Show Me Your Story

Everyone has a story to tell, but how do you tell that story if you are not a writer?  I wanted a way to be able to tell my story for future generations so I decided to show my story instead of writing it.   Instead of writing a typical autobiography I told my story using photos and journaling.

I have written a  book to help other non writers show their life story.     This book is full of questions and tips that I used to help create my story.  This is not a book on how to scrapbook but how to create a visual story of your life.  The book talks about why and how you should tell your story.   Suggestions for dealing with painful stories (the skeletons in the closet)    Ways to personalize and what you can do if you don’t have photos.

image of Show Me Your Story book available on Amazon

My book is available on Amazon as an ebook or in paperback format.   I would love to hear what you think and I would love to be able to add your reviews to these ones.

5.0 out of 5 stars Easy to follow instructions on how to get started on telling your story.
By Amy
What a great idea. I never thought of telling my story this way. Now I’m off to collect all of my favorite photos and get some stories from my family.
5.0 out of 5 stars Creative approach to autobio 
By Cecile
I love this book because it shows a fun and creative way of ‘writing’ about and for your family. In fact it’s not writing, but more a kind of scrapbooking. A mix of photograps, stories and documents. But in a very structured way.The author covers every subject of life, from (grand) parents to (grand) children. For every subject, e.g. your school years, she has a numer of questions for you to answer. And suggestions for where to look for photographs (if you don’t have any) or clip art. And tips, like e.g. to include images of icons of your generation.
There’s also advice on how to handle the skeleton in the closet.As we grow older, we get more interested in our family’s history. Unfortunately, by that time our parents may have died and many questions will remain unanswered.
This really is a great instruction manual on how to make the best ever present for your grown up children. I wish my mother had made me one…


It is never to late or early to start and your story is important.




3 Story Telling Mistakes To Avoid


If you are telling your story with images  it is important  to  be ready to capture all the little moments of life.  Try to avoid making these 3 mistakes when taking your photos.


Mistake 1- Missing the moments because you left your camera at home.   I use a DSLR camera and since it is too big to just throw into my purse I don’t have it with me all the time so I  find myself missing photo opportunities.

Capturing the moments are more important than getting a perfect photo and you can take photos with your cellphone camera or have a small cheap light weight point and shoot camera that you can keep with you at all times.  This is a photo I took of my grandson with my  iphone, it is not the greatest photo but it captured the moment of him trying to play a full size drum set (he was so excited)

iphone image of boy playing drums

Mistake 2- Your Photos not having a focus. Have you ever looked at a photo and there was so much going on you couldn’t tell what the photo was supposed to be showing? Try to have a reason and a focus point to every photo you takes.

If you are taking a photo of your child playing at the park zoom in and take a close up of them on the swing, don’t just take a picture of the entire park with them just a dot in the image.

In this 1st picture of kids at the lake it is hard to tell who or what the subject of the photo is, is it the lake or one of the kids?

image of people swimming at the lake

In this next photo there is no doubt what or who the subject is, by zooming in the child becomes the focus of the image, but when showing the story you might want to include both views.

image of girl swimming in the lake

Mistake 3- Forgetting to enjoy the moment.  Capturing the moment is important but not if you are too busy with the camera and forget to enjoy the moment.

Live your life don’t just photograph it.  It is ok if you didn’t get the shot you wanted. If you forgot a photo of your child before you shared an ice cream and they got all dirty for the rest of the days photos,it’s ok.

The goal of photographing your life is to tell your story through images and if you aren’t living your story there will be nothing to photograph.

If you are interested in learning more about what to do with your photos after you take them check out this great product by my favorite scrapbook Gal Lain Ehmann Click here for Scrap Your Story audio/eBook package that includes a 68-page eBook, four audio interviews, and dozens of layouts


Christmas is all about the stories

Christmas has become a time of  stress for many people and over the years I have tried to keep it simple and peaceful so I can enjoy it more.   Christmas started because of a story that changed the world,  the stories of your life and mine will probably never even reach anyone outside of our family but they are still important stories to tell.    Do  you have a ton of Christmas photos that you can barely remember taking let alone remember the little stories that made you want to capture the image?   I am not really a scrapbooker but I do want to remember these stories so I try to jot down a few words about the story behind the image.

image of baby looking at christmas tree decorations

With the above photo, the story behind it is this:   I would love to have a fancy tree with glass ornaments but having 4 kids and now 6 grandkids I decorate my tree with a lot of really adorable stuffed ornaments which the kids love, this granddaughter loves to take them off the tree and hug them, and she has 3 favorites that she always takes down and leaves everything else alone  (nothing earth shattering but meaningful to our family)

This following photo just looks like my husband helping decorate the tree, no big deal right?  But the story is, he never helps decorate the tree but this was my 1st Christmas without any of my children helping me decorate (they have their own homes and trees to decorate) and I looked so depressed he decided to help me.

image of man decorating a christmas tree

If you have ever thought of doing any scrapbooking but are turned off by all the products and creating elaborate pages that take hours, you can still benefit from the most important part of scrapbooking and that is telling the stories.

Everyone has a story to tell but only you can tell yours.

Merry Christmas from my family to yours




Enjoy A Simple Thanksgiving

thanksgiving turkey

Thanksgiving is almost here for those of us in the USA.   I usually  host and this year is no different except that we have a smaller group than some years.   It is so easy to get caught up in wanting to have the perfect Norman Rockwell family Thanksgiving but the reality for most of us is something far different.   The more simple we make it and stop striving for perfection the happier we will be.

I love to decorate and always want to set an elaborate table but with more kids than adults and a husband who wants only food and not all that other crap on the table I have learned to keep my table simple, some years I even use (gasp) paper plates, we  use real dishes just because everyone complains that you can’t pile it on a paper plate.

Another way I have learned to keep Thanksgiving simple is by not trying to be fancy with the menu, we don’t do appetizers or have 20 different side dishes,  there are a few things that everyone really wants and we have done away with any of the extras.   To my family the turkey,  dressing and pie is the most important.    This is our very simple table last year (we actually need 2 tables to fit us all)

image of thanksgiving meal on the table

And here is the biggest menu we have ever used when we had a huge crowd, normally we just have Turkey, rolls, dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole,  and pies ( which I also have purchased instead of baking)   I made this easy menu using a cheap metal tray and chalkboard paint.

thanksgiving menu

Our Thanksgiving day is loud ( I try to watch the parade while I cook, over the noise of the kids running around), messy and anything but relaxing so by keeping it simple it helps me keep my sanity.

And of course you know that I take photos all the time and I would love to say I capture the day beautifully but there have been many years that I am so overwhelmed I completely forget to even take out my camera.    Last year I was only able to capture a photo of the youngest grandchild and then things got crazy and I never did get photos of the other kids.  Oh well, hopefully I will get some this year.

baby 1st thanksgiving

From my family to yours,   Happy Thanksgiving


Taking a photo of baby in a pumpkin

I have been trying to decide on a cute theme photo to take of the Granddaughter this year.   Last fall I had seen a really cute photo of a baby sitting in a pumpkin and I decided to try it.   I would love to know if the photographer had as much trouble with his photo as we did.   1st thing we had trouble with was trying to get the pumpkin cut properly with the leg holes big enough and in a good place.   Then we had trouble getting baby in the pumpkin.

This was the test photo, she was not a happy baby.

image of a crying baby sitting in a pumpkin


The photo is supposed to be a naked baby in the pumpkin so we took her out and undressed her for our final shot, I wasn’t even sure if we would be able to get anything but a screaming baby, so I knew I would have to be ready that I would probably only get one shot.   Mom placed the baby in the pumpkin and I took my shot and I was right she started screaming right away, we didn’t get a shot of a smiling baby but she wasn’t crying so we got a shot worth keeping.   I guess I can’t really be surprised that she wasn’t smiling, would you enjoy being put naked in a cold slimy pumpkin?

Here is our final photo

image of a baby sitting in a pumpkin


Now to think of something cute but more comfortable for this year’s photo (and she is almost 2 and will no way be this calm for us now if she didn’t want to do it).   I would love to hear your ideas.


Capturing Your Memories Of Fall

Fall is here and it’s the favorite time of year for a lot of people.    I do like fall because I can open windows and enjoy the fresh air, the light and the color of the trees are so beautiful.   The things I don’t like are the lack of light and the fact that fall comes before winter.  Also I like to swim and it is too cold to swim outside anymore.

What do you like most about fall?   is it the changing leaves, pumpkins, Halloween, Thanksgiving?

I take photos of the grandkids all year and fall gives  some opportunities to add a little more interest to just another everyday photo of the kids.   Costumes, playing in the leaves and going to the pumpkin patch are just some of the fall activities to capture.

Here are a few of my fall memories to get you thinking about what memories of fall you would like to capture.

Granddaughter sitting in a pile of leaves is an easy way to capture fall.

image of child sitting in fall leaves

I was trying to take a photo of the tree but Grandson decided he needed to be in the photo.

image of child standing under a fall tree

2 of the grandkids surrounded by pumpkins.

image of siblings at the pumpkin patch

Grandson sitting in a pile of pumpkins at the pumpkin patch.

image of baby sitting in a pumpkin patch

A few props and letting my Granddaughter  enjoy some candy, this was actually taken before she was in costume and ready for her halloween photo but I really like it and it still says halloween to me.

image of infant eating halloween candy

This one of my Grandson could be just a nice portrait except for the subtle Halloween costume.

image of little boy dressed like superman

 The most beautiful part of fall besides my adorable grandkids are the beautiful colors of the leaves.   Going for a drive in the country I can see beautiful color but I really enjoy going up to the Smokey Mountains to enjoy the fall leaves.

image of red fall leaf

What special fall memories do you like to capture?   And do you have any special places you love to go in the fall?


Create A Portrait Look With Simple Backdrops

Sometimes you don’t want to show people in their environment with all the stuff and you want to create more of a studio style portrait with a clean clutter free background. Here are a few simple ideas to create an inexpensive and easy to use backdrop.

You can create a backdrop for your images by using a blank neutral painted wall like this  image.

image of child with a white wall as a backdrop


But if you are like me and don’t have any blank or plain walls you can also create a backdrop wall.   Different fabrics and colors will give you different moods.  Dark backdrops are more formal and are more forgiving with poor lighting and harsh shadows.

This backdrop is a piece of blue fleece for making blankets and has a great texture,  you can also use the texture and color of your drapes.

image of child with a dark fabric backdrop


My studio space is in my office and I had my husband raise the closet pole up higher and I can hang drapes or fabric from the pole to use as my backdrop.   This backdrop is a black canvas curtain, I also use a tan canvas curtain for a lighter backdrop.

image of child with black canvas curtain backdrop

For a lighter backdrop I used a piece of white blanket fleece which I also put under the child.

image of baby with white fleece backdrop


A new backdrop idea I am using right now is textured wallpaper, one roll of paper can easily cover a wall section big enough to use.

image of baby in tub with a texture backdrop

For a temporary backdrop for parties etc., you can use a colorful plastic tablecloth taped to the wall.

image of child with halloween backdrop


When you are taking portraits outside you can also be creative and get an interesting background by using brick walls.

image of couple with painted brick wall backdrop

The chainlink fence at the ball field also makes a great backdrop.

image of child with fence backdrop


Be creative and use what you have, colorful quilts and textured blankets make great backdrops.

Check out my pinterest board for other creative backdrop ideas and then post a comment and tell me your favorite thing to use as a backdrop.







Photographing the Great Smoky Mountains

Gatlinburg is nestled at the entrance to Great Smoky Mountains National Park and next to Pigeon Forge the home of Dollywood theme park.   Gatlinburg is a tourist town full of shops and restaurants and has a ton of things to see and do.    Do not get so caught up in the tourist stuff and forget about the main reason to visit the Smoky Mountains to see the beauty of nature.   Fall is the most popular time to visit but spring is another beautiful time of year.   We visited a little late for fall color (the color is the best during the 1st 2 weeks of Oct.) but  was still so beautiful.   We hiked for hours and saw beautiful streams and little waterfalls.

image of Smokey Mountains Gatlinburg Tennessee in the fall

image of a mountain creek

We went into the neighboring town of Pigeon Forge and went to visit the Christmas store and ate at the Old Mill Restaurant

image of the mill in Pigeon Forge Tn

This is a scrapbook page I created

image of psd quick scrapbook page


Click here for the psd file and download this free quick page, it has no title and with the background paper it is perfect for your fall our thanksgiving pics.


I am looking forward to more trips to see the change in seasons, it is such a beautiful place.





Decorating Your Home with Photos

image of photo as wall art

I love to decorate my home (home decorating is one of the  courses I have taken and not really done much with) and I do love art paintings but I think it is important to decorate your home with your own photos.

People no longer hang large family photos above the fireplace or have generational photo gallery walls.  The trend in decorating seems to be to remove all the personality and story of the family out of the home and replace it with commercial artwork that many times is not even very nice.

There are so many different ways to display family photos that tell your story and can blend with your decor.    You can add family photos and keep existing artwork in a room by using coordinating frames and colors to blend them together.

When you choose your photos think about the decor in the room as well, if you have a more modern clutter free space you will not want a table display with lots of photos in different frames, instead choose simple black frames with large white mats, convert your photos to black and white and hang in a simple  grouping.

Gold frames are more ornate and formal, chunky wood frames are more rustic and painted white frames are great for beach themes and shabby chic as well as kids rooms.

Large blown up photos will make a great statement in a room but you can also get a large collage frame for a group of small images.   Photo frames around a bulletin board or a wall hung coat or key rack will add some personality to a functional piece.  You can also put framed photos on a plate rack.  Be creative.

Check out my pinterest board for some more cool photo display ideas.







Taking Photos with Available Light

Learning to see and use light is one of the hardest and most important parts of photography.   The other day I was taking some snapshots of the grandkids while they were playing.   I decided to experiment with light and using available light (truth be told I was too lazy to go find my external flash or setup my studio light)

This 1st shot I took of them from where I was sitting but since they had a bright window behind them they are just shadows.

image of siblings with no flash

This is way too dark so I turned on my camera flash, I have the light now but I didn’t like the way it looked, notice the harsh shadows.

image of siblings with on camera flash

I turned the flash off and turned my ISO up to 800 and made sure my focus points were only on the kids and not the window, the light  turned out much better but of course the kids decided they wanted to move so the focus is off (using a 3 year old and 6 month old as a practice model is a little difficult)  A higher ISO will give you more grain and not as clear focus, also since I am using only the available light in the room it gives me a slower shutter speed which does not work very well with active kids.

image of siblings with no flash higher iso

Now another problem with using  light from the window behind them is that their eyes are not very bright and you can barely see the color in them, a quick easy fix for this is to get a piece of white poster board and hold it in front of the child so the light bounces back into their face.

image of little girl with fill light

Now you can see the color of her eyes, but our focus is still not very good.

To get the best use of window light is to turn the kids around and have them face the window so the light is directly on their face instead of their back.  In this photo my granddaughter  is sitting facing the window so there is lots of nice light on her face and I used the white poster board to bounce some more light into her eyes so they look really bright,  since I had lots of light I was able to lower the ISO and I have a nice clear focus image.

image of baby in window light

The best way to learn about light is to experiment, take photos in different light sources and different angles until you are use to seeing how light affects your photos and how you can add more light to get the look you want.

I would love to hear your comments on your experiences working with available light, do you use it or do you always use your flash?