Commercial Photography: Be Yourself

Photographing people in an authentic way is my favorite kind of portrait.  So when I was hired for a Commercial Shoot to get headshots of individuals who need help getting back on their feet, it seemed outright wrong to shoot traditional headshots.

So instead, this is how it went down…

Me You can hang out here and chat.  You don’t have to smile or even look at me.  Just be yourself.
Everyone Oh, I can do that!

Check out Shoot #2 of LifeMoves.  [Click here to see Shoot #1.]  I am in love with the realness in their faces.

Some people still chose to smile or look at me while others remained serious.  Some showed grit and strength in their eyes.  Some revealed hope.  And all were true to themselves, which is all I can ask for.  ❤️

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Togetherness

Even through the chilly dense fog, I Tigger-esquely bounced over to greet Julie and her family when I saw them walking towards me.

That is what happens when you’ve been photographing the same family for 10 years.  A DECADE is a long time and also the exact age of their son, Ian.  Ahhh, I still remember photographing their blue-eyed baby’s face on a blanket with blue polkadots!

I had the joy of hanging out with this long-time clients-turned-friends one foggy morning, and it was a lot of fun.

The photos I gravitate to in their gallery are the ones of the family altogether.  Some of them look like they’re stuck together like glue.  The glue that bonds is not just their arms from bear hugs, but in the way they look at each other. ❤️ There is so much love there.

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Log in the Fog

So a few years ago when my youngest was in Kindergarten, her class had a project to make a 3D Dr. Seuss character.  While most made their favorite character, like Horton and Thing One, Ava made up her own, named Pig in a Wig.  It was light pink, her favorite color, and even had a cloth piece over the head that was made of yarn and could be removed and attached with velcro — hence, a wig.

In light of Pig in a Wig, who still exists today and is prominently sitting on a counter, last Saturday’s shoot was on a log in the fog.  😉

The Masse Family started visiting nature preserves this year, so it was only fitting that we have their family shoot in a preserve.

Check out how much fun you can have on a log.  In the fog.  Or is it smog.  Look at that dog.  Hey there’s a frog.  Let’s go for a jog.  And then drink nog.  (OMG seriously, I have a problem.  I can’t stop!  Oh the joys of blogging late at night.)

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Sink Into Joy

I started writing this loooong blog post about why Mini Sessions don’t work, at least not for true Lifestyle Photography, but it became kinda, well, long.  Even this sentence is long — DOH!

Plus I don’t want to sound like I’m poo-pooing Mini Sessions because it can work for some people, especially those who are great at posing subjects.  It’s just not my style of photography or cup of tea.  Hey, I’m actually sipping tea right now, but I digress.  I’m like a puppy right now with my attention span.  SQUIRREL!  😉

The point I am trying to make is:  Make sure you have enough time to sink into joy.

Not everyone can arrive on-location feeling relaxed, gleeful and fun-loving, yet those are the photos most aspire to have.  So make sure you have enough time to get to that emotional and physical space, and make sure the rest of your choices — clothing, location, activities — allows everyone to get there too.  ❤️

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Sun-Soaked Quality Time

So it’s wildfire season in California right now, which means rescheduled shoots because of bad air quality, planned and unplanned blackouts, horrific news of increased destruction, and smoky skies.

The only positive in all of this is it’s a great reminder of what’s important in our lives, and that’s our health and spending time with our loved ones.  Kim and Ashish know all about this, so I photographed their family having sun-soaked quality time together!  We picked a location that allowed their boys to run, jump and climb since Adventure is their middle name. 🙂

Last year’s jaunt through a dragon’s lair had imagery that is almost the complete opposite of this year’s shoot.  Which location and light do you like best?  (I love them both.)

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Conga Dance

Life is like a Conga dance.  It is rhythmic.  It moves in a direction — can be right or wrong, and sometimes moves erratically.  You’re part of a larger group, made up of family and friends.  Even when you’re not in the mood for it, it always turns out alright. 

Jennifer and Jonathan and their J-kids are first-time clients, and they arrived with THE best attitude:  willing to try anything!

This is what I sounded like throughout their shoot:  “Ooh ooh, I have an idea!”  And sometimes I’d throw in:  “But you can say no.”  They never said no.  Once I saw a spooky outdoor corridor and suggested to “do something scary for Halloween!”  I was able to imagine what the eerie light would look like photographed, and I also imagined they’d say no – haha.  I am so glad they trusted me.  See monsters below.

Sometimes I’d spot beautiful light or colors, so I’d ask them to hang out.  What they did was up to them.  Once they broke out in a musical theater number, a few times they hugged it out, and once they did the Conga.  🙂

This family was so much fun to photograph.

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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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Behind-the-Scenes at the end of the shoot:  (I ❤️ these girls!)

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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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