How to Reduce Screen Time for Your Kids this Summer

School is out, and Lord knows we don’t want our kids wasting away on their screens this summer.

I researched some ideas that would work for my kids and we are in the second week with a summer list I think you will love.

I seriously wake up in the morning and my kids have already brushed their hair, put on their clothes and made their beds. They’ve even read books and built or crafted an amazing project…all on their own. Now, my kids are 11 and 7, so they can do all of these by themselves for the most part.

This list has saved us! My youngest needs structure. Like, his body actually craves it and his behavior is best throughout the day with structure. He has really enjoyed the list. My mind is blown. IT’S ACTUALLY WORKING.

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Checking off their activities on their list.

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It’s funny how excited the boys can get from an expo marker and eraser.

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Print your own Summer Rules list for your kids. Click on the image below to download.

They’ve been busy reading, playing, exploring, writing, and using their imagination off screen:

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Building and using their imagination

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Playing outside…The list says 20 minutes, but they always end up being out there much longer.

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Reading and writing. Benson, my 11 yr old, has turned in 3 one page written reports-all on his own after reading books.

We went to the library last Wednesday to get books. Benson selected this book, 400 pages, and finished it yesterday. I’m so proud of him for being an eager reader.

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Reading and puzzles

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Building a movie fort

7 on 7 Photo Project

I belong to an amazing group of photographers.  Each month, we write blog posts and share them.  Take a minute to visit my friend Jen Vazquez, a photographer in California, to read her blog post. 

Learn how to use your digital camera!

Learn how to use your digital camera!

Make your smartphone photos look professional!

Make your smartphone photos look professional!






10 Tips For Styling a Successful Flat Lay for Instagram

Are you a photographer showcasing your workspace, a graphic designer with inspirational props, or a handbag designer demonstrating your skills?

Flaty lays are a great way to exhibit your profession through social media and website imagery. They are so much fun, but can be tricky if not done right. Follow these steps and you will thrilled with the outcome.

1. Tell a Story

When styling a flat lay, decide on what story you want to tell. Plan out a theme. Tell a story about going on a trip to California for example. If you are a boutique owner selling summer clothes, think of all the items you would wear with those clothes. A beach hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, flip flops, bathing suit, etc.

2. Work in Odd Numbers

Don’t clutter the space of your image. A rule to go by in the design world is to work in a group of odd numbers. Start with three and no more than 7 or 9 items.

3. Layer your items

Layering your items will add depth to your photos and make them come alive.

4. Declutter your background space

Make your background clean and simple. Use a white poster board for example to create a simple look. You can also use textured fabrics, wooden desk, or kitchen counter top.

5. Window Light

Once you’ve got all of your items ready to go, find your window light. Set your items in the cover-shaded area, not direct sun. The window light is like a big diffused softbox and is perfect for taking pictures.

6. Reflectors

Use a reflector to bounce light onto your subject. You can use a white poster board from the dollar store for this. No need in breaking the bank for photo props :)

7. Shoot From Above

A flat lay is photographed from above, but once you get that angle, work around your subject for more photo opportunities.

8. Keep It Real

Make your flat lays interactive. Add in a hand model demonstrating your product. For example, if you are selling sunscreen with Beauty Counter, squeeze out the sunscreen on your hands :)

9. Keep it Simple

Use negative space to simplify and impact your photograph by drawing the viewers eye directly to your subject.

10. Don’t Over Think It

Have fun and play around with several different layouts. This will help you decide which layout you like best. You shouldn’t spend more than 20 minutes on each layout. If you do, you are over thinking it.

Have fun creating! Samples of flat lay ideas are below!

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14 Creative and Inspiring Ways To Add Color In Your Home

Is it time to redecorate your home? Take pointers from my friend and interior designer, Callie Parr in these beautifully designed rooms she did for her clients.

Which room would you want in your home? My favorite are the hot pink cushions! Go scroll through and see what I’m talking about. You will love them!

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Splash of color with a yarn tapestry and throw pillow

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Funky orange wall tile

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Neutral curtains and greenery

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Hot pink seat cushions and magazine covers

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Bright orange couch

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mid-century wallpaper and velvet olive couch

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Area rug and feather wall décor

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Framed textile art

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Area rug and floral arrangements

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Orange stools

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Fruit on the countertop

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Bright yellow chair and throw pillows

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Succulent plants and throw blanket

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Soft pink floral arrangement

5 Easy Ways To Enhance Your Photos with CC Mobile Presets

Easy to use presets are in the shop! The CC Mobile Presets were designed for anyone on the go, taking pictures with their smart phone and wanting a little more pop or pizazz for their photos. They are fresh, funky and full of color. Each one is titled an 80s song to make your photo magic making a little more fun.

Do you have to be a professional photographer to use these presets? No way! They were created for anyone with a smart phone. Buy Now!

As a matter of fact, I’ve created a Spotify playlist just for you while you edit with your CC Mobile Presets.

Click on the Spotify album below:

 

5 Easy Ways to Enhance Your Photos Using the CC Mobile Presets for Lightroom:

  1. Apply Material Girl preset to photo

  2. Apply Betty Davis Eye’s preset to photo

  3. Apply Jessie’s Girl preset to photo

  4. Apply Take On Me preset to photo

  5. Apply Tainted Love preset on photo

So easy right?

When you purchase the presets (thanks by the way), you will need to have the *Dropbox app and *Lightroom app, both free apps in the App Store.

These presets are available for iPhone and Android phones.

BEFORE-STRAIGHT OUT OF CAMERA

BEFORE-STRAIGHT OUT OF CAMERA

BEFORE-STRAIGHT OUT OF CAMERA

BEFORE-STRAIGHT OUT OF CAMERA

BEFORE-STRAIGHT OUT OF CAMERA

BEFORE-STRAIGHT OUT OF CAMERA

AFTER-TAKE ON ME

AFTER-TAKE ON ME

AFTER-MATERIAL GIRL

AFTER-MATERIAL GIRL

AFTER-TAINTED LOVE

AFTER-TAINTED LOVE

BEFORE

BEFORE

AFTER-TAKE ON ME

AFTER-TAKE ON ME

CC MOBILE PRESETS
58.00

Included:

-four color presets

-one black and white

The black and white preset is perfect for those who love a beautiful black and white film photograph.

The color presets add a fresh, funky, light and bright style.

-Instructions on how to install Lightroom for your phone, as well as how to install your presets into Lightroom.

These presets are NOT the same as desktop presets and are designed to work specifically with jpg files and mobile images. This preset collection works only with the Adobe Lightroom CC MOBILE app, which is free on mobile devices.

This preset purchase is for ONE user only.

ALL SALES ARE FINAL, WITHOUT EXCEPTION.

After you purchase your presets and receive your receipt, I will send a second email with the presets and installation instructions.

Quantity:
BUY NOW

On a different note, I’d love for you to check out my friend Kristina’s blog. She just went on a beautiful trip to Carmel and it makes me want to go too!


What ISO Setting Should I Use With My Digital Camera?

ISO? What does that even mean? The best and easiest way I like to describe it is like this…

Remember when you would purchase film at the grocery store? They would have 100 speed, 400 speed, 800 speed, etc. The ISO provides your camera with the amount of light you need on your camera’s image sensor for digital cameras and film for, well film cameras.

If it’s sunny outside, you don’t need extra help with light. The light source you are using is already provided…the SUN! But as the day goes on, it can get cloudy or evening time comes around and you lose that light. So what do you need to do to give your camera more light? Answer-Increase your light source by increasing your ISO.

I know it can be confusing, so I made this ISO CHEAT SHEET for you. When I first learned about my camera, it took me a while to put all the steps together. I’m hoping this form will help it all make more sense.

For example, if it’s sunny outside around 10 am, you would set your ISO to 100. Then, in the same day, as the sun goes down, say around 6 pm, you would raise your ISO to 400-800.

Let me also remind you, the ISO, shutter speed, and aperture (f-stop) all work together to make an even exposed photograph. If you’d like to learn more about how to shoot with your digital camera, I’d love to teach you at my DSLR Workshop!

Right now I’m offering a special on group workshops until April 30, 2019. Grab your friends and we will make a fun day out of it!

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Need ideas on what to photograph? Take a look below to get you started.

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I Love Lubbock, Texas Wedding Vendors

It never fails when I have an event or wedding in Lubbock, Tx the vendors go all out. They hold nothing back and create some of the most amazing setups, which turn out beautiful in my pictures.

From The West Table providing a beautiful modern space and mouth watering food, to tablescapes and flowers from The Poppies and Peonies Floral Design, and homemade pies from Evie Mae’s Pit BBQ, you will not be disappointed.

As a photographer, it’s important to have a team to produce such an elaborate showcase and I recommend these businesses 100%.

Cheers to a gorgeous wedding!

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The Sunny Side of Product Photography

If you’ve ever wished you could have professional photographs of your products, but were too nervous to hire a professional, worry no more.

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My photographs of your products will make you fall more in love with them and eager to sell to the masses.

Doesn’t that sound great? Select the CONTACT tab at the top of this page to fill out the form and we can get started today!

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Keep scrolling to see my favorites from this shoot for a Colorado based boutique.

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Peace Out. I'm Graduating

What if…

What if I didn’t explore my creativity the day I did this shoot?

What if I would have stuck with something safe?

What if I didn’t branch out and try unique and random poses with Jayda?

Thinking outside the box is where I feel most alive. That’s where I feel like I matter most. It’s the place that reassures me I’m doing something right, because it’s so different.

Do I only photograph matrix style and peace-sign photos? Absolutely not. Traditional shots are a must too (as you see below), but when I’m done being traditional and playing by the rules, I like to take an adventure across that dotted line and dig deeper than my mind can comprehend.

I have another senior session this weekend and I’m curious as to what we will create.

Can I give you some tips before your senior session?

-RELAX. You are graduating. Be excited.

-Think of me as a friend and live it up.

-Wear clothes that are YOU. Don't dress up in a stuffy dress or suit if you don’t like wearing one.

-Getting your hair and makeup done is always fun :)

-Be open to ideas.

-Let me direct you. Don’t think you have to know what to do, I’ll help you out with that part.

-Have fun.

oxox

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On a different note, if you go back to my food photography post, you will see where I shared a blog from another photographer friend. Well this time I’m sharing my friend Jen Vasquez’s post on getting engagements and weddings. I think you will enjoy it! Click here to read what she has to say about it all.

Free Valentine Card Printable

Valentine’s Day is almost here and I’ve got you covered if you are one of those procrastinating people. haha Don’t worry, I don’t judge.

I made this printable for myself and I’d love to share it with you. It’s great for any mama who doesn’t want to give out sugary treats. It’s also perfect for any kiddo who has food allergies. We can’t leave those cuties out!

I suggest printing them out on cardstock paper. This will make them sturdy.

I used my printer and home, cut them out, and taped a pencil on the back with cute patterned washi tape.

That's all you have to do.

So, go print your OXOXO valentine cards and be the coolest mom ever.

Click here to download your Valentine Card printable.

Also take a peek on my Instagram. Well actually, I’d love for you to stay a while. I post daily on this platform of recent sessions, product shots, and tutorials for any of you camera loving people.

Learn more about each photo by clicking on the image.

Happy (almost) Valentine’s Day!


Give Me All The Food

My two passions have officially collided. Food and photography.

It’s no lie that we all love to eat. Am I right? Let me guess. Right now you are thinking of your favorite dish or dessert that makes you go into a far off land. haha

Lately, I’ve been diving into brand and commercial photography and several of my clients are food companies. Yay for me, because AFTER I take all the mouth watering pictures, I eat all the goodness. And sometimes I share with my family too. Let’s be honest, they love my new job too.

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Who’s hungry? Is your mouth watering yet?

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Food inspires me and I am so thrilled this adventure has crossed my path. Ask any of my friends and family, and they will tell you all I talk about is food. I’m even talking about lunch while eating breakfast!

When we are passionate about certain things in our lives, we put our whole heart behind it, and that is what I do here for each of my clients.

I’m also passionate about taking adventurous trips, yet I’ve been able to do that. So for now, I’m living vicariously through my friend Kris McNeil. I’ve met her through a group of other photographers and her work is phenomenal. Take a look at her blog post. She just went on a National Geographic trip you guys!!! How amazing is that? I would give my left kidney to do be a National Geographic photographer. That has always been a dream. Just wait. When you see her pictures you will fall in love with the landscape. I’m pretty sure if I witnessed her photos in person, I would cry. I would cry, because God is so amazing at all the things he creates.

 

WHAT THEY ARE SAYING

Free Printable Christmas Gift Tags and DIY Custom Wrapping Paper

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I don’t know about you, but I’m a sucker for homemade gifts and wrapping. And when you add a minimalistic gift tag to it, you’ve won me over.

I created these gift tags for myself as I’m wrapping presents for family. Hint hint, they are photographs in picture frames. I mean, I am a photographer, so ya know that’s what I do.

I wish I could write beautifully like this, but I can’t. So I rely on good ‘ol photoshop fonts.

And I am sharing my free custom gift tags with you here. It’s super easy. Just download the tags, print them out on cardstock, and attach with your favorite garland or ribbon.

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If you ant to take it a step further, you can make your own wrapping paper.

All you need is kraft packing paper (you can buy it at Hobby Lobby, Michael’s, or any office store), cookie cutter of choice, black sharpie marker (or colored sharpies), and colored pencils.

Step one, lay out the wrapping paper

Step two, trace the Christmas tree all over the paper-enough to cover the gift you are wrapping

Step three, wrap your present

Step four, color your Christmas tree with colored pencils.

Step five, wrap with ribbon or garland and add one of my gift tags

It’s totally up to you on your design. Let your imagination flow. I encourage you to change it up a bit and make it your own.

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Merry Christmas and enjoy!

Blessings,

Cristy

The Wiegel's In-Home Family Session

Summer time is here and I'm thinking about activities to do with the kids. One of our favorite and simple things to do is a picnic in our backyard. My six year old loves to help out and pack a few items too. Things like gummies, bubble gum, nerds, sweet tarts... Basically any kind of candy.

We try to balance it out with a few carrots and celery sticks too.
What do you like to pack in your picnic basket?

 

I also realize I never photographed one of my favorite at-home family sessions.

So here is the super fabulous Wiegel family.

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The Hamilton Girls Clovis, NM Lifestyle Session

As a kid, summertime meant climbing in my grandparents tree and collecting cicada shells with my brothers and cousins. These days, I mostly look forward to hanging out on the back porch eating dinner with my family and maintaining my veggie garden.

I wonder if (just for old time’s sake) I could try climbing a tree, but I have no desire to play with bug shells. What do you look forward to this summer?

When I photographed this sweet families session, it made me think of my childhood and the carefree summer days.  Running, playing, squealing and giggling.

Look at how adorable they are :) 
 

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America and Watermelon.4th of July Celebration

I don't know if it's the sticky hot summer air, or the sticky watermelon juice, but I love this time of year.

When I was a kid, I remember celebrating the 4th of July with my family and friends on a random country road shooting off fireworks in the dark and staying up way too late. We would tell ghost stories and eat watermelon while watching the colors pop in the sky.  Those stories still give me the creeps. haha

Happy 4th of July!

Styled shoot by: Cristy Cross

Model: Saylor S.

Collaboration photographer: Katie Corley (check out more of her work from this shoot here)

Little Blue European Truck: Stephenie Brooks

 

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Sara and Tobi's Engagement Session at Oasis Park

"And I'd choose you;

in a hundred lifetimes,

in a hundred worlds,

in any version of reality,

I'd find you and

I'd choose you."

-The Chaos of Stars

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Wedding season is around the corner and I'm excited for the engagement sessions that will be happening soon!

Did you know if you book a wedding with me, you get a complimentary engagement session?

It's true.  Inquire in the contacts section and I'll get you all the information.

Or email me at cristy@cristycross.com

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3 Reasons Why You Need a Professional Headshot

Professional headshots are so important in todays world.  Especially with social media being a heavy hitter in promoting our business.  People want to know the face behind the business.  

Headshots are great for all professions.  Hair dressers, insurance salesman, crafty moms, graphic designers, realtors, CPAs, photographers, makeup artists, yoga instructor...etc.  

I have a passion to help business owners stand out from the crowd, and one of the best ways to do that is with a professional headshot. 

Here are three simple reasons why you need a professional headshot.

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The Holt's Albuquerque, New Mexico Maternity and Family Session

Celebrating beautiful pregnant mamas today.  As a mom of two, I know this road can be challenging.  But we always say, it is totalllllly worth it in every way. 

I love this family (went to college with this beautiful mama) and I had a wonderful time traveling up to Albuquerque to photograph them on one of their favorite trails.  How beautiful is this location?  I've decided that this is now my favorite new spot. 

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Healthy Snacks For You and the Family

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Yup. 3 pm roles around and I'm hungry.  The kids are hungry.  And we are all about to get hangry.

Sometimes I make them something, like a grilled cheese sandwich, and sometimes we just do quick snacks.  To be honest, I think I've bored my kids to death with carrots and bananas.  They don't want them anymore.  Wahhh.  My momma heart is bummed, because those are healthy snack options.  And now I have to be creative and give them something else.  But what?

For example today, they had blueberry muffins.  Thanks to my husband for making them the other night.  He planned ahead for breakfast meals and snacks for the week.  My oldest ate blueberries and raspberries too.  My youngest, well.  We do our best to hold him off on eating all candy in sight until dinner time.  I mean, the blueberry muffins only holds him over for so long.  And he had two!

Now, for us mommas and dads.  I need something savory and sweet.  Vermont beef sticks is super yummy and its a healthy and clean option.  I get these at Natural Grocers.  I ate mine with an orange.  Perfect little combo.

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Other healthy options to try out for yourself and the family:

-Hard boiled eggs.  My boys go crazy for these.  I like to put mustard on mine.

-Leather fruit strips

-RX Bars. Berry Blast is a kids flavor and kid size. You can get these at Target.

- Apples with a nut butter of your choice.  I prefer almond butter. I love the flavor.  I like the one sold at Costco.  Do you have a favorite?

-Turkey slices and sweet potato crackers.  I buy both of these at Costco.

-Shredded carrots.  We normally give the boys baby carrot sticks, but they got bored after eating them for several years.  So my husband bought the shredded carrots and they are eating them!  Changing the shape makes it new again. Score!

-Sliced bell peppers

-Avocado seasoned with salt, pepper, and onion powder (I put this on everything), drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  So good.

-Any kind of fruit

-Frozen grapes.  My oldest loves these.

-Zucchini Bread from Against All Grain (first cookbook)

If I lived in my dreams, I'd have a chef make us healthy food every single day and that is all I would eat.  I could have healthy pizza, healthy baked French fries...etc.  But let's be real.  We don't eat healthy food 24/7 and that is totally okay.  It's nice to have healthy options though.

I am always on the lookout for more ideas.  I mean, my kids say they like apples today, but that might change tomorrow.  So the more options I have up my sleeve the better.

Share your healthy snack ideas with me. 

 

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