Garanimals Blog

Archive for the ‘Photos’ Category

September 30th, 2013 at 8:54 am

Photographing Kids

Fall is a great time to get some photographs of your children. The leaves changing colors, pumpkins and fall flowers. You don’t always need a professional to catch some great shots, though. Here’s some of my tips to get a great photo.

Get down to the child’s level, don’t take photos looking down on them.

Photograph them in action.

Take photos when the child isn’t tired or hungry.

Catch spontaneity. I love a photo of my kids mid-belly laugh. Take photos while they are playing. Use the everyday to inspire the photo.

Use props to distract them. Have a new toy as part of the photo or go to a fun environment.

Want more staged photos? Take them somewhere and interact with them as you would normally. Catch them looking elsewhere, or talk to them while snapping away.

When you catch a really good shot, you’ll know it and you will treasure that photo and the memories that made it forever.

Kim Ross also writes at  A Little Bit of This and That ~ The Adventures of a Stay at Home Mom.

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September 5th, 2013 at 6:36 pm

Maternity Photoshoots



Over the years maternity photoshoots have grown in popularity. Whether it’s your first, last or in-between pregnancy, it’s one of the most special times of your life and the photos will capture memories that last a lifetime. It’s incredible to see the changes your body goes through. If you’re interested in doing one, here are some things to consider.


Maternity photoshoots are offered by many professional photographers, and there are some who actually specialize in maternity and newborn photography. If you’re looking to go this route, some offer packaged prices for shooting your baby belly before birth, and your newborn bundle of joy after!


You can do your own maternity shoot with the help of a good camera with a self-timer or just a friend or family member. You can do a shoot all in one day, or you can take a set of photos each month and watch how your belly grows!


You can do a maternity shoot wherever and whenever, but it’s nice to plan ahead and figure out what type of shoot you’re really looking for. Some nice settings are the beach, a nice field with flowers, a decorated nursery, etc. Some moms-to-be choose to do gender-based themes or cute concepts like a mommy pin-up or a couples maternity shoot!


Props can be a really fun way to get creative with photoshoots. Tiny baby booties, your sonogram, balloons, etc. are all nice additions to photos. You can incorporate blue or pink props to signify the baby’s gender, or if you’ve already picked a name you can make a sign or letters as well.

The important thing is to HAVE FUN! Did you or will you do a maternity shoot?

Check out our “Parenting Photography” Pinterest board for maternity shoot tips and ideas!


Photo Credit: Lavendamemory on Flickr


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July 2nd, 2013 at 10:31 am

Turn Your Summer Photos Into Art

Looking for some creative photo apps for you or your kids? Here’s a few that can provide some fun and funny effects on your smartphone photos.

For IOS:

InstaBlend – take two photos and blend them into a double exposure. Easy to use but the ads and popups are annoying, unless you upgrade.

Scrap It HD – a kid friendly digital scrapbooking app with loads of design elements, effects and features.

For Android:

PicsArt Photo Studio – create art from you photos and share with your network. This app has tools for making grids, collages, drawings and artistic effects, as well as photo editing tools. A good all in one app.

Fotodanz – turn your photos into cinemagraphs by adding animation. This tool allows you to create fun little 3-5 second movies by animating some or all of you photo. You can add filters too.

Picture Decorator – use stamps, stickers, frames and effects to jazz up your photos. Write notes on the picture and doodle with your fingers and share.

For Either and/or PC

InstaCollage Pro – Create collages with choices of creative frames and layouts beyond the standard grid. It’s easy to use and it’s really fun to play with the filters and effects. Free for a limited time! – put your kid on a wanted poster (I did), a movie screen or lots more. Pick an effect, pick a photo and process. It’s lots of fun and the easy to use templates make it a cinch to use.

Summer’s here and chances are you’ll be taking lots of pics of your fun summer activities. These apps help you embellish, organize and share the good times creatively. Let your artistic side shine!

You can also find Paula on LinkedInFacebook and Twitter @techsmart319. Feel free to reach out if you have questions.

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December 18th, 2012 at 5:00 am

Tips for Taking Better Holiday Photos with Your Smartphone

Here come the holidays! No doubt there will be many photo ops with family, friends and children opening presents. Back in the day, we would grab our camera and click away. These days, many of us are more likely to grab our phone. It’s always nearby and it’s easier to click and share, so it’s not surprising that we’re using our digital cameras less frequently, even though the cameras are a much better device.

Here are a few tips for taking better photos:

  • Get Close. Always take the photo from as close to your subject as possible rather than using the digital zoom option.  You’ll get a better quality image.
  • Zero in on the Subject. Eliminate as much background as possible, especially lots of sky.
  • Turn off the Auto Flash. Don’t rely on your phone’s flash. Most of the time the results are disappointing. If others are around, enlist their flashlight apps to help light the scene. Use the angle of the light to enhance the shadows and highlights.
  • Step Aside. Consider taking the photo from the left or right rather than straight on. You’d be surprised at how much this helps create more interesting shots. Or for fun, try sneaking in some photos from waist level or from a dog’s eye view. You can get some really fun shots from an unusual angle.
  • Hold steady. A shaky hand does not produce a good photo. Hold your phone close to you rather than at arms length. Or better yet, use a tripod-type gadget like a Gorillapod to hold the camera still for a nice clear shot.

And some general housekeeping:

  • Make sure your lens is clean. Give it a wipe with a lint free cloth to clean out any dust or dirt. How many of you have ever done that?
  • Check your settings.  Make sure you’re on a high enough resolution to get the best pictures you can.
  • Know your phone. Get familiar with all of the settings and options so that you can easily choose or change them in a pinch. Take some time and play. See what results the different options deliver. Then you can have some fun. This will also help you capture the unplanned photo opportunity with confidence rather than fumbling with your phone and missing it altogether.

Add some Free apps and you’re off and running:

These are some great tools that enable you to have fun making  beautiful memories with your phone. Be careful though, you might become the designated photographer!

From my family to yours, may you find joy and blessings this holiday season in the love of your family and friends.  We’ve all been reminded of how precious our families are. Enjoy every moment.

You can also find Paula on LinkedInFacebook and Twitter @techsmart319. Feel free to reach out if you have questions.

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December 7th, 2011 at 5:00 am

Tips for Photographing Pets

This time of year, we all have our cameras ready so we don’t miss a single holiday moment. I loved Audrey’s family portraits, and we do something similar, although not as successfully, especially when we try to incorporate our pets —always a disaster. I decided to ask my friend, world-class photographer Matt Dinerstein, for some tips.

“Photographing animals is a lot like working with very little kids,” he said. “You need lots of patience.” Here are some of Matt’s suggestions for photographing pets:

  1. Know your animal — pick the time and place where your pet will be most comfortable.
  2. Use toys to distract and treats to rewards — ”Dogs will work for their treat,” said Matt. “If trained at all, they will sit and wait, knowing the treat will come. Cats tend to be distracted by treats and will be more agreeable when they have full bellies.”
  3. Find a wrangler — “A second person can really help,” said Matt. “You can stay positioned with the camera and the wrangler can bring the animal back into frame. Have your helper stand just behind you to draw the animal’s attention while still keeping it faced toward the camera.”
  4. Use a clean background — “A clean, uncluttered background will make your animal the center of attention,” said Matt. “Focus on the eyes. This doesn’t necessarily mean composing around the animal’s eyes. It means setting the focus on they eyes, then moving the camera to compose the shot.”
  5. Get down on their level — “Don’t stand above and shoot down at your pet,” said Matt. “Get down on the ground if you have to and put your camera at the animal’s eye level.”

Here are a few more hints from our pro:

  • Cats love to look out the window. Follow them to their favorite spot and take advantage of the natural light.
  • Visualize what you want your photo to look like, then set your camera and wait for the animal to come into frame. This is especially useful for action shots.
  • Don’t try to shoot through the bars of a cage. Bring the animal into the open, or at least open the cage door.

“Just as when photographing people, getting a decent picture of a single subject is relatively easy,” said Matt. “With each animal you add, the difficulty grows exponentially. The beauty of digital cameras is that you can take as many shots as you need to get the right one.”

Matt Dinerstein is a professional photographer based in Chicago. These are all his photos. See more on his Flickr page.

Susan Bearman also writes at Two Kinds of PeopleMike&Ollie: 24-weekers Who Beat the Odds and The Animal Store Blogas well as being a regular contributor to The Chicago Moms and Technorati.





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August 17th, 2011 at 5:00 am

Digital Animal Fun

Have I mentioned how much I love digital photography? When my stepkids and twins were little, I was still dealing with film and developing and lots of terrible pictures. I used to take the bad ones, paste them on cardboard and cut them up into puzzles, just so I wouldn’t waste them.

Digital cameras changed all that for me and my two youngest kids. Now I can take thousands of pictures and do all kinds of fun things. We just got back from a three-week road trip that included visiting my stepdaughter, who is a keeper at Zoo Atlanta. We got to visit up close behind the scenes, so I took tons of photos.

Here are a couple of fun, easy ideas I came up with that will let you use your favorite images in creative ways that your kids will love.

Homemade Jigsaw Puzzle

I did this in photo shop with a great set of brushes available for free from Obsidian Dawn. I just downloaded the brushes, added them to my photoshop brush folder and used the full jigsaw template to literally stamp the puzzle on top of my photo. Print it onto some card stock, cut it out and you have an instant puzzle of your child’s favorite animal.

Not that comfortable with Photoshop? Just print this blank jigsaw template onto a piece of card stock, then put it back into your printer and print your photo on top. Same results.

Animal Match Game

Mix and match is a great teaching game. Here’s my version. Print several pictures of animals. Then zoom in and crop a particular part of each animal and print those photos as well. In this case, I chose feet, but you could use ears, tails, eyes, noses or even skin patterns. Again, this works better when you print on card stock. Spread your cards around and have your child match the feet with the animal. For a bigger challenge, turn the pieces face down.

Jumble Puzzle

This was always a family favorite. My kids loved the goofiness of seeing their sibling with rabbit ears or a zebra tail. Print several photos on card stock, including one of your child(ren). This works best if the images are the same size and roughly the same proportion. Cut each image into thirds and then let your child create all kinds of imaginary beings.

These games are inexpensive and easy to make. You can repri

nt them when become tattered and, best of all, they’re portable. Put the pieces in a zip-lock baggie, stick them in your purse and you’ll have easy fun on the go. Having a well-stocked bag of tricks was always key to keeping my kids quietly busy in waiting rooms, cars and even restaurants. With more and more businesses banning young children, this kind of quiet entertainment may be one way you can keep your kids, business owners and other patrons all happy. Have fun.

Susan Bearman also writes at Two Kinds of PeopleMike&Ollie: 24-weekers Who Beat the Odds and The Animal Store Blogas well as being a regular contributor to The Chicago Moms and Technorati.


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July 19th, 2011 at 5:00 am

Old Fashioned Postcards, the New Fashioned Way

Here’s an interesting combination of old and new. There’s a service available called Postcardly that takes your digital picture and turns it into a postcard that it then mails to your selected recipient.

So while you’re away on your summer vacation, you can use Postcardly to send out “wish you were here” cards with photos of your fun times. This is a really useful application, especially if you have loved ones who aren’t online.

Here’s how it works. You take a photo that you want to share with Aunt Alda in the nursing home. You set up Aunt Alda’s mailing information in your Postcardly address book. You create an email with a message that you’d like to appear on the postcard and attach your photo. You email it to [email protected] Postcardly prints the photo with your message on the back and mails it to your recipient via US Mail.

The site is still in beta, but when you sign up you get your first 3 postcards free. The options include $4.99 a month for 5 postcards, $9.99 a month for 15 postcards, or a one-time charge of $19.99 for 20 prepaid postcards. What’s really great is that even if you’re overseas, there’s no extra charge to send postcards back home. Although sending them from here to overseas isn’t an option quite yet.

This is such a cool idea. Why send a generic postcard of the Grand Canyon, when you can send a photo of your family at the Grand Canyon? Aunt Alda will love this.

Thanks to Cool Mom Tech for this one.

You can also find Paula on LinkedInFacebook and Twitter @techsmart319. Feel free to reach out if you have questions.


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