Smells Like Sunshine

What does the flower smell like?  Grape.
How about this one?  Cotton candy.
What does that one smell like?  Sunshine.

I adore kids for so many reasons.  The way they experience the World around them lands somewhere at the top of my list.  Ask 10 adults what a flower smells like, and I’m sure the answers would not be as interesting.  Just try it!  I asked two (that’s all I could handle), and their answers were:  flower and good.  Yup, for real.

These two carefree sisters, Olivia and Emma, had the best time at a garden this weekend.  Emma had the best descriptions of flower scents.  Those were her answers above!  Olivia was a champion reader.  She read the flower signs:  Ageratum Houstonianum, Gazania, Alchemilla… wow.  And they both hopped like bunnies, flew like butterflies, twirled like dancers…

And laughed with each other like best friends. ❤️

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Commercial Photography: Connections

When you live in the San Francisco Bay Area — one of the most expensive areas in the country — it can take a few or even one unexpected life change to put you in dire straits.  I’ve always believed this shocking reality.  People who find themselves in these situations can be anyone:  our teacher, our friend, you, me.  So my Commercial Shoot at LifeMoves, a nonprofit that helps individuals and families in these transition stages get back on their feet, was one of the most touching shoots I’ve ever done.

I concentrated on the relationships/connections, whether they are of family members who are residents at LifeMoves, of staff who work there, or of case managers with their clients.

They are the connections between people that make life meaningful.

And connections to helpful services, like at LifeMoves, is what we need sometimes. ❤️

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All The Feels

Jeff and Louisa’s shoot this weekend with their 6-year old talkative charmer and 3-year old living doll (heehee) had all the feels.

There was loud laughter, running and playing, a few tears, some fearful hesitation of bugs and grass, and lots and lots of joy.  Or was it snacks?  Lots and lots of snacks.  ;)

My favorite things that happened were:
1.  Jacob told me he “loves mommy and you”.  That’s ME!  Me!  How adorable is that?!!
2.  Little Kate gave me a long gentle hug to say goodbye. ❤️
3.  Jacob helped his little sister when she was scared.  See the last photo!  *melt*
4.  My deep discussion with Jeff and Louisa after the shoot about philosophy of careers and life.

This shoot reminds me that photography is personal!

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Commercial Photography: A Clear Way

The idea of keeping only what “sparks joy” seems like a trend, but it is much more than that.

From what I learned from creative pro and organization queen, Amy Johnson, figuring out how to organize your home spans over to a clarity of mind that effects all areas of your life!

It was so much fun to hang out with Amy for a couple hours to capture images for her new KonMari home organization business, A Clear Way.  I won’t post too many photos, so her website — when it is completed — will be the big reveal.  I can’t wait to see it!

Fun fact:  I met Amy over a decade ago at a Mother’s Club that we were both in, and we hit it off while brunching.  She has such a positive attitude, professionalism and humbleness about her that you can’t help but trust her and feel at ease around her.  And she’s just downright cool.  (Can you tell I adore her?!!)

While you are reading this blog post, I’m going to organize a few drawers.

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Commercial Photography: Diversity and Authenticity

You probably know this, but I’ll say it anyway:  I love photographing schools.

Photographing schools means capturing constant movement, facial expressions, and complicated light in an uninterrupted way.  Photographing a masters program, like a business school, means there is an extra challenge of photographing adults.  (Adults are usually more serious about learning and don’t find my silly noises and faces endearing like little kids – haha.)

I was reminded of something during this trip to Houston.  When it’s a top-tier school, the caliber of students is high — which means photographing people who have led accomplished careers before even stepping foot onto campus!  From meeting a doctor to a music label executive to an army sergeant, there were times I had to remind myself to keep shooting.

This kind of diversity was thrilling to be around, and I was so thankful that my 3-day Commercial Shoot in Houston had a lot of pockets of time for me to roam freely and capture the authentic moments that I saw.

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[If you’re curious, here is my very first Commercial Shoot at Rice in 2016 and my 1-day shoot in 2017, Be Distinct.]

The Way They Are

I had another fun playdate, I mean, photoshoot with my little buddies, Rory and Dex!  :)

This time, it was at their mom’s workplace, which was truly the coolest office building ever.  It’s like workplace-meets-Disneyland, a place where innovation and productivity can blossom.  Get this:  there was a Library, gardens, a gym, Laundry Room, THE coolest chairs everywhere, gorgeous artwork, and even a Game Room!  Danny and I had to pick our jaws off the ground and ran around like little kids.  (It is a new building, so he hadn’t been there before either.)  Rory and Dex were happy with their purple bots and lots of snacks (I mean, where do they put all those snacks?!!)

We had such a fun time together, as usual, and I am so thankful this sweet family is so comfortable with me that they let me get reeeeeally close to them (haha) and let me capture them exactly the way they are.  ❤️

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Endearing

[ENDEARING:  adjective.  Manifesting or evoking affection. To give rise to love.  Beloved.]

That is the word that perfectly sums up Joe and Yolanda’s family.

I’ve photographed this endearing family for 11 years, and there have been many changes — but one thing that has remained a constant, and that is the strength of their bond.

For their shoot this year, we brainstormed all week and ended up at a location that was pretty much in their backyard!  What a little gem, and at golden hour too!  It was the perfect place for our endearing family shoot.  xo

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Sunshine and Cacti

Roberta and Alex wanted to have their shoot in Arizona where they’d be around cacti and the warm sun.

Except we didn’t go to Arizona, and it wasn’t very warm.  :)

We did, however, find cacti, and it was SO COOL.  It looked like we walked into a page of a Dr. Seuss book.  Oh, two out of five of us got pricked though.  (This story has taken a turn.)  One was to a child’s finger and drew blood, and one was on an old lady (ehem!) who thought the long leaf would bend when she walked into it, so it stabbed her in the noggin like a needle sword!  (Okay it was meeee!  I know, I’m graceful – haha.)

Anyhow, check out their sneak peek.  In case you couldn’t tell, we had a blast!

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Commercial Photography: Heartwarming

Did you know food waste contributes to global warming?  If food waste were a country, it would come third after the U.S. and China in terms of its contribution to global warming!  (Read this Washington Post article if you want to learn more or go straight to StopWaste.org.)

Partnering with Underground Agency and StopWaste to shoot an ad campaign that will educate and hopefully decrease food waste felt so good.  We all need to step it up to help the environment!

The shoot involved photographing different families with produce.  We had 2 long tables full of fresh fruits and vegetables to choose from — such as the most beautiful collard greens, carrots, sugar snap peas, basil, strawberries, and pears — so the entire studio smelled fantastic.

The challenge of creating emotive images in a studio environment was a big one (and may have allegedly caused tummy rollercoaster feelings the week before – ehem), but I had to remind myself to approach the shoot the way I would any other shoot:  relax, have fun, and be myself so that my subjects can do all those things too!

The result:  heartwarming images that take my breath away. ❤️ Now that’s a better kind of ‘warming’.

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Things I Won’t Tell You

I won’t tell you how much I love this family.
I won’t tell you how special it is to have friends who believe in you, encourage you, and support you.
I won’t tell you how fun this photoshoot was and how much I laughed.
I won’t tell you how smart and cool and humble Alex is, and how teary I get thinking about how he’ll be in College next year.
I won’t tell you how talented Sam and Marissa are, and how much they blow me away.

I love this family.

Shoot, okay I lied.  I WANT TO SHOUT IT ALL!  :)

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