Author Archives: Charlene Morales

Photographing is for Chowderheads

My family has never been big on photographs. I am talking about my immediate family. I have aunts and uncles who fancy themselves professional photographers and seem to be willing to capture every single moment of every day of their children and grandchildren. I think some of them want to be able to stack all of these pictures together and then flip through them to create some kind of flip-book animation that shows every moment of their grandchildren. In my immediate family pictures have never been a big deal.

Sure there are pictures of key events. However, my parents home is not lined with pictures of every moment of my life or my brother's life. Why? Well, I have news for some of you. Not everything needs to be filmed and documented and hung upon the wall for people to see as if every moment of your life is worth some kind of exhibit in a museum.

Other families seem to think that everything that everyone in their family does is worthy of remembering. I think this is a problem. I think this has created a kind of rudeness that didn't exist maybe as little as fifteen years ago. These day, of course, everything in the world comes with a camera. Cameras themselves are practically microscopic. Your phone has a camera. Your MP3 player has a camera. You toothbrush probably has a camera just in case you don't have enough film of your dental habits in your photo albums.

While technology is great sometimes I think it can be a problem making it too accessible to people. There should, perhaps, be some kind of movement that actually reduces people's dependencies and technological tendencies. At the very least, for a start in that direction, we need to limit the number of cameras in the world.

I was in church recently. At the far end of the pew from where I was sitting was a nice looking older couple. As the service went forward I kept seeing movement out of the corner of my eye. At some point I realized that the man in this couple had a tiny camera and was turning around and pointing it up toward the balcony where the organist sits and musicians sometimes sit and where the choir often sits. There was a choir of girls in grades 6 – 8 singing that day. I am assuming these were related to one of these girls in some way. What this guy didn't seem to understand is that turning around and pointing this tiny camera was causing the people sitting behind him to do all kinds of contortions in an attempt to stay clear of his shot.

Now, one thing that the uninitiated when it comes to church should know is that you do NOT, under ANY circumstances, turn around to look at things unless expressly told to do so in the bulletin. Moses himself may have reappeared in black-face and top hat while holding a cane and singing "Mammie" but you were NOT to turn around. It was as if doing so would cause God to hurtle large, smoldering, craggy, violent, but ultimately holy and divine meteors through the roof of the church where they would then promptly embed themselves into your skull.

So, needless to say, this couple was violating this rule. Violation of this rule is accepted from time to time, however. What I could not believe was that they truly felt that filming this was something important. Can you honestly tell me you spend time watching all of the video footage you have of your child? Were these people going to be sitting at home one night and say, "Gee, 'Grey's Anatomy' is a repeat tonight so let's watch little Nancy's choir performance in church from January of 2007?"

Most of life is boring. I have news for you. Your child is boring. Your life is boring. The things your kid does may be absolutely wonderful and great for you but to the rest of us it is about the same as trying to watch carpeting grow. Unless your kid is a talking infant, blowing bubbles from accidentally swallowing soap or passing wind in a passable version of the "Star-Spangled Banner" they are probably not doing anything interesting.

Also, I am betting your kids never want to see that stuff again. I know my dad went through a phase of taking 8 millimeter films of family functions. You had to have an actual film projector to watch these things. My family has done that all of three times that I can remember in my life. You know what they show? A favorite is to show me knocking my young cousin off of my toy "Sit – 'N – Spin" so I could ride it.

Did you have one of those toys? They don't make toys this silly or fun anymore. It was exactly what its name was. You sat on it and turned this wheel and you spun around. Really fast. I might as well have been called the "Sit – 'N – Puke." I loved mine. However, I would rather choose to remember the fun times when I used this toy than the moment I acted like a spoiled jerk and nearly injured my cousin trying to get to the toy.

I am betting little Nancy has no desire to watch herself standing in a church balcony singing "What Child is This?" anytime soon. Right now she is just happy she didn't screw up the words or fall over the edge of the balcony. I highly doubt when she is 35 and sitting with her own kids and suddenly have a desire to show some shaky video that shows a blurry picture of her in sixth grade singing the same song mentioned before.

Thankfully my family never did get a video recorder to capture every moment of our lives growing up. My dad did not show up and record my one and only humiliating season playing little league baseball. This has left me to freely build mental blocks around those memories and pretend like it never happened.

Taking pictures for special moments is fine. Even those need to be done with caution. I hope to never run across the photos that were taken of me and my prom date, for example. However just because junior has figured out how to put food in his mouth rather than his hair I don't think qualifies as one of those moments.

Oh, and I would like to encourage the rest of us that, should we see someone trying to capture something stupid to start putting ourselves in the way. Why do we all freeze and move out of these people's way? Stand up. Wave your hands. Stick out your tongue. That way they won't want to look at those pictures anymore.

Starry Nights: Summer Arts and Entertainment in Springfield, Ohio

One of the joys of summer is getting out your lawn chairs or blankets and heading to a local park with the family. For five weeks every summer, residents of Springfield, Ohio, who venture to the park can find a variety of music and entertainment there. From pop to jazz to theater, local performers and nationally known acts bring summertime joy to thousands of area families. And the best part? It's all free.

Springfield's Summer Arts Festival is a better bargain than ever this summer as economically stretched families look for things to do. Sponsored by the Springfield Arts Council, the event is beginning its 44th season at Veteran's Park Amphitheater, just minutes from downtown Springfield. There is no fixed seating, except for a small set of bleachers on the south side of Cliff Park Road, so concertgoers bring chairs or blankets and sit on the hillside that forms a natural tiered setting for listening to performers on the stage located at the bottom of the hill.

In 2004, the popularity of the Festival led to the completion of restrooms, concession stands, and a hospitality terrace. The following year, a new stage with a lighting canopy was added, along with asphalt paths, a concrete pad for reserved seating up front, a building for production control, and handicapped seating pads throughout the Grand Lawn area.

Food and beverages are available at reasonable prices but many attendees bring along their own pop and snacks. Limited reserved seating in the orchestra "pit" is available for $10 but you still supply your own chair or purchase a "rent-a-chair" seat for $5. Parking is free too, but the regulars know to go early to grab good places for both the car and their chairs. No one ever seems to mind when Arts Council members pass the hat at intermission because the Festival is such an incredible value.

Starting off the 2010 Festival on June 17, 18, and 19 is the family musical Annie, presented by the Ohio Lyric Theatre and the Springfield Arts Council. Guitarist Ernie Hawkins will take the stage on June 20. On June 22, the United States Air Force Band of Flight's New Harmony will perform. The group is stationed at nearby Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Fairborn, Ohio, just northeast of Dayton.

Other acts in the five-week Festival that show the diversity of the offerings include the Golden Dragon Acrobats, Neal E. Boyd (from America's Got Talent), the Celtic band Cherish the Ladies, bluegrass music from The Muleskinner Band, and the well-known jazz group Spyro Gyro. Several tribute bands will appear including Parrots of the Caribbean (performing the music of Jimmy Buffet), Hotel California (performing the music of The Eagles), The Dark Star Orchestra (performing the music of the Grateful Dead), and Evil Ways (performing the music of Santana). Light classical music is also on the bill with the Springfield Symphony Orchestra, the United States Army Field Band and Chorus, and the Gem City Sweet Adelines.

Food on the terrace will be coordinated with the music on certain weekends including an Irish and Spirits Fest and a Rhythm and Ribs Fest. On Saturday, June 26, Kidsfest is a full day of children's theater and other activities.
In addition to educational programs in the schools, the Springfield Arts Council has a winter concert series called "Broadway and Beyond" that brings in touring musicals and well-known singers.

Sources: www.springfieldartscouncil.org
Summer Arts Festival brochure
personal experience

 

 

How to Take a Photograph of a Group: The Bride and Groom Together

How to photograph groups and couples

We have all seen those family photo albums where every photograph looks the same. Where people stare straight into the camera with forced smiles. Where sulky children stand rigidly to attention as dad screams at them to keep still. Wedding groups where some of the bodies are obscured by big hats or lost in a sea of faces.

As the photographer this is not an easy task to undertake. You need to compose the picture, pose the individuals and get the lighting spot on. If just one individual moves at the wrong time or one of the children throws a tantrum you are in trouble. Group photography has so many things that can go wrong to spoil a picture from the human content to the lighting and weather. You can't account for everything but you can use a few tried and tested techniques to get the best results.

The word group signifies something working together for a set purpose. There may be many individuals in that group but they are one entity. Your task is to bring out the individuals within the photograph but keep them as a united group. With a wedding photograph it is a priority to have the bride and groom prominent in the picture but what about Aunt Agnes who is at the back of the group hidden behind Uncle Tom who is rather well built in all directions! You can't work miracles but you can juggle people around until you have everyone's head in the photograph. Keep the group tight without making the end result look as if they are being corralled in a sheep pen. On the other hand don't allow the picture to be too loose. Everyone should look comfortable and happy with their position and not as if they were the long lost relative no one wanted at the wedding.

Once you have the group where every face is visible and you are happy with the overall result take your photograph. Remember the people are in front of the camera and you are behind it. They cannot see what you can see. You are the only one who can say if it is working or not.

Couples

You meet a couple who have travelled over from Japan to enjoy your wonderful city. They have taken photographs of everything and now would like you to take a photograph of them in front of the local harbour. You take the camera, they stand in front of a lamp post so it looks like it has grown from the heads and you take the photograph. Would you do that? Hopefully you wouldn't, you ask them to move to a new location so the lamp post doesn't spoil the shot.

It is the same every time you take pictures of couples. It is your task to take best photograph you can and so you have to pose the couple. A couple has something that joins them together. They could be husband and wife, brother and sister, grandma and grandpa but there has to be a connection.

If they are in an intimate relationship then anything from holding hands to arms around each other's wastes brings the pose together. We are not showing two people in a photograph as if in a mug shot, we want to convey their relationship. Relationships should be warm and friendly and you need to express this in the photograph. Body contact has to be the best way to show this. You want a tight composition. One of the best ways to create that intimate feeling is for the couple to lean their heads towards each other.

If you are photographing a wedding and survived the group shot you will need shots of the bride and groom. There are probably millions of photographs out there where the bride and groom are standing side by side in the church doorway looking at the camera. All this type of shot says is 'here is the obligatory bride and groom shot'. These are two people who are going to spend their lives together and they have not married the camera they have married each other. They should be looking at one another not at the camera, their bouquet or a dog wandering through the churchyard. They should be engrossed with one another, or at least appear to be so.

Make it dramatic. If the groom has the bride in his arms he is not showing how strong he is. He should be looking down at his bride as she is looking up at him. Nothing else in the world matters, they are together.

Create a Story with Your Photographs!

When you hold a camera in your hand, you have the power to create! You are making memories! It could be a single image, or a story that breathes life into your photographs. If you scrapbook with your photos, then you are a story teller! So many times, however, the story they tell gets blurred by the photos you’re using. Photos can come from a variety of sources; friends, family members, business contacts, and yourself of course; and yet, many times these pictures, while appreciated, lose the focus of the very events that you’ve tried to capture in the scrapbook. This happens because the photos don’t capture the event effectively, but that’s sad considering how easily anyone can tell a photo story. If you take control of how you take your pictures, and use the following concepts, you’ll have created a photo story that will have people clearly understanding the story you are trying to tell.

The whole point of the scrapbook, often, is to tell a story of an event or a person. The event photos have the group together, but also the individuals involved. Often, the biggest problem is that the picture of your friend that is being showcased shows just a small image in the picture; in fact, you may not be able to recognize the image as being of your friend because they are so small in the photo that you didn’t know who they were! What is the point of that? If you can’t grasp the image of the event or person clearly, and quickly, you are losing the whole point of picture taking.

The solution is easier than you may imagine; it requires a small bit of planning before the event takes place. With the ideas I’m about to give you, the final product, your scrapbook or photo album will truly tell the story of the event or person, with a new style and grace.

A photojournalist, a person who works for a newspaper or magazine, is interested in telling a story with the photos they take. These images need to tell a story without any words. What would that look like? Imagine a Memorial Day party, the barbecue grill is fired up, the beer is in the cooler, and the conversation is flowing. To tell the story, look around you and see the events taking place, and start taking pictures. Are the kids throwing a football? Are the grandparents watching, or are they eating the chicken? Are the parents hanging out around the BBQ grill, or watching football on cable? Look around you and observe the ordinary, the extraordinary and the unforgettable. Even the most innocent of pictures may turn out to make a special memory.

Now, take multiple pictures of the events you are recording, but shoot them in a new way. Divide your event pictures into three categories; wide angle, medium angle and close up, and then shoot away. A wide shot is just that, a wide view of the event going on, and it establishes the location of the event being recorded. For example, a picture of kids playing football may show the kids on both sides of the game, with parents watching in the background. To get this kind of shot, zoom out as wide as your camera lens will go. A medium shot is not as wide, and includes pictures of a smaller area, like the kids on one side of the game, maybe in a huddle, or up at the line about to throw the ball. A close up would be a much closer picture of someone or something on the field doing something, like the ball on the ground or in the quarterback’s hand, or a receiver’s hand catching a pass. This type of shot of anything will, if effective, leave out the extra things around the sides, top and bottom of the picture, and just fixate on the item you are capturing. Those extra things could include trash cans, or trees, or basically anything not related to your image, things that will distract from your image and the story you are trying to tell, and it can confuse your viewer as to the point of the picture. To tell the story effectively, you need to have at least one wide shot of the event, five or six medium shots, and a couple dozen close ups of the individual parts of the event. If you are covering single individual, then follow these ideas with that individual in the shots, but still in the three basic styles. This variety will give you a lot to choose from when creating a photo story of the event or person. If you have an SLR type camera, that’s even better, as you can get very wide shots and close-ups, simply by changing lenses. But in the end, no matter what type of camera you have, you can follow these ideas in this article, and use them to tell a great story; the story of life!

Bottom line, photographers are telling stories with their images. But, what is the story? Is it a birthday party, or a Memorial Day picnic, or a wedding? Create a story with your images with the three basic picture styles, wide, medium and close up, and then group them together in your scrapbook to tell the story. Zoom into your friends; grab the close up shots that enliven your pictures. Suddenly your event scrapbook will come to life!

Finding a Performing Arts Summer Camp on a Budget

It can be difficult to find things for your child to do when school has abandoned them for the summer. This is where a summer camp could make things easier. While some kids are into sports and outdoor adventures, others prefer the performing arts. Finding a low-cost performing arts camp can be a challenge especially if your unsure of the outcome. Here are some suggestions that can help your kids enjoy the summer without flattening your wallet.

City community centers offer a wide range of summer camps and workshops in the performing arts category. This is a great way to find your child's interests without a lot of commitment. There are a few added bonuses while using a community center. One being the location. Most city's have centers placed throughout, so finding one close to your work or home shouldn't be a problem. Another being "no experience required." These camps are not picky. Having fun seems to be there main objective, so your child will probably feel less intimidated and more willing to participate. Last, who could forget the contribution to the community factor. The teachers are members of the community who receive a portion of the fee or high school kids trying to further their education. At either rate you know your hard earned money is going to a good cause. If your having trouble find one near you check out your state's web page, it should be under the park and recreation section.

For children who are specifically interested in acting, a local children's theater is the way to go. They offer summer camps for a variety of ages which range from beginner to advanced. Prices can run a little more with less locations available, but it's worth the experience. You child is taught by a trained actor and a performance usually follows the camp. I know from experience that space is limited in these facilities so being informed about registration dates and not procrastinating is a must.

Not all of us have the resources to send our child to a professional ballet school but don't fret there are other options. If your child is interested in dance but you don't know where to start, a camp is a great introduction. You might even find a school that offers a variety workshop so your child can get a feel for the different types of dance. Most local studios offer summer camps for a reasonable price. They are less competitive then high end companies and the experience is always appreciated when your child is ready to move up.

If your daughter is well on her way to becoming a rock star there is a camp in Portland Oregon that is right up your alley. The Rock N Roll camp for girls has gotten rave reviews and is worth checking out. Girls ages 8-18 are given an opportunity to create a real band as well as build confidence while they rock out. The camp offers 4 sessions which are all a week long. Tuition is fair but getting there could be an issue since it's in Portland. The only catch is you need to apply and space is limited. Checkout www.girlsrockcamp.org for more info.

A resourceful site to check out if you are interested in music camps is www.mustcreate.com. It's a sight aimed at music in schools, though under the "learn and find" tab there is a great deal of information on camps and teachers. You can search under a specific instrument which is helpful is you want to pick-up where school instrumental left off.

Finding an affordable performing arts camp for your child doesn't have to be painful. There are plenty of wallet saving options that come with an added bonus. When summer passes us by your child could still take classes through the facilities regular programs. Just be aware that most have limited space so don't procrastinate.

The American Academy of Dramatic Arts Summer Program

The American Academy of Dramatic Arts is the only school in the United States offering an actual degree in the field of acting. With Campuses in New York and Los Angeles the Academy offers the perfect proving ground for aspiring actors by helping them to develop into professionals while assisting with their personal growth.

Though the Academy has two campuses, the school functions as a single entity. For the young student who is yet unable to fully commit to a career, the American Academy of Dramatic Arts Summer Program is the perfect summer commitment to the young actors career.

The basic curriculum for the summer program includes Acting, Voice and Speech, Vocal Production, and Movement. The Acting track involves the students learning the importance elements crucial to their success at the craft of acting. The techniques used include student participation in improvisation and scene study exercises. Students are taught to find their truth in an imaginary circumstance. The Voice and Speech track students learn to hone their voice as an instrument by focusing on articulation, stress and phrasing, and intonation. The Vocal Production track works parallel to the Voice and Speech Track by reiterating the importance of the voice and speech as the actor's instrument. The Movement track focuses on basic dance techniques, and coordination with focus on the body as the instrument of the actor. Classes for all tracks of the basic curriculum are in session for four hours a day Monday through Thursday. Students also have the option of taking elective classes while at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts Summer Program. These elective include classes such as Fencing, Shakespeare and Audition Techniques, and Musical Theatre.

To be accepted into the American Academy of Dramatic Arts Summer Program, all prospective students must apply, audition, interview and provide photographs. Auditions require two contrasting monologues, one of comedic nature and the other dramatic. The monologues must be from published plays, one period and the other contemporary. They must be delivered by memory and should not exceed two minutes each. The application fee is $50.00, tuition is $1900.00, and additional electives costs $90.00 each. Classes for the summer session will begin on July 9, and end on August 16th.

For more information on the American Academy of Dramatic Arts Summer Program visit the Web site or call 1800-463-8990 for the New York Campus. For the Los Angeles campus call 1800-222-2867.

Online Photo Albums: A Safe Way to Store Your Pictures

When my last computer's hard drive died on me, I lost most of my pictures in the My Documents folder. I was devastated. Luckily, I had some of my favorite pictures stored online. If I didn't have those photos online, I would've lost them all. Don't let this happen to you. Upload your pictures to an online photo website where they will be kept safely, while you can still share them with your friends and family.

Social Networking Web sites ( www.myspace.com , www.facebook.com )

A fun way to share your pictures is with MySpace and Facebook. I'm sure other social networking websites have the picture option, but I only have experience using MySpace and Facebook so far. If you already have an account, you have the ability to share your pictures with all of your friends on that website who also have an account. Both social networking sites allow you to upload your personal photos to albums. Then, your friends can view your pictures and leave comments about them. If you set your account to private, then only your friends are able to see your pictures.

Picture Trail ( www.picturetrail.com )

You get your own homepage for your pictures, free to join, create slideshows, many different ways to personalize your albums from page borders to background music, free photo editing and uploading software, customized image hosting for other websites, camera phone uploads, optional password protection

My Photo Album ( www.myphotoalbum.com )

Unlimited photo storage, free to join, ability to add videos, add multiple pictures at one time with the "easy upload" tools, personalize your albums and choose from hundreds of different album layouts, decide whether you want your albums to be public or private, camera phone uploads, order prints and photo keepsakes right off the website

Shutterfly ( www.shutterfly.com )

Free to join, save on shipping with the ability to pick up prints at Target stores, unlimited photo storage, prints start at 12 cents each for 4×6, create a photo book, create greeting cards, excellent wedding accessories like save-the-dates and invitations, order gifts like calendars, apparel, picture frames and more, free photo software, optional password protection

Snapfish ( www.snapfish.com )

A photo sharing and ordering website by Hewlett Packard, free signup with 20 free prints, 9 cent prints for 4×6 pictures, create personalized gifts, ability to earn free credits and free stuff from Snapfish, upload videos, add contacts to an address book for easy sharing of pictures, cheap shipping charges, unlimited albums

Photo Bucket ( www.photobucket.com )

Free to join, upload up to 10,000 pictures, image hosting service for other websites, upload videos, room for hours of video, share pictures on your MySpace, Facebook, or blog page, create slideshows, find and download pictures

Webshots ( www.webshots.com )

One of the most popular online photo sharing websites, free to join, share photos, get free wallpaper and screensavers from this site, download pictures, order prints and customized keepsakes, full screen slideshows, free software download, Webshots toolbar for Internet Explorer

Wal-Mart Digital Photo Center ( www.walmart.com)

Free to join, upload unlimited pictures, order prints and gifts, pictures can be delivered to your home or picked up at a Wal-Mart store, prints start at 9 cents each for 4×6, create group rooms where your friends and family can upload pictures to one specific private group, free software to upload pictures

I have used all of the above services for both print ordering and online photo storage. I haven't had a problem with any of the websites, and I will continue to use them. However, there are hundreds of other websites that you can use, not just the ones I reviewed. Right now, my main photo storage websites have been Picture Trail and Webshots, and I order my prints from either Walmart or Snapfish. Look around to see which website is for you, since they all have great features to offer to you. Don't worry about strangers viewing your pictures, since most of these websites offer password protection that only your friends and family need to know about. I recommend using password protection if you're able to do so. Once you have your pictures online, you can access them on any computer with internet access, and you won't have to worry about carrying a disc or USB drive around with you. Online photo albums are a great way to share pictures, and store them at the same time without having to worry about creating a backup.

Autism and a Trip to the Photographer

Every new mother knows that family, friends, and work colleagues all expect to see pictures of the new baby. So the new mother dutifully trudges her sleep deprived self off to the photographer for pictures. As the years progress things get easier with the exception of the toddler/preschooler years. Children wear cute little outfits, hair is neatly brushed and shoes are carefully selected.

Mother despite not being in the picture puts on a crisp clean outfit brushes her hair and teeth. Puts on matching shoes and purse and slips into her slightly messy but still stylish car. As she arrives at the photographers she sees another mother. A mother in a dirty shirt, messy hair, and large black circles under her eyes with a screaming toddler. The well dressed mother sits with her quiet children and leaves with perfectly nice pictures. Her children are well posed and spotless. She does not say a word to the other mother quietly thinking to herself good discipline does wonders and that woman must not…….in short be a good mother.

The morning of the photography shoot begins with waking up. First the child must be given his breakfast and vitamins. Then the child must be bathed and dressed. Keep in mind this involves screaming for food and screaming as you put the child in the tub and out of the tub. Then more screaming as hair is brushed. Let us not forget any other children that must be fed washed and changed/taken potty. When all that is done the kitchen must be cleaned then mom gets to get dressed. With a bit of luck the time comes to brush my own teeth. Soon it is time to put the shoes on both children and to try to put 2 small children into car seats. So carefully the baby is put in the car seat while holding the hand of the toddler. Finally both children are in the car seats and safe. The drive to the photographer is uneventful.

Getting out of the car involves putting the baby in her stroller and taking a backpack then holding the toddlers hand as we slowly walk to the photographers. As we walk into the photographer the toddler begins to get anxious and fuss. Carefully you sit down with the baby and toddler but he begins to look around and spots a television. He begins pushing buttons over and over. Then he begins trying to run away and finally he spots the computer on the shelf and begins pushing the drawer where the keyboard is located. He begins opening it and closing it. As the sales clerk gives you a black look. The phone rings and you wait despite having arrived on time. He pounds the keyboard and keeps returning to the keyboard despite you putting on a movie for him. The other mothers look at you distastefully.

You carefully bring your screaming child over to sit near you and ask if they are ready. The salesclerk puts her hand over the phone and looks at you. In a moment Mam she says.

Finally we are taken back for the photographer to take his pictures. She sets up the scenes but he won't smile or sit in the scene instead he goes to the computer. The look in his eyes when I put him back in the perfect scene is fear. He is terrified of the artificial scene and the toys that go along with it. Finally he relaxes and we get a picture of him playing with a blanket…playing peek a boo. He's smiling. There are no cute props there are no cute backgrounds just my child who was terrified of all that and a blanket smiling and playing a game of peek a boo. We go out and he tries to run away from me and the baby. I catch him and pay while holding his hand the pen and keeping a knee on the stroller.

The woman sitting and waiting to do her photos looks at me and shakes her head in disgust. I don't care I walk out of there with a treasure more precious than gold. My little boy is smiling.

Little Photo Books for Baby

We all love to look at our babies. They also love looking at us! The ideas below are cute little photo books. Not only are they great little picture books, they are also great little teaching tools. Pictures of family members and other objects provide visual stimulation. Reading the words provides speech and word recognition. Have fun making these little books for your baby and for your friends. They will love the thoughtful idea.

The Book Ingredients:

Cardboard (stiffer) for the cover

Cardboard (slightly flexible) for the inside pages

Photos

Yarn (large fluffy yarn or many strands of regular yarn will work)

Markers (safe, colorful)

Glue (non-toxic)

Instructions:

Take photos of family members, pets, favorite dolls or stuffed animals, etc. Make the photos full face and large enough to fill about half the page.

Cut 2 pieces of the stiffer cardboard about 5" square for the book cover. Make a fold line about ½" from the edge. This ½" area will be the bookbinding. The binding can be at the left side or the top, whichever you prefer.

Cut as many inside pages as you wish from the slightly flexible cardboard. Cut these about 4" to 4-1/2" square. Again, create the fold line for the bookbinding for each page.

At this point you could actually use the markers to color each page. Let dry well before applying the photos.

Use a hole punch to create 2 nicely spaced holes on each cover and page. These holes will be where you pull the yarn through at the end of the project. Make sure all holes are properly aligned.

Cut out each family face and glue to a page.

Using safe, colorful markers, print the family member's name below the photo.

Make as many pages as you like. Do not make so many pages that they are hard to for baby to maneuver.

Assemble the little book, weaving the yarn through the 2 holes from back to front. Tie off in a pretty bow.

At this point, you could take another piece of yarn and pull through the top hole only, creating a yarn loop to tie onto baby's stroller or high chair. Make yarn loop just large enough, but not so long baby could get caught up in it.

Hints:

Construction paper and painted cardboards can make the project more colorful. Be sure your "ingredients" are non-toxic!

More "Book" Ideas:

Book of Toys

Book of Household Objects

Book of Farm Animals

Book of Other Baby FacesBook of Trains, Planes, and Automobiles