My favorite photos.....and MORE tips!

At the request of my friend Candid Carrie- I have decided to post a few of my favorite photos. Not so much for content (although I did pull all photos of my boys!)...but more for photo technique. So read on- I will talk a little bit about what I did to achieve each. You know I am on the constant quest to help others take great photos! I am passionate about photography and want everyone to feel the success of the perfect shot!

You push the button on your camera to focus, and it indicates you do not need a flash. Hey it is a sunny day out hiking, why on earth would I use a flash? If I had not forced my flash to fire, my boys would be dark in the shadow of this cave. And I would have gotten home and been disappointed with the shot. Instead I got this shot and it is one of my favorites.

Get down to their level:Hot over-cast day. Kids doing slip-n-slide (nakie I might add!).No flash needed. But I did bend down to make better eye contact and to able to capture the popsicles undistorted.

Tilt it!

Now this tip (or 'trick) is a real secret of commercial photographers. Take portraits at a slight angle. Now in this particular case...I didn't- I took a regular ol'boring straight up and down photo...but when I cropped it, I also turned it a little to give it this effect. So you can go play around with photos on your computer right now! It is obvious in this shot if you look that the palm tree in background. Something about angles makes the subject feel more engaged with the viewer. And this tip can turn a boring photo into a winner.

Get off Center:

Get out of the habit of having your subject dead center of each photograph. Move them to the right or left. Put them down at the bottom of an image and capture a beautiful sky behind them. Mix it up. Take the same photo as many ways as possible. This photo won me a little award on years ago. And can you tell I had just said to my then 2 year old Tucker "Do NOT pick the poppies!".....and yes, I clicked...and he picked!

So those are a few photos I really love. And some tips I like to teach to others (some you have heard in my other posts- but I wanted to really nag you about them!) These photos are my favorites because they capture such happy memories of times with my boys. And that is the real purpose of great photography. It is not just about making something 'frameable' but it is about capturing what you FELT and not only what was SEEN. Now go on...get off this blog and go shoot something! Hey, let me know how it goes will ya?

The Universe gives me a do-over.

(I try hard to shorten my posts. but this one is long...I think it is worth the read!)
About a year and a half ago, while walking thru a store in the Irvine Spectrum a woman approached me and said ‘are these boys yours?’. I panicked. What did they do? “Actually,I am a scout for an agency and I would love to give you some information”. So before I could get the words “no chance in hell my kids are gonna be kid stars and end up in rehab at age 12” (see how I just assume they WILL be stars?)…Jack and Tucker were saying “Yes! I want to be an actor! Where do we go? What do we have to do?”…So the lady gave us some info. The following Saturday there I was someplace in Huntington Beach, a library I think. With about 100 other kids. My boys were totally thrilled to be there. Not scared. No nerves. Just thrilled. They were given scripts. Then they went into a room one by one and auditioned. The next day- a person called and told us the agency is ‘very interested’ in representing both Jack and Tucker and could we please come to Los Angeles for a meeting with the agent. Reluctantly I agreed. I told the kids over and over- most of these things are scams. They just want money from you. But we can go- just for the experience of it. So the NEXT Saturday we drove the hour to downtown Los Angeles. When we walked into the agent’s office we noticed about 6 other kids there as well. I told the receptionist we had an appointment. She said “well, we are running late…like an hour late”. So you know what we did? We left. Well we waited like a half an hour and then left. I explained to the boys that it didn't seem all that legitimate- since they should make people they are ‘very interested in' wait that long. The truth was- I didn't want to be the mom to drive to LA every time the phone rings for an audition. I didn't want to do it- even if they did. Bad Mom moment for sure.

Jack and Tucker never really let the whole thing go like I hoped. For a year and a half they have said ‘we would totally be TV stars by now if you had let us stay at that agents’… first I thought they were just being silly. But as time as gone one- and my boys have become MORE interested in performing and definitely more dramatic. I have had pangs of regret for not sitting there like some desperate stage mom until they called us in. But did I do anything about it? Nope. I lost the agents number. So that was that. Or so I thought… Tonight as I was driving to my husband’s softball game the agent’s assistant called. She asked if Jack and Tucker already had representation (um, yeah …I mean I represent. I am their MOM), and if they had been ‘working’ (if she meant working my last nerve-then yes)….and she wanted to know if I would reconsider and come see the agent this week. She said they saved their photos and audition tapes and the agent is really hung up on seeing them again. And is looking for boys their age (sounds creepy as I type that last sentence) for new Disney and Nickelodeon shows. And she asked…’are they still so adorable and charming?’….clearly she is not a mother….because of course my answer was a resounding ‘YES. Why yes they are. Actually they are the cutest and most talented kids in the universe’.
So am I thrilled about the possibility of having to drop everything when the phone rings to rush in traffic to auditions and go-sees? To have to deal with rejection and disappointment for both my boys and me?
No I don’t want to do it AT ALL.
But will I?
You bet.
The universe is giving me a do-over. A second chance. So this time I am gonna see it thru. Appointment is Saturday. I will let you know how it goes….stay tuned. That pun was so intended...


Held Hostage by Uplinkearth

Uplinkearth is my server/site provider or whatever. I don't really understand any of it...but I pay my money every year to keep my site up and working. That is all I know. A few weeks ago I decided to wanted to move this little blog to my own domain (will be and to the Wordpress platform to have more control over layout and photo size. So I contact a person who does this sort of thing, and give her every single username and password I have for my domain, the server, my blog etc. She e-mails me to tell me she cannot get Uplinkearth to add my new domain to my profile. So I agree to contact them. That is when the hell began. Here is the sequence.
1. Use the Live Chat feature they promote-and I am told 'you can not make that change on-line, you need to call support number' (now this is an INTERNET company. Why on earth CAN'T I do this simple change on line?)
2. Call Support number. Wait 35 minutes. I am disconnected
3. Call Support number again. Wait an HOUR and half. I give up...
4. I go back on line and e-mail the company.
5. Call Tech number and beg to be transferred over to Support. They refuse and tell me to call direct.
6. Call Support number again. On hold for close to 2 hours. I carry the phone with me around the house on speaker....Tucker accidentally hangs it up. I cry. I actually CRY.
7. Back on line. E-mail every e-mail address I can find online. Every department.
8. Find an obscure fax number from press release online. I fax them the following:
" I am desperate. Whoever receives this fax...please help me"
I am a hostage. This was note to the outside. Still no one calls. No one e-mails.
9. Find a contact number for an executive for their parent company Luxmovera. I call his extension. I leave a message. I then call and use about 20 random extensions until someone answers. I explain my frustration. The guy is nice. But HE can't help me. He actually suggests I call SUPPORT number. I cry. He then gives me a 'special' direct number and tells me to call in the morning.
10. Stay up till midnight to try and call their 24/7 support line. On hold. Falling asleep. Give up.
11. 7:00am come downstairs and dial 'special number'. Man answers. He wants to know HOW I got his number. I explain whole story. He is MAD. But not at me. At his company. I think this may have been the darn CEO for all I know. He hangs up. Takes care of everything. Calls me back 10 minutes later and says it is all taken care of. I tell him thank you of course and hang up. He calls back again to tell me he just doubled checked my profile himself and he wanted me to know it was all really fixed. I say thanks again.
So it is over. My hostage ordeal is over. I made it out alive. But I am worse for the ordeal. I am stunned a company can treat its customers like this- and yet in big bold letters have "24/7 Support!!!" on their home page. LIES. all LIES. And I can not switch providers since I just paid my annual fee.....I would lose it.(unless uplink will refund me...are you reading this Uplink?) But I can ASSURE you I will switch when this year is up. Oh yes I will......until then..... Upyours-Uplink.....


When the lens was turned on me....

I was living across the bay from San Francisco. I enrolled in a summer class at Cal State Hayward to hone some of my digital photography skills. As I was waiting in the assigned classroom, because of course I was early, a young college boy walked in and asked if I was the instructor. That was the first time I realized- I might be the only 'old' person in this class. The young college boy was then followed by even younger college girls. Until the room filled up completely. I eyed the door. I considered bolting. But I paid for the class already- and my husband had agreed to babysit so I reconsidered and waited for the instructor. Eventually he came in- also young, disheveled and because I judge and asses people immediately...I decided he was unorganized and unprepared. I was right.

I attended those Saturday classes for 6 weeks. I learned very little. And second to the last week we were put on teams (the very concept of a creative team makes me cringe) to.....get this.....photograph each OTHER. This put me in a tail spin of panic. I am really only comfortable BEHIND the camera. And I was sporting about 40 extra lbs at the time. So my self image was pretty darn low. SO the following week arrives and all the little young co-eds arrived in the skimpiest, tiniest and sexiest outfits they owned. You know- to be in their own fabulous 'photo shoot'. Obviously they were hoping to parlay the photos of themselves to use on their MySpace profile. I however, arrived with a coat. A huge coat. and A scarf. A hat. And a big ol flower. Time for my close up? I decide to block the majority of my face with the flower. I got an A+ in the class. But certainly not for my modeling choices....those need a lot of work.

Want more photo humiliation with the back story? Visit We are That Family for a linky like no other....


I finally figured it out!

As you have always suspected.

CAKE is the answer.

It really doesn't matter what the question is does it?

Rock'n and Roll'n in OC. Not in a good way.

If you live in my world (the OC) you have heard nothing but coverage about the 5.8 earthquake(epicenter 10 miles from my house) we all experienced this morning. It is STILL on the news and the radio. We get very excited about our earthquakes. If you are from some other part of the country (or world- hello to my Aussie readers!) you probably don't even know about it. Because I have a feeling that when a report of an earthquake hits the news wire in say Oklahoma-the news editor says 'earthquake. that is NEWS?' unless people die (and thankfully no one has that we know of) hardly gets mentioned. So for all my out of OC folks-let me break it down for you:
Sitting at my mom's house drinking a cup of coffee and discussing home improvement, my late father and my plans for Saturday night when a huge BANG is heard and felt. It is like a giant has picked up the edge of the house-but lost his grip and let go. But he is mad about that so he wraps his arms around the house and starts to shake it...HARD. The windows rattle and things start falling off shelves. We ran to the hallway. For as many years as I can remember we Californians have been told to 'get to a doorway' in the event of an earthquake. something about them being the 'strongest' place in the house. Yeah right...cuz I see SO MANY doorways standing amongst the rubble of other earthquakes...but I digress with my sarcasm.
We ran to the hall and by the time we go there the shaking started to slow....and then.....stop. We gingerly walked thru the house assessing the damage. As the chandeliers swung back and forth and the pool was still making waves we made note of paintings on the floor and nick-nacs awry. But happily her china cabinet had tiny little nails in the doors to secure them from swinging open and dumping the contents on the floor (the genius of my late father). Everything in them had shifted and was pressed against the doors- but nothing was broken. So I said "oh Amen"....and she said "what about your house?".........yeah seems I didn't inherit my late dad's sense of genius because I never secured my china cupboards at all. First I had to find my family.
Phones were not working and cell service was shut off. I e-mailed my husband. he was going to run to day camp to check on Jack and I was going to Tucker who was on a field trip at a bowling alley. Kids were fine. Kids were actually more than fine- they were HAPPY and HYPED up. When Tucker saw me coming in the bowling alley he said "Mom are you here to do the next earthquake with me? They said we will probably have another one!"........then he told me how he was bowling at the time and part of the ceiling came down very close to him. he was thrilled. He thought the whole thing was great. It is nice to be a kid and not think of the worst happening to people I suppose. Next I went to the Assisted Living home to check on my great uncle and great aunt. They were fine as well. So finally I went home.
It wasn't as bad as it could have been. I lost a few vases. And a glass blender was shattered on the floor of my pantry- along with a glass bottle of vinegar. My medicine cabinet had opened and there were pills and medicines all over my bathroom. Pictures down all over the house....but all in all. Not bad. Of course I woke Google and Pixel (hammies) up to be sure they were still alive. They were alive, I was alive and my kids, husband and everyone else was alive too.
I went to the grocery store to get something for diner after cleaning the house up. Closed. All the grocery stores were closed. Yippee -take out night for dinner. The only upside to the earthquake so far.
So that my friends is the story of the earthquake today. Thanks to all my bloggy buds who contacted me to be sure I was okay. SO nice to know that people care. Now does anyone have any advice how to get the smell of vinegar out of a stone floor in my kitchen? It smells like Easter egg dying party in here.....cuz that is the only reason I even own vinegar folks.
Check out Thankful Thursday here....


My Oxy Moron moment

The actual conversations I have with my kids- are funnier than anything I could make up. Take this jewel:
(I am applying sunscreen to his face before the beach)
Tucker: Geez mom, why can't you just use the Oxymoron?
Me: The what? (thinking Jumbo Shrimp? Marital Bliss?....whaaaa?)
Tucker: The Oxymoron stuff...the sunscreen that stays white on my nose.
Me: um, I think you mean Zinc Oxide.
Tucker: Yeah- whatever...the other stuff.
I did not want to laugh...but I did. And later I reflected on my 7 year olds growing vocabulary. No, he clearly doesn't know the meaning of the word Oxymoron.....but at least he knows the WORD. I think that is awfully good. that phrase IS an oxymoron.
ox·y·mo·ron /ˌɒksɪˈmɔrɒn, -ˈmoʊr-/ ok-si-mawr-on, -mohr-] –noun, plural -mo·ra Rhetoric. A figure of speech by which a locution produces an incongruous, seemingly self-contradictory effect.

Will I ever stop giving advice????

Hello to all the Camp Carrie travelers who may have clicked over here to see 'what this girl is all about!'. And to the regular Glamorous Life Association members....go ahead and click over to Camp Candid Carrie today....I give out a little camera and photo advice. Including the most asked question..."I need a new family camera, what do you suggest?".......while you are there- look around. You will go on field trips like you never imagined!

A talented man....

One of these men is a finalist in HGTV's Design Star. And one of these men starred on a sitcom called "Just Shoot Me". I am no detective, but I am thinking they might be the same person. Which if it is true means this guy is pretty talented what with the acting AND the decorating skills he has. Wonder where he will show up next?
(Update: My mom tells me this post sounds like I ACTUALLY think they are the same person. I am stupid people...but not THAT stupid. Well, not usually. Things have gotten bad when I have to explain my comedy and sarcasm...)