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  • Oct 18, 2017

    A Colorful Family Session at Coney Island

    Inspiration

    I’m always inspired by the real stories of my families, and my images are an attempt to showcase their unique connection and genuine beauty. This family has chosen adventure to be a central quality of their life together, and are embracing travel with their young daughter and sharing their experiences at dearestdays.com. They wanted a photo session during their visit to NYC, and I wanted to make images that celebrated their fun-loving spirit of adventure!

    Favorite Element

    My favorite element of this session was the location, hands-down! Coney Island is pure magic in the summer,and bursting with color. We made our way through part of the amusement park, jumped on a few rides, and ended with the iconic Nathan’s Famous hot dogs.

    Biggest Challenge

    The biggest challenge also happened to be the location we chose for this session. Coney Island is a top location for locals and tourists in the summer, and we had to work around the other visitors. Sometimes that meant waiting for a break in the crowd, and other times I simply embraced the environment. After all, Coney Island wouldn’t be the same without the hum of people!

    Final Thoughts

    It was a delight to photograph this family on their vacation to NYC, and I’m all the more convinced that allowing my families to connect with each other in front of the camera is my favorite — and easiest! — way to photograph them. Genuine beauty is worth celebrating and worth remembering!

     

    Mandalyn Rael Photography

    Website: https:// mandalynraelphotography.com

    Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mandalynrael

    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mandalynraelphotography

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

    About the Contributor: Katie, our Editorial Manager, is our wordsmith and communications extraordinaire!  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.

  • Oct 17, 2017

    What’s in Her Bag: Marisa McDonald

    Tell us a little about what’s inside your bag.
    I love my Jo Totes Missy Mint bag! It has custom dividers so I can create perfectly sized sections for my camera and lenses, external pockets, and even a laptop sleeve! My bag pretty much always has a camera (lately, my new Mark IV!), my Sigma Art 50 1.4, and my Canon f/2L. Depending on the session, I might switch out one of those lenses for my Canon 35 f/2 and I might need to add in an external flash. When I’m traveling, I throw my MacBook in the included laptop sleeve too! Pockets have all sorts of extras – memory cards, batteries, strobe triggers, lip gloss, random toys. In fact, the toys can take over so quickly that I’ve added on a super simple prize box to keep some of my youngest clients motivated throughout a session! Newborn sessions happen in my home studio so most of that equipment isn’t actually “in” my bag, but it’s a big part of my business! I love my Einstein Strobe with 86″ PLM (by Paul C. Buff) and I have no idea what I would do without my beloved Baby Shusher to keep those sweet snuggly little baby’s sleeping for all those adorable poses! My Canon 35 f/2 also comes into play during newborn sessions.

    Most used item in your bag?
    Besides my camera, my most used item lately has been my Canon L 135 f/2. I LOVE this lens. On a typical family session shoot, it’s pretty hard to take it of my camera!

    Least used item in your bag?
    My external flash is a necessity for the occasional nighttime events I cover, but it’s rarely used. I also never use my Sigma 85 1.4 anymore! The 135 and the 50 have taken over!

    The details:
    Canon Mark IV
    Canon 135 L f/2
    Sigma Art 50 1.4
    Sigma 85 1.4
    Canon 430EX III-RT
    Graslon Dome Flash Diffuser
    Extra batteries for flash
    Extra camera battery
    Extra memory cards
    Strobe trigger
    Camera strap by Moonlight Little Knits
    Bag by Jo Totes
    Einstein Strobe by Paul C. Buff
    Baby Shusher
    Prize and supply box filled with little toys, stickers, Band Aids, safety pins, etc.
    Toddler essentials: music on cell phone with hooked-in speaker, and bubbles!
    Not pictured: Canon 6D & Canon 35 f/2

     

    Thank you, Marisa, for showing us what’s in your bag!

    For more of Marisa’s authentic, positive imagery, please visit her website, Like Marisa McDonald Photography on Facebook, and Follow Marisa McDonald Photography on Pinterest and Instagram.

     

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

    About the Contributor: Katie, our Editorial Manager, is our wordsmith and communications extraordinaire!  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.

  • Oct 16, 2017

    #NAPCPColors Round-Up

    We rounded up a few of our favorite #NAPCPColors Instagram submissions to kick off our week with a colorful bang! We’re so happy all of our Instagram followers and friends had such a wonderful time participating in this new project, on one of our favorite social media platforms.

    Julie Campbell Photography
    Paul Douglas Studio
    Sandi Shipley Photography
    Jennifer Rittenberry Photography
    Nika Koles
    Hayley Jo Photography
    Delightful Perception Photography
    Karen Halbert Photography
    Rachael May Photo

    Visit the #NAPCPColors tag on Instagram to see more from these accounts and all of the creative submissions and beautiful images. And of course, follow @napcp on Instagram and use #NAPCPMagic this month for your chance to be featured!

     

     

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    About the Contributor: Deanne is a graphic designer and photographer. She graduated in 2005 from Northern Illinois University with a BFA in Visual Communication . Before joining the NAPCP team, Deanne worked at a small advertising agency for ten years where she grew as an artist. She also started her own small photography business in 2010 and has a passion for photographing children and documenting life. Currently, she is working for NAPCP as the Design Production Assistant and is excited for new opportunities to bring her love of design and photography together. Deanne resides in the Chicagoland area with her husband and three year old son. When she is not working, you can find her photographing or doing multiple home improvement projects.

  • Oct 09, 2017

    10 Ways to Get Creative with Your Vacation Photos

    Summer has come to an end and that means a lot of families are taking their annual fall break vacations or holiday vacations for the winter. We do one family trip in the spring and every summer we go to Ocean City, NJ. This year was an exception and we took the girls to Iceland and Paris in July instead. It was very crowded (think 1+ hour wait even with ‘fast track’ tickets) and made me remember the reason why we don’t travel in July (all those people!) but we did have a lovely time.

    I wanted to do something a bit different on this trip in terms of photos – I wanted to create images that captured stories, images that felt natural and fresh – even more so than images I usually create; I wanted to produce photos that were attention grabbing and different.

    I decided not to use my old trusted Canon (I LOVE that camera but it is so heavy to be lugging around all over the place) and instead brought my new favorite – Fujifilm Xt-2. I brought 3 lenses with me but ended up using the kit lens (18-55) most of the time. This in itself made me think a bit more creatively because usually I travel with at least two lenses and I was limited by what this lens allowed me to do.

    So how do you stay ‘fresh’ on vacation and make images that are still ‘you’ and capture your family, but that are different and creative? I looked through the images I took and put together a list – my Top Ten Tips on How to Produce Creative Images on Vacation. I illustrated it with pictures from our trip – because who would not want to see pictures of my adorable kids, right?

    Without further ado, I present to you (in no particular order) my Top Ten Tops for Staying Creative While on Vacation!

    Tip 1: Do a Shutter Drag

    Shutter drag is always fun to do! It might be a bit challenging doing it on vacation without a tripod but can definitely be managed – you either need to find a surface to hold your camera or take a deep breath and hold very very still. You also need to instruct your subjects to hold as still as they can. We were at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris (it is one of my top 3 favorite museums in the world – that’s why you will see a few more images from this museum here) and I wanted to capture the chaos and craziness of what it felt like being there at the height of tourist season in July. I asked my girls to ‘freeze’, closed down my aperture, set shutter speed to 1/2 of a second, steadied myself, took a deep breath (I’ve read that taking a deep breath before pressing your shutter helps to hold the camera steady) and took this image.

    Tip 2: Shoot from Unusual Angles

    Instead of taking pictures straight on or from above, try shooting from below. Here I got down on the ground (the white pants I was wearing that day were not happy about that!) and took a picture of my girls being ‘a bit’ excited about going to the Eiffel Tower – with the tower in the background.

    Tip 3: Shoot Through Stuff

    I’ve always loved photographing through things – it is super easy to do, frames your subject nicely (and I LOVE framing my subjects) and makes your images more interesting. Try it!

    Tip 4: Use Reflections

    Can I say how much I love reflections? I think they always make images a tiny bit more interesting. Look for reflections wherever you are – be it a reflection in a mirror, window or a puddle! We were waiting in a cafe for the rain to pass and the girls were standing by a glass door. I asked one of my girls to stick her head out … she did and I captured this image. I love her expression, being able to see both of them in a reflection, and at the same time seeing busy waiters inside – I think it captures Paris cafe culture pretty well.

    Tip 5: Use Leading Lines

    Using leading lines is not terribly creative or inventive but you should try to look for leading lines in a new way. Here we were going up a spiral staircase to the top of Arch de Triumph; I waited till the staircase was relatively empty and asked one of my girls to peek at me from the top.

    Tip 6: Look for Light

    Always always always be on the lookout for beautiful light. We were heading out of Sacré-Cœur, after a long day of sightseeing, and I put my camera down. Just then my husband turned around and pointed out this amazing stream of light coming through the window. No matter how tired I was I could not go past it without taking a picture so I asked one of my girls to try to ‘catch’ that beam of light.

    Tip 7: Shoot Through Glass

    Shooting through glass can provide very interesting images. We were looking at the statue of ‘Small Dancer Aged 14’ at the Musée d’Orsay; this statue is enclosed in a glass case and I asked my girls to go on the side of the case opposite of me. I thought that seeing them through the glass with the statue in the foreground would create an interesting image.

    Tip 8: Play Around with Framing

    I love to frame my subjects in unusual ways. In this image, one of my girls was reading to my husband a few interesting facts about Paris, and my other girl (aka “Little Monkey”) was running around. I thought it would be fun to have her ‘frame’ them and the result of that is this image. Then again – I like any types of ‘frames’ and doorways always work very well!

    Tip 9: Create Silhouettes

    Do you know that you can create beautiful silhouette any time of the day – not just at sunrise and sunset? We were inside the Musée d’Orsay (in case you are wondering – we did other stuff than spend all our time at this museum) looking at Paris through this giant clock, and I asked my girls to stand by the clock. I thought it would be interesting to ‘frame’ the city by the clock and create silhouette of my girls against the background of the city.

    Tip 10: Let Go of Perfection

    Sometimes you need to let go of perfection to be able to capture a perfect moment. This image is not technically perfect – the top of the horse is cut off and the other one is peaking through behind my daughter’s head. For me, it is imperfectly perfect because it captures this amazing moment of my daughter interacting with an Icelandic horse – messy hair and all!

     

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    About the Contributor: Lena Antaramian is an award-winning photographer located in Bergen County, New Jersey. She specializes in children and family portraiture and excels at capturing quiet moments, tender connections, toothy grins, belly laughs and all in between!

  • Oct 04, 2017

    October Printable Menu and Calendar

    Halloween is just around the corner and we’ve designed a free calendar and menu for you! Download the printable menu template here, and the printable October calendar here!

    Happy Halloween!

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    About the Contributor: Deanne is a graphic designer and photographer. She graduated in 2005 from Northern Illinois University with a BFA in Visual Communication . Before joining the NAPCP team, Deanne worked at a small advertising agency for ten years where she grew as an artist. She also started her own small photography business in 2010 and has a passion for photographing children and documenting life. Currently, she is working for NAPCP as the Design Production Assistant and is excited for new opportunities to bring her love of design and photography together. Deanne resides in the Chicagoland area with her husband and three year old son. When she is not working, you can find her photographing or doing multiple home improvement projects.


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