family picture Marvel costumes

Behind the Scenes: Easy DIY Marvel Photoshoot 2021

On Sunday my family and I did a makeshift photoshoot in downtown Abilene in our Halloween costumes. I say makeshift because we used only our Google Pixel 4a phones as cameras – and the photographers were myself, my husband, and my 5-year-old son (for a few pictures!) All that to say we are NOT professionals!

But our photos turned out amazing! I couldn’t believe how awesome they looked – I even had a few people ask who we hired to take our pictures! – so I thought I’d go into a bit more detail of how we got some of the shots.

First off, COSTUMES!

We are not professional cosplayers – I bought the Spiderman and Captain American costume off of Amazon. I spent about $35 for the Spiderman costume and $75 for the Captain America costume. My costume did not come with a shield, so I found a cheap plastic kid’s version for about $20 (it’s only about 12 inches in diameter). Dean used a suit and tie he already had for his Loki variant costume, but ended up buying a green vest and the Loki horns, which together were about $50. I made his “Loki for President” button by finding an image online and then using a 2″ button maker in the ACU Library Maker Lab. (Buttons are 5 for $1).

I tried to find some black boots to go with my costume at Goodwill, but the ones I found ended up being too big around my calves, so I opted to just wear black sneakers. You’ll notice Calvin is also wearing his usual Baby Shark tennis shoes in the shots. We could have spent more money and ordered shoes that looked better, but we decided it was good enough!

Overall we spent close to $200 on costumes. Since this was our only expense for this photoshoot, we decided this was a reasonable amount.

Next, CAMERAS!

Dean and I both have Google Pixel phones. Part of why we got them was for the quality of photos they can take. Plus, they have a ton of storage space, so you can take tons of photos until you get exactly the right shot. We also loved using the “portrait mode” to get some great shots – this is a pretty standard feature for most phones.

If you have a smart phone that has come out in the last few years, chances are it will be good enough to get some great pics!

TIME AND LOCATION

We knew we wanted to take photos either at dusk or dawn, since the lighting is the best at those times – and we all promised we would wake up early on Sunday morning to be ready to leave at 7:30am. (Sunrise was around 7:55am CDT.) We also were hoping that downtown would be pretty empty, and it totally was! Now depending on where you live, you may not get lucky to have an entire downtown scene to yourself (perks of living in a small-ish town!) It was also cooler weather, about 50 degrees, so it was a little colder than most would find comfortable (at least here in west Texas) which helped make sure people were staying inside.

I personally LOVE downtown Abilene. And for a Marvel superhero photoshoot, it was a perfect venue for pictures! There were plenty of alleys and brick buildings that ended up being great backgrounds in our photos!

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Spiritual Bravery: My Focus for 2021

Only recently have I been the type of person to pick a word or phrase to focus on for the upcoming year (as opposed to more concrete resolutions), but as I’ve thought ahead to what I want my 2021 to look like, my mind kept bringing up the word “faith.” 

What do I mean when I say “faith?” I mean belief in God or a higher being, and trusting that God is actively working in my life, that things in my life are happening for a reason – and enjoying the peace that comes with that conviction.

For the past 5 years or so, I’ve been very mindful that my faith feels like it is lacking. It’s most noticeable when I am around someone who has strong faith – whose faith influences their daily decisions and isn’t just something they talk about in appropriate religious contexts. 

Religion is something that has always been a part of my life – I grew up going to church every Sunday, and in general have always been a rule-follower and someone who is concerned with “doing the right thing” and being a “good person.” But religion and faith are very different.

Like many others who grew up being religious or going to church, there comes a point in your life when you start to wonder why your church/religion does things the way they do, and if you actually believe those are the right things to be doing in the first place. Depending on what conclusions you come to in answering those questions, this can be a pretty scary or even earth-shattering time of life. 

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2020: Did You Survive or Thrive? (*spoiler – either answer is totally valid)

I’m laughing as I look back at my post from January 4, 2020. I wrote, “I’m really optimistic about 2020 – I think big things are going to happen for me. I have no proof of this, just a feeling.”

Well big things certainly did happen for all of us!

Despite 2020 being a year that none of us could have predicted, I don’t look back on it with disdain. 2020 was different for sure, and not what I expected, but it still brought me a lot of good. (P.S. It’s okay if this is not how you feel! It’s okay if you never want to hear the word 2020 again!)

My focus word for 2020 was “thrive.” I just wanted to feel good about myself, and to make more time for things like exercising, eating healthy and spiritual growth. Amazingly, by the end of the year I find myself doing exactly those things – I’ve been jogging again and even lifting some weights at home (I joke with Dean that he better watch out since I’m getting so muscle-y). Around mid-August I started being more purposeful about the food I was eating (less sugar, more veggies). And with some encouragement from friends (or perhaps more accurately, accountability) I have made more time to pray and meditate and do feel like I’ve grown spiritually this year.

I know not everyone is able to express positive feelings about 2020, and that’s okay. I’ve seen many iterations of the following, but as the image states, it’s okay if all you did this year was survive.

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