Tips For Photographing Your Kids : An Interview with Evan Kafka

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I feel so lucky to have a creative husband, and even luckier that he’s worked with the very talented photographer Evan Kafka. He does amazing work with kids, and has shot for big companies including Parenting Magazine and Huggies. I had the opportunity to pick his brain a bit, and share some of his tips for capturing those perfect moments with your own children. Enjoy!

How do you get the perfect reaction / expression from a baby?

Be ready and shoot a lot.  Work the moment.  Don’t just stop at one or two photos.  Keep the camera close by.  Also, it helps to have a friend play peekaboo behind your head while you shoot.  It can be helpful to get in close, so you can engage your baby while you photograph.  It’s nice if you can reach them and tickle them from time to time.

How do you get your little ones to follow direction?

That’s a tough one.  When I’m shooting my kids, I just try to be ready.  Like an ultra famous movie star once said to me “you’re gonna have to work with what you get”.  It can be very frustrating.  I try to make it fun, keep it interesting for them.  When they are really small, we just try to set them up.  If we want a crawling shot, we give them something to crawl towards and then get their attention when they reach the optimal area for the photograph.  For tighter headshots it’s helpful to have someone hold them in certain ways so the adult is not really visible.

What lens would you recommend to parents who have a DSLR?

I think everyone should have at least one fast, or bright, lens.  These are lenses with a large maximum aperture or lens opening.  It’s confusing because the lower the number, the bigger the aperture, and the more light passes through.  The most affordable fast lens is usually a 50mm.  They are usually F1.8 or 1.4, much brighter than any zoom lens.  These will allow you to shoot in low light without flash.  You can use a large aperture, even in bright light, which gives you a very shallow focus effect that can help soften a busy background.

What is a fun DIY type solution to create a solid white background for your photo shoot?

Seamless paper by Savage is not that expensive.  It comes in 4.5′ or 9′ wide rolls. B&H will ship it for about $15 and many local camera shops carry it in white. We usually hang the roll up and drape it down but that requires stands and a crossbar.  It’s also possible to tape the top to a wall or the side of your garage and then sweep it with a soft bend and roll some out along the ground/floor.  You could also try it with a sheet but you will probably see wrinkles unless you can keep it very bright.  Pay attention to the light where you are setting it up.  Unless the light is exceptional, it’s probably best to set it up in a shaded area or, if you’re indoors, at about 45-90 degrees to a window with indirect sunlight.  Or, if you have an external flash, you could experiment with bouncing it off a ceiling or wall.

What is the best tip you can give for any mom or dad who wants to do a photoshoot of her child?

Luck favors the prepared.  Get everything set and ready, maybe while your baby is napping.  The worst thing, and believe me it’s happened to me, is to be having some sort of technical problem while your baby is happy and ready.  We all know they have a limited attention span.  If you’re not ready, better to wait until you are before you present the situation to your child. Also, do some test shots of a doll or stuffed animal to make sure things are looking good.  And if the phone rings, don’t answer it!

If possible, leave things set up for a day or two, incase your baby is not in the mood and you can try again later.

A big thank you to Evan for all of his great tips! If you’d like to know more about Evan, or see more of his work, please check out his website & blog:

http://www.evankafka.com/

http://evankafka.com/sensorsensibility/

* All photos in this post are property of Evan Kafka, and may not be used without his permission.

Making Dinner Fun For Kids With Spring Rolls!

 

Good morning! Many of you probably already know that I’m always trying to come up with creative ways to get Syd to eat and enjoy her veggies. Well this weekend I came up with a way to get her excited about eating raw veggies, including salad. We had tons of fun making spring rolls!

I filled the table with fun plates and bowls of carrots, rice, salad, chicken, and boiled eggs.

Then, I let Syd go to town building and rolling her own spring rolls. (with just a little help) Continue reading

Interior Design Tips : Finding Chandelier Alternatives

 

Today I wanted to share some tips on what to do when your room desperately needs a chandelier, but hanging one just isn’t an option. This is exactly what we faced when we moved into our current apartment. We have high ceilings with track lighting, and our dining room is part of a large main living space. Even after we had all our furniture in place, painting done, and accessories and art hung, the dining area still felt a little bare. We already knew that we couldn’t hang a light over the table, so we were on the hunt for an alternative. All it took was a random shopping trip to West Elm and we found our solution! We spotted various sized stick orbs, and immediately knew what to do.

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Using an Iron to Remove Water Marks From Wood

 

Good morning! Today’s post is all thanks to my laziness yesterday and my sweet Sydney’s cup of water. After dinner last night, I waited far too long to pick up the placemats and wipe the table, and I had failed to notice Syd’s water spill while we ate. Long story short…. I ended up with a giant water mark on my favorite wood table! YIKES! I guess I’ve always wanted to try the iron method for removing water stains from wood…

So first thing this morning, I laid out a cotton pillow case, held my breath, and ironed away. And it worked!!!!

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Quick & Easy Meatless Pasta Dinner

 

Today Sydney and I are planning to spend the afternoon at the pool, which of course won’t leave me much time to cook dinner tonight. On these types of days, I have a go to pasta dinner thats fairly quick and easy but not your ordinary spaghetti dinner.

I start with radiatori pasta, it’s hearty and does a good job scooping up chunky sauces. While the pasta boils I prepare the sauce. First, chop and saute red, yellow, orange, and green peppers in olive oil. Once the peppers are nicely golden on the edges, add the sauce to the pan. Add a little extra drizzle of olive oil if you’d like. Simmer the sauce on low,  and add a can of drained garbanzo beans. My husband it a big meat person, but he loves this dish and as long as these beans are in the sauce, he actually doesn’t miss the meat!

I then add the cooked pasta to the pan with sauce, and toss. Plate and top with fresh parmesan and basil. It’s really a fast and easy dish to prepare, and everyone in my family loves it, even Sydney!

Do you have a go to quick dinner recipe?

DIY Faux Tin Tile Backsplash

 

Today I bring you a quick kitchen update. This space was feeling cluttered and dated, and there were several grease spots on the wall behind the stove and sink. The solution? A fresh coat of gray paint to brighten the space, and a tin tile styled backsplash. To get the look of tin tile, we purchased this faux version here. Continue reading

Tuesday Tips DIY : Take Corduroy Pants from Fall to Spring

 

Today’s tip is a diy project that was born from a recent ‘oh crap’ moment. Last week I was running around doing too many things at once, as usual. So when I decided to clean the showers between gymnastics class and a grocery store run, I ended up with a bleach spot on my favorite cords. Ugh! The good news is that I was able to save them! I have been hunting for a great pair of pastel pants, a look that has been popping up all over pinterest this spring. And that little bleach spot looked like just the right color! Continue reading

Dear Jellybean

Hello! I hope everyone is having a fantastic weekend. So far Sydney has had an interesting day, she met the Easter Bunny at the park, and then a squirrel stole her M&Ms. I, on the other hand, am spending some time in front of the computer improving the site, and I will be putting up the Nice to Meet You and Services pages. As I get to working on those, I’d like to introduce you to a new section that I added with the recent blog move and name change. You will see Dear Jellybean in the menu bar at the top of my page. Continue reading

Tuesday Tips : 100% Recycled Rubber Pavers

 

Living in the city, we are lucky to have an apartment with a couple balconies. However, it’s all metal with a grate bottom. Not the most comfortable thing to stand on, especially for small feet and little paws. We scoured the internet for a solution and came across rubber decking. Upon further searching , I finally discovered these recycled rubber pavers from Menards. At just $4.99 each, it’s a fairly cost effective solution for our balcony. We made more use of our balcony this past weekend than we did the whole first year living here. A quick fix just in time for the nice weather!

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Making Potty Time Fun!

update sat 2.11.12, its been a successful week:

Our house has turned into a potty training battleground lately. I have finally found something that seems to work, especially since our daughter learned to control her bladder and make wee wee more frequently (which meant more M&Ms for her). We started out with a basic potty training chart and the expected gold starts. Then I came across some cute little goldfish stickers, and decided to make it a bit more fun… And the result is a routine of putting the wee and poo in the toilet, and a fishy in its bowl. You can print the fish bowls or the fish bags. Happy potty training! Continue reading

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