The Design Confidentials Styling Secret // Easy + Inexpensive DIY Over-Sized Art

I frequently find myself in an art quandry when I am styling a space or decorating a room in my home. I happen to like (actually love) big huge pieces of art so much more than I like several smaller pieces. For those of you who might have searched for affordable art options, you know how hard it is to find great original things in large sizes. There are meellions of gorgeous, nay amazing, works by fantastic artists out there for affordable prices, but my gawd every time I stumble upon one of these beauties it turns out to be no larger than a 5x7 or 8x10 print at the very most! Gah.

Tulum Art Print and Sand and Sea Beach Image for Styling Secret // Easy + Inexpensive DIY Over-Sized Art Solution

Here are the deets //

  • // I find my images on sites like Shutterstock (there are many, this just happens to be the one I use). I essentially signed myself up for a revolving account there, that renews whenever I reach 5 downloads and I pay a slightly discounted rate of $49 for all 5 downloads combined. Each image ends up being around $9-$10 for the large size, which works perfectly for high quality prints in the size I generally need.
  • // Once I download the image, I alter the size, crop things out, adjust color, or altogether make the image my own, in photoshop. I tend to work with a 20" x 30" size most often since this is the largest most economical size for me when it comes to both the frame and the printing.
  • // I send my images over to Sam's Club (again there are many other sites that offer this, I just happen to use this one) and upload them to their photo printing department and set to print in a 20" x 30" poster size for $8. This size works beautifully with the 24"x30" IKEA Ribba frame which is in the neighborhood of $20-$25, I think. Many printing sites will print poster sizes for dirt cheap and at least at Sam's Club (my only experience with this), the print quality is pretty amazing and printed on extra large photo paper (not thin poster paper). You can also print an Engineering Print in an even larger size for around three dollars, but these are generally best for black and white types of images that will benefit from a retro copier kind of look. They have my prints ready in an hour and that makes me ridiculously happy when I am working on a tight schedule (so always).
Pink Blue Peach Macro Agate and Cool White Neutral Adriatic Sea Images for Styling Secret // Easy + Inexpensive DIY Over-Sized Art Solution

Prints in Order of Appearance //

There are soooo many amazing images and I have meellions saved to lightboxes for easy pulling when I need them. So basically I have Shutterstock and Sam's Club on speed dial and I call them at least every other week, sometimes more! Eek. 

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March was a really hard month for me. I lost my grandma that month and on top of having a baby, a 5 year old who is a borderline Tasmanian Devil, moving to a new house, work, and the SNAP conference to prep for, things didn't go as planned and I never got around to taking the Bird's monthly photo. So of course I never got around to sharing them.

I love seeing his photos side by side. It's such an amazing gift (to myself) to see this photo collage as a non traditional growth chart of sorts...

Excuses aside, I think this baby bird gets cuter by the day and even though I'm not entirely in love with the set up for this photo shoot, I adore his cute little bashful smile and the look on his face after he pulled down a ribbon and decided to give it a taste. Cutest bird in the West. Adore this baby boy, he is growing too fast.

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It's finally here... the bird's 3 month photos! It's becoming such an exciting thing for me to see the changes and improve my photography skills or cement my lack thereof. Last time, I thought I had really learned a thing or two about how to wrangle that kiddo into an easy posing position, only to find that I really hadn't and that 1 month of growth has made wrangling him that much harder. Boo...

This second photo isn't bad, but I much prefer 'him' in the first photo. I just adore that you can see that cutie bowtie in this one! D.I.E.


This 3rd shot is my fave because it shows what was actually happening for 99.9% of this shoot. He could not stop looking at the 2013 garland. I can hardly blame the little dude, the thing is mega sparkly. 

Below is the full collage of my 'fave' photos and a collection with a closer look at him!

Below is the full collage of my 'fave' photos and a collection with a closer look at him!

Oh baby bird is getting big so fast. Why can't it just slow down for the first 5 years.... 

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I shared Penn's 1 month photos with you here, and now we are back with his 2 month old photos for the month of December! Yay, this baby isn't as far behind as the last one! Perhaps I'm stepping up my game a bit? Probably not..

I love his body position in this photo with his little wise seeming chin to hand thing, it's quite Rodin... And those little crossed legs = to die for! But his hat wasn't following directions and looks just plain ridiculous so boo...


This one, once again the least perfect in composition because the poor creature looks a tad like he's on a runaway sleigh ride down a hill, is my absolutely fave! His little face and body are the absolutely mostest... adore! 

The 'best' of his monthly photos, side by side, so I can see how much older he looks for the second month... I hope he stays little forever, but since he won't at least I will have these lovely keepsakes to mark his growth!

Of course I couldn't end this post without the montage of my favorites, side by side as well. My little angel baby...

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Well it's the middle of January and I'm just now sharing these with you... surprise, surprise, eh? Just like the good little blogger that I am (ya, right), I am planning on documenting Baby Bird Penn's monthly progress for the first 2 years of his life, in a cute little photo series. Now I am no professional photographer so of course these images could be a LOT better, but I'm learning and experimenting so perhaps this will also be a photography skills montage... who knows?

And then I couldn't decide which picture I liked best, so I narrowed it down to my 3 faves! The first image is most likely the best all around candidate, since he is both facing the camera and isn't a blurry streak. With all the movement going on during the shoot, it's a wonder I got any decent images at all. He must take after me with all the crazy kicking and dancing around. I should show you the 'outtakes' cuz they were pretty darn funny! The image above shows his appearance best. Even though he isn't facing the camera, this one most closely resembles what he looks like in person. And of course the little tongue peeking out is also pretty typical since he eats like a starving child all day and all night.

But this last image is one of my absolute favorites because although it's not ideal for a 'cutesy newborn' picture, it's his personality all wrapped up in a one arm salute to baby-ness. When he isn't swaddled, he is in a 'one arm up' position most of the time. Even when he is swaddled, he manages to Harry Houdini one of his arms out of that straight jacket on a regular basis. Perhaps he has a future in baby arm modeling, cuz I'm sure there is a need for that.

I will be back later with his December, month 2 photos... pretty darn cute, if I do say so myself!

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As bloggers, parents, or just average air breathing humans, most of us want to know how to take amazing pictures and record our lives in a beautiful way. Many of us even have nice DSLR cameras and decent equiptment that should help us do this... but do we actually know what to do with this expensive stuff once we have it? The short answer is no. The long answer is also no...just in case you were wondering. But where do we begin?

First things first, we need to get a good handle on all of the pretty buttons our cameras have and what they do. The tutorial below is a great place to begin and will give you the lowdown on the most important features you need to pay attention to. 

A Quick Guide To Understanding Your DSLR Camera 

Once you have read through the article above, I recommend a quick read through the article below for some basic reminders and things to consider before you begin and while you are shooting. Some of these won't make a lick of sense to you yet (not to worry, we will get there) and others are so basic they bring about that sense of 'inner duh' that you might have overlooked otherwise (like the camera level for example). 

44 Essential Digital Camera Tips and Tricks

The article below is a fabulous list of things to keep in mind while getting to know your camera and learning to shoot. The perfect list of tips to help you cut through the crap and find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow!

20 Things I Wish I knew About Photographing in Manual Mode

Once we have covered those few important key ingredients above we can dive into several of the topics with a bit more depth. Below I have outlined a number tutorials by subject matter. I hate to break it to you, but for this roundup most of the info is technical in nature. That's just the way it is while we are attempting to figure out how to use those fancy buttons. The next roundup will be a bit more fun, promise... But first let's get to know our cameras a bit more, shall we?

Handling and Caring for a DSLR Camera

The Basics of Exposure

Learning to Use Digital Camera Settings and Features

Tips, Tricks and Techniques


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