UPDATE: Contest is now closed. The winner is:

“Liz – A portrait session would be AWESOME for our family! We are hoping to get our first family portraits done soon, with our sweet baby girl!”

There are so many reasons I teach SnapShops, but one centers on the reality that the automatic mode on your camera is unreliable. Sometimes you can get killer shots on automatic. Sometimes no matter how hard you try what is in your head you can’t get your camera to create. On automatic mode you camera is reading available light and calculates an average of what is needed in regards to settings to capture that image.

For instance, on the two photos below my 4 year old wanted to take a picture of Chris & I with FireCracker. Since I use a back focus button I have to switch my camera to fully automatic mode for others to use it. You can see Big Brother got a great first shot, but the second shot is terrible. He didn’t change any settings, but you will notice there is more of the white comforter in the first shot…providing more ‘light’ for the camera. Hence, the unreliabilty of shooting on automatic.

Back to the June SnapShop…I wanted to share a few pictures from each of the attendees. For several attending they had only owned their cameras for a matter of days! First off, I thought I’d share a few pics Ryan took of me during the day…

And in alphabetical order…some practice shots from the students:

Photos by Bill S.

Photos by Carl L.

Photos by Christine M.

Photos by Gary S.

Photos by Kristie E.

Photos by Liz H.

Photos by Mariah E.

Photos by Ryan A.

It has been fun for me to watch how many SnapShop students have gone on to start their own photography businesses….I have shared several of those with you before. One of the June SnapShop attendees is fully launching his photography business….Ryan Arrowsmith Photography and wants to offer one of you a free portrait session! You need to check out his flickr photos from the SnapShop (there’s some cute ones of Littlest Brother) and his website. What is more exciting than a business launch? A giveaway for a free portrait session!

Here are a few shots from his site….

Ryan Arrowsmith Photography is located in the Tulsa, Oklahoma area….there will be one portrait session giveaway winner, but Ryan is offering $15.00 off all other sessions if you mention “Ashley Ann Photography” when you book your session. I know a lot of you local folk are bummed Shannon is no longer offering baby, kid & family sessions…you should check out Ryan. Onto the giveaway…

Giveaway Details

Prize is one session with Ryan Arrowsmith Photography

One winner, chosen at random

One entry per person

Contest ends Thursday, July 1 9:00pm US central

To enter: In the comment section of this post tell me what type of session you would book with Ryan Arrowsmith Photography!

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  • vina sanchez - i would like a session with my husband. like “lovebird” couples session. =)

  • Tim - I would book a boudoir session.

    PS That Carl guy clearly didn’t understand the principles of photography. He looks like a lost cause.

  • Mariah - I would like a family session featuring our newest arrival… when he or she gets here in a month.

  • Christine - I would love a family session.

  • Christy - Nice photos! I love your camera strap! Did you make it ?

  • amanda torres - Oh wow! I would love a family session. However, I don’t want to frighten him. I feel personally responsible for running off our last 2 photographers….the great ashley ann the fabulous shannon.

  • Amber - I would book a session for my little girl who turns 3 in August :)

  • Beth - I would love a couple session of my husband and I.

  • Mindy - I would book a family session with our three little girls. We haven’t had a family picture since our newest little one arrived.

  • Kara - I would love a family session. My child is about to turn 3 and at the rate we are going we have taken one a year. The mantle at my new house is craving an amazingly wonderful family canvas print!

  • ashlee - i would love a family session but even more a session with me and my hubby…with 6 littles they seem to be the subject of all our pics. we need some of us too!!

  • Katie M. - AWESOME giveaway! Couples Session for me and my honey! We will celebrate one year of marriage in September!

  • Under the Sycamore » Ryan Arrowsmith Photography - […] Ann over at Under the Sycamore is such a sweet, seriously talented gal. Β Today she posted a few of my pics and a link to the site, because she’s cool like that. […]

  • Amanda J - I would love a mommy and Ajani session before he gets too big. I have tons of pics of him but not many of us together

  • Dana - I would book a couples session for sure. My honey and I will be married two years this fall.

  • Trinity - a family session……..congratulations to him on the new business!

  • Allison - I would love a session with me and my boys! I am always the one behind the camera, and would love someone to capture some of the things I do with my kids!

  • rosita - ok – totally off topic – where did you get your shorts? i need some like that. please say target or something like that :)

  • Janica - I would love to win this for my best friend, Mindi, and her darling family who live in the Tulsa area. I haven’t seen my ‘soul sister’ in two years, but I she is a beautiful friend…inside and out:) So hopefully this is transferable if I win; not sure my hubby would be willing to fly to OK for family portraits. Good luck Ryan!!!

  • Amanda - I would love…love to do a photo session of me to surprise my husband on our 10th wedding anniversary in August. Something fun…cute…and says I love you after 10 years of being happily married!!!!

  • Amy - I am in dier need of a family session! It’s been two+ years since the last :)

  • Jill E. - Do you think you can talk about back focus one day?

  • Joey Brown Hoffman - I want a family session because my family hasn’t had a family photo since my son was born last last april…ugh…we need one bad! Thanks so much!! :)

  • katie - A grandparent session… my parents and my kids!!

  • kara - I want a special session with my beautiful niece, Evangelia!

  • Jeannette Swan - I totally need a family session, I just commented to someone the other day that I can’t take down our last family pics (Oct 2008) because they were the last Ashley did for us and we haven’t had family pics since!

  • Kristie - I want a session with me and my boys before they outgrow me!

  • Sarah - I would LOVE to have a family session done!!

  • Erika - i would want a family photo shoot! my child is 2 and we have never had a family picture taken. so a first family photo shoot is much needed!! πŸ˜‰

  • Elizabeth - I would love a family session. My husband and I will celebrate 7 years of marriage and our sweet baby boy will turn 3 within a month’s time. This would be perfect before returning to work in August when school starts.

  • Maggie - I’m due in three weeks with our first child…so, I’d love a baby session!

  • LaurenS - i would do one with my husband of 5 years in 2 weeks!

  • Lindsay McDaniel - We could definitely use a family session, me, the hubs, and our two boys!

  • Julie - We just brought home our 4th child and some new baby/new family pics are definitely in order!

  • Lisa Keen - A FAmily session!!

  • Brenda Hillhouse - I would book a family session. (Drew is turning 3 on Friday, can you believe that it has been 2 years since you last took our pictures? Since then, Dylan has been to Iraq and back. He was gone for 11 months and just recently got home in March.

  • Liz - A portrait session would be AWESOME for our family! We are hoping to get our first family portraits done soon, with our sweet baby girl!

  • amy j. - We would do a family session! And drive to Tulsa if we win! :)

  • Candice Forfte - I would book a photo session for my son who is turning 2 July 29th and maybe get a few family shots! Money is tight right now so this would be a huge blessing!

  • Sara - I would love some pictures of the hubby and I…

  • Danielle Hostutler - I would love to have a “fun messy” photo session where me, my husband and son (soon to be ONE) have fun together–be it water, mud, sand…anything messy. Something ridiculously messy and fun!! Yes, pretty please and thanks!!!!!!

We had a little getaway to celebrate Chris’ 30th birthday. I love the break from day to day, but packing for 6…yuck. I was in a b&w mood while editing these….

Chris enjoyed a little time with his other girl…check out those top two teeth!

She enjoys snuggling with her dad. She does not enjoy being restricted or confined in any way.

Our getaway included an indoor waterpark. 4 kids ages 6 and under at an indoor waterpark. Highly stressful, but worth every bit of the stress. They LOVED it!

Photo Tip: These are all shot with my point & shoot. I took them all on automatic, but turned the flash off and selected “high ISO”. If you are using a point & shoot in a dark environment and don’t want to use your flash, adjust the ISO to a high setting. It will make your pictures more pixelated, but you won’t have the ‘flashed out’ look.

This picture makes me laugh because it reminds me of the faces people give us a lot when we are out and about with the kids. Their faces are usually saying, “Wow…those kids keep going and going and going. How many are there?” There’s 4. Yes, they are all little, but there are ONLY four.

We stopped by some caves on our way home. The boys did a little hiking. It was a spur of the moment stop.

Since it was spur of the moment I was not prepared to hike with FireCracker…so we did a little photoshoot at the base of the rocks. (that is not poison ivy)

I think the rocks and background almost look fake in these….like one of those backdrops you can choose from at a portrait studio.

This is my favorite shot from the trip. I didn’t get a lot of great ones in the water because…well I had 4 small children I didn’t want to drown. Even though this is blurry (the result of holding my camera out to the side and trying to guess the shot), I love that it captures my relationship with her right now….holding her hand as she is taking steps in independence.

We told him it was still a long time in the car before we got home. My feelings expressed in a 4 year old.

I don’t do well in cars for longer than 30 minutes. I get restless, grumpy and bored. I get sick from reading, can’t do anything on my computer, can’t make anything and I am stuck sitting down for a long period of time. I don’t do well in cars. I don’t do well on roadtrips. Ryan introduced me to hipstamatic a couple of days before the fam and I were stuck in the car for 5+ hours. I was entertained until the iPhone battery died.

After the battery died I got out my camera. Chris said, “I know it is bad when you are reverting to taking landscape pictures.” I told him I was capturing the beauty of big blue Oklahoma skies so next time he wants to go a scenic route I can tell him to get out my computer.

Oklahoma skies are amazing – love the wide open spaces and deep blues.

Happy Monday!

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  • Ryan - Wow! You really did give Hipstamatic a try, eh? I love all of the pics! We need to get you and Chris a car charger for your phones. :)

    Loved all of the pics!

  • laura - some beautiful pics….and great memories, i’m sure, too. (my husband is turning 30 this year….do you have any more ideas for celebrating?)

  • Shannon - Looks fun! We have been wanting to take the kids to an indoor water park for a long time, we may just have to buckle down and do it this summer!

    And yes, road trips stink. Period.

  • ashlee - oklahoma ia certainly beautiful:) ikea? jealous!! your family is so beautiful, looks like you guys had an amazing time:)

  • chantelle - We just bought an 82 VW camper van for our family road trips! We live hours away from anything fun so in my eyes it was a must! HMMM, dvd’s-how am I going to sneak those into the vw! Great idea-the caves look so cool, photo montage hilarious!

  • Karen - These are so great! I think it is so cool how you take your camera with you everywhere. Have you done a post on on your camera bags? Do you just put it in your purse or do you wear it all the time? Do you just take one lens? I would love to know :)

  • susie whyte - okay, so the first water park photo came up and i was like “what’s up with the die hard 5 water scene–water in a warehouse moment?” haha. i know exactly what you mean about car rides. THE WORST. i always tell my hubby we should fly from wichita to okc. haha.

  • meg duerksen - fun.
    makes me excited for our vacation. :)

  • the inadvertent farmer - We have a water park very similar here in Washington and it is only 1.5 hours away and I grumble at going. I completely understand your pain at road trips…I didn’t like them even when we didn’t have kids! I love a short Sunday drive around the lake but don’t ask me to sit in a car more than an hour and still be a happy mama!

    Great shots, especially the ones of the baby! Kim

  • lifeologia - I love these photos. such a huge mix I don’t know what’s my favourite. I love the ‘I hate road trips’ series though. Mostly I’m used to seeing people smiling ‘pretending’ that they enjoy the trip – ALL LIES. You told the whole truth πŸ˜‰

  • BriBedell - I am going to buy that app asap!! Loved all the picture, I can relate my husbands family is 4 hours away…I hate to just sit! So I know what I am doing the next road trip we take :)

  • Dave Delaney - Great photos from your trip!

    It sure sounds like you need a PowerJolt Reserve. Send me an email and I’ll see what I can arrange for you πŸ˜‰


  • amy - oh, highly stressful to say the least…you rock! looks like a great time and i love your feelings expressed by a 4-year old…hilarious! : )

  • Debbie - Hi Ashley, I am a friend of Steph’s. She told me about your site a year ago and I have enjoyed frequenting it ever since. I always hated road trips too, until I started knitting. I get carsick, but knitting doesn’t bother me and I feel like I’m using my creative side and accomplishing something too!

  • rachel denbow - was this a trip to the Dallas area? Because if you know of an IKEA hiding any where closer than that one and aren’t telling me…

    this is one of my favorite posts ever. not sure why. I think i love how you captured the feeling of a long, long, long road trip with little ones. it’s perfect. and the name of that indoor water park please?

  • Michelle Z. - I am the same way in cars. My sister has been begging me for about 20 years to take a road trip out to California (we live in PA and NC) and I keep telling her she is cRaZy! It sounds like torture to me. Books on tape help a little bit, but I still get cranky for about 90% of it.

  • Jodi - Roadtrips are the worst but the kids love it and the memories are priceless. The indoor water park looks fantastic.

    I was just looking through your “my lovelies” and I had to laugh because your future garden is my future garden. I saw that on Design Sponge a while back and have been emailing that to everyone I know letting them know about my “dream garden”!!! I heart that photo. :)

  • jenny - first of all- I happened upon your blog and I love it! :)
    love your vacation photos and they are even funnier because I can totally relate! We have three small children (5,3, and 1) and a baby on the way! We will be attempting a family vacation soon too so now I am inspired to take lots of photos!

  • shelly@familyblt - love that app! I need it! I am not big on road trips either-blech

  • emily anderson - i can so relate to everything you say.

    i am curious…do you drive a mini-van? or an SUV?

  • juliet - Is that Wolf Lodge waterpark? We have always wanted to go there and didn’t know they had a special area for toddlers.

  • Jolie - That looks like an awesome waterpark – and yay for a few photos with nary a drowning! πŸ˜‰
    Roadtrips are a bit of a pain – I love the idea of them…the sitting for endless hours in the car, not so much! Basic, mindless knitting works for me in the passenger seat – I can’t read or anything that involves eye contact or we play *let’s guess what colour mama vomits next* (a great family game!ugh)

  • giozi - Oh my 30th birthday !!! is so young yet:D

  • Deanna - Just found your beautiful blog last week and it’s already a fav! :)

    And I totally get you on the ‘looks’. I had 4 kids in 5.5 yrs. I got lots of look especially in the beginning. I think now that my baby is 3 and my oldest 8 we don’t look like quite the spectacle. It’s more of having 4 really little ones that would get people. But maybe I just don’t notice anymore. We live at Target and I still get asked very frequently “are they all yours?”. :)

  • Becca G - i also have 4 kids. my oldest just turned 8. just love the looks we get when we go to town. it’s like there staring and counting and then they look at me like i’m crazy. well, i am.

  • clb - Okay I know that you went through McKinney because that is a McKinney police car, I should know because I live here! Did yall go to the IKEA in Frisco and Great Wolf Lodge in Grapevine?