Graphic Design and Staged Photos

Tim and I are in the midst of an artistic project for church. Yes, I said artistic, as in creative design. I have to wonder how many other people said ‘no’ to serving on the committee before they came to us.

“How about Tim and Kathy? Maybe they could be on the Publicity team.”
“Hmmm, Tim and Kathy. Do they know anything about graphic design?”
“No, but they have 5 children who sometimes wear matching shirts so they must be creative. “Plus, everyone else said no and the event is next month. We’re getting desperate and they have a camera and a computer, what else do you need?”
“Right, Tim and Kathy it is.”

I’m sure it went something like that. Thankfully Tim and I do have years of experience with desktop publishing, newsletters, web design and stick figures. Tim specializes in stick figures. Not everyone can convey a jaunty attitude in your basic stick figure. It’s a gift.

stick figures

Tim’s drawings are characterized by the friendly smile and wave of at least one individual. In Tim’s world, stick figures are friendly.

Today we spent hours (surely it only seemed that long) working on a letterhead design. The pastor wanted four pictures for the bottom of the page under the words – invite, belong, serve, and give. We had some sample pictures. “These look good. How about something like this?” he said with a casual wave of his hand.

That was Monday night. He wanted it by Thursday. Somehow I needed to come up with sweet pictures that would illustrate those four words. Oh, and they needed to be of people who actually attend our church.

“Um. Sure, that sounds great,” I told him. He must have noticed my worried expression for the pastor then said, “Just get your kids and take some pictures. They’re cute. I’m certain that would work fine.”

Now that I can do. A little discussion, a few stick figures drawn on the whiteboard, and Tim and I had a plan. I called a friend to see if she could bring her 5 year old to church and set off to stage a few pictures.


middle schoolers

Now this certainly says ‘serving’ to me. Three cheerful middle schoolers carrying a table. They’re probably setting up for the church picnic. Or better yet, they are acting out the story of the men who lower their sick friend down through the roof to Jesus. Admittedly, Jacob doesn’t look very ill as he rides on the table but there’s promise and meaning here. I see this picture and I think ‘serving.’ You won’t convince me otherwise.


I had several pictures to choose from for this category but I loved this one of Rachel, Emma and Eli. Since a secondary goal was to be sure one of my children was in each of the four pictures, this was a top runner.

eli, emma and rachel blueberry picking

Unfortunately for Eli, Tim didn’t think this was the best picture for the letterhead. Emma isn’t really smiling. We choose this one instead.

the girls

Notice how Rachel maintains her big smile throughout the camera shoot. She is definitely the daughter of a photo happy, blogging mama.


This picture took a little bit of work. I had an image in my mind of what I wanted (okay, I totally copied it from another source) but creating the right look was difficult. First I made sure Tarah and Sarah were in coordinating colors and then I tried to explain what I wanted them to do.

“Look at each other but turn towards me just a little bit.”
“Sarah, pull Tarah like you are inviting her but don’t drag her.”
“Walk this way but pretend you don’t see me.”
“Smile big, tilt your head, and point your feet over here.”
“Now look natural.”

Right. Working in my favor was the fact that these two little girls love to have their pictures taken and have a genuine affection for each other. It wasn’t a big stretch for them to hold hands and smile.

tarah and sarahcome on tarah

Last but not least, Giving

Tim and I went through several different possibilities for ‘giving.’ We thought about things the boys could give each other – popsicles, a squirt gun, the Bible, cash. Finally we settled for three items. We used candy, chocolate, and Coke. Doesn’t that sound like a great campaign?

Come to our church and we’ll give you candy, chocolate and Coke! Oh yeah.

daniel and davidchocolate bars

No children (or their teeth) were harmed during the making of this blog.

We’ll see what the reaction is to the design. I dropped the final product off at church this evening and will e-mail the file. After a while, it all starts to look the same to me.

I have to ask a few questions:

Do you ever stage pictures?
Do you include photos in your blog?
Do you use mainly candid or posed photos?
What would you do with 15 pounds of blueberries?

These are important things to consider.

Project 365 – Day 220

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20 thoughts on “Graphic Design and Staged Photos”

  1. I often stage pictures, but NEVER for church productions! (Having never done a church production I can be self-righteous.)
    I don’t blog, so no, I don’t include pictures. Just a consumer, thank you.
    Candid/posed – 50/50
    15 pounds of blueberries? Eat the first 2-3 pounds the first few days, freeze the rest for pancakes, oatmeal and muffins in those long bleak blueberry-less months.

  2. Hmmm…I would eat and freeze the 15 pounds of blueberries. Definite blueberry muffins, pancakes and ice cream smoothies!!! and of course, the posed pictures are a must! Greg complains that my pictures don’t have faces in them because I love the candid shots – who can complain when you see a sweet picture of your boys holding hands in the ocean as a big wave comes and knocks them down??? ha! I love both kinds of pictures….Smiling faces are always welcome in our house!

  3. The strange thing is, Kathy and I don’t even attend that church.

    Well, maybe we do. But lets just say that they must have worked their way pretty far down the list before they asked us to do it. Copy and execute minor changes to someone else’s work? No problem. Come up with something ‘artistic’ on our own? Not gonna happen.

    I got a good chuckle out of this paragraph, especially the juxtaposition of the first and second sentences:

    Thankfully Tim and I do have years of experience with desktop publishing, newsletters, web design and stick figures. Tim specializes in stick figures. Not everyone can convey a jaunty attitude in your basic stick figure. It’s a gift.

    It is, indeed, a gift. My first job after college was as a mainframe programmer for a chemical company in Connecticut. Management bought us all whiteboards, presumably so that we could design intricate systems in the comfort of our own cubicles, leaving the conference rooms for important management meetings. We immediately put our boards to better use — we drew stick figures on them. Three of us played an elaborate game, in which each person took turns changing the ‘scene’ on the whiteboard. The object was to place the opponent stick figures in some sort of imminent peril, and to extract your own stick figure through some clever ruse that built on the previous scene. For example, I might draw my character in a boat, speeding away from some danger on land, and the next player might show my boat about to plunge over a previously unseen waterfall, with piranha in the water below.

    Each of our stick figures had a characteristic pose — mine always waved jauntily even in the most dire of circumstances. It was a fun game which considerably increased my desire to get to work (although it probably diverted a considerable amount of creativity from my work).

    Since then, I’ve always drawn my stick figures with the trademark wave. It is, as Kathy says, a gift.

  4. I love the picture with Tarah and Sarah. Mom got Sarah all dressed up, dropped Joshua off at middle school then waited until the P’s drove to church. We handed Tarah some clothes that we had brought with us, and then finally staged the picture. Very cute.

  5. No. My kids don’t play nice with staging.LOL O.k. maybe for the annual Christmas photo but we all know how THAT turned out…

    Yes, lots of photos on my blog. Whatever happens to be happening at the time.

    I would freeze half the berries for pancakes, smoothies, and cobblers. I would make jam out of the other half. With the jam, I’d make drinkable yogurts and crepes. YUM!


    Lisa in jax

  6. Very cute! Glad you were able to get those pictures in between birthday parties, blueberry picking and the zillions of other things you do!

  7. Hmm…not usually staged photos, although sometimes things happen too fast and I ask the dear family to pretend! This happens for things like blowing out birthday candles and caching finds.

    About 50/50 on posed vs. candids.

    Lots of photos on my blog.

    Blueberries…eat 1/2 and freeze 1/2.

  8. Do you ever stage pictures? But of course! That’s the only way I can get my kids to look clean & neat. :-)
    Do you include photos in your blog? Of course – in fact, there are some staged photos of them there right now – washing my truck. Well, they actually WERE washing my truck, but one was just watching so I made him work – you know – equal time & all that.
    Do you use mainly candid or posed photos? Both – whichever works best for the moment.
    What would you do with 15 pounds of blueberries? I picked 23 pounds last year. You’re slacking! LOL I froze most of them. I have a yummy blueberry crumble cake receipe. I think it’s on my blog somewhere. If not, let me know. Muffins & pancakes are really good too. I’m off to get more blueberries in the next couple of weeks. I’m actually all out at the moment but I have to admit to giving some away. :-)

  9. I love your inivte photo – but they are all great.

    Now – I can answer your questions tonight:
    **Do you ever stage pictures?
    Sometimes –

    **Do you include photos in your blog?

    **Do you use mainly candid or posed photos?
    Both – but mostly candid – which is why they are often not “perfect”…..with the older children I can get more posed ones going.

    **What would you do with 15 pounds of blueberries?
    Easy question. I freeze them for smoothies. I also use them in muffins and pancakes…but no one but ME likes them. LOL

  10. I’m glad to know there are other mothers and bloggers and blogging mothers who stage photos. A friend e-mailed me a couple of gorgeous pictures of her children. They were all wearing white and standing in the midst of a beautiful garden. It was such a perfect picture I wanted to steal it right then and put it on the blog. I’m not sure you can grab pictures of your friends’ children (without telling them) and drop them into your blog. Still, I was tempted.

  11. I’m afraid if I don’t get some of the blueberries into the freezer they will ALL BE EATEN!! I see my children grab a handful every time they pass the table. I have the berries sitting in the dining room until I have time to deal with them (when is that going to happen?). This afternoon I made a big batch of blueberry muffins. Yum! I added a little bit of butterscotch chips and that was highly appreciated, I know you’re all shocked that my children would like EXTRA sugar in their muffins in the form of chips. Sigh. It’s all about the sugar here.

  12. De’Etta – are you saying no one in your family likes blueberry muffins and blueberry pancakes (except you)??? How can that be?

  13. I love all the photos.

    I ask the kids to stand near interesting things sometimes. Is that staging? If I do it, I probably do it very badly.

    Blueberries…mmm…they’re expensive here! A rare treat. Yes, I’d probably freeze them for smoothies.

  14. I’m the only one in my family who likes blueberry pancakes. I think you should lug them over here and make me a big pancake breakfast (LOL)!

    Staged pictures – sometimes. Photos on my blog – always. Mostly candid shots.

    Love stick figures. Tim – I suppose you would guess that consider the name of our blog is LIFE IS GOOD and I’m sure you’ve seen the LIFE IS GOOD stick figures. We would have used some on our blog heading, but I wasn’t sure about copyright issues so we only used one jeep/life is good icon at the very bottom of our sidebar stuff… he’s waving good bye!

  15. I forgot to tell you Tim that I have stick figure envy! My stick figures don’t look quite as good as yours – in fact people wonder what it is that I’ve drawn……Good to see that your first job in Stamford was so productive in laying the groundwork for future jobs – the ability to draw stick figures in various states of dire need – ha!

  16. Cynthia – again, the only person in the family who likes blueberry pancakes. What is up with these families? Do they prefer them plain or chocolate chip? My kids have finally gotten so they like my “healthy” pancakes and don’t cry and whine and beg for “Daddy’s (Sugar Laden/Bisquick) Pancakes.” It took a long time and lots of syrup.

    Posie – yes, Tim’s stick figures are equite stunning (as far as stick figure go) and the subject of much admiration in the family. You should have seen the children gather around Tim to watch his every move. Quite the crowd of fans he has. :)

  17. Lol! This was so great! I have sometimes tried to stage photos but it doesn’t seem to work that well. Of course, my latest photos were of a butterfly and an injured cat and they just wouldn’t follow directions. Love your stick figures, Tim! I can see why you guys were chosen for this important job.

  18. Michele – really? You can’t get your cat to pose for pictures? And you’re also having trouble with butterflies. Wow! Keep working on it. :) I’ve seen some great pictures of your kids, however, so I know you have it in you.

  19. Hilarious responses!! NONE needed from Aunt Kate, except to say- I love blueberries!! I don’t make smoothies- oooooops!! How could I admit that??? I’d LOVE to have one made for me!!

    I had frozen bbs on my DQ ice cream just tonight. YUM. I am very partial to blueberries that are frozen!!


  20. Now – I can answer your questions tonight:
    **Do you ever stage pictures?
    Sometimes –

    **Do you include photos in your blog?

    **Do you use mainly candid or posed photos?

    **What would you do with 15 pounds of blueberries?
    Make blueberry pancakes, cobbler, pie, put them in my cereal or ice cream – — hmmmmmmmmm I love blueberries!

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