life…family pictures

this year i knew i wanted two things from my family pictures. high contrast black and white and a happy family. enter michelle of m. hanson photography. we grabbed our skateboards and bikes and literally rode around for 30 minutes while michelle snapped away. michelle is located outside of Salt Lake City and makes a couple trips to Southern California every year to take pictures. this is our third year with michelle and we adore her. she out did herself this year with her easy going personality and impeccable ability to capture you as you are.  she has a way of making us all relax, including my hard to crack hus. want to get on her california travel list? contact her here. easiest, funnest pictures yet and not ONE meltdown! miracle.

lifestyle family pictures black and white black and white family pictures couples pictures simple couple shot father and son family pictures lifestyle family pictures daddy skateboarding with son girl on her cruiser hull family photos

modern baptism pictures modern 8 year old baptism pictures mommy and son picture simple lifestyle family pictures slouchy beanie girl toddler boy on strider bike

what we wore:

Me: ella moss blazer ($228) / rag and bone jeans ($175, buy a size down, they stretch) / sole society booties ($69) / h&m sweater (on sale $12.95)/ madewell necklace (old)

Hus: RVCA shirt / Vans (old)

Myes: (all his own picks) hurley gingham shirt (old)/ fairisle sweater / gap jeans (on sale now for $20)/ vans (sold out but very similar here on sale for $35)

Ruby: slouchy beanie, old from here but she has this similar one too/ target fur vest (sold out) / h&m dress (not available online) / crewcuts leggings (on sale right now for $19.50)/ zara boots (sold out)

Ello: old navy flannel (on sale $9) / indie nook lion ringer tee ($22) / crew cuts cords (on sale right now for $29 PLUS an additional 40% off) / new balance sneakers ($47)

how to avoid the family picture melt down…

If you are like me you spend A LOT of time prepping for holiday pictures. Can I just congratulate you on booking a photographer? Half the battle right there people. I spent a few short years taking photos of families,  including several for their holiday cards.  I have been on both sides of the camera. I know what it looks like. You made it to your location without ketchup on anyone’s clothing or faces and she hasn’t ripped the bow off her head yet… you should feel like a million bucks! Here are a couple of tips you may NOT have considered yet.

tips for family pictures

1. Consider the Time.  If you are using a natural light photographer the time of day to shoot will be key. Generally the lighting is best an hour or two after the sun comes up and the hour or two before the sun goes down. Are your kids morning people? Are you? Would the afternoon be better or is it during nap time? Consider travel time.


2. Choose an Authentic Location. Think of your family’s favorite places to be. Everyone will be more relaxed in an environment they loved. Are you choosing to shoot at the beach just because it is beautiful,  which is  fine, or does your family really spend a lot of time there?  Think outside the beaches and fields box. Although I love both of these locations and have shot my family there many times, consider something that may be more authentic and reflective of who you are as a family. Your family will know what to expect and be more relaxed and natural in a familiar environment. Two years ago we had our photographer come out to our campground where we were camping. Last year our photographer captured us just getting ready for school, pancakes and all, in our home. Both of these locations worked great because the kids were busy doing what they do in coordinated outfits. Make it real. Make it you. There is nothing wrong with the beach or a field but if you know your family is going to struggle through the pictures taken there think of something they may enjoy more.  I have seen amazing pictures taken at the county fair, the zoo, an ice cream shop or donut store or out riding horses.  The more comfortable they are the better and the better luck you will have getting them to cooperate next year.

boys roasting marshmallows

3. Embrace Lifestyle Photography. The great thing about the digital photography boom of 2004 was that a new kind of photography emerged from talents like tara whitney. Lifestyle photography. It is a mom’s best friend. we have all killed ourselves trying to get that perfect shot of everyone looking right at the camera and smiling with ease. but why, i say? why? instead of yelling at your kids to look at the camera and smile actually make them smile. have fun. that is when true, sincere moments emerge. moments that will last you much longer then your frozen smiling faces. Remember the more positive you make this photo shoot experience, the better the next one will be, so have fun. be yourselves. relax. To me there is so much more interest and depth to a family photo of the family doing what the family does. Teasing, laughing, balancing on a wall, singing, jumping, playing, walking on tippy toes, reading, drawing, eating, making cookies together, swimming, building legos, wrestling, picnicking… All of these are fun activities that will help everyone stay happy, smiling and engaged.

family photo session in the home

4. Layer Lightly, but Layer. Layers add a great deal of interest to photos, but layer too bulky and you are going to look bulky. If you layer too many pieces your kids will get frustrated and start stripping off clothes. Oh is that just my family?  I always have two layers on top with my kids. If they decide to start ripping their sweater off there is a collared shirt underneath. It is also a great bargaining tool. ” I hate this sweater mom!”

“Oh okay, do you like the shirt underneath better? Take off the sweater the collared shirt is fine. Its up to you, sweater or collared shirt?”

My husband is in a constant state of overheating and mildly simmering. I want him to wear that wool jacket, I really really do, but if I force him to he will be red, sweating and completely bugged with me. Not going to do it.

A few of my favorite go to layering pieces for pictures are:  henleys, cardigans, scarves, collared shirts with undershirts, thin knits, leggings and vests.

miles drinking out of straw

5. Add Texture. Use knit scarves, leather boots, heathered sleeves, leather trim, fur accents, crinkled khakis, nubby beach blankets,  anything that has an interesting but subtle texture.

6. Bring Fruit Snacks. Crackers crumble. Lollipops turn smiles blue. Chocolate melts. Although we are not a big fruit snack family I have some on hand for pictures. They are easy to hide in the mouth, disappear quickly, don’t make a mess when they spill, are easily hid in my pocket  and make my kids happy.

7. Share the Love. Tell your photographer a couple things about each kid in your family. Often times before a shoot I would print up images of the child’s favorite characters. Instead of holding a stuffed animal on my head I would hold the characters picture just under my lens and ask the kids if they could find it. It makes for great close ups and sparkling eyes. Or if your little one is in the middle of a melt down the photographer can distract them with chit chat about some of their favorite things.  Some of our best shots of Ello are of him roaring like a lion and racing like a motorcycle. For the older kids the photographer can make them comfortable by asking them what they are painting in art, what their horses’ name is, what kind of skateboard they have, where their favorite place to surf is or what color their soccer jersey is. When your photographer has a little knowledge they can quickly distract or interact with your children without needing you to chime in all the time.

You know how it goes with a teen or tween. mom, trying to get the teen to look like she is enjoying herself and actually likes their family says “honey, tell our photographer how you made the dance team.”  this is met by rolled eyes and annoyance. Instead, let the photographer take the lead, ” I hear you dance at TBC, who is your instructor?” or ” What song are you working on for your holiday performance?” or “What high school did you play in Friday’s game?”

8. Bring Non Distracting Props: Feeling like you can venture out of the home for this shoot?  Try bringing a couple photo friendly props with you to distract little hands while not distracting from the picture. Think wooden building blocks or  cars, plush animals or  dolls and tents or teepees.

kid friendly picture props

feather headband teepee / doll / walrus/ arrows

 9. If you can, play music. Music fills awkward silences. It loosens people up. It makes people happy.

mama style… goods by grinn

have you met this week’s mama style, Megan Papworth, owner and creator of Goods by Grinn?

Megan has created the most beautiful, crave-able pillows at really great prices. love that. I can’t wait to use this one in ruby’s room redo. i also love a local girl who hustles, and Megan is a hustler. From pounding the pavement in downtown LA searching out manufacturers to being a mama to two of the cutest kids ever, she knows how to get the job done.

goods by grinn meganhere is my interview with Megan…

1. Your site says the name “Goods by Grinn” was inspired by your children. Tell us how.

I have two kids – Grey and Rowan. I also have a cute nephew named Finn (my brother and sister-in-law’s son). So if you take the “G” from Grey and the “R” from Rowan and you finish is with “inn” from Finn, you get Grinn. Now, doesn’t that just make you smile? I mean, grin? :) I definitely wanted the name to be meaningful, and what is more meaningful than naming it after the people you love most!

BC: i wholeheartedly agree. the blue closet is also a name close to my heart.

goods by grinn

2. What inspired you to start Goods by Grinn? Have you always planned to go into home design like your mom?

My mom and I worked together when I lived near her in Arizona - I have always had a passion for design whether it be interior design, fashion, etc. When I moved out to L.A. I still wanted to have my hand in design and I also wanted to take advantage of living 15 minutes from L.A. and all of its resources. My mom and I  both saw a need for classy, polished looking pillows at an affordable price. So, I went to work downtown, scouted out resources, and started Grinn, hoping to provide the answer to the pillow crisis ;)

3. You are so busy with a husband in dental school and two little ones what made you feel ready to start your company?  What would you tell other women who want to start their own business?

My initial reason for starting my company was the practical reason of helping to support my family. Dental school is darn expensive! And to be honest, I had to do something, there wasn’t an option. I had been doing photography for the previous 4 years and so I had experience running my own business, but was definitely ready for a change when I moved. I wanted to so something creative yet manageable and I was intrigued with the idea of textile design, printing, manufacturing and all that good stuff. I loved the learning process and seeing my designs come to life. So I guess that would be my advice. If there is a will, there is a way! Don’t let insecurities or the unknown inhibit you from doing what you dream of doing. I always think “People have done it, it can be done. So I can be that person if I try hard enough!”

4. I love the simplicity and freshness of your designs. They are so versatile, with options both genders, all ages and any part of the home. What inspires your designs?

Thank you! I try to keep my designs simple as to appeal to the masses and be versatile like you mentioned. I screenshot tons of items that I like that may have a unique pattern, fun texture, etc. I have them in an album. I pull them up on my screen and pick apart what I like about them and then I go from there. I try and figure out what I would put on my couch and then I get opinions from the people that I trust. I live by the “less is more” mantra and it has worked so far!

5. How would you describe your personal style at home and in what you wear?

I really like to feel feminine but comfortable (thank goodness harem and slouchy pants are in) and then I love dressing up on occasion. I think this is apparent with my wardrobe and my house. I like my home to feel inviting with a neutral palette and then the “dressing up part” is the pops of color and accents of gold. I am not sure if you can tell by my pillows, but I am diggin’ gold these days.

BC: yes, something we have in common and jived over while meeting was our mutual love for gold.

gold metallic pillows by goods by grinn

 6. What trends in home design are you excited about right now?

I love the fall colors that are in style – raspberry tones, navy and peacock. And then I feel like people are just starting to catch on the gold trend. Together, they are dynamite!

 7. What is your favorite item to chose for a room? (rug, sofa, mirrors, flowers etc.) and why?

I would have to go with rugs because they anchor the room and is the first things your eyes are drawn to. Rugs can be tricky but when they are right, they make all the difference.

 8.  Where is your favorite place to shop for budget friendly items for the home?

HomeGoods can not be beat!

9.  If you could design your dream home where would it be and what style would you chose?

Haha you mean if I could get out of my small two bedroom apartment :) Oh I am a beach girl … definitely on the beach. A house with a modern feel, lots of white, amazing windows and wood accents.

10. We just spent the weekend together and you always look so darling and easy, where are your favorite places to shop for your clothing?

You are so nice, thanks! I love Madewell, ASOS, JCrew and for a quick fix, Forever 21. You can’t go wrong with any of it, but if I had to shop at one store for the rest of my life it would be Madewell.

goods by grinn_26 goods by grinn_25


find her darling dress from asos here.

11. What is your favorite everyday outfit?  Is there anything you add to an outfit to make it special?

My “go to” is jeans and  button up with the “half tuck” that my sisters tease me about. And a good pair of boots. Loving my Sam Edelman Petty boots these days.

BC: i love a half tuck. i remember being teased about it in middle school and still raged on with my shirt tails hanging out. its a fave.

goods by grinn_10

12. What clothing/accessory can you NOT live without?

A good blazer! It is essential. It can be dressed up or down and never disappoints. Am I right?

BC: absolutely! you immediately feel put together with a blazer on.

 13. Your children are darling. Where do you like to shop for them?

Thanks, I think so 99% of the time! I love Zara, H&M and you can’t beat a good Gap or Old Navy sale to stalk up the basics.  Crew Cuts (when Grandma is shopping :) and I love all the goodies that can be found from fellow moms with their own boutique shops. So many creative people out there!


gbyg gbygrey goods by grinn grey


find rowan’s skirt here.

14. What are their favorite things to wear?

Rowan loves shoes! What girl doesn’t right? And she loves cardigans which I love for layering. Grey is a tank top guy and can’t be bothered with long sleeves.

15. How did you chose their darling names?

Grey was a rash decision at the end of my pregnancy while going through a name book. I found Greyson but liked Grey better with our last name. Rowan I heard in high school when Brooke Shields named her daughter that and I knew I would have a Rowan someday. We call her Row most of the time.

rowan and grey1

16. describe their personalities a little.

Grey is a charmer. He is really easy to love and will talk your ear off if you will listen. He has a soft heart which is so endearing. He loves skateboarding and riding his bike and can’t get enough of soccer.grey 1

grey 2

 Rowan is a cuddle bug. She is stubborn and sassy and keeps us laughing. Her tantrums make me want to cry, but we are learning to cope! She sings to herself and plays babies and can entertain herself for hours.


goods by grinn_27

goods by grinn_28

love these harem pants? us too. ruby has them as well, find them here.goods by grinn_17

I got to spend the afternoon with Megan and her little gems and had the best time. ruby fell in love with grey and rowan’s sassiness just about killed me with all it’s cuteness.

goods by grinn_11


Want more of  the goods from Goods by Grinn? Me too… this week Megan will be releasing her fall line! After talking to her about some of her fall ideas I have just been waiting with a full shopping cart for her to release them. It promises to be “good”.  Want even better news?

Right now everything in her shop is 15% off if you use Promo Code: REBRAND15

Speaking of rebranding… I am in the process too! As I have worked my way through the hackers of two weeks ago and rebuilt and secured my site I have also started the rebranding process. I am still feeling the burn of the Great Hacking  and  have lost a lot of info on my site, including my social media info.

 If you would like to see more of what i am digging or doing follow me…

Facebook    Twitter    Pinterest    Instagram   Or subscribe to this blog by bloglovin  or email me

boy style…fancy pants

my guys got their fancy pants on for easter. this year i knew i wanted a very traditional look for the boys. they wear so much rough and tough looking clothing that i wanted to just see the sweet, soft side of them.





the suits are perfect for spring and summer. weddings. father’s day. mother’s day.

my guys, they are best friends.

myes takes care of ello.

he tells him stories that melt my heart about adventures they go on and how they always come out the heroes.

if i was playing God seven years ago i would have created a different birth order for me. two boys and then a girl at the end. that seemed very perfect then. but i didn’t play God and  instead my little guys were interrupted by the sweetness and craziness of their sister.  maybe that disruption makes it easier for the boys to get along…

there is no competition, yet.

there is no fighting between them, yet.

instead ello thinks myes is the coolest and in return myes thinks ello is the sweetest.

several times a day ello will look up at me and say, “mom, where’s my myes?” sigh.


boys khaki suits 2

 you can read more about myes here.

this little stinker wouldn’t crack those lips for anything. behind that little smirk is the cutest gap where his front teeth once lived. apparently it is not as endearing to him as it is to me.


boys khaki suits 3




toddler khaki suit 8


toddler khaki suit 5


toddler khaki suit 3

myes’ suit coat / suit pants / checked shirt / ello’s sport coat / ello’s pants / belt /

how to take perfect birthday pictures…

Continuing with our birthday theme i called in my friend and photographer, michelle hanson to put together a step by step guide  on how to take  the perfect birthday portraits.
Michelle has a serious knack for capturing those perfect expressions.  She took these pictures of our family this year and i cherish them.
so here is michelle’s guide to taking the perfect birthday portraits…
We love birthdays in our house. Birthdays are fun and exciting and a good source of sugar for the whole family. However, birthdays get a little hectic around here. With four kids, I’ve had to lay down some family birthday rules. The most important one is that you can only have a birthday party every other year. That doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate each year…it just means that we can’t do a fully decorated, games planned, invitations sent, meals served, crazy friends birthday party every year. It’s too much for me. I just can’t do it.
However, I make sure I do two things every year, without fail: a birthday portrait session and a homemade cake (or cupcakes).
how to take perfect birtday pictures
As a photographer, it’s easy to get caught up in planning something extravagant for a birthday portrait session. I often take pictures of families in amazing locations and think “I have to come back here when so and so turns 5!” Sometimes it happens, but mostly it doesn’t. I feel like I am currently in survival mode with my young family and most birthdays come and go without any added fanciness. BUT, that doesn’t mean I don’t get great pictures. Here are some tips for an at home photo session with your birthday boy or girl.
1) Find or buy a special birthday outfit. Giving your child something new not only makes for a good picture, but gets them excited about wearing it for their special photo session. Often this outfit is part of their birthday present.
2) Evaluate your weather. I live in Utah. In the winter, it is cold. A young child is not going to sit outside in the cold and give you a good picture. For my three year old’s birthday this year, it snowed. There was no way I was going to get a good picture outside (even though snow pictures are gorgeous), so indoors was my only other option.
3). Evaluate your light. Outdoor: Look for locations that give you lots of indirect light (light that comes from reflective surroundings, not directly from the sun). For me, my porch is my number #1 spot. My porch is north facing and never gets full sun exposure. The white concrete reflects the light perfectly and the shaded porch steps are not too darkly shaded. I place my kids as close to the “sun line” as possible while keeping them out of direct sunlight. Indoor: Use your largest window. I choose the largest window I have and open the shutters completely. I set up a bench or chair a few feet away from the window (out of direct sunlight) and face my kids towards the window (source of light). With my three year old, I grabbed a white bench and placed it 5 or 6 feet away from the window, facing the window. I hung a white sheet behind him on the wall (for added reflective light). I got some cute pillows off my couch and had him sit/stand on the bench. I stood with my back to the window to take pictures of him.
4) Add Incentives. Grab a bowl of smarties, goldfish, or candy. For every few smiles I got out of my three year old, I gave him a few M&Ms. Wait a minute for him to chew (no food in mouth pictures) and then snap away.
5) Keep it quick. Kids can only take so much. Get what you need and then let them go.
6) Do your session in the morning or well before your birthday festivities. By the end of the day, party planning and birthday excitement add unneeded stress to an already super stressful undertaking. Save yourself the brain damage.
Here is an unedited picture to show you the wrinkled sheet I hung up behind my three year old during his birthday session.
Here I have edited away the wrinkles, making a smooth white background.
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Ask little guys to show you things or do some tricks. Here I asked him to show me his nose.
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And here is telling me about something or other…
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And here he is showing me his belly button…
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I think he is sucking on an M&M here.
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Here he is singing “Happy Birthday” to himself…
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And here he is holding out the last note of the song…
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Here are a few more tips for some perfect birthday party photos.
1) If you are doing a full on party for your birthday boy or girl, decorate early. Decorate early and take pictures when the light is good (daytime) and there are no crazy kids running around. I put a lot of planning into the details of my parties — details that I am positive my kids don’t care about at all. Document those details with some stress-free photography early on in the day.
2) Getting good pictures at a day party: Delegate some responsibilities to your husband or the grandparents or a good friend. Give yourself some time to walk around the party and take some candids. Candids are my favorite way to remember the feel of a party. And laughing, silly kids make for great candids.
3) Getting good pictures of a night party: Same advice as a day party, but make sure your camera is on low light settings. If you want to use a flash, that’s fine. But if you are like me and prefer not to use a flash, you need to set your camera accordingly. For those who shoot in manual, low light situations call for a large aperture (<2.8/f) and a fast enough shutter speed (at least >1/100) . To accomplish this, you need to raise your ISO super high. I raised mine to 2000. A high ISO will cause your pictures to be grainier but it will allow you to get the shot and — in my opinion — that’s all that matters. If you shoot in automatic, you can manually change your ISO settings on your menu. Get to know your camera before the party so you can be ready.
4) When the birthday cake comes out, have someone else light it and start the singing. This is hard for me because — let’s be real — no one cares about the perfect birthday cake candle/singing moment as much as you do. Turn off the lights, light the candles, adjust your camera settings, and then have someone else run the show while you wait for the perfect candle blowout shot. Don’t be afraid to re-light the candles if you miss it. Birthday boys and girls love nothing more than a second (or third) chance to make a birthday wish.
5) Eventually put away the camera and enjoy the party. Not everything has to be captured on film. Relax, get involved, and enjoy the craziness.
Here are a few pictures of my three year old’s Angry Bird party.
By the time presents were being opened, it was really dark. These pictures are grainy, but I still love them more than a picture with a flash. Flashes flatten everything and I love the shadows and the bokeh (blurred background) in even the grainiest of shots.
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I got this on the first try. Again, it is very grainy but how can you not love that concentration and those puffed up cheeks.
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birthday pictures guide
Thanks Michelle!!