Self-Portraits with a Thirteen Month Old Baby

Posted by Carly Morgan

At that photography conference I recently went to, I was challenged over and over to do more self-portraits, get myself into my Instagram feed, and preserve memories for my kids that show me as a mom in action. So much more easily said than done. Kyle takes my picture sometimes, of course, but the trajectory of our every day doesn’t find us with sunlight + photo-ready kids + dad with two empty hands very often. To be fair, he hasn’t had a lot of pictures with the kids lately either. The Morgans have been in survival mode.

So, yesterday when I was faced with an abnormally cranky baby who would not let me put him down, I ended up turning his clinginess into a mini-photo session. The pictures aren’t the greatest (I can’t quite get the hang of taking shots with a remote) but I helped them along in Photoshop and at the end of the day it is still nice to have captured the mood even if I didn’t perfectly capture the moment.

Tech used (Amazon affiliate links): Canon digital SLR camera (Rebel XTi),  Canon remote for digital SLR camera, camera tripod (I don’t like mine very much so I’m not recommending it. I do recommend that you test drive them if you can before you commit.)

IMG_8543 IMG_8551 IMG_8557 IMG_8566a IMG_8569

5 Tricks for Great Baby Photos When You Aren’t a Great Photographer

Posted by Carly Morgan

I had the chance to take photos of my friend Becah’s son recently. Little Asher is just about seven weeks old now so he’s right in that great photo stage where he no longer looks like a raisin but you can also move him around like a little prop. (Unlike Calvin, who now associates the camera with the need to crawl away from me rapidly.)

I’m not a great photographer, but we got some some cute ones so I thought I’d share 5 quick tips for great baby photos:

1 /// Schedule the photos around the baby. Trying to take photos during nap time or when the kid is hungry, etc., is setting yourself up for failure.

2 /// Soothe between shots if necessary. While I was taking Asher’s photo, Bec was next to me singing and waving her hands and jumping in with the pacifier if he started to fuss.

3 /// Go with simple backgrounds. I like to shoot babies against backgrounds that are as blank as possible. I flipped our quilt for this one, using the white side so it wouldn’t distract.

4 /// Take tons of photos, especially if the light is a little low. Because of the way babies move, their little extremities turn up blurry all the time. Just shoot and shoot and shoot and thank the universe for digital cameras.

and the big one…

5 /// Invest in Photoshop and buy yourself some easy-to-use actions. I barely know how to use Photoshop, but I can use actions like nobody’s business and they make a HUGE difference.

Before and After of a baby photo edited with Photoshop actions from the Paint the Moon Grace collection

Actions are little recipes that automatically change your photo. You can get actions that do all sorts of things, so I have ones that make photos brighter, ones that blur photos a bit, ones that sharpen, ones that add color, etc. I started with the actions from Totally Rad (their videos are AWESOME for Photoshop novices) but these days I’m really enjoying the Grace collection from Paint the Moon. Almost all of the actions I used on Asher’s photos were from that set.

Tips for great baby photos

Granted, Photoshop is expensive and the actions themselves can be pretty pricey so this is an investment. That being said, if you can get to the point where you’re about as happy with your own photos as you would be with photos you paid someone else to take, I actually think that it’s money well spent. Plus, it’s fun!

Frozen Portraits: Princess Anna and Queen Elsa

Posted by Carly Morgan

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #FROZENFun #CollectiveBias

Princess Anna and Queen Elsa costumes #FROZENFun  #shop

When we took Disney princess photos around Salt Lake City, Eva had a great time but she immediately started asking when we would be taking Frozen photos. And she kept asking. And asking. And asking.

So you can imagine how excited she got when we were at Walmart and we found dresses for Princess Anna AND Queen Elsa in the toy aisle! It has been really hard to track them down.

Princess Anna and Queen Elsa costumes at Walmart #FROZENFun  #shop

Eva’s costume collection is epic and I love taking photos of her when she’s dressed up. She’s so into the characters at this age, so putting on a costume totally changes her little personality. When she’s Princess Anna, she’s feisty and jumpy and she never holds still. As Queen Elsa, she stands a little taller, walks a little more slowly, and constantly uses her hands to “do the magic”. Since the characters are so different, I decided we needed to do two totally separate locations for each. We took Princess Anna up to Silver Lake for a little hike, sparkly shoes and all, and then we headed out to the Bonneville Salt Flats, flooded from a fresh rain fall, for Queen Elsa.

Princess Anna in the woods #FROZENFun  #shop Princess Anna costume #FROZENFun  #shop Princess Anna for Halloween #FROZENFun  #shop Costume photo portraits #FROZENFun  #shop Disney themed photo #FROZENFun  #shop Photos themed around Disneys Frozen #FROZENFun  #shop Princess Anna from Frozen #FROZENFun  #shop Princess Anna dress #FROZENFun  #shop Princess Anna twirling #FROZENFun  #shop Eva as Princess Anna #FROZENFun  #shop Queen Elsa costume #FROZENFun  #shop Bonneville salt flats sunset and Queen Elsa costume #FROZENFun  #shop Queen Elsa for Halloween #FROZENFun  #shop Queen Elsa dress from Walmart #FROZENFun  #shop Queen Elsa from Disneys Frozen #FROZENFun  #shop Queen Elsa doing the magic #FROZENFun  #shop flooded salt flats #FROZENFun  #shop Queen Elsa on the water #FROZENFun  #shop Dressing up as Queen Elsa #FROZENFun  #shop Bonneville salt flats #FROZENFun  #shop Queen Elsa Halloween costume #FROZENFun  #shop Disney trash the dress session #FROZENFun  #shop Eva as Queen Elsa #FROZENFun  #shop Queen Elsa portait from Disney photo session #FROZENFun  #shop Queen Elsa and the moon #FROZENFun  #shop

These photo sessions are my favorite. I love the trash-the-dress feel to them, like we’re doing something crazy by bringing the costumes out when it isn’t Halloween. Eva was so delighted when I let her get into the salty water in her Elsa gown (and glass slippers!). Play clothes are play clothes, right? I mean, it’s one thing to be the snow queen at home in your living room, but outside under the moonlight with nothing but blue for miles? Perfect.

15 Alternatives to the First Birthday Cake Smash

Posted by Carly Morgan

The first birthday cake smash has become something of a rite of passage, but it’s also a hit or miss operation. The dye in the frosting can be hard to remove from tiny hands, expensive cakes are a bit of a waste if they’re just going to be photography props, and the risk of unexpected food allergies definitely makes this mom nervous! Here are some alternative ideas if you’re rethinking that cake:

15 Alternatives to the First Birthday Cake Smash

1 /// Banana cream pie. We did one this year for Calvin and it was a definite hit! (More photos to come…)

2 /// A small stacked shortcake with peaches and fresh cream would be a sweet take on the traditional cake smash…and probably a little easier to clean up!

3 /// Pancakes loaded with maple syrup or whipped cream would be fun for a breakfast celebration.

4 /// Leave cake behind and go straight for a drippy ice cream cone or a loaded banana split. (No nuts!)

5 /// Dice Jello, put a bunch of cubes into a clear bowl, and top with whipped topping. The photos will be colorful but be warned that this one is likely to leave stains!

6 /// If you have an Autumn birthday, dish out a fat slice of pumpkin pie.

7 /// For a birthday around the Winter holidays, try letting them break down a gingerbread house (loosely glued with frosting and free from any small candies, of course!).

8 /// Spring babies deserve great big hollow chocolate bunnies. Just don’t let them eat the whole thing! Calvin ate most of his sister’s last Easter (oops!) and he was pretty out of control for hours.

9 /// Summer baby? Great big cotton candy or a fat slice of watermelon!!

10 /// Veering away from food, you can give your baby some fingerpaints and a big blank canvas to see what he comes up with.

11 /// Setting up a bubble machine nearby makes for cute pictures (especially because baby is entertained enough to hold still!).

12 /// Have someone stand by to toss confetti while you take photos (same effect on the baby that the bubbles have but you’ll have more to clean up AND you have to watch for fistfuls of confetti going into the mouth).

13 /// Fill a small wading pool with balls to create a ball pit at home.

14 /// Go outside and let that kid get good and muddy.

15 /// Don’t want to overthink it? Grab a tub of Cool Whip. Done. The kid will be thrilled.

1st birthday banana cream pie


PS – Be sure that your child has been exposed to these foods before you spring them at the party! Nuts, berries, milk, eggs, wheat…be aware of any unexpected reactions!

PPS – Calvin’s birthday onesie via Petite Lemon.

Eva’s Disney Princess Portraits

Posted by Carly Morgan

Princess photos in Salt Lake City

I took the kids downtown yesterday because we’ve had unusually overcast weather and I was feeling restless for a little photography time. I packed up most of Eva’s princess dresses and we did some portraits around downtown Salt Lake City with costume and hair changes happening here and there. There will be a time when Eva’s idea of fun is not to be dragged around the city playing dress up, but luckily we aren’t there yet!

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I would like to express my gratitude to the universe for everyone who said, “Hi, princess!” to Eva yesterday because each time that happened it was the greatest moment of her life. I would also like to toss out a universal-gratitude-shout-out to the world’s most patient little brother who didn’t get to be in any of the photos because the boy owns no Disney costumes.

City double stroller


PS – this is a sneak peek at our Britax B-Agile Double Stroller (Amazon affiliate link). It’s pretty awesome. Full video review coming soon, but the short of it is that you can take this thing anywhere! I’m getting excited to take it to Disneyland in September.

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