24 Things I’ve Learned in 24 Years

24 Things I’ve Learned in 24 Years

I’m normally not one to publicly announce my birthday. I usually just let people remember … and usually end up disappointed and hating my birthday (seriously, it’s happened before). This year, I thought I’d try a different approach. I’ve been really focusing on self love this year. After I became a mother, I found it was really important to take care of yourself first, before you take care of your sweet baby. If you don’t, it’s really hard to feel pretty because children drain so much of your energy. Anyways, today I am turning 24. I’ve learned a lot in my 24 years of life, and I am excited to learn & improve even more over the years to come.

I set up the tripod, put on a dress that makes me feel beautiful, and took birthday pictures with my boy.

And today I’m celebrating me.

Aly Dawn Photography 24 Things I've Learned

1. make time for yourself

I feel like this is important in all phases of your life. It’s important for me to have alone time. I try to schedule in alone time everyday. Most days it’s when the baby naps. Some days it’s while I’m in the shower (I always linger just a little longer…) but my favorite is when my husband willingly & lovingly says, ‘I’ll watch our son, you do something for you.’ He’s a keeper! But, seriously. Making time for you is very important to keep you sane.

2. confidence is beautiful & powerful

3. stop talking about yourself & start listening

You are important, but so is your friend. So, stop talking about yourself & listen to those people in your life that are important to you. Ask questions about their life. Be engaged. Listen to their problems, excitement, anything they feel like telling. So, it’s OK to stop talking & lend an ear.

Aly Dawn Photography 24 Things I've Learned

4. things work out when you work at them

The first time you do something is always the scariest. How could it possibly work out? It always does, especially when you put the work in.

5. love takes work…

… but it’s worth it!

6. it’s ok to ask questions

Most of my life my pride has gotten in the way of me learning new things. I have learned that asking questions is totally ok and actually helps you even more in the long run.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Aly Dawn Photography 24 Things I've Learned

7. change can be good

8. stop comparing yourself to others

I am enough. I am beautiful. I am perfect just the way I am. I’ve learned that I should stop comparing myself  to others. I’m not better than them, they’re not better than me, we’re just different. And that’s OK.

9. it’s ok to treat yourself

You deserve it! Don’t feel too guilty for that extra piece of cake. Don’t feel bad about buying that super cute dress you’ve had your eyes on. Treat yourself every once in a while. It’ll help keep you sane.

Aly Dawn Photography 24 Things I've Learned

10. care salesmen are the worst

Enough said.

11. it’s ok to have opinions

This has been a hard one for me. I’m a people pleaser. I never would say my opinion to other people without feeling like I was making someone upset … so there was a time where I wouldn’t say my true feelings, just what everyone wanted to hear. But, it’s ok to disagree and to have your own opinions. I don’t think any less of you because you do something differently than me.

12. being a mother is the best and worst job

I’m sure all other mother’s would agree with me. There’s something so rewarding about being a mother. Watching your little one grow and develop. Watching them learn new things from you teaching them, or them learning by themselves. There’s so much joy and happiness that comes from being a mother. But, on the other hand, it is the toughest job in the whole world. I’m constantly worrying about my son. I am constantly tired. Constantly trying to figure out how I could possibly teach him the way of life. Motherhood is definitely the hardest thing I have ever done.

But I wouldn’t change it for the world. I love being a mother.

Aly Dawn Photography 24 Things I've Learned

13. family is everything

14. life is short

So, hug that person and quit fighting. Love, guys, spread love everywhere!

15. god is in the details of your life

I’ve learned this at a young age. He’s always there to guide you. He’s there in your darkest days. He’s also there when you’re happy! He’s working on every small detail in your life.

Aly Dawn Photography 24 Things I've Learned

16. being an introvert is cool …

… and totally ok! It took a long time for me to accept the fact that I was an introvert. But, I am. And you still like to talk to me. I just do better one on one than in a large group. 🙂

17. messy house is totally ok

I’ve had a long day. I’ve been running around cleaning up after my son and the house is still a mess. And that’s ok. Because it’s not always going to be clean. And I have to accept that! But that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t strive for it. 😉

18. it’s ok to cry

I hate crying. I really do. But, I have learned that it’s totally ok to cry sometimes. Get it out of your system. Don’t be ashamed or embarrassed. It’s ok (I might need to continue to tell myself that!).

19. your body really does change after childbirth

I didn’t believe them. But they were right. My body is changed forever, for the better.

Aly Dawn Photography 24 Things I've Learned

20. it’s ok to say no

21. grudges aren’t worth it

22. forgiveness is a gift you give to yourself

I read that somewhere and really liked it … it’s true. I’m still working on forgiveness, though.

23. getting out of the house everyday is a must

For your sanity. I sometimes find myself not going outside at all in the day … and then I realize why I’m getting frustrated with the baby. I need fresh air. So, I plan on scheduling more outside time this year!

24. nobody’s perfect

Easter Basket Ideas For Boys

Easter Basket Ideas For Boys

So, Easter was yesterday. I was a little on the fence of doing an Easter basket, to be honest … simply because my son is so young, he wouldn’t remember it. But, I decided to go ahead and do it and take pictures, so that he can look back and say, wow! You’re an awesome parent, mom! (At least, that’s what I hope he’ll say!!!). After searching and searching, I finally found the perfect items for him. If I were on top of things, I would have posted this the first of March … but you know, motherhood got in the way.

Another thing that got in the way of our Easter basket fun was the fact that UPS took my package to the wrong facility, causing it to be delayed two days, so I didn’t get it until today! Ugh! It should have been here last week. But, I digress. Baby boy won’t know the difference, right? Here’s what our Easter basket looked like.

Aly Dawn Photography Easter Basket Ideas for Boys

This post contains affiliate links, meaning I get a little bit of revenue, at no extra cost, if you click on the links. Thanks in advance for supporting me. You can see my full disclosure here.

easter basket ideas for boys

I really loved putting this together. If I had all the money in the world, I would have gotten a lot more (but I’ll link to it, so you can see what I would have bought!), but I am excited to get all of these things for under $50. That’s a win right there, right? I love Amazon! They made it so easy to order everything I wanted, while I breastfed … which was so nice. I didn’t have to leave the house to get all of this stuff. Talk about lazy … but I’m just being honest, here!

This Easter Basket is pretty plain and simple, but my little man loved it! He especially loved number 4! He played with his new stuff for about an hour! Which is pretty good, considering his age. I’m pretty pleased with how his Easter Basket went.

1. new onesies

I absolutely loved these cute little onesies by Carter. I got the black/white set. I love the little buttons! And the dinosaurs. And the fact that they’re all grey. I think my favorite is definitely the anchor one. I mean, how cute are those?! I was looking at another cute outfit by Burtsbees, but this was the same price and I got 6 onesies for the price of one … no brainer there. These onesies are SO cute. I absolutely love them! They are the first onesies I’ve actually bought my son … because he usually just gets outfits from his grandparents. 🙂 It was fun to shop for him!

2. books

I got him the Love You Forever book, because I really like it, and he didn’t have it yet. I got the paperback version, which will mean he can’t have it for a while. But, oh well! Another book that I got him was the Guess How Much I Love You book. Which is perfect for Easter, since it’s about bunny rabbits!! There are so many great baby books out there, and they’re all for decent price. These baby books would be perfect for an Easter basket, a birthday, Christmas, anything. My son loves books! He will climb into my lap the moment he sees I have a book and he will sit still. Woah. Books are awesome.

3. teething toy

For babies, teething toys are a must. I got him this adorable teething toy! I just love it. Plus it has an elephant on it? So cute. He loved it because it makes noise when he bangs it, but he can also chew on it. It’s very well made and just so adorable.

4. a new toy

I got him a new toy, a wooden shape sorter, and it was the hit of the whole basket! My son personally likes to take the shapes out and put them back in through the opening … not the shapes. But! He’s still young. 😉 I’d say this toy is perfect for 6 months to a year. My son loves throwing the shapes, it’s his new favorite toy. So, that was a hit! Plus this wooden shape sorter is so beautiful! I love the colors and the way it looks. So cute!


All in all, it was a good Easter. And I hope you are inspired for next year. 😉 I should really work on my marketing skills … my favorite part about this whole thing was how much fun he seemed to have. He loved that there was stuff in a basket for him to make a mess of. He loved his blocks. He loved his teething toy. And maybe when he’s done napping form all the excitement, we’ll read the book, and he’ll love that, too. And I have beautiful images that I can cherish for the rest of my life. My son’s first Easter! I didn’t make a big deal out of any of the other holidays. This year, I plan to take pictures of them all.

Next big date : his birthday! It’s fast approaching and I’m over here being torn. I love how much he is growing and developing and turning into a toddler, but I want him to stay little forever and be my baby forever. Motherhood doesn’t get any easier, does it? Stay little forever. Please?


Happy Easter.


Creativity Exercise : 30 Day Photo Challenge

Creativity Exercise : 30 Day Photo Challenge

It’s a new month! Which means we get a brand new creativity exercise! Are you ready to get inspired and take pictures? I am. I loved last month’s exercise. If you’re just now joining us, be sure to check it out. Also, you can subscribe so that you don’t miss another one.

So, April is the perfect month (I may be a little biased since I was born in April … ) to do a 30 day photo challenge! April only has 30 days! If you are just joining in on these creativity exercises, don’t worry! You don’t have to start in April or even in the beginning of a month. Just start it! Download the document, print it out, hang it on your wall, follow the prompts, and share! These exercises are meant to get your creative juices flowing. So, let’s get started, shall we?

Aly Dawn Photography Creativity Exercise : 30 Day Photo Challenge

the challenge

This challenge is all about thinking. You can either follow the prompts that I have given, make your own prompt, or just take a picture a day this month! Up to you. There aren’t really any rules here. It’s pretty open to your interpretation.

the prompts

If you decide to follow the prompts, don’t let them drag you down! They don’t have to be perfect. The point of this exercise is to take 30 different photos. If one of the prompts are getting in the way of you taking a picture that day, then take a picture of whatever you want. The idea is to walk away with 30 photos by the end of the month.

I did throw in a couple of self portraits. Get creative with these. Find ways to push past the typical ‘selfie’. Set up a tripod. Include the environment. Do something in them. Don’t look at the camera. Self portraits can be tricky, but with these tips, you should be able to conquer them easily!

how to push through

If you’ve ever tried to do a 365, you know how hard it can be. Taking a picture everyday is difficult. But it does push you and help you grow. Here are some ways to stay motivated and push through this exercise.

  • don’t beat yourself up if you miss a day – no seriously, don’t. It’ll only make you feel worse. Instead, take 2 images the next day. You’ve got this.
  • Read the prompt the night before – this’ll help you think of how you can get the image you want the next day. It’s totally OK to stage an image!
  • Don’t let the prompts bring you down – if a prompt is too hard, take an image of whatever you want!
  • Keep your camera in a place where you’ll see it. I keep mine in the middle of my living room so that it’s easy to grab!
  • Take your camera when you go out – you never know, you just might see something that’s perfect for that days prompt!
  • Have fun – this is the most important. Don’t stress over it like it’s a chore. This is supposed to be fun!

When all is said and done, make sure you put your images all together (in a grid, a calendar, etc.) so that you can see all the fun you had. Share your 30 day photo challenge with everyone! On Instagram, Facebook, you could even print it out! If you complete this photo challenge, please, show me below!

I’m currently working on mine (since it’s still April) and once I am done with it, I will come back to update this blog post to include the images I took with the prompts! See you at the end of the month. 🙂

March’s Exercise : 30 Photos in 30 Minutes

5 Ways to Get Sincere Followers on Instagram

5 Ways to Get Sincere Followers on Instagram

I seriously love love love (did I mention, love?) Instagram. Instagram is so addicting. I sometimes have to remind myself to put my phone down and not get sucked into the awesomeness that is Instagram. Now, I am no expert at getting followers, I’m probably a complete noob. But, I have been taking some notes for the past couple of months on when I get the most followers. Also, if you’re new to Instagram, sincere followers can sometimes be hard to come by. I want to discuss my approach to Instagram and what has worked for me. As well as advise against certain things. So, if you’re ready, let’s get started.

And bonus! There’s a freebie at the end. 🙂

check out my How Instagram Made Me a Better Photographer post

AlyDawnInstagram 5 Ways to Get Sincere Followers on Instagram

This post contains affiliate links.  Thank you in advance for supporting Aly Dawn Photography!

what I mean by sincere followers

Ok, so there’s this thing called an Insta-bot or something along those lines. DO NOT fall into the trap of these bots. They get you likes, yes, but they are not sincere! What I mean by sincere is people who are actually excited about what you post. I have quite a few of sincere followers, and I will take one of them over 10,000 likes from those bots. Seriously, my sincere followers make my day everyday. They are the ones who comment and like every single one of my posts. Yes, that’s right. I have followers like that who love me. And you should, too!

So, when I say sincere followers, I really mean people who actually care about what you’re posting, and people who follow you for you, and not for another like.

Alright, now that that’s off my chest, let’s get down to business!!

If you’re interested in having a nice long read about Instagram, this book, Instagram Marketing: Social Media Marketing Guide is a great source of information. It also has excellent exercises for you to do to help grow your following and also how to market your brand on Instagram. I highly recommend it.

my 5 ways to get sincere followers on instagram

1. post regularly

You don’t have to post everyday, but make it a goal to post every week. Set up a schedule and stick to it. Your followers will start to get used to how often you post and anticipate it. So, if you’re all over the map and posting whenever, weeks apart, it might be hard for people to want to follow you. Pick a schedule that works for you. Test out different things. Say one week, post everyday and see how it affects your following. Post 3 times a week and see how it affects your following. Play around with it. For me, I decided that daily works best for me and my followers. Sometimes I skip a day, but for the most part, I try very hard to post daily.

2. be consistent

I cannot stress this enough. Consistency is very hard, though. You have to work really hard at it. What I mean by consistency is your images look the same. If you like the moody pictures, try to always post moody pictures. If you tend to like the light and airy pictures, post light and airy. You could even go so far as to only post one genre of photography. For example, you could only post macro images. I tend to go with my style being consistent. I am a moody picture type of gal, so I try to make sure all the pictures I post to my Instagram are moody. That doesn’t mean all of my pictures are moody, per se, but all the ones I post to Instagram are!

The worst thing ever is seeing an image that you absolutely adore and then clicking to go to that person’s account and none of their images look like that. That doesn’t get you followers. I typically don’t follow someone if their work is all over the place. I am looking for consistency in the people I follow.


3. like and comment

This is hugely important. If you post an image, you should be comment and liking at least 100 other posts. Yes, that’s right. You can’t just expect people to see your account from posting one image a day. And posting more than once in a day can turn people off (I’d say that should be part of your experimenting, how many times a day should you post?).

When I post an image, I always put hashtags on that image. After I post, I go to one of those hashtags and just stroll and like and comment. Here’s the catch, don’t just like and comment on every image you can possibly see. Be a sincere follower! Comment on images that make you stop in your tracks! Like those images that you enjoyed. If you didn’t enjoy the image, don’t like it. And then if you find an image that is absolutely amazing, go to that person’s account and see if you like their account. If they have images you’d like to see on the daily, give them a follow.

As well as going in and looking at images from a certain hashtag, also make sure you like/comment on the people you follow. Be a sincere follower to them, and they might just return the favor!

I can’t stress this tip enough!

4. reply to comments

So I did a little experiment this past week. I’ll get to that in just a second … before I started getting serious about building up my followers, I wasn’t very consistent (oh! There’s that word again!) with replying to the comments  I received. I didn’t like replying right away, so I thought, oh I’ll just wait a day or two before I comment again.

Ok, fast forward to now. I did an experiment where I replied to a comment as soon as I saw it pop up. And you know what? I actually got more comments/likes on the image where I replied right away versus an image I didn’t reply right away. Perhaps that image was just better, I’ll never know for sure. But it definitely got me hooked to replying as soon as I can.

Here’s the deal, when you reply to a comment, it shows that you really do care about your sincere followers. And if you have sincere followers, you better care about them! They make Instagram fun. 🙂 Trust me.

5. use hashtags

But don’t just use any old hashtags. You really need to do your research on this. Luckily for you … I already did the research! If you’d like the Hashtag Guide, then click here! It’s just a little bonus for you because I love my readers. 🙂

Aly Dawn Photography Hashtag Guide

Remember, one post can only have 30 hashtags, so you want these hashtags to be as relevant as possible.

my growth

By following these tips, I’ve been able to grow my following by 100+ followers in just under 2 months. That might not seem like a lot, but trust me, for Instagram, it is! If you following these tips religiously, I can promise you sincere followers.

What is something you’ve done to see lots of Instagram growth? I’d love to know in the comments below!

Thanks for stopping by.

Around Our Clocks : 10 am in February

Around Our Clocks : 10 am in February

I am excited to say that I will be in a blog circle this year. I unfortunately missed January due to not having any internet. The Around Our Clocks is a blog circle where we basically do a day in the life, but focus on just one hour each month, and we also have to be in the images! So it’s a self portraits, around our clocks project and I am totally in love.

My 10 am looks like this, most days. My son seems to have a routine of always needing a diaper change around this time in the day. It never fails. The light was so perfect this day, I couldn’t resist setting up the tripod and jumping in the frame!

Interested in taking pictures of your everyday? check out my post on how to do it.

Follow the circle and go to Rachel’s post to see what their 10 am looked like this past month. It’s so fun to see everyone’s different take on it. Come back next month for another round of it!

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