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Posts in “Photography”

Cultural Differences (When Filipina meets Kano)

Friday, February 2, 2018
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“Cupids”… I hired cupids to make sure this man will celebrate Valentine’s Day!

It’s February everyone! Girls, are you excited for Valentine’s Day and receiving flowers? Or perhaps, you don’t have a date? Well, that’s totally fine! Nobody even gave me flowers or Valentine’s cards until I met Brent after college. It’s so funny, yet amazing to look back at those times when Brent and I started to date. Our relationship was mostly long distance since he was in Thailand teaching kids, while I was in the Philippines working. That time in our relationship was difficult, but God used it to build trust between us and strengthen our relationship. Now, we are married!

I never really thought of dating a man who was from a different cultural background than mine, or even dreamt of living in America (which I talked about from this post about my American citizenship). Yet, here we are! We had so many adjustments to make learning about each other’s cultural beliefs and habits, personalities, and even our own families. What I love about Brent is that he is open-minded about diversity and is really friendly with Asian people. He had been traveling and working in China and Thailand for a few years, before he went to graduate school for Psychology here in America. We have both seen our cultural differences in everyday life, especially when we entered marriage. As we are bound to honor each other in marriage, we learned to compromise, even when it is difficult. I wanted to share a few Filipino cultural habits that Brent has seen and experienced, after marrying a Filipina like me. 😉

Balikbayan Box

Have you heard of this? Well, this is a large moving box that you put different items inside, to send to your family in the Philippines. Whether it is secondhand clothes, toys, canned goods, pretty much anything. My husband is always confused about why I’m sending dishwashing soap inside the box. Why not?? 😀

Normal voice

My family and I may sometimes talk loud as if we are in different rooms, even if we’re together in the same place. Sometimes, my husband wondered if my mom and I were fighting, but we were actually just using our normal voices.

We like to eat

I know all people love to eat, but Filipinos really love to eat all the time! If we have birthday parties, holiday parties, weddings, you name it, we love to make or buy different meals to share with everyone. We can’t do something like only celery and carrots for snacks… I mean those veggies are healthy, but really, we Filipinos love big meals!

Close family

Brent used to ask me, “How many aunties and uncles do you have?” In my culture, we like to call older women and men, Tita or Tito, as a sign of respect. Even if someone may be a more distant relative, we try to call them aunt and uncle. We also love to hangout with second cousins, third cousins, and so many other relatives!

Rice forever

Americans eat certain foods for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Filipinos on the other hand,we can eat our leftover dinner for breakfast, rice for breakfast, and rice for the next meal. We always eat rice! Ahh, I love rice, especially the fried rice that I make! But like I said, marriage is compromise, so I try to cook other meals that don’t need rice.

Mall Marathon

The first time I went with Brent and his family to the mall, they only stayed for 30 minutes or so. We Filipinos do differently. I’ll use my mom as an example. She can stay at the mall for more than 2 hours or until closing time. Who wants to hang out at the mall with my mom? Not me, I have kids!

Are you dating or married to someone from a different culture? What’s the biggest adjustment you and your man experienced?

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Seriously, this was our real conversation here…

Me: Can we have a photo together?

Brent: What for?

Me: For a Valentine’s Day post!

Brent: What do you want me to do?

Me: Just smile, or maybe try to hold my face like you are about to kiss me?

Brent: Nope. I definitely won’t do that!

Ahh I love my husband!

Have a Happy Heart’s Day month!

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3 helpful tips for maternity shoot

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

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A good friend of mine,Caroline, had her first baby girl (she is adorable!). I had a chance to do her makeup for her maternity shoot, here in Galveston Island. I also had the chance to work with one of the photographers in Houston, Lesley. Today, she wants to share three tips for those who are expecting and how to be ready for memorable images that you can share with your child, family, and friends.

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Schedule Your Session Early

Maternity portraits are captured ideally between 6-9 months of pregnancy. Your photographer will be able to help you determine the best time based on your weight gain, previous pregnancies, and if you are having a high-risk pregnancy. Start searching for a photographer early to ensure a spot and have adequate time to plan. Once your baby is almost here, you will have so many other things to think about!

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Find Your Style

Indoor or outdoor? Your home or a studio? Spontaneous or guided? What kind of images do you enjoy looking at and envision on your wall? Lesley is proud to offer portraits that she design together from the beginning, bringing your vision to life. Starting a Pinterest board is a great way to help select elements that you love.

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Make It Last

Portraits of timeless moments are meant for so much more than ‘likes’ on Facebook. Let your children know you’ve loved them from the very beginning. Consider asking your photographer for a photo album, wall art, or other printed portraits that you can show off or easily access. She is pleased to offer both maternity and newborn photography sessions. You can book both sessions together for a bundle savings, and select photos from both sessions for one lovely photo album!

houston maternity photographer newborn lesley lastufka pearland alvin friendswood galveston john o'quinn nature preserve-14a

Lesley specializes in customized portraits both outdoors and in-studio. She also does newborn photoshoots and is trained in newborn safety by industry leaders.

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This is behind the scene for our makeup session.

What’s your favorite tip for having a maternity shoot?

 

 

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Finding your daily “me-time”

Friday, January 26, 2018

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As a parent, we all have different struggles with how to find time for ourselves. Before I had my third son, I tried to wake up a few minutes before my two eldest, so I could start my day quietly. But now, since our 5 month old still wakes up a few times at night, I’d rather wait for our human alarm clocks (our two older boys) to wake us up. I thought to share a few ways that help me recharge as a full-time mom with my three boys.

GIVE YOUR TIME FIRST

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House messes and to-do lists such as laundry can be overwhelming to think of and can easily distract me as a stay-at-home mom. But my husband Brent, always reminds me to give our kids time to bond, whether it is a few minutes playing with their Legos or sword fighting… I can really notice afterwards that they are more independent and happy when I give them my time to play and bond.

CIRCULATE TOYS

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Like I have mentioned in my post about “Mom life with 3 boys under 3”. Brent and I learned to circulate the kids’ toys so they will be excited when they see the toys they haven’t seen for weeks. This keeps them occupied and gives them some time to play on their own. I kept the big toys in their playroom, but I made 4 boxes and separated different toys into each box. I thought to put different colors to make it more exciting to the kids’ eyes. I find this simple way of circulating toys makes the house less chaotic from mess too. Plus, I believe that kids can concentrate on playing when there are no huge mountains of toys on the floor.

SCHEDULE NAPTIME

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Since my 5 month baby is getting into a naptime schedule (Twice a day! Hallelujah!). I tried to put my eldest boys on the same nap time as him in the afternoon. This is such a big “me time” solution to get 100% silence and get things done, such as cleaning, chopping ingredients for dinner, blogging, or shooting for a product, etc. I feel thankful that my boys continue to sleep for at least 2 to 2.5 hours! (Knock on wood!)

READ BOOKS WITH NARRATOR

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I grew up in a family that had the TV on throughout the day. My husband Brent who studied child psychology opened my eyes to the fact that TV can be very addicting and not healthy for a child’s brain, especially for young ages like our boys. We try to use screen time on Fridays (as a reward or for popcorn night) or weekends. They love Daniel Tiger and Animal Planet. During normal weekdays, letting them watch is my last resort if I’m totally overwhelmed and I need some space. If I I do, I let them watch a quick Youtube video with my supervision (I often show them videos about how to learn Tagalog words, I like to use this Youtube channel). Another effective way is when I let them browse through books like “The Grounch Lady Bug by Eric Carle” and use this Youtube video of the book to let them hear a narrator reading the story for them. All the while, they listen and browse the book. You can simply open a new tab, so they can’t see the Youtube screen.

Any other tips or effective ways to have few minutes of your own time?

 

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Dreaming of tropical weather (+ photo editing tips)

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

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How’s your weather, my friend? How’s mine, you ask? Cold. That’s why I was inspired to create this image of my boys. This time of the month last year, we brought our two eldest sons to the Philippines for the first time. Even though it was the longest and most tiring trip I ever had (and to think I was pregnant at the time), the 20+ hour trip was worth it. We enjoyed the tropical weather and the fresh food and fruits that my mom and my brother prepared for us. I really miss the beach and how relaxing it is to stay on the island of Marinduque.

I wanted to share today a few behind-the-scenes images at how I created this fun and tropical style image of my boys. Scroll down for some photo editing tips!
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Use the same location if you are using natural light for the shoot dreaming of tropical weather hello island mama adventure 5

Use a tripod and remote to make the shoot easier, especially if you need to assist your kids. I also like to plan beforehand what position they will be in for the photo idea. For my baby, I want him to look like he is climbing a tree, so I carried him to get the angle and positioning of his body that I needed. I used clone in Photoshop to remove my hand.

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For the legos, I still try to take photos of them in the same location, so I can avoid doing lots of adjustments for the lighting. I love to use the pen tool to remove the background and transfer the lego onto the the main background.

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I try not to show the whole faces of my children here on my blog and Instagram, since my accounts are public.  I love to use props like this toy camera my eldest is holding to cover parts of their face.

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Hope you enjoyed this post for today! Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram and subscribe to my blog. :)

 

Baby’s Pajamas / Toddler Blue Short Sleeve (similar) / Toddler Blue Short (similar) / Toddler Khaki short

Safari Duplo Legos / Toddler table and chairs

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Merry Christmas from my family to yours!

Friday, December 22, 2017

Merry Christmas Hello Island Mama Photo Card DIY hello island mama Christmas family photo 2017 a

Merry Christmas everyone! I can’t believe there only 2 days to go before Christmas. I hope everyone finds peace and embraces the season with loved ones, even if it’s one of the busiest time of the year. Since I rarely post my whole family’s faces on my blog and Instagram to set some boundaries, here are my beautiful boys who always make my day so alive (starting at 6:30 AM or earlier…) and my man. Having family and kids makes my Christmas more meaningful and exciting! One of the other reasons I love Christmas now is that we can have a family photo session, even though it is quick (like I shared some editing tips in my previous blog post). Obviously, our baby was photoshopped since he sleeps unpredictably. 😉

Thank you for continuing to stop by my little blog. I hope everyone has a safe trip if you are traveling for Christmas.

Have a wonderful Christmas time with your family and loved ones!

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Baby’s First Christmas Shoot + Photo Editing Tips

Saturday, December 16, 2017

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Our baby will be celebrating his first Christmas in the next few days!! Since our baby arrived last summer, he has given us so much joy, especially for his older brothers. Having another baby taught Brent and me to be more mature, though it is really hard most of the time. However, we can’t wait for all of them to play together next year!! It will be awesome… And loud! 😉

We had our Christmas family photoshoot last week and it was the quickest shoot ever (less than 15 minutes). I wanted to share with you all a DIY Christmas box that we used as a prop with the boys. My friend Sabine suggested wrapping a box to use as a prop, for a family shoot. It was a great idea for the toddlers to make sure they stayed in the same place. Since I love doing fun and creative photo manipulation, I thought to apply some editing for our baby’s photos. I thought it was cute!

Here is a simple and quick DIY gift box to try for your Christmas family shoot.

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Materials:

Kraft Paper

Ribbon

Scissor

Hot Glue

Tape

I used a medium sized box in which ideally, my baby would fit inside. I did not put him inside though and I don’t recommend that you actually put your baby inside either. :) Wrap up the box with kraft paper or any Christmas wrapper of your choice. I wrapped the box on the inside as well just in case the camera can see the inside of the box. I used thick ribbon and hot glue to make sure everything was set for the shoot. That’s it!

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If you ever use Photoshop or are planning to learn about this software for your Holiday card, here are some tips from yours truly:

  1. Take a lot of shots of you and your props from different angles. I also use a tripod and remote to make sure everything is in the same frame and to make the shoot fast and easy (before the boys wake up!).
  2. Take photo of you and your baby in the same location to get the same lighting.
  3. I like to use a vector mask so it’s easy to remove the background or to undo it. Sometimes, I also use the pen tool.
  4. I consider the shadow of my baby as well to make it more realistic, when I overlap him onto the main image.

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P.S. I also love to style myself, wear a pretty sweatshirt from Pink Blush, and put some makeup on (I love this brand! 100% natural that works! ). Santa hats are also cute to add for the shoot! :)

I hope my little man brightened your day today! Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram.

God bless, friends!

 

 

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Tips for blogging

Monday, November 20, 2017

tips for blogging hello island mama pink blush flatlay pinterest

tips for blogging hello island mama pink blush

Today, I wanted to share some tips I’ve learned from blogging, that can help those interested in launching a new blog. My blog originally started as my makeup portfolio, before I was a stay-at-home with three kids. I find blogging to be one of my favorite hobbies. It helps me unwind and do something else while my kids are on their nap. Here are some of my favorite notes to share for those planning to blog, or who are new to it.

Know Your Topic

I started to blog about makeup and also photography because that is something I love to do. But as the years past and I became a mom, I also shared about motherhood, DIYs, etc. I think you will know what your favorite topic will be, based on what you love to do and what you are excited about sharing to your readers.

Know Your Readers Wants

It’s also good to know what your readers want to see on your blog. I tried surveys before, and even used Instagram stories to ask my friends and followers, what they wanted to see most on my blog. This is a good way to help you to determine what topic you should post about more often.

Use Side Bars

Aside from your profile photo and bio, try to use this area to promote your other posts, like your most popular ones. Be sure to put an email subscription form, so readers will be notified if you have new posts or giveaways. Adding a search engine helps too. It makes it easy for your reader to search for something on your blog, or to link your social media platforms like Instagram. All these tools help your readers connect with you.

Image Quality

Opt for quality vs quantity. I always like to take photos at home with natural light. I’m so in love with the lighting in our new place here in Galveston Island. It helps me take pictures easily and saves time, as I don’t have to sit down editing photos on my computer as much… If different lighting is something I need, I like to use my studio lights to help brighten the area where I’m shooting. For example, when I took pictures of our old guest bathroom, I needed more light, so I used studio lights. I also use editing software like Photoshop to edit my images as needed. Larger image sizes instead of thumbnail sizes are way better for viewing on blogs. I like to make my images around 600 pixels in width.

Naming Your Blog

It is always good to use a blog name that your readers will remember. If it’s too long and the hard to pronounce, chances are it will be forgotten…  I decided to use “Hello Island Mama” since I came from the islands of  the Philippines, and I’m a mother now. Try to connect your blog name to your personality or something from your life. Something catchy will be great!

Balance Your Posts

I like to balance my posts with images and words. I try not to show tons of images unless it supports the story, is a makeup tutorial, or has step-by-step info for DIYs. Arrangement of the images to flow with your post will look nice on the blog too. For example, you could do a portrait shot, then a whole body shot like I did for this post. I think it shows good movement or sequence when your viewers read your post.

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Lipstick from Beautycounter

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I hope these tips and advice help you if you’re starting a blog! Have fun and feel free to share your blog tips or new blog in the comments below! I love checking out new blogs!

Dress sponsored by Pink Blush. Floppy hat from Target.

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Taking photo of your own baby bump (Styling & Photo tips!)

Monday, June 12, 2017

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Once my baby bump began to show a lot, I planned to have a mini baby bump photo session at home while the kids snooze. It’s been difficult to find a time for an outdoor shoot while pregnant since everything feels “heavy” for me, especially with the Texan weather. I’ve always thought indoor shoots are comfortable to do when you’re pregnant. You’re able to style yourself comfortably, have a cooler room, and most importantly, have bathrooms always available. 😉 I wanted to share today how I take photos of my baby bump, in a silhouette inspired style. I also wanted to share some tips that I’ve learned from the past few years with my photography background, as well as photo editing. Here are a  few of my photography works if you’d like to browse through them.

Camera

I used my old Nikon DSLR camera to take these shots. It’s in automatic mode and I used a tripod and remote/clicker, so it would be easy to take pictures and pose compared to using a timer. When I click to start shooting, it automatically focuses on me. If you don’t have a DSLR, you can use your phone camera as well. There is a tutorial online like this where you can learn how to do it.

Styling

Some pregnant women who do maternity silhouette shoots wear fitted pants and tops. This time I tried on a black, fitted off-shoulder dress (similar piece) that I got before I became pregnant. It’s a matter of finding clothes that fit your body and your baby bump well, when it comes to choosing a wardrobe. I also used a necklace (similar like this) that would reflect on the silhouette, to add some style to my outfit.

Location

Since it’s indoors, I chose the window in our room where there was good lighting. Our window has a sheer white curtain which creates a soft light. You also need to consider the surroundings to be more on the clean side, so that your photos’ backgrounds don’t look messy or too busy.

ANGLE

I like to take photos with different angles so I have different choices. When I setup my tripod and camera, I like it more in position so that the subject (me, the preggy) will look taller in the pictures.

EDITING

I use Photoshop to adjust the lighting, to edit the color, and polish the photo. I like to use “Levels” in adjusting the lighting. Below is before-and-after of a photo that I edited. I made it black-and-white and used “Levels” in Photoshop to adjust the brightness and contrast. You can also see that I removed my right hand (where I was holding the remote of the camera) by using “Clone” in Photoshop. If I didn’t use Photoshop, I would probably use smartphone apps like “Snapseed” to edit these photos, along with VSCOcam to get a good photo filter.

BEFOREANDAFTER

I hope this helps those who are expecting and planning to save some money by taking their own maternity photos. These photos will make great memories for yourself and loved ones of your pregnancy. Feel free to leave a comment below if you have any questions! I would love to help!

Have a blessed week!

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Hello Island Mama is a makeup, DIY, design, and lifestyle blog by Em Smith. She is the mother of three boys and a wife, who loves to inspire and encourage others through her works and stories. Originally from the Philippines.

"I can do all things through him who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13

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