Faux Wood Paper Photo backdrop

long 2

This here is my Chuck, ok…my Charlie ( really my Charlotte but she doesn’t really know that!) She’s pretty darn cute but I have to be honest…that faux wood backdrop makes her look even better! Photo backdrops can create a darling setting for capturing a great photo! They add a cohesive element to a picture and make your subject the real center of attention!

long 3

This particular backdrop is perfect for creating a true backdrop or floor prop in this case! Butted up to a wall, you can create a different look. Place it up against any painted wall in your house to get the look you want!

longThis backdrop is so easy to create and for about $15 you too can have this prop on hand for taking great pictures of your kids or for staging photos of projects you’ve created.

I found the 4′x12′ roll of Faux Wood paper at my local Hobby Lobby. It’s in the same section as the poster board. It was $8.99 for the roll but I used my 40% off coupon so it was under $6. I’ve been holding onto my 4′x4′ piece of wood in my garage for 3 years! I know! I know! Finally I had the perfect use for it! It was under $10 at Home Depot and is 1/4″ thick.

I used my 3M spray adhesive to attach it to my wood and then trimmed off the edge.


$15 and less then 10 minutes later I have the perfect prop. I store it behind my fabric hutch and pull it out when needed. I love that it’s hard and durable and you can walk on it without damaging the paper. I left the other side blank and am on the hunt for either more paper or vinyl table clothe fabric that I can interchange for a different look! The possibilities are endless.




PiCALITY Family Photos

I have a really, really great friend who happens to be really really talented! Lucky me, right! My friend Daniel is a professional photographer who happens to have just launched his new “I’ll come to you and capture memories in the places and spaces you LOVE!” photography business! His concept is super fun! Why go to somewhere you and your kids have never been or simply a pretty place that looks great but have no sentimental meaning to you! And that my friends is why PiCALITY was born!

Having him in our home was more meaningful then I could have imagined, especially once I saw the final photos and I was taken back at how much they meant to me. Capturing my little girls in their rooms, with their favorite things at this tender age was priceless!

This is “Snuggle” Charlies favorite blanket that gets dragged around the house and mysteriously makes in into the car on occasion even though she knows it’s not suppose to leave home! Chuck adores this blanket. She stole it from me last Christmas and has made it her own. She nuzzles it, she talks to it, she misses it and she just adores it! I am beyond thrilled to have these sweet photos with her and her blanket in her room!

Charlie recently discovered that she can “read!” Ok, so she memorized this book but it’s so stinkin’ darling to watch her flip page after page of her favorite book “Old hat, New hat!”

I’ve always loved Charlies room and so does she! It’s fun and bright and filled with her favorite things! These images will always be a reminder of how I created this special space for the special little lady!

Blue just recently started piano lessons after much convincing. She is our shy one, quick to avoid new situations so piano lessons are a big deal! She can sit and plunk away for hours and these photo will be a treasure as we remember how old she was when she got brave enough to start lessons!

Blue also loves spending time in her room! The girls and I worked really hard on making them a space that reflected their fun personality! I love capturing Blue in her personal space!

Cricket is our book worm! She can polish off a good read in hours and she loves to get lost in a book! This picture is a total slice of reality for this girls life!

Cricket’s personality shines in this fun photo!

This is our “Welcome to our Home” photo! First room you see when you come over and I also love that it features my favorite red piano!

A typical night at our house…Mike and I on the couch, catching up on shows and me rubbing Mikes feet! Hello reality!

I think this is my favorite shot of Mike and I EVER!!! Me and my favorite guy in my most favorite place in the house!

Hip hip hooray! A successful family photo session with amazing shots in the home we are raising my girls in! We will adore these memories forever! I can’t tell you how cool it is to have memories like these!

Daniel was great to work with and so willing to do anything we wanted! He was up for suggestions and had plenty of great ideas of his own! He edits photos on site and you get all your images  uploaded right there and then!

Check out this fun video all about PiCALITY and it’s concept…

If you live in the Salt Lake area and want to have a photo experience like the one we had you HAVE to check out Daniel and PiCALITY! You wont regret it! Where Pictures and REALITY meet! Daniel wants to capture your memories where you already create them! In your home, at your families favorite hang out! Do you LOVE to bowl? Let Daniel hit the lanes with you! He is up for anything!

Looking for a great deal? Of course you are!

Take advantage and save $100 when you book and have a session by December 1st! Be sure to check out and book a session with PiCALITY on their website and become a fan on Facebook! PiCALITY has been known to do some amazing giveaways on Facebook so you don’t want to miss out!


First day of school

The first day of school is a big deal over here at the BCD house! It has been since the day I sent my first preschooler off for the very first time! This year was no differentand with all three of my littles off to school all at once I took full advantage of capturing this special day!

It wouldn’t be the first day of school without  a fresh box of Crayola Sidewalk chalk! This has become our signature first day photo op and this year Charlie got in on the action!



Grab an iconic black board and a bistro chalk pen and create this super simple “first day of school ” sign.

I borrowed this vintage school desk from a good friend and and piled on the thrift store books to help create this fun little scene. I absolutely adore the way these turned out!

These frames from “Cut it Out”  make the perfect personal sign. I create the printable and painted each unfinished frame keeping in mind what my girls outfits were and painting them a coordinating color.

I can not believe it’s back to school already for these little ones. These three will be all grown up sooner then we know it and I know I’ll treasure theses photos forever!


“Good Morning America” came to my house to film a segment on “The first Day of School!” It was a day my whole family will never forget. The segment should air sometime this week  so be sure to fan the Blue Cricket Design facebook fan page ! As soon as I know when it will air I will post details there! More details on my day with GMA to come!

In the mean time…

I created a FREE printable ready for you to download!  Enjoy these ” First day of…” signs: Preschool through 12th grade! Please feel free to share and pin.

First Day of School Pre-12th


Halloween fun with Picnik

You guys have heard of Picnik right? It’s a FREE online photo editing site that makes editing photos super simple! You don’t need photoshop to make your photos look great! I use Picnik all the time to crop, add text, make collages, add drop shadows , frames and round the edges of photos. Yo’ll notice I make a lot of 4 photo square images when I make my tutorials, picniks my go to site to help me in my blogging!

And right now they have some pretty fun Halloween effects you can use to spookify your photos!

For this spooky photo of Cricket I added Vampire eyes, fangs and fooled around with her skin tone! When I showed it to her she loved it! What a fun way to play around with photos! How fun would it be to create a Halloween photo wall with spooky family photos! Happy editing my ghosts and goblins!

1 Comment

Photo Tips with Emilie

I’ve been taking lots and lots of newborn pix the last few months.  I’m excited to share some of my tricks to capturing great images.

Here are the 5 Items I can’t shoot without…

1.  Boppy Pillow – This is my favorite positioner.  I use the Boppy for at least 5-10 different positions.
2.  Binky – Enough said :)
3.  Heating Pad – Heat is a necessity when taking newborn photos.  I use the heating pad to warm up the blanket or prop I will be using next so that I never lay a baby on a cold prop or blanket.
4.  Bag-O-Beans – I use this both under the prop blanket and on top of the babies while I’m positioning them.  Babies love to be nice and toasty warm and the Bag-O-Beans works perfect.
5.  Space Heater – I couldn’t do a newborn session without a space heater.  They are magic to get newborn to be nice and calm!!

Now let’s talk about editing newborn images.
Below is my out of camera image.  Her skin is not as creamy as what I see with my eyes.  These SLR cameras are so sharp that they pick up the tiniest little nicks and scratches.  No good.  Here is how I fix and soften skin in PS.

First, open the image into PS and duplicate the background layer.  The short cut is Command “J”.
Next, add a Gaussian Blur filter found in your
“filter”-”blur”-”Gaussian blur” menu.
When adding the Gaussian Blur make it a little stronger than you think you’ll need.  The reason is that you can brush on the Gaussian Blur at a low opacity, but if you don’t make it strong enough you can not increase the opacity more than 100% of what you originally made the filter.
Then, add a vector mask to the Gaussian Blur layer by clicking the “Add Vector Mask” button at the bottom of your layers palette.
Last step, Invert the Vector Mask (short cut is “Command I”).  This will turn the Gaussian Blur Filter off.  Then, use the “Brush Tool” to brush on the Gaussian Blur effect in the areas you would like to soften.
Final product…
Here are a few more images I took of her
sweet tiny little parts…

I hope this tip helps you on the pursuit
of newborn photo perfection!!

Happy Snapping!!

** I took one of Emilie’s workshops in early Spring and was blown away at how informative and well presented it was! Treat yourself to one her workshops and you know what will happen? You will pay yourself and your family back with dreamy photos!


Huge Print preview!!!

I saw a great segment on Studio 5 where the darling,  Laci Davis, shared an AMAZING secret! She filled us in on the how you can get HUGE black and white photos printed at Blue Print Printing shops for WAY cheap! I knew I had to go check it out for myself!

So I took this photo…

And I had it printed to be 4′ x 3′! This print cost me $6.

And to put it into perspective, here’s the silly faced model sitting next to her larger then life print!

And here’s a funny story…when I went to go pick up the prints the guy who was helping me over the phone showed me his printing FAIL:

He accidentally put in the wrong dimensions on this picture of Cricket and this is what happened! Pretty funny huh! He gave to me for free and lets just say this thing might be hanging up as a family joke from here on out on special occasions! I’m thinking prom night, first day of her senior year!

I had my photos printed at SBR Technologies in Salt Lake City. To find a print shop in your area do a google or yellow pages search for ” Blue Print printing” and see what pops up. You will basically find printing costs for black and white for about 35 cents a square foot.

This was my test run! Now that I know I LOVE this technique I’m going to create a fun photo wall. I think this is a little too big for what I’m going for but you can print like this in any size so I’ll be getting creative!

These photos are printed on paper, not photo paper so they are not as sturdy as a photo print. This is what makes them so affordable so it’s a fun way to print photos and change them out!


After I saw the HUGE long photo of Cricket I thought how fun would those look at a wedding reception!! Long huge black and white photos of the bride and groom  hanging off large dowels with ribbon hanging  all over! Makes me want to get married again!


2nd grader in the house! Capturing personalities in photos.

First days of school call for a little cheering don’t ya think!

My Cricket is  a big 2nd grader this year and boy oh boy was this little lady ready to go! First day of school pictures are a big tradition in most homes and ours is no exception! I love how these shots of Cricket totally capture her personality. Anyone who knows her will see how excited and spunky she is. You’ll see a huge contrast in my Kindergartner when she starts next week and I love that about my girls! So different!

This year try capturing the personalities of your little ones as you send them off to school! If they are shy and timid be sure to capture that shy little smirk. If they are “to cool for school” get them reluctantly posing! Years from now we’ll all smile at the wonderful reminders of our kids at these fun stages of life!

Happy School year everyone!



Photo Tips with Emilie: Lighting

Hi, this is Emilie from Photo By Emilie with a photo tip.

One of my favorite photography topics is lighting. During my workshops we spend a lot of time discussing how I look at light, how I determine where I will place my subject according to my available light. Then how I enhance my available light to get warm gorgeous soft light on my subject. One of my favorite tools to enhance light is a reflector. Here are a few tips on how I use my reflector.

One trick to creating a great photo with warm light is knowing how to use Fill Light to eliminate shadow and illuminate eyes. In this photo I used the white side of the reflector. I placed the reflector at his waist and pointed it up into his face, this eliminated the shadow cast by his cap.

In this next photo I used the reflector to add drama and glow. I had my assistant stand about 10 feet back from the model. Using the gold side to catching a patch of sun and reflect it back onto the model. This achieved a more high fashion look and feel.

One of my favorite photography tools is my reflector.
I use the 32″ Soft Gold/White.

In these images you can see the difference from using a reflector. I placed the reflector white side up on her lap reflecting the light up into her face & eyes. I love the way the white side of the reflector creates a catch light in her eyes.

Learning to master light is one of the most challenging aspects of photography. Additional tools like this reflector, external flashes and speed lights add a level of drama to your images that you just can’t achieve without them. Someone recently asked me, do I need to use a flash in order to get that same shot? My answer is nope you can’t, otherwise none of us would bother. As you continue to master light with these tools you will begin to see your images pop and sparkle!!

Happy Snapping

Visit Emilie’s Blog Click Here
Learn more about Emilie’s Workshops Click Here

Find out how you can become a guest poster HERE!

Photoshop Actions

It’s been a while since I’ve shared any Photoshop How To’s! I recently shot some engagement photos for the cutest couple and it reminded me I needed to get my Photoshop butt in gear and share some nuggets of knowledge with all of you!

Photoshop can be a foreign land for even the best of us! I am far from a pro but have learned a few tricks along the way that are worth passing on to all of you!

When it comes to getting fun color effects in Photoshop it’s important to know that a great photo to begin with is key! It helps to have good lighting, proper subject placement and a cute people in the photo always seems to help too! I’ll show you a few actions that I applied to the same photo so you can see the difference! By the way…an”Action” is a pre made set of adjustments that have been compiled into one click of a button. You can find a huge collection of Free up-loadable actions on line! I’ll add links at the end of this post! Watch how they can totally change each photo…

Original Photo

Cropped and using the “Boost” and “Quick burn edge” actions.
Notice the richer colors and slight effect on the corners and edges.

And this one I’ve used an action called “Seventies”

And here is an example of how you can play within an action. By simply going backwards a few steps with in the “Seventies’ action, I decided I liked this bluer look. Becasue the actions are a compilation of layers and steps you can go back and take layer by layer off until you see what you like! It’s all a simple click of the mouse. Click your “Edit” tab in the upper left hand corner and click “step back.” Continue clicking until you find a look you like.

And lastly I love Pioneer Womans “PW Black and White” action. It has a built in burnt edge effect!

There are endless possibilities. With in each action you can adjust how much of it is applied! You can easily change the tone, depth, color and effects all by playing with the fill level and opacity!

I’ve up-loaded most of my actions from two sites…

Pioneer Woman and Coffee Shop

Search their sites for free down loads and tips along with great examples! Happy Photo editing!

p.s. I’m always asked what camera I shot with! I shoot with a Sony Alpha 200 and use a 50mm lens. The lens makes all the difference! Not sure how I got along without it!!!!

p.s.s I’d love to hear what other photoshop topics you’d like me to cover! I know what I like to do in PS but I’d love to hear what you guys would like me to cover! Let me know and I’ll try my best to cover it!


A little Photo Session Down Town

I’m a (Air Quotes) Photographer! Translation: I have a wonderful Camera, some pretty cool lenses, a creative eye and a love for capturing moments! It’s been an adventure taking photos of my own family and recently I’ve had others become brave enough to let me peer at them from behind a camera and snap a few shots! I’m proud of what I do! I love the creative process… from picking out comfortable shoes to wear, finding great photo locations, shooting and finally editing! It’s a lot of time and effort but I enjoy it all from start to finish.

My brother in law is in love! Like head over heels in love! Lucky for me that resulted in an engagement with a “Head over Heels in love” worthy gal! Now I’m in love!!! This little addition to the family is a perfect fit in my Sister in law arsenal!

They made perfect subjects for a little session in the City!

Introducing my first ever Engagement Session!

Theses are just a few of my favorites!