Send Us Your Halloween Pictures!

halloweenHalloween is coming and there's nothing cuter than kids dressed up as monsters, ghouls, princesses, pirates and minions. We'd love to see pictures of your little monsters as they get ready to trick or treat. Send your photos to and we'll post them here!

Stay tunes for some cuteness.....

Magenta Studio Photo - An Intro and a Giveaway!

magenta-photo-studioIn the week before school started, my girls and I were asked by Magenta Studio Photo to come in for a complimentary photo session. Magenta Studio Photos has just opened in St. Laurent Shopping Centre and they are trying to spread the word. Founded in 2002 to address the lack of artistic photography on the market, Magenta wanted to offer an alternative to the fixed poses of conventional studios. photo (3)From the moment we walked into the studio, Ashley and Beatrice were very warm and welcoming. They showed us around the studio and it really was unlike any other photography studio I had ever been in. In addition to their front showroom which displayed they different customized photographic pieces that you could purchase, their backroom included a full range of props, costumes, and even black and white t-shirts that you could wear for your photo shoot. photo (7)They had dressing rooms to beautify yourself, iPad stations for little ones who needed to wait and a comfortable spot for adults sit and waited. Beatrice explained how everything worked and then my girls and I went in for the photo shoot.

Ashley, our photographer, was amazing. From the moment we walked into the studio, She made us all feel very at ease. She knew how to make my girls laugh and look serious and was able to pose all of us to get the best shots. And she really did get some great pictures out of all of us. My girls had a blast acting like models and loved the props and the "wind."

photo (4)We had a 45 minute photo shoot, complete with different backgrounds, props and poses. When it was done, it was time to wait to see our shots. It was actually a bit of a wait but my girls were able to occupy themselves at the iPad station while I looked at the different pricing and packages available. When it was time to view the photos, I must say they really were - and no I’m not biased at all. Ashley was really able to capture each of us at our best in both conventional and candid photos.

photo (5)The downside of this whole experience was that the cost of the actual pictures was more than I thought it would be. We had to purchase each image (which comes on a CD) separately at $50 a pop and there was no way to buy the whole session on one CD without purchasing each image - which in a 45 minute session was about 75-100 pictures. The upside is that they often have promotions and discounts available on their products so before you book a shoot, make sure you are going at the right time to get a good deal.

In order to get their name out, Magenta is offering one lucky Kids in the Capital readers a $75 gift certificate for a free sitting for your photo session. Leave your name in the comments below and tell us why you want this photo session. One lucky person will be chosen at random on September 20th.

While we were given a free photo sitting, a free 8x10 image and a discount on some photo products, all views in this post are my own.

Get Over It And Say Cheese

photoIf you’re anything like me, you often cringe when you see pictures of yourself. For me, I always think twice before getting into a photo. I prefer to be behind the camera, not in front, and since my girls are wonderful subjects, I take tons of pictures. I have pictures of them all over the house. Last month, my kids went off to camp. As part of her “going away” preparations, my youngest daughter wanted to take a small photo album of her city friends, her cousins and her family. All of us. Even me. This did pose a problem since I have very few pictures of me with my girls. As I said, I’m the one mostly behind the camera.

When I tried to explain this to my daughter, she said, “But Mom, I want to have lots of pictures of you and me.”

photo with girlsIt makes sense, of course, to have pictures of my girls and I for posterity. So why is it so hard? I know that when she’s older, or even when she has kids, it will be so wonderful to pull out pictures of us when we were younger. I know my kids (or grandkids) won’t be care about extra baby weight, a bad hair day or if I'm in sweats or covered in paint. All the reasons I give for not being in pictures will be irrelevant. My kids will (hopefully) only look at the pictures and remember the good times, the hugs and the smiles and the love. So, from now on, I am now going to make an effort to say yes to pictures. I mean, don’t you love looking (and laughing) at pictures of your parents when they were young?

How do you feel about being in pictures? 

Butterfly Show!

By Shawna I almost hate to let you in on this little secret, because I’m afraid of it getting too crowded, but as a faithful Kids in the Capital contributor, I cannot keep it to myself: Carleton University’s Department of Biology hosts a free butterfly show in their greenhouses every fall, and it’s on right now, right now, right now!

That’s right, every day from September 29 to October 8 inclusive, from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm, you can bring your kids to see a fluttering, flittering, flapping display of gorgeousness free, free, free!  (Donations, however, are appreciated of course).  It’s also a great chance to grab some pictures of exotic, colourful butterflies that aren’t native to the area.  Or some pictures of your kids.  Or, best of all, some pictures of your kids interacting with exotic, colourful butterflies!  I went last year with the kids, and it was a big hit.  Sage in particular was utterly thrilled when a butterfly landed on her.

Here are the details!

You’re welcome.  Now don’t tell too many people…

Shawna is mom to 4-year-old Sage and 2-year-old Harris.  She has  been writing online since 2003, and her latest project is a fledgling photography blog.  She plans on visiting the butterfly show twice this year: once with her kids and camera, and once with just her camera.

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A few awesome iPhone apps for fun family pictures!

by Karen Lara mentioned a while back that her DSLR camera is broken (and I am really sad about that for her!) but all is not lost. As she mentioned, her iPhone has a pretty awesome camera - and it's true; she and I have the same phone. But, in addition to the great camera, there are some pretty awesome apps that can enhance your pictures and make fun collages right on your phone. Easy peasy! (Though I use an iPhone, some of these may also be available on other phones also.)

I have recently aquired a number of said apps that go far beyond the filters of Instagram. (Not that Instagram isn't a great app, but its uses are definitely limited.) Some are free. Some are paid. All of them combined will not cost you as much as a new point and shoot, let alone a new DSLR.

Before we start, though, a quick phoneography pro tip for you: Take your shots and save them to your photo library unfiltered and uncropped first. Use either the native camera app or something like Camera+ (which I honestly haven't gotten into like some, but I hear people rave about it) that allows you to go unfiltered. That will give you lots of opportunities to play with your pictures and you'll have one image that isn't going to be dated by a filter too.

I think most people know about Instagram, but just in case you don't yet, it's like a mini social network. You can connect with Facebook friends and  share photos to Twitter and Facebook. Followers can like or comment on your photos and you on theirs. It's great for quick sharing.

If you want more pizazz in your photos, here are a few other apps I'd suggest:

Snapseed - I've heard it called the Photoshop of the iPhone. It's pretty good. Nice filters and control with how intense you make them, as well as a few basic editing options. You can give your photos a nice little touch up on the fly without downloading to your photo editing software on your computer.

100 Cameras - This one was built by Trey Ratcliff, a photographer I've followed for a while now. It's my fun app to play with. There are so many filters and they're quite unique to anything else you'll find in other apps and it gives you full control over the intensity. You can even apply some funky textures to photos. It's not always ideal for photos of people, but you can have a lot of fun with objects and landscape photos.

Once you've edited and applied any filters your photo(s), you may want to have more fun with it! There are some great apps to create collages and add text to your photos right on your phone.

Diptic - This is a basic collage app with all square/rectangular layouts. You can manipulate the layouts to an extent and you can reposition pictures so that it the portion of the image showing is what you want.

Over - Have you ever wanted to add some text to a photo rather than just providing context in a status update with it? Over is fun for adding in text. There are a multitude of fun and funky fonts to choose from, as well as lots of colours and control over size. You can adjust the tint of the photo so your text pops more or to achieve a certain effect, but it's best to pull in the photo as you want it. Over is not an editing tool.

FuzelPro - This is my current favorite collage/text overlay tool. The collage layouts are super funky. You get a lot more than Diptic provides, but it can be a bigger time suck to use, so it really depends on what you want to do. FuzelPro also provides some frames and some text options (not as many as Over, though). It's like a combination of the two tools in one!

All of these apps will allow you to share to various social networks once you've finished editing.

Do you use your smartphone to take photos as you go through each day? What are some of your favourite apps?

Happy phoneography!


Karen Wilson is a wife to Matt and mom to Brandon (4), who blogs about her life at Karen’s Chronicles. She can be found at Wellman Wilson, helping businesses use social media more effectively. Karen is also committed to doing her part to keep the coffee industry alive, because who needs sleep?