Making Travel Easier, One Gadget at a Time

July 22, 2010 at 5:38 pm , by

Just hearing the words “summer vacation” is enough to make you smile, right? Unless of course you’re thinking about all the time you’ve spent packing and unpacking, hunting through your bag for your wallet (where’d you put that thing?) and taking horribly aligned, too-close self-photos while trying to fit in the scenery/people/interesting things behind you. That’s where these pretty nifty travel doodads from Dynomighty come in.

The Bottle Cap Tripod is a pocket-size attachment that screws on to the top of a water bottle for an instant hands-free camera stand. No more balancing your digital on the side of fountains, atop precarious rocks or on rusty railings that are just as likely to obliterate your camera as they are to be useful props. $10 at

Pickpockets begone! Super-slim Mighty Wallets are cleverly designed to look like random items (like an airmail-envelope inspired option and the one that could pass for a page of newspaper, at right) that thieves would be much less interested in investigating than anything resembling a wallet. They’re also ecofriendly, water-resistant and perfectly pocket-size. There’s more than 45 different designs, too, including some cheeky ones with beach scenes and gorillas. $15 each at

The colorful Mighty Tote is a seriously lightweight 1.6 ounces, so you can feel free to stuff it full of whatever junk you carry around with you while sightseeing or beaching that you always regret bringing later, after your shoulders hurt. $15 at

Mom-a-razzi: Getting the Shots

October 1, 2009 at 10:31 am , by

Picture 2My brother, an avid photographer, recently turned me on to this term: mom-a-razzi. This is a photo obsessed parent who stalks her children 24/7 in order to take gallery-quality pictures. And I am guilty as charged.

I find the idea of photo studios very intimidating. The concept that my kids are going to be happy, on their best behavior, and having a good hair day when they’re in a strange place, at the SAME TIME (!!!) seems impossible to me. So instead, I always keep a camera with me, in my pocket, at the ready. And believe me, there are a lot of bad pictures taken just to get the one good one but when it all comes together, it’s like magic.

Case in point, two-week old Sophia sleeping with her Daddy (see above)

I had just finished feeding her in bed and she fell asleep. I could see from my side of the bed that it’d be a great shot but only if it was taken from above. So, I quietly sneaked away, grabbed the camera, and then stood on the bed over them.  I don’t think I could have styled the duvet with wrinkles so perfect. It’ll go down in history as one of my favorites.

Picture 3Picture 4Picture 5

Lily on the lounge chair
I love taking a series of pictures when the kids are in good moods. Sometimes I end up with one perfect one, sometimes none, sometimes twenty. This was one of those twenty times.  The morning light was great so I took her outside and sat her on a lounge chair that I had covered with a white towel. I had to stay close because she wasn’t a perfect sitter-upper yet. I got tons of good ones – it was almost too hard to edit!

My tips for taking great pics of your kids:
We’ve all heard the classic tips before (1. get down on their level, 2. get really close, 3. use natural light, 4. make interesting cropping choices, etc.) but here are some more this self taught mom-a-razzi has learned:

5. Make sure you clean their faces. I can’t tell you how many good pics were not great pics because they have a big booger stuck in their nose.

6. Our Photo Director, Clare, who spent 10 years doing shoots at Parents magazine says, “Don’t always look for the perfect smiling picture. Sometimes the ones of them playing quietly alone are the ones you’ll cherish the most years from now.”

7. If you want to get a smile: Rather than asking them to say “cheese”, which usually results in a too-big grin, ask them questions that have answers  with “EEE” sounds in them like, “Who loves Dora?” or “Who wants a lollipop?”. Chances are you’ll hear: “Me!” (I learned this one from the child wrangler who worked on our Jon and Kate Plus Eight cover shoot last December, back when they were still a 10-some.)

8. Make sure you clean up the area that’s in the background. A little imperfection makes it “real” but no one wants to see a pair of dirty socks in the background.

Happy shooting!!!

So, tell me…what great pics have you gotten over the years? Please share!