Picture Mama: Snapshot contest starts today!

Bedford Camera category logoIt’s time for a snapshot contest! Now that the weather is warmer and we’re spending more time outdoors, we’ll have more opportunities to snap cute pics of our families in action. As the new sponsor of our “Picture Mama” category, Bedford Camera & Video is providing the awesome prize for this summer’s snapshot contest — a 16×20 canvas wrapped print that will be ready to hang on your wall. You choose your favorite shot for the free print.

TIPS: Not sure what snapshot to submit? Here are some guidelines.

  • Pictures must be snapshots and NOT shots taken by a professional photographer, which are protected by copyright.
  • Submit pictures that make you laugh, cry, feel amazed or those sweet, ultra-cute shots that make you go “Awwww.”  (Send pics of kids of any age, from babies to teenagers.)
  • Pictures will be evaluated by a panel of objective judges and the winner will be announced here on nwaMotherlode.com.

You don’t have to have a fancy camera or crazy good photography skills to win this contest. Great timing and a camera phone can win it just as easily. Send up to 5 photos (per month) to gwen@nwamotherlode.com. The grand prize winner will be notified in August and her winning snapshot will be published on the website.

Shown below are examples of past snapshot contest winners, just to give you ideas or inspiration. We’ll publish some of the submissions so we can show off the cute kids of Northwest Arkansas. (NOTE: Kids’ names will not be used on the website, in order to protect privacy.) Can’t wait to see your great pictures! Good luck!





Ideas for where to shoot family photos!


A friend asked for suggestions on the best places to have family pictures taken in Northwest Arkansas and lots of mamas spoke up with their faves on the nwaMotherlode Facebook page!

Below are some of their suggestions. We’d love to know if you have any other ideas. Let us know in comments!

These spots are beautiful in any season:

Amy Cowan: Tanyard Creek (aka Bella Vista walking trail).

Laurie Marshall: War Eagle Mill on the bridge, Wilson Park at the castle, the open fields on the trails of Lake Fayetteville.

tree-in-autumnKristy Brown: Mount Sequoyah

Tina Banerjee: Memorial Park ….near the fountain & Crystal Bridges.

Cori Fryar: U of A campus

Taylor Dodson: Crystal Bridges and also Bella Vista lake!

Kaylin Gilkey: The Crystal Bridges grounds are beautiful. And Tanyard Creek trails in Bella Vista!

Rhonda Franz: Downtown Springdale by the trains/train station/old buildings

Stacye Peebles: Boyle Park in Bentonville

We’d love to know what you think! Do you have any other ideas for where to shoot family photos? Click the ‘post a comment’ button below and let us know!

Back to School Picture Parade!

We have been LOVING all the back-to-school photos you’ve shared with us this week. Thank you so much for allowing us to show off these beautiful faces here on nwaMotherlode.com. Enjoy!




Giveaway: Show us your favorite back to school pics for a chance to win concert tickets/dinner!


John Lleyton on a rockFor lots of Northwest Arkansas kids, today’s the day!

The first day back at school!

That means moms will either be boo-hooing or woo-hooing (or possibly a little bit of both).

Angela's boysBut you can bet all mamas will be snapping a few photos before the kids head off for their first day back at school. So since we know you have those cute snapshots on your smartphone, Facebook wall or camera memory, we want to show them off here on nwaMotherlode.com, too!

These can be homeschooled kids, private/public school kids or even your big college kid!

The giveaway part: We’ll choose one back-to-school photo at random and that mama will win two tickets to see Foreigner in concert at The Amp plus dinner at P.F. Chang’s!

Foreigner will be at The Amp on Aug. 29. Click here for tickets if you don’t want to risk missing out on the show.

Foreigner is universally hailed as one of the most popular rock acts in the world with ten multiplatinum albums and 16 Top 30 hits. Founded in 1976, the band is comprised of Mick Jones, Kelly Hansen, Jeff Pilson and Tom Gimbel.

Their debut album propelled the group onto the music scene and featured hits such as “Feels Like The First Time” and “Cold As Ice.” In 2013, Jones was inducted to the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the band released Juke Box Heroes, a new compilation of digitally recorded Foreigner hits. The band continues to produce sold out tours and album sales, now exceeding 75 million.

We absolutely LOVE P.F. Chang’s and always order the Crispy Green Beans. Or lettuce wraps. Sometimes we order both :) Look at this deliciousness:

pf food

Don’t have kids in school yet? No worries. We’ve got a way for all you mamas of babies and toddlers to get in on the giveaway action. Older kids learn in school, but babies and toddlers are very busy learners, too — especially when they’re playing! So if your kid is not quite school age yet, send us a favorite snapshot of him or her hard at play. (Playing in your kitchen cabinets? Learning to snack on Cheerios? Discovering the joys of petting the family dog? Send us any shot you like best.)

HOW TO ENTER: If you’d love to win the Foreigner concert tickets + dinner at P.F. Chang’s, just send your back-to-school snapshots (or babies at play snapshots) to gwen@nwaMotherlode.com or you can post them on our Facebook page by clicking HERE. You can also enter by simply clicking the words “leave a comment” below and tell us what your favorite Foreigner song is or your favorite back-to-school moment.

HOW TO INCREASE YOUR ODDS: To increase your odds of winning this great giveaway, email your friends and family to let them know about it. Just be sure to put giveaways@nwaMotherlode.com on the CC line of your note so we can give you proper credit.

4th grader printableBE SOCIAL: Spread the word via social media and we’ll give you extra chances as well. Just share the giveaway with your friends on Facebook (click here to go see the post on our Facebook page and share from there) or share about the giveaway on Twitter to increase your odds of winning. If you do either of these things, just let us know in a posted comment or send us an email so we can give you proper credit.

Good luck in this week’s giveaway! We’re looking forward to seeing your snapshots. Thanks to the local mamas who shared these cute back-to-school pictures with us. We hope your kids have a GREAT first day of school.

How to take better Back-to-School pictures

84771We all want a great back-to-school shot of the kids on Monday, so we asked an expert for a few tips on how to get high quality, creative shots that capture the excitement of the first day of school. Lisa Mac of Lisa Mac Photography is our go-to source for photo expertise. (Click HERE to see Lisa’s amazing portfolio. She’s also the photographer for NWA Mom Prom!) Thank you, Lisa, for answering our questions!

Are there any new photography trends for back-to-school pictures?

I love seeing all of the pictures on Facebook of friends’ kids on the first day of school.  Lots of people are using some kind of sign (like a chalkboard) for their kids to hold. I found this letter K at a Michael’s store and thought it would be fun to use with my son on the first day of Kindergarten this year.

Josiah with KMy sister-in-law always takes a picture of her kids by the front door of their home. The kids hold up fingers for what grade they’re in.

kellyFor something fast and easy, here are links to websites that have really cute ready-to-print sheets for your child to hold.




printable collage2We know your oldest son is about to start Kindergarten this year. How are you feeling about it and what are your plans for his very first back-to-school picture?

I seriously can’t believe my sweet boy is starting Kindergarten! (I will not admit how many times I’ve already gotten teary about it.) He is SO excited and I know he’ll do great…but I also know his little brothers and I are going to miss him so much during the day.

021There are several pictures I want to have of him to document him starting school. But I’ve decided that trying to do ALL of them on the first day of school could be a little stressful and too much for both of us, so I’m going to spread it out a little. (In fact, I already shot the picture above of my son standing in front of his new school. If you go on the weekend, there’s no traffic to contend with!) My goal is to get these pictures during the first week or two of school.

Here’s a list of back-to-school picture ideas for parents:kathleen1

  • Name/grade written on chalkboard or sign
  • Your child and his/her teacher
  • Your child in front of the school and/or school sign
  • Walking into school or classroom
  • Backpack shot
  • Sitting/working at desk

What are some ideas for back-to-school shots that will help show how much the kids have grown from year to year?

I LOVE before and after photos both in my photography business and with my own children. Since I’ve been in business for more than 10 years, I’ve seen lots of kids grow up in front of my camera and often include a picture in a blog post from when a child was young to go along with a recent photo.

The best idea I’ve ever seen for showing how much a child has grown from year to year is by one of my photographer friends who lives in Searcy, Arkansas. She takes a picture of her daughter every year in the same spot and uses Photoshop to combine all of the images. (She has some seriously awesome Photoshop skills!) I contacted her to ask if I could share the image of the combined pictures (see below) and she was kind enough to share it with me. (She takes the picture in the shade, uses the same lens each year and said it works best to have extra room above your child’s head on the first picture so that he/she has room to “grow.”)

She recommended taking a picture in front of a blank wall instead of an outdoor scene and stressed that the lighting and if possible, camera/lens needed to be the same each year. (A BIG thank you to Maggie Hendrix of Zoë Photographic Group for sharing her amazing picture!)  http://www.zoephotographicgroup.com/

MaggieTaking a picture of your child both on the first and last days of school is also a great way to show your child’s growth. If you don’t have Photoshop, there’s a great website online called PicMonkey that allows you to enhance images, add text and make collages of your pictures. Link: www.picmonkey.com

What are your best tips for getting high-quality pictures that will also print well?

Here are a few tips for getting great images of your kids — not only for back-to-school shots but for any photo:

  • If possible, use a camera and NOT just your phone. Although your phone is easy, the quality isn’t always great and pictures like these are too important to just have a cruddy, blurry phone picture.
  • Try to avoid using your camera’s flash since natural light is more flattering.
  • Look for a place in the shade since it provides the most flattering light. If you’re taking the picture indoors, turn off the flash and find a window with the light coming in on the side of your child’s face.
  • Take some full-length shots as well as a couple of close-ups.

NO cheese!! Having your child say cheese typically produces a forced, fake smile. Do whatever it takes to get a genuine smile — crack a joke, make a silly/inappropriate sound, have them say “boogers,” do a silly dance, etc. I also always promise a silly picture AFTER we get a good smiling picture.

Here’s hoping all our kids have a great first day of school this year. And I hope all my fellow mamas here in Northwest Arkansas get plenty of great pictures next week. Good luck!

Lisa Mac is the owner of Lisa Mac Photography and has been a professional photographer for more than 10 years. Her award-winning photos have been featured in hospitals, magazines and more. Click HERE to see examples of her work.

lisa mac logo2

instagram pic