Destination: Costa Rica!

Well, we hinted at this trip in our newsletter (Are you part of that? If not sign up here! We’d love to have you on board, and it’s free!). Now the time has come! In just a couple days we’ll hope on a plane with our two little boys, and fly south to Costa Rica!

It’s been over a year since we took a big trip, so we were itching to get back out there, and let Oliver have his first taste of international travel. We have loved South America, but haven’t yet checked out Central America. After hearing so much great stuff about Costa Rica, we pretty much just picked a spot, bought the tickets, and planned the trip in a few short weeks. No sense dilly dallying right?

So here’s what we’re going to get up to!

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New Studio Tour!

At long last, we invite you to come check out our new studio space! Click the video above, and enjoy!

Any questions? Pop ’em in the comments and we’ll do our best to answer!

Shooting Nervous

Sweaty palms. Nausea. Chest tightness. Racing thoughts. “What if I can’t get a great shot? What if I forget something? What if I totally fail?”

This is how I feel before a session sometimes. Particularly if it’s something different than the norm, or I haven’t shot in a while. Even after 10 years of shooting, I still get incredibly nervous before a shoot.

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DJI Phantom 4 Unboxing & First Look

Sooooo Rob got a shiny new gadget! He’s been dying to get a Phantom drone for years, but held off because each model was missing some key feature that he just had to have. Then the Phantom 4 was announced and BOOM! It had everything and he went for it.

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5 Gifts to Make From Your Photos

I love giving photo gifts for two reasons:

1. They always win. Some might say that giving presents isn’t a competition. I say they’re sore losers.

2. They can often be done at the last minute for those of us who are mega procrastinators. (It makes life more interesting! Like a race!!)

So, let’s cover some of the photo gifts that totally rock and will make you the hero of the day. You don’t even have to tell them that you made it like an hour ago.

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The Ultimate Fuji Instax Camera Comparison

Fuji Instax cameras are a blast – they shoot instant film, immediately giving you a printed photo that you can share and enjoy. We’ve taken our Instax all the way to Peru, and it has been at the heart of some of our most treasured photography experiences.

But the Instax line of cameras can sometimes confuse me! There are lot of different models, with different features, and it’s hard to know which one does what, and which might be right for you!

So check the video above for a look at all the major cameras (plus an Instax printer!).

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I Made My New Website Last Night With Adobe Portfolio

Embarrassing confession: for the past 4 years we haven’t had a portfolio. We were no longer shooting portraits, and spending all our time teaching, so a portfolio wasn’t exactly necessary. But yeah, we should have had one. I tried a couple times: playing around with Squarespace and WordPress. But nothing really stuck, and we had no place to show our work.

Finally creating a portfolio was on our list of things to do this year, and I sure wasn’t looking forward to it.

Then last night I saw something pop up in the news: Adobe had just released a portfolio builder, creatively called “Adobe Portfolio“.

I clicked through, the templates looked neat, so I held my breath and clicked on Pricing.

“For you, Lauren, it’s free.”

Oh what sweet, sweet words! Yes, that’s exactly what the site said. Since we have a subscription to Adobe’s Creative Cloud for the bajillion Adobe programs we use, (and I was currently signed in, so it creepily knew my name) Portfolio is free. Sold!

So I started to see what it was like. Lo and behold, an hour of poking around, a few clicks and uploads and I found myself with a portfolio! Another hour of fine tuning, and I had something published and ready to share.

I present to you, the first portfolio of our personal work ever!

Now I say that it’s ready to share, but it is certainly far from complete. This was done in one evening of work (an evening broken up by watching some Netflix and going in about half a dozen times to put the baby back to sleep). But with a few more evenings of work, I’m sure I’ll have something pretty comprehensive.

So what do I think of Adobe Portfolio? I really enjoy using it! It’s simple, for sure. If you’re looking for a really complex website, this isn’t it. There’s no blog, or shopping cart, and it won’t do any crazy slideshows or blast music out at your unsuspecting viewers. But it does what it’s supposed to do very well: build a portfolio of your best work.

Using the editor takes a tiny bit of getting used to, which is true of anything really. For the most part it’s very intuitive, and I didn’t need to read any instructions or look up tutorials to get it to do what I wanted. Sometimes I’d find myself scratching my head, wondering how to do something (like remove dates from the project grid) but once I understood how the system is designed (you click into something to pull up all the options) then it was easy enough to figure out.

The best part is that it looks really good out of the box, and it’s hard to make it look bad. The spacing and typography are top notch, and that goes a LONG way to creating a beautiful presentation. Those kinds of things aren’t easy to do either, so I appreciate them handling the setup for me there. It’s linked into Typekit so you can add lots of lovely fonts to put your own twist on it.

Adding photos and text is easy, you can put in captions, have the images pop up in a lightbox for bigger viewing, reorder them and remove them with ease and even embed videos and contact forms from Wufoo and other such things.

There are 5 different templates to choose from, each quite clean and minimal, because, again, this is supposed to be about showing off your work, not dazzling with fanciful web design. I really appreciated that it saved my adjustments to each template when I switched to another one, so I could tinker, try out something different, and come back to what I had first made without worrying about losing my adjustments.

And, of course, everything is optimized for mobile so your site will look good on any device. There’s even a nifty little preview at the bottom so you can check to see how it looks on different devices with different orientations.

Other Nifty Features:

  • Use your own domain name
  • The editor is “live” meaning you can see your adjustments as you make them. This makes the whole process much quicker and easier
  • Things like padding and spacing and size are all adjustable with sliders, so you can really fine tune the layout
  • Allows global style adjustments to everything from link colors and hovers, to image rollovers and other nerdy web design stuff (global means you can adjust everything at once, keeping the design consistent, and saving time)
  • Ties in with Behance if you use that service to show off your work

All in all, it was a very enjoyable and fun process, and I was pleased as punch with the outcome.

It’s nothing insane, but it’s exactly what I need right now. And I’m sure many many others will find it’s just right for them.

Adobe Portfolio is included with both the full Creative Cloud membership ($49.99/month) AND the Photography bundle, which gives you Lightroom and Photoshop for $9.99/month.

My biggest piece of advice for using Adobe Portfolio?

(Other than just finally sitting down and using it to make that portfolio you’ve been putting off?) Put your personality into it. Hard. As I’ve said, these templates are simple. They look like a billion other templates out there. There’s nothing wrong with that, because these designs sure do work well – they are easy for your viewers to navigate, and show your work off.

But you have to do something to make your site stand out from the billions. Whether it’s the colour, logo, titles of your projects, what you write in your About page, or whatnot. Have fun with it, be yourself to the fullest, and find a way to take these templates and make them yours!