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!)

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:

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


Mamas on Magic 107.9: Just Do It

JUST DO IT SLIDERWe know there are probably a million reasons why you’re not doing certain things and you can rattle them off at a moment’s notice, but let’s get real. Deep down, underneath all the rationalizations and excuses, you know you ought to “just do it.”

We’re preaching to ourselves here, too. Like so many moms, we sometimes need a nudge (or even a good kick in the pants) to stop avoiding things and just do it already. Listen in to the conversations we had about this topic during one of our recent radio shows on Magic 107.9. Just click on the left side of each audio bar to hear more.

By the way, you can join us for these on-air discussions by tuning in to Magic 107.9 each weekday at about 7:45 a.m.

Just Do It… on getting in the pictures

Just Do It… about swimsuits

Just Do It… something nice for YOURSELF!

Just Do It… about playing with the kids

Just Do It…a girls’ night out or a date night

Back-to-School savings at the Northwest Arkansas Mall!

nwa mall fb header

Raise your hand if you remember the thrill of shopping for new back-to-school clothes as a kid.

We always loved picking out new fall clothes and making that crucial decision about which outfit would be “the one” to wear on the first day.

mall logo greenA new school year is a fresh start — and all fresh starts call for a new wardrobe! Kids grow so much over the summer — not just physically but mentally as well. Their style may have changed and they might want to try on a new personality as school gets back into session.

Fall styles are front and center at the mall and we’ve enjoyed seeing all the new ideas. (FYI: If you have a tween girl and you’re at a loss for what to buy, sales associates at Justice in the Mall said there are three trends to watch for: sequined backpacks, high-waisted skirts and jeggings, and Palazzo pants.)

Of course, you can snag some great deals without paying sales tax THIS WEEKEND! August 2-3 is the state of Arkansas’ tax free holiday. WOOT! You can find all kinds of clothes, shoes and other back-to-school necessities on sale right now, so you’ll really save when your final bill rings up — minus taxes.

And while you’re at the mall shopping over the tax-free holiday weekend, keep in mind the Mall will be giving away an iPad Mini to FIVE winners! Register to win at the display at Center Court. (Must be 18 or older to enter; one entry per person.) Click here to see all the details and official rules on the mall website.

There’s always a great sale going on at the NWA Mall. Right now you’ll see a big white tent set up in the parking lot where there’s an ADIDAS sale going on through Aug. 5.

Here are some other sales events coming up soon at the NWA Mall:

  • This weekend (Aug. 2-3) Tradehome Shoes will offer an additional 10% off of any sale item during tax free weekend.
  • July 31-August 28th is the Semi-Annual Pant Event at New York & Company: all pants and jeans are Buy One, Get One FREE!
  • Sears Family & Friends sale is Sunday, August 10 from 6-9pm
  • Francesca’s Friends & Family Event will be August 14th, with 25% off everything, includes full price and sale merchandise.

If you want to start a new giving tradition with your kids, Project Apple Tree is an opportunity to help kids in need. Through Aug. 10, you can pick a “golden apple” off the tree near the red schoolhouse at center court in the mall and help a child with back-to-school clothes and supplies. The supplies will go to deserving kids at the NWA Children’s Shelter.

gap kids

Gap Kids

The Children's Place

The Children’s Place

Visit the NWA Mall website here. The Facebook page updates with the latest events, sales, promotions and styles.  Click here to follow them on Facebook!

The Mall is also now on Instagram!

If you stop by the NWA Mall, tell store associates that you saw their ad on nwaMotherlode!

Mamas on Magic 107.9: Time-saving tips and tricks

time saver sliderIf there’s one thing moms are almost always short on, it’s time. We’re constantly wishing for a few more hours in the day to help us conquer the mountain of things we’d like to get done.

So we spent a week during our radio show talking about some of the best time-saving techniques we could find, using our own experience as well as insights we gathered from all over the Internet. Click the LEFT side of each audio bar below to learn a few new time-saving tricks to make your own daily routine run a little smoother.

(And don’t forget to join us in the mornings for the Mamas on Magic 107.9 radio segments! They’re on the air at about 7:45 each morning on Magic 107.9.)

Saving time for spontaneous summer fun

Saving time on email and how to get out of the house faster.

Saving time in the morning

Saving time when filling out school forms or registration forms

Saving time in the kitchen

You need this app for 2014!

motherlode appYou know how we all buzz around during January trying to get ourselves organized for the New Year? Well, we think the nwaMotherlode app can help you do that. After all, we designed this app specifically for women in Northwest Arkansas. AND…. it’s free so it definitely won’t mess up any resolutions to save more money this year. :-)

With the help of an amazing local app designer, Jennifer Adair of Adair Mobile Apps, we created the nwaMotherlode app to deliver the best the website has to offer in an easy-to-navigate app that works on iPhone, Android and tablets.

Just search for nwaMotherlode in the Apple app store or Google Play store and then download it for free. Easy peasy.

The app is a great way to read the latest articles on as well as check what’s on the local calendar of events.  You can also browse through the business directory when you’re out shopping and need to find specific stores in a certain category. For example, if you’re in Fayetteville and you need to find a bakery, just click on the word Fayetteville and a list of all the businesses will appear. Genius, huh?

Here are a few of the other cool tricks the new app can do:

  • Get the latest articles
  • Subscribe via email to our newsletter updates
  • Connect with nwaMotherlode via Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter
  • Get Mom Prom details and buy tickets
  • See photos of local kids in our photo gallery

If you like the new app, we’d LOVE it if you’d write a quick review of it so other local moms will know it’s awesome. And we hope you’ll use the app to stay up to speed with local mama news while you’re on the go.

adair mobile picIf you have any trouble finding or downloading the new app, please let us know by emailing us at

And if you work for a company that could really benefit from having its own customized app, you should get in touch with Jennifer Adair asap. She is AMAZING, and she has created several apps (for businesses as well as kids educational apps) and has had them approved and accepted into app stores.

Jennifer made the app development process easy and fun for us. Best of all, it was affordable, too, even for a local small business like ours. Thanks again for all your work, Jennifer. You rock!

Contact app developer Jennifer Adair by clicking HERE.

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required Email Address * First Name Last Name