How to Do Your Own Maternity Photo Shoot

One of the funnest days during my pregnancy was getting some of my girlfriends together, hitting up a giant street art mural for a maternity photo shoot,  and going out to lunch after to eat all the things.  It was a day full of inside jokes, swollen ankles, and was strategically planned in advance.

At the time, I suffered from severe “pregnancy brain” and had utilized to-do lists on a near daily basis throughout my 2nd and 3rd trimester.  What a great, and totally legit excuse; I used it often.  Thankfully my normal memory eventually returned, but I still use lists to help me complete projects. I love ’em!

In my planning stage, I knew from the get-go that I wanted to have a photo shoot in front of a super dope mural. After all, I had discovered I was pregnant after completing my first large scale mural. There are tons of amazing street artists and murals in my area, and after some research, I found the perfect one created by No Kings Collective. Once that was figured out, everything else fell into place quickly thanks to the list.

Here’s a nutshell of a list you can use to help put together your own maternity photo shoot, followed by more details to get your brain churning out some ideas:

  • Research
    • Locations/themes
    • Props/Wardrobe
  • Plan it
    • Choose location
    • Ask for help if needed
    • Set a date/time
    • Gather props/wardrobe
  • Do it
    • Setup camera/take test shots
    • Have fun and take a ton of pictures
  • Edit
    • Pick out the best of the best shots
    • Edit if needed
    • Share with the world/get a print for your home
Mural by No Kings Collective

Step 1:  RESEARCH! 

Do you know how you want your images to look?  If you don’t already know, do some research, and you may have a “eureka!” moment just like I did. Everything will fall into place quickly after that.  Take a look on Pinterest or Instagram using #maternity #maternityshoot and get an idea of how great shots are laid out.  Some key features you should keep in mind are:

  • When do you want to take the pictures?  I ended up taking mine around 29 weeks of pregnancy, so right at the turning point of the third trimester. It was definitely the best time for my ankles, which were perpetually swollen every day after that!  But my bump also grew significantly by 31 weeks. I’d recommend aiming to do your photoshoot between 28-31 weeks based on your comfort.
  • Where do you want to take the pictures?
    • Outdoors? Brainstorm areas that will make for a stellar background. (Waterfall, beach, farm, apple orchard, music venue, large mural, backyard, forest, landmark, ballpark, cool architecture, where you got married, on a boat in the middle of nowhere, etc.)
    • Indoors?  Maybe you have a window space that sheds great light. Or you could do an awesome theme shoot by creating a backdrop on an empty wall and create a space that is totally you. (Star Wars, 80’s couture, Wonder Woman, pop artist, fav sports team, the Simpsons, etc.)
  • What do you want to wear?  This shoot will be all about that lovely bump you have, so I’d recommend emphasizing it with something fitted, or flaunt it in the buff.
  • Do you want to include props or your partner?  Bubbles, a hula hoop, a lazer light show, the possibilities are endless. Maybe you could use this shoot to also reveal the sex/gender if you so choose, perhaps with balloons, flowers, or a painted belly. Oh… a painted belly sounds like an amazing bump portrait in general, hmm, uh-oh baby fever is upon me. ANYWAY, maybe your partner or family would like to join in on the photo shoot. Brainstorm with them some fun poses you could do together.
Mural by Kelly Towles

Step 2: PLAN IT!

Hooray! You have figured out everything you’d like in your maternity photos. Now to get it all laid out and finalized.

  • Location:
    • Do you need a permit? This may be the case for some landmark parks. If it costs too much, think of another location, unless its your dream background.
    • Do you need to schedule a day/time to use the area?  If it’s a business or private property, try and reach out to management/owners to see if you can take some pictures there.
    • Are you legally allowed to be there?  I think pictures outside the gates of Area 51 are fine, but on the other side, watch out! Seriously though, be wary of trespassing and abandoned buildings.  Guerrilla photo shoots are great,
      It looks empty, but the sidewalk was beyond overcrowded. 39 weeks!

      but it’s harder to escape with swollen ankles and a third trimester belly.

    • Is it a crowded area? Some areas may be flocking with tourists, such as landmarks.  Try to plan a time to be there when it isn’t too crowded. Or if that’s next to impossible, people will more than likely stay out of your way, or even help you out (you can get away with a lot whilst pregnant!)
  • Request Help (if needed): Are you going to a crowded area? Please bring a friend(s) or your partner! It’ll be a lot more fun, and they can be your photographer!  You’ll feel more safe and comfortable with familiar faces around, and not risk a potential theft of your camera/phone/tripod.
  • Set a date/time: At this point, you’ve got scheduling down thanks to all those doctor visits. So once you have a location chosen, and volunteers if needed, set a date and time, and have a backup in case of bad weather. Now things are getting real!
    • Timing is important if you are using the sun for your lighting. The “Golden Hour” to get some gorgeous ethereal glow is about an hour before sunset (or sunrise, if that’s more your speed.) If you are in a shaded area though, any time with sunlight will work, and I’m not opposed to use of flash.
  • Gather equipment/props if needed
    • What will you use to capture the images?  You could use your smart phone or a DSLR. If doing the shoot alone, I’d recommend a tripod, but if you don’t have one, a surface of anykind and a shoe-box to stabilize your phone will work.  Don’t have a DSLR, but have a friend who does? Entice them with cookies for a quick photoshoot. That might work.
    • Do you have the props you’d like to use? Go ahead and gather all those now while it’s fresh in your mind.
    • If you don’t have the outfit you’d like, buy it or make it now!

      The classic “my water broke” pose.

Step 3: GO DO IT!

Yay, it’s the big day! Well, not THE BIG DAY, but it is photo shoot day!  Pamper yourself like the supermomdel you are, have an energizing breakfast, rock a robe while you make yourself up, get dressed, practice faces and poses in the mirror, and then get your butt to set with all your gear.

  • Setup
    • Choose the spot you’d like to take pictures at your location.  Setup the tripod so it’s about the height of your belly and about 15 feet away from where you’ll stand.  If you don’t have a tripod, set up the camera on an even surface, or use a box to prop up the camera.
      • HACK: You can use binder clips to help steady your camera phone.
    • Set the camera’s settings to “self-timer.”
      • If using a DSLR, this will be in the Custom Settings section of the camera’s Menu. Go to “Self-Timer” and set how many shots you’d like and the timer delay. The delay will give you time to get back to your spot and pose. 
    • Take some test shots to determine where you want to stand, or if you need to move the camera. Experiment with angles, maybe a shot from the ground would look stellar.
  • Vogue! Work it girl, pose!
    • Hit the shutter button, get back to your spot and have fun! Recreate all those faces and poses you made in the mirror. Bust out the props, embrace your belly, you do you!
    • Take as many pictures as you want! Oh the joy of cloud space and large memory cards.
    • Look through your pictures and see if you want to try another spot at your location or try different camera angles.

Step 4: Edit

You did it! You have a plethora of images from your photo shoot! Now you’re ready to pick out the best of the best, and maybe alter some before getting prints and posting to every social media platform ever because you rocked it so hard.

I personally use Adobe Bridge to easily sort through photos. So once I’ve either transferred pics from my phone or uploaded from a memory card, I create a folder with all the images and pull them up in Bridge. I go through all of them and rate 1 star to shots that look good. Then I go through all the 1 star ratings and pick the best from that, giving them a 2 star, and repeat this with 3 star, 4 star, up until I have dwindled down the pics to 5 star shots.

If any of those images need some minor tweaks like brightening, cropping, or flaw touch-ups, I use Photoshop. But if you don’t have access to Photoshop, there are plenty of free apps to pick from. One of my favorites is PicsApp which I use for quick fixes on my phone. There are lot of fun filters on that too, but for a more “timeless” maternity image, I’m all about #nofilter!

When I sought out places to print out my maternity pictures, I scoured for deals on Groupon, specifically for canvas prints. There is usually always a deal on there.

Those are the basics of doing your own maternity photoshoot. It can be a lot of fun and money saving at the same time. I’m excited for you, and would love to see what you come up with!

How to Make a Paper Mobile

The cherry on top of an all out decorated nursery is, drumroll, … a diaper genie. Just kidding, a mobile of course!  Honestly, it was the last thing on my mind when designing everything for the art themed nursery, but considering there was already art on the walls, floor, and shelves, the ceiling was screaming for something too.

Traditionally, nursery mobiles are hung above the crib so that the baby is entertained and stimulated whilst laying down.  I used that as inspiration while constructing this floating piece of art, wanting to use a variety of shapes and colors to peer at from all angles, but especially when looking up.

Looking up!

A mobile is a kinetic sculpture, and one of the most famous kinetic sculptors was Alexander Calder.  He created abstract shapes out of metal, attached them to rods with wire, and powered them with a motor to create movement. Later on, he would create mobiles without the motor to allow for more natural movement from the air and touch.

The technique used to create this paper mobile will be similar to Calder’s, but a lot simpler. So let’s get started!

What you’ll need:

  • Metal or Plastic ring/hoop between 5-7 inch diameter
  • Construction paper
  • Yarn
  • Sewing Needle & Thread
  • Scissors
  • Optional: Crochet needle for fancy single stitching.

Instructions:

1.  Take about 6 feet of yarn, tie a knot for a starting point on the hoop, and wrap the yarn around the entirety of the hoop knotting it off at the end, and cut off excess yarn.

2. Create an intersection within the hoop using two pieces of yarn that are about 3 inches longer than your hoop diameter, knotting each of them at 4 points on the hoop equally distanced apart.

3. Knot a long yarn (or single stitched crochet yarn) to the intersection, and that can be used for hanging the mobile when complete.

4. Create a circle, triangle, and square stencil (about 2 inches each) with a piece of construction paper, and use those to make and cut about 100-125 more shapes from the construction paper.

5. Knot a long piece of thread onto the hoop (or sew into the yarn on the hoop) maybe about 1.5 feet long.

6. Thread the needle with the thread that has been tied onto the hoop.

7.  Take a paper shape, and push the the needle through the center of the shape.  Push the shape up the thread to about an inch from the hoop. Tie a double or triple knot in the thread below the shape so that it won’t fall off the string.

8. Continue threading the paper shapes onto the thread, placing them about 2 inches apart from the each other, and double or triple knotting the thread below each shape.

9. Repeat steps 5-8, until you have 8 strings of shapes all around the hoop.

10. Add another string of shapes to the cross section of the yarns in the center of the hoop.  It’s ready to hang!

As delicate as this paper mobile may look, it has lasted 2.5 years so far (as of this post date,) gone through 2 moves, and has been pulled on by a toddler- losing only one string in the tug-of-war.  It’s a fun pop of color that brightens up the room, and still a pivotal piece I look up to when exhausted and sprawled out on the floor.

Fun Frame-able Ideas to Art Up a Kids Room

Shortly after my daughter’s first birthday, we ended up moving to a small apartment, and with that came the loss of our beloved art nursery. That move inspired the metamorphosis of a nursery to a toddler room. But with the smaller space and the restriction of changing the paint color and limited holes in the wall, a new challenge of how to decorate was initiated. It’s still a work in progress, and definitely a “make it work with what you’ve got” situation.

I’m still utilizing all the artwork I had in the nursery, only now it’s styled as a minimalist gallery wall.  Among those pieces are some incredibly quick and easy projects that helped me save a lot of money in creating a fun art themed room.  You may already have some of these items available in your house right now.

1.  Framed Calendar Sheets

tokidoki
Tokidoki Calendar Prints

I got into wall calendars at a young age, thanks to my mom who gifted them to me every year for the holidays.  One of my favorites was “The Babysitters Club” 1990 calendar because I was fan of the covers of that book series, illustrated by Hodges Soileau.  I would tear out and keep some of my favorite pages every year, and used them in collages, mix-tape covers, and other art projects. I still do this, obviously, as I have turned several cute pages from a Tokidoki calendar into playroom art.

All you need for this is a standard size wall calendar, and a frame. The average size calendar page is 12×12 inches, so you’ll need a frame that fits that, or you can cut the page to fit whatever size frame you plan on using. Insert the page in the frame, bam- instant wall art.

2. Framed Greeting Cards

Baby Shower cards turned into framed art.

Chances are, friends and family have been bestowing upon you some pretty cute greeting cards ever since you announced your pregnancy.  You could turn some of your favorites into art pieces by simply framing them. You may need to cut them to fit the size frame you plan to use. I used 5×5 inch frames for these cards featuring 3-D art (pictured above,) which required taking out the glass in the frames.

3. Framed Vinyl Records/Album Art

hello kitty

Album art makes for excellent framing. And adding it as art to your child’s room is a fun idea, especially choosing what you’d like to hang. You could feature the album that has a song you like to sing to them.  Maybe track down one of your favorite childhood albums. Or pass down your excellent taste in music by putting up some of your favorite albums of all time!

For me, Record Store Day happened soon after I discovered I was having a girl. Released that day was a limited edition Hello Kitty printed pink vinyl for the album “Hello World.” Luckily, I snagged the only copy my local shop had in stock. So kismet.

You can purchase frames specifically sized for vinyl records at craft stores.

Baby’s first record shop visit

These are just a few ideas that are super quick to put together and get up on a wall or shelf to spruce up the space.  They don’t require anything more than maybe a few scissor cuts, and maybe some time rummaging the bins at the record store. But that’s part of the fun!

I’d love to know what albums you end up using if you go that route, so please share in the comments!

 

Edible Art: How to Make Magical S’mores Bark

Check out these lazy bears swimming in a groovy swirly sea of pink, turquoise, and lavender. I want to jump in right now! Or are those bears sunbathing on Unicorn Beach on Planet Pretty in a galaxy far far away? Oh, it’s white chocolate bark! I’ll just go ahead and it eat it now then, thanks.

The idea for this candy treat came about when I found some of my toddler’s snacks scattered in an art supply drawer.  Thanks to that sneaky girl, I was inspired to create a swirly pastel dessert topped with sprinkles, marshmallows, and the culprit from the art bin- Teddy Grahams. When it turned out to be as yummy as it is fun to look at, I made more batches to gift in mason jars.  The tot had fun decorating them too!

The technique for creating the colorful swirls in this bark is similar to paper marbling.  Art History 101: To create the marbled effect, artists would take a tray of water, drop ink into the water to form circles, gently blow on it to create patterns, and then dip rice paper into the water to capture the image. This style is known as Suminagashi (floating ink.) In the 19th century, artist Tokutaro Yagi used a sliver of a bamboo to drag through the ink instead of blowing on it, taking the marbling style to a whole ‘nother level.

When creating the swirls in this bark, you’ll start with a white chocolate base, and drip dots or zigzag drizzle the melted candy melts over top. Then you can use your tool of choice (fork, toothpick, sliver of bamboo) to drag through the melts and create unique edible swirls.

Have fun altering the colors of the candy melts to your liking to create a unique gift.  Add black candy melts and silver sprinkles to create a galaxy look for sci-fi fans. Instead of pastels, use bright rainbow colors for a tie-dye look and gift this to a Grateful Dead-head. I’d love to hear what color combos you try, so let me know in the comments!

Edible Art: How to Make Paint Splattered Oreos

Finally, a Pollock painting you can eat. Whether you’re throwing an art themed party, need to barter with a friend to borrow their help for a photo shoot, or want to gift an edible to that creative bestie in your life, these paint splattered Oreos are sure to be a hit!

I crafted these abstract munchies for my art themed co-ed baby shower as part of the “cravings table.” Oreos dominated that table as much as they dominated my nightly snacking during the 3rd trimester. Especially the Red Velvet flavor, drooool. I used some of the Oreos to decorate an over the top cake complete with donuts and neon frosting. The leftovers went pretty fast when I brought them to the office the next day.

The splatter like technique used in making these icing designs is similar to the “drip painting” style made famous by abstract artist Jackson Pollock.  Pollock would place his canvases on the floor, walk around them dripping paint directly from the can, and manipulate the paint with other tools if he so chose.  These drips evoked his emotions and mood.

When creating the splatter drip art on these cookies, you’ll start off with having all the coated Oreos on parchment paper acting as your canvas.  When dripping and splattering the melted candy melts over top the cookies, think about who you are making these for, think about why you are making them, think about what makes you happy! Your emotions will come through and create beautiful pieces of consumable art.

The possible color combinations for these are endless, and each cookie turns out to be it’s own unique masterpiece.  And because they are so easy to put together, this could be fun to do with your little ones!

First up, the intro post!

Hello out there to all the crafty frugal caretakers of the future generation! I hope this blog helps all of you in some way create something special for the ‘littles’ in your life.

 

Kids are expensive, duh!  But you can still get that insta/pinterest worthy playroom together with little dough.  Stick with me here, and I’ll share with you how I keep art thriving in my house on a daily basis, from mural photoshoots to crafting imaginative spaces and more.