How Too Capture Perfect Images Of Your Little Ones

Zulily, the guys who bring us daily events offering both mothers and they’re children beautiful items at cut cost prices, have been asking us bloggers what we think it takes to capture a great image of our kids. We are to give our top three tips on the subject and one blogger could possibly win a Zulily voucher.

Given I love snapping pictures of my children whenever opportunity will have it, I decided this one was for me!

So… Here we go then…

1) Be Sneaky… By this I mean capture images of your children when they are unaware you and the camera are looming. This is how I’ve captured some of my most beautiful images of my kids. Natural smiles are magical as are expressions of laughter, anger, confusion and more! When images are taken this way there is no forced fake smiles, pouting from your 9 going on 30 year old or that of frozen expressions.
This is especially true for my 12 year old who has a diagnosis of Aspergers Syndrome! He doesn’t really enjoy being photographed and its best to catch him unaware when he is at his most relaxed and happy. I’ve found that as his grown older, trying to capture images of him is now much harder hence the reason I use this tactic often.

Below are some different images of my eldest ‘Little Man’ and my daughter ‘Alice-Sara’. I’ve included both images where they have been fully aware I’m taking pictures and a couple where they haven’t.

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2) Relax and have fun… As well as the older two children I also have a toddler of three. His a bundle of energy and always on the go. Running around after him trying to capture a smile just isn’t going to work. As soon as the toddler has the slightest idea I’m trying to get a picture everything goes wrong. He actually tries to look at the screen as I’m taking a picture which means I just end up with an image that displays a flash of his head or some other unrecognisable blur. I’ve found that by relaxing and having fun with my toddler its provided me with lots of magical moments that transfer into great images. When I’m relaxed, his relaxed and this shows through in my images. I don’t keep him confined to the one area, instead I let him explore his environment, especially when we are taking pictures at the park etc.

Below are some of my favourite images of my toddler just being himself…

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And here’s some images of Harley with his cousin Amy. They are extremely close in age (Amy is 10 weeks younger). As they have grown together, I’ve managed to grab some adorable images of them both over the last few years.

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3. Don’t be afraid to experiment… Of course I prefer to take images with my Canon camera but more often than not I feel the need to capture an image when all I have to hand is my iPhone. This is where good editing tools come into the mix. Photoseed is one of my favourites. Here I can do my more basic editing as well as being that bit more adventures with the different filters on offer. Photoseed also allows me to upload images directly to instagram as opposed to saving them on my iphone, handy when your albums are already taking up 75% of your memory. Nonetheless, when I do have my camera to hand I will often adjust its settings applying different programmes for different subjects and environments. I love to capture motion pictures so will make sure this setting is applied when I’m snapping pictures of the children on the move. I’m also a fan of images taken in black & white or those that sport the more vintage look in which case I often use sepia as filter.

Below are some of my favourite images of my daughter Alice-Sara. The images have both been captured on the Canon or the iphone and filters have been applied with snapseed or Wow FX…

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Zulily are also passionate about photography and there site is enhanced with an aray of beautiful images of their models having fun on set.

Every month the guys at Zulily run a competition where they ask you to upload pictures of your little cuties to instagram. This month they are asking you to snap a picture of your cuties sporting a massive grin. Their favourite photo wins a £100 zulily voucher, storage boxes from Feather and Black and a Juicy Couture clutch for Mum.

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How to enter

Upload an Instagram snap of your little cutie in January sporting a big cheeky grin. Be sure that your profile is public, so that Zulily can see your photo.
Now follow zulilyUK on Instagram (@zulilyUK) and tag your picture with these three things….
#zulilyUKJanuaryCutiesCompetition
@zulilyUK
and either: #zulilynewbie (if you’re new to zulily) or #zulilian (if you’ve already joined zulily)

The competition closes on Thursday 31st of January & the Zulily team will be doing the shortlisting on Friday 1st of February. More info on the Zulily Tumbler

To discover more about Zulily who have daily sale events on designer and Boutique clothing as well as homeware and other items for both mother and child, then visit their stunning site and join for free.

This post is my entry into the Zulily bloggers competition

Are You An Animal Person?

I recently received an email from #Lush one of my favourite brands in terms of natural yummy smelling soaps, bathbombs (snow fairy especially) and everything else designed to have you clean and smelling gorgeous.

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As you can see from the image above Lush are asking its supporters to post a picture to show that they are an #animalperson on twitter or instagram. All you need to do to show your support against animal testing is use the above hashtag when posting your images.

What’s more Lush will award a picture a day till the 16th November a £100 lush gift voucher for their favourites.

Here is why I’m an #animalperson

3 little kittens (there is 4 but ones sleeping)

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Two little siblings

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The tabby

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Harley is an #animalperson

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Octobers Top Online Creative Comps

I love a creative comp (see my room in a shoe box entry) that’s why I’ve decided to create this post to share with readers the best online skill-based competitions I’ve found so far for this October 2012.

1) Trunki Design Competition With
Thomas Cook:

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From Friday 28th September, wannabe-designers can put their colouring skills to the test using either Thomas Cook’s Trunki design toolkit on its Facebook page which works like Microsoft Paint – or on a paper Trunki template which people can pick up from any one of Thomas Cook’s 800 stores.

Alex Emberey, who works for the family holiday giant, Thomas Cook, said: ““Trunkis have proved themselves to be the travelling accessory for children over the past couple of years, and I don’t think I’m alone in wishing there was an adult version! As a family holiday company, we wanted to give parents and kids something to enjoy doing together between the summer holidays and half term which kept the holiday spirit alive. We hope parents will enlist the help of their little ones for a real masterclass in colouring in.”

The deadline for suitcase submissions is Friday 19th October, after which Trunki’s design gurus will pick a winning design in four different categories: Boys, Girls, Animals/Bugs and Cartoon Characters. Each of the winners will win a Trunki of their choice and secure a place in the final prize draw to win a fabulous summer 2013 family. Thomas Cook’s Facebook community will vote for a fifth finalist, who will also get one of the pull-along cases and be entered into the holiday prize draw.

The lucky winning designer and their family will be jetting off – Trunki in tow – to the Parque Cristabel Hotel in Playa Del Ingles, Gran Canaria next summer.

As much as I hate voting competition this one is mainly judged with 4 places in the final going to 4 entries chosen by Trunki and an additional entry going through to the final based on Facebook votes.

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2) Win A Total of 5 Sking Trips To France For Your Family.

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One lucky family will win FIVE ski holidays to Les 3 Vallées in France between December 2012 and April 2013 including all of the following:
Flights from London Gatwick to Grenoble from Monarch Airlines
Transfers from Grenoble to Les 3 Vallées (www.3vt.co.uk) Accommodation in five resorts in the Les 3 Vallées region Season lift passes for the full Les 3 Vallées region Salomon skis, poles and boots for each member of the family Scott ski jacket, ski pants, helmet, goggles & gloves for each member of the family Ski lessons provided by the ESF.

To put your family forward to enter this amazing competition, all you have to do is to tell us why you would be a great choice to win the 3 Vallées Easy Rider competition in a short video.

It could be that you are really sporty, but never thought you would be able to afford skiing. Or that you are a real whiz on social media and will tell thousands of friends about about it.

Whatever the reason all you need to do is post your entry to YouTube and share that video on our Facebook page.

Thankfully this is not a voting competition as they state “Our judging panel of mountain professionals will select the winning family”

This one seems worth an entry.
Site states your video entry must be uploaded to the Facebook page by the 29th October. For full details and terms and conditions just click Here

3) Halloween Themed Pinterest competition By Superlucky (Win Tin of Biscuiteers Biscuits, worth £38.50)!

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Superlucky want you to create a new board called Halloween on Pinterest and pin the competition image on her site. Then pin, re-pin or upload Halloween themed images (a least 9 more in total) to the board.

Email the link to your completed board to Superlucky via the address on her blog before midnight on the 19th October.

Competition is judged on creativity and winner will be contacted via email

Visit the Superlucky blog for full details.

4) Yano Childrens’s Creative Writing Competition 2012

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Unleash your child’s vivid imagination and encourage them to write a fantastical poem or a story of their own, entitled ‘My Most Amazing Adventure Ever‘.

Yano are giving creative kids the opportunity to win themselves some fantastic prizes. Each category winner will win £100 worth Of book vouchers from Blackwell Booksellers plus a bundle of fantastic books from Parragon Books including some signed-by-author. One overall winner will also receive a £500 voucher to spend on a family break, courtesy of LateRooms.com – the experts on travel.

They have three entry age groups; 4 to 5 year-olds, 6 to 7 year-olds and 8 to 9 year-olds.

Download an entry form from the site. Stories must then be typed onto A4 paper and sent in the post along with the entry form.

Yano ask that the story is no longer than 1500 words.

The competition is judged by a panel of judges.

I can find a closing date, though winners are announced on the 4th of December 2012.

To view the competition and its terms and conditions click Here

5) Win A Trip To The Home Of Kinder Surprise In Turin Italy (10 Runner Up Prizes Of A Kinder Party For 10 Friends)

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Kinder Surprise want children to imagine what the Home of Kinder Surprise is like. Parents can submit their child’s Answer directly on their website via an online form. All entries will be judged by an independent panel and the child with the most imaginative, funny or exciting answer (and their family) will be off to enjoy an unforgettable experience at the Home of Kinder Surprise (Turin, Italy).

Prize includes business class flights, private car transfers, 2 nights’ accommodation in a 4-star hotel, dinner in a top local restaurant and even a bit of spending money.

There’s even the opportunity for you and your child to see one of our designers create a Kinder Surprise toy. From initial sketches to finished design, they’ll witness how every little detail is thought through until it’s just right. Plus you and your child will get the opportunity to see our amazing archive of toys made through the years.

This seems a really simply to enter comp that is also a really fairly judged competition.

It’s defiantly worth a try, especially given there are 10 runner up prizes of A kinder surprise party for up to 10 children.

Competition is open till the 31st December 2012

Click here for more details

6) Zillys Cuties Out & About Instagram Competition:

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All you have to do for this one is share a snap of your cuties out and about this October and one will be chosen to win a £100 zulily voucher, plus a Starlight SP car seat – for ages 9 months to 12 years from Storchenmuehle, worth £140. You can see the Storchenmuehle car seat on zulily today.

If your not yet on Instagram then easily sign up. Upload your image to Instagram Making sure your profile is public, so that they can see your photo.
You then need to follow zulilyUK on Instagram (@zulilyUK) and tag your picture with three things:
#zulilyUKOctoberCutiesCompetition
@zulilyUK
and either: #zulilynewbie (if you’re new to zulily) or #zulilian (if you’ve already joined zulily).

The competition closes on Wednesday 31st of October. If you win you will you will be contacted via Instagram comments. The winner will be announced on our blog no later than Monday 5th November.

Visit Zulily for full terms and conditions.

7) National Baking Week (Let’s Get Britain Baking)

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Get hold of a trusted wooden spoon and give it a buddy makeover to look exactly like you, only smaller. Be as creative as you like.

Then let your new friend walk in your shoes. Take it on your commute to work, have a catch up with friends over coffee with your new baking buddy or even pack it in your case for your hols.

Now for the most important bit. Don’t forget to take a picture of yourself and your miniature equivalent on location and upload it to our facebook page or post it to twitter with the hashtag #mybakingbuddy by Sunday 21st October.

The more creative the better because there’s the chance to win a fantastic Leisure Range Cooker with multiple cooker.

To read more and see the full terms and conditions plus a picture of the prize click Here.

WowFx Your Photos

I love taking pictures but to be honest I’m no David Bailey!

Nonetheless I give it my best shot… Quite literally! I do so because I enjoy it and I hope this comes through on a lot of my images.

I’m a huge fan of instagram and given I’ve not been a member all that long I’ve got a considerable amount of images on my profile.

Lately I’ve discovered a pretty cool photo app for the iPhone. It’s one that takes photo editing to a different level. I’m not just talking about filters but in this case ‘Special effects’!

It was while browsing the App store that I came across Wowfx and thought I’d give it a go.

You can chose to add any of the 100 effects to any of your photos. Opt for just one or add a whole host of them. Once your done with your added effects your given the option to change your filter and then save to your phone or share with numerous social media sites including instagram.

I was pretty impressed by the results and actually found myself becoming a little addicted to the thing!

I did everything from adding a few lifelike effects to give an image that certain wow factor, to just being super crazy by taking my image and making it that outrageously OTT.

Here’s a selected few…

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Above is an image of my daughter Alice-Sara in her pretty Pixie dress. Her I’ve just added the coloured specs as an overlay and then simply changed the filter to a much softer setting.

20120918-051511.jpgLondon Eye In Lights

All I’ve done here is added the colours that are falling from the Eye. The lighted wheel is not edited. This just shows how one simple effect can change a whole image to make it something interesting.

20120918-051808.jpgA Burning Brighton

The non edited version…

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I wanted to show you the non edited version of this picture so you can see just how far you can go with your effects if your brave enough. 🙂

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Again we have Alice-Sara. Just the added effect of the falling light really makes this image an eye catcher. It needs nothing else.

Here’s another image that was spiced up with just a few simple effect….

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Below is an image of Southends seafront and amusement park. I went all out with this image and decided to create a scene of chaos…

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Here’s one of my favourites! It’s a simple goldfish in his goldfish bowl that’s played victim to my makeover obsession this time…

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This one is brilliant, all I did was add a few lighted circles to create the illusion of bubbles…

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And the two images below highlight my love of fireworks quite nicely…

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20120918-053726.jpgA London Display

The first out the two images (Guy-Forks Returns) has the added effect of the firework as well as the brightly lit moon. The second (A London Display) has nothing more than the firework added to the scene. The image has then been out through a filter before finally being saved.

Lastly here’s My youngest with my niece at the Lollibop festival this August…

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The reflecting rainbow colours on the grass is the only effect added to this image.

So, what do you think? So many people have asked me “Is that an app?” and “Where can I find it?” that’s why I’ve decided to share some of my amazing images along with the link so you can have a go too!

Download Wowfx from the App store Here