Monday, November 23, 2015

The Annual Fall Family Photo

Oh man. Can you believe that it's already the last full week of November? Thanksgiving already?! That's cray, cray. (As the kids would say...but since I'm not one, it sounds pretty stupid. Actually, I think it sounds stupid either way.)

Can you tell I'm tired? And not thinking clearly? That's just how it's going these days. While I have enjoyed nearly every moment of the photoshoot craziness that has gone on the past couple of weeks, I'm a bit relieved that today's is the last.

Granted, it's also the one I'm the most excited about...I know the family much better than last week's. I have a better idea of what they're looking for, and their style is a little easier to work with.

And, most importantly, it will be OUTSIDE! Which is SO much easier! The sky does all of the hard work for me. Unfortunately, it's a little more gray than I was hoping. When I took the kids last week, the light was perfect, and I'm hoping for the same today, but I'm not optimistic.

As you can see, we had some fun doing our own family photo shoot about a month ago.

The kids were willing participants for the most part this year, and it was fun seeing what I could get with the tripod and my own skills.

Reece certainly added a new challenge this year, since it's incredibly difficult to get a one year old to look at the camera...especially when there is no one behind it!

Of course, there were several of the five of us where he is looking at the camera, but one of the others is not. I was probably my own worst enemy, since I kept looking at down the remote.

Of course one of my favorite parts of these photos is seeing how our family has changed and grown over the years since we've been here. It's hard to believe that this is our fifth fall in Seoul!

In case you want to do the same, I've found the links for you. I still can't believe we missed 2013. Here is 2011, 2012, and 2014 (which, you might remember, I didn't take).

And, yes, poor Reece was left out of many of these, as he sat back and watched from the stroller. Next year, buddy; you'll be running around and throwing leaves! He's still not even close to walking, which I'm just fine with!

Does it bother anyone else that this park is on a hill?? It drives me crazy that I can either straighten the sidewalk or the trees, not both. Sheesh. Time for a new location.

Since I got some good portraits of the big kids this past week, I tried to pare down the number of pictures I put in this post, if you can believe it! But, for once, there is evidence that I am a part of this family, as well. And since I'll spend the rest of my week editing, rather than blogging, I'll say "Happy Thanksgiving!" now!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Family Photoshoot

Wow. Another week has flown by in a haze of photo-taking, editing, and location scouting. I can't even imagine what life is like for real photographers this time of year!

I had not set myself up for success with the time of day that this shoot had to take place, so while the shoot itself went better than I was expecting, the editing took me forever!!

Shadows and red casts abound! At this point, I'm glad they're done, and I'm glad that I was able to overcome the challenge to some extent. They were a hit to my ego, though, I'll admit.

Friday and Saturday afternoons, I took the kids to local parks to scout out the colors and lighting. While it was a bit of a hassle, the upside is that I got some good shots of the kids. Much better than last year's scouting trip. And who knows? Maybe eventually I'll even get around to editing and posting pictures of our own family!

I will say that if I ever decide to go into business (though after this shoot, I'm not thinking that's a very good idea!), I will certainly have a better idea of what that would look like, how much work is involved, and what my time is worth!

I'm also extremely grateful to friends who are willing to trust me with their time and energy as their family photographer. I know that even when you're not paying for it, a lot of time, energy, and thinking goes into getting your pictures taken. Even when you're just hoping for one good shot of your family!

And now, I'd better finish dinner and maybe edit some pictures. We're looking forward to another busy week of photoshoots, editing, and Thanksgiving dinners!

Monday, November 16, 2015

My First Newborn Photoshoot

Man, I thought I was doing so well last week getting my first blog post done early in the week. I thought that would make it so much easier to whip out another, complete with pictures. They were already edited after all. But no, things got crazy real quick, and before I knew it, the week was over and blogging hadn't even entered my train of thought! Whoops.

In reality, I ended up spending all of my free time last week doing research on newborn photography for this little man's photoshoot on Thursday. And then, once it was done, I spent every spare moment editing, so that these could be done before I take their family shots today.

But, let's be honest, I really didn't mind! Aside from being overwhelmed by the amount of information there is out there, I really enjoyed watching videos, reading, and looking at photo inspiration for my first not-my-own-child newborn photoshoot.

I remember being quite disappointed with Reece's newborn pictures, though I did have the bias that comes from being his mother to help me out! But, there were a few things working against me: being postpartum made it very difficult for me to crawl around on the floor to get the right angles, living in a dungeon made it hard to get good light, and the fear of waking my own child really kept me from posing him or moving him at all.

Reece also had terrible baby acne, flaky skin, and some jaundice...things this little one did not suffer from, in spite of the fact that he was already two weeks old at that point. He also slept like a log! And, somehow we managed without him peeing or pooping on anything, though he was without a diaper for nearly two hours! I was well-prepared for it, as I was assuming it would happen.

The original plan was to get the family shots at the same time as the newborn shots, but his mom ended up sick, so Dad brought him alone. I'm so glad it worked out this way, though, because I think two hours of newborn pictures was enough for one day...not to mention the disaster my living room was having moved furniture, blankets, and rugs all over the place!

So, today, I do the family shoot...they're wanting something for a Christmas card, can you tell? And then this weekend, a shoot for another family. We'll see how it goes....

In the meantime, I have 2 sick kids and a ceiling that is leaking in several places, so I think I'll just look at some more newborn photos...

Monday, November 9, 2015

Lindy's Trip

Oh, hey. Before all of this birthday hoopla, Eric's mom came to visit. In my typical blogger style, I got all wrapped up in current events and meanwhile, these pictures have just been sitting here. Waiting for things to settle down, I guess. And things have finally settled down! Hallelujah! (Truth be told, though, I should definitely be working on cleaning the house rather than blogging right now, since we're having a friend over for dinner. Oh well. The house will still be dirty when I'm done.)

Lindy has come four out of the five years that we've been in Korea, so we're getting to the point where we don't really have anything new to show her. This year, it was more of a "we'll do life as we normally would, and you can tag along" type of trip. With the added benefit of ordering dinner in a couple of times.

This year, she came for Chuseok, which is definitely one of the nicest times of the year, as far as the weather goes! (Although we can't complain much at this point, either. We've had a few days down into the 30s, but for the most part it's been 50s or 60s, and I'm perfectly content with that well into November!) Since the weather was so nice, we took advantage of it and spent plenty of time outside.

We packed a lunch and the kids and I took her to one of our favorite parks for a few hours between Reece's naps on her first day while Eric was at school. On Saturday, Eric had a baseball game, and he was excited for his mom to see him play. Since this is the last season that he is playing, he asked me to take some pictures. I tried to tell him that he needs to buy me a new lens to get good pictures of him on the field, but he didn't go for it!

On Sunday, after church, lunch, and naps, we went on a short bike ride down to the nearest park. It was the introductory ride for Lindy--a little less than five miles round trip--to prepare her for the longer trip we had planned for Tuesday.

Monday was our big day. Typically, Chuseok is a popular time for foreigners to go to Everland, but the last time we went was our first year here, and Kennedy was starting to feel left out. Eric goes every spring with the middle school, and Cade has gotten to go every year, but Kennedy hasn't gone since the first year. So, we decided this was the year to do it.

That first year, we went on the actual holiday, so it was empty when we got there. It was really pretty great until the afternoon when it started to get busy. This year, the actual holiday was Saturday (I think?), and we couldn't make it work. By the time we got there, maybe 10 minutes after it opened, we already had to park so far away that they shuttled us to the entrance. Yikes.

Needless to say, the crowds were pretty horrific. We didn't realize right away that they finally have the Disney equivalent of "fast passes," so we were only able to get one and the rest were already done for the day. In spite of the heat, the long lines, and the so-so food, we all had some fun and certainly made some memories!

We were served the world's worst potato chips. Seriously terrible. We walked more than 20,000 steps. Eric and I walked around the entire amusement park trying to find something that we would all be happy to eat for lunch (and trying to put Reece to sleep) all while Lindy and the kids did one ride.

We went on a ride that I had told Lindy you don't get wet on, and she got completely drenched while I didn't get a drop. We stood in line forever to take the little train around the gardens. I think the kids' favorite part was taking off their shoes and socks and playing in the splash pad while the adults took a break and just sat.

Thankfully, this trip did not have the drama of the last one she had here. The drive in both directions, in spite of it being a holiday weekend, was pretty reasonable, and we were so grateful! We did check out the school van for the weekend, though, so that we could all fit in one vehicle. So, our rides were more comfortable, but that thing is a beast to park in little tiny Korean parking spaces!

And now, I must get something done before Reece wakes up from his nap and the kids get off the bus! We're so excited to back to the status quo this week--just Awana, swimming, a friend for dinner, Zumba, photoshoots, Bible studies, date night, and baseball. Should be a good week! 

Friday, November 6, 2015

The Birthday Party

Well, I made that promise that I was going to try to get more pictures edited and try to get back to that twice a week blogging, but it may have been a bit premature! After only sleeping about four hours last night, my motivation and energy are lacking today. At 2am this morning, after being up for more than three hours with Reece, I texted Eric to tell him that I'll be the one sleeping at a hotel tonight. Just to get a full night's sleep. Sounds reasonable, right? I don't think he's going to go for it...

Seriously though, it's a good thing this kid is cute. I'm not exactly sure what was keeping him up last night, but I was about ready to lose my mind. Of course, he has napped well today (and I got a short one this morning, too!), but I was at my wits' end last night. I tried, picking him up, frozen pacifiers, changing his diaper. I even rocked him back to sleep, only to have him wake up when I stood up! The last time I went in, I told him I was "all done," and he immediately signed back "more." (Because he signs "more" for everything now...a ball stuck under the chair, food or milk, getting picked's pretty cute!) Thankfully, he really did go back to sleep after that, because it totally melted my heart, and I wouldn't have been able to ignore any crying after that move!

The day of his birthday party was another one of those "Reece" days. He took a short morning nap before church, which I thought was going to work out perfectly. Lately, if he takes a good, long morning nap then sometimes he won't take an afternoon nap at all. So, I thought it was all going to work out perfectly but no such luck. He refused to take a nap in the afternoon, in spite of a short morning nap, so though I'd prepped as much as humanly possible ahead of time, I was still stressed out at party time when we plucked him out of his crib as the first guests arrived.

Needless to say, having only slept 45 minutes that day, he was not in the best of moods that afternoon. He was generally happy as long as we were feeding him, and from my vantage point in the kitchen, it looked as though he was content to be passed around the room from one person to the next.

When it came time for cake, though, he was quite unsure. I'd hoped that with a practice round the week before, that he would know what to do a little more than his older siblings, but that was not to be. Having 30 people watch his every move with that cake didn't help things, I'm sure! (And Eric recruited one of our photog friends to take some pictures. I'd forgotten to change one of the settings, so that she could use my camera, but I was happy to see that I made it into one picture! Hopefully, she'll send the ones that she took with her own camera soon.)

Eric was a bit impatient and ended up cutting Reece's cake pretty early, since we knew that he liked the cake itself and wasn't a fan of the frosting. He was ready for the show, and it certainly did inspire Reece to get into the cake with a little more vigor.

He was pretty content to sit there and snack on that cake for nearly an hour; everyone was impressed with how much this kid can eat! He had already eaten a pretty significant amount of taco chicken chili and he finished it off with plenty of cake! He was so tired, though, that he did periodically break down in tears for no apparent reason.

I made pumpkin cake and chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter frosting for everyone else, but one of our friends did have to snag a bite of Reece's cake just to verify that it did indeed taste good. I guess when you tell everyone that you're not too worried how much of it he eats because it's bananas, (homemade, sugar-free) applesauce, and coconut oil, people doubt that it actually tastes good. But it did, I promise.

I brought some decorations back from the States for the party--some plates, a banner, and balloons. I didn't end up getting a picture of the banner, because the table wasn't too impressive and it hung above that. I enjoyed the challenge of picking the pictures to print and hang--one for each month--and one of our friends asked who I got to take them, so I'll take that as a compliment. Finding the letters for his one year photo shoot was a bit of challenge. I knew exactly where I had seen them four years ago, but I wasn't sure how to get back to that spot. Nothing is ever simple here, but I managed it, and Kennedy and I ended up with a fun (and exhausting) little adventure--lots of girl time and some good old fashioned shopping. Cade and I enjoyed picking up leaves and pine cones to give things an autumnal feel, in spite of the lack of orange pumpkins...just a green squash. (And don't tell, but those candy corn are actually a year old; don't worry, I didn't let anyone eat any!)

And, because I haven't noted it anywhere yet, Reece's first official word is "uh-oh." He's been saying "mamama" and "dadada" for months, but "uh-oh" is the only word that he uses in the proper context with perfect pronunciation. It's a favorite...even when he doesn't accidentally drop something! He's also starting to wave hello and goodbye, though usually with a significant gap between when everyone else waves and when he waves. And now, this little boy is officially one. And all of the festivities are officially over. And it's time to start thinking about Thanksgiving and Christmas! 

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The Cake Smash

Okay. I'm really going to try to get back to this blog regularly again. Really, I am. But, you know what's more fun than editing pictures? Reading about editing pictures. I know. It's lame. But, I joined this forum on photography and editing in September in hopes that I would learn some new things, practice more, improve my skills. So far, I think I've just wasted a lot of time reading, afraid that I won't actually improve. Anyway, I'm really going to start making more of an effort to actually produce something!

In a pointed effort to do so, I did put an effort into doing the now-popular "cake smash." What's a cake smash, you ask? Oh, it's a special photo session where the sole purpose is to actually get good pictures of a one year old eating his/her cake. In other words, no more of those terrible pictures that Aunt Sally takes at the first birthday party that are taken under incandescent bulbs in the middle of your chaotic kitchen surrounded by 50 of your closest relatives. Now, people pay hundreds of dollars for a special "cake smash" photo session.

Needless to say, we would never pay for such a thing. (Especially given the fact that we have never paid to have a professional take our pictures. Ever.) However, it sounded like a fun thing to do and a good way for me to stretch my skills and get in a few extra pictures. I'd been thinking about doing this for months, but then when the time came, I backed out. I decided it was unnecessary and a lot of extra work.

But, when I baked Reece's cake more than a week before his party (using this lovely sugar free recipe made from bananas and applesauce), it turned out that I could cut out four four-inch circles for his cake for the party and still have enough leftover to cut three three-inch circles for a smash cake. So, why not? I made the frosting out of cream cheese and apple juice, so I wasn't feeling guilty about double the cake for him, and if the cake wasn't going to be too much work, then I figured I might as well take the pictures!

The worst part of the whole thing was hanging the "backdrop" which was clearly a wrinkled sheet. My original plan didn't work, so we had to move a bookcase into the good light to drape the sheet from. And, of course, he didn't nap that afternoon, so he was not in the best of moods.

Nonetheless, with the help of Eric and Kennedy, I got everything all situated and we took some fun pictures of Reece getting into his cake. He didn't love the frosting, but he did love the cake! (I even added some powdered sugar to it for his party, and he still didn't love the frosting.) 

And, of course, now I'm so glad I did....any chance to get some cute pictures of this kid, right?

After the cake smash, we took off and did our annual fall photos in the leaves. We did them a bit earlier in the year than ideal for the fall colors, but I wanted to make sure they were taken again this year, so I just decided to make it work. That means I have plenty more pictures to edit right now!

Reece's party on Sunday turned out great! We had so many good friends come to celebrate our little man, and we were so grateful that in spite of how busy everyone is right now that they were able to take a little time to celebrate with us!

On Monday morning, Eric took off to Jeju for his Week Without Walls trip, so at this point, it's just me and the kids. Evenings are pretty stressful with the limited amount of time we have to complete homework and chores, eat dinner, and get everyone ready for bed, but we're powering through. At least there's no pressure for dinner...cereal anyone? (Just kidding, but seriously...quesadillas, mac'n'cheese, soup...we're eating like kings over here!) And now, I'm going to try to edit a few more pictures before Reece wakes up and it's time to pick up the kids...
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