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  • Mar 30, 2015

    What’s in Her Bag: Abbe McCracken


    Tell us a little about what’s inside.
    I carry one amazing full frame camera and three super sharp prime lenses with me at all times. They all fit safely and securely in my Shutterbag Safari along with about 500 other things I didn’t even show you including batteries, chargers, my iPad and more. It’s a really spacious (and gorgeous) bag. I’ve had it for over three years and the leather still looks brand new. I’m not exactly handling it with kid gloves either. It’s on the ground at sessions, at the ball park, at school, in the car. I’m still amazed at the quality and durability.


    Which lens is your go-to?
    That’s a trick question because it depends on what I’m shooting. If I had to pick one, it’d be the 85mm but I love my 50mm and 35mm too. And honestly, I should add my iPhone to the “go-to” contenders. While I’d never use it for a client session, I use it daily for my own Instagram 365. I really probably “go to” it most often. But the sharpness of my prime lens simply can’t be beat. I’m a Nikon girl but I adore Sigma’s new Art Glass line too. My 35mm from that line is crazy sharp. I shoot all three primes pretty wide open most of the time and really, really love the results from these lenses.



    Most used item in your bag?
    Wet wipes. What can you NOT use wet wipes to fix? I photograph families and kids so everything in my cleaning supplies section gets a lot of use. Even the dental floss. Young kids usually get snacks during the session … sometimes we need mom to floss out a gummy or two. Big kids with braces … you understand.

    Least used item in your bag?
    The aperture disks for my Lensbaby Composer Pro. I simply haven’t had enough time to really put them to work. For now, I’m using the 5.6 aperture disk which is a great starting point for learning how to bend light, use the tilt control and find the lens’ sweet spot.


    Thanks, Abbe, for showing us what’s in your bag. We especially love your most used item, and appreciate you sitting down to share more with us!

    For more of Abbe’s great writing and attention to detail, be sure to bookmark her website, Like her Facebook page, and follow her on Instagram.

    img Website: www.napcp.com Email: katie@napcp.com

    About the Contributor: Katie, our Editorial Assistant, is the newest member of the NAPCP team. After college and graduate school, she worked in the nonprofit world, and briefly in politics. She realized she'd be quickly burned out, and started writing for various lifestyle websites. Before landing at NAPCP, Katie shot product photography for Etsy shops and other small business owners. Katie also works with Pinterest, as a member of their Pinfluencer team. She is passionate about making the world a happier, more beautiful place! Katie lives for her husband and two children, updating their totally 90's home, and finding joy in the small things. Even washing dishes.

  • Mar 26, 2015

    March 2015 Newsletter featuring Jennifer Kapala!

    March Newsletter 2015 coverClick here to read our March Newsletter!


    About the Contributor: Kristen Smith is a graphic designer and illustrator residing in Augusta, GA with her fiance Jon-Michael and two fur babies, Desmond and Penelope. She knew from a very young age that she wanted to do something creative and began taking design classes in high school. After receiving a BFA in Graphic Design from the University of Georgia, she worked hard to establish a freelance career and officially launched her own company in 2011. Kristen is an award-winning designer, a celebrated creative for Minted.com, and has been working with NAPCP since it's inception in 2009.  She has a passion for fresh and beautiful designs with subtle feminine hints and a dash of whimsy.   Her passion for design is rivaled only by her passion for animals. She has been an avid animal rights supporter for many years and presently works with a local rescue organization fostering and rehabilitating cats. When she is not designing or sketching, you can find her crafting or in the garden!  She is also an entertainment junkie and watches entirely too many movies and television shows. Kristen looks forward to the extraordinary possibilities each new day brings!  

  • Mar 26, 2015

    10 Ways to Simplify Your 365, with Leigha Graf


    When I sat down to design our family’s annual Christmas card, I realized there were certain months where I had hardly any photos.  Like none.  Yeah, I had lots of vacations and ‘big’ moments.  But, I feel like that’s not where life is really lived.  It’s in the day to day, everyday stuff.  Choosing to cultivate gratitude in those in between moments is really where it’s at. And I was sad I missed so much of that.  Not only for me, but to show my kids (through what I choose to prioritize as an important photograph) the importance of this daily gift.  So, without over analyzing and thinking it through too much, I started. Now, after completing a full year, and into my second, I wish I would have started sooner. If you’re even slightly thinking you might like to give this a try, do it. Don’t think about it. Just start.

    To help you out, I’ve put together 10 ways to simplify your 365 project.


    1. Keep your camera close. Okay, this is probably a no brainer, and I hope you keep reading the list even if you think “this is what you call a tip?!” It’s seriously one the most overwhelming things for people I talk to. The thought of picking up the camera every day. The ‘one more thing to add to my list’ thought. It doesn’t have to be that complicated. You can do this on any camera you wish. From your iPhone, to a point and shoot, to your DSLR. I’ve chosen to do mine with my Canon Mark III, but that’s only because I don’t find it a burden. I keep it on my counter. And yes, carry it with me most of the time. And have people comment, “I didn’t even know they still made cameras like that!”. For real. I’m that mom. Once I have spent my couple of minutes capturing something I’m grateful for, I put it away and that’s it.


    2. Start with the end in mind. What do you want at the end of the year? Please don’t let them sit on your hard drive — have a plan. A family book? A book of each child? Just try to take a few minutes to reflect on what would mean the most to you to have in your hands. This will help determine what and how you shoot. Sort of a little reverse engineering, if you will. It can help you make less decisions on a daily basis if you have some parameters in place. And less decisions on a daily basis are always better.


    3. Just do it. Don’t over-think it. Don’t be stuck in decision or perfection paralysis. Take it day by day. Start today. Start at the beginning of next month. Don’t worry about perfect. Done is better than that. Which leads me to …


    4. So it’s a 332. Is it really a big deal if you missed a day or two? No. It’s the collective. Whether you have a perfect record or miss a few days (or 50), you and your family won’t care a year (or 20) from now. Mine wasn’t perfect. I would miss one, two or even three days in a row here and there. Sometimes I would fill them in with additional photos from others days and sometimes I wouldn’t. Again, I just let it go and reminded myself that at the end of the project, I would be grateful with however many photos I ended up with.


    5. What’s really important. That this is a gift. To you. This is your gratitude journal. Your way of showing the world what shines the brightest in your eyes.


    6. The power of one photo. … that translates into very little of your time each day.  I once heard a speaker at a conference talk about the power of one photo — how one photo can not only take you back to a moment, but a whole day. And it’s so true. Try it.


    7. Have a system. Mine isn’t perfect, but here’s a rough rundown:
    * I usually keep my card in my camera for the week and download once a week.  I knew going in that I am not one to sit down daily to download, edit, organize photos.  Once a week seemed manageable.
    * I use photo mechanic to download and save to folders on my computer. (Example: 2015_365>januaryraw>filedate of download)
    * I quickly cull in photo mechanic and bring into Lightroom while renaming to the date captured.
    * Complete my quick edits. (I use RedLeaf presets, which are so wonderful, they make this part super fast.)
    * Export to a new folder. (Example: 2015_365>januaryedit)


    8. You don’t have to share. I shared my images last year, but haven’t this year. I am sure at some point I will here and there, but I felt like I needed a bit of a break from that. I didn’t share everyday either, opting to group them into groups of six.  I quite often shared the whole month at once.


    9. Resources.
    iPhone: If you decide to take your 365 on your iPhone artifact uprising has a great app to download directly to a photo book.
    Blurb books: They have great books, and build-your-own templates.
    photo mechanic


    10. What to do with it all. As 2014 was my first year doing a 365, I’m still thinking about how I want to design a large book for myself. 365 pages would be rather HUGE.  However, I ordered small 7×7 books – 2 of them. One for each of my boys. I will be writing a small personal note to them as a keepsake.




    11.  You’ll get better. As a bonus, guess what?  Your photography will get better.  Whether you are a mom with a camera, a hobbyist, or a professional, the only way to take better photographs is to … drum roll … take them!  Shoot every day.  Try new things, new perspectives, different light.

    I can’t wait to see what you create.



    Thanks, Leigha, for this wonderfully helpful, and beautifully put together post! You can see Leigha’s original piece, as well as other great content, on her blog. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter, and Like her Facebook page too, for even more from Leigha!

    About the Contributor: Modern. Authentic. Emotional.

  • Mar 24, 2015

    Session Share: A First Birthday (and Cake Smash!), from Tracy Gabbard



    Inspiration: This little guy’s high-energy, excitement, and simple style really inspired this first birthday smash cake session. I wanted minimal props to feature his unique and fun-loving personality at this stage and decided to give him free range around the studio. Mom had an easy time making him smile and laugh during their cute kissy moments as well. For the cake smash, I thought the colors for outdoor would be a nice contrast. All the colors popped really well.




    Favorite Element: His classic wardrobe — from the plain white button-up to the adorable suspenders, I loved everything about his adorable outfits!






    Biggest Challenge: This little guy was packed full of energy! (As are most one year-olds.) He certainly kept me in shape as I chased him around the studio. He was so entertained by my efforts, I was able to get some great smiles from him!




    Final Thoughts: This was a really fun session, and though I was a bit exhausted at the end of it, it was so worth it to let this little guy do his thing and rock his first birthday smash cake session!


    Thank you, Tracy, for sharing this little bundle of cuteness with us! Like Tracy’s Facebook page, and visit her blog for more sweet sessions.


    About the Contributor: Tracy is the Bay Area's premier photographer for newborns, children and families. She has a natural light studio in Clearwater, FL and loves to create sessions for newborns, children and families that are fun and interactive.

  • Mar 16, 2015

    Session Share: Cinderella Inspired, from Christie Brown Photography



    This session was so magical, I was just waiting for the fairy godmother and pumpkin carriage to appear! Between the beautiful evening light and different backdrops that were available at this location, it was a lovely session. As we were nearing the end of our shoot, on our walk back to the parking lot, I noticed this pumpkin patch (which in 3 years of shooting here, I’ve never seen). Definitely a bonus.


    Favorite Element:
    Besides the warm weather we had that evening, Mom stepped out of her car dressed like Carrie Bradshaw! That long tutu, paired with nude heels was simply stunning. Her sweet daughter was just dressed just as stylish. I loved the contrast of their cream clothing paired with the colorful backdrops.



    Biggest Challenge:
    Two year olds have about a 45-60 min window of happy time when it comes to sessions. I don’t watch the clock, but I do watch the sun. I wanted to use a variety of backdrops during our time together. Keeping the conversation and her short, tender attention span going was also key. It’s always rewarding to see a child’s eyes light up as you sing the theme songs to their favorite TV shows or discuss the characters. I have no problem acting like a fool to capture those natural smiles.



    Final Thoughts:
    During my client consultation process, I like to narrow down the location criteria (i.e. beach, fields, parks, etc) so I can recommend a few options. There are a few specific places in my area that get requested regularly. It’s okay to recycle a location. It’s a compliment that they liked what you did there. Challenge yourself though. Use different spots, angles and poses to make each session unique.


    Thank you, Christie, for sharing this positively magical session with us! Be sure to visit Christie’s website, and Like her Facebook page, for more delightful lifestyle inspiration.

    About the Contributor: Well, hello there! I\'m a family and child lifestyle photographer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. My style is modern, fun, relaxed and candid. I\'m all about the candid though, really. I enjoy capturing raw emotion in an artistic way.

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    Brand new to the NAPCP store this week, our completely customizable client flowchart! A great way to stay organized and keep all your tasks and to-dos in one place. It includes 14 unique task columns with corresponding symbols that can be moved, switched and updated to reflect your perfect workflow system. Colors and fonts can […]

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    Helpful Tips for Entering Competitions, from Competition Judge Barb Uil

    I’m going to be completely honest here – I have never, ever entered an official competition. Oopsie daisy! Now before you throw in the towel and think, “Well, why should I enter,” I’m going to contradict myself. I’ve always been one of those people who just do whatever I feel, on a whim, to do, […]

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    We are here with Adorama Learning Center today to bring you their list of the Top 5 Point & Shoot Cameras in season!  Perfect timing for your holiday gift giving. For those everyday moments you want to capture at home, on vacation, and just to document, check out these amazing cameras and the reasons why […]

  • Baby Posing: Knowing what to look for in a newborn photographer
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