Thank you to all of my Families

Thank you to all of the families who chose me to take their holiday family photos this year! I am blessed, honored and so happy for the opportunity to spend time with your families. It was sure a treat getting holiday cards in the mail and seeing your photos in print. I can’t thank you all enough for letting me take your pictures.

Merry Christmas, guys!

phoenix photographer - family holiday photo sessions


Holiday Cards + $150 Artifact Uprising Giveaway (***Giveaway is closed. Winner announced below)

artifact uprising holiday photo cards - mom blogger in phoenix
Happy Holidays! We’re preparing to send out holiday photo cards over here. Are you? Have you decided which company you’re going to go with to create your cards? I have a trusted company I always use but this year I’m mixing it up and trying someone new!

mom blogger phoenix holiday cards

I’ve printed memorable items with Artifact Uprising in the past; 25 square photo cards that I hung in our Starwood marketing office and this personal travel album. I’ve been so happy with the quality of their prints that when I saw they had a holiday photo card collection, I knew I had to try it.

My favorite are the 3-in-1 photo holiday cards. It’s a pretty cool concept. You get to send a greeting card that your recipient can tear into three’s – creating a square photo, a message strip from you and a gift tag. I love the gift tag! The 3-in-1 design also allows you to add a personalized message to the back. See … (candy canes not included, but kind of necessary when addressing 50+ cards).

Many Hats of a Mom Blog | Holiday Photo Cards

artifact uprising holiday photo cards mom blogger

Here’s the best part:

Artifact Uprising is giving one lucky reader a $150 credit to their online shop! The online credit doesn’t have to be used for holiday cards – you can use it on any of their amazing prints, albums, thank you cards, etc. If you haven’t printed with them before, I suggest you try it.

Here’s how to enter the giveaway:

  • Provide your email address (that’s how we’ll contact you if you win)
  • Comment on this post and tell us your favorite holiday tradition
  • That’s it! Winner will be chosen at random via and announced on 11/23/15

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you to Artifact Uprising for sponsoring this post and for being such an awesome & innovative company. Giveaway ends at 12am EST on 11/22/15 and one winner will be contacted via email by 11/23/15. Good luck!

***Madison L. won!! Congratulations and thank you so much for playing along. I will email you your prize today. 

Happy Halloween from the Cross Family!

happy halloween - many hats of a mom blog

I just wanted to say Happy Halloween from our family to yours. I know y’all are having a blast because my Facebook and Instagram news feeds are blowing up with photos of kids in costumes – nothing better than that! We went to Kelsey’s school last night for a “Pumpkin Walk” and before we left, we snapped a few photos of our first Halloween as a party of five!

happy halloween mom blog

I put Nolan in a bat hat and a ‘peek a boo’ shirt. The coolest part? I had no idea this was a glow-in-the-dark onesie until the sun set and he started the glow.

many hats of a mom blog

“Everyone make a silly face!” Well, except you, Nolan, because you’re a baby. And you too, Colton, because you’re stuck inside of a mask. PS – Do you see me pushing the remote on my camera? I was too focused on holding Nolan and supporting Kelsey that I totally didn’t hide that well at all. Oopsy.

maleficent disney kids costume

When Kelsey came home and said she wanted to be Maleficent for Halloween, I was shocked. I thought for sure she would want to be Elsa or something super girlie. Nope. She even said, “Mom, can you make a bird and put it on my shoulder?” She had this in her head and I’m so happy we were able to find a Maleficent kids costume to make it work. Aaaaand she’s never allowed to put on makeup again because she looks like she’s 16. I’m not ready for that.

Happy Halloween, friends!


Our New Family Travel Tradition

Artifact Uprising - Many Hats of a Mom Blogger

It’s no surprise to anyone that I love taking photos. But, what I haven’t been good at is printing these photos. Especially after a family vacation. I usually have hundreds of pictures that I don’t really know what to do with. Pair that with the fact that I love going over to my mom’s house and flipping through shelves upon shelves of our (printed) family photo albums.

Rewind to a few months ago when I discovered Artifact Uprising – an online company specializing in photo books, prints and photo gifts. It was like I found my soul mate. I found a company who also loves the tangible and actually inspires people to get photos off of their phones and into print.

I’m nearly a year late to the game, but I recently took our Disneyworld family vacation photos (from December 2014!!) off of my computer and into a coffee table book. The book just arrived and I’m overwhelmed with how great it turned out. The quality is amazing. It’s 50 pages of memories that I will cherish, forever.

In fact, it made me start a new tradition: Every time we travel as a family, I’m going to make a new coffee table book. My goal is to have my kids look back years later and see an entire bookshelf filled with memories of the places we’ve ventured to. I would encourage your family to do the same. It’s easy and fun to create.

Here are some of my favorite pages! 

artifact uprising many hats mom blog

Artifact Uprising 2

I love this photo of Kelsey riding the monorail. She was looking at the Park with such wonder.

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Colton threw a tantrum (top left photo) but the minute he saw Snow White, it was like nothing else mattered.

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Artifact Uprising Many Hats Mom Blog

Hands down, my favorite two photos of the entire book. We were window shopping on Main Street and the entire street was lit up for the holidays. It was magic.

Artifact Uprising Many Hats Mom Blog
Artifact Uprising Many Hats Mom Blog

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Thank you, Artifact Uprising, for making this process so incredibly easy. And for having instagram-friendly books too for those times I don’t bring my DSLR along for the ride. I can’t wait for our next family adventure!

Shaun & Sabrina | Austin Engagement Photos

When my brother, Shaun, and his fiancé, Sabrina, asked me to take their engagement photos in Austin, I about peed my pants (I’m not professional, let’s be clear, but I’ll jump at any chance to photograph a special moment like this). I had so much fun running around Austin with these two – from downtown Austin, to Hotel San Jose, to the State Capitol and Lady Bird Lake … there was a photo opportunity at every turn! Here are just a few of their Austin engagement photos.

austin engagement photos

austin engagement photos

austin engagement photos

austin engagement photos

austin engagement photos

austin engagement photos

His socks! I mean, could these two be any cuter? It’s not possible.

austin engagement photos

austin engagement photos


austin engagement photos

Taking Heidi’s Family Holiday Photos

family holiday photos | Phoenix photographer

family holiday photos | Phoenix photographer

family holiday photos | Phoenix photographer

family holiday photos | Phoenix photographer
family holiday photos | Phoenix photographer
family holiday photos | Phoenix photographer

family holiday photos | Phoenix photographer

family holiday photos | Phoenix photographer

family holiday photos | Phoenix photographer

For some crazy reason, Heidi trusted me to take her family holiday photos. I was honored and so incredibly nervous. This was the first time I was taking photos of someone outside of my own family and I was so worried I would mess it up. I found this desert area outside of the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort where we were able to grab some gorgeous sunlight and desert views. I am so happy with how everything turned out.

Her kids were amazing! I wore a funny reindeer hat with jingle bells (so they would look at the camera) and brought them two cupcakes as a reward once we were finished. That pretty much sweetened the deal and we were able to get some great smiles. As we were leaving the first location, we got in our cars to drive to this cool wooden bridge that I had spotted. Maya (Heidi’s daughter) asked if she could ride with me. So, I strapped her into Kelsey’s car seat, blasted a little Taylor Swift “Shake it off” and we continued the photo shoot at the bridge.

Seriously, that Maya has a personality larger than life. She kept posing herself in the middle of the family (front and center) and I would have to say, “Maya, honey … can you back up just a bit?” It was the cutest. And her love for her brother, Matthew, is just heaven to watch. She was so great with him and you can see how much he just adores his big sister.

When Heidi and Mitch would pose for pictures, the kids would just laugh and laugh. They loved seeing their parents in front of the camera. “Let’s have them kiss,” Maya would say. And then immediately, I would get the parents to smooch and I would hear the sweet little giggles of their kids in the distance.

So much love and laughter at this photo shoot. It makes me think this is why photographers do their job. It’s the moments like this that are captured behind the camera that make for the best memories. Thank you, Heidi, for this great experience!

Heidi and Stephanie

I learned that I’m a hobbyist photographer

“My name is Stephanie and I love to take pictures of my kids & family. The most important thing that I would like to learn today is how to use my camera indoors, or when there is little light. I take good pictures when the sun is right, but indoors … I might as well just forget all about it.”

I took a Digital SLR Photo Fundamentals class today and that was my intro statement. We had to get up and introduce ourselves, say what we loved to take pictures of and what we wanted to learn. I am so grateful to have taken this class because getting to know my camera better was a New Year’s resolution of mine from 2012.

Arizona Highways is a local publication that is known for amazing landscape photos. They are not hobbyist photographers, they are the real deal. And today, from 9-5pm, I got to learn from some of the best. I can honestly say I now have more of an appreciation for great photography. I now understand how much knowledge is needed to cross over into manuel mode.

There were many ah-ha moments and I finally understand aperture, ISO, shutter speed and white balance. The class was great! I get to take the “Photo 102: Beyond Digital Basics” class here soon, so y’all better watch out. You thought I always had my camera in my hand before … just wait. I know Ryan is excited.

(I didn’t edit the below photos so you could get the idea)

photo classI learned that you can use your flash outside to pick up more light on your subject. A flash? In the sunlight. Who would have thought. See the difference?

photo classI took my FIRST non-blurry photos indoors today. I was lucky that all of my subjects (toys) sat still. I played with aperture and white balance to maximize the most out of the horrible conference room lighting. It’s not photo journalism, but it’s pretty monumental to me.

photo class

We took a spinning top and learned how to stop the action or capture it. Above you can see it ‘blurry’ or in action, while below it will be ‘stopped’ or rather still in motion but stopped for that one second in my photo. Again, basics that I had no clue how to do.

photo class

photo class

I also played around with aperture (my favorite feature) to get the blurred background effect. Depending on which aperture setting you choose, it determines how wide open the lens will be during an exposure. I played around with this shooting trees and my oh-so-knowledgeable instructor.

photo class photo class

I was super excited about my new skills so I rushed home and tried them out on Kelsey. Of course … a three-year old isn’t interested in holding on so you can test out which setting is best. In fact, she was so not interested she covered her face with a broom. Ugh!


The Inspirational Hat: I’m Awe Struck over Cinemagraphs by Jamie Beck

More than a photo. Not quite a video. That’s an animated cinemagraph. NYC photographer, Jamie Beck and Kevin Burg have me up all night … feelin’ oh-so inspired. Their cinemagraphs are beautiful. I just can’t get enough. Have you seen them yet?

You’ll want to check out Jamie’s blog, From Me To You  and view samples of their cinemagraphs. If you love fashion, art and photography, you’ll be hooked! Golly, some people have talent just oozing out of their fingers.

This photo is so lovely.