Mom With a Camera to Pro — PART TWO


On Wednesday we had the opportunity to learn a little more about Kellie Penn and her journey from MWAC to professional photographer. We learned about how she got started, what she has learned, and we were able to see some of her amazing images. Today we are going to take a look at her journey from enthusiast to opening her business, ACROSS THE MILES PHOTOGRAPHY. Before we do, though, I want to share with you something really special about the name of her business.


Her business was named for her son Miles, who at the age of just three months passed away, leaving his twin brother Mason behind. Click on the picture above to go to her site and then click on OUR STORY to read more. Kellie’s strength in this tragedy and her dedication to keep his memory alive are inspiring.



Last winter, my husband and I were traveling home from a trip and just talking about my photos. I told him how I’d really like to try to make a bit of money at it to get some extra income and money for new equipment. I wanted to see if he thought I was crazy or not! He said “Go for it!” I started researching it a bit, I bought my domain name, a website and just jumped in headfirst!


It was a few months from that conversation until I launched my business.


I did some portfolio building (and it helped that I had some cute kids that didn’t mind me taking pictures of them left and right) and I consulted with one of my best friends who had been in the photography business for about a year and a half at that time. She was a great resource for me and really helped get me going! I checked some books out at the library and I just scoured the internet for how to get started in a photography business. I had to learn how to get a business ID and how to start collecting sales tax, etc. It was way more involved than I first thought!


A family from my church had followed my blog & had seen some of my work on my scrapbook pages. I had mentioned on my blog a couple of times about how I would love to take pictures for people. They asked me if I would take their family photos & I said yes…and was scared to death! I knew that there would be about 10 people in the group, so I started looking all over the internet for posing ideas so I would at least have a few ideas to use that evening! I was definitely nervous pulling into the driveway, but once we got started it went smoothly! I was relieved when it was over, and felt even better when I pulled the pictures up on the screen & liked what I saw!


I think I learned that the whole process just takes so much longer than I thought! Shooting the photos is one thing, but trying to narrow down the photos, edit them, upload them to a gallery and wait for payment can take quite awhile!


I talked about my new business on my blog and then I really started working on my “Google Ranking.” Before long, I started getting e-mails from potential clients & it just started taking off after that! I also took an advertisement out in the phone book to help get my name out in the community. But, word of mouth has by far been the most effective for me! I love it when people enjoyed their photos that they tell their friends!


It definitely depends on the type of shoot & how cooperative the subjects are acting! Location shoots take longer than studio sessions. I’d say the average shoot lasts between 1 to 2 hours.


I love photographing seniors! They are so fun & full of energy, and willing to try just about anything! Plus, they sit still and you don’t have to chase them all around like you do when photographing children!


The big group/family shots at weddings. I don’t “dislike” them, but they just take up so much time at weddings! Plus, it seems like a lot of people can get grumpy during the wedding group shots! If everyone would relax and smile, it would be so much easier!

HOW MUCH TIME DOES A TYPICAL CLIENT SESSION TAKE YOU? BREAK IT DOWN (communication with client, actual shoot, editing, choosing images, print orders, presentation, etc)

The whole process really takes quite a bit of time! There’s the initial phone calls/e-mails to set up the session. Then, there’s time involved in gathering up props, getting camera/equipment ready, and the drive to the location. There’s the actual shooting of the session, and then the time involved in editing around 5 photos for the blog sneak peek! I allow myself up to two weeks to get a session edited, but there are several hours involved in working with photos to make them look their best! I choose my favorite 20-25 photos to edit. After editing, it takes a little time to get them uploaded online and then to call the client with the password to their gallery so they can view their photos. Then, I wait 1-3 weeks for the client to place the order, and then I have to make any final adjustments to their order (ie, creating storyboards, resizing photos, etc). I then upload the photos to my online lab and wait a couple of days for the photos to arrive. I then have to spend a bit of time making sure everything looks correct and then package the photos for the client. Then, I call the client and wait for them to come and pick them up!


Research, research, research! There is so much more involved in just taking photos! You have to be able to run the business side as well! Seek out advice from other professionals and ask lots of questions! Joining some online forums where you can get critique on your photos really help as well!

Also, I would tell someone to plan to not really make any money for quite awhile! There’s a lot of cost in equipment (cameras, lenses, studio equipment, accessories, advertising, website costs, props, software, actions, etc). It can get quite expensive! I would also recommend to not buy everything at once! I’ve really tried hard to stay within my means and when I’ve saved up a bit, I’ll order some new stuff!


I would have been better planned for the business side of it before starting! I would have consulted with an accountant and got all of my ducks in a row before I actually began. I never expected my business to take off so quickly! It took me a bit to get everything all figured out, and I’m so grateful for my online friends who helped me get everything in order!


To keep plugging away and growing my business! I’d love to get to the point where I own my own studio location. It’s really tough running this out of my home! But, I am grateful it allows me to continue to be a stay at home mom! We will either look at renting a studio location in the future, or possibly moving to a new home that would allow me to have a better studio space! I’d also love to get to the point where I can hire someone to help edit my photos & upload orders to the lab!


I do, but not as much as I’d like! Sometimes I just want to go to an event and not drag around my “work” with me! I have to remember to make sure I am documenting my kids lives and not look at it as work! I have not been able to scrap near as much as I’d like since my business took off, though! I really need to be better at fitting that into my day! (Can someone please find a way to add more hours to a day?)


Isn’t it so cool to hear about the journey. In the times I have thought about wanting to be a professional some day I certainly don’t think about all the business stuff. Taking pictures is fun but oh, the work involved! I hope that this interview was good for you — to hear that it can be done and what it involves. I hope it encourages someone to take the plunge they have been wanting to take and to encourage others that maybe this is not the road for them.

And no matter whether you want to be a professional or not, you can ALWAYS learn more about your camera, taking images, editing, and enjoying the process. Kellie mentioned that one of the places she has learned the most is an online photography forum called CLICKINMOMS. It has been a source of encouragement, critique, and inspiration for her as she continues on her journey.


Well CLICKINMOMS has two great things just for THE DAILY DIGI readers! First, use the coupon code FRIEND and you will get 10% off your membership! Hurry, though, the code expires March 7. Secondly, they are giving away TWO FREE MEMBERSHIPS! Here’s how you can win: Just leave a comment here naming one thing/place/person that inspires you to grow in your photography skills. We want to hear what gets you excited to learn more. Leave a comment before Monday and we will randomly pick two people for a full year membership to CLICKINMOMS.

SPONSOR SPOTLIGHT — Amanda Heimann Designs

Spot Lit Wall

THE DAILY DIGI is so happy to bring you an amazing designer this month…AMANDA HEIMANN.  I love Amanda’s great color palettes and clean designs.  I hadn’t scrapped with her stuff before and now I am just looking through her store trying to decide what I want.  I think you will LOVE what you see!  We are also going to get to know her a bit better, but before we do, let’s look at the gorgeous kit she contributed to THE DIGI FILES 2.


Isn’t this amazing? I just LOVE it.  I created a page with it right when I got it (shown previously).  This kit is just PART of the HUGE collection of designs you can get for just $5.00 in THE DIGI FILES 2.  You’ve got two weeks left!  After that, this kit and everything go into the designers stores for regular market value.

Okay, let’s get to know Amanda!

alittleabout-copy6Name:  Amanda Heimann
Hometown:  lived in Texas my whole life, mainly in the Houston area
Family: My husband and number one fan is Billy and we have two young boys (Garrett- 6 and Lance-4) , one dog and will soon have a new puppy.

My Store at Scrap Orchard

My Blog


I started designing out of boredom.  I was in a scrapping funk and was browsing tutorial sites.  I came across a tutorial and tried it.  I was hooked!  After that it became a challenge to see what I could do.  Scrapping still gives me my creative release that I need but designing fulfills something that scrapping couldn’t reach.  I am able to contribute financially to our family while staying at home and have fun doing it!


I began designing almost 2 years ago.


Both!  But designing gets more of my time.


Way too much!  I really do not have set hours that I work and I do not keep track of them.  Our schedule is always changing and I sneak in as much time as possible.  I would say at least 40 hours a week.


Today it is Come Out and Play that is available at Scrapper’s Guide.  But my favorites are always changing!



It is a tie between my Give It To Me Straight Ribbons and My BACKS




1. My Family
2. Squeaky kisses from my little boy
3. Dr. Pepper
4. The moment my husband walks in the door
5. When my boys cooperate for photos
6. A new tube of Chapstick
7. My iPhone
8. The beach
9. Family vacations
10. Anything pink!


1. My husband’s alarm
2. When my boys do not cooperate for photos
3. Dryer lint
4. A dirty kitchen sink
5. SpongeBob Squarepants
6. Flocks of birds creep me out
7. Sippy cups left in the playroom
8. The Sham Wow guy- Vince Offer
9. When the cable stutters and I have to reset the internet
10. A glass of water without ice in it

Now that we have had a peek into Amanda’s life, let’s take a peek at her store!  You won’t be disappointed!

(all images are clickable)







And here are some pages made with her designs!


Isn’t all of her stuff gorgeous??  I just love the bright and happy color palettes…so perfect for happy and bright pages!  Head on over to her store to pick some of this up.  And use this coupon for 25% off!


Thank you so much, Amanda, for being with us at THE DAILY DIGI this month.  We are glad to have gotten to know you a bit better and are loving your fun and fresh designs!

ABC’s and 123’s

Ten years ago when I (Steph) had my first toddler, I wanted to make an ABC Album for her, but I never got around to it. I didn’t ever get around to it with my second toddler either. Finally, a couple of months ago, I finished my first ABC album for my THIRD toddler. Seeing how much my daughter has enjoyed it, sent me on a quest for anything ABC or 123 and I found some really fun goodies! 🙂


First, let me share my ABC album I made for my toddler. I used an ABC album template set by Janet (no longer available) as my foundation. I used papers and embellies from various kits that coordinated with the photos and I also used the ABC border from Amanda’s “Coconut Tree” kit as a clipping mask on each page.

When the album was finished, I printed out an 8×8 and two 4×4 complete albums (at Costco on the 12×36 canvas, matte finish). I put the 8×8 and one of the 4×4’s in actual albums and then the above photo is what I did with the other 4×4. After trimming, I glued the layouts back to front and then laminated (made it toddler proof), punched a hole and put them on a ring. Lastly, I tied ribbons around the ring.

My daughter hauls this everywhere with her and will often ask me to find mommy, daddy, or elmo. It has been so rewarding for me to see her love this album and makes it worth every minute I spent on it!

You can find that cute ABC border in this kit by Amanda:

amandacoconuttreeEven though Janet’s ABC album that I used is no longer available, don’t lose heart! She added a SUPER CUTE new one to this issue of the The Digi Files! This new template set almost makes me want to do another ABC album! 🙂


If you would like to do an ABC album, but want to make it even faster, this is a great help! Just add some pictures and maybe a few embellishments:


One of the hardest parts of doing my daughter’s ABC album was coming up with words for each letter. How about some suggestions for some of the letters? THIS SITE has links to many lists for everything from baby ABC’s to Disney and occupations!

One of my favorite ABC projects I found while shopping is this one by Mel Wilson:


I also liked this 123 project, I love the little rhymes that help kids remember how to write the numbers:


I think this combo pack has a lot of potential with different games and albums:jlarsen-abcbooks-pr-6

And the numbers too:


Lastly, I think these would make a great memory game and since they are already sized 4×6, you could just upload them to be printed as they are and get double prints and you are ready to go (could it get any easier?!)


So many fun, fast, and easy projects for the little ones that we love so much! Have fun going hybrid! 🙂


Mom with a Camera to Pro


I think at some point for most of us, we have at least a passing thought of, “I would LOVE to do photography professionally.” I know I have had the thought from time to time. But there is a big difference between someone who “enjoys” photography and being ready to go pro. I have seen a number of website of “professional” photographers who have a lot to learn. I have told myself that if I EVER tried to go professional I would be sure that I had the technical know how and the creative ideas to KNOW that I could “get the shot.” Being lucky once in a while isn’t enough. You need to know that in any and every situation you can figure out how to capture the moment. I’m not there yet, but I can dream.

Since so many of us have thought about going pro at some point, I wanted to share a really cool intereview with you. Here is one woman — a MWAC (Mom with a Camera) gone pro. We will hear about her journey in photography and launching a business. And best thing of all, she is a scrapper like us 🙂

I want to introduce you to fab scrapper, sweet friend, HILARIOUS person to be around, and MWAC gone pro…KELLIE PENN. She is the owner of ACROSS THE MILES photography and she is ready to share her story with all of us!

The interview was so good, and so cool, that we will split it up over two days. Today we will share her photography journey and on Saturday we will learn about the launch of her business and what she has learned. So go grab a second cup of coffee and sit back and relax. This is a good one!


Camera: Canon 40d But, I just ordered the Canon 5d Mark II that should be here any day! I’m so excited!

Lenses: 24-70L 2.8
70-200L 2.8
50mm 1.8
85mm 1.8
Flash: 580 ex II
Accessories: Fong Lightsphere Diffuser, Photojojo white balance lens cap, Sekonic Light Meter, several batteries & lens cleaners!

In the Studio: I’m currently using an alienbee 800 w/large octabox as my main light, and an alienbee 400 w/ umbrella as my fill light. (My alienbees are pink…I’m such a girly girl!) I also use a 5 in 1 reflector as well! My backdrops are from B & H photo & they are the Savage paper seamless ones that they offer. I have several colors in the 53 inch (which work great for one kid) and a few in the 107 (which work great for families, etc!) I also have the wireless trigger from alienbees as well! Plus, I’ve been buying lots of props (pettiskirts, baskets, cocoons, hats, blankets, etc) wherever I can find them! It’s quite addicting!


I’ve always had a love for pictures and grew up with a father that always had an SLR with us wherever we went! In high school, I took some photography courses and loved taking photos during college. After my children were born, I really started getting interested in photography and capturing their little moments…they just grow up way too quick! Digital scrapbooking taught me so much about color, composition, and studying other people’s photos on their scrapbook pages really made me focus more on my own photography!


I am pretty much self taught. I took a class in high school, and I’ve taken a couple of courses online. I’m definitely planning on taking more and more courses online to keep pushing myself to learn something new! In trying to teach myself, I read Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson…it really helps you understand your camera & how to get out of auto mode! Hands down, Clickinmoms has made a HUGE difference in my photography. It’s a great forum with a wonderful community. I have learned so much for the ladies over there!


I think my Ah ha moment came with learning that actions aren’t perfect fixes for photos! They need tweaked & customized for the photos you are working with!


I really strive to capture “moments.” I love it when I have a photo of my children interacting with each other and you can just “feel” the emotions they are feeling when you look at the photo. I like pictures of my kids when they are looking at the camera and smiling, but my favorites are the ones that really capture them in their element!


My workflow! It can take me so long to edit some photos! I need to simplify my process & really learn how to batch edit photos better.




Adobe Photoshop CS & Adobe Lightroom


Quite a bit, actually! I just love the final product so much better than the SOOC photos! But, I need to not get hung up on feeling like all of my personal family photos need edited. I often don’t share my personal photos with others because they aren’t edited yet…I really need to get over it!


This is my typical start to finish on a photo— First, I defog my photo. Then, I typically adjust brightness/contrast/levels as needed. (Often, I will use a color pop action or something similar just to make my photo look richer in color!) I will run noiseware if needed and sharpen the photo afterwards.


I’m kind of an action addict…and a collector of them! I typically use the same ones over and over, but I love trying new ones out! I love Totally Rad actions, Brenda Acuncias actions, Nichole Van Actions, and Leah Profancik’s actions!
There are some great free ones that I love, too! My hands down favorite B&W action is Aly’s B&W. Also, Pioneer Woman has some amazing actions on her blog, too!




Oh man, where do I begin? There are soooo many amazing photographers out there and I’m always stumbling upon new photogs whose work I just admire! Ones I turn to over and over are:

Tara Whitney
Melissa Koehler
Angela Crutcher
Clary Pfeiffer
And THIS BLOG is WONERFUL for spotlighting amazing photographers


Practice, practice, practice. Read, read, read…and then practice, practice, practice, and repeat! Also, get involved in some type of online photography forum and have others critique your work. It’s amazing what different people will see in your photos that you totally missed!

TO BE CONTINUED… Make sure to check back Saturday when Kellie tells us how she got her business up and running. PLUS, there will be a chance for TWO PEOPLE to win a FREE MEMBERSHIP to Clickin Moms!


P.S. I wanted to point out a great product for a great cause! Scrapbook Graphics has put together a great collab collection for Anna Benjamin, one of the Studio Girls. Anna was recently diagnosed with cancer and is undergoing treatment. The designers at SBG have put together a grab bag with all proceeds (after paypal fees) going to Anna and her family for meals, house cleaning, or whatever else they feel they need during this very difficult time. The grab bag is avaliable HERE where you can see ALL the contents in the detailed images. Pick up over 700mb of product from the Studio Girls for just $5.00.



Spot Lit Wall

THE DAILY DIGI is so excited to have Doris Castle with us this month.  Doris is known for her gorgeous papers and elements.  She is a long term designer at Scrapbook Graphics and a great part of the digital community.  Her store is filled with unique, high quality designs that are full of rich color and texture.   I am sure you are going to love what you see!  Before we get to know her a little more , let’s see what she made just for THE DIGI FILES 2.


Isn’t it SO pretty?  I just love the richness of all of it! You can get this kit as well as stuff from Kate Hadfield, Misty Cato, Michelle Filo, Fontologie, Amanda Heimann, The Lilypad, The Daily Digi, and Janet Phillips…ALL for just $5.00! Get it HERE.

Here is a page I did with Doris’ kit!

serenity_450webCredits HERE


NAME: Doris Castle

STORE: Studio Doris @ Scrapbook Graphics



Actually I was designing digital scrapbooking type items, before I even heard of digital scrapbooking. I would make collages of photos for photo labs and create backgrounds and frames and titles to enhance it. Then I found digital scrapbooking and was in heaven to know that there were others that had taken the craft to such an extreme and creative direction.


About as long as I can remember! Even back in middle school and high school I used to keep albums where I would save my memorabilia of life and journal about it. During college I liked to create logos for local businesses -which is a lot like creating embellishments! After college I  became a graphic artist and enjoyed collaging photos together along with titles and descriptions for local photo labs, and then discovered that what I was doing actually had a name.. digital scrapbooking. Once I discovered this, I was hooked and haven’t looked back. My first kit I sold was back in 2003.


Both! I love designing but also love to change the pace and scrap also. I still like to pick up the cutters and glue for hybrid and traditional scrapbooking.


This is the first year that all three of my children are in school, so I am able to design full-time.. from about 9am-2pm each day. This gets filled up with emails, blogging, facebooking, writing to customers, marketing and much more than just the fun design-time.


I have FOUR!  First are my GROUPIES elements clusters (all images are clickable)










1. Husband and Kids (I know that’s two!)

2.  my computer

3.  lasagne!

4.  days when there is nothing to do but play games, watch tv and have fun

5.  my Blackberry and techy gadgets

6.  my new office

7.  a clean house

8.  working from home as a designer

9.  going out with friends

10.  doing crafts with my kids


1.  Liars and Fake People

2 . Mopping the kitchen floor

3.  waiting in line

4.  grocery shopping

5.  when my kids bicker over nothing

6. my weight (too bad my hobby isn’t hiking or swimming)

7.  the treadmill

8.  ants! Especially if there are lots of them

9.  being splashed at the pool

10. clutter

Now that we have gotten to know Doris a bit, let’s look at some of her fabulous designs! (all images are clickable)








Aren’t her designs GORGEOUS?  Thanks so much, Doris, for being with us this month.  You are truly talented and have proven your worth as a designer over the last six years.  We are excited to see future designs!

And as a THANK YOU to our readers, here is  a coupon from Doris!



MORE WITH FOUR — month 2

We’re back with the MORE WITH FOUR challenge. Here we challenge four scrappers to scrap with just FOUR products! The rules are limiting, the challenge daunting, and the results are spectacular! Check out this months challenge:


Scrappers were give just four products — all from THE DIGI FILES 2. The products they used were:

1. The papers from Doris Castle’s SUNDAY LOVE kit

2. The flower elements from Kate Hadfields SPRING GREENS element set

3. The alpha from Misty Cato’s HIGH FLYING kit

4. Frames from Amanda Heimann’s TRULY YOURS kit

And here are the rules:

  • You will be given four digital products.
  • You are to create a layout or hybrid project using these four products only
  • In addition to these items you can use paint/inking, paper tears or tearing actions, and fonts (NOT other alphas).
  • You can alter the items shown as long as the item is still recognizable.
  • You need to use some of each of the items.

I can tell you from the emails I received that this challenge wasn’t easy! When we usually have endless amounts of product sitting on our hard drives, it is easy to go and search through our stash for exactly what we need. But when we are limited to just four products, it forces us to approach a page differently. We have to look at what we have and think about what can be done with it. If there is something that we want for our page but it isn’t there, we have to think about how to make it. If we have something that isn’t the right color, we have to think about how we can change that.

Digital scrapbooking is full of so many possibilities. We are not limited by size, color, amount, or intended purpose. Instead, we can resize, recolor, reuse, and recycle! Don’t get stuck in a rut…try the MORE WITH FOUR challenge and see how it stretches you!

Here is what our scrappers came up with!

sunshine2extra supplies : paint brushes by Nancy Rowe Janitz at Scrapartist

Noel Culbertson (hybrid scrapper and one of my fellow Scrapbooker of the Year ’07 finalists) made this fun and peppy page for her daughter. Here is what Noel had to say about this challenge:

There is something so invigorating about someone handing you a pile of supplies and asking you to go nuts! I love how limiting your supplies can really spark your creativity. For me limiting supplies helps me focus on bringing out what is special to me in the photo, which is what scrapbooking is all about, right?

I recolored Amanda’s leaf flourish by resizing one of Misty’s letters, and grouping them together to make it look like the flourish went with the alphabet. Then I duplicated the alpha layers and selected the multiply blending mode to darken them up a bit. To unify the sketched look of the flowers, I held control & clicked the layer to select it (the scallops, frame and leaf flourish), then went to Select > Modify > Contract and chose 7px. Then, with the selection tool selected, I right clicked and selected Stroke Outline, and 5px. This gave them the look of being outlined with a pen. The lines around the photo were from outlining the frame, contracting it about 44px, stroke outlining and resizing it over the photo .”

WHAT YOU CAN TRY: To imitate the look of a hand drawn pen outline, try adding a stroke layer to frames or elements

kas_grandmasgarden_98_webFonts: Pea XOXO from Karen and Rub This

Jacki created this gorgeous, feminine layout about her daughter. I love the dreamy feeling to the photo! Here is what Jacki had to share:

I played with opacity for this LO. For the large photo I did “overlay” and moved opacity to about 90%. I used the dodge tool to make some of the frames look more aged. I also played with opacity on some of Kate’s flowers to add them around the edge. The journaling is about a tribute to my MIL who died several years ago. She took this photo of Kassy without me knowing. That sweet baby girl sat patiently with a hat on for grandma (says a lot about her disposition)! I comment on her garden and how she’s no longer here to tend it and her growing grandchildren.”

Jacki also says, “I challenge myself that when I do CT stuff or challenges at shops to actually scrap a photo from the past I haven’t scrapped yet so that I’m building the albums for the kids, not just creating something for someone else. Not always easy. This was a scanned photo from 1998!”

WHAT YOU CAN TRY: Leave the current photos where they are and go dig up something from the past. Most of us have only been digi scrapping for a few years, but the memories go back so much father!


Kayleigh created this gorgeous page with a letter to her husband. I love the photo and how she used her own handwriting on the layout. Here is what Kayleigh had to say about the challenge:

I had lots of fun playing with those items & it was fun to step out of my box a little bit. Since there was no stitching and I always put stitching on my pages, I used a dashed line to immitate the look. I re-coloured the frame & added a white stroke to the inside & outside of it to make it pop off the page. I also added a stroke to the flower & a deep shadow to make it look like it was raised off the page (like a paper scrapper would use a pop dot). I often use buttons or brads on my pages as well & since those were not included in the fabulous four items I used the dot to the letter ‘i’ to create an embellishment. I also took the small letter ‘l’ & enlarged it to create the cardboard piece beside the dark paper. I also incorporated my own font into the page, which is my very own handwriting called XXL-Kayleigh W. I also lightened the beige paper turned it vertically to make the lines draw your eye into the grouping. The green paper is re-coloured as well.

Journaling: Dear Eric, I love this photo of us on our wedding day so carefree & in love. Ready to take on marriage hand & hand. We had no idea of the challenges we would be faced with in our 1st year of marriage. We didn’t know that you would almost be killed in a car accident on a warm sunny day. We didn’t know that we would be faced with my back pain during my pregnancy. But we made it through it all, together. Stronger & more in love than this day. Our day. Kayleigh

WHAT YOU CAN TRY: Rotate a paper 90 degrees to get a totally different look and feel!


One of our scrappers had a change of plans and wasn’t able to participate as she would have liked. So, I jumped at the opportunity to challenge myself. I enjoy scrapping challenges because they give me some direction. Sometimes when I want to scrap I feel so overwhelemed with all the photos, all the kits and elements, all the choices. I don’t know where to start and so I often don’t! By having a specific set of guidelines, I have a starting point and can let the rest flow from there.

WHAT YOU CAN TRY: Why not try a photo-less page? Not all of our stories have a photo. Instead, use the papers and elements to convey the feeling and theme of the layout.

So there you have it…how four scrappers did MORE WITH FOUR. And now it is your turn! Just comment in this thread with a link to a MORE WITH FOUR layout page and you will have a chance to win coupons (yes that is plural!) from some of our participating designers. For every LO that features the full MORE WITH FOUR challenge, your name will be entered into the draw three times. For everyone who does a NEW layout using one of the “what you can try” challenges, your name will be entered once. ENTRY DEADLINE: Friday, February 27th. Good luck and I can’t wait to see what you come up with!

Some Interesting Tax Facts

For Americans, this time of year means taxes. I haven’t done mine yet and  I really, really need to.  So as I try to inspire myself to get these done this week, I bring you some interesting tax facts for this weeks the UN-digi.   Enjoy…and then get those taxes done!

  • The Gettysburg address is 269 words, the Declaration of Independence is 1,337 words, and the Holy Bible is only 773,000 words.  However, the tax law has grown from 11,400 words in 1913 to over 7 million words today
  • The IRS sends out 8 billion pages of forms and instructions each year. Laid end to end, they would stretch 28 times around the earth.
  • Nearly 300,000 trees are cut down yearly to produce the paper for all the IRS forms and instructions.
  • The Articles of Confederation, adopted in 1781, did not have a nationwide tax system. Instead, it relied on donations from the states. This did not work.
  • In 1916 Congress deleted the word “lawful” before the word “income” making illegal income taxable.
  • The Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981 brought the top tax bracket down to 50%. Previously, it had been as high as 94%.
  • April 15 is officially tax day, but it is also: Leonardo da Vinci’s birthday, the day Abraham Lincoln died, the day General Electric was incorporated, the day the Titanic sank and the day that McDonald’s served its first hamburger.
  • Residents of Hawaii pay more state taxes a person than those of any other state, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, followed by, in order, Wyoming, Connecticut, Minnesota and Delaware. Those who pay the least a person are Alabama, New Hampshire, Colorado, South Dakota and Texas.

If you want some interesting UK tax facts, see THIS site

And just for your information, all electronic filing is free this year.  See article HERE.

And if you made $30,000 or less OR were active military in 2008 with an AGI of $56,000 or less OR quality for the Earned Income Credit, you can prepare and eFile your federal tax returns for free.  See HERE.

P.S.  Make sure you check out Designer Digitals quarterly sale.  Everything is 30% off.  I don’t shop there very often due to paypal not being an easy option, but I do plan to grab a few things this weekend.

Sometimes You Can


I hadn’t planned on another photography post so soon — but as I was getting some photos ready for my personal blog, I came across a photo that was priceless to me. My son’s expression is exactly what I see in my head when I think of him, but the photo was BAD. I mean really, really bad. But it captured the essence of who he is and so I rescued it. And as I did it, I wrote this post so you can see that SOMETIMES YOU CAN save a really bad photo.

There is a difference between portraiture and getting some great pictures of your kids. As I have advanced (little by little) in my photography skills and knowledge I have a tendency to want every shot to be a “perfect” shot. I can spend too much time messing with my settings, getting the kids eyes faced the right direction, and making sure there are no boogies present that I miss the moment. I think most professional photographers will say that the one thing they struggle with after going pro is continuing to take photos of their own kids and/or the desire for every shot to be good enough to blow up on 30×40 gallery wrapped canvas. But there is definitely a time and place for “snapshots” that will fill our photo albums and scrapbook pages. Not every picture has to be perfect.

I am usually a proponent of “don’t fix the photo, take a better one.” I don’t advocate trying to salvage tons of really bad photos. The many hours spent editing bad photos could be put to better use in learning to take better photos. But you know what, we all have our days or moments and we get great photo that’s bad. And sometimes, you CAN save a bad photo.

The other day my sweet Levi was running around like a crazy boy. He saw my camera was out so he ran back and forth through the living room and out the front door while I pretended to “get” him with the camera. Ever changing lighting conditions and a fast little kid resulted in this awful photo.


The picture quality is horrid but the expression was priceless. It is just so “him” and I knew it was worth saving. And the end result was much better than anticipated. Here is what I did.

1. Duplicate layer and change the blending mode to the duplicated layer to SCREEN.


2. Duplicate the SCREEN layer until the lighting in the photo is more “normal”. In my example, I ended up duplicating six times for a total of 7 layers.


This was the result of the screened layers. The picture is definitely better and I could stop here, but my perfectionistic tendencies wouldn’t allow for it.


3. Add a brightness/constrast adjustment layer and adjust to taste. Due to the repetitive screening, some of the photo (especially his face) is washed out. I added a brightness/contrast adjustment layer to fix that.




At this point, I could stop. The photo is perfectly good for a photo album, my scrapbook, or for sending to grandmas. But since I like my photos to look I took a great picture straight out of the camera, I was bothered by something: The noise in the photo. Noise in photos is caused by two things:

1. A high ISO (used when there isn’t enough natural light)

2. When a picture is underexposed.

In my photo, the ISO was set to 400. On my camera that level of ISO does not usually present noise. However, it obvious that my photo was severely underexposed. And therefore, I got lots of noise. Here is a 100% crop of part of the photo and you can see what I am talking about.


So, how do you fix it? Photoshop has some native noise reduction filters but I much prefer a program called Noiseware. Noiseware is a Photoshop plugin or standalone program that greatly aids in noise reduction. There is even a free standalone version for people using Windows (scroll down to the bottom where it says Noiseware Community Edition Standalone). Sorry, but us Mac girls have to buy it. But it was totally worth it!

Just open your photo, go to Filter >Imagenomic and a noiseware window will pop up. I have not even attempted to play with the settings because the default ones that come up are so good.


Just click okay and your noise is gone! See the difference?

noisebeforePHOTO BEFORE with noise

noiseafterPHOTO after running NOISEWARE

See! Sometimes you CAN save a really bad photo. I will cherish this photo for a long time. His personality, his smile, his dimple, his blankie…it all just shines through…thanks to Photoshop.




Spot Lit Wall

We are so incredibly THRILLED to have Kate Hadfield with us this month at THE DAILY DIGI!  Kate is known for her gorgeous handdrawn and creative elements.  I remember when I first used her doodled paper alpha (when she was giving it away for free).  I just kept thinking how AMAZING it was!  She has truly borught in a breath of fresh air in digital designs and we know that you are going to be so excited to see everything she has done!  Kate is just so sweet and heartfelt.  We worked together for a long time at the DIGI DARES and I just love who she is.  I am sure you will too!  But before we get to know her a bit better, lets look at the AMAZING element set she contributed to this months THE DIGI FILES.


Isn’t it just GORGEOUS?  I just love all the bright and happy colors!  I had to use it RIGHT AWAY when I saw it!


(papers also from THE DIGI FILES 2 and staples and stitched border are by Shabby Princess)


NAME: Kate Hadfield
FAMILY: I live with my wonderful husband and two gorgeous kids in Cheshire, England.
STORE: The Lilypad
BLOG: What Katie Scrapped


It was a bit of an accident really! I wanted a specific type of paper element for a page I was working on and couldn’t find anything in the shops so decided to try making it myself. I really enjoyed the creative process (I hadn’t really done much crafting since taking up digiscrapping) and it all went from there. I ended up making some more bits and pieces and gave them away on my blog.


About two years now. I’ve been scrapping for about three.


Definitely both. One of my resolutions this year is to make more time for myself to scrap. For some reason I find it difficult to mix the two, I’ll have periods when I scrap a lot but don’t design and then other times I’ll design but not scrap. Designing for me is a more hands-on process where I get to be messy and play with paints and pencils, scrapping is more about “me time” where I can relax and be creative without having to clean up the mess afterwards! I need to work on being able to swap between the two more easily.


Hhmm, this really depends on whether you count hanging around the forums and on Facebook as “marketing”…LOL I spend most evenings on the computer along with probably an hour or two in total in short bursts throughout the mornings, depending on what my son is doing that day. I try to catch up on emails and other correspondence then  (the time difference between the US and the UK usually means I wake up to a full inbox and have a couple of hours of quiet before more emails come in!) and then do some crafting or drawing during the afternoons if possible. Evenings are for scrapping or the computerized part of my design work.


Ooh this is a tough one! It’s usually the last product I finished, but The Funky Junky series of collabs with Rachel Young and Michelle Godin are some of my all time favourites. Rachel and Michelle are great fun to work with and I’m so proud of the versatile, eclectic kits we’ve made together.

funkyjunkyhfhFunky Junky Home for the Holidays

funkyjunky1Funky Junky


I think my alphabets are probably my best sellers, these three in particular:

1. Candy Caney Alphacandycaney-01

2. Scruffy and Stripey Alpha_khadfield_scruffyandstripey

3. Spotty Dotty Alpha_khadfield_spottydottyalpha


1. My hubby and kids
2. The smell of fresh rain on spring leaves
3. Chocolate
4. Watercolour pencils and a fresh pad of pastel paper
5. Christmas
6. Days out with the kids (especially to the local zoo, this trip is probably more for me than them…LOL)
7. Sunflowers
8. Singing really loudly (and badly) and dancing round the house with the kids, especially to the High School Musical soundtracks (shhh, don’t tell anyone)
9. London art galleries
10. Being by the sea


1. Cold calling and door-to-door salespeople
2. Rudeness
3. The dreaded “Photoshop is not responding” message when I haven’t saved anything for an hour
4. Men rolling up the sleeves of their suit jackets
5. Cold, wet, grey and dismal weather (also known as “British summertime”)
6. Baked beans and mashed potato
7. Drivers who don’t indicate when turning
8. The kids putting empty cereal packets back in the cupboards
9. My scanner when it decides it only wants to scan one square inch of the scanner bed
10. Early morning wake-ups


Now let us go peek at the gorgeous stuff in Kate’s store!  I had SUCH a hard time choosing.  I seriously could post EVERY product in her store and say I LOVE it and I WANT it!  But alas, if you wanted to see everything in her store you could just go there.  So, I limited myself to eight.  *sigh* (some products are collabs with Jacque Larsen and all images are clickable)









See what I mean?  HOW can anyone choose?  I want it ALL!  At least this will help!


Thanks, Kate, so much for being with us.  Your creativity and talent are truly amazing!




I love Oreos.

So do my kids.

In the afternoons I can often be found sneaking into the pantry to grab a pack of yummy Double Stuffed.  But then, almost without fail, after getting a few cookies in my mouth my two boys see me and they want some too.  What’s a mom to do?

Since I have a magical sickness ability to equate almost anything I do with photography and/or scrapbooking, I started thinking about how this Oreo dilemma is a lot like exposure on a camera.  Come on, stick with me a minute before you think I am totally crazy.


Our packs of Double Stuffs come with 12 cookies.  However, in my package there are only 10 cookies left (since I managed to stuff two in my mouth before I was caught by the cookie police). There are three of us who want cookies.  They have to be split somehow. Three piles for three people.

I could split them the way I really want to (one for them and the rest for me).


I could split them the “fair” way and give them each four and me two (since I already had two!)


I could give them three each, feel like I was sharing well, and still get four more for myself (after all, they don’t know I’ve already eaten two!)


I could also give them each one or two and put the rest away but since I am trying to realistic right now and that never happens, we’ll just skip that option. It doesn’t fit in my illustration anyway.

So, no matter how I split them up, I still get to the total of 10.  It doesn’t matter if I give

5 to me + 3 to Caleb + 2 to Levi or

6 to Levi +1 to Caleb +3 to me or

4 to Caleb + 2 to Levi + 4 to me

It all still adds up to 10.  Now this is how it is like exposure. Exposure on a camera is dependent on three things:

  • Aperture
  • Shutter Speed
  • ISO

They can be put together in different ways and still all add up to a correct exposure.


Look at these three pictures.  They were all taken with different settings (all in manual mode) and yet all achieved a good, basic exposure. That’s because these three things (aperature, shutter speed, and ISO) all work together and add up to a good exposure.  Just like it didn’t matter how I split the cookies up, it doesn’t matter how these three things are combined, they all still add up to a good exposure.   Add more to one area and you have to adjust the others. Take some away from one and the others have to be changed to make the the final outcome “add up to the total.”


So, now you may be wondering why it matters?  If it all adds up to the same thing, what does it matter what settings are what?

Well, let’s go back to my Oreos for a moment (please forgive me, my mind is on Oreos and my little photo shoot is still sitting next to me and I can’t tell you how tempted I am to throw all principles out the window and give all ten cookies to myself!)

I said it doesn’t matter how I split the cookies up.  And that is true.  No matter what I do the total will be the same.  However, the effect of the outcome would be different.  If I give 10 to me and none to them, my wasteline will not be pleased.  If I give 4 to each of the boys and 2 to me, my waistline might be saved but the boys dinner will be ruined.  The total amount of cookies consumed would be the same, but the effects of those cookies would have on the people who consumed them would be very different.

And so it is with exposure.  Exposure, the combination of aperature, shutterspeed, and ISO is all about LIGHT and how that LIGHT affects your photos.  Aperature affects how MUCH light comes into your photo, shutter speed affects how LONG that light comes into your photo, and the ISO affects how how well your photo soaks up the light. You can mix and match these magic three ingredients in lots of ways to get a correct exposure, but the effect of the way you mix them up with drastically change your photos.

Now, I promise you a few things:

  1. We will talk about how ISO, aperture, and shutter speed affect your photos in future posts
  2. I am not a professional photographer
  3. I do not claim to know a whole lot about photography
  4. There are LOTS of professional photographers out there who try to explain this concept.
  5. I always read their descriptions and wonder why they didn’t just write in English.  Even Bryan Peterson’s “worker bees” illustration in Understanding Exposure left me scratching my head  and headed back to Auto mode.
  6. I will try very hard to explain these things in simple ways and in digestible amounts.
  7. If I find that someone has already explained it very well I will link you to their post rather than trying to reinvent the wheel.
  8. I am open to correction and further explanation from those who know more than I do.
  9. Once you start shooting in manual mode you will almost never want to go back.  I say  almost, because I think there are some situations where auto or semi-auto modes are better or more practical.  We will get to those.
  10. I only had nine promises and the list felt incomplete.  So I added a number 10.