All posts by Alethea Fitzpatrick

About Alethea Fitzpatrick

Alethea Cheng Fitzpatrick is a family photographer and photography coach for parents with Photosanity. A former architect and interior designer, she lives in Brooklyn with her husband and her two boys Liam, age six, and Jack, age three. Alethea is on a mission to help parents more fully experience the precious fleeting moments of their children's lives through photography. Find her on

DSLR photos bike helmet

A Photographer, Her Camera and Her Kids

professional photographer DSLR photosLast week I talked about how to decide when it’s worth taking out your DLSR instead of your iPhone. Today I thought it would be fun to take you behind the scenes of an afternoon with me, my DSLR, and my kids.

A few weeks ago, on the last day of spring break, I decided, as I often do, to grab my DSLR and head to a local park/sculpture garden with my kids. It’s actually the campus of the college where I went to school (Pratt Institute) only renovated and even more beautiful than when I was there. Even without a camera, it’s the perfect spot to go with young kids, but the trees, grass, and art mean that I have taken many many photos of them there, and have also had photo sessions with clients there. It’s relatively uncrowded and quiet with a lot of different backdrops available within the equivalent of two or three city blocks.

The weather was also perfect, warm but a little overcast, making the light hazy and soft.

First, we stopped at one of our favorite cafes for lunch, which we enjoyed on the benches outside. The sheer beauty of the light made it worth taking out my DSLR during this stop. Good light helps with iPhone photos too, but you need the detail and shallow depth of field of the DSLR to truly take advantage of it.

DSLR photo how to

blue green jacket

Shallow depth of field not only means that the background can be blurred out and
therefore less distracting (and more true to how we actually see things), but you can also layer different elements to tell a story, such as in this photo with Liam a little blurred out in front of Jack:

DSLR sibling photos

In this photo, shallow depth of field gives us a quintessential Brooklyn moment with big brother in front talking to Jack, and a mom, stroller, dog, bicycle and taxi behind setting the scene without dominating it.

DSLR photos Brooklyn kids

When we got to Pratt, we settled in front of the library where Liam wanted to, uh, jump off a rather high ledge. Action photos! This is another time where having the control over the shutter (i.e., when the photo takes) that the DSLR gives you is essential to capturing the precise moment you want (and even then it may take a few tries). This is much harder on an iPhone and pretty much impossible on a point-and-shoot without using burst mode and hoping for the best.

action photo tips DSLR

A note about outfits: my kids pretty much wear jeans or denim shorts with graphic or plain tees, so any given top will “match” any given bottom. I buy some matching tops but I also buy tops that can mix and match with each other so that I have lots of choices where they don’t clash in photos. I am still mostly the one picking or guiding their outfits, so when I know they will be with me, and particularly when I think I might take photos, I select accordingly.

funny photos DSLR

This is Liam’s “did I just get bitten by a snake?” face! The detail and texture captured by my DSLR means I will always remember this moment and feel like I could just reach out and touch Liam.

(Why did he think he had been bitten by a snake? He had just reached out and pulled a string that was attached to the building and it made a hissing noise. I asked him a) did the string have eyes and b) did he feel anything biting him. The answer was no and no, thus we determined that no, he had not been bitten by a snake!)

When I’m out with my DLSR and my kids, I’m very rarely posing them. I let them play and do their thing, and I make my camera “invisible” by interacting with them as though I didn’t have it. Sometimes it amazes me how much they don’t seem to notice it!

I love getting low and finding elements to “frame” my kids visually, to create intimacy through that sense of peeking through into a moment. You can do that with your iPhone too, but the shallow depth of field really helps keep the focus on the subject so the background is supporting but not distracting. I like the blue of Liam in the foreground too.

DSLR photo tips shallow depth of field

One of the great things about Pratt is that there are different levels, such as the terrace in front of the library, that provide opportunities for interesting photographic angles. Again, shallow depth of field allows for multi-layering.

DSLR photo tips

I kept my camera out even as we were leaving. Compare the iPhone version to the DSLR version of the boys scootering down a ramp.

scooter photo tips


scooter photo tips

The iPhone version was the one I shared on my personal Facebook page shortly after but my DSLR captures the moment at a different level.

And for portraits that capture your kids as they are now for a lifetime of memories, I’ll go to my DSLR every time.

DSLR photos bike helmet

helmet photo DSLR photos

Session stats: I took 118 photos and we were out for a couple of hours. About an hour of that was at Pratt. I edited 35 of those photos and shared 10 of them here. Remember, you can “improve” your photography simply by being selective and only showing the very best of your photos!

For more DSLR tips, including an entire lesson on getting the most out of your DSLR and shooting in aperture priority or manual to achieve shallow depth of field, check out The Photosanity Workshop.

DSLR tips moms

DSLR vs. iPhone: When to Use a DSLR Camera

when is it time to use DSLRI’ve been talking here on Mom365 about how you can make sure your iPhone is always ready to capture the moment and how it’s my favorite camera for everyday moments.

So you may be wondering, why even bother with a DSLR? Many parents don’t, and that is totally fine!

However, if you want to get deeper into telling the story of your child’s life through photography, there are times when it is absolutely worth using your DSLR instead of your iPhone.

how to shallow depth of field
Shallow depth of field blurs the bubbles in front of Liam’s face as well as the background – you could never get this kind of shot on an iPhone!

But before we talk about when, let’s talk about the advantages of using a DSLR camera:

1) Higher quality photos

This doesn’t just mean higher resolution photos, but also photos with better focus, clarity, color, handling of light, detail etc.

photo through glass
Jack through the door. The blurring of the multiple layers in front and behind help to tell the story of this moment of Jack looking cautiously out into the snow.

2) Better control over focus and shutter

While you can tap to focus on your iPhone, your DSLR has much finer focus controls, and the shutter is more responsive.  In other words, there is no delay between when you try to take the photo and when the photo actually takes.

DSLR shutter control
The control you have over your shutter as well as fast shutter speeds mean you can capture things in motion with much more clarity – check out the snow spray in this photo

3) More focal length options

You can use zoom lenses or different prime lenses with your DSLR for different needs. The longer the focal length, the more “zoomed in” you are, whereas on an iPhone, you are more limited, and the more you zoom in, the lower the resolution of the photo.

Note on lenses for DSLR cameras: prime lenses have a fixed focal length but you can use different prime lenses for different results.

focus control DSLR
An iPhone would capture all the background clutter in focus. Blurred out it is less distracting and the focus is on Liam.

4) Ability for shallow depth of field

This is when your subject is in focus but everything in front of or behind your photo subject is increasingly blurry. It’s a great way to tell a story because the viewer’s eye will first focus on what is in focus in the photo as opposed to most iPhone photos where everything is in focus and it is harder to distinguish the “subject” from the background.

ice pop
All the people in the background add to the ambiance of this moment at the local flea market without distracting from my adorable subject

So, how do you decide when it’s worth using a DSLR instead of an iPhone?

1) Is it an event where you are something of a bystander?

I try not to use my DSLR when I am hosting, but if you or the host would like good quality photos, someone should be using a DSLR.  Examples: family birthday parties, baby showers, weddings

2) Are you going somewhere fun or different with good photo ops that won’t be too crazy and crowded?

Examples: a park or hiking trail where you’ve never been, or any spectacular backdrop, natural or urban

Pratt campus outdoor photos DSLR
No special occasion, just hanging out at the park but I love being able to capture totally spontaneous moments like this one where the background can set the scene and context without being distracting.

3) Are you going somewhere where you’ll have the chance to hang out for a bit and take photos?

Examples: your favorite local park or playground

DSLR how to kids outdoor photo spots
Beautiful light at our local playground. The cape and expression are quintessential Jack at this age. The quality of the photo makes me feel like I can just reach out and squeeze those cheeks!

4) Is the light gorgeous?

Example: cloudy days can be the best for photos and it’s worth bringing out the DSLR

DSLR tips moms
Some of the best moments in childhood to capture are the natural ones. By getting down low, peering through things and using shallow depth of field to generate emotional as well literal focus on your child is a great storytelling tool.

5) Do you want to take action shots?

Examples: sports events, kids jumping or playing in water or snow.

6) Is it a portrait worthy occasion?

Examples: birthdays, holidays, first day of school, Mother’s Day etc. I like to take portraits to commemorate these milestones that are not “of” the event itself but just happen to be taken that day.

alternative back to school photos DSLR
A sibling portrait to commemorate Liam’s first day of kindergarten.

For me, ultimately, my DSLR is about capturing portraits in vivid detail where I can blur the background/foreground using shallow depth of field; when I have gorgeous light and some time to explore different shots; or when I want to capture a place or event with high quality photos.

DSLR closeups
I always want to remember every detail of my kids’ faces at every age. The detail and texture that a DSLR captures is no match for any phone!

Get more tips for taking memory worthy DSLR photos.


iphone photos brooklyn library

Make Meaningful Memories on your iPhone

iphone camera make memoriesIt’s funny how photography can change the way you see and experience things. My life as a parent would be so different without photography.

Photography helps me see and to focus on moments that would otherwise slip by… the small everyday moments of joy and delight that make up a life.

And as I talked about last week, my iPhone is my favorite camera for doing this.

I love my iPhone photos. Each photo that I edit and share is like a precious jewel to me in the crown of parenthood that, let’s face it, is not all sunshine and roses. I’m not saying enjoy every moment. But photographing my kids helps me to more fully experience, enjoy and focus on the daily moments that are worth savoring.

Here are some recent favorites:

school iphone photos

Liam started kindergarten at a public charter school this year and, after three and a half years of preschool, it has been a whole new experience for us that includes a school uniform, taking the subway together every morning, and a new level of intensity in the classroom for Liam.

It has overall been a wonderful experience for the entire family. My husband and I share drop-offs and Jack loves to visit the classroom when he can. Not only that, but we’ve become part of a new community of families that we could potentially be with until 12th grade!

I won’t lie, mornings can be stressful. Trying to get two kids as well as ourselves out the door on time is no mean feat, but on the day I took this photo, we managed to be one of the first to arrive in the classroom, and I loved how Liam went to his chair and got to work on his “number bonds.” He looks like such a big kid and I’m so proud of how hard he has been working and much he has grown this year.

 cookie brick wall bakery


Another part of our new schedule this year is an earlier pick-up than before. I pick him up from school two days a week and I love the extra one-on-one time I get before it’s time to pick up Jack. And yes, occasionally we stop off for a treat! Liam shares my sweet tooth and it is always special for both of us.

iphone photos brooklyn library

Liam’s reading has exploded lately, and Jack loves to do what his brother does. I hadn’t been the one to take them to the library for a long time, so when we went recently one weekend it was so great to see them plop themselves down on the rug with a book. I always love how kids are so comfortable on their bellies. This moment was totally spontaneous and un-posed.

playground photos brooklyn iphone

We love our local playground, and my husband has a ritual of pushing the kids on the swings while telling superhero “rescue” stories, even though they really are too big for the baby swings now!

I love to see them both swinging back and forth and giggling, and I love capturing the relationship my husband has with them.

preschool fun plastic guitar batman suit iphone photo ideas for parents

Jack. Amazing and awesome Jack. Three years old, he embodies the Ames book title Your Three Year Old: Friend or Enemy and that’s exactly what these two photos show. On the left, we have dear sweet funny hilarious Jack singing a funny song on the guitar. On the right we have angry Batman having a meltdown about needing to wear a coat (in 38F weather). I love both these moments that epitomize a personality I wouldn’t change for all the world, not that I love all tantrums, but I know we can all relate to the frustration over this never-ending winter! Poor Batman.

nyc school playground iphone photos

One of the my favorite things about being a mom is seeing my kids bond and develop friendships with other kids. I am so grateful for the wonderful friends they have made each year. The other day at the playground Jack totally lit up when he saw his friend from preschool and they had such a blast running around, whispering and giggling.

iphone photos selfies with kids

Me and my little guy.  One of many moments I’ll never forget, thanks to my iPhone.

Learn more about capturing the moment with your kids in this free lesson.

How to Catch the Moment with Your iPhone Camera

stop missing moment iphone camera tipsFor me, there is something absolutely magical that happens when my kids are in the flow, totally engrossed in the moment, and I’m just lucky to be along for the ride.

My iPhone camera helps me stay present and in the moment with them. I see more and feel more through the lens because I’m looking for the essence of the moment, the story I want to tell.

A moment that might just otherwise pass unnoticed becomes elevated both in experience and memory. What is so elusive in real time?  The preciousness of passing moments, so elusive in real time, can be pinned down just a little in photos that are a record not just of what happened but of a point of view and a feeling. There are an infinite number of photos that can be taken at any given moment and I chose that one perspective, that one view, that one moment.

Parents often bemoan to me the fact that their iPhone camera is the one they use the most.

Guess what? Me too.

side by side iphone photos

My iPhone is the camera that I have with me at all times, and it is my favorite camera for capturing everyday moments that might otherwise slip through my fingers.

Here are my top 5 ways to stop missing the moment using your iPhone.

1) Make sure your clothing always includes a pocket so you can keep your iPhone literally within arm’s reach at all times.

iphone selfie tips for moms

2) Use the camera icon on your lock screen to quickly access the camera (swipe the camera icon up) without having to unlock your phone.

Unfortunately, this can only be used to access the default camera app. If you use another app to take photos (I use and recommend Camera+) you can at least use Touch ID so you can quickly unlock your phone.

Bonus tip: did you know you can go to Settings/Touch ID & Passcode to add more fingerprints? This is handy if you want to be able to access your phone from either hand, or grant access to multiple users.

iphone lockscreen fingerprint how to

3) Keep your phone charged!

There is nothing worse than missing the moment because your phone died. I love my Mophie Juice Pack that gives me a fast second battery charge if I happen to run low and don’t have a charger or outlet handy.

urban playground hula hoop

4) Keep space clear on your phone!

You don’t want to be missing the moment because you’re trying to find photos to delete from your phone to create space either! I recommend that you use Photo Stream and either iPhoto, Aperture or Dropbox to automatically download your photos to your computer.  See my step-by-step instructions. Then clear off space on a regular basis, monthly, or even more frequently if necessary.

5) Add your favorite Camera App to your iOS dock.

add favorite apps ios dock

Believe it or not, I only just thought of this one! I don’t know why I didn’t think of it before, but you can make your favorite Camera App one of the apps that always appears at the bottom of your home screen.

iphone camera tips fun playground photos

Looking for more iPhone photography tips? Come back next week when I’ll be sharing my best strategies for taking photos on your iPhone.

laid back strategies for beach photos

Laid Back Photo Tips for Your Beach Vacation

easy photo tips for family beach vacationIf you go by the calendar, spring has officially sprung but it was 24F this morning when we left the house and my 3-year-old was outraged that he still had to wear a coat. Who can blame him?

Thank goodness for our winter break retreat to the beach in Aruba or this long extended winter would be even harder to stomach!

And without my photos, our week of warmth would be a much more distant memory.

Capturing beach vacation photos as a parent doesn’t have to be a big deal though. I have a few of these vacations under my belt now and have perfected some laid back photo strategies.

1) Bring three cameras
DSLR, waterproof point-and-shoot and iPhone (see my more detailed suggested family vacation packing list).

2) Carry the point-and-shoot and iPhone with you all the time
Use the point-and-shoot in and around the water.  Even out of the water a point-and-shoot camera is great for when you don’t want to get your iPhone covered in sand! Use your iPhone for everything else.

3) Only bring your DSLR out for special trips and one or two times at the beach
The rest of the time you can relax without worrying about whether your camera is safe, dry and sand free!

Here are some of my favorite shots from each of the cameras I packed for my family beach vacation.

The beach. The clarity and shallow depth of field of the DSLR can’t be beat.

family on beach caribbean

I love this moment with my two boys playing together in the sand. Yes, the beach really was that empty, even during winter break.

beach photo tips family vacation aruba

A different beach with a more rocky coastline gives a different character.

family vacation photo tips beach

One of the special trips we took was to explore real live bat caves.
family photo tips caribbean


Sand angels! The iPhone lets me easily capture spontaneous moments and then get back to playing.

sand angels aruba family vacation tips

The bat caves. Even with my DSLR out, I also like the wider angle of the iPhone.

iphone for wide angle photos beach vacation tips

We ended up on the beach late one afternoon with gorgeous diffuse light. I didn’t have my DLSR with me and the waterproof camera was out of batteries! After a moment of disappointment, I ended up getting some of my favorite photos from the vacation on my iPhone, including this magical and totally un-posed moment.

sunset photo aruba family beach vacation

This photo was taken just moments before the DSLR photo above. You can see that each camera gives photos of a different quality and character.

iphone beach photos
Waterproof point-and-shoot

These are the photos that you can’t get with any other camera!
Liam loved going down the water slide. I put the camera on burst mode  to capture exactly the right moment!

waterproof camera point and shoot water slide photo

Splash! I love that the waterproof camera lets me capture the joy of playing in the water.

waterproof camera kids

One of my favorite sibling pool photos.

kids in pool waterproof camera

Don’t forget the beach!

waterproof camera for beach point and shoot

Note: I have come to see a waterproof camera as an absolute essential for the family beach and/or pool vacation, especially if your kids love the water. Chances are, if you’re heading for the beach, your kids love the water, and you’ll want to capture their joy and excitement. The moments you can capture with a waterproof camera that you can’t with any other camera are priceless. For more tips, check out my beach vacation photo tips and my waterproof camera tips.

build baby's confidence baby names and faces book

Photo Projects to Build Your Baby’s Confidence

Last week we talked about home photo projects, but what about for babies and toddlers who are not quite ready to do their own art projects?

Pinhole Press has great products to help
you use your photos to build your baby’s confidence.

Mini book of names and faces

photo projects build confidencePick out your favorite photos of the most important people in baby’s life and create a beautiful customized book to build skills, like talking and recognition, in a fun and meaningful way. You will be strengthening your child’s sense of relationships and belonging while also creating a beautiful keepsake for the future.

If you don’t already have photos of everyone, this is the perfect opportunity to make a point of taking some! You don’t have to go for a posed headshot. Try capturing each person in action doing something they love… or better yet, take a photo of each of them doing something with your child. My six- and three-year-old love looking at photos of beloved relatives holding them when they were babies!

If you have far-off relatives, this can be a great way to gather them all together visually so you can still give your child a sense of their extended family. Ask distant family members to send you their favorite photo of themselves. You can even have them write a simple message to your child and take a photo of themselves holding the message.

If you don’t have a big family, include special friends, honorary aunts and uncles, pets, or even favorite places, activities and toys. Think about all the things that create a sense of comfort and belonging for your child that can be reinforced. What is the story that you want to tell them?

If you haven’t had a chance to create a baby book, this is a great alternative that is simple yet powerful. Have fun with it!

flashcards memory game pinhole press

Also check out the Pinhole Press flash cards and memory cards that give a bit of a twist to this same concept.  These are great for pre-schoolers!

arts and crafts indoor activities for kids photos

Getting Kids Involved with At-Home Photo Projects

Winter is nearly over! But if you’re finding yourself at a loss as to what to do with your kids for a few more chilly afternoons, here are some ideas for at home photo projects that involve photos or make for great photo ops.  What’s more, they are a lot of fun and make great memories.

1) Photo storybook or collage

When Liam was in pre-K he had an assignment to make a collage of all his favorite things. We printed recent family photos and then we collected photos of other favorite things on Pinterest to create this collage.


Kids love seeing photos of themselves and talking about what was going on when the photos were taken, some of which they might remember and some of which might be guesses, depending on their age.


Print a bunch of photos and let your kids make their own photo storybook. If your kids are little, you might want to simply print photos on your printer at home like we did (if you have a wireless printer you can even do this right from your phone). If your kids are a little older and up to something fancier, you can get some nice prints made at Mpix along with a book from Rag and Bone Bindery (I recommend an accordion album or small album) or another type of scrapbook or sketchbook. Have your kids add their own words, labels, thoughts, memories and drawings for a special keepsake.


indoor photo projects for kids

2) Photo stickers

Photo stickers are a great photo project for younger kids.  And who doesn’t love a good sticker-fest! When you order from moo, you can get a book of 90 different stickers for only $9.99!
moo sticker sheets photo projects

3) Slime

This is a great project for a winter’s day and creates great photo opportunities too, especially if you get into mixing colors or using glitter or other added ingredients!
slime recipe
Photo and slime recipe courtesy of

4) Snow paint

If it’s snowing but a little cold to be outside too long, bring in the snow and make snow paint!
snow paint recipe
Photo and snow paint recipe courtesy of Growing a Jeweled Rose

5) Drawing and painting

Sometimes it pays to keep it simple and to let your kids have at it with their favorite art supplies. Once kids hit kindergarten and really start to get into drawing, I’m a big proponent of buying quality art supplies and sketch paper. This gives your kids a more enjoyable and rewarding experience creating art and also results in artwork with beautiful vibrant colors that photograph well even with an iPhone!


Liam is loving these Derwent Colorsoft Pencils and my favorite sketch pad for the kids is the Strathmore premium recycled sketch pad.
colored pencils and sketch pad for kids art


For more on how to capture the moment while making memories, take a look at my Stop Missing the Moment Workshop, available online and at your own pace.
camera lens

Top 3 Indoor Photo Tips

Spring is around the corner but, at least here in NYC, we have a few more weeks of cold weather yet.

However, while it is much easier to get good photos outside, that doesn’t have to stop you from getting creative indoors.

Last month I gave you my top 5 non-technical tips for indoor photos. Now let’s get technical!

Here are my top 3 photo tips for getting the most out of your DSLR for indoor photos.

iso camera1) Get out of auto

This doesn’t mean you have to shoot fully in manual. I recommend starting with Aperture Priority. This will allow you to crank your ISO up to the maximum if necessary, giving you better results indoors. If your DSLR is older, this might mean ISO 1600. Most newer DLSR will let you to ISO 3200 or 6400 or higher.

You’ll also want to open up your aperture so your camera doesn’t need as much light, which means a lower f-stop number. Your kit lens will probably go to f/4.5 or f/3.5.

See lesson 5 of the Photosanity Workshop or check out Stop Missing the Moment if you need more help learning how to do this.

2) Get a prime lens50 mm lens

As I mention above, your kit lens will open up to f/4.5 or f/3.5, but a prime lens could take you to f/1.8 or wider, giving you better low light capabilities.

It also means you can get a shallow depth of field, where your subject is in focus and the background is blurry.

I recommend the 50mm f/1.8 lens as the best lens the least amount of money can buy.


bounce flash3) Use a bounce card for your flash

If you do have to use flash, a bounce card will help make it less harsh by bouncing light onto your subject that is softer or more diffuse. Check out these before and after photos from Light Scoop to see the difference a bounce card can make.

iphone security

Protect Your iPhone If It Gets Lost Or Stolen

iphone safetyOur mobile devices are no longer just phones. In fact, I use my iPhone far more for email, texting, scheduling, weather information, directions, social media, and of course as my day-to-day camera, than I do for making phone calls.

Unfortunately I had the experience of having my iPhone stolen right out of my hands as I stood on a busy NYC street in the middle of the day writing a long email.

Luckily the only thing I lost was the email I was in the middle of writing. Well, and the phone itself. But my photos, notes, files and all my other data were safe.

Here then are my steps for how to protect your iPhone in case it gets lost or stolen. Steps 4 and 5 are essential in order to protect your photos.

1) Always get the insurance

Luckily my phone was insured, but to be honest, it was a spur of the moment decision at the time of purchase, and when my phone was stolen, I couldn’t remember which way I had decided until I was able to check with my carrier after the theft.

As a result, I was only out a $199 deductible and then a replacement phone was sent to me overnight within 24 hours of filing the claim. You can bet that I will ALWAYS get the insurance without hesitation in the future.

2) Have a back-up device, if possible

I don’t know about you but I am really not sure how I would function without my iPhone. Luckily, I have a second phone as well as an iPad and I had both on me. My second phone wasn’t charged but I also had my Moiphe charger with me, and I will definitely be paying more attention to keeping my backup device charged. In the meantime, I was able to use my iPad to text and email.

I know a second phone is not really feasible for many, but if your job offers you the option of a separate phone, take it! I know many people carry a personal device as well as a work one and it seems a little crazy to carry two devices but I never thought about the benefit of having one to back up the other… until now!

3) Check that Find My iPhone App is turned on

Locate the app under Settings/iCloud. Download the Find My iPhone App to all your other devices as well. Using my iPad, I was able to quickly note that the thief had turned my phone off, and I was able to remotely wipe it, or at least set it so it would get wiped when it is next turned on.

4) Turn iCloud backup on

Locate this app under Settings/iCloud, as well. To be honest, I did not have this turned on because I didn’t want to pay extra to increase my storage allowance so that it would backup. Now that I have, I found out it is only $1/month for the storage I need right now. What was I thinking? That is $12/year that is worth spending!!!

I had an iTunes back-up from about a month ago so it wasn’t too bad, my texts are also on my computer and everything else is backed up to the cloud via other means (including my photos) so all it meant was that I had to re-download a few new apps I had recently downloaded and try to remember how I had rearranged a couple of screens. Still, for the truly minimal cost, it is worth it to know I always have an up-to-date backup so I can restore my phone to EXACTLY how it was.

5) Turn on Photo Stream

You will also find Photo Stream under Settings/iCloud. Yes, your photos are backed up if you have iCloud backup on but they are not backed up as frequently as they are with Photo Stream.  iCloud backups run when your phone is locked and plugged into power, whereas Photo Stream updates every time you are on a wifi network.

Photo Stream also allows you to access your photos from all your devices including iPhoto or Aperture on your Mac. This is truly magical.  There’s no need to plug in your phone to download your photos! And if your device is lost or stolen, you don’t need to wait to get a new device and restore from backup in order to access your photos.

6) Don’t stand on the street writing long emails!

Ok, so this one might only apply in big cities, but there are certainly very few, if any situations that require you to stand on the street writing long emails. In the future, I will at least make sure to duck into a store if I have an urgent email to write.

Am I never going to take my phone out again in public? No. I suspect the thief had been watching me write the email for a while and I think that quick checks on the street are ok. But I am making sure to be more aware of my surroundings and to hold my phone more “defensively” when I do take it out.

That’s it! Stay safe, protect your data and your memories, and if you have any other suggestions or questions, please post them below.

photo friendly packing list

Packing List for a Photo Friendly Vacation

Winter break is coming up! Whether you are headed for the beach or the slopes, here are your packing list must-haves for a photo friendly vacation:

Beach or slopes photo packing list


  • Loaded with photo apps (eg Camera+ and Snapseed)
  • Clear off storage
  • Turn Photo Stream on
  • Turn Find your iPhone on
  • Turn iCloud back-up on
  • iPhone charger


  • body and camera strap
  • one or two lenses with UV filter/protector
  • lens hood
  • extra memory card
  • extra battery (optional)
  • battery charger
  • camera bag

Waterproof point-and-shoot

  • camera
  • flotation strap (if you will be at the beach or pool)
  • case
  • extra memory card
  • battery charger

Cute outfits for the kids

  • Swim or ski wear
  • At least one cute casual outfit
  • One more formal outfit for a nice dinner out and photo opp (optional)
  • Cute accessories – hats and gloves for the slopes, hats and shades for the beach

For vacation photo tips for parents and more, check out the Photosanity blog.