Tips For Photographing Your Kids : An Interview with Evan Kafka

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.

Halloween Costume GIVEAWAY : enter to win a custom costume made just for your little one!

 

Good Morning! As I mentioned last week in my DIY Costume post,  I will be giving away a halloween costume this month. But not just any costume, it will be custom, one of a kind costume made just for you child!


(1. pig in a blanket, 2. sheep, 3. garden flower, 4. bat)

Here’s how it works:

Head over to thredup.com and find a piece of clothing that sparks Continue reading

DIY Halloween Costume : Garden Flower

 

Today I am sharing a costume tutorial I put together for the lovely people at ThredUp. This is a fun, no sew tutorial that will help you turn your little cutie into a garden flower with birds and butterflies buzzing around her head! You can start off with some basic pieces, like a bright colored shirt paired with some green leggings or skirt or what the heck why not both! Then get creative with it.

Here’s what else I used:
7 sheets of pink felt for the petals (or any color you like)
2 sheets of yellow felt
some ribbon or velcro
4 pink pipe cleaners
3 yellow pipe cleaners
3 yellow craft pompoms
hot glue
a headband
floral wire
needle point pliers
and various decorative butterflies, birds, and ladybugs

1. Start by creating a collar out of a sheet of pink felt and ribbon. I cut a 6” strip of felt, then folded it in half to make it more rigid. Make your collar long enough to loosely fit your child, leaving a good amount of wiggle room. Glue ribbon or velcro to the ends of your collar.

2. Fold the remaining pink felt sheets in half, and cut out your petal shapes.  Trim pink pipe cleaners to size, and use hot glue to adhere them to the center of  6 petals. Set the other petal aside for now.

3. Gather the felt at the base of each of the 6 petal to create dimension, and secure with hot glue.

4. Glue these petals around the outside of your collar, about halfway up. Shape the petals as you glue, and be sure to also adhere the petals near the top of the collar. This will give them extra support.

5. Glue the remaining 6 petals to the bottom of your collar, positioning them below and in between the top 6 petals.

6. Fold over and glue, or trim, and extra petal felt.

7. Now, Cut a 6” strip of yellow felt, fringing it on one end. Glue this strip to the inside of your collar to give the illusion of the flower’s center.

8. Time to make the stamens! Glue the three pompoms onto the ends of the yellow pipe cleaners.

9. Tightly wrap the three pipe cleaners around the center of the headband, while also twisting them together.

10. And now onto my daughter’s favorite part. Add springy wire to your headband and attach all sorts of garden friends to the wires. We used butterflies, a humming bird, and ladybugs. Be creative and have fun with it!


(last image courtesy of thredup.com)

I will also be doing a DIY costume giveaway next week. Check back for the exciting details!!! UPDATE: Click here to enter the giveaway!

Fall Pasta Necklaces

 

Today we are making jewelry! Fall pasta necklaces, to be exact. It’s a simple and inexpensive project that’s guaranteed to keep you and your little one entertained this afternoon. And the best part is I had everything we needed on hand, so this craft cost us $0. All you need is an assortment of pasta, yarn, rubbing alcohol, food coloring, sandwich baggies, and some tape.

Start by coloring all the pasta. Put a mixture of rubbing alcohol and food coloring in a baggie, about 1Tbsp : 10 drops, then add the uncooked pasta. Zip up the bag and shake, making sure all the pasta gets coated with color. Let sit for anywhere from 2 – 20 min, occasionally shaking the bag as you wait for your desired color.

Empty the pasta from the bag, and onto an old towel or several paper towels, and allow to dry. Use a strainer if necessary. Dry time is about 5 – 10 min. Remember, food coloring can stain, so protect surfaces, hands and clothes.

Once pasta is dry, I had Sydney help me divide all the pasta by color and put them into small bowls. The perfect opportunity to squeeze in a color lesson!

Now it’s time to get creative! We used yarn for our necklaces, but you can use any type of string you like. With the yarn, it’s helpful to wrap one end with masking tape, making it rigid and easier to thread the pasta.

Mix and match all sorts of pasta and colors for pretty jewel tone necklaces, perfect for fall! This is also a great project to teach kids about patterns and how they’re created.

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Fall Artwork : Finger Print Trees

 

I am beyond ready for fall weather, so I think it’s time to break out the apple and pumpkin spice candles. And, time to decorate the house with some autumn artwork made by cute little hands, literally! Today, while Sydney is hard at work fulfilling my wishes, I wanted to share the first project of the day with you. We broke out the finger paints and rolled up our sleeves to make this cute little tree!

Her hand and arm create the trunk and branches…

 

and her little fingers are the leaves.

A squishy ball helped her create the grass to finish off her masterpiece.

Traveling With Kids

 

We are having a fabulous time relaxing and visiting with family and friends in Hawaii. But, before we arrived in paradise, we first needed to survive a 9 hr flight. With a 3 year old. I tried to prepare her as much as possible in the weeks leading up to our trip. We had several discussions about airplane etiquette, and the importance of being quiet on the plane. I also let her pick out some new toys, which immediately were packed into her ‘travel entertainment’ bag. I have found that playing with new toys is exciting and keeps Continue reading

How to Store & Display Finger Puppets

 

Sydney loves finger puppets. We started collecting them for her when she was born, and over the last few years her collection has grown quite large. She has all different kinds of animals in beautiful, bright colors. They’re so pretty, it would be a shame to store them away in a box somewhere! So we found a great way to store and display them on shelves in her room. We ordered a set of kid sized mannequin hands online. What better than fingers to store finger puppets!? Continue reading

Creative Kids : Learning About Insects with Paint

 

Today we are having fun learning about bugs! Sydney has been very interested in insects lately, so I picked up a bunch of little critters at the store. I thought the toys could help cure her fear of bugs, and teach her how to identify some different kinds insects. Drawing pictures of each insect is a little advanced for her age, so I created a bug painting activity instead!

Continue reading

Jewelry DIY with Paint Dipped Coral and Gold Shells

 

I’ve had this DIY on my mind for quite awhile now, and finally got around to it last week. It all started when I saw, and fell in love with, these necklaces from Anthropologie. I immediately thought “I can make that!” I have had my shell collection stored away ever since we moved, and this was the perfect reason to sort through it. My collection is entirely made up of shells and coral my dad and I found over the years. So in the end all the necklaces I made have a special memory behind them!

Supplies:

I used nail polish to give the coral the paint dipped look of the inspiration necklace.

I was also inspired to transform the shells with a shiny coat of gold spray paint.

Then I used gold and other colored string to create necklaces.

Sydney even joined in on the fun! I assemble her necklace first, then let her paint away.

To finish off the necklaces you can either add a clasp to your string, or attach the coral or shell to a finished chain.

And that’s all there is to it!

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

Dollarstore Craft : Decorating Birdhouses

 

This afternoon we are breaking out our paints and other goodies from the craft cabinet, and decorating birdhouses! This is a fun activity for kids of all ages, and can help with dexterity, learning colors, and promoting creativity. Plus, these cute little wooden houses can be found for just a buck each at either the dollar store or local craft store. Continue reading

Planting Succulents

 

Our house needed some greenery, so yesterday Sydney and I spent the afternoon planting. Syd loves flowers and gardens, but unfortunately all we can fit on our balcony is a small herb garden in a flower box. So she was so excited when I broke out the dirt and an assortment of containers from our china cabinet! Planting indoors is still lots of fun, actually more fun than outdoors when temps are inching close to 100! I also took her to the store and let her pick out the plants. Of course she was immediately drawn to all the cute little succulents!

I think she liked planting in the tea cup the best, especially since she decided her favorite plant would go in there.

The succulents in assorted containers are perfect grouped together as a centerpiece on a table….

Or separated and placed in different rooms around the house. And the best part is, they are easy to keep alive!

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Uncommon Designs

Playing with Moon Sand

 

Sticking with the BabbaBox theme from earlier this week (Sun, Moon, & Stars), we decided to explore and play with moon sand. I found several recipes for cloud dough online which include mixing  flour with baby oil. Our moon sand is actually just a slight modification to cloud dough. Instead of baby oil we used Continue reading

Fourth of July Ribbon Dancers

 

As promised this morning, here are our ribbon dancers along with a tutorial! They are quick and easy to make, and a fun, safe alternative to sparklers. I’m hoping the ribbon dancers and dollar store glow sticks I picked up will keep Syd busy Continue reading

Eye Spy Some Play-Doh Fun!

 

For the last week Sydney and I have been eager to receive our first box from BabbaCo…. and it finally came in yesterday! BabbaCo is a monthly subscription activity box, and we are excited to dig in and give our first craft a try today. While we get busy I want to share some play-doh fun we had last week. It’s amazing how entertaining a little doh and a few googly eyes can be! Continue reading

Mini Grilled Cheese and Kale Sandwiches for Kids

 

We have an entire loaf of cocktail pumpernickel bread leftover from the birthday party this past weekend, and I didn’t know what to do with it. Then I realized, the cute little slices are perfect for fun kid sized sandwiches! Continue reading

Imaginative Play with Stick People

 

There is so much to do these next couple days, I wish my sister could be here again. She helped us out with Sydney this past weekend, and my husband and I were able to get caught up on a bunch of work. Syd had lots of fun playing with her auntie, and when they broke into the craft cabinet, these cute craft stick people were the outcome. Continue reading

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