First Day of School Photos

Oh, first day of school photos.  Insert a huge sigh here.  So many ways to do them….or to not do them.  Do not look up first day of school photos on Pinterest.  Especially after you’ve already taken them.  Just sayin’.  Makes me feel like a slacker mom.  Pinterest is good for that.  But hey…I shoved my kids out the door…I’m feeling pretty good about that.  And if you get photos of your kids before they catch the bus….I’d say you’re super mom!  Mine just walk back in the door and it doesn’t matter if we’re a minute or two late.  (You can substitute dad for mom if you’re the dad…I just write mom because I’m the one writing this.)  And if you don’t take first day photos of your kids….there’s no shame in that.  We all have our thing and our own traditions.  (Bummer it all…that reminds me I need to take the photo of the kids with their dad by the aspen tree before I forget another year!)

For being a hobby photographer, it’s slightly disappointing that I don’t take better photos of my kids’ first day of school.  I’ve got nothing creative going on and my photos aren’t even that well taken.  But for being a mom, I’m pretty darn proud that I push the kids out the door and make them stand in the driveway every year to take a photo.  And we’ve been fairly consistent in how we take the photo.  Someday the kids will thank me…at least that’s what I tell myself.  Well, someday I’ll thank me.  You can tell when my son is not at all too pleased about it (second and third grade…hmmm).  I just ask them for 4 photos.  Just 4 each.  2 individuals and 2 group photos.  They each get an individual vertical and horizontal.  And bummer it all…my son’s vertical one turned out blurry this year.  Oh well.  At least I got one decent horizontal one.  Just ignore the sun spots.  And when I say I only take two photos….I only take two.  Hence…a blurry one.  At least he was pretty happy about taking photos this year.

First-Day-Boy2 First-Day-Girl2Then I take photos of the kids together. I was able to get more vertical ones of them together because they were insistent on getting the dog to sit for a photo.  Success!

First-Day3 First-Day2

While the kids eat breakfast I quickly write up the chalkboard sign.  Then right before school starts I push them out the door to get a shot in the driveway.  I don’t worry about lighting conditions.  Obviously.  Apparently I don’t worry about what the kids wear or how they do their hair.  I’m pretty hands off when it comes to the kids picking their own clothes and doing their hair…as long as it’s appropriate.  I asked my son to comb his hair this year and his reply was, “I don’t usually, so do I have to?”  Okay, he got me on that one.  I guess we’ll make these first day photos realistic.  Forget combing the hair.  Let the kids dress themselves.  Oh, this is our third year of homeschooling.  They can’t wear their jammies to school (what?!), but hair combing is optional.  I sometimes wear my jammies to school, because I’m the mommy/teacher and I can do what I want to.  (Sing it!)

It’s nice and slightly tear inducing to see the kids photos from the past years.  Seriously…why do they have to grow up so fast?  Dude…fifth grade?  How did that happen?  Just  yesterday you were just the tiny 5 pound baby who would sleep on my chest.  Now you’re in fifth grade!


It’s also interesting to see my photos.  Whoa…batman…who over photoshopped the kindergarten girl?!  Warm photo in 2104 and cool one in 2015.  I am all over the board with my photos.  Baby girl….You’re still as cute as ever.  Stop growing up so fast.  It’s lovely to see your progression past pink, though pink is still a great color on you.


I’ve progressed to a “Let It Go” attitude with my photos.  I didn’t photoshop the photo from this year in the collage.  No combing hair = no photoshop.  Oh…I just want to squeeze the cheeks of that little girl with the bear.  *sniff, sniff*  And that smile on the boy…melt a mama’s heart. *sniff, sniff*


So, first day of school pictures?  What did you have going or what do you have going?  We’ve done three days of school so far and I haven’t shut the kids in the room yet because they’re driving me crazy.  I’d say that’s success!  Honestly, though, I love being able to homeschool them and spend time with them.  It’s been a precious time with them to see them grow and develop.  I’m super crazy busy and barely have time to do photos and other things, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.  Photos and other stuff can wait, my babies are growing up way too fast!  How do I have a fifth grader?  Wasn’t he just going to preschool last year?

Life: First Competition – Black & White Photos

Summer has blown by and I’ve lacked on posting.  I feel as if I’m lacking on everything.  So much going on, but I’ve accomplished so little.  I’m actually looking forward to the routine of daily life when school starts back up for us.  Monday.  We start school back up on Monday.  And I’m no where near prepared.  I’m a planner, I plan and plan and plan….and then lack the execution!  Anyone feeling me there?


I’ve picked up the camera now and then, but not nearly as much as I should have.  Or maybe it’s better that I didn’t.  I want to start taking photos of my kids doing their daily things once school starts back up.  But if I don’t, it just means I’m with them.


My daughter had her first skating competition recently.  I took 2 cameras with me.  The lighting was really low and you couldn’t use a flash in the arena.  I got a few photos.  I won’t post them all because I’m not a fan of posting photos of other people, especially kids I don’t know.  I took some photos of my girl getting ready and warming up.  I didn’t photograph during her two performances.  Then I got some photos of the medal ceremonies…kind of…there were tons of people taking photos, so I’ve got lots of her on the medal stand with heads in the way and horrible lighting.  Oh well, such is life.  My little beauty got two second places.  She skated beautifully and I’m so proud of her.


The thing with photos in low light, fluorescent light, and just plain bad lighting….you turn them black and white.  Black and white has a way of calming things down.  I turn all my portraits black and white, in addition to color, but I think I need to really practice my black and white techniques more.  Black and white photography is really a whole other technique with it’s own hidden treasures.  I haven’t yet mastered it, it may be awhile.  But it’s fun to try.  I don’t have any real tips on it.  I used a gradient mask on these and then played with a levels layer.  On a couple I changed the brightness and contrast.  I have much to learn.


I just photographed two best friends for their senior photos.  Sneak peeks will appear on my FB page.  Hopefully I’ll get some tutorials up, but I’ve found I can’t promise much on posts.  I’ve got a few more sessions coming up, but I’m taking a break from scheduling paid sessions.  I’m doing free sessions for friends as gifts, a few sessions I promised people, and I’m just taking my time doing it and I feel good about it.  I told my husband, the sessions that fall in my lap are the ones that I’m meant to do.  They’re the ones God puts there and they turn out more beautiful than I could have ever made them.  I don’t stress about those shoots, the photos get done when they get done.  I mean….school starts Monday…and I have a third grader and a fifth grader to teach.  How did that happen?


GlassesShop Glasses & Photographing with Glasses

Today I’ve got a review and some tips for photographing people who wear glasses.  I wear glasses and sunglasses. Do you?

GlassesShop Review & Tips for Glasses in Photos | Chrissy Martin Photography contacted me and offered me a pair of glasses in exchange for a review.  I’m fairly picky with what offers I accept, since I want them to be something I would use and to relate to photography.  Well, I wear glasses and photographing glasses is not always the easiest thing.  This was a perfect fit…the offer going along with photography and the glasses.

It has been nearly 8 years since I got a new pair of glasses.  So I was pretty excited to be able to pick out another pair. has an unbelievable selection of cheap eyeglasses.  You can even get prescription sunglasses.  I was tempted to get regular sunglasses to wear with my contacts, because I go through cheap ones like they’re going out of style.  But I hadn’t gotten a new pair of prescription glasses in 8 years, so I decided to go for a new pair of prescription glasses.  I can’t see very well without my glasses or contacts.

GlassesShop Review


It was fun to go through all the different styles that offers.  My girl and I went through quite a few pages of cheap glasses and I don’t think we even made a dent in all the ones we could have looked at.  I currently have small black rectangular frames, so I thought I would try out something a little different.  The glasses I got were the Warren – Tortoise Eyeglasses.



I even photographed myself in the glasses.  The girl who doesn’t like to be in front of the camera.  Awkward.  Really, it’s awkward taking photos of yourself.  But really, there’s nothing awkward about these glasses.  As my husband told me, “You look very studious.”  I’ll have to wear these as I homeschool the kids.

GlassesShop Review & Tips for Glasses in Photos | Chrissy Martin Photography

I’m super happy with the choice I made.  It’s hard to shop online for something you can’t try on, but tries to make it easy on you.  You’ll be all smiles when you put on a new pair of prescription glasses and you can see out of them!  I know, I know….cheesy lines and cheesy smiles.  I’m all about the cheese.  And glasses.  I’m seriously liking the tortoise shell.  The frames are bigger than anything I’ve had before, but they’ve grown on me.  (Bigger…grown…get it?)

GlassesShop Review & Tips for Glasses in Photos | Chrissy Martin Photography

My glasses came in a lovely clear plastic container that snaps shut to protect the glasses.  There was also a nice microfiber cloth to clean the lenses included. The frames are fairly light, but don’t seem like they will break easily.  They’re pretty sturdy glasses.

GlassesShop Review & Tips for Glasses in Photos | Chrissy Martin Photography

The glasses are comfy and fit me well.  If you are getting prescription glasses, you’ll need to have your prescription handy. walks you through the process of getting prescription glasses and they spell out what info you need.  My only trouble was reading the doctor’s handwriting on my prescription!

And really, with the prices…you could get two pairs and if only one looked good on you, you’d still be ahead in the money department. is offering a promo of getting your first pair free if you’re a new customer, all you have to pay for is shipping and handling.  That’s a great reason to try them out, so hop to it, I’m not sure how long that promo will last.  I also have another discount for you at the end of this post!

Now for you photography people.  Photographing with glasses.  Ahhhhh!  It’s intimidating!  It makes me cringe.  Sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it’s so hard.  Sometimes you get that glare that just makes you shake your head.

Tip 1: Move the head.  Sometimes it’s just a matter of moving the head.  I was taking the photos in my bedroom while facing a south facing window.  I found if I tilted my head up, I got a glare in the glasses from the window.  If I tilted my head down, the glare went away.  Plus, with tilting the head down you avoid the whole photographing up the nose thing. Yes, tilting the head causes the frames to look like they’re running through my eyes, but what are you going to do?  It’s better than the glare.  You can have your subject look away from the camera to avoid glare and avoid the frame through the eyes.

GlassesShop Review & Tips for Glasses in Photos | Chrissy Martin Photography

Tip 2: Shade or block the light.  Sometimes you’ll just need to block the light.  I put my light filtering shades down for some photos to cover the window.  Plus my head is tilted down in the photo below.  I was still able to get catchlights because the shades let light through.  You could put up a reflector with the black side facing the subject to block the light shining on the glasses.

GlassesShop Review & Tips for Glasses in Photos | Chrissy Martin Photography

Tip 3: Remove the lenses.  Yeah, right!  That’s not going to happen with me.  I don’t get glasses to remove the lenses, I like to be able to see.  But that is always an option, if you have lenses that can be removed.

Tip 4: Move the glasses around.  Sometimes it’s just a matter of moving the glasses a little bit on your face.  This goes back to tip 1 and moving your head a little bit too.

GlassesShop Review & Tips for Glasses in Photos | Chrissy Martin Photography

Tip 5: Embrace the glare.  If glasses are a part of the person, then a glare isn’t going to wreck the photo.  Glare happens, it’s okay if it happens in a photo.  Especially if it’s a photo that you like.  I’m not a fan of my face up close, but sometimes you have to embrace the glasses glare.  The glasses sure are cute.


Tip 6: Be patient and try different things.  Photographing glasses is more or less practice and trial and error.  Try things.  Move your subject.  Shade your subject.  If all else fails, take off the glasses.  Or use Photoshop to remove glare, but that can be tricky too.

What about you?  Do you wear glasses or have tips for photographing with glasses?

If you’re looking for a pair of glasses and you’re reading this blog you can get a discount with!  Hurray!  If you’re a new customer, get your first pair free. For everyone else (or to get more pairs) use the code GSHOT50 to get 50% off on eyeglasses and sunglasses with free lenses (sales frames excluded).  I could use a new pair of prescription sunglasses and I wouldn’t hesitate to order from  And that reminds me that it’s time to make my yearly eye appointment and make sure my prescription hasn’t changed.  It hasn’t changed in the last eight years, so my fingers are crossed.

*I was provided with a free pair of prescription glasses in exchange for an honest review.  All words and opinions expressed are 100% my own.*

My Photography Cleaning Equipment

Well, I think I said hello and good-bye to June all in the same breath.  That went fast!  July is fast approaching next week!  Have you cleaned your camera yet this summer?

I just dusted off my Nikon and I’m getting ready to use it to photograph some lovely children!  I’ve been using my mirrorless camera more this summer, so the Nikon needed some love.  She was getting dusty.  Funny isn’t it,  how we refer to non-living things as he or she.  My husband’s car is definitely a she and she does not like me.  She’s a jealous little thing who only prefers to have my husband drive her.  She’ll put the “check engine light” on so quick when I drive her.  She’s getting cranky in her old age.  Do you use pronouns for inanimate objects?

Back to my camera.  Here’s my arsenal of cleaning equipment:


I just recently talked about the APS-C Frame Sensor Cleaning Kit in this post.  I haven’t used it yet.  I also have glass cleaner and some microfiber wipes.  My husband is an optical engineer and works with lenses daily.  He uses glass cleaning solution and KimWipes Delicate Task Wipers to clean all his glass lenses.  I think I need to get some KimWipes when I place another Amazon order.  I also have a toothbrush.  Yes, a toothbrush.  I use it to brush around my lenses when I change them.  I showed how I did this in this post.  A toothbrush is a must if you live in a dusty area.    The last two items are the rocketblower and lens pen.  Those are my favorite cleaning items!


The Giottos Rocket Air Blaster is just so much fun!  It blows dust and bits off your lens, plus it can be used to get kids to smile!  Blow it on them!  The Nikon Lens Pen
is also fun and oh-so-handy.  The bristles brush dirt of the lenses and even on the camera.  I always take my rocket blower and lens pen with me on photo shoots.

I haven’t been too focused on photography this summer, which is fine by me.  It’s going fast and I’m just trying to enjoying the time with my children (school-free).  I’ve also been busy writing a science book for them.  I have a feeling I’ll be rushing to finish it.  I’m trying to take photographs for that!

We’ve been busy with biking and bike races, when time and weather allows. There may have been some crashes.


Summer activities. Water on a hot day is always nice!


Down time and reading.  Comic books are a favorite during the summer.  The dog prefers to watch for bunnies.


Taking photos of insects and plants on visits to the Botanical Garden so I can maybe put them in the science book.

Summer4 Summer6

Enjoying rainbows after a storm.


What have you been photographing or enjoying this summer?

365 Update: The End

I haven’t done a 365 update in a while.  There’s a reason for that….I haven’t been able to keep up with it.  At all.  I wanted to.  But it became a burden trying to keep up with it and I lost the joy.  So I gave it up.  And I hate giving up on things.  I hate failing, I hate doing things wrong, I hate disappointing.  But I feel alright about this.

So, if you’re still going strong on a 365…I’m giving you a high five and cheering you on.  You’re amazing!  And if you gave up, like I did.  There’s no shame.  I’ll pat you on the back and empathize with you.  Then we’ll go on with our lives and be happy.

I just looked back on all the photos I had taken and they make me happy.  I’m happy with the moments I was able to capture.  It almost makes me want to pick it back up.  Almost.  I can barely keep up with daily life and I just want to enjoy the moments with my children.  I don’t want to worry about editing photos and missing out on things.  I want to pick up the camera and take photos without thinking I “need” to do it.  I just want to do it because I enjoy it.  I think a 365 could be great for those who want the challenge to make them pick up the camera everyday and get better at it, it just didn’t work that way for me. I do better when I pick up the camera because I want to, not because I have to do it everyday.

Here’s one of the last photos I captured.  It was my realization moment that maybe I need to give this 365 up.  I hadn’t taken a photo of the day and I needed one.  It was about 10:30 at night and my household had been in bed for awhile.  I was up working on writing a science book for my children (after editing photos).  I took a self portrait.    It was the beginning of the end of my 365.  Goodness…I’ve since chopped my hair off.  11 inches of it!


Summer is blowing by here and I’m trying to enjoy it.  I actually haven’t picked up my camera much. I think about it every now and then.  And when I do pick it up, I enjoy it.  I’m capturing life, rather than portraits or art.  I got my mirrorless camera out the other day and took some photos of the kids rollerblading in the garage during a rainstorm.  Editing took all of a minute for those 3 photos.  Mostly to downsize!

Summer Summer3 Summer2

My husband and I celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary recently.  There’s a hiking trail in the mountains here that we always wanted to do, but haven’t been able to since we have children. (Though I think they both could do it now, it would just take a while.)  The grandparents took the kids all day for our anniversary so it was my request to hike that trail.  It’s rated one of the top ten most strenuous trails in the US.  Apparently our “selfie” shows that.  I didn’t realize I was sweating my sunscreen off.  And my husband never told me.  We just took our pocket camera to take some photos.  And we took some with our cell phones to send to the kids.  We hiked to the top in 3 hours.  I have no idea how the fastest trail runner did that in 54 minutes!  That is crazy!  In total, we hiked 11 miles and had the best time together!  And yes, I’m crazy enough to post a makeupless, sweaty photo.


I’m looking forward to taking some photos of my husband and kids in their mountain bike races this weekend.  That reminds me that I need to charge up my batteries!  What are you looking forward to?  Will you be capturing any photos?

I hope to try to post more, but I can’t promise anything.  I’ve got plans for a post on photographing people with glasses, a post on how I use my Expodisc for white balance, and how I clean my camera.  If you have any suggestions for posts, feel free to comment or email me.  Requests tend to motivate me.  Enjoy your weekend!

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