It seemed like a lifetime ago when I had to drag myself out of bed to go into an office, and at the end of the day, I’d go home feeling glad I did a good job, but my zest was dimmed and my passion for creativity was collecting cobwebs in the recesses of my soul.
Let me clarify. I’m not saying a corporate job is bad in any way and it certainly wasn’t like that for me every day because I made some great friends, learned A TON about business, and grew personally. In fact, I know that I couldn’t have leaped out of the Corporate World had I not “put in my dues” to learn about marketing and small business. Having managers who believed in me was a confidence booster that didn’t go away either when I left. I am eternally grateful for my opportunities.
But now, wow.
Now I get to run a business doing all the things I love. We’re talking the kind of love that makes me excited to get up in the morning, passionate to create Art and tell stories, and an all around happier person. I have the kind of job that, even eight years later, makes me want to pinch myself. Am I really doing what I love, every day?!!
My Lifestyle Shoot this weekend reminded me of all this.
I’ve been photographing The T Family since Kate was a baby and they lived in L.A. I photographed Ellie when Michele was pregnant and the day she came home from the hospital! I have watched Ellie grow into this walking, talking little person with a big personality. And Kate… what a bright, shining star she is! They both have these magnetic smiles that melt my heart. And every time I see them, I feel like THE luckiest person ever. <3
Alright, that’s enough sappiness and over-sharing for today. You have to see some of their images. I dare you to look at these and not smile!
Styled Shoots involve more directing of subjects, which is a fun contrast to my regular shoots (Lifestyle Photography) that are more natural-flowing.
In this shoot with Crystal, for instance, I took her into a deserted building and a cemetery ==> NOT your typical photography locations. Some of that occurred on a whim because the other areas were occupied by another photographer. Instead of leaving altogether, I got more creative! It feels amazing to still achieve the quality of images I had visualized beforehand, even with the unplanned changes. Boo-yah!
Before diving into the behind-the-scenes (BTS) images, I’d like to share a phone selfie of me and Crystal taken before the shoot, so you can see what she looks like on a “normal” day. She is stylish, cute and gorgeous, right?!!
And, I know you’re thinking it, so I’m just gonna come out and say it for you… I need a tan! ;) Alright, let’s get to it!
I chose this area because I liked how the green in her top (it was a silk scarf!) matched the leaves in the tree, so I placed her here. Since she has never done a professional shoot before, I gave her a branch to hold, so her hands had something to do.
(PHOTOGRAPHY TIP: Sometimes hands can look awkward. They need to have “a purpose”. Don’t just let them fall to the side. I call that “a dead arm”.)
I also love her muscular arms and back, so finding ways to curve and bend her body highlighted those areas. It also makes the image more editorial than headshot-y. (Do you like my formal terms?!!)
What I Shot
[Specs: ISO 400, 1/1000 sec, f/1.4, shade.]
I started shooting her in different angles (straight on with the cemetery behind her, through the trees, etc), but none of those gave me the “wow” effect that I wanted. I ended up moving closer and closer, and shot her from the side, as you see below.
I found the side view more flattering. It showed off her arms in a feminine way and created a harder line around her jaw, which I liked.
Also, from this side view, I can see her wrist tattoos, which offers a visual detail that I find interesting.
What I Shot
[Specs: ISO 400, 1/400 sec, f/1.8, open shade]
I could see that the sun was hitting the bush with the flowers, so I knew I wanted to shoot through that for a cool foreground bokeh. To get into position, I am looking through the viewfinder the entire time, so I guess I ended up in a funky legs-all-twisted kind of position! haha.
The other image (below right) shows me giving Crystal posing direction.
What I Shot
I love this shot of Crystal. She looks flirty and fun! Her stance also shows off her athletic build. (She is a volleyball athlete!)
[Specs: ISO 400, 1/1250 sec, f/1.4, speckled light]
So at the end of the shoot, I looked around for a strip of light. I visualized a dark environment with a tiny bit of light, so I could create more of an emotional, storytelling image than just “a pretty” one.
I found this strip of light inside a deserted building that worked great, however, based on how the sunlight streamed in, the light was very low to the ground. I gave Crystal directions to sit, kick off her shoes, and bend forward into the light. I painted a story for her so she would have “activities”, so that the image would have a story…
She was a girl at a party who stepped away from it to be alone for awhile so she could think. The rest was up to her. Was she sad? Pensive?
What I Shot
[Specs: ISO 250, 1/4000 sec, f/1.4, super bright stream of light]
Then I walked up to her to get a close-up.
I wanted to highlight the shapes from the light and shadows on her face and body, so I had her body produce even more shapes by making her limbs bend and her body asymmetric.
[Specs: ISO 320, 1/5000 sec, f/1.8, bright stream of light]
Sophia and Isabella crack me up. I can’t imagine them in the same room without talking with each other or laughing or making a funny noise with their mouths. Combine this dynamic duo with an interesting location and some props — like instruments, leaves on the ground and long-stemmed flowers — and you have a photoshoot full of fun and silliness!
[Fun Fact: Their dad, Tim, used to play in a band I listened to when I lived in San Francisco! No wonder their kids are musically inclined too!]
As they grow older, make new friends, have breakups with boyfriends (they’ll be heartbreakers, I’m sure), I know Izzie and Sophia will always be there for each other and will recognize they have an unbreakable bond that allows them to feel safe to be themselves. These lyrics make me think of them…
Everybody wants me to be who they want me to be except you
All I wanna do is be with you
~Michael Franti, “I’m Alive”
They got rained out last year, but if you want to see their artsy urban shoot from 2013, click here!
It was hot and bright even in the evening. There was smoke in the air from the 7 fires just North of the city. And there was what seemed to be hundreds of people everywhere we stepped! Despite all of that, The F Family had a great time exploring an antique arcade, had a snack on a pier overlooking Alcatraz, and hung out in a swanky urban lounge in Fisherman’s Wharf. If that sounds like fun, it’s because it was!
I love The F Family so much… The parents are one of the kindest, most generous people I’ve met, and I’ve known (and photographed) their kids for the past EIGHT YEARS!
I get so excited to see them every year, and I feel a little sad when their shoot is over. *Sniff*
In any case, their shoots always have a nice combination of mostly True Lifestyle (where they do what they do and I photograph it) and a smidge of semi-posed family shots, as you’ll see below!
Dani and Charlie have the type of bond that young adults think all siblings have, until they have their own kids. ;) And then they hear them arguing about the tiniest little thing: “Give that back to me!” “But you said I can play with it.” “That was 5 minutes ago, but now I want to play with it!” Okay, maybe that’s just at my house this last year.
But not these two girls.
They are genuinely sweet towards each other. All. The. Time. We’re talking… cute whispers in the ear and holding hands every time they walk. It’s funny because I see them every year, and every year they are like this. And every year, I am in awe by them. In fact, I remember blogging about it once or twice before.
Dani and Charlie also have parents (Alex and Roberta) who possess the perfect balance of giving parental guidance and being fun companions to their daughters. So their shoots are usually just like that too.
Take a look at their latest shoot. There was a bird in flight, some peek-a-boo action, and an animal attack! heh heh.
I am drooling over my new Art Drive! (Okay, maybe not actual drooling, but I’m super excited!)
I switched USB companies to one that offers laser engravings and also allows more print space on the back. I love holding these solid wood beauties in my hand, flicking the cover on and off to hear the magnet stick, and touching the engraved logo. This is so calming to me, like listening to a babbling brook.
zzzzzz….huh, sorry, I fell asleep from all the relaxation.
These beauties will hold my client’s precious artwork and memories, so they have to be great! <3
I don’t want to be sappy, but sometimes I can’t help it. When I think about Myra — my friend for over 25 years, a former roommate, a sister and twin — I sometimes get choked up. I’d tell you more, but then I may have to find my box of tissues, so let’s skip the details of why she is an awesome human being and special to me.
Anyhooooo, she recently started a blog, cleverly titled Eat, Drink, and Be Myra (I came up with the name, so of course I think it’s clever – ha!), so this weekend, as part of her birthday outing, we did a shoot for her new business venture.
The shoot was sandwiched between giggles, eating, catching up, and eating again… our usual activities.
This weekend, I met with Rebecca, Frank, and their kids at a beloved area of San Francisco: Ghirardelli Square. The H Family have had photoshoots before, every year in fact, but never a Lifestyle shoot. So when we stopped for pizza at the start of the shoot, the kids — Kyle, Kelly and Kayden — were a little stunned. heh heh.
When tummies were full, they walked around the city, enjoyed the view of the Golden Gate Bridge, and sat in the sun to watch the beautiful bay rippling with sailboats and swimmers. Then we finished the shoot with scoops of homemade ice cream. Isn’t Lifestyle Photography cool?
By the way, this shoot marked a very important chapter for the H Family that is worth noting: Kyle just graduated from High School and will be headed off to College! I am so honored to capture this slice of their family’s life. What a big milestone!
Q: What do you do when your cousin gets a rockin’ haircut and visits you from the East Coast?
A: You dress her up in your clothes and take her out for a mini styled session!
Q: What do you do when you have only 1 hour for the entire shoot, including drive time, and the location you chose already has a professional photoshoot in session?
A: Shoot in the adjacent cemetery, of course!
I know, I know… that sounds horrifying, but it wasn’t. I promise! Crystal was game for anything as having a Styled Shoot was completely foreign to her, so everything we did was fun to her. (What an awesome model to have… one who is gorgeous, fun, funny, humble AND appreciative!)
We were also respectful of the location and tread quietly around the paths. Crystal even said “thank you” to the cemetery when we left. Now if that isn’t
a little weird creepy silly respectful, then I don’t know what is! ;) Love you, Crystal!!! <3
To be included in a publication that only accepts gorgeous, polished imagery is such an honor! I’ve been enjoying Reverie Gallery for some time now, so this is especially exciting. If you haven’t seen them yet, you must take a look.
All I have to say is: WOW.
It is a long article (WHOOOPPEEEE!!!), so to view the entire collection of images or read the bride’s story at the end of the article, click here to go directly to Reverie Gallery.