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Marriage Retreat: Family Friday

Due to being out of town all weekend for an Army-sponsored marriage retreat, I had to wait until today to post last week’s Family Friday post.

What I learned at the marriage retreat has inspired me to write this:

The Do’s and Don’ts of Marriage Retreats

DO go with an open mind and an open heart.  It’ll be hard when you learn the cheesy class and movie titles but it is worth it to listen.

DON’T be that guy.  If you decide the classes are boring/lame/don’t apply to you, don’t turn into that guy that has to make a wise crack under his breath every five minutes.  It’s childish and not amusing.  Find something else to occupy your mind or fake a stomach ache and take a really, really really long potty break.

DO take notes.  You might feel silly but it’ll help you remember some of the things you learned.

DON’T assume your spouse is not listening.  Some people have to fidget and doodle the entire time.  It doesn’t mean they aren’t listening.  I’m an example of this.  If I didn’t stay moving, I would zone out.

DO discuss what you learned and put it into action.  If you thought the marriage retreat concept was silly or your spouse thought it was, you might feel like a dork to bring it up but bring it up anyway.  You might be surprised that your spouse wants to talk about it too.

I learned that marriage retreat classes are a lot like high school classes.  You’ll have the over achieving couples with their hands in the air, the couple that can’t keep their hands off each other, the couples that would rather be anywhere but there, and the couples that stay low profile and avoid eye contact.  (That last one is me.  I kept my eyes firmly planted on my paper the entire time).  It can help your marriage even if you think your marriage is already pretty awesome.  Trust me, this time last week all I could think about was “Woohoo, free trip to the beach.  Sucks that I’ve got to spend it in marriage classes” but now I’m really glad I went even if I only spent a grand total of twenty minutes on the beach.

Have you ever been on a marriage retreat?

52 Weeks Photos

I was really hoping to come back with some beautiful pictures of my children playing on the beach but two things happened: It rained almost the whole weekend and their suitcase was forgotten at home.  I’m very particular about the boys’ clothes when it comes to pictures so I didn’t bother pushing for the photographs I was hoping for.  So this weeks photos for the 52 Week project is from Sunday afternoon’s trip to Broadway at the Beach.

If you’re military, don’t forget to ask for your discount with Ripley.  75% off!  My family of four visited the aquarium for less than the price of one regular price ticket!  I <3 the Ripley company!

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4 Easy Ways to Waste Your Time and Money on Photography

I don’t want anyone -my client or not- to feel like they’ve wasted time or money on photography.  Even if you use an inexpensive photographer, you still invest a lot of time researching photographers, emailing with potential photographers, coordinating schedules, deciding what to wear, traveling to the session, and then smiling  for the camera for at least an hour.  How many other ways can you spend an afternoon with your family that would be more fun that getting a portrait made? So when you go into the decision to choose a photographer and get your portrait made, here’s four things not to do and what you could do to make sure you’ll be happy with the investment for years to come.

4. Hire the wrong photographer.  From hiring a photographer with a style you don’t like to a “you get what you pay for” scenario, there are a ton of reasons why you should research the right photographer for the job.  I recently heard the quote:

The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten

and it’s just as true in photography as in anything else.  You want good quality portraits of your family.  You want a photographer that knows what they are doing and will make you look amazing.  You do not want to look at the photograph and only see the blemish the photographer didn’t edit out or the wrinkled backdrop they used.  You want a portrait that screams “THIS IS US!” not just states what you look like.  Imagine your perfect family portrait and find a photographer that views the world the same as you do.  If you like the trendy or hazy or moody, go for that.  If you like posed portraits or candid photographs, browse local photographer’s portfolios and blogs and see who you would like to take your portraits.  If you find a photographer with work that you love, hire them!  You might not be able to book a session that day due to budget concerns but save for them or book in the spring with your tax return.  You will not regret hiring a photographer that you value and trust to capture you and your family in a beautiful artistic way.  You will regret spending your hard earned money on pictures you don’t even like just because you feel obligated to purchase them from a photographer you only hired based on price.  And trust me, I know what it feels like to feel obligated to purchase pictures just because they’re your child’s birthday pictures.  They are still on CD somewhere because even though I hated the whole experience, I still felt like I had to have all of them.  I am a sentimental momma after all.

3. Wearing the wrong outfit or getting your haircut too close to your session.  If Mama ain’t happy, no one is happy.  This applies to the family portrait too.  You are not going to want to hang it up big and show it off to all your friends if you are not happy with how you look in it.  Have a tried and true haircut.  Where something that makes you feel pretty… don’t dress like a fashionista if your tomboy at heart but do be sure that what you are wearing flatters your body type, accents your beautiful assets, and represents who you are.  The kids’ clothes count too!  You will not want to order prints if you don’t like what everyone is wearing and that’s a waste of the time you put into your session and the money you spent on the creative fee.  Feel free to ask your photographer for wardrobe advice or scour Pinterest for ideas like these.

2. Not printing the images on the DVD you had to have.  I hear a lot of people saying that purchasing the digital files is a must.  They’ll print them on their own or make a book of them later.  I also hear a lot of people say they never get around to printing.  They get the cd, upload to Facebook, bask in the warmth of all these glowing comments, then forget about them.  Printing the images gets put on the to-do list.  We get busy, we forget, and before we know it, the CD is lost or scratched.  Technology moves fast and you’ll have to find a specialist to recover the pictures just like if you want to print old slides.  I have nothing against digital files but you can’t just leave them in the digital format!  Print those precious memories, stick them in a frame, and show your kids how happy their little faces make you.

1. Not displaying them in your home!  The number one way to waste your pictures is to not even display them!  You just spent hours discussing the session with the photographer, picking out the right clothes, getting everyone dressed and kept clean before the session (that’s always an amazing feat in itself, right?), getting your photographs taken, then deciding which photographs you love most.   You pick them up, take them home, then what?  Wait until you get around to buying a frame?  Put small prints in tiny frames to collect dust with the knickknacks?  Hand out a few wallets to random relatives then stick them in the box of pictures you’ll put in an album some day?  Invest in a photograph that you’ll feel proud of.  Hang that big boy over the fireplace and make it center of attention.  After all, the focus of your life is your family, right?  Not the television or some painting of a random barn/waterfall/garden you’ve never seen before .  Use photographs to decorate.  Go to Pinterest and search “wall gallery” and view all kinds of awesome ways you can display your pictures -like this.  You can do one large print and make an impact.  Or you can group together several mid-size portraits to make this beautiful gallery that shares a story with everyone that walks into your home.  If you want something artistic, get a canvas.  If you want something modern, get a frameless image that pops off the wall.  Want something traditional?  Get your portrait professionally framed.  There are gorgeous frames out there in bold, funky colors in ornate shapes that would look darling in a child’s room.  Too many pictures to hang on the wall?  Purchase a book of them!  A book would be perfectly designed to tell the story, including all the details, and bound into a book that the grandkids will fight over.  Leave it on the coffee table for guests to ooh and ahh over.  Just make sure people see it!  If no one is looking at it, no one is enjoying it and there is no purpose in a photograph that no one ever sees.

I want you to have a family portrait that warms your heart every time you see it.  I want you to feel proud when your friends come over and see it.  I want your grandkids to battle it out when deciding who it gets past.  Most of all I want you to feel like your investment was well worth it for the pride of ownership you feel towards it.

Brothers: Family Friday Personal Post

If you live in Kernersville, I hope you’ve gotten out to enjoy the nice weather we’ve had before the rain rolls in.  I took the boys out for a little walk to soak in some sun.  It’s the first time I’ve gotten to play with the 135L that I bought last fall then it was promptly too cold for me to go outside and break it in.

Among 250+ shots of the boys fighting, pushing, playing in the mud, picking up sticks, giving me the “put the camera down” look, and general silliness that is children, I got this one keeper.  They found it hilarious to squeeze each other then roll in the grass.  They really are the best of friends and it always makes me happy to see them playing together without of them ending in tears.

I’m thinking I might print this one as a canvas for our new home.  It think a canvas texture would add a perfect artistic touch.

How do you feel about canvas prints?  Love it or hate it?

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