My mom always made every holiday special growing up. It was never anything extravagant, stuffy or over the top – just simple little things that said, “This day is special! Let’s celebrate!” I am not very good at doing the same. Thankfully, I live close to my parents. My mom and my mother-in-law never miss a holiday. Cards, candy, trinkets – all the things I never buy. Grandparents are pretty amazing.

My mother-in-law dropped off goodies and special treats to surprise the kids when they woke up on Valentines Day. My mom hosted a little Valentines party for all her grandkids. Well, minus the youngest grandson. He is only 4 months old, but my boys were a bit disgruntled that he wasn’t in attendance representing Team Boys. I told them next year.

I snuck over to the party for a few minutes to check it out. My mom had all the kids laughing with a game that rewarded any ping pong ball landing in a cup with a M&M. (Yes, I know college students play a game with a different prize…kids don’t know that).

50mm, ISO 400, 1/800, f/2.8

2.16Valentines-0150mm, ISO 400, 1/640, f/2.82.16Valentines-0250mm, ISO 400, 1/800, f/2.82.16Valentines-0350mm, ISO 400, 1/800, f/2.8 – chocolate…she was obviously having a great day!2.16Valentines-0450mm, ISO 400, 1/800, f/2.82.16Valentines-0550mm, ISO 400, 1/800, f/2.82.16Valentines-06

My 4 year old recently developed a new ‘smile at the camera face.’ As soon as she sees me taking a picture of her, her new smile automatically pops up. It makes me laugh each time. No matter how much I try to tell her to just smile normal….this is her new normal. I always snap one or two of these smiles because I want to remember this phase and I don’t want to discourage her willingness to let me photograph her.

50mm, ISO 400, 1/500, f/2.82.16Valentines-07Photo tip: In order to get a natural smile, I have to catch her when she doesn’t realize I have my camera out. While she is looking another direction, I will get in place and get my settings correct. Then, I will wait for something to cause her to smile and I’ll say something to get her attention. Usually, I have about a second to snap the photo before the double chin awkward posed smile returns. If you have a ‘poser’, you might try that method for capturing a more natural smile.

50mm, ISO 400, 1/500, f/2.8

2.16Valentines-08CLICKHEREphototips

back to top share on facebook tweet this post pin site image email a friend
  • Anniken - My 4 year old is also a poser… he started doing this a cople of months ago… its so hard to get a nice photo of him, but for now we getting tons of funny strange smiles photos… hoping he is back to normal smiles before summer! (and then my youngest who turns 4 in july probably starts).
    But its also good to have to start to take photos a little different, because different views are not always bad.
    And what smart and fun game to play for the kids… think i’ll have to copy that.

  • JenW - Ah, we entered the awkward forced smile phase this year too! My 6yo looks like a serial killer with his crazy eyes opened so wide white shows all around and teeth baring smile. I crack up every time!

  • Emily @everydaymom - Your photos are so beautiful! My 6-year-old STILL has that fake posed smile. I think it comes from having a mom who takes your photo all the time! :)

  • Rae - Adorable photos! Grandparents are the best!!
    And that smile…lol! :)

  • Byron - She’s four? I had thought her much younger!

    I take it the M&Ms are in the cup on top of the upside-down popcorn box? Or is there a different special reason for having that propped up there? Just wondering….

  • Krystle - Super cute! My daughter (now 7) can get a blank stare kind of smile in pictures… so I ask her for a giggle smile! Then her eyes light up!
    Love seeing your littles! Thanks for sharing your family with us!

  • katie T - I always have to do something stupid to make my eldest son (17) smile naturally. I guess I should be thankful that he smiles instead of rolls his eyes…

  • Maureen - Oh that girl! What a beauty!
    Is this new phase pre or post op? I just wondered if the muscles and her perception of them may be different since the latest op.
    Anyway, she’s gorgeous and those eyes are to melt for!

  • Michelle - So beautiful! My daughters have gone through stages like that. For some of them, it is still hard to “smile” for a picture.

    What a tremendous gift your children have in their grandparents. I do so hope to get to be that for my grand children!

    grace and peace be yours.

  • AshleyAnn - Maureen – it is pre-op 😉

Last month I began putting together a new lesson for the SnapShop site – tips and ideas related to telling the story of your business or cause. About a year ago I began working with a friend on a concept for a workshop for business owners focused on the importance of telling your story as a business. Eventually our brainstorming also led to include causes (non-profits) because many of the same concepts apply. We ended up not doing the workshop, so I developed my content into a new lesson for the SnapShop site. This new lesson was launched over the weekend!

The lesson will give you tips regarding photography and will also touch on my recommendations for using social media to propel your business or cause forward. You can see all the other lessons, including the main DSLR and Phone courses, on the SnapShop website.

Today and tomorrow I am offering $10 off your SnapShop registration.

Use the code businesscause10 when you register. Expires Feb. 17, 2016.

back to top share on facebook tweet this post pin site image email a friend
  • Aisha - Heyaaa Amazing blog keep it up, really enjoying it please check out mine and comment thank you! :)

You can read all my posts about my time in Ecuador with Compassion International last week by scrolling back a couple posts. Yesterday and today I am sharing a handful of pictures that did not make it into those posts, but ones I wanted archived here.

We were able to see so many different areas of Ecuador – all breathtaking in different ways.

EcuadorSites-01EcuadorSites-02EcuadorSites-03EcuadorSites-04EcuadorSites-06EcuadorSites-07EcuadorSites-08EcuadorSites-09EcuadorSites-10EcuadorSites-11EcuadorSites-12EcuadorSites-13EcuadorSites-14EcuadorSites-15EcuadorSites-16EcuadorSites-17EcuadorSites-18 Ecuador is such a beautiful country with gracious and friendly people. And the best empanadas and ceviche I have ever tasted…ever.

back to top share on facebook tweet this post pin site image email a friend
  • Rae - Wow, Ashley! I love how your pictures can be so inspiring!
    Hope Little One is doing better. Can’t wait to see her beautiful smile! <3
    :)

  • Byron - Magic with a camera! Capturing things the way you do is quite a talent. Beautiful pictures!

  • Lacey - Ashley, each and every post you’re sharing about Ecuador is remarkable, moving, humbling and inspiring. Thank you so much for bringing us into your experience. <3

  • carla - i hadnt the time last week to say anything, but better late than never :) for Corbett : if you want to learn Spanish there’s a great app & website called duolingo. If you dont already use it check it out! For any others wanting to learn languages it does french and german and all kinds as well.
    otherwise, spend a good week together y’all. rest well

  • Ramona - Looks a lot like Romania. :)

  • Samantha - Wow! These photos are stunning. I love the vibrant colors. Looks like a beautiful place. Your stories you’ve been sharing about Ecuador are humbling.