Friday, December 24, 2010

2010 Holiday Cards

I wanted to take a moment to share the holiday cards I made this season. I have the best clients ever! I hope you have a very Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year! I look forward to working with you in 2011!!!










Thanks for looking!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Holiday Cards and Gifts

It's that most wonderful time of the year!!! Let me create a customized holiday card or photo gift for you.

Most holiday photo cards are $25 for any size including one to the three photos. I also offer scrap-for-hire and collage services for a variety of sizes including 11x14, 12x12, and 8x10. Photo editing, photo restoration, and photo retouching services are available also. I charge $20/hour for photo editing and pro-rate that by 15 minute increments at $5. Individual projects are quoted per project. I accept Paypal... my email and Paypal address is

All of my cards will be custom made, one-of-a-kind pieces; I do not offer templates. I work primarily with digital scrapbooking kits and have permission for commercial use for all of my products. You may request a specific scrap kit to be used for your project. Please send large photos that have not been edited (I can fix virtually any problem); your final print quality will depend on your intial photo size and quality. Full payment will be required prior to starting your project.

I will work with you to ensure your final product is exactly what you desire. Upon completion of the project, I will send you a proof of your card for final approval, then you will receive a high resolution jpeg image to print at your favorite printer. I will be happy to customize size, layout, photos, and style to best suit your photos and family. I look forward to working with you!

Please note that some samples have been altered to protect confidentiality. Images are clickable to see the original sizes (choose Actions>View All Sizes). Full credits can be found on my Flickr site. Thank you!

Holiday Cards

Holiday Card, 7x5

Christmas Card, 7x6.5

Christmas Card, 7x6.5

Christmas Card, 7x5

Christmas Card, 4x6

Christmas Card, 6x4

Christmas Card, 6x4

Christmas Card, 7x5

Christmas Card, 6x4

Collage and Scrap-for-Hire

8x10 collage

8x10 collage

8x10 collage

Naughty or Nice?

Believe in the Magic of Christmas

Christmas Wishes

Season's Greetings

Dreaming of Christmas

Thanks for looking!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Tips for taking better photos

With the holidays rapidly approaching, you may be thinking about your holiday card and how to get that perfect shot for your family photo. Most of us can't afford professional photographers but I do urge you to think about hiring one at least once, especially if you have young children. As I've learned more and more about photography this year (I am doing Project365 and have joined Clickin' Moms), true professional photographers (not Sears Portrait Studios and the like) are artists. They spend a lot of time and money learning their craft, investing in equipment, and running their business. It's totally worth several hundred dollars to have a lifetime of memories to cherish. But if you are like me and on a tight budget this year, you will probably go the DIY route. As someone who works with photos everyday, I have some tips to share to get better pictures.

1. Camera choice: point & shoot or DSLR.
With DSLRs becoming more affordable, many people now own one. You can get quality photos from either type of camera; it really depends on how well you know how to use your camera. I've heard many times, "Wow, your camera takes great pictures!" Admittedly, my Nikon D40 does take better photos then my previous point-and-shoot, but it is the photographer behind the lens that makes the difference. I invite you to read this great article by Erin Farrell, Your Camera Takes Really Nice Pictures where she blogged about an experiment with her camera. Just because you have a nice camera doesn't mean that you will be guaranteed good photos. If you find yourself using Auto mode all the time, challenge yourself to read your camera's manual or look up tutorials on YouTube. There is a site that has detailed instructions on nearly every camera made complete with tutorials called Wonder How To. I learned a lot my camera's features from this site. And I've seen some amazing photos from point-and shoot cameras from professional photographers. It's all how you use your equipment!

2. Shooting mode: auto, program, or manual.
Learning to shoot in manual mode took me months of studying as well as an expensive class but it was very worth the effort. My photos have improved dramatically and I have complete creative control over all aspects of each picture. If you are just starting to learn how to leave auto mode behind, I recommend using the program mode (P on most cameras). All this does is guarantee that your flash will not fire, the camera will figure out all of the other settings for you. You'll have to watch for camera shake though; often the shutter speed will be much slower when not using the flash and you might end up with blurry pictures. To combat this, use a tripod, shoot several photos in rapid succession and hope one of them is not blurry, or find more light in order to raise your shutter speed.

3. Lighting and flash - don't use it!
LOL, I kid, I kid… but seriously, don't use it. If you are using auto mode, your camera will want to use the flash all the time. This leads to overexposed faces, blown out highlights, unflattering shadows, red eye, and nearly unfixable problems. If you have to use flash, here are a couple of tips:
~Find more light! Turn on lamps, move your subject close to a window, go outside. This will help decrease the flash effect.
~Step back. You don't need to be right in front of your subject when using the flash. Take a few steps back and reduce the harsh glare.
~Diffuse or redirect your flash if you have that ability.
For more tips on how to avoid flash problems, check out 7 Strategies for Avoiding Flash Blow Out. Better yet, try to use natural light and leave flash behind forever. There are times where you will have to use it but for most everyday photos of your children, you can get wonderful pictures using natural light. There are many great tutorials online about how to get started. Check out How to Photograph Your Baby for some beginning tips.

4. Composition: backgrounds, clutter, and rule of thirds.
Before you take a photo, take a look around. The composition of your photo can make a huge difference between just an ordinary snapshot and a beautiful portrait. If you are inside, look for clutter, busy prints in the background, and other distracting elements. Try moving yourself around while looking through your viewfinder to really focus on your subject. One funny thing I've learned about this year is how your background intersects with your subject. When outside, avoid having trees and shrubs "growing" out of your subject, especially the head. A small shift in position can eliminate this problem. Also watch for horizontal lines running through your subject such as fences. This chops up your composition and decreases the focus on your subject. If you have the ability to choose your focal point in your camera, then try positioning your subject according to the rule of thirds where the most interesting focal point occurs along one of four intersecting points when your photo is intersected by 3x3 lines.

5. Posing: what to wear, step away from walls, turn slightly, look up, limb chops, and catchlights.
How you pose your subject can also have a profound impact on the quality of your photo. Dressing everyone in white shirts and blue jeans is outdated and white shirts wash out many skin types. Instead choose coordinating colors and comfortable clothes. Have your child or subject take a few steps away from the wall to focus the photo on the person while letting the background blur nicely. If shooting an adult, have them turn slightly away from the camera, then turn their face toward you; this tip also works well for those in the chub club, like me. For small children, have them sit on the floor and look up at you. Avoid limb chops and head chops; if you are shooting a close-up, make sure the entire head in the frame. If shooting the whole body, make sure that the arms and legs are in the frame. Most of all, have your subject face the light, if not directly, then at a 45-degree angle. The most beautiful portraits capture catchlights in your subject's eyes. Can you see light reflected? Seeing light in the eyes brings life to the person and the photo.

These are all just suggestions that I've learned on my photography forum and through my own experience working with thousands of other people's photos. Some of my favorite photos break many of these "rules" but because I captured an emotion, something real, and what I see is a memory and is not technically perfect. If you are taking photos for me to use for a siggy, a holiday card or invitation, or a collage, keep in mind that I can fix many problems. My editing skills have also improved this year by learning more about photography.

Here a few more suggestions if you will be requesting that I work with your photos in the future (for siggies or print work).
~When submitting multiple photos, especially of different children, try to pick photos with a similar light source. For example, I have a harder time working with one photo taken outside and another photo taken inside with a flash. I will try to make everyone's skin tones look similar but depending on the light source, that may be challenging.
~If you are wanting an extraction, please submit a photo with no head chop or limb chops. I can blur and fade the top edge of the head if I have to or add elements around the missing pieces (such as grass around feet), but your end result will look better if I have the entire body with which to work.
~I can't recover completely blown highlights.
~Really blurry photos can't be fixed.
~Cell phone photos have poor quality, with the exception of the iPhone.
~Larger photos are easier to work with than smaller ones.
~I cannot use professional, watermarked photos without a written release from the photographer. They are copyrighted.

I absolutely love with your photos of your children and loved ones! I'm coming up on three years making siggies and doing photo editing, and two years making cards, collages, and scrap pages. I continue to read, research, study, take classes, and buy books to continually improve. It is truly my honor to work with you! Thank you for your continued business and I hope to hear from you this holiday season! Let me know if this article has been helpful too. Smooches!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Lots of new samples!

I have been super busy the last couple of months with print projects. I will be updating all of the individual pages with them but I wanted to share some of my favorites!

I've done two collages for a client which are both sized 14"x11". These were a LOT of fun to make!

Collage, 14x11

Adventures in my Backyard by Jennifer Barrette (not currently available)
"Parker" and "puppy" alpha from Just the Basics by Dani Mogstad at Sweet Shoppe Designs
"Snips" alpha from Ransom Note Alpha by Zoe Pearson (retired)
"Snails" alpha from Metalrific Alpha" by Dylabel Designs at Elemental Scraps
"DOG" alpha from Chit Chat and Chocolate by AnnaBV Designs at ScrapOrchard
"tails" alpha from A Good Life by Valorie Brown (not currently available)
"boys" alpha from Beep Chugga Zoom by Kristin-Cronin Barrow and Shawna Clingerman
"one" alpha from Adventures in my Backyard by Jennifer Barrette (not currently available)
sf Natalie font

Collage, 14x11

Another Galaxy by Traci Reed and Julie Billingsley at Sweet Shoppe Designs

Some birthday invitations...

Birthday Invitation, 7x5

On the Farm by Kristin Aagard at After5Designs
2Peas Dear Diary and Georgia fonts

Birthday Invitation, 4x6

It's Your Big Day by AnnaBV Designs at ScrapOrchard
JI-Limbed font

Birthday Invitation, 6x4

Another Galaxy by Traci Reed and Julie Billingsley at Sweet Shoppe Designs
Courier font

And a birth announcement... look at this precious angel!
Birth Announcement, 7x5

The Land of Nod by Dani Mogstad at Sweet Shoppe Designs
Dumbbells from Get Fit the Kit by Crisdam Designs at Gotta Pixel
Sock monkey from Peter by MandaBean at Sweet Shoppe Designs (SSDQA, Vol. 2, 09)
Century Gothic and P22 Corinthia by ROB fonts

Thanks for looking!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Sharing a birthday invitation!

I recently finished one of my favorite birthday invitations of all time and couldn't wait to share it with you! This is the adorable baby girl of a long-time client; I can hardly believe Alayna is turning one already! The mom linked me to the party decorations they chose... pink mod monkey (so cute!) and asked if I could make the invitation match. With the help of Kay Miller and her adorable kit, Monkey She, Monkey Do, I created a darling invite!

birthday invitation sample, 6x4 (full-size)

Monkey She, Monkey Do by Kay Miller Designs
Papers, glitter swirl, and pink ribbons from Happy Birthday, Baby Girl by Misty Cato at Sweet Shoppe Designs
P22 Corinithia by ROB and Georgia fonts

Thanks for looking!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Lots of new samples!

I have been very busy with many fun and exciting projects this summer. Instead of showing each of them here, I'll invite you to check out the All Occasion Cards and Gifts as well as the Invitations tabs. I have at least four new birthday invitations, a baby shower invitation, two more teacher cards, and a scrap-for-hire scrapbook page. I've been busy with some photo editing too and I'm learning photography.

I've never been happier!

If you are interested in a project, please contact me at I look forward to discussing your project needs and working with you!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Teacher Gifts

As the school year comes to an end, what better way to honor your child's teacher than with a 4x6 or 5x7 unique photo thank you card! This is a special keepsake that your child's teacher can keep for years to come. Contact me at for more information. I made this for my son's kindergarten teacher as a 5x7 and it printed and framed beautifully.

Teacher Thank You Card, 5x7 (full-size)

A Mother's Love by Sabrina Dupre at Shabby Pickle Designs
sf Ellie Everyday font

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Basic Editing and Enhancing

I had the most fun working on a project for a client today (thank you so much, Kristin!) who wanted some basic editing some on some photos of her daughter. I wanted to take the editing a step further and also add a little enhancing with some actions and textures that I've recently acquired. We were both very pleased with the result. Here is my favorite of the day and there are a few others posted on the Restoration/Retouching tab.



I fixed lighting, exposure, shadows, levels, curves, reduced noise, added a slight eye pop, added lens glare, used My4Hens Watermelon Blues and Paint the Moon Sea Delight actions, added texture from Tassiesim on Flickr, then erased texture from face and hands.

Thanks for looking!

Friday, May 7, 2010


Hello my faithful followers! I have redesigned Digital Star Design to better showcase my work. You can now navigate by tabs to view different categories of projects with a wider column in which to view the larger print pieces at full-size. Please feel free to share my site with your friends and family and I look forward to working with you in the future!

If you have any questions or would like to book a project, please contact me via email at I now also have a Facebook Fan Page and you can contact me there also. Thank you!