Project Life, Weeks 44 to 47, and tips on taking photos for Project Life

I’m really excited about Project Life this year. My Seafoam Edition core kit is due to arrive any day now, and I can’t wait to include bits and pieces of it into the boys’ albums (which I promise I will post about soon!). Also, I just found out today that my talented and beautiful friend Liz Tamanaha from Paislee Press has designed this stunning Midnight Edition core kit that is due to be released around May. I have been such a big fan of Liz’s work since I ‘discovered’ her last year shortly after starting Project Life, and I simply love her graphic style. She’s a minimalist after my own heart, and it is going to be such a joy to get my hands on her core kit and work out how to incorporate it into my albums.

Today, as well as posting Weeks 44 to 47 from last year, I thought it would be fun to share some tips specific to taking photos for Project Life. As you probably know by now, I’m a big believer in letting photos do the story-telling. In fact, most of my Project Life layouts are simply photos combined with minimal text on top. This wasn’t something I set out to do intentionally, but I soon discovered that this was clearly my natural ‘style.’ And I love it. Not only does it reflect how I like to capture memories, it’s also simple, straightforward and easy. So without further ado, here are some of my tips that might help you when taking photos for your Project Life album:

1) Try and capture similar colours in your photos throughout the week. When the time comes to layout your weekly spread, being able to include photos with similar shades of the same colour will help to tie it all together. For example, one of my favourite page layouts is the one shown above from Week 44 as the shades of purple, grey, and brown all complement each other really well.

2) Take photos from different angles and different viewpoints. Photograph from above. Directly front on. From a distance. Up close. One big application of this is to make sure you take photos of your children from different perspectives. Sometimes when there are too many ‘up close’ portrait shots of people clustered together, spreads can look overly busy. Plus, it’s nice to be able to add a bit of variety to each spread. Some of my favourite shots of the boys have been ones where you can’t actually see their faces…

3) Take photos in different lighting conditions. Take photos indoors, and take photos outdoors. Take photos at different times to make use of the different light throughout the day: mornings, late afternoon, and twilight are my favourite times to take photos, but I often end up photographing indoors late at night as well. The lighting from lamps can make for very interesting and atmospheric photos. Also, don’t be afraid to capture shade as well as light.

4) Don’t let your photographs always be dictated by the subject matter (ie. people, food and objects). Instead, try to focus on capturing a ‘moment’ once in a while. For example, the photo in Week 45′s title card (directly above) was taken when I had an hour or two by myself at the cafe; I’d wanted to document that rare moment of being alone, so I chose to photograph the people sitting opposite me by capturing their silhouettes. The purpose of the photo was not to document what I wore or the food I ate, but simply of that short, precious time I had all to myself in the cafe. Similarly, in the Week 46 layouts below, there is a photo of the pillows on our bed and another photo of the view out our window. Again, I was not trying to actually record what our bed looked like or the colour of our walls, but simply to capture the mood of that particular morning when I’d woken up to the sound of rain falling outside. This is where the importance of shade versus light comes in, because often it’s through playing with shadows and shade that can really help to document simple moments like this.

5) Leave breathing space in your photos. By that I mean, don’t fill up every pixel of your photo with action or subject matter. This is where the famous ‘rule of thirds’ comes in: try and only let your subject matter fill up about a third of the photo. Not only does this usually make for a better photo, it also means there is more ‘canvas space’ for you to add text and other elements onto the photo. Also, try to photograph against a plain background wherever possible. Not only does this help to keep the focus on your subject matter, but again, it leaves breathing space in your photos which helps to prevent layouts/spreads from looking too busy or cluttered.

6) Leave out unnecessary details. In other words, ‘crop’ the image while you’re taking it. Leave out the air vent in the ceiling or the power point in the wall or the stack of books on the desk, if it’s not needed in the photo. Remember you’re trying to keep the background as clean as possible so as not to distract from the subject matter of the photo. Of course, you can always actually crop the photo afterwards either on your phone or on the computer, but why not just try to get it right from the start?

7) If you are using an iPhone camera, learn to control the exposure properly and to make the most of the grid function. It’s not hard, and doing these two things alone will make a huge difference to your photographs.

8) Take an ‘action sequence’ of photos once in a while. These can make for a fun series which you can showcase either as an insert (like the one below of our ‘It’s a boy!’ announcement) or in a row of four 3×4 photos or even just as two photos side by side like the ones of Angus and Pete above.

9) And lastly, take both portrait and landscape shots of the same scene or moment that you’re trying to capture. This will allow for more options when you’re laying out your weekly Project Life spread, because it will allow you the flexibility of displaying a photo in either the 6×4 pocket or the 3×4 pocket. Plus you avoid the problem of finding yourself with sixteen photos in the landscape mode that you really want to include and yet none in the portrait mode (which is a rather dire situation to be in when you’re a Design A addict like me).

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Next week, I’m hoping to cover Weeks 48 to 52 and then it’ll be onto 2013 layouts!

You can read my other Project Life posts here.

Materials used: Becky Higgins Design A page protector; Kodak 210gsm glossy premium photo paper. All photos printed on the Canon MP630 Pixma.

(Linking up with The Mom Creative.)

83 comments

Michelle January 8, 2013 at 12:14 pm

Thank you Ronnie for this fantastic post including examples – much appreciated (for me the novice photographer) to have this visual to go with the theory.

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Documenting Chaos January 8, 2013 at 12:22 pm

Gorgeous, gorgeous pages Ronnie. Love your style and thanks for the great photography tips.

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Pink Ronnie January 9, 2013 at 12:31 am

Thank you so much! Appreciate you stopping by too.
Ronnie xo

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Petra January 8, 2013 at 12:29 pm

This is fantastic Ronnie. Love the way you capture life and love your tips.
x

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Jane January 8, 2013 at 12:44 pm

Thank you for the lovely tips! I have to admit, I did bookmark the items you listed that folks will need to do a project life. I may be mentally preparing myself to do it next year. This is like one of those challenges I hope to do one day.

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Pink Ronnie January 9, 2013 at 12:33 am

It would be a wonderful thing to do, Jane.
Ronnie xo

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Amanda January 8, 2013 at 1:19 pm

FANTASTIC tips Ronnie!!! I love that what you’ve suggested is not only useful for Project Life, but are also great photography tips in general. I’ve pinned them so I can re-read them when I’m ready to start Project Life myself. I like your suggestion of taking photographs from varying angles, something I need to work on more. Thanks so much for sharing this post. Hope you’re having a lovely week so far xx

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Fiona January 8, 2013 at 1:24 pm

Great pages, and great photo taking tips!

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Kate January 8, 2013 at 5:05 pm

Thank you so much for sharing your tips… very helpful for people like me that aren’t use to this! I will always have the upmost admiration for your work! These are to be treasured. xo

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Pink Ronnie January 9, 2013 at 12:35 am

I am tickled pink with such kind words, coming from a photographer like yourself!
Ronnie xo

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Geraldine Tan January 8, 2013 at 6:34 pm

I’m going to try this Ronnie. So exciting! I just hope I remember to take the pics! xx

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Kristina January 8, 2013 at 7:57 pm

Just love what you do. Beautiful.

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Heather January 8, 2013 at 10:21 pm

I love the simplicity of your pages and your fantastic photography tips.

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Pink Ronnie January 9, 2013 at 12:34 am

Thank you Heather, and so lovely to have you stop by.
Ronnie xo

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claire January 9, 2013 at 1:43 am

Such great little tips. I seriously gush over all your PL pages whenever they appear on the blog…
….now, I better fess up on my PL progress? I’ve been thinking this over for a while (typical Capricorn)…I was hoping to start PL this year but realised what was holding me back on committing was the part where you edit photos, add text etc. I think I might need to master a photo editing software program first. Knowing what a perfectionist I am, I know it’ll kill me to not have my ‘style’ worked out first before I begin to add into albums. Do you have any that you’d recommend? Both expensive and/or cheaper/free alternatives?
I’m also toying with the idea of a digital version (ie. just using the blog to post the pics/text for each week) until I’ve found my PL legs!
Tell me what you think, wise lady!

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claire January 9, 2013 at 1:45 am

Oh and something I’ve been wondering for ages, related to the editing stuff above, do you use the same filter on all your photos to get that lovely look of a similar tone throughout? x

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Pink Ronnie January 11, 2013 at 5:40 am

In terms of photo editing, I did ALL my editing on my iPhone up until December using the VSCO Cam app. (I’ve only just started editing on the computer as well, because VSCO released VSCO Film for Aperture and I am in love with it.) Probably another handful of photos were processed using the Afterglow app.
Ronnie xo

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Pink Ronnie January 11, 2013 at 5:37 am

Hey Claire,
Not sure how I missed your comments, but I only just saw them. I totally get wanting to work out your style first. I know most people use Photoshop to add text onto their photos, but I use Adobe InDesign to add all my text and graphics because I think it’s easier and more straightforward. That’s the more expensive option. You can also try downloading GIMP which is a free image manipulation software which I know is quite popular. In my honest opinion, I do think it’s worth starting at the beginning of the year because that means you won’t then build up a ‘backlog.’ But at the same time, I also understand where you are coming from. I only started in Week 14 myself last year, and so now as I work my way through Weeks 1 to 13 of 2013, I’m doing the corresponding week from 2012 at the same time. (So that’s one way of catching up.)

Why don’t you download GIMP, have a quick play around, and see whether that could work for you? It could also be worthwhile researching some iPhone apps because I know there are some that allow you to add text simply & beautifully.

Ronnie xo

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Alison January 12, 2013 at 12:09 pm

Hope you don’t mind me jumping in here…I use Picasa…or picmonkey.com to add text..both free..just another option ;)

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Pink Ronnie January 14, 2013 at 2:08 am

Great suggestion Alison!
Ronnie xo

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Chantel January 9, 2013 at 2:45 am

Just gorgeous as always Ronnie. Every week I’m impressed by how many photos you capture, and how beautifully you capture them!

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Johanna January 9, 2013 at 3:32 am

I love the little belly shots. I wanna see more!

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Pink Ronnie January 9, 2013 at 9:58 pm

I know – I need to photograph it more. At first it was going to be fortnightly, now it’s stretching out to 3-4 weeks!
Ronnie xo

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Lisa January 9, 2013 at 4:32 am

gorgeous.. cant get enough of your blog :)

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Sue January 9, 2013 at 5:59 am

Thank you so much for the awesome photography tips! I really need to incorporate them into my pages this year :)

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Jolene January 9, 2013 at 6:00 am

I feel so inspired after reading your post. It’s my first time here from Jane’s blog and I think I’m loving it already. The colors are all light-hearted and aesthetically pleasing. I can’t wait to read more :)

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Pink Ronnie January 9, 2013 at 9:59 pm

Welcome Jolene, thanks for so much for stopping by and for your kind words. It’s lovely to have you here.
Ronnie xo

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Julia Kuku Couture January 9, 2013 at 9:59 am

Lovely Ronnie, I read this last night and came back to read all you tips love it xx

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Leanne January 9, 2013 at 10:11 am

Great tips there & it looks like a great way of documenting, these photos & memories look wonderful

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Catherine January 9, 2013 at 10:44 am

I love your simple and soft photos and layouts Ronnie. Thank you for those great photography tips too:) xx

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yin January 9, 2013 at 11:01 am

So happy to have you stop by my blog. And am I glad I stopped by yours!! Your pictures are beautiful and your PL tells the wonderful story of your family so eloquently. And this is a great, great post. Thanks for the great tips, I love especially #4, so true and so hard, to also capture the intangibles: the mood, the feeling, the interaction, the atmosphere, and so on. My teenage sons are very unwilling to get into pictures now, so I’m going to have to be smarter and more ingenious about capturing our lives and stories. Love your ‘It’s a boy!’ announcement – congrats!

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Pink Ronnie January 9, 2013 at 10:01 pm

Hi Yin, so stoked that you stopped by here. Thanks for such an incredibly sweet comment. It’s already getting harder trying to photograph my three and four year old, so can’t imagine what it must be like when they’re teenagers! The announcement series is absolutely one of my favourites. :)
Ronnie xo

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aliceinbo January 9, 2013 at 4:11 pm

These photos are beautiful!

aliceinbo2.blogspot.com

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rooth January 9, 2013 at 5:13 pm

I always get such great photography tips from you Ronnie – thank you!

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Chloe Moon January 9, 2013 at 8:10 pm

Such great tips!! I really need to start doing this project!! =)

Ergo – Blog

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Sonya January 9, 2013 at 11:15 pm

I love the simplicity of your pages. They are beautiful. I’m using Seafoam this year too. Can’t wait for it to arrive!

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trishie January 10, 2013 at 1:29 am

Great tips, Ronnie and useful for just photography in general. Love the idea of capturing a moment…I have to give that one a try.

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Vicki January 10, 2013 at 3:37 am

love your PL pages- I think I will finally take the plunge this year and try it! Been browsing the store but noticing you don’t use the patterned cards etc from the kits much? By the way, I think your PL pages are some of the best of the Becky Higgins team ones- I love your simplicity and letting the photos do the storytelling is beautiful!

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alison January 10, 2013 at 1:01 pm

thanks so much for the tips! I absolutely love your photos and PL pages.

Thanks for the photo tips and design ideas. priceless!

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Pink Ronnie January 10, 2013 at 10:08 pm

Thanks for such kind words Vicki! Excited you’ll be taking the plunge! It’s true, I currently don’t use many cards from the kits – just simply photos with some text added on top using the computer and then slipped straight into the pockets…
Ronnie xo

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Liv January 10, 2013 at 1:06 pm

You are doing an amazing job documenting it all! Your photos are incredibly beautiful.

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Natalie January 10, 2013 at 1:13 pm

Thanks so much for sharing these tips Ronnie. I so much would like to do project life this year….however a little daunting! I think you have told me before you edit pictures (ie adding text) in Adobe Indesign? I have it, however not yet explored…..so I guess I could do some googling to learn or use those ‘core kits’ to add my text? Is that the idea? (sorry if that sounds like a silly question). Could I also ask you where you get the core kits online? From the links you included above.

Natalie x

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Pink Ronnie January 10, 2013 at 10:12 pm

Hi Natalie,
I buy my materials from Craft House NZ (www.crafthouse.co.nz) – tbey are the official distributors for AUS/NZ. Their service is great, and shipping is included in the price of their products. David and Mary are just lovely and will look after you well!
Ronnie xo

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Life with Kaishon January 10, 2013 at 1:48 pm

I am glad you love scrap booking so much. That used to be all the rage over in the states as well but most of my friends have stopped doing it now and started having books printed. Your pictures are beautiful. They are like art.

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Diane January 10, 2013 at 4:25 pm

Love this post with all your wonderful design tips. And I too love your minimalist style. Your books are art and will be treasured.

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ee k. January 10, 2013 at 3:39 pm

Thanks so much for your photo tips. Your pages are so simple yet so amazing. Love them.

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Stephanie January 11, 2013 at 1:56 am

Awesome photography tips. Thanks Ronnie! Going to embark on 52 photos this year, so will surely try and incorporate. Steph x

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Jay January 13, 2013 at 1:14 am

Thanks ronnie! I’ve only just discovered project life and not scrapbooked in forever. I love the iPhone tips as I have young kids and the only thing I always have with me … Look forward to learning more this year & congrats on being on becky’s design team – hoping products will be available in our stores in Sydney sooner rather than later!

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Pink Ronnie January 13, 2013 at 10:31 pm

Thanks for stopping by Jay! I think you might find Project Life to your liking – it doesn’t have to involve ‘traditional scrapbooking’ – it can be as simple as you want it to be! And yes, pretty much all my PL photos are taken on my iPhone because I don’t tote our DSLR around either. If you don’t want to wait till our shops stock Project Life, I can highly recommend purchasing from Craft House NZ. Anyway, thanks for your sweet words!
Ronnie xo

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simplypearl January 29, 2013 at 1:54 pm

i found your blog via instagram. and may i say, GOR. GEOUS. i love your simplistic style and cannot wait to find some time {when my 3 boys are napping} to read more. thank you for your inspiration!

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Pink Ronnie January 29, 2013 at 10:21 pm

Thank you so much. That’s cool that you have three boys as well – I had a look at your Instagram and they look pretty young like ours. How old are they?
Anyway, lovely to have you here!
Ronnie xo

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Elizabeth January 29, 2013 at 10:19 pm

This is so helpful! Thank you!

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Pink Ronnie January 29, 2013 at 10:22 pm

Thanks for stopping by Elizabeth.
Ronnie xo

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Julie February 4, 2013 at 9:17 am

Hi Ronnie! I found your blog thru Liz (Paislee Press) and can’t wait to follow the two of you along as I begin my first Project Life album this year. Your layouts are beautiful and I love how you capture moments as well as subjects. Thank you so much for the iPhone tips too- it’s nice to know that someone else primarily uses their iPhone camera over their DSLR! One question…since the aspect ratio of iPhone images is 3×4 and goes well with PL journal card pockets, do you crop the other images that you print for the 4×6 pockets?

Also, just a quick note to a previous poster- the Camera+ app is great for adding quick text to your photos. You can also add filters and save directly to your camera roll.

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Pink Ronnie February 4, 2013 at 9:24 am

Hi Julie,
Thanks for visiting and reading and taking the time to leave a comment! Your kind words are wonderfully encouraging. Yes, I do crop the 4×6 photos – I do this in Adobe InDesign as part of my weekly process, which I’ve just outlined in my latest Project Life post. It’s so easy to do in InDesign that I actually am not even aware that I do it anymore. Thanks for the tip re: the Camera+ app as well.
Ronnie xo

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Julie February 5, 2013 at 6:16 am

Thanks Ronnie. I’m trying to streamline my process too and your more recent post was extremely helpful. A good workflow/framework is important to me too, so I’m trying to get that down and figure out what works best. I keep my everyday candid shots in iPhoto, so changing the aspect ratio should be easy for 4×6 prints. I keep my DSLR photos in Lightroom and tend to have more portrait and event shots, like you. At first, I wondered how I was going to mix the two types (the candid ones I’ve run quick filters on and the others that have been more carefully edited), but you gave me a great idea! Just use PL for the everyday candids and make a separate photobook for the others. This will certainly make things easier because I won’t be falling behind due to the editing (which always takes me awhile). Now I just need to simplify how I add my Instagram photos from both my phone and my husband’s phone into the mix. Thank you so much for sharing the details of your process! xoxo

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Donna G. February 9, 2013 at 7:34 pm

Excellent advice, and beautiful pages! Thanks for sharing, Ronnie!

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Carol April 10, 2013 at 2:48 pm

Do you print your own photos and how do you get the 3 x 4 photos?

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Pink Ronnie April 10, 2013 at 9:39 pm

Hi Carol,
Yes I do. I set up two 3×4 photos onto a 6×4 template using Adobe InDesign and then I print the two photos as a 6×4 photo using the software Aperture on my Mac.
You can read more about my entire weekly process here: http://pinkronnie.com/2013/02/project-life-week-51-and-my-weekly-process-from-beginning-to-end/
Ronnie xo

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rachel @ open~heart April 25, 2013 at 3:37 pm

Very timely post as I’m gearing up for day in the life and wanting my pictures to have the beauty and ‘breathing room’ you incorporate so naturally on your pages. Lovely, thank you – I’ll be reposting this link with my DitL post. Oh and blessings on you in these early days with your new little one :)

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I love hearing from you!

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