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Working on Where I Work

I’m working with Sherwin-Williams to redo my office. I’ll have a $1000 budget to use, and I’ll be trying out the new line of HGTV® HOME by Sherwin-Williams color collections and paint. I also have two giveaways to tell you about too! But first, let’s discuss the office.

I started to make some changes to it last year. I rearranged the furniture, brought in a pretty mirror and a crazy zigzag rug, but that’s where the progress stopped. I was going for a kind of granny chic look, remember? Then I found out I was expecting (and I had zero energy), and we also started on the basement remodel (yes, I still need to finish my studio and the playroom too). Then I had my baby (sweet little August), and well… work on the office kind of stalled.

The room is more than just an office though. You’ll see in the video below that it’s also where Eleanor and August spend much of their time playing, and I would like the room to feel cozy and happy. Want to see how it looks right now?

To recap, these are the main issues I’ll be addressing.

  • Either the rug needs to go, or I need to reupholster or replace my office chair. They don’t match, and since I do like the rug a lot, I’ll probably switch out the chair. The Eames Management Chair is still the chair I dream of owning, but they’re very expensive and I don’t want to buy a knockoff. I’ve been watching eBay and Craigslist, but I may have to keep looking for an alternative.
  • I need to move the redundant computer and clean up the cords on my desk.
  • Storage and organization: Yes, please.
  • I’ve had a curtain for a closet door since we moved in to this house in 2007. Our house is 100 years old, so nothing is standard. We’ll need a custom-sized door, which is why we’ve put off fixing it for so long.
  • The window needs curtains and a new shade.
  • I’ll be painting the trim white, and painting the walls. The HGTV® HOME by Sherwin-Williams colors are grouped into 8 collections to make it easier to choose colors that will work from room to room in your house (I liked the Livable Luxe and Traditional Twist collections). There are a lot of nice greens, but I’m leaning toward a light, creamy neutral for the walls, along with painted white trim.
  • It’s time for the ceiling fan to go. It’s not terribly ugly, but it hasn’t been working well lately and I’d like to replace it with a prettier light fixture.

Now, about those two giveaways…

  • Need some color and design help in your house? Enter the What’s Your Color Now? sweepstakes for a chance to win a $5000 home makeover from and HGTV® HOME by Sherwin-Williams!
  • I also have a 4GB Flip MinoHD camera to give away (so you can make stellar videos like mine, ha). Just leave a comment on this post to enter for the camera (one entry per person). This giveaway is open to US and international entrants, and will run through June 30 at midnight CST. One winner will be chosen randomly on July 1.

Good luck to you in both giveaways!

p.s. How much do you think it would cost to reupholster an Eames Management Chair? Say, if I found one from 1986 with really awful fabric?

July 1: Congratulations to Jennifer, winner of the Flip camera! And remember, there’s still time for everyone to enter the What’s Your Color Now? sweepstakes.

Wide Angle Lenses

I rented two wide angle lenses this week: a Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM and a Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 AT-X 116 Pro DX. I wanted to try them out to see if that might be the next type of lens I’d like to own. They are certainly not for everyone. They’re pretty much limited in use to interiors, landscapes, group photos, and not much else. Since I do photograph interiors though, a wide angle lens would be a very useful thing to have.

Take a look at August’s nursery, as seen through my usual lens.

my typical lens, a Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8

I was squished with my tripod in the back corner, and that was as much of the room as I could show you. Now, going wider and wider (but not moving my tripod), check out what these lenses can do.

Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM

Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 AT-X 116 Pro DX for Canon

Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 AT-X 116 Pro DX for Canon

Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM

Nice, right? I liked both lenses, but I think the wider focusing range of the Canon would be more useful. That f/2.8 on the Tokina is tempting, but I’d likely be using this type of lens on a tripod for still shots, so it isn’t as important to have that low, fixed aperture as it would be with other types of lenses.

Have you ever used a wide angle lens? Or a fish-eye (they get a similar wide shot, but with more distortion)? And did you know you can rent lenses? It’s such a great option. I’m glad I can rent again until the day I plunk down the cash for a wide angle lens of my own.

Documenting Your Baby in a Monthly Photo Series

This post on photography tips is brought to you by your fellow photo lovers at Shutterfly. They encourage you to capture your memories and share your amazing pictures the way you want with their new Custom Path photo books.

Photographing Eleanor, and now August, in a monthly series has been one of the best experiences I’ve had. Babies grow so quickly, and I’m glad that I had the foresight to capture them as they grew up. I love it when I hear that other people have been inspired to do their own versions, and so today I’m sharing a few of my tips for getting the most out of a photo series to document your baby’s growth.

Doing these photo shoots in the same spot at the same time and on the same date hasn’t been easy, but it has been worth it. Were there times that I felt like skipping a day? Oh yes. Plenty of times! But now, looking back at the photos, I realized that some of those difficult shoots (we had to go somewhere, the lighting was bad, Eleanor was cranky, August was crying, etc.) were some of the most memorable for me. I intended to create a keepsake to show my kids’ growth, but I also captured memories. Look at month twenty two, for example.

That face! That was the face of a brand new big sister. (We think she’s a bit happier about the situation now.) And then of course August was crying in his first photo. But little things like that make the photos more memorable.

Each month as I photograph August, I like to compare his photo to that of his sister’s when she was the same age.

Eleanor and August, Each at Two Months Old

And now that Eleanor has turned two, I’m able to compare her first photo with her last. She grew a bit, eh?

Eleanor, From a Baby to Two Years Old

Tips for Setting Up a Photo Series to Document Your Baby

  • Determine how often you would like to shoot.

    Weekly photos would be fun, but a lot of work. Can you commit to that for an entire year (52 photos)? I found monthly photos for two years to be just right. That’s enough photos to show change, but not so many that it became an overwhelming chore.

  • Don’t slack.

    If you’re doing a photo every month on the 1st, for example, don’t slack and think that you can just get it the next day (or the day after that…). Forcing yourself to do it on the proper day will ensure that you don’t fall behind, and you may associate stronger memories with the photos (as I unexpectedly did).

  • Consistency is key.

    Find a spot that will stay as consistent as possible for the duration of your photo project. I chose the living room for Eleanor and the library for August because those rooms were already finished and not up for any major overhauls. You could also choose a fabric backdrop, the floor (a fluffy flokati rug would be cute), a giant Stendig calendar, whatever. I did allow for different flowers in the background of each photo to reference the seasons, but everything else stayed the same. Consistency puts the focus on the one changing element: your baby.

  • Keep a sense of scale.

    I chose a chair so that I could see how my kids grew into it. People often like to put a big stuffed animal in the photo, and it looks much smaller by the time you’re a year or two into the project.

  • Make it fun for your baby.

    A stuffed animal for scale is also a good idea because as your baby grows, he or she will have something to play with in the photo (which is really cute). My babies get to use the setting itself: a rocking chair. I have some great shots of Eleanor rocking like crazy, and she thought it was great fun to sit in the chair.

  • Plan ahead.

    Choose a simple outfit, and buy it in multiple sizes ahead of time. Again, this puts the focus on your baby, not the constantly changing outfits. Also, keeping it simple will help keep it timeless.

  • Make your mark.

    I made a felt pin for each of my kids, and I’ve changed the center out with the number for each month. A lot of people like to put a number right on a onesie (real or added with Photoshop), but you could also do something as simple as writing on a piece of paper. If you use the giant calendar idea, you’ve already got this tip covered.

  • Be snap happy.

    Take more photos than you think you may need, especially if you’re shooting digital. Even if you think you got the perfect photo after just a few shots, take more. I like to aim for 50-100 in each session. I made a fun timelapse video of one of my shoots, so you can see how many photos I take!

I did it! I stuck with the whole series! Now what?

You could hang the photos as decorations for your baby’s first birthday party, arrange them into a grid and make a poster, print the photos and arrange them in an album, or make a book. The photos would be appreciated by the baby’s grandparents too, so you may want to plan on making multiples of whatever you choose to do with them.

It was my intention from the beginning to create a book for Eleanor when her monthly photos were finished. I will do the same for August. I originally thought that I would use just one photo from each month for the book. However, I found that it was fun to include a few of the outtakes too, and I was grateful that I had many extra shots each month to choose from. Here’s one of Eleanor’s photos from when she was two months old that you haven’t seen yet.

Look at that hair! Awesome. That wasn’t the photo I chose for that month, but I did make sure to include it in her book.

Click here to view this photo book larger

I’m still photographing August monthly (he’ll be four months old tomorrow), but I’m also going to continue photographing Eleanor every six months. Have you done a photo series with your children, or do you plan to someday when you have kids? Please do! You’ll love having the photos to look back on.

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