Posts with tag: "Mom"


Are you Mom to a teenage daughter?  

Are you looking for connection, encouragement, and tips on how to navigate these crazy teen girl years?

Then grab your camera and your coffee, and join us! 




By Jennifer Lebo
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The other day, as I was walking out of my teenage son’s room, I noticed some index cards taped to the back of his bedroom door.  A closer look revealed that he had set athletic goals for his entire high school career (which does not begin for another 5 months).  There were also college goals.  And beyond.  I laughed to myself and realized (yet again) that the apple had not fallen far from the tree.


Our house is a house of goal setters.  My husband has been setting and tracking running goals for the entire 20 years I have known him.  Ask him what workout he did on September 15, 2007 and he can go back and find it.  The same goes for me.  Well, maybe not to that obsessive extent, but my office walls are covered with goal cards for work, for health and fitness, for life.


But what about mothering?  


After leaving my son’s room and considering the insane amount of goal setting this family does, the thought struck me.  Why don’t I set goals on mothering?  Isn’t it just as important- if not more- as my work, or my health and fitness?  Isn’t mothering the part of my life where I really need to be intentional?  How have I not set Mom goals?


I mulled these questions over for about 30 seconds, and decided to set some Mom goals.  Then I decided to bring you along for the ride.  So let’s do this together.


Let’s set some Mom goals.



1. Consider your WHY

We shouldn’t just go setting goals for the sake of setting goals.  We need to slow down and consider our why.  Remember in my last blog post, I shared my WHY with you, and the process that I used to break down my WHYs into several layers.  


I want you to do this with your Mom goals.  What’s the reason behind your wanting to do this?  Are you wanting to connect more with your daughter?  Do you want to create a safe place for her to share her thoughts and fears?  Do you want to instill a sense of self worth in her?  Are you worried about her interactions with mean girls?  Whatever the reasons, think about them.  You should be sure of your WHY before anything else.


2. Write Down Your WHY

Grab yourself a pen and paper, or go to your computer, and start writing.  Remember that process from my last post.  Write down your why.  (For example, “I want my daughter to feel that she can always come and talk to me about anything.”)  Then take it a step further and answer it again.  Why?  (Why do I want my daughter to feel she can come and talk to me about anything?  I may write, “I want her to know she can come to me, because I know that she is about to start high school and she is going to encounter a lot of hard stuff.”)  Go another layer deeper.  Why do you believe she’s going to encounter this?  Why?  Why?  Keep going until you’ve exhausted your WHYs.  Then print that paper out, or take that handwritten sheet, and put it up somewhere where you’ll see it often.  Be reminded of your WHYs.


3. Write Goals That Compliment Your WHY

Now you’re ready to write down some goals.  You know the WHY behind your goals, so you know what you’re striving for.  You want to instill in your daughter that she can always come and talk to you.  So your goal might be to open up lines of communication.  Well, that’s a great idea, but we have to make this a goal, rather than just a nice idea.  So we need to make it SMART.


Specific- You’ve got to get specific with your goal.  Beyond just opening up lines of communication, perhaps your goal could be to initiate conversation with her once every day.  Now that’s specific.


Measurable- You’ve got to set a goal that you can measure.  Opening lines of communication- how do we measure that?  Initiating conversation once a day.  That once a day piece we can measure.


Achievable- You’ve got to consider steps that you know are achievable in reaching your goal.  Do you drive her to school each morning?  Perhaps you can make that the time you chat.  Take time to consider the steps you can take to achieve your goal.


Realistic- Your goal is probably going to be challenging, and that’s great.  (Initiating conversation with my daughter every single day sounds challenging to me.  Will she want to talk to me?  What would I say that could get her attention and get her talking?  Should I keep it light?)  A challenge is good, but we need to stay realistic.  Perhaps in our example, we realistically say that any conversation works, not just deep conversation.  (Could you imagine trying to have deep conversations with ANYONE everyday?  Exhausting!)


Timely- Finally we have to make these goals timely.  Do you need a month of daily initiation to achieve this goal?  Longer?  Put your goal to the test.  Set a deadline to measure your progress.


One “must” to point out.  When writing out your goals, don’t write them out as wishes, but as definitive statements.  Don’t say, “I want to initiate conversation with my daughter”.  Say “I will initiate conversation with my daughter at least once a day, for the next 30 days.”  This way you’ve already put in your mind that this WILL happen.  If you believe it, you can achieve it.


4. Consider Creating a Visual (or Audio) Reminder

Just like writing out your WHYs and placing them where you’ll see them, a visual reminder of your goals, perhaps listed simply as statements on an index card, can help you stay on track each day.  Or maybe you are an alarm setter.  I’ve become one since I started setting my Mom goals.  For example, one of my goals is to take more photos at least one photo of my daughter every single day (see how I got more specific there?), so I now have a daily alarm on my phone.  Every day at 4pm (after she’s come home from school), my phone goes off, playing one of her favorite songs, displaying the simple reminder, “Brady Pics”.  I’m still struggling with every day, but without that reminder, I’d have given up on that goal long ago.


5. Put Your Reminder Where You’ll See It Everyday

This is a MUST, but it’s also a bit tricky.  Do you want your daughter to know you have these Mom goals?  Will it unnerve her to know that you’re setting out to talk to her everyday?  (Did you see those eyes just roll?  Mmm hmm!)  If you want to keep your goals private, that makes sense, but you still need to keep them somewhere where you’ll see them everyday.  Perhaps that means tucking your index card into your pants pocket each morning.  This way, every time your hand goes into that pocket, you’ll feel the card and be reminded.  Perhaps your phone reminder is in “mom code”.  Consider whether you’d prefer your daughter not to know and not to see your goals.  On the other hand, consider what it might mean to her that you make her such a priority.  



A wonderful way to make your goals more visually inspiring is to attach them TO THE ACTUAL INSPIRATION!  Why not superimpose your goals right onto an image of your daughter?  This way you’ve got both your goals AND your WHY in one beautiful place.


Now you can’t just superimpose these goals onto any old picture of your daughter.  For this, you’ll need something special, a portrait.  And I can give you the guide to create that portrait.


Are you ready to set some Mom goals with me?  Let’s do this together.  I’m sharing my Mom goals here with you, superimposed on one of my favorite portraits of my girl.  Hold me accountable, friends!  Make sure I’m working toward my goals.

And let me do the same for you.  In the comment section below, share with me ONE Mom goal that you have.  We can encourage each other, and hold each other accountable.  


We can do this!  Our girls are so worth it!


By Jennifer Lebo
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Taking the time today to send a very special HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY to all the beautiful mothers I know.  And to all the beautiful mothers YOU know!

What a gift to be surrounded by so many amazing moms.  Mothers who are just starting out on this crazy awesome ride called parenthood, and mothers who have become grandmothers, and great-grandmothers.  So many precious examples of how to raise our kids, of how to encourage each other, and of how to enjoy the ride.

Here's to all of you amazing moms out there.

And especially to the special mothers in my life: my sisters-in-law, Tara and Dani, my wonderful mother-in-law, Carol, and my precious mother, Mary Jane.  I'm so thankful for each of you.


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In my last post, I spoke about my decision to omit the sexy poses and expressions from my work.  This omission has been a part of my work for quite a while now, as I believe there is a lot of pressure out there for girls of all ages to be someone or something that they are not.  We see this everywhere from social media, to celebrity gossip magazines, to reality television, to the kids in school.  Our girls are feeling the pressure, and they are feeling it at a younger and younger age.  It's enough to make a mother throw up her hands in hopelessness.  Enough to make a photographer throw down her camera in disgust.

Or maybe not.

I write to you this morning, not in hopelessness and frustration, but filled with overwhelming hope and a strong vision for the future.  And I am not alone.

As I've shared, this year brought us back out to Colorado, a return to our beautiful, purple-mountained home.  Upon arrival back at our Fountain Valley School, I met the most wonderful woman, a fellow photographer and mom to two little ones, not to mention a fellow alum of my beloved Colgate University!  Avery and I clicked immediately (yes, pun intended) and began heading down a road together- literally.  Our friendship blossomed over campus walks during free periods, and as we walked campus loop after campus loop, we shared ideas about our businesses, shared questions and concerns about mommyhood, and shared a strong desire to see our photography differently, to use our cameras for a purpose.  The more we walked and shared, the more we discovered how in sync we were.

The months passed, and the conversation continued, until one day our school had a visit from this amazingly powerful speaker from Kimball Union Academy.  This woman, Brook Raney, came to speak to our faculty about how we need to empower our girls, how we need to set our girls on fire for their future.  Avery and I knew.  This was the piece we were missing.  Brook's talk with our faculty, and the conversations we had with her afterwards, set US on fire!  We were ready to move forward.

Did I mention that Brook was also a Colgate University alum?  Yes, this story is lousy with amazing Colgate women!  ;)

Fast forward to today, and Avery and I are moving forward down that road we started traveling almost a year ago.  While each maintaining our solo portrait business, we are partnering to create Valley Girls Photography, a partnership committed to empowering girls of all ages through our photography.  We are over the top excited, as we finally see the powerful purpose behind our cameras.

Our first project together will be a workshop this June for tween girls and their moms.  Stay tuned for all the details, and look forward to next week when I'll be blogging WITH Avery!  

Powerful and purposeful things are coming.  We are so excited to share our vision and our plans with you.

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Happy April!  Oh how I love spring, and the rebirth of all things lovely.  Trees are budding, flowers are blooming, the spring dresses are coming out.  And spring sessions are just around the corner.  

If you're anything like me, you're ready to burn the snow pants and boots, and get your kids OUTSIDE already!  And maybe you're ready to celebrate spring with some family portraits.  In anticipation of such spring sessions, I thought it would be super fun to gather the advice of other moms out there.  I asked a dozen of the moms who've already braved "Portrait Day", and asked them for their words of wisdom.  Here's what they had to say.


1. Kim C.

Make it fun... not a chore... like a field trip!  And go somewhere afterwards for a treat for a job well done.  Let them know about it in advance as an incentive.  But most of all have fun!  Think outside the box!




2. Laurie S.

Have patience!  Enjoy spending time with each other.



3. Missy A.

Timing is everything!  My kids are different people throughout the day.  Try to schedule a time when they will all hopefully be in their right minds!




4. Amy A.

Feed everyone beforehand... including your spouse and yourself.  It's hard to fake cheeriness if you are cranky!




5. Kim K.

Keep it light, organic, and short.  Don't expect a ton of formal poses.  Definitely take them out for a treat afterward.  Ask your photographer for advice on color themes for clothing.  He/she knows what looks good. 




6. Amy R.

Keep it light and carefree.  Candid shots are so fun!





7. Val O.

Umm... do you not remember our portrait session when I was ready to strangle Christopher???  Why in the world would you ask me for advice?  Take an extra Prozac... that's my advice!!!  

(editor's note- I LOVE this response because it speaks to the reality of being a mom on Portrait Day.  I love Val's honesty and humor, two traits necessary to have a successful Portrait Day!)




8. Laurie S.

Lay guilt on them!



9. Tammy B.

My preteens were hard to get cooperation from.  I told them that this day was about me and what I wanted, and not about them and what they wanted, and that the more they cooperated, the sooner we would be done.  Other than that, making sure they loved the clothes I picked for them to wear helped.  Once they were on board with that, everything went very smoothly.




10. Lori M.

I would suggest asking them what poses and location they may want.  For us, getting daddy and daughter shots were a must.  Or finding a favorite place, like Valley Forge.  Fayth also liked getting her hair styled that day.  It made the day more of a special occasion.



11. Amy H.

Try to be relaxed.  Make sure the kids are fed prior, and let everyone have an input on colors and clothes they want to wear.



12. Carolyn R.

I think my biggest take away was to be flexible.  I wanted to have a plan for outfits, but also needed to be flexible at the last minute so my family members would be happy.  I wanted them to have genuine smiles, and not be worried about their clothes.  Flexibility was important.

And there you have it!  These are some wise women, with some beautiful families.  Thank you ladies, for sharing your advice with us.  For those reading, be encouraged by these words, then grab your beautiful family, and enjoy your own "Portrait Day"!

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I own a tripod and I love it.  It assures me that there will be absolutely no camera shake when I'm capturing my precious moments.  But ask any one of my clients if they've ever seen me shoot with my tripod.  I believe 99% of them would say NOPE.  I never take it out of it's case.  In fact, I've pretty much just stopped bringing it.  Because as much as I love the idea of eliminating blurry photos, I also live in the reality that I'm photographing moving children on a regular basis.  And I actually prefer photos that portray the fun-loving spirit of childhood.  I prefer real over "posey posey".  So a tripod never shows up in my sessions.

That said, I still want clear, crisp, sharp images.  So what's a girl to do?  Well, over the years, I've discovered a few simple tricks to getting sharper images without the tripod.  A tripod is always the best option for sharper images, but it's not always the most realistic.  Here are my favorite alternatives.



I'm guessing you might not have a tripod lying around at home.  I'm also guessing you have little intention of setting one up simply to get some cute photos of the kids around the house.  But did you know that you can use a few simple household items to keep your camera more stable while capturing moments at home?  Got a bag of rice?  Or flour?  Or brown sugar?  Grab that bag (before you open it) and put it on the kitchen counter or dining room table.  Then rest your camera on it while shooting.  The bag will form to the camera, creating a more stable position for you to shoot.  The result? Less camera shake, which means sharper, more in focus pics of those kids!  Score!




Next time you're taking photos, notice the position of your elbows.  Are they sticking out like chicken wings?  If so, bring them tight to your body.  Doing so will make your hands more steady as they hold the camera.  Steady hands make for less blurry pictures.  Easy fix.  Keep those elbows in!



OK, so now that we've got our elbows in, let's try bringing them down and setting them onto something stable.  If you're in the house, try the kitchen table, or the counter.  If you're outside, say at a park, try bringing them down to the top of a park bench.  If you've got nothing to lean on, try sitting down.  Bring your knees up and lean your elbows on your knees.  You've just created something to lean on.  See how easy that is?  With your elbows in and leaning on something, you've almost created a tripod out of your body.  Two tight elbows and your core.  This will greatly improve your camera shake.




Just as your elbows and core can create a bit of a makeshift tripod, so can your two legs and a wall, or a pole, or a tree.  Sitting might not always be an option.  Maybe there's snow on the ground, or mud, or maybe you don't want to get too low to shoot.  (Shooting from a higher angle is very slimming, so we don't always want to get too low with our cameras.)  So what do we do then?  Well, look for a tree.  Or a pole.  Or a wall.  Bring those elbows in tight, spread your feet apart a bit, and lean on that wall.  You've just created a tripod from two legs and a third base.  Much greater stability than going it with just those two feet.  



How many of you set up your photos and then shoot with the camera out, using the LCD screen to compose?  Well, knowing what you know now, why would that be a mistake?  Yes, that's correct!  It brings the elbows out and away from your body!  Good job!  So no more using the LCD screen to compose and shoot.  Bring that camera in and up to your eye, and use the viewfinder to compose your shot.  Basically, the closer that camera is to your body and the tighter you bring yourself into your core, the more stable your camera will be when shooting, leading to less camera shake and less blur in your photos.  


There you have it.  Five simply ways to stabilize your camera and create better images.  And they're all FREE!  Well, unless you don't have a bag of rice or flour to work with.  Go out and try these.  Get into the habit of keeping your body tight to shoot, of bringing that camera up to your eye to shoot, of looking for ways to stabilize yourself.  You'll love the results.

If you see a difference, share your observations, or your images below.  I'd love to hear how these ideas work for you!