Documenting Life

As some of you may know already or if you read My Story, I'm a wedding and portrait photographer.  I make my living documenting milestone events and moments in the lives of others.  It is my dream job.  Being able to capture these special moments for people is amazing.  As a photographer, I strive to not just tell people where to stand and how to pose, but to capture how they are as a person, as a couple, as a family.  I think these photos, with the real smiles, real expressions, and real moments are the ones that tell the story.  These photos will tell future generations who we really were.  What we were about.  What and who we loved. How we lived and what mattered to us most.  

So, why am I telling you all of this?  Because for the past few years I have gotten away from documenting my own family's life.  Business is going great.  I am capturing some great moments for my clients, but when it comes to my own family, I am slacking.  I realized I never take out my "fancy" camera unless it's for work.  I got lazy. That's the bottom line.  It's just so easy to take  a snap shot with my iphone, I mean, I carry it with me everywhere I go anyhow.  I was also finding that with my pro camera in hand, I missed out on a lot of the fun and I worried about keeping my camera protected too, especially if we were outdoors like at the beach or something.  So, a year or so ago we purchased a nice high end digital rangefinder camera that is small and convenient, so we've been using that for our trips and leaving our pro cameras at home. And although I love the convenience and ease of the smaller camera, I feel like something is missing.  There is something about my professional DSLR camera that I can't capture in the smaller camera.  

The other problem I have with documenting life is that photos rarely live outside of a screen.  With sharing on Instagram, facebook, this blog, or my photography blog, I'm not getting photos printed.  I remember being a kid and getting so excited when we'd develop a roll of film and eagerly flipping through the photos, careful not to get any fingerprints on them.  Or as I got older, making scrapbooks and putting the pictures in albums or small "brag books".  Remember those? I want that for my kids.  I want them to be able to sit down and open a book and look through the images and remember all the fun we had on a certain vacation, hiking our favorite trails, or just on a lazy Sunday afternoon.  

After giving this much thought, I've come up with a plan.  Because, come on, you know me, there is always a plan!  First of all, I've got to be realistic.  I know that I won't carry my pro camera everywhere.  It's just not who I am.  So, there will still be lots of documenting with my iphone on instagram.  However, I'm excited to check out Chat Books.  They are small 6x6 60 page books where every photo you shear to Instagram creats a page in your book series.  The best part is that you can easily remove photos and add captions to create perfect book each time.  Because come on, I post a lot of photos of food and running that probably don't need to be printed each time.  The best part is that each book is only $6 and they also offer subscription plans.  I can't wait to try them out and let you know how they are!  

My days of scrapbooking are over.  Who has time for that?!? But, I do love the photo books from My Publisher.  I made one for our 2013 summer vacation and the kiddos love looking through it!   I know I said I had a plan, but I'm honestly not sure how I want to go about these books, yet.  Ideally, I would love to make books for each season of the year or at least from each of our family vacations. Any ideas? Please share them in the comments!  

Lastly, like I said, I know I won't take my pro camera with me everywhere we go.  But, I will make it a point to take it on longer vacations and periodically on hikes and stuff.  I want to document, not just the special occasions, but pieces of everyday life too.  Because it's the everyday adventures and shenanigans that make up our life.  It's the forts made out of sheets in Elysee's room, the cool kendama tricks Diego does daily, the family game nights, the bbq's with friends.  It's these moments that make up our life.  It's these moments that are worth documenting. 

Bonus:  In an effort to keep up with documenting our lives, I ask that you join me too! I know I am not the only one struggling to take out the camera, be it the point and shoot, camera phone, or DSLR.  I challenge you to document your life for the month of August.  Let's see how much we can photograph and document in one month.  I'll be sharing my favorite moments here on my blog and if you are also a blogger, I'd love to have you share your favorite photos on your blog.  Maybe this could even become a monthly or weekly blog swap!  Who's in? We may be surprised to see that the ordinary moments are the ones that make life extraordinary.  

Marking Activites Off Our Summer Bucket List 2015

We've officially got about one more month of summer left and so far we've had our fair share of, "I'm bored!" and too much TV and video games.  We've also had our lazy days of summer where it's just too hot to go out or days when life's boring tasks of cleaning, running errands, and doing laundry take over.  But, we've still managed to have some fun times.  This is why it's so important for our family to have this Summer Bucket List done early in the summer so we can not only have fun activities and events to look forward to, but to also make the time to make it happen.  We don't want to get so caught up in our daily routine and life's demands that we forget to have fun!

Our summer has also included days at the pool at my parent's place and our friend's place, a fun day boating on Lake Mead, a weekend camping in Utah, jumping at SkyZone, making ice cream, evening bike rides, and watching some family movies!  

We still have a few more things to mark off our Summer Bucket List but so far we're having a great summer making memories and going on adventures!  How's your summer going?  


5 Tips for a Fun & Successful Family Camping Trip

Our first camping trip as a family was a great success!  Jason and I had been on few camping trips in Florida before we had the kiddos, but it'd been 12 years since then.  Plus, camping with kids is way different.  The kids had been asking to go camping since last summer, so we decided to make it part of our summer bucket list this year.  Our trip was 2 nights and I think this was just enough for us.  It was long enough to make the effort worthwhile, but not too long to get boring or overwhelming.  We went out to Navajo Lake, UT, which is about a 3 hr drive from Las Vegas.  This was a good distance for us.  Far enough that it felt like a getaway and the scenery was completely different, but close enough that we didn't have to drive for too long.  

Of course, I don't by any means think we're camping experts or suggest we had a flawless trip, but I think we did pretty good and I'd love to share some of the ups and downs (but mostly the ups!) of our trip and share 5 tips that helped make our first camping trip fun!

1.  Make a list!  There are tons of websites you can find online or on pinterest with extensive checklists on what to pack for your camping trip.  REI had a great one we used, here.  These lists are pretty long and detailed, so you may or may not need all of these items for your trip, but it's a good idea to print one out and use as a starting point.  Camping requires lots of stuff. I still can't get over the amount of things you have to take!  

2.  Prepare!  Go on some day trips and/or family hikes if you aren't used to the great outdoors.  Our family loves to go on hikes & picnics together, so overnight camping was the natural next step for us. If you're new to the outdoors, start off slow with a picnic at a park and walks through natural settings and work your way up to longer hikes.  

3.  Go with friends!  Even before Jason and I had kids, we always went camping with a group of friends.  The more the merrier.  Going with another family was perfect for us.  The kids had friends to play with, so they weren't always looking for us to entertain them.  Don't get me wrong, we did get some, "I'm bored!" What can we do now?" but I know it would have been tons more had it just been the 4 of us.    

4.  Plan some activities!  Yes, I'm a planner and the idea of just going on a trip without any set plans is not within my comfort zone.  This trip was pretty spontaneous for us and we didn't have huge plans for when we got there, but the few things we did have planned were just enough.  It doesn't have to be anything huge and you definitely do not need to plan every minute, but having a few activities for the kids was super helpful.  Jason took some supplies for a little battery-electicity science experiment for the kids, we had them do a scavenger hunt, and the highlight of the day was going fishing!  We have an awesome book titled Camp Out!: The Ultimate Kids' Guide and it's packed with stuff for kids to do on camping trips. (Tip: this book is also great for day trips and hikes) 

5.  Get the kids involved!  Camping is a lot of work.  There's the setting up camp, putting up your tents, making a fire, cooking, cleaning, etc.  Just unloading and loading up the cars is a lot of work.  Kids love helping out and feeling useful, so get them involved in "camp life".  We gave our kids small tasks they could handle depending on their age and with some supervision and direction, they were all able to help out.  

No trip with kiddos is guaranteed to be stress-free and some trips will be better than others.  We had our share of issues from thunderstorms, leaking tents, and a few kid meltdowns!  But, nothing we couldn't handle with a little flexibility and a good attitude!  

I'll admit before this trip, I was pretty nervous about taking the kids camping.  But, with a little preparation, I think we'll be ready to go again soon.  There's something special about being outdoors without all the comforts of modern daily living that helps ground you.  I think it's important to let kids "rough it" for a few days, get dirty, and disconnect for a bit.  I'm looking forward to our next camping trip, for sure.  Any expert campers out there have any additional tips for our next trip?  I'd love to hear them!