It’s just a few days until Christmas and I’m feeling lucky that we’ve gotten most of our preparations, shopping and decorating all ready.  Although we still have to visit Santa.  Unfortunately Hubs and I are both under the weather.  Baby was sick last week and now she’s passed it on to us.  One of those Christmas presents that keeps on giving over Christmas.  SIGH!!!  But the good thing is that it’s forcing us to rest more and take it easy.  So we’re getting to enjoy our cozy Christmas atmosphere in our little pad.  I just love all the twinkling sparkling lights!

Just thought I’d share a few shots of our cozy Christmas in case anyone wants some last minute inspiration.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year Everyone!!!

 

(Mirrored Star, beaded letter ornaments and feather wreath from West Elm / Gold pillow, star string lights, grey faux fur stocking, wooden letter ornaments and white faux fur blanket from Chapters-Indigo / Polar Bear stocking and sparkly picture ornament from Pottery Barn Kids / Diamond string lights from The Cross Design and Decor / Wooden snow flake decor item from Winners / wooden snowflake ornaments from Anthropologie / sparkly gold star ornament from Crate and Barrel / Letter Balloon ornament from Urban Outfitters / Wooden star garland and Illume Candle from Posy Home)

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It’s SNOOOWWWWINNNGGGGG!!!!

As I write this the big fluffy stuff is falling outside.  This is the second snowfall we’ve had this week and it’s pretty rare to get snow in the city of Vancouver period, let alone 2 snowfalls in ONE WEEK!!! Normally you have to head up the local mountains to find the snow.  It’s amazing!!! And feels super magical, cozy and Christmasy.  Since the snow was so lovely today our little fam jam headed out to play in the gorgeous white fluffy stuff (it actually was fluffy, not the wet, heavy rainy kind we usually get – yippppeeeeee).

It dawned on me while I was capturing fun moments of my daughter that maybe some of you would like some tips so you could do the same.  Snow is actually a bit of a tricky subject.  I know it can be a bit frustrating for those of you who are newer to photography or who just shoot in automatic settings.    Have you ever been excited to take a picture of your kids playing in the snow, having an absolute blast, only to have THIS happen (see below).

UGH!!!  Yeah! Not fun.  The first time I got super dark and grey photos like these ( a looooooong time ago) I thought our camera was broken.  It was a while before I learned enough about photography to figure it out.  So don’t feel bad if you’ve been disappointed or confused about your photo ability when this happened.  There’s nothing wrong with your camera.  It’s just how the camera works.  They’re not always that smart you know.  I boss my camera around all the time, shooting in manual and telling it what to do.

So, There’s a big technical explanation for what’s going on here.  It’s a bit much to get into in this little boggity post.  But all you need to know, is that when it comes to snow, the camera sees a whole lot of white and says “no one would want a picture of just white” and so it makes the picture darker.  But we dooooooooo want the picture to be all white.  So, what to do?  What to do?  Find some tips below to not only deal with this little problem, but also to help you take better pictures in the snow anyway.  Let me know in the comments if any of the tips help you.

(The two above photos were taken in P (Program) Mode with no exposure compensation or anything, just straight auto with no post processing)

(The below photos were all taken with a manual exposure where I was overexposing from what the meter was telling me to shoot.  Some slight post processing was applied)

GETTING READY TIPS

TIP ONE:  DRESS WARM + APPROPRIATELY.

There’s nothing like freezing your buns off while trying to take photos.  Dressing warm may seem like a no brainer but I thought I should state the obvious anyway.  Also wearing snow pants when your outside with the kiddos is great so you can get down and play with them as well as get great angles without worrying about getting cold and wet.   The biggest tip, wear half finger gloves like these or these where you can fold back the mitten part so that you can actually work the camera and take photos.  Bonus is you can cover your fingers and keep your hands warm when needed.  But don’t forget that these gloves are no good for actually playing in the snow.   Maybe bring a good snow pair too when it’s time to put away the camera and play with your kiddos.

TIP TWO: KEEP THE CAMERA AS DRY AS POSSIBLE

Depending on the camera you have, it will have varying levels of weatherproofing.  From None-at-all to could-survive-a-hurricane.  But unless you’re using a professional camera, its safer to say that you’re closer to the don’t-get-it-too-wet side.  So, if it’s snowing out when you’re taking pictures you can cover it with a rain cover if you want to be safe.  There are a few cheep options online here or here (Please note, I’ve NEVER used either of these products.  I’m just making a few suggestions that I know are available on the market.  You can also buy much more high quality covers than these so please visit your local camera store for recommendations and options).  Or just try to keep it out of the snow as much as possible.  Just be aware that you need to keep an eye on your camera and how wet it’s getting.  Another thing I tend to do is wear a big snowboarding jacket because it has lots of room inside for me to actually hide my camera when I’m not shooting.  I can keep it around my neck and just tuck it inside the coat and then voila, grab it quickly to shoot again.  So any coat that’s big enough to allow you to keep it covered is great.  But it’s not the best if you’re needing to pick up your kids and such.  I have to be extra careful to tuck it off to the other side of my body as I would carry my daughter.  So be sure to have a covered and weatherproof camera bag handy if you prefer to keep it dry.  I just find the bags to be a bit cumbersome.  Just do what works for you.  Be sure to dry it off ASAP.

TIP THREE:  LENSES DON’T LIKE SNOWFLAKES

May be obvious, but try to keep your lens pointed down when you’re not shooting.  I know some people have the tendency to hold their cameras facing upwards while they’re not taking pics.  This will just let your lens get covered in snow.  So remember to keep it pointed down but also keep a lens cloth on hand to dry it off.  You don’t want water droplets on your lens.  Unless you’re going for that blurry effect.

TIP FOUR:  USE YOUR LENS HOOD

Piggybacking off of tip three, use your lens hood. That funny open cup thing that came with your lens, to keep any access snow from getting on the lens.  It’s really meant more for blocking and controlling light streaming into your lens.  But it’s also great for keeping rain and snow from flying into your lens.

ACTUALLY TAKING PHOTOS TIPS

Okay, remember earlier, I was telling you how un-smart your camera is when it comes to taking pics in the snow.  Well, these next few tips should help.  But all you need to know, is that when it comes to snow, the camera sees a whole lot of white and says “no one would want a picture of just white” and so it makes the picture darker.  You need to tell it to shove off and leave the picture white.  To do this, you need to override the camera and there are a few ways to do so.  Keep reading and see which one you think will be best for you.

TIP FIVE: USE YOUR SHORTCUTS

Depending on what type of camera you have, your camera should come with shortcuts.  Say whaaaatttt?!?!?!  Yup, if you’re lucky your camera has come with a whole bunch of cheater ways to take better pics without actually having to know all the technical stuff.  Point and shoot cameras come with the best shortcuts.  And most of the new ones should come with a “SNOW” mode for taking pictures.  You will probably find this under your SCENE (or possibly SCN) mode on your camera.  Depending on the camera you have these could be on the dial on top of the camera or may have to be accessed through your menu.  But if you quickly scan your manual you should easily find it.  The icon is usually a snowflake or a snowman so it’s pretty self explanatory that this will help you take better photos.  Just turn the camera to snow mode and you’re set.

TIP SIX: USE EXPOSURE COMPENSATION

So if your camera doesn’t come with a snow scene shortcut then you’re going to have to do some technical maneuvers.  If you’re not comfortable shooting in manual mode (like I do) then you will most likely need to use exposure compensation in one of the semi-automatic modes.  Remember automatic mode gets you into dark grey murky land so you have to venture away from auto mode to avoid the problem.  Don’t worry it’s not as scary as it feels.   These modes will let the camera do all the thinking, but you can still boss it around and tell it to change a few things.  You can use Program mode which is automatic mode but you can override the settings.  You don’t have to do much, just set up the exposure compensation.  Or you can use Aperture priority mode (AV mode for CANON or A mode for NIKON) and this will let you set exposure compensation AND choose the aperture (which controls how much of your picture is in focus).  Last, you can use Shutter priority mode (TV Mode for CANON or S mode for NIKON) which will let you choose the shutter speed of how fast your camera shutter opens and closes.

For beginners, I recommend Program mode.  For those who feel comfortable taking more control, I recommend Aperture priority so you can choose a larger aperture and get more of a blurry background.

Once you’ve selected which semi-automatic mode you want, then follow your manual’s instructions to set the exposure compensation.  Basically you want to tell your camera to expose one (+1) or two (+2) stops over what it thinks it should take the picture at.  This way the snow will be white and not dark grey.  You may even need more stops of overexposure but play around and look at your LCD to ensure your snow pics look like snow pics.

TIP SEVEN: GET DOWN AND DIRTY

Ahem, with your perspective.  I always think it’s better to get down on the level of the people I am photographing.  So for my daughter, I’m down in the snow with her when I take her picture.  Not standing over her shooting down on the top of her adorable little toque.  So remember, kneel, sit, crouch, whatever you want.  But getting down on the ground allows you to catch their expressions and experience.  A way better way to capture memories.

TIP EIGHT: SHOOT A LOT

If you’re learning,  just take a lot of pictures.  That allows you to learn quickly.  Experiment, take some in one mode, then maybe push your exposure compensation higher and see what that looks like.  Or shoot in P mode then switch to AV mode.  Be brave.  Shoot lots.

TIP NINE:  HAVE FUN + PLAY WITH YOUR KIDS

You’re capturing memories.  You’re playing in the snow.  HAVE FUN!!! The more fun you have, the more fun will show in your pictures.  And you want your kids to actually remember doing these things with you, not just of you taking pictures.  If you’re spouse or partner or big kid or someone is with you, give them the camera SO THAT YOU CAN BE IN THE PICTURES TOO!!! This is about how your kids will remember this time too.   You want them to remember you being there.  That’s what is really most important.  And sing some Christmas carols, gets great smiles if you’re extra silly while singing.

TIP TEN: DON’T FORGET THE SNOWMAN ACCESSORIES

Don’t be like us and build a snowman and then realize you’ve got noting to make his face because it’s all buried in the snow.  HA HA!!! Bring a couple rocks, buttons, a carrot for a nose, maybe even a scarf and toque.  Have fun.  Build a snowman.

Enjoy playing in the snow.

And please, please, pretty please, let me know if any of these help you.

And if you’re interested in my upcoming photo classes for beginners and intermediates, please send me an email to jenn@jennbest.ca with the subject “PHOTO CLASS INTEREST” to get info sent directly to you.

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I have to admit.  I am absolutely no good with horror and gore so Halloween has not always been my favourite holiday.

But since having my daughter I feel like I’m getting more into the spirit of all of the holidays.  I really love the idea of creating family traditions and Halloween actually has some great ones.  And really, I mean, when I got to dress her up last year as the MOST ADORABLE LITTLE UNICORN I EVER SAW!!!! I kinda fell in love with Halloween.  This year costumes are a whole different issue as she’s not exactly a fan of wearing one.  Annnnyyywwaaayyy….

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We got to take her to her first pumpkin patch this yearand I think my favourite memory will be of her standing in the pumpkin patch with an amazed look saying “sooooo many” over and over again.

I was all excited for us to have our first pumpkin carving experience this year too but really, baby had pretty much NOOOOO interest in that process.  So I did it by myself.  Oh, well.  She definitely liked the result and loves lighting the candle in the pumpkin.  And seeing her face light up when looking at her kitty cat pumpkin is pretty cute.

So even though you could NOT pay me to go to a haunted house (I can’t even watch things on tv about haunted stuff), I’m still loving Halloween and we’re doing it our way.  You know, the baby and momma friendly way.   In our house this year, it’s about the white pumpkins, sparkly spiders, black and white decor, kitty cat pumpkins, cute owls, spiders, bats and black cats, Baby in her costume (even if only for 2 minutes) and trips to the pumpkin patch.  Oh and the halloween treats that are absolutely addictive because seriously, who can ever eat just one of those little suckers.

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Thanksgiving hasn’t been a big holiday in the past for me.  We always do family dinners with Scott’s side and usually cook dinner for my family.   I actually love making a big turkey with all the trimmings for everyone.  Although, this year we did potluck style and it was way better for having time to visit and relax since I only had to worry about making the turkey and not everything else that goes with it.  Of course I usually do a small amount of decorating for the dinner table but that usually means a table cloth and some flowers.  But this year was different.  First off I found all these amazing little ghost white pumpkins and from there I got so carried away I put them all over the house and actually put together TWO thanksgiving tables.  I just couldn’t decide which one I liked better.

Thanksgiving has come and gone for us in Canada but if you’re in the US and still looking for inspiration I hope you get an idea or two.  Or pin and start planning for your table next year.  Or use some of these ideas for Christmas.  YIKES!!!  It’s actually only 2 months until Christmas today.

The first “look” I did was the one I originally had planned on doing.  A nice, simple, neutral table with grey, gold, white and green.  Thanks to Whole Foods (which has an amazing flower department if you don’t have a budget for a florist) I bought some beautiful white hydrangeas and kale to make a simple arrangement.  I love fluffy white hydrangeas; they go with everything.  Whole Foods is also where I found all these gorgeous mini white pumpkins and the slightly larger ones were found at a local grocery store (which ironically I didn’t expect to find them at all).  I loved the idea of just piling a whole bunch of them together and creating a really abundant look.  You could even skip the flowers and just do a pile of white pumpkins.  This year I fell in love with the white ghost pumpkins so much that I also used them as a little detail on each plate.The grey linen table cloth, gold rosette place mats (that I ADORE) and even the simple pinecone napkins were all from Simons Maison (which has a gorgeous store at Park Royal).  I’ve really loved Simons since it opened and find that it’s my go to when I want something stylish for a decent budget.  Their HOME department is very very dangerous for me.  I always find things I want to add to our house there.

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I hadn’t planned on the second look AT ALL.  But when I went to Simons to get a “few” things I absolutely fell in love with these pretty pastel linens from Samantha Pynn at Simons Maison.  I’m not usually drawn to soft and pretty decor.  I’m waaaaay more of a modern aesthetic but something about these grabbed me.  I immediately saw them sitting pretty on top of crisp white plates.  Of course I quickly realized that they were way too big to be napkins and were in fact tea towels but who cares.  They were going to be napkins today.  I also fell in love with these wood and glass candle lanterns while I was at Simons.  These are way more my style and thought they were a nice addition to the light beige in the napkins/tea towels.  I kept the same placemats and tablecloth.  And still liked the mini ghost pumpkins on each plate.  But this was all about the wood, the candles and the pumpkins with the pastel/watercolour blue pops from the napkins.  And even though I have a softer colour palette, I think this look is actually more modern than the first more neutral one.  I think the flower arrangement gives the first look a more traditional vibe.  Of course you could mix and match pieces from both and create a whole other look.

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So what do you think?  Do you have a clear favourite look?  Or a favourite element?

Oh, and if you’re wondering, the plates, silverware and glassware are all my own everyday dinner ware.  I am a huge fan of simple white dinner plates because all the food looks amazing on it and when you decorate they go with everything.  The plates are discontinued I think and were a wedding gift.  They’re Mikasa and think these are the closest style they have.  The silverware was also a wedding gift.  And the glassware is I think from EQ3 but I don’t see them on their site.  But I found those after I fell in love with the ones from Crate and Barrel.

 

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POP!!! FIZZZZZZZZ!!! CLINK!!!!

Ahhh, music to my ears!

Welcome and thanks for stopping by and taking a minute to check out my new site and blog.  YYYAAAAAYYYYYYY!!!!! Oh, and new social media too (FINALLY!!! has been the collective response).  ANNNNDDDD some new updated branding that I am ABSOLUTELY LOVING!!! There are more phases to come including some business cards and packaging tags that I love so much I want to give them to everyone I see.  And we haven’t even printed them yet.   We’re pretty pumped and excited over here!!! Excited about the new site and the excuse to pop some bubbly (Can you tell I like me some Champagne)!  Not to mention this site has been in dream phase for years and in the works for absolute MONTHSSSSSSS!!!

For those who are new, WELCOME and hugs!!!  To those who have been long time supporters and fans, THANK YOU and big, big, B-I-GGGG HUGS!!! It’s been a long time since my last website and my last blog post, years in fact.  And if you’re wondering why, let’s just say Life through a few monkey wrenches in the mix that caused me to put a few things on the back burner.  I was still shooting weddings and families and other lovely shoots but with all the personal upheaval I didn’t have time or energy left to do many things in the business like updates and blog posts.  Which is no excuse and certainly not the best way to run a business.  But part of the point and benefit of working for yourself is to be able to put family first.  And that was the choice we were forced to make and chose to make.  A lot of what has happened over the past years has been some of the hardest I’ve ever dealt with in my life.  And others have been some of the best things in my life.  It’s been a full gamut of emotions and experiences and well… isn’t that life.  Perhaps I’ll share more in the future.

But for now… here we are.  Here I am.  I AM BACK BABY!!!

We have so many many lovely things planned.  Stay with us and hopefully you can continue to be patient.  I’ve had some new plans dreaming and marinating in my head for probably the last 4 years.  That’s right! F-O-U-R!!!!

I have many lovely, lovely, lovely weddings, engagements and family shoots to share.  I think I’ve been creating my best work in the midst of all this chaos and haven’t yet shared it with any of you.  So be prepared for some awesomeness.  AND A BIG BIG THANK YOU to all my amazing couples and families who have entrusted us with their memories despite the appearance of hiding under a rock over here.

Please know we are excited about the 2017 weddings we have booked and can’t wait to meet more lovely couples to help capture their memories.  And if you’re expecting a new baby CONGRATS!!! I get really really really excited about new babies.  Please contact me to help capture these newborn memories.  And if you’re babies have grown just a tad wee bit or a lot bit please contact me before they grow and change even more.  And one new addition to the line up has been the lifestyle work we’ve been creating and collaborating on with other amazing entrepreneurs and brands.  So please, if you need some rockin’ new images for your business, give me a shout.  I CAN’T WAIT TO HEAR FROM YOU!!! CHEERS!

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