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Schools Out!

Is it me or did this school year just fly by? My kiddos have been out of school for a couple of weeks now so technically I should be starting on their yearbooks, right? I always struggle with pulling together all the pictures, finding the right templates, and pulling it all together. As the mom to a kindergartener and a preschooler, I’ve had 3 years of preschool to help me think through an organization system to make it easier come time book building time. Here are the basics:

1. Start with the end in mind. Pick out your album template at the beginning of the school year. This way you have an idea of key moments that you want to capture like recitals, field trips, and holiday celebrations. This will allow you to plan for those pictures ahead of time. For this past year, I selected a template by Paislee Press. For those of you who are Photoshop-savvy, here’s the link to the album in PSD format. For others who like to the ease of of building an album through Shutterfly look for “Mini Masterpieces” under the kids section.

2. Start and end each school year in the same way – capturing the first and last day of school.  I like to get pictures of the kids with their teachers as well. Anything beyond that on the first and last day is gravy! Oh, and if life is a little crazy on that first morning, remember you still have the afternoon.

3. Import and tag your pictures using the same tag words. I tag all our school pictures “preschool.” That will make finding the pictures in July way easier than having to go through all your photos. If the software you use doesn’t allow tagging an alternative is to import all school photos into one directory per kid per year.

4. Collect everyone’s pictures of the kids. Our school is great at capturing pictures of the kids throughout the school year. They even print out “yearbooks” for us. The problem is that they’re printed on copy paper and won’t stand the test of time. Don’t be shy about asking the teachers to make you a CD of the pictures they took throughout the year. Most likely you’ll have to sift through all the pictures to get just your child’s but I’ll invest the 30 minutes if it means that I have better memories for my child.

5. Include pictures of your child’s masterpieces in their year book. Decide now how to capture the masterpieces your child will bring home daily. We’ve created a ritual of photographing those special treasures and then planning on including those into the yearbooks. But caution, let some time pass before you actually “misplace” the originals. <wink> <wink>

Finally, don’t forget to check out this Photo Guide for capturing the school year. Keep it handy and check off key pictures along the way so that you’ll have plenty to fill your yearbook.

Photo Guide

Capturing School Life Photo Guide

Safe and happy summer vacations!


What a difference a crop makes

One of the easiest and quickest ways to turn a snapshot into one for the wall is to creatively crop your photo. Here are some examples of before and afters to prove the point.

Take this first example. The before picture isn’t bad. It’s a composition with the subject, here my daughter, centered in the frame. There aren’t any distractions in the frame and it’s overall pretty clean. But notice how much stronger the tighter crop of her is. The photo is now clearly about her and her personality. Her features pop and you can appreciate her expression. Why? Because with the tighter crop I was able to create a more interesting composition using the rule of thirds.

Here’s another example. This one is practical example of cropping an image. It is an image I shot in my studio a few months back. I took individual portraits of the kids and some joint pictures. When I went to frame the pictures I realized that I needed three portraits. Not a problem. Apply a portrait crop and ta-da! I now have a great portrait of the kids suitable for framing.

I have to share that cropping is not my first go to when editing my images. Sometimes my cropping ideas are as a result of importing an image into Photoshop that’s too big to display on the screen without scrolling. To try it out yourself simply keep zooming into a photo. (Of course you can simply use the crop tool in either Photoshop or Lightroom but I like zoom because it’s way less destructive.)

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