We went on a road trip a few weeks ago. 1800 miles in 8 days. It was rad. More on that soon.
I got to sneak in a little work and I invited myself for a tour at Mpix. We just so happened to be passing through Pittsburg, Kansas. As I was researching places to stop for the night in between Oklahoma City and Kansas City I saw Pittsburg on the map and knew the name sounded familiar. That’s because it’s the return address on all of my print orders.
Some of you may have seen my kid’s or my clients in their product shots. And I do a little blogging for them from time to time as well. I was first contacted by Mpix about 2 years ago. Shortly after Kennedy was born. You guys, I have never worked with a nicer group of people. From the very first conversation I had I was so impressed by their knowledge of the business. Every single person I have had contact with at Mpix and Miller’s are just the kindest people. And, I like to patronize businesses that are employing lots of great people. Don’t you?
I wasn’t disappointed on my tour. Everyone that I met in person was equally as nice. One thing that struck me is that when employees are trained they are taught to look at your images. They are expected to take a minute and appreciate a great image when they see one. They are told that if they can’t find something to be inspired by while working then maybe that job isn’t for them. Everyone at this company has an appreciation for photography. And because of that they are taking extra great care of your images.
The attention to detail astounded me. Every little detail is scrutinized my Mpix and Millers. For instance, this twine. It just looks like normal everyday twine, right? It took them 5 weeks to find the perfect twine which will work the best with their new Thumbprint Boxes. They think of solutions to problems before the problem happens.
And they are so labor intensive. Because this canvas wrap didn’t bleed (go all the way to the edges) it has to be perfectly centered. That takes skill.
Another thing that I loved is that their Luxe frames are all manufactured locally in Pittsburg. Made in the USA. LOVE that!
This is where they process all the orders that come in. It’s very, very quiet in here.
There is a strict no policy of taking pictures of pictures, but I was so impressed by the amazing work I saw while I was there. There are really a lot of talented photographers out there!
I’m so thankful I got to see where my prints are made. It makes me happy to know my work is being treated with so much love. Thanks, Mpix!
I’ve been wanting to buy an underwater camera for sometime, but thought it was a waste since Brayden wouldn’t even put his head underwater until recently. Something finally clicked for him this summer and now he’s a fish and pretty much swimming on his own. I guess all those swim lessons have finally paid off!
Since the underwater housings for DSLR cameras are so insanely expensive (even to rent) I decided to go with the Panasonic Lumix point and shoot camera. While my underwater photography still needs quite a bit of work, I loved having this camera to take to the pool on our vacation. It was so great to not worry about getting it wet. The quality is of course not going to be the same as a DSLR, but it does the job. And Brayden also had fun playing with it in the pool and taking pictures.
Underwater photography is hard and is an art that takes a ton of practice. The Lumix can be shot on manual, but I opted to keep it on automatic since holding my breath and trying to get my subject in frame while underwater was challenging enough. I think a snorkel and something to weigh you down so you don’t float to the surface would be particularly helpful. I see potential in this camera for getting really great underwater pictures once Brayden is completely swimming on his own and I don’t have to be so close to him. For now, I love being able to capture those shots in and around the pool that I wouldn’t normally be able to get with my big camera.
Overall, if you are looking for a new point and shoot camera I would recommend the Panasonic Lumix because you can use it in the water as well. It’s a fun feature and so nice not to have to worry about dropping it in the water!
How are you doing on your 365 projects? I almost made it the first 31 days. I completed 30 of 31. I wasn’t with him all day on one of the days. I could have cheated, but I decided to keep it real.
I find it so much harder to photograph Brayden than Kennedy. Kennedy was easy. She was always doing something new. There were so many firsts with her. And she’s so darn cute. Brayden is cute. Don’t get me wrong. But, he’s an almost 5 year old boy and it’s different.
I love this project so much because it’s so challenging. It’s challenging to take good pictures with my iPhone. It’s challenging to make the most out of the lighting. It’s challenging to get creative and not just take snapshots.
If you start to get burnt out keep your eye on the prize and keep going. It’s so worth it for that look back into an entire year with your kids!
*** For a tutorial on how to make the collage please see this post.
About a year ago I bought myself a used Contax 645. A film camera. It was my Christmas present to myself / tax write off / I’m in a creative rut and need a new toy present. Film is SO intimidating. I second guess myself all the time when shooting film. There’s no LCD to check. There’s no “spray and pray”. Each time you press the shutter you are paying $2 so you have to get the shot. The Contax is all manual focus which is HARD when shooting fast kids. Film is scary.
But, the results are oh, so beautiful. It took me nearly a year to send in some of my film. I was so scared each roll was going to turn out black. And that the people at the film lab were going to think I was so lame and laugh at me and talk behind my back (can you tell I had issues in high school?). However, I surprised myself. I’m no Jose Villa, but there were some good shots. Sure, there were a lot more bad shots than good, but the ones that were good were really good. It almost makes me want to shoot film exclusively. There’s no post work. You just send it to the lab and they send you back beautiful scans and you are done. Easy. Except it’s really not that easy because shooting film is hard. Sigh.
I’m going to keep practicing. Maybe I’ll even bring it out on a real shoot or two. With people who are older than 4 and will stay still for more than 10 seconds.
And if you’re interested I have been shooting with Fuji Pro 800Z film and the lab I have been using is Richard Photo Lab and I love them. They put up with my endless questions and don’t make me feel stupid. And I love how they have gone above and beyond to help me even though they know I am a beginner film shooter and won’t be giving them a ton of business. They made me feel important and I appreciate that.
I’m on vacation this week and in the midst of getting all of my clients orders and galleries ready I just couldn’t get to the Mom*tog of the Week! So, I asked one of our former Mom*tog’s of the Week, Debra Nigri to write a guest blog.
Many of you were very interested and impressed with her 366 Project. I myself have a Project 366 on Instagram (username: drewbphoto). I use my iPhone because
I’m addicted to my iPhone I don’t go anywhere without it. I just can’t fathom doing the project with my big camera. I asked Debra to elaborate on the logistics and the motivation for her 366 Project. Maybe I’ll be brave enough to try it next year… maybe.
Back in January, I had no idea what I was getting myself into…I was hesitant to start a 366 project (a picture a day for a year of my children), I was worried that I would get frustrated and quit after the first few weeks, I was concerned that I’d be forcing myself to take uninspired pictures just to meet my quota for a picture a day, but most of all I was fearful that I’d be wasting most of my precious free time with my two boys with a camera plastered to my face! Luckily, I disregarded these barriers took the plunge, set up a tumblr account and jumped in feet first.
My goal was simple – take a picture, each day, of my children and post my favorite. The project was purely for me, in part to capture memories of my kids, but more than that it was intended to be a challenge for myself — to think creatively, to learn to be an artist. It took a few weeks of experimenting, but it didn’t take long before I realized that because I was only posting one picture a day, I was favoring one child or the other, for several days in a row. Going back to my goal to capture memories, I quickly decided to extend my challenge to post one picture a day of each child. Game on…this is when the challenge doubled!
Easy is not a word I would use to describe this project - but here I am, 9 months in, and I know I’ve got this! As a full-time working, out of the home, mom (I’m out the door by 5:30am), I know I have to take pictures in the evening during the weekday. Like every other family, I have to anticipate the hectic early evening schedule. Sometimes this includes a quick trip to the park, the walk to swimming class, playing with trains inside, dinner, and of course the evening bathtime/bedtime crunch. With so much to accomplish in the evening, it can be challenging to find the motivation to pull out my camera each and every day. Some days I’m motivated by the amazing milestones that my kids are reaching, other days it’s the way the golden sunlight light streams though the window. It could be textures, reflections, a crazy hair day, or even the school art project du jour that inspires me on any given day. But frankly, most days I am simply fueled by my sheer determination and will to complete this project. I will be the first to admit that my children’s “cooperation” in capturing these milestones and memories each day is not on my list of inspiring motivators. I find it humorous when my friends and family express their amazement that my boys will actually pose for the pictures each day! Right…in actuality, it’s my children’s moods that are the daily wild-card factor, completely dictating the ambiance of the images for that day.
Because I want the images to reflect my kids naturally, I rarely plan out the shots. I have learned that “planned” photo shoots with my own kids never turn out as desired so I try and avoid the frustration and disappointment. I will admit that when the weekend rolls around, I’m excited to spend a little more time trying to get an inspired shot. Weekends are usually the only time I have more flexibility — I can break out my camera anytime during the day. Ultimately, I never know what will end up inspiring me each day…and if I get desperate, I can always rely on the bathtime/bedtime routine which can be fun. And at the very end of the day…if all else fails, I always know I can get a sleeping baby image!
Do I ever cheat? I’m proud to say that I’ve been very good about NOT cheating! My very first two weeks of the project were a little dicey because I hadn’t found my groove and had not fully committed to the project, so I ended up backlogging some of the images. But since that time, I’ve been very good about taking a picture a day, and pretty good about posting the images every day. There have been quite a few times that I’ve had to play catch up and post the images the following day. Vacation days and unruly kid days can definitely impact my ability to download, edit, and post the images on the same day it was taken. I’m very lucky to have the support and photoshop expertise of my husband, Kevin. This has truly been a team effort, he has been my biggest encourager, editing the images, and providing brutally honest feedback.
Other challenges include carrying my camera bag almost everywhere I go! I’ve gone through a few different camera bags, and I’ve finally found a very comfortable backpack – the Tamrac Aero Speedpack. It fits several lenses with room for other accessories. Another challenge is constantly managing my memory cards and computer memory! With all the memory I’m using, I should be better about deleting. This type of project definitely requires some time commitment – simply taking the pictures is just one small piece of the puzzle. Downloading and culling through the images requires additional time and even more if you choose to edit and post the images.
If this type of project interests you in the slightest, I encourage you to try. Figure out what you can manage and go for it. Maybe it’s a project using your camera phone or maybe you collect your daily pictures and post them once a week, or even once a month. The goal is to challenge yourself to grown and learn as a photographer while making some amazing memories of your family in the process. You can start today, tomorrow or next week — you make the rules and no one says you have to start the first day of the year!
Having shared all these challenges, I’ve finally found my own picture a day groove and think it will be really difficult to just stop once my year is up! I’m a huge fan of creating slideshows and I know that this will be the most likely output for these images. I’ve already used many of the pictures to create a 1st year slideshow for my son https://vimeo.com/49381925