The Importance of a Weekly Family Day

At the Zoo on Family Day
At Lake Whatcom on Family Day
Mini Golf Family Day
Hiking at Oregon Sand Dunes Park

The Importance of a Weekly Family Day

I don’t think this is a new concept. And I know a lot of families already have this one down. Some even have one family day and one date night; you know who you are. But I know that even though I set aside a day each week (currently Wednesday because we homeschool and that also happens to be a get together day for other homeschoolers in our area), sometimes life’s busyness can distract and feel like its more important than taking this time to just enjoy family company together, with no hidden agendas (read: laundry, dishes, errands, and a host of other ‘top priorities’). But if we allow those unending chores to take over the precious 600-800 family days we get during the precious years our children are with us, we lose some of the most important days of our whole lives. If you add up all those days together, that’s less than 3 years out of the 80-90 that we’re on the planet! Really puts those piles of laundry in perspective, doesn’t it?

I don’t think anyone ever said on their deathbed “If only I’d kept the laundry piles down and hadn’t spent that one day a week out on a bike ride with the kids.” So what are some ways to spend those family days? How do you cajole the older kids to choose you and your old-self over hanging out at the mall with their cohorts? How do you choose activities that your husband will enjoy as much as your 3 year old who’d be quite happy doing Elsa-inspired kareoke in the family room all day?

Years ago we came up with a system that should work no matter what size or interests your family includes. Spend a morning around the table writing on cue cards; say half a dozen per person. Let everyone pick their absolute favorite activities and write them (or help them write) on the cards. Then spread them out on the table and sort them into what you could expect to do in a day; i.e. A round or two of Frozen Sing-a-long could be enjoyed before a swim, ending with pizza and a movie, or a day at the fair including ice cream cones, Dad’s walk around the lake with a stop at the bookshop and sister’s favorite boardgame when you get home. You get the idea.

This way you can pre-plan a few months in advance, making sure there’s a fairly equal mix of activities that makes every member of the family feel important and like their needs and interests are being appreciated and heard. You could take it a step further and decorate a recipe card box together and keep the upcoming week’s activities on the bulletin board. Have fun! Let me know how it goes! I love hearing ideas and adding to our own cards for future family days.

Happy Family Day to all!

#familyday #eternatsudios #amiestafford #familyfun


Who is Amie Stafford?

Who is Amie Stafford?

Who am I? Why do I take portraits? Wouldn’t it be easier to show up at a job somewhere and take home a paycheck? To answer these questions, let’s start with my childhood.

Me age 1.5
Reading with Grandmother
Age 4 with flowers

I was homeschooled by an Writer/Illustrator Mom and a Jazz Sax musician Dad. They encouraged me to find my passions; which saw me in ballet, choir, and fine art growing up. At the age of 9 my parents noticed my strong interest in photography and gave me the family SLR camera (a Konika). I got really into creating portraits of my younger sisters that showed who they were and their moods and personality. I remember sitting one of them on a window ledge, backlit by the afternoon light, and telling her to show off her button nose. She responded by widening her eyes and stretching her mouth wide. So adorable, and I got lots of praise for that shot. Another portrait was of my baby sister with our dog, Millie. Family portraits were always lead by me and were…fun to say the least.

Portrait of sister
One Wacky Family

Now let’s fast forward to my college years, where I spent 6 years studying opera, composition and choir. As I completed my final year, however, I was shooting so many weddings (and making a decent living at it), that when people asked me what I di,d I has to switch from saying “I’m a singer” to “I’m a photographer!” Quite a surprise to me as I’d never expected that to happen. I’d put photography into the hobby category; perhaps since I grew up seeing my Dad being a professional musician and since I always loved to sing, I expected that I’d follow in his footsteps (although a free-lance career in the arts is still quite close!). I think that happens often in life if you’re open to surprising new opportunities and paths.

Fourteen years later I can’t imagine spending my time doing anything else, or any other career that would allow me the level of connection with others, with my artistic vision, creativity, reaching out to the community and events. Yes, it can be overwhelming, yes I feel like I have to wear so many hats some days my head spins, but I can honestly say that I would be a photographer even if I were independantly wealthy – and that’s saying something! So…that’s a brief overview of me! Thanks for reading. Follow your dreams and life’s sudden twists and turns with all your heart. Be unafraid to change who you think you are and reach for your own stars.

Fort Langley, BC; my hometown
Film Stills – on Set with Michael Moriarty
My Mom and son – Monterey, where my parents grew up.
One of 350+ weddings – and I still love them!
Vancouver 2nd Beach
Disneyland 2007
Oregon Road Trip

Ballet Bellingham’s Nutcracker Suite

1080187  1096832983856 10401444 10968349 10991384 11001916

I grew up in the Royal Academy of Dance. Creating these images was such a joy! Being backstage again, seeing the amazing costumes, the fine art of dance. I loved every minute of it. It reminded me of pushing myself beyond what I thought I could endure as a child, and the pride I felt when I accomplished another step. Congratulations on a beautiful rendition!

The Best Dad in the World; 10 great ideas for Father’s Day Presents.

Father’s Day brings up images of ties and golf balls. But it doesn’t have to! I’ve collected a list of great ideas for Father’s Day. Feel free to add to the list!

1) Breakfasts of Love: Get some color sharpies/permanent markers and let all the kids go to town decorating some camp-style tin cereal bowls. So cute and great for looking back on. Another great version is a ceramic coffee mug from the dollar store.

2) “We Love Daddy” book: Growing up this was a standard gift for my Papa. Make a homemade book by stapling folded paper together (a colorful cover is nice) and filled each page with a reason why I loved him, with a drawing to go along with each. Things like “I love how you take me on bike rides to get a snack at the golf course” and “I love how you sing me the song your Finnish Grandmother taught you”, etc. Make one book for each kid (and the Mom!) to fill, or a big one that the whole family makes together.

3) Salty Feet: Salt-dough impressions of feet or hands would make a great memory and/or wall hanging. After its cooked and cooled, you can let little hands paint it (gold looks especially nice!). Joanne’s has great acrylic paints for 50cents. Here’s the recipe for the dough:

1 cup salt
1 cup flour
1/2 cup warm water
Mix in bowl. Knead well. If it’s too wet, add more flour; too dry, add more water.
Squish into a bowl and press in a foot or hand. If a baby’s hand is all curled up, it still turns out really cute, you can’t go wrong. If you want it to be a wall hanging, poke a straw through it at the top and slip a ribbon through the hole once its baked. 3 hours at around 200f should do, but if its thick and feels soft in the middle, put it back in the oven for another hour or two.
4) Have the kids make new pictures, or use old treasures to make a Daddy T-Shirt. Take a photo of the picture and print it on fabric transfer paper (available at Office Supply stores). Variations on this theme is handprints of the kids on a shirt with fabric paint.
5) King for a Day: pretty straight forward; Dad gets to choose what you do the whole day next family day (or that day if its Father’s Day morning and this fits the day).
6) Daddy Signs: Get or make a large chalkboard and have the kids tell you (or write themselves if they’re able) things they love about their Dad. Then get them to hold the signs for a photo. Select the best ones and put them in a frame with multiple openings. Black and white would be nice for this. And the photographer in me has a few tips for the photos: have the kids stand on a shady side of the ouside of the house. If there’s sunlight on the ground in front of them this will act as a reflector and you’ll get nice even light. Have them wear clothing that won’t distract; ie. nothing with big words or pictures on it – jeans/jean skirt and white t-shirts would be great. But a big tutu with rainboots and plaid PJs with a firefighter hat would probably be even better.
7) Treasure Hunt: Release the kids into a dollar store with a few dollars each and let them choose anything they think Daddy will like. Then hide them all around the house and yard and let the kids squeal with delight as they watch their Dad hunt for the treasures. One great way to do a treasure hunt is to work backward, starting with the last clue and ending with the first one. Get some recipe cards and write a clue on each card. Then write the location where you’ll hide the card on the back of each; ie. “Look high and low and you will see a treasure hidden in an apple tree.” then write couch on the back. The couch clue could be “The next prize was hidden on the fly, its hidden where our clothes get dry.” and write Emma’s Bed on the back of that one, etc.
8)  Daddy Wreath: Honor this day as an official holiday by putting up a wreath on your front door – made out of old ties! You can let the kids help you choose a dozen or so from a thrift store and help you wrap them around a styrofoam wreath from the craft store. Use safety pins in the back to keep them wrapped tight. What a great way to celebrate for the week leading up to his day.
9) Meal for a Hero: This one is too funny. Put out a selection of foods that don’t clash too much and put a french loaf on a platter. Then let the kids go to town making the world’s best hero sandwitch. This could be a yearly tradition to see if Dad likes it or not! Peanut butter and turkey is ok, but don’t be cruel and put out marshmellow sauce as well!
10) Storytime: Have the kids each choose a picture book that they think Dad will especially like; one with lots of voices to put on would be extra perfect. This one, too could be a great yearly tradition and help add to your home library at the same time. Think of the section on your bookshelf known as Daddy’s Day Books. And you know which ones will get chosen again and again at bedtime for the rest of the year.
Well, hope that gets you started! Have fun, and let me know if you have any great experiences trying any of these ideas.

New Video Slideshow of a Fine Art children’s session. I’m in love with these portraits.

IMG_0615bRsm IMG_0415bRsm

New Family Shoot! Fine Art was made. I’m in love with these portraits.

What an awesome family! They laughed, played (including playing violin!), and hugged their way through this session and it looked like they were having as much fun as I was. We made images that I want to have on my own walls; truly fine art! Thank you, DeeDee and Andy for the modelling talents of your precious and so photogenic little girls!

New Products for 2013!

Here’s a little sneak peak at some of the amazing new products Eterna will be offering in the new year!


Media Covers:

I love these! They come in lots of sizes to fit different smart phones, iPads, and iPhones. Love the bright colors and shininess.

Mouse pads:

We’ll be offering these in a circle or rectangle. I’m thinking Father’s Day…



Canvas Clusters:

With no exception, our Wall Collages have been the most popular item for two years now. But fairly often I get requests for collages in canvas. So in the new year we’ll have these beautiful Canvas Clusters (with many other layouts and cominations). I like that these are more asymetrical than the Wall Collages.


Greeting Cards:

Beautiful Press-printed 5×7 cards. Same quality as the card stores;  but it has YOUR image on it! We had more Christmas Card orders this year than ever before, so it prompted me to search out this supplier of top quality printed cards.

Accordion Albums:

Our Christmas Accordion  Album promotion was such a success, we are extending it into  the new year. All 3.5×2.5 Accordion Albums  are still 2 for 1 (duplicates). I’ve also been making an extra sample for the studio with each order and I’m builing up quite a nice collection to show to new clients!


Storybook Albums:

I’ve been hunting far and wide for an album that spans the gap between  casual family style and ultra luxe wedding style. I’ve found it in our  Storybook Album. A clear acrylic cover showcases a favorite image and sturdy pages are filled with panoramas and collage. Gorgeous! And perfect for smaller wedding albums and family sessions as well.

Well, back to the retouching. Thought you’d all like to see the new things!


Fine Art Girls!

Fine Art Girls!

These girls were such wonderful models. They both really thought about the finished portrait and had such beautiful and open expressions. I’m so happy with the result! Thank you , girls, for helping create such inspiring images!

Danielle & Scott’s Maternity Session

ImageI just posted Danielle & Scott’s beautiful Maternity Session on the studio facebook page. Thanks for some great image-making, Danielle and Scott! I so appreciate your modelling; Danielle, you did so many changes and each one made a different look and touching portrait. Congratulations to you both!

See the slideshow movie here: