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Early in our marriage, I asked for a DSLR camera for my birthday. “It’ll be so great for when we have kids, Babe!” I definitely sold him on it.
Ha. Those young, idealistic, pre-kid days. Sure, I pull out the heavy-duty camera once in a while now. But mostly, I steal shots on the go with my phone as I chase my toddler around a playground, or while I wheel them around Target. Any moms relate?
You can, however, get frame worthy photos from a phone camera. With the right tools, and a few tips, you can capture those memories and treasure them for years to come. I’m partnering with Samsung Galaxy S9+ to share these tips, which has some amazing features of its own for taking vibrant pictures. All the pictures shown, except the ones of me AND the phone, are taken with the Samsung Galaxy S9+.
- Make sure your lens is clean for an optimal image.
- Keep an eye out for inspiration. Maybe it’s some street art, a cool wall, or a fountain. Or maybe you see a couple cool photos on Pinterest or Instagram you want to try. Think ahead, and then keep those things in mind when you’re out and about.
- To switch up from a center shot, try the rule of thirds. If you were to divide up your screen into thirds horizontally and vertically, try to have your subject fall on one of the lines, or where they meet.
- Play with angles. Get down to their level, do an overhead shot, or do head-on for different views. Getting down on their level has to be my favorite option. It really gives you more of a sense of their view of the world.
- Get up close, or step back and leave lots of space. It’s better to do this manually while you take the picture than to edit it later, which might affect the look of the photo.
- Lighting is key. I usually say always go with natural, indirect light. But with the Samsung Galaxy S9+, it’s designed with Dual Aperture, so you can take gorgeous photos in low light.
- There are all kinds of ways to make your kids smile. My kiddos do the silliest, “cheesiest” grins when they say “cheese,” but to get their attention and make them smile and laugh genuinely, I do other things. I pretend to sneeze, or play “peekaboo” with the camera in front of my face. I hold up a favorite toy, or point out something for them to notice.
- Don’t always go for the pose. Genuine, in-the-moment photos are so fun and really capture the feeling of the moment. Even if there aren’t smiles involved.
- Let them be goofy and wild. The most fun, vibrant pictures are the ones where the kids are running, jumping, making faces, doing some kind of acrobatic trick only kids can do. If they’re having fun, chances are you’ll get better shots too. Plus, digital photographs are free to take and easy to delete. So snap away!
- Get in the picture when you can. I’m probably in 10% of the photos of my kids on the phone, but I take them when I can get them, because I love having pictures of me with my kiddos. Have a friend take them for you, or set up self-timer. And if your friends are okay with it, take pictures of them with their kids in the moment. A friend does this for us when she can, and it’s always the most encouraging thing to see.
- When all else fails, bribe with gummies. Works every time.
- Figure out your subject, and focus the camera on it. You can do this by tapping on the screen. It doesn’t have to be a face. It could be their hand, something they’re holding, shoes, etc. Getting up close and focusing on the subject usually makes for a blurry background, which creates depth and is a more interesting picture.
- Take multiple pictures in a row. The Samsung Galaxy S9+ has a “slow-mo” feature where it will take multiple shots of something, and create a short, slow motion movie out of it. Plus you have multiple shots to choose from.
- Play with the different modes! You can take a selfie with a blurry background, or a wide selfie that captures a whole group. (Almost like a panoramic shot.) Use those modes for pics with the kiddos – or when you’ve had a particularly good hair day.
Let’s talk the Samsung Galaxy S9+ for a minute, because yes, it’s an incredible camera. I’m definitely impressed with the crisp, clear shots, and how easily it adjusts to the light.
But it also has new features that make for an amazing phone, too. The one that is mind-blowing to me is the Live Translation, which can literally translate words on a sign in front of you on your screen. I appreciate facial recognition, which makes unlocking a snap, and Dolby Atmos speakers for an unbelievable sound experience for entertainment. It’s even waterproof (which, with kids, is crucial).
If you’re looking to seriously upgrade your phone, this week is the week to do it. I got mine at Target, where you can buy a Samsung Galaxy S9 or S9+ and get a free $300 gift card with qualified activation on AT&T, Sprint, or Verizon at participating Target stores. This week only, June 10-16.
Finally, can I just say how easy the process is to buy your phone from Target? We had a great experience, with a knowledgeable tech support person, and it didn’t take hours.
Which feature sticks out to you the most?
Sunscreen. You know you need it. You know your kids need it. But otherwise, it’s kind of hard to know where to begin. There are so many brands of sunscreen out there, so many different kinds. I recently wrote a post for MomsBeyond on sunscreens (you can read the full article here), but here’s a bit of it to get you started:
What to Look For in a Sunscreen
- Broad spectrum, or sunscreens that protect from both UVA and UVB rays. (Ones that protect from blue light are an additional bonus!)
- SPF 30 or 50 – both will give you about the same amount of protection. Higher SPFs don’t really protect all that much more. And they might even make you feel more comfortable not reapplying – which we don’t want to do.
- Cream – a more thorough coverage than spray (plus see below)
- Mineral sunscreen (with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide) – it acts as a more protective barrier, and is less likely to cause irritation than chemical sunscreens
Here’s something you might not realize about your sunscreen. When they contain chemicals like oxybenzone and octinoxate, those are ingredients that not only negatively affect your health, but the environment too. They have recently been banned in sunscreens in Hawaii due to causing coral bleaching.
Beautycounter’s new Countersun sunscreen is a mineral sunscreen, and does not contain the above ingredients. Nor does it contain retinol or retinal palmitate, which can speed up skin tumors. (Watch out for these in your skin cream and serums, too.)
Finally, in honor of those fighting skin and other types of cancer, I’m hosting a fundraiser until June 12th. For every purchase made through this link, ALL proceeds will go to Stand Up for Cancer for research towards cancer prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. (If you would prefer to make a direct donation, please consider donating here.)
This post contains affiliate links.
Last weekend, we went camping, and it ended quickly with a lot of rain and a leaky tent.
Regardless, not one, but two people have requested a blog post on the topic. So even though I’m no expert, and our trip wasn’t exactly a success, I can hook you guys up with some helpful tips and tricks. Here we go!
Quick note: this might be what you would consider “glamping”. Sorry, I’m not hardcore. I have to have a bathroom and showers nearby.
Essentials You Might Not Think Of
There are the obvious essentials for camping, like a tent and food. But when you have a preschooler and a toddler running around, there are a few things that are extra helpful:
Canopy – Bring one to set up over your picnic table or eating area, and have a place to gather when it’s really sunny – or if it rains. (You hope it doesn’t, but just in case.)
Wagon – A multi-purpose tool. Great for mild hikes or walks, a place to set the kids, a way of moving supplies, and a toy to keep kids occupied.
Hammock – Ours became the hub for the kids to play, and also was a great place to take a nap in the middle of the day.
Sand Toys – We were on a site packed with pebbles, and of course my boys dug in. Sand toys are great for the outdoors and you won’t mind so much if they don’t make it home.
Hand Sanitizer – Because a trip all the way to the bathroom to wash your hands might turn out to take too much effort.
Glow Sticks – A cheap, fun toy for when it gets dark! (Here’s an assorted pack that makes lots of fun toys.)
S’More Sticks – These sticks expand to a length that even a smaller child can hold, and it’s a more sanitary option that sticks from the woods.
Solar-powered Garden Lights – A cheap way to light a trail around your campsite and make it easier to navigate in the dark!
Tips for the Trip
Go with friends. We were so grateful to have another family with kids around the same age there. Our boys could play with their boys, we could share meals, and we could fill the gaps for each other for the things we inevitably would forget. (And did.)
Keep the car nearby. We kept our food in the car, to avoid animals. And small kids can hang out in their car seats with the doors or windows open if you’re nearby. It’s a nice way to keep them contained if you need to during set-up or clean-up.
Use a bucket to pack. My friend Kazia (who we shared a campsite with) shared this amazing idea: pack your clothes and personal items in a bucket – like a plastic paint bucket from a hardware store. It doubles as a stool, and won’t get its contents wet.
Pack layers. Be prepared for any kind of weather by packing long sleeves, short sleeves, jackets, pants, shorts, etc.
Stay close to town. In the likely event you forget something, have a Walmart or a general store available nearby. A pizza place? That too.
Pick a spot for maximum sleep potential. That means limited light, limited people, and limited traffic.
Bring as many comforts from home as you can. Pacifiers, blankets, stuffed animals, anything to help make them feel a little more comfortable.
Most parks have wood and ice available. And reasonably priced. Don’t feel pressure to get those things ahead of time.
Easy Meal Ideas
Some basics: Stay simple. Work with another family. You probably won’t eat the healthiest while you’re out, kids included, so don’t worry too much about the health factor. And prep as much ahead of time.
Omelettes/egg scramble (chop vegetables ahead of time to make it easier)
Pancakes (make ahead of time to make it easier on you!)
Bacon (of course!)
Breakfast burritos (scrambled eggs in tortillas with burrito toppings)
Sandwiches – peanut butter, grilled cheese
Burgers and hot dogs
Walking Tacos (cooked hamburger meat and taco toppings added to individual bags of tortilla chips – eat right out of the bag)
Grilled meat, potatoes and veggies in aluminum foil (prep ahead of time)
English muffin pizzas (bring tomato sauce, shredded cheese, and toppings, and grill)
S’mores are the obvious choice. Make them a little more fun by adding some of your favorite candies. (Rolls work great!)
Or add mini marshmallows, chocolate, fruit, and other fillings to ice cream cones, wrap in foil, and cook over the campfire.
What tips and tricks do you have for camping with littles? Happy to add your ideas to this post (with credit)! We need all the help we can get 😉