***I have limited internet access right now. The giveaway winners will be announced by Monday.****

Last week I got an email (and a few blog comments) saying that something I made was featured on The Today Show. What? Are you kidding? It was in the middle of family festivities, but as soon as I could sneak away to watch the clip online I did.

Do you remember this project I did for Design*Sponge?

Ummm….there it is on The Today Show!!!

I wasn’t sure how to even respond to finding that out. So very wild. There was no credit given to Design*Sponge or to me which was a bit of a bummer since they obviously didn’t take the concept and make it their own…just copied mine. I’m not going to go into details, but the whole thing was not the Today Show’s fault. Honestly it really didn’t get under my skin too much. The reality is I have no aspirations for a career in the diy/craft world. I am beyond honored that I get to contribute to Design*Sponge and be a part of such an incredible collection of creativity. However, I am doing exactly what I want to be doing right now.

Shortly after I got the crazy news about The Today Show I got an email from my new friend Betsy of Elizabeth St.. She shared with me how seeing me go out on a limb to give handmade gifts this year inspired her to do the same. THEN she attached some photos of a few of the gifts she gave. I asked her permission to share them with you here because I know you’ll love them and they’ll inspire you too….and she posted a tutorial for the pillows yesterday. I would have been over the moon to get one of these!

I love the dandelion painting. Now I wish I could ask everyone I painted dishes for to give them back to me and let me start over.

So many of you have also shared photos on my Facebook page of things you have made from inspiration you found here. I haven’t had the chance to comment on all of them – yet. I share projects here because I really like to boss people around. Really, I do. I am the oldest kid. A tutorial in the most basic sense is a list of detailed instructions given to someone else. I find great joy in making tutorials because I really like to tell people what I think they should do! πŸ™‚

On a serious note, I like to create and share those creative endeavors for lots of reasons. The Today Show (with or without credit) is cool – obviously it is cool, but hearing that some odd thing I come up inspires others to create something beautiful is a lot more rewarding for me.


And on a side note for those interested….

Rambling Renovators is doing a ‘Blog Tour’ this week. They are introducing their favourite blogs and linking to favourite posts. It is a fun way to get a glimpse at new blogs. Mine is among those featured today. Most of the blogs featured are design related…and then there is random me. I’m grateful to be among them.

Most of you know I am also a contributor to Design Aglow. If you are a photographer or love playing with Photoshop, Design Aglow has tons of resources for you. Right now the annual sale is going on. When purchasing enter the coupon code happy2011 at the end of your purchase and get 15% off everything!

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  • Betsy Jo - Thank you so much, Ashley! So, this is kind of my Today show moment- being featured on your blog. Best to you in the New Year!

  • Aunt Sandy - Great post, Ashley. It’s nice to share your talent with the world and have it apprecitated. Even if the Today Show/BHG didn’t give you credit, we all know who’s great idea it was. Now, as for giving back your (MY) painted dish I got for Christmas, NO WAY, NO HOW!!! I love it! For me, getting hand made gifts, like your plate and Lesley’s artwork, are the best gifts of all. They come from the heart. Thanks

  • RachelC - I know you don’t care about “credit,” but the fact that the Today show stole from you and Design Sponge is low. I knew I liked Good Morning America for a reason.

    I do love that calendar. I’m actually going to attempt it…..and I also love that yellow pillow. As soon as I learn how to sew….I’m going to attempt that too. Look at all my crafty goals for 2011!!!

    Hope you are well. Feels like I haven’t talked to you in forever.

  • Lindsay - Um how cool is that?>!??! Congrats! Even if they didn’t give you credit. We should start a huge internet search on “ashley ann photography diy calendar” – hehe. We’ll have your name at the top of the yahoo most searched “things” in the day! I love love love all of your ideas/crafts/photography tips…everything. You’re amazing!

  • amanda torres - I’m glad it doesn’t bother you that your idea wasn’t credited, everyone who knows what’s right knows you should have been. At the very least, Design*Sponge should have been listed as a source. Regardless, you are very talented and have a great peace of where God has you right at this very moment. That’s the coolest part of this story!

  • Jen - i saw that one design sponge when looking through their diy’s last week and was SO excited that i found it before the new year began so i can start. i didn’t realize that it was from YOU! thanks for the inspiration and i’m shaking my head in disappointment at the today show. CONGRATS though!!

  • Charlotte - You know what?! Theirs looks like yours, but just a little less nice. I mean usually you at least try to make it better when you steal an idea, but they really did a poor job… And I don’t think it is ok that they steal your idea, but good for you if you don’t let that bother you. Thanks for the tutorials!

  • nicole - Ashley – made your diy calendar’s for my best friends for christmas and cannot tell you how thrilled and moved they were by them! Thanks for inspiring me with your amazing creativity!!

  • Felicia - I love those pillows. I can’t sew…2011 hope would include purchasing a sewing machine and learning how to use it.

    I love your design sponge calendar journal..I am not one for writing down thoughts too often, but want to make that so that I can have a year of memories of funny things that my son says.

    I also want to make one to use for school..I teacher preschoolers with special needs & the funniest things tend to happen. I think a book at the end of the year would be hilarious.

  • Jen Helbert - yours is definitely nicer looking, but look at it this way, you are inspiring- even the today show thinks it!

  • Tammy - I made your calendar for my best friend for Christmas. She loves it! I’ll have to post a picture on Facebook. Now if only I had the time to make one for myself…. πŸ™‚

  • Krista Lund - bummer about not being credited, but still oh so very cool!
    you are so very cool!!

  • Anna - Wow, that is so cool that your project was on the Today Show! That’s really lame that they didn’t credit you or Design Sponge as well. You’re taking this a lot more calm than I would’ve! Anyways, I don’t know why you feel like your blog is not a design blog…it REALLY is. You inspire all of your readers day in and day out with your style and DIYS. You’re one of my top design inspirations! πŸ™‚

  • Kristy Life n Reflection Photography - Wow, I can’t believe the today show did that! Congrats anyway!!

  • Ashley Hasty - I’m new to your blog. Found you through the Great Reads 2010! I look forward to following your blog (I am now your newest follower!) in 2011!

    <3 Ashley

  • Jessica - i saw that on the today show while i was stamping out my own cards for my 2 sil’s! they loved them and i can’t wait to start writing moments on jan 1!

  • Amber - Oh my goodness…I NEVER get to watch the today show and I actually watched this episode! I actually wondered at the time if you knew you had a product being featured. You are so modest and humble…they should have gave credit for the idea! Love your stuff Ashley! You inspire me to get off my duff and do something everytime I look at your site!

  • KaraM - Your idea was on the Today Show! So cool!!

  • Linda - I loved your design sponge journal and it inspired me to make some for my daughters and myself. http://mommystreasures.blogspot.com/2010/12/handmade-holidays.html

    I tried to find the clip on Today Show so that I could leave a comment giving you creit, but wasn’t able to find it.

  • Marie - That is flattering that they used your idea even though a shout out would have been nice! πŸ˜‰ I made your calendar journal too for my grandma and one for myself…they turned out super cute! Thanks for the great idea!

  • Courtney - Wow! That is a total swipe of your idea…I guess I’d be flatter but a bit ruffled as well…you should send Hoda and KLG an email and maybe they’d have you on for a glass of wine!

  • reyanna - I so admire your humility! I’d be kinda miffed… as in, more miffed than you are. πŸ˜‰ Actually, I’m miffed *for* you, and I’m now thinking, “I wonder what other ideas they found on the internet and passed as their own…” *sigh* I just think you should have had a credit/subtitle or *something*. It would have been nice for them to mention where they found these ideas. πŸ™‚ I saw your idea ALL OVER the internet. Literally… five different places or something. But each one credited you. πŸ™‚

    Anywho, you DO inspire… And probably in ways you don’t expect. I’m a scrapbooker, and I actually was inspired by your frame display in FireCracker’s room (I’d love to know your kids’ names! LOL). See here: http://www.studiocalico.com/forums/galleries/show/18440

    I love that you’re in my Google Reader, and I get to read you just about every day. Thank you so much for sharing your ideas and life with us! πŸ™‚

  • rachel denbow - Hey, Ashley. I saw that live (and only because I was in a hotel getting ready for the day) and instantly felt bothered for you and Design*Sponge. I know you’re a classy lady and are handling it nicely and admire you for that. Well done.

    Just to clarify so that the Today Show doesn’t get too abused by anyone, it was a segment presented by Better Homes & Gardens, which were the ones who presented the DIY’s without proper credit. I’m assuming there were other projects that weren’t original designs, either. Anyway,it’s probably some intern who didn’t pass along the right info to a presenter, etc.

    It’s probably pretty satisfying to know that it was of the kind of quality that caught someone’s eye at least! πŸ˜‰ As always, great stuff over here friend.

  • Yanet - First of all, Betsy’s pillow and plates came out adorable!!! Really, I can’t decide which one I love best. the dandelion is so simple and classy and the pillow is so colorful and fun! I want to buy that pillow!

    Second, I’m a big Today Show fan and I like to think that what happened was that the people they had to bring in the segment above basically scoured blogland for ideas. I’ve seen the chalkboard paint globe in blogland as well. Not right to not give credit. Not right at all.

    That’s all I have to say about that. Off to Betsy’s shop to see if by chance she’s selling those pillows!

  • Ruth - I loved that calendar idea when you posted it and I am disgusted that they didn’t give you credit. Very uncool. You are a better person than me for taking it all with a grain of salt.

  • anna - that’s cool about the today show, but a bit of a bummer they didn’t mention any credits. love the betsy jo projects. you are very inspiring. πŸ™‚

  • emily anderson - i love betsy and that stuff she made is fabulous!

  • Jenny B. - So cool about the DIY calendar being on the Today Show! You handled it (not getting credit) with such grace. πŸ™‚ I’ve been tempted to do one for myself, but I am so long winded. I think I would stress over writing just one little thing each day. Ha! Love those pillows! Her space makes me think of Meg over on whatever – with the pillows, the letters spelling out “read” the little globe, and the typewriter. All things I love… maybe I would love her blog too! πŸ™‚

  • meg duerksen - awesome.
    all of it.
    soooo cool.

  • Layla Palmer - I had that same thing happen recently. Found out a big department store in Australia is actually reproducing and selling my Quoteboxes. I tried contacting them a few times, but no one ever writes back. πŸ™
    I guess it’s bound to happen, but it doesn’t make it an easier when it does!

    Anywho, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and thank you for sharing your amazing blog with all of us. I LOVE IT! πŸ™‚


  • kelley - I saw your project on the Today Show! I knew it was yours πŸ™‚

  • kari - Congratulations! Even if you didn’t get the credit, there are a lot of bloggie friends that know you’re fantastic! XOOX

  • Caroline @ The Feminist Housewife - I’m sad the Today Show didn’t give you credit; but we all know where the idea came from!! You are awesome and so creative! Hope you have a happy new year!

  • Laurie J - I am inspired by your humility when it comes to your creativity. Seriously. I’ve been reading your blog for sometime now and I can tell it’s real.

  • Jennifer - You’re so classy and humble. That’s one of the great things about you and your blog – you give and share your ideas so freely without expectation of return. They still should have credited you and design*spong though. And you ARE a design blog! One of my favourites! Everything from Firecracker’s room to your kitchen table and chairs to your DIYs is so inspiring. But most of all, I find your outlook on motherhood so refreshing and inspiring as well. Thanks so much for joining my blog tour πŸ™‚

  • CharlaL - #1 you are sooooo nice! #2 I just looked up the clip…She did it wrong and she didn’t do it as nice and…she didn’t give credit! UGH

  • Brooke Whitis - Ashley..I am not surprised at all that you are on the Today Show…and it makes it even cooler that you are just being yourself….sharing things that you create. Pretty awesome. I think you should tell the Today Show that you don’t mind that your idea was on with no credit, but that they should do a feature on your home…and design…:) Just a thought..Happy New Year!

  • Linden - just so you know (and I know I’m not The Today Show) but I made 2 of the DIY journals for my mom and mother in law and somewhat made them my own. (I put them in brown craft boxes with lids I got from Hobby Lobby because I couldn’t find any of the fruit boxes… plus I wanted to add a little bit of my own flair and decorated the boxes too). I gave you all the credit of course for the idea and my sis in law loved it so much that we are having a craft date to make some more for friends. thank you for the great idea.

  • Cindy - It’s a shame they didn’t give you credit for your lovely perpetual journal. I loved the idea. Not crafty enough to make your design, but I’ve bought myself a book and have started my own perpetual journal. What fun it will be to read in a few years time!

  • Callie - Your perpetual journal was on moneysavingmom.com today too! Such a neat idea!

Right before Christmas I got a lot of requests to do some pointers concerning using a flash for indoor pictures. I have some great equipment for setting up all kinds of flash lighting scenarios, but I’ve never invested the time into really learning it all. Most of my life involves a lot of motion so studio lighting doesn’t really come in handy for what I do. I’d love to learn one day, but for now I just manage with my external flash on the fully automatic mode.

Most dslr cameras come with a built in flash (mine does not). If you take a lot of pictures in settings where you must use a flash I recommend investing in an external flash that swivels up and down and side to side a full 180 degrees both directions. I have a Canon 430EX speedlight and a 580EX Speedlight. Unless you want to really dive into flash photography I would recommend buying another brand like Vivitar instead of Canon or Nikon. With a flash you really just need a burst of light and the ability to swivel the direction it points in. In my not so professional opinion, buying a Canon or Nikon flash is really only necessary if you want to do more complicated flash photography…which I can’t tell you anything about but I recommend checking out The Strobist.

Most dslr cameras have the ability to attach an external flash. There is a little metal bracket on the top of the camera (on top of the built in flash) this is called a Hot Shoe Mount. This is where the external flash connects to your camera.

This is what an external flash with a swivel head looks like:

Christmas Eve Eve (the night before Christmas Eve) my family sleeps together under the Christmas tree. It is dark and necessary for me to use a flash. I thought I’d share a few examples in regards to using an external flash on automatic mode & your camera on automatic mode.

The first three examples are related to how a flash can ruin the ‘setting’ of an indoor photo. The first photo is too blurry because once I turned off my flash my camera slowed down my shutter speed. This meant my hand was not steady enough to take the picture without getting a blurry shot. The second photo is with the flash and it is just all around yucky. The third photo I turned off my flash, manually chose a slow shutter but set the camera on a chair for stability to prevent blur.

On these three photos I will show you how using an external flash with a swivel head yields a totally different result depending on where you point the flash. A major thing to keep in mind when you change the direction of your flash is that it will reflect whatever color it is pointed towards. If you point it towards a taupe wall, you will get a taupe feel to the photo. If you point it at a blue wall, your photo will have a blue hue. It is best to point towards a white wall, sheet, poster board, etc. If something white is not available you can use a diffuser (ask about it at your local camera store).

Secondly, keep in mind where you point your flash determines which parts of your subject receive the most light. Since most ceilings are white, it is common for people to point their flash up at the ceiling. This can result with a great photo, but it can also result in ‘racoon eyes’ or eyes that have dark circles around them because they aren’t in the direct path of the light coming down after it hits the ceiling. You can see the difference if you pay attention to my son’s eyes in these three photos.

Though the first photo of my son has great color and clarity, the direct flash took away the background and makes it a harshly lighted photo.

Well those are all the example photos I took because coming up with a photo tutorial for my blog was not my priority….eating popcorn on my bed with 5 other people watching a Christmas movie was much more important. Hopefully those few photos and tips will help you a bit.

Here are a few other random photos from the night:

After bath curls….makes my heart melt.

Her dainty ladylike ways of eating…makes her brother’s hearts melt.

I know this photo is completely blurry. I am a quick photo deleter at most signs of blur, but this one I just don’t have the heart to delete. Could be my favorite Christmas Eve Eve 2010 photo.

And yes….my 4 year old cuddles Lego Luke Skywalker at all times….cuddles and chews that is.

I’d love to hear your feedback on if this post made sense!

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  • Kirsten - It makes perfect sense! Thanks so much for sharing. I just got a Nikon speedlight before Christmas – I tried taking pictures of the dress rehearsal of my kiddo’s Christmas program with it, but the pictures I took without flash came out so much better. I was a little disappointed – obviously I still have a lot to learn. πŸ™‚ Thanks for the tips!!

    P.S. Those after-bath curls would make my heart melt, too – and the “dainty eating” pic literally had me laughing out loud. Love it. πŸ™‚

  • Margie - Totally made sense…thanks for the info! I have been wanting to get an external flash for a while so this post helped! Great pics :0).

  • megan - Great post. What’s funny is that growing up, my family always slept under the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve. I did it up until I got married. To be honest I don’t miss the aching back, but I do miss the tradition a little. Maybe we’ll have to do something like that with our kids.

  • Jen - save that pic of firecracker eating popcorn FOREVER! that face is SO perfect!

    I have a flash built into my camera (which i just got for Christmas!!! Ay Ay Ay) so I don’t think I have the capabilities to point it in different directions to get the different effects you mentioned. But for a pretty dimmly lit house, no flash and a high ISO turned out pretty well!

    I’m now going to rummage through all your past pic posts and try and school myself in the art of memory catching…photography style. Thanks for sharing all your wisdom!!

  • ashley jensen - I think it was helpful. I like the suggestion of using a poster board is great. A foam one would be best so it could be propped up easily.

  • Sarah - Great post, I think the light bulb just went on for me on how to use flash, it was frustrating me before. Now I need a swivel!!

  • Raechel - Thanks for this, it was really helpful! I’ve been considering purchasing an additional flash for my rebel as recently as last night. This post came in perfect time! Thanks for all the example photos.

  • TidyMom - would it be weird if I said I LOVE YOU?! hahaha……..were you reading my mind? I’m dying that I didn’t get an external flash before Christmas, (I just tried a coffee filter over my on camera flash)…..so an external flash is on my must have list! and I’ve been worried because I have no idea how to use it!!

    You also have me excited about trying out the Vivitar brand instead of the Nikon….so I can save a few bucks and buy one sooner!!

    Thanks again and have a very happy new year!!

    PS……….I’m NOT weird, I promise! haha

  • Kimberly - GREAT post! Thanks for going over external flash and giving us a look at your family’s Christmas Eve Eve =)

  • Mandy - thanks so much – I have an external flash but don’t know much about what to do with it – –

  • Kelly - Totally made sense! We had a sleepover by the Christmas tree on Christmas night and I tried to get a good shot of all my boys in their sleeping bags with just the tree for light and it didn’t work very well. Now I know for next time. πŸ™‚ Thanks!

  • Tricia - This was a great post, Ashley. I am a visual learner, so this is the kind of tut. that I love!


  • Tricia - This was a great post, Ashley. Visual learning tuts. are right up my alley. I got an external flash as an Anniversary gift this year and it was much needed at Christmas.
    Merry (belated) Christmas to you and the family.


  • hearttypat - well, i rented a canon flash before just for funsies, and i never figured out how to use it. I tried poiting it in all directions and sometimes i just don’t see a difference.. and then there’s the exposure setting to garner a headache over.. maybe I’m better off with steady hands.

  • Melissa - Great tips and very timely. I’m considering using some Christmas money for an external flash. Thank you!

  • Liz - Thank you!

  • Katherine - Thank you for posting this! I received a speedlight for Christmas, but it only rotates up and down. If you decide to do another flash tutorial, I’d love to know how to compensate for that to avoid the raccoon eyes!

  • Lacy M. - I just wrote down everything you posted!!! All your tips are easy to understand for the not so savvy photography, aka ME!!! Thanks so much!!!

  • Amy - It totally made sense… and even for someone who’s not liking to get an external flash any time soon, the takeaway was so easy to remember!

  • Caroline - Great post! Very helpful!

  • Anna - I always wondered how people got such good indoor photos that weren’t blurry! Now I know to invest in external flash! Thanks for the tips!

  • Tammy - Yes, perfect sense! The photos help so much. And other tutorials never have the adorable subjects in their shots. Please, when you can, keep those mini tutorials coming! πŸ™‚

  • Marykay - This makes total sense, thank you! I have been putting off getting an external flash because I had no idea where to start, so this is very helpful for me. I really like your Christmas Eve Eve tradition too. I want to do something similar but so far have not been brave enough πŸ™‚

  • caro - Thanks for share, but I know nothing about pics, i don’t understand about “f” or about ISO, when can I use it?, i’m beginer about pics and cameras. Love, love, love, the last picture.

  • caro - Thanks%20for%20share%2C%20but%20I%20know%20nothing%20about%20pics%2C%20i%20don’t%20understand%20about%20%22f%22%20or%20about%20ISO%2C%20when%20can%20I%20use%20it%3F%2C%20i’m%20beginer%20about%20pics%20and%20cameras.%20Love%2C%20love%2C%20love%2C%20the%20last%20picture.

  • Mariah - Thanks for posting this! I’m a scardey cat of the flash… I don’t have an external flash yet, but my pop up flash… ick. An external flash is on my wish list. Maybe it will help me be a bit braver. πŸ™‚

  • ria - thanks for sharing. it was very easy to understand. you are the best.

  • Kimber - This was SO helpful! I never really understood why people got those expensive flash attatchers that changed directions! And these pictures showed chrystal clear why they could be useful and how to use them. Thank you!

  • Kimber - This was SO helpful! I never understood why people got those expensive flash attatchers that changed directions! And these pictures showed crystal clear wy they could be useful and show how to use them. Thank you!!

  • Simone - This is a great post. I have been trying to decide whether or not to buy an external flash and you have convinced me. I never use my in-built flash because the pics look terrible. I prefer to live with the slightly blury, the slightly more orange pics you get in very low light without use of a flash. Seeing your pics side-by-side with the external flash let me see what it would do so thanks!

  • colleen - Every time i read one of your posts about photography, i realize how much i have to learn… i really know NOTHING! What is sad is that i took a class on photojournalism in college and did EVERYTHING on manual. Cannot remember one iota of it now! I think i too will read all of your camera related posts as a tutorial and try to get back to shooting manually. Thanks for sharing your expertise!

  • margaret - It makes perfect sense. My husband is a photographer and I’m always bugging him about taking pictures, so he’s been trying to show me how to use his camera. He showed me how to put my hand up over the pop up flash when the camera is on automatic to get something similar. Great tips! Thanks!

  • Dani - definitely made a lot of sense, and im excited to now try some things out with my flash, as it has been kept hidden by my fear of trying it! thanks!

  • Hannah - Makes total sense. I used my external flash pointed toward a white wall with most of my Christmas pics…it was a necessity.

    I never realized the importance of a speedlight flash until I borrowed one from a photographer friend for an indoor party. After that, I realized it was going to have to be a staple in my camera bag. Can’t live without it.

  • Kristin - Very nice post. I like how you showed the different options – it makes good sense, and is helpful if I ever get a swivel flash – which I really do want now! Great photos – Firecracker is so sweet!

  • Robyn Farmer - Makes total sense. Thank you so much for the tips. All of my Holiday pictures came out with a yellow tone to them because I didn’t use a flash and had bad lighting. I just edited them with a vintage feel so the yellowness seemed somewhat intentional but I hope I can soon get a flash so I wont have to do that. Always love your photo tips.

  • Amy Sargeant - Thank you. I just actually broke down and bought a speedlight just for our low-ly lit Christmas morning and I don’t know why I dragged my feet about it. It helps so much. I’ve been playing around with bouncing the flash too and it makes all the difference. Thanks for the tutorial and for your time.

  • D'On - Thanks for the tip. It was extremely helpful. I see a new investment in the near future.

  • Carrie Rosalind - So sweet! Thanks for the tips – makes me want an external flash now! πŸ™‚

  • Leah R. - Gosh thanks for that post! A fresh reminder of what to bounce my flash off of! I was diappointed in some of my Christmas photos this year, but everything happens so fast I really didn’t have to time to pay attention to my settings as much!

  • giozi - I loved this post. Thanks thanks thanks for thinking about us in this moment πŸ™‚
    I shared this link in my facy. Thanks again. Happy New Year.

  • Nicole - Good post, quote timely as well! Would you mind sharing the type of bag you use to carry your gear as you’re also wrangling the kids?? Really having trouble finding something that will let me do both!

  • Lauren - Thank you SOOO much for the tips! You are so great at giving examples and spelling things out in laymen’s terms so that it makes sense. Christmas Eve Eve looks like a lot of fun! Thanks for taking the time out of your fun night to take these pics to share. You’re the best! BTW, love the pic of FireCracker eating popcorn. That’s my kind of girl!

  • Laura - Ashley–Thank you for your tutorial. I read your blog daily and just yesterday was thinking I needed to look around online for some handy tutorials for using my new external flash. Shazaam! you delivered!

    Your photography tips and all your bloggy inspiration have encouraged me to take tons of pictures and have been a big part of the nudge I needed to start my own blog. Thank you!


  • Laura - Just in case you want to visit πŸ™‚


  • Laura - Just in case you want to visit πŸ™‚


  • kari - This makes great sense. I was using my speedlight this past weekend, and didn’t really know what I was doing…now I feel a little bit better using it. XOXO

  • Liz R. - Absolutely made sense!! Thank you!!!

  • Jen Helbert - wonderful! now how much would you typically spend on a flash? i know i researched it and they seem a bit pricey. is there a good way of buying one refurbished and still get a good deal?

  • pattilouwho - thank you so much for posting this. it is very fitting that you wrote about this since i just got an external swivel flash for christmas and i’ve been practicing with it since i took it out of the box. i have a lot to learn since i have always just used natural light.

  • Elisabeth - It made perfect sense. I just posted about the same thing, but without nearly so much expertise (or helpfulness). More like reflections on trying an off-camera flash for the first time:). I love natural light, but I was actually surprised (in a good way) at the quality of the flash pictures. For now, though, I’m much more excited about having a new lens with a larger aperture. I love being able to take nice pics indoors without that slow shutter speed blur!

  • Kristy - so, so, so very helpful!

  • Wendy - thanks so much! very helpful, and perfectly timed…i, too got/bought for myself an external flash for my nikon d5000 for Christmas…and i, too, LOVE the dainty eating and after-bath curls shots-priceless! :))

  • jeny - yep, understandable. on a side note … you should probably start stocking up on pink lego’s. my daughter is almost three and demands to be put in the mix (but with pink lego’s). i tell her lego’s are for b’s and g’s; she isn’t buying that!

  • Stef - This is absolutely perfect thank you!

  • Brooke Whitis - I have been really wanting a flash to add on to my camera….and I had no clue the first thing about that…other than I ‘needed’ one… πŸ™‚ Thanks so much. I even had my hubby read your post, because we have both been trying to understand more about cameras…

    Thanks friend….
    and I love your sweet little Firecracker’s long curly hair….it’s getting so long! So cute!!

  • Jenny B. - OH MY GOODNESS! I am so excited! I need to go back and read the whole post, but I just had to tell you that when I saw the picture of the flash at the beginning and read your paragraph about getting a cheaper Vivitar, a lightbulb (or maybe a flash bulb – hee hee) went off in my head, and I realized that I OWN ONE! Tucked away in the tip top of my closet inside a very dusty case that holds my 30-year-old (c. 1980, so it really is 30 years old) Olympus OM-F fully manual old-school film SLR, is a Vivitar external flash! I went to get it just now. Would you belive that it actually fits on my Nikon D40, and the batteries are still good?!? I am overjoyed!! It’s fixed (it doesn’t swivel or tilt), but I can adjust the brightness, and it is WAY better than the pop-up flash. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! πŸ˜€

  • Maueen - conceptually it makes sense, I have a problem with my speedlight, when I use it, it just doesn’t seem to work. I get the whole bounce thing, but how do you set the camera to work with the flash, I feel like my camera doesn’t know the flash is attached.

  • ALVN of WhisperWood Cottage & Junkologie - So extremely helpful! Thanks for the comparison photos!! Amy

  • pam heggie - it made all sorts of sense! thanks so much for taking the time. this is my first comment ever on your blog though i’m an avid follower…i am in love with it!!!
    pam from canada. πŸ™‚

  • Jill - Love the pics! My daughter has the same after bath curls and I just LOVE them! Too cute!

  • Meghan - Ashley, I’ve been reading your blog for a few months now, and have just ordered my first speedlite flash. I knew I needed help with lighting in my photos-especially now that I am going to start working in newborn photography! I am so thankful I saw this post you made to help me start learning how to correctly use my flash. Thank you for the time you take to give wonderful and beautiful photography tips!

  • kristen - OMG you need to take the photo of her tearing up that popcorn like that and submit it for something! πŸ™‚ with the title “LIKE A BOSS” haha! She is adorable. So is he, obviously. I just bought my first camera but i don’t have anything fancy. I just want to learn a simple tip or something on how to edit or blur acne on someone. πŸ™‚ cute fam! cute tradition!

  • Katie Wierenga - I love your blog! When I grow up I want to have a blog just like this that shows a happy family through photography. Great job!

  • Ame - I am a new photographer and the thought of using a flash pretty much scared me for fear of all my photos turning out like your first example! I have read a lot about an external flash but never in such a clear manor….with step by step examples too! This was great! Now I am excited about getting my flash! Yay!

The Giveaways from yesterday are still open…they will close tomorrow night. So if you didn’t stop by yesterday be sure to scroll several pages to enter all the giveaways!


We take them every year. Each December I display them all on shelves in the living room. A fun, not too serious tradition. Nearly every year someone is not exactly thrilled about the process of getting the picture. My oldest loves to look back at the years when he was younger and quite obviously did not like Santa. We usually take them at Bass Pro Shops…because Santa is nice, the set is awesome and I can take my own for free. This year we got there early in the morning and only waited about 20 minutes. The light is so much better in the morning too. No flash needed. That makes me happy.

Here is one of my favorites from the past. Cracks me up every time.

And the story of getting our picture this year….

I have many more Christmas related posts to share. Tomorrow will be one that has some photo tips regarding using a flash.

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  • Amy - Too Funny!!!

  • Jill R - Love it!

  • Jenni Goodlin - I have had a very rough and sad Christmas season and I opened this blog post this morning and could not stop laughing! Thank you for putting a little joy in my day.

  • chrissynoelle - wow. hilarious. I love how #1 has his hands in his pockets! and that is the best looking Santa I’ve ever seen!!!!!

  • Krista @ Blue Eyed Yonder - Are those the funniest pics or what? I think the best Santa pics are those where the kids are crying, running away, etc. Hilarious! One day they will look back at these photos and die laughing. πŸ™‚

  • Corey Moortgat - Ha ha! I posted our last 4 Santa pics here: http://coreymoortgat.blogspot.com/2010/11/getting-better.html They are just like yours- can’t seem to get one yet where someone’s not crying! As soon as one of the older ones gets braver, there’s a little one who’s crying!

  • Lydia - I. Love. This. What priceless photos!

  • erika - Those pics are exactly why Bass Pro Shops are the best! You get to capture the real ‘story’. Great pics!

  • jessica h - ha, ha, ha….love it! thanks for sharing some more “real” life….it’s the best πŸ™‚

  • Erin - This is hilarious…I love how littlest brother just takes off, smart kid. Oldest brother looks like a pro, Mr. calm and cool πŸ™‚

  • Jen Helbert - my goodness. look at that last picture with that teary eyed-beauty. too sweet!

  • Carrie Rosalind - Oh my gosh, hilarious but oh-so-cute!!

  • ashlee - I have my fair share of santa pictures that include my husband and i because we had 2 crying kiddos:) love it!

  • the whyte house - haha! so great.

    the police dept here puts on a free movie day/santa photos for officers. we stood in line last yr for 45…santa was late. almost didnt have seats in the theater. huge mess. this yr, seeing ‘tangled’ was too important to the kids. however, after the movie, santa was walking down the hall and my 3 yr old son gave him a big hug around the waist. so cute. i, of course, missed it. awesome. πŸ™‚

  • Debbie - Perfect!? Thank you for sharing.

  • andy - love them
    the pics are great
    awesome that you get the take them
    the one in our mall doesn’t let us do that and we don’t have a bass pro shop. one year the grocery store did them. fun time and traditions

  • Lilli - Looks like littlest brother is still not a fan of pictures with Santa. Adorable!

  • Charvel - Hahahah, too cute! I couldn’t hold back the laughter… So real. Thanks for sharing and I hope you had a good Christmas πŸ™‚

  • Carrie Sowell - Why do we torture our kids with Santa? Oh yeah, cause we’re the parents and it’s SO fun!! Great pics as usual!

  • Carrie Sowell - Why do we torture our kids with Santa? Oh yeah, because we’re the parents and it’s SO fun! Great pics as usual!

  • Summer Crosbie - So funny! It will be fun to look back at these funny pictures when they’re older and see their.reactions!

  • Stefanie - okay, these are pretty much the best Santa pictures… EVAR πŸ™‚

  • DASH Photography - These are great! πŸ™‚ One day they will thank you for capturing such priceless memories!

  • Jessica - ah yes. gotta love the classic “scream and reach”– the people the kids are screaming and reaching for are the same ones that put them in that situation.

  • Kim - This is hilarious! I love it. Excited about the photo tips.

  • Kim - This is hilarious! I love it. It’s great the Santa was in a well-lit area. I can never get good photos because it’s so dark. Excited about the photo tips.

  • YvetteDownunder - LOL! I love the sequence of these πŸ™‚

    I thought you might enjoy our 26 year retrospective of photos with Santa. I made a pact years ago with my kids – which I never guessed would last so long – that they always have a photo with Santa at Christmas, wherever they are, until they have children of their own!


    26 years,still going!

  • allison - i almost can’t type this because I am laughing so hard!! awesome, awesome photos! it’s almost boring if someone isn’t crying or hiding.

  • Jeannette - I love the Bass Pro Santa set up too, but my picture quality is never very good! This was my first year to get one with all 4 in it and no one crying – a small victory! Last year, the older boys stood there (no smiles), my daughter wouldn’t come within 50 feet of him and at age 4, I couldn’t really force it. My 2 year old, at the time was forced and aggressively tried to get away, that was the picture – one older boy just standing and the other trying to keep his 2 year old in the picture while he was screaming at the top of his lungs! This year was so nice. It may be awhile before I get that again since we will have a ten month old next Christmas.

  • kristiina - omg…laughing out loud……HILARIOUS

  • MGF - I could not stop laughing

  • Carissa Miller - Oh my Ashley. Please tell firecracker she can come live with C.C. That looks like some form of child torture, she is so upset! I have NEVER subjected my children to such things just to get a picture (please not sarcasm).

  • Julie O'Dell - Soooooooooo funny…


  • Amy - I love the sequence of pictures! That’s one patiently wonderful Santa, too πŸ™‚

  • bopha - wow, that is hilarious! i love that santa, he is super patient (we attempted all 3 at once). it’s sad and mean, but i kind of find the crying much more memorable than a smile.

  • nori - omgoodness! i have tears in my eyes from laughing so hard. i loved seeing the progression of “ummm… i don’t think so!” in your littlest ones. thanks for sharing!

    i can’t wait for your tute on flash!

  • Pam Wood - Love this! What troopers you two are to keep trying it every year! It sure gave me a good laugh.

  • kari - So cute. Your pictures tell such a good story. But the first photo is soooo cute! XOXO

  • kari - So cute. Your pictures tell such a story. Love it! XOXO

  • Erin Lee - LOL i nearly died at the first picture… just priceless!! the whole series is glorious hahah : ) Hope you had an amazing Christmas… and May God shower you crazy blessings in 2011!!

  • hearttypat - lol.. these are so adorable! firecracker looks wary of santa right from the start!

  • giozi - Ha ha ha I enjoyed it ha ha ha I’m laughing, ha ha ha ha sooorry.

  • Margie - So funny!

  • ranee - Hilarious! Love that I’m not the only one who has trouble getting little people to smile for the camera!

  • Leah R. - I’m dying laughing! That’s the cutest thing I ever saw!