeine after pregnancy and a year of nursing and I am very excited. Few photo gifts can offer the daily reminder of something precious like mugs can. With every sip you are reminded again and again of the love and happiness that someone wished for you. It is a classic gift for a reason, brew one up for a loved one today.


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