How To Not Wait 4 Hours to Meet Anna and Elsa at Disneyland

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*** All images Canon 5D Mark II, 50 1.2

F 2.8, 1/400, ISO 1600

I’ve got my very own little Anna (yeah for another redheaded Disney princess!).  She’s had days where she only responds to Anna and will only call me Elsa.  And you may have seen on Instagram that even when I lock myself in the bathroom she comes knocking on the door asking if I want to build a snowman.

We go to Disneyland a lot, but I have never been brave enough to attempt the Frozen line.  I’ve heard horrible things about 3 or 4 hour wait times and I’m not patient enough to stand in that long of a line with a 2 year old.  Not even for my little Anna.  But, with our annual passes nearing our summer blackouts I really wanted Kennedy to meet them.  Okay, let’s be honest, it was really more for me than for her.  Because she won’t remember it, but I always will.  It was so magical.  And totally worth every minute I spent in line and waking up at 5:45am.

I learned a couple of things about how to make the wait a bit easier and I thought I’d pass them on to you in case you have your very own Anna and Elsa.

1)  Pick a day where there isn’t a Magic Hour at Disneyland.  Magic Hours are when one of the parks opens early for guests who are staying at a Disneyland Resort.  If there is a Magic Hour there will already be a long line to see the princesses before you can even get into the park.  Pick a day when there are no Magic Hours.  Or, better yet, when California Adventure has a Magic Hour.  Then all of the resort guests will be over there!  You can find out which park has Magic Hours by viewing the daily schedule (hover over the day and click on “daily schedule”)

2)  I noticed that some days Anna and Elsa don’t start seeing guests at the same time the park opens.  That means if the park opens at 8 sometimes the Frozen sisters may not start until 10.  So, you will be waiting in line for 2 hours before the characters even get there.  That’s no fun!  You can find out what time they start by looking at their schedule.

3)  Get to the park before the gates open.  You want to be one of the first people in line when the gates open.  Because a majority of the people who are there that early are there for the same reason you are.  When they open the gates (I heard it varies between 7:25 and 7:40 on a day that the park opens at 8) you will want to head towards the statue of Mickey and Walt Disney (in front of the castle) where there could be cast members holding small frozen signs.  All of the lands are roped off until 8 when the park opens.  At 7:50 they will walk you through the castle before the park opens (which is pretty cool) and lead you to the line to meet the Frozen princesses.  If there are no cast members holding signs then go right to the Frozen house (next to the carousel) when they open the ropes.  You might want to run.  But, don’t tell them I told you to.

4)  If you have another adult with you have them take your child on some rides while you wait.  If you don’t, bring a blanket with you that they can sit on and something to occupy themselves.  Kennedy made a friend in line in front of us which helped make the time pass by faster.  Also, don’t panic if your kid has to use the restroom.  Kennedy is newly potty trained and started doing the potty dance right before it was our turn to go in.  The cast member was very sweet and told us we could go use the restroom and he would hold our spot.  It turned out it was just Kennedy’s nervous dance.  Which looks an awful lot like her pee pee dance.

5)  Don’t get pissed when they close the door.  There were about 3 families in front of us when they closed the door.  We were so close and I was so annoyed that they already needed a break (they had only been working for an hour!).  But, after I went inside and saw how in character they were, those girls needed a break!  It was only for about 10 minutes.  So, don’t panic!

6)  Keep in mind that they do cut off the line about an hour and a half before the characters are done for the day.  You’ll want to check with a cast member the day you are there to confirm that.

We ended up waiting in line for an hour and 15 minutes (that’s after being in line at the front gate for about 25 minutes).  If you have a die hard Frozen fan it is worth it.  We got lucky and both sisters were there (apparently that doesn’t happen often).  If your child has their heart set on seeing one or the other I would prepare them early on that they might not be there.  The princesses spent about 3 minutes with us, which doesn’t sound like a long time but it really did seem like a long time when we were there.  Kennedy was so in awe of them that she could barely talk.  I haven’t seen her that quiet in, well, ever!  Elsa played a game and tried to guess which Anna was her real sister.  It was cute.  And Kennedy just kept her arm around Anna and snuggled up.  She loves to snuggle up with princesses.  I might have shed a tear behind my camera.  Gosh darn Disney always makes everything so magical!

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Happy Donut Day

I have definitely passed on my love for donuts to my children.  Because there’s nothing better than a donut on Saturday or Sunday morning.  Or both if it’s a really good weekend.

If National Donut Day doesn’t deserve it’s own photo shoot, then I don’t know what does.  Happy Donut Day!

*** Big thanks to Studio DIY for the donut balloon tutorial!  It was the inspiration for this shoot.


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On The Day Baby Kellan Was Born

The thought of shooting a birth has always been very intimidating to me.  I’ve never even experienced it myself having c-sections with both of my kids.  Yet, I was so intrigued by it.  With a wedding you get to document some pretty powerful emotions, but after shooting so many you know what’s coming next.  You know what to look for.  With a birth you can’t control anything.  The light.  The timing.  The raw emotions.  It seemed like it would be a challenge.

When my long time client and friend, Ashley, approached me about it she couldn’t even get the whole question out before I volunteered to shoot it.  She’s the perfect birth client for me.  She’s easy going, works as a postpartum nurse, and I’m so comfortable with her and Tyson that I knew it would be a once in a lifetime experience for me.  And the fact that they didn’t know what they were having made it that much more exciting.

I’m so grateful to Ashley and Tyson for allowing me to share it.  I went into the day thinking I was just going to document it.  I was going to sit in the corner and not say a word.  I wanted it to be all about them and I just wanted to be a silent observer.  That didn’t last for long.  All of their family and friends were so welcoming and I felt like a part of the family.  We were laughing so hard over You Tube videos.  It was just the greatest day.  I’m so happy Kellan decided to make his appearance when I was able to be there. 

I love telling people’s stories.  That’s why I’m a photographer.  And this might be my most favorite story I’ve told.




My kids are so awkward.  They taught themselves how to ballroom dance.  I have no idea where they learned it.  I think they watch too many Disney movies.  They have their dip down.  He’s only dropped her flat on her back once.  That I know of at least.

I always thought those brother / sister ballroom and ice dancing couples were so odd.  Now I kind of get it.  I might just have to sign them up.  They are naturals after all.

*** Canon 5D Mark II, 50 1.2

F  2.8 , 1/160, ISO 800 (for all shots)

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Teaching Photography To A Kindergartner – Part II

Teaching Photography To A Kindergartner

*** For Part I, see this post.

When teaching photography to a kindergartner, I taught the very basics.  Because, well, they are kindergartners.  My goal was to give them confidence and to teach them to have fun with photography.  Not necessarily to teach them to be the next Ansel Adams.  I feel that kids naturally have a gift for seeing things differently than adults.  They see things that we miss, so I wanted to encourage them to do their thing and not give them too many rules.

I also wanted them to be excited about photography.  If they are excited about it then they can start to understand why their parents want to take pictures of them.  Photography is awesome because it can freeze time.  Cameras are magic like that.  I know when I taught Brayden that I was making a memory rather than just taking a picture he was happier about being in front of the camera.  If your kids can share your love of photography with you it will make taking pictures that much more fun.  For everyone.

Onto the lesson.  I taught the kids that there are only two rules in photography.  First, whatever you are taking a picture of should make you feel something.  It should make you happy or even sad.  It can be pretty or maybe even ugly.  It should just make you think.  And, second, have fun.  There’s no point in taking pictures if you aren’t having fun with it.

And, while there are only two rules, there are a few things that we can do to make our pictures look better.

-  Hold the camera still.  If you move the camera your subject will be blurry and we won’t be able to tell what you are taking a picture of.

- Hold the camera level.  No, not all pictures have to be level.  But, I feel that if you want to take those funky, intentionally wacky pictures, you first must learn to take pictures correctly.  Then you can get crazy with it.

- Point of interest.  Your point of interest is whatever you want to take a picture of.  And that is what we call our subject.  Know what you want your subject to be and make sure you can see it through your viewfinder.

-  Background – Look at what is behind your subject.  If you are taking pictures of a pretty tree do you want a parking lot behind it?  Probably not. Try walking around to see if you can get a prettier background behind your subject.

-  Perspective – Where  you are standing will change how your picture looks.  If you get really close to your subject, it will become bigger.  If you get really far away, it will get smaller.  Try laying on your belly or even on your back to get different views.  The cool thing about being a kid is you are shorter than most adults, which means you see things very differently than we do.  Kids can take amazing pictures because of all the things you see and adults often miss.

-  Lighting – Your camera is like your eyeball.  It needs light to be able to see.  When you get up in the middle of the night you probably have a nightlight in your room, which helps your eyes see in the dark.  Cameras have a flash, which are just like nightlights that help your camera see when it’s dark.

When it’s not dark you want to either pick all light or all shade for your picture.  Otherwise, your camera might get confused and not know if it should take a picture of the bright light or the shade.

After the short lesson (about 10 minutes) we went outside and took some pictures.  I had 3 Fuji Instant Mini cameras and that worked out perfectly because there are 3 teachers who each have a group of 9 kids.  When it wasn’t their turn to take a picture the kids could practice seeing through the viewfinder with their cereal box cameras.

Last night the kindergartners had an art show to present their pictures and drawings.  Imagine my surprise when I saw that I was quoted alongside Picasso and Van Gogh!

I was really impressed with what some of the kids came up with!  We didn’t talk about leading lines or framing or even the rule of thirds, but I was surprised to see how many of them used those concepts naturally.

*** Some iPhone shots from the Kindergarten gallery.

Teaching Photography To A Kindergartner Teaching Photography To A Kindergartner Teaching Photography To A Kindergartner Teaching Photography To A Kindergartner Teaching Photography To A Kindergartner

Teaching Photography To A Kindergartner

Teaching Photography To A Kindergartner

Teaching Photography To A Kindergartner

Whether you are teaching photography to a group of kindergartners or just your very own, have fun.  If you have fun they will too!