Category Archives: personal

How to make an awesome family home video – Part 1 of 2

Why is it worth your time and effort to make a family highlight video? Well, honestly ask yourself, when’s the last time you sat down and watched any of your family’s home videos? It’s probably been a long time. It’s not that you don’t enjoy watching that last family vacation but there can be some real obstacles. Your videos might be scattered across different camera phones or hard drives? Maybe you’ve captured some awesome moments but it takes so long to get to those parts? Perhaps there’s a lot of boring and slow footage to suffer through? What if instead of having to sit through all the boring parts to watch those handful of best moments, you could put them all together in one song? Amanda and our two boys love to watch our home videos because they’re fun and they’re really easy to access. I thought it would be a great idea to share with you a quick list of ten easy things you can do to make an awesome family highlight video!


I used an iPhone 5 camera phone for this home video.

#1 – Focus on people more than anything else. All of the scenery shots in your highlight video shouldn’t be more than 10% of the finished video. No matter how awesome that bridge is or how beautiful the sunset looks, keep it to a minimum. Think about it. When you watch your video years from now, no one’s going to comment on how cool the bridge is because they’ll be too busy looking at how little or cute the kids were at that age. The best way to showcase those scenic shots is with your subject in the same shot. Another trick is to frame the scenery shot beforehand and then have your subject walk into it. For example, it’s not by accident that when I shoot at the beach, I frame the shot so the boardwalk or dock is in the background. If you want to shoot a sign saying where you’re visiting, dedicate 1/3 of the camera to the sign and the other 2/3′s to your subjects. You’ll get the best of both worlds.

#2 – The average video clip in a fun highlight video is only 2-3 seconds long. This makes you want to watch it over and over to see details you missed. If you think this is too fast, the next time you watch your favorite movie or TV show, count the seconds before the camera switches to another shot or angle. You can’t even finish reading this sentence before the shot will move to a different angle. We’ve been conditioned to have terrible attention spans when watching videos. In fact, a typical four minute highlight song will need to have about 95 different angles/shots. Keep this in mind when your spouse tells you that you need to stop shooting video and to put your phone away.

#3 – When shooting, think about how many shots you can make within your current shot. For example, when my youngest son was surfing on the beach (not the actual water), I got a detailed shot of his feet on the board, his hands while he tried balancing himself, the expression of his face when he thought he was actually surfing, and a great scenic shot of the ocean and dock by shooting him from behind. All I had to do to was get closer, step back, take a few steps around him, and bend down to get a different angle. When I put these 2-3 second shots together in a highlight video, it’s funner to watch and the video will have more energy. Remember, for every large shot, there are several smaller detail shots. You just have to look for them.

#4 – When choosing the one song for the video, realize you’ll have to listen to it 10 and 20 years from now. Today’s billboard hits might be cool but you’re going to have to live with this decision every time you and your family sit down to watch it. If you decide to post it online for out-of-town relatives, your grandma is going to be watching it as well. I’ve had lots of great song ideas for our family videos but when I share them with Amanda, they end up not seeming so great after all. Nothing frustrates me more than finding a song with the perfect mood and speed but the lyrics aren’t something I want the kids singing around the house.

#5 – When editing, arrange your clips in an order that makes chronological sense. For example, if your video keeps bouncing back and forth between completely unrelated locations, it will be confusing for the viewer. Instead of them enjoying your finished video, they’ll be trying to figure out if the kids are still in Disneyland or Legoland. It makes sense to put all the clips together that were taken in one location such as an amusement park before moving onto an entirely different location like a beach. To make your transitions smoother between locations, you can use those great scenic shots to give context. I always stay away from putting text in the middle of my videos because a well thought out shot naturally tells the viewer we’ve moved to a different location.

Hopefully this list inspires you to gather up all those scattered video clips you’ve already shot and gives you some great ideas for the next time you pull out your video camera. Next week, I’ll share with you five other tips that you’ll want to know for making an awesome family highlight video!

- Mike

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Keep on riding


Hey friends, it’s been awhile since I shared anything personal on the blog, mainly because this spring has been one of my busiest to date! I feel very blessed that my business continues to be successful as my clients keep using my services over and over. Once all the spring weddings and events are finished and delivered, I am taking a little time off in May. I will be updating the website (long overdue) and gearing up for a busy June & July. I’m really excited about the new things I will be shooting (more to come) and the places we are going this summer and fall – Yahoo!

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Happy Holidays 2015

If you follow the blog then you know I share my family’s Christmas card every year as well as some of my favorite images. Currently, we are working hard to get a couple weddings finished & delivered before the Christmas holiday which is why I haven’t had a chance yet to pick out my favorite images from 2015. Instead I will do that at the beginning of January, so stay tuned! You also might notice I am blogging a little less these days. This is because I am spending more time on other forms of social media and started a quarterly newsletter a couple months ago. If you haven’t already, make sure to sign up at the bottom of the website to stay in the loop. I am happy to share with you that this year was another great year for Memories Through Time. We captured more events and almost as many weddings as the previous year.

On a personal note this year has been a year with big ups and big downs for our family. It’s been a roller coaster, a year I won’t ever forget and I hope that 2016 will be less eventful for us.

Good riddance to 2015 and cheers to an amazing 2016 friends,

XOXO Mike and Amanda Howard

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Master builder

My oldest son Nathan recently celebrated his 10th birthday. If you know Nathan, then you know he loves all things Lego. He has been wanting the Lego Creator Parisan Restaurant for quite sometime and thanks to all the family members that sent him Lego gift cards, he was able to get it for his birthday. When Nolan saw me grab a few snaps with my camera, I turned around and saw him taking his own photos on the iPad. Looks like I’m not the only photographer in the family :) The Parisan Restaurant has 3 levels and so many little details!
He took his time building it over several days & nights; making sure to play with each level as they were completed.The finished product

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Fun in the sun

As much as we love hot Arizona summers (not really) we were thrilled to travel to Southern California and capture Sean & Cristy’s wedding. While there, we decided to make it a family trip too and stayed in a condo in the heart of Oceanside California, just a couple blocks from the beach and pier. Everything we could need was literally within walking distance! Compared to last summer’s adventure in Colorado, we took a lot less vacation photos. In fact, all of these images were captured on our iPhones.
“Stop Wave!”
The beach can take a lot of energy and with 4 beach days, we had some downtime at the condo. Nolan enjoyed resting in the bay window with the cool breeze (below) and Nathan enjoyed collecting seashells at the beach, walking around downtown Oceanside and building with his legos.We were lucky Mike’s dad, Don (aka: Papa), also lives in California. He was able to drive down south to spend some quality time with the boys and hang out with them while we were capturing the wedding. 

Another day we went north to Universal Studios Hollywood, which was a big hit for everyone in the family! The boys loved the Despicable Me, Jurassic Park, Transformers, Shrek, Kong attractions, Studio tour/tram and Waterworld stunt show. Mike enjoyed all the movie sets and seeing where some of the most iconic movies were filmed. 

The below picture is Mike’s favorite. They just look like two really cool dudes!While walking through the Fast & Furious attractions, Nolan started spontaneously dancing and joined these guys on stage.

On a different day we went to Lego Land, which was just a short 10 minute drive from our condo.Nathan loved the Miniland and Star Wars exhibits. Nolan just loved anything with water! (below). The cars were a big hit because it had an age requirement of 6-13 years old (not height requirement) which meant that Nolan got to drive his own car since he’s 6. They actually did this one twice and was one of the longer rides at Lego Land. 

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