Ria & Jose, San Francisco Wedding Photography

This morning’s wedding had a vintage-inspired theme (ooh la la) and involved a very sweet couple, Ria and Jose.  They are also former clients of mine, so they are smart and have impeccable taste in art too (hee hee)!

Out of sheer excitement, I went through all the wedding images this afternoon.  I even skipped lunch to do this, and if you know me, you know I love my food!  So this is a big deal.  :)

I won’t have the full sneak peek until this weekend, but I just can’t wait!  So here is a sneak peek of my Sneak Peek.  These images were shot in a hotel in downtown San Francisco.  They remind me of Old Hollywood.

Old Hollywood 1

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Old Hollywood 2

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Stay tuned for the full Sneak Peek this weekend!

A Double Birthday Party

Last weekend, I shot a double birthday party for 2 sisters who are both lovable and darling, but have very different personalities.  I can tell this even at the ages of 1 and 3!

It is such a privilege to watch them grow.  I saw noticeable changes in the girls since their last shoot, especially for baby Charlie who couldn’t even sit up at her first shoot last year.

Happy 3rd Birthday, Danica!

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Happy 1st Birthday, Charlotte!

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The Personalities

I love the story of this shot.  It gives you a hint of their personalities just by the way they position their arms!

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The Fam

Before the party started, we did a mini shoot!

That way, we got a mix of family-focused lifestyle portraits and editorial event photography!

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Some Party Details

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The Doting Grandparents

I should title this photo:  How many grandparents does it take to feed Charlie a bottle?  :)  Just kidding.

I really found this to be one of the sweetest images!  Look how they are all touching Charlie.

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The Petting Zoo

What a delight it was to have a petting zoo for the kids!  Below are a few of my favorites.

On the left we have Mr Houdini Chicken, The Escape Artist.  On the right is a beautiful, but daring peacock.  You’ll see her again soon…

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This baby girl goat kept jumping on me.  I didn’t care about my pants or her breath or her little feet scratching me… it was my gear I was protecting.  Down, goat, down!

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Meet Einstein the Duck.

Seriously, that’s his name!  I wonder if the duck really knows the Theory of Relativity?  Hmmmmm.

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This is how much Danica — one of the birthday girls — liked the Petting Zoo!  =:O

Actually, she loved it.  Most of the kids were a little apprehensive when they first entered the Petting Zoo because the animals would walk right up to them!

But after they watched the animals for a few minutes and saw how tame they were, the kids loved it!

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Here is a great example of why some of the kids were afraid of the animals.  Remember that pretty peacock?

This big bird walked right up and stuck her face in my lens!  Check out her body language here!  This peacock had attitude.  ;)

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It cracked me up to watch Daddy Alex hold Charlie by the sweater, so she wouldn’t fall over.

What was also amusing was that animals would walk up to her, lick, nibble or brush against her, and she wasn’t afraid!

The only animal that made her cry was the gi-normous bunny who must have weighed 20 lbs!

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Dining In

I typically avoid capturing photos of people eating (c’mon, who wants a photo of their mouth full of food?), but I love the moody light from the large windows and the silhouette.

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Happy Birthday, Dan-Dan and Charlie!!!

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A Special Christmas Wedding

On Christmas Day, Santa brought my 5 year old daughter a white Zhu Zhu Pet that she named Miss White.  (The name wasn’t very inventive, but hey — she’s five!)  Melia was so happy that Santa “was watching” to know she had good behavior this year and that he read her October letter that stated her desire for this specific toy.

The rest of that day consisted of creating a wedding between Miss White and Mr Nugget (the orange Zhu Zhu Pet she received last Christmas).  From the clothes to the lavender for Inch, the Flower Girl worm, Melia and her stepsister Kaitlyn spent hours upon hours creating the perfect little wedding that I could not resist photographing!

Mr and Mrs Nugget’s wedding became a 2-day project.

Day 1 (Christmas Day): Designing and performing the wedding.

Day 2 (today): Creating a wedding photo album and slideshow.  I had such a blast doing this with them!!!

When I look at the photos or watch the video, I think of my creative girls… and I feel so much joy and love because of the fun we had and bond we shared during this project!

A Few Favorites

A view of the groom when Miss White was walking down the aisle…

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Miss White and Mr Nugget just tied the knot and are now about to cut their wedding cake...

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One of their Bride and Groom Portraits taken after the ceremony:  It was under the trees and next to a fountain…  (Are you laughing yet?!!)

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The Wedding Slideshow

Click on this image to take you to the YouTube video:

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Click on the arrow to view the slideshow here:

Oren & Kelley, Aptos Beach Wedding Photography

You may remember the e-session of my gorgeous couple, Oren and Kelley, from August.  Well, on Friday night, they tied the knot!

As a reflection of their love, they kept their wedding sweet, simple and fun by getting married on the beach… barefooted!

The Details

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Even in the dark, the bride’s bracelet would sparkle!

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Of course the boulder I wanted to shoot the rings on were located high above ground, so I had to climb several boulders with all my gear dangling around me to get this shot!

So take an extra moment to gaze at this image, so that my risky moves were worth it!  ;)

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A second after I took this shot, the bouquet started rolling!  I had to lunge forward to catch it before it took a 2-story leap to its death!

Kelley saw my lightening speed reaction and warmly congratulated me with “Good catch!” when I returned her bouquet.  I love her!

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Getting Ready

This is Kelley’s mom, Ann, getting her hair done while Kelley was peeking at the beach from the balcony.  

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Suzy the dog knew just where to lay down!  I think she was warming it up for Kelley and Oren!

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Grandma watching and waiting from the side.  The late afternoon light streamed in through the windows and hugged one side of her.

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As I was heading up the stairs from the beach, I saw a glimpse of this dad rocking his 3-month old baby in a carseat on the deck.

Only at a specific angle could I see both his and his baby’s face between the slats of the wood.  And that was exactly the shot I wanted!

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The Beautiful Bride:  Kelley

I had actually taken a few bridal portraits of Kelley outdoors, but the impromptu ones on the bed are my favorites!

We had time to spare because the ceremony was delayed.  (We were waiting for the last arrival of guests.)  So I hung out in her room and we did some semi-boudoir shots!  Fun fun.  Kelley was fantastic and was game for anything!

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[FYI to Photographers: I wanted to highlight her lashes and the flowers in her hair, so I took a top-down viewpoint.  There are many ways you can get creative:  the pose, composition, ISO/aperture/shutter speed, processing and also the perspective!]

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Togetherness Before the Craziness

No matter how elaborate or simple, large or small your wedding, there is always a bit of craziness.  What I mean by that is, there will always be things that don’t go as planned during a wedding.  That’s part of the charm of weddings!

So Oren and Kelley had their first meeting before the ceremony, and we spent time taking bride and groom photos before all the “craziness” began.

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I like the way their legs are touching.  It is so loving in the simplest of ways.

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Seeing each other before their wedding began ensured that they would have time to focus on each other and how they were feeling.

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They kept the guests on the patio with drinks while they had the beach all to themselves.  This is one of my favorite shots!

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Love the long shadows late in the day…

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And in case you’re wondering, here are a few of the unplanned “charm”  that happened:  missing guests, a power outage and someone’s hair caught on fire!  The amazing part is that Kelley and Oren took everything in stride.  Kelley had a smile on her face the whole time, and I even saw her helping other people relax.  Incredible.

I wish Oren and Kelley the very best in their life together.  May you always find the joy in being together and have patience when times are trying, just like I saw on your special day!  XXOO!  ~Annie

Soul Mates’ San Francisco Wedding

For Psi and Helen, it was love at first sight.  Some of you skeptics may not believe in that, but if you met these two, you would know that soul mates do exist!

I truly believe you can meet thousands of people or just a handful, and you can be of any age… When you find your soul mate, you’ll know!

Here is a sneak peek from yesterday’s magical wedding in San Francisco.

A Few Details

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Becoming a Bride

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I love Lynette’s tats!  It creates a nice contrast to Helen’s softly made up face.

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I couldn’t resist this top-down perspective!

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When Helen’s dad came to the dressing room, it was emotional for Helen… and then for the rest of us too!

It was incredibly touching to see the bond and feel the love Helen shared with her dad.

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The Gown

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The Kiss

One of the many things that I loved about this wedding was how personal every aspect of it was.  Almost everyone involved with the wedding was a friend:  the wedding coordinators, Robin and Michael; the officiant, Colleen; the hair and makeup artist, Lynette; and also the florist and the pastry chef of their wedding cake!

So, in this photo, I love how you can see Colleen in the heart-shaped space created by Helen and Psi kissing.  It is very meaningful.

And not to worry, Helen and Psi!  Not every photo of you kissing at the ‘alter’ has Colleen in the middle!  :)

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Happy Tears

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The Best Expression of the Day!

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The Newlyweds

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“Snow White in the Enchanted Forest”

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“Being Present” with Each Other

Psi and Helen often spoke of “being present” during their wedding and in how they live their lives.  I wanted to incorporate that philosophy into one of their bride and groom photos!

I have a few variations of this shot, but they are all of Helen and Psi being present and still with each other while the World — the bridal party — move around them.

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Congratulations, Mr and Mrs M!  And thank you for choosing me to capture one of the most precious and memorable days of your lives!  XOXO!  ~Annie

A Taste of Tuscany

Today was Rodrigue Molyneaux Winery’s “Taste of Tuscany” event.  RM Winery is a family-owned boutique winery in Livermore, CA.

(Check out their new website.  It is awesome.  And the photos are marvelous too!  *wink wink*)

It was a balmy Summery day…. a nice day to hang out outside with a glass of wine, great food and great company!  That’s what I witnessed at today’s event.

After I got all my shots, I tasted their new wines — Il Segreto & Primitivo 2008 — and olive oils.  Wonderful!

Here are a few to share from today…

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The music served as a mood lifter at the event.

Duarte plays Latin music with jazz and funk fusion.  As the younger folks would say, “The man’s got skills!” :)

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Great for the Palette, Great for the Mind

People gathered to learn about the new wines before tasting them.  (They didn’t have to.  They wanted to!)

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Wine Tasting

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Cheers

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Welcome

Nancy Rodrigue is one of the owners.  Garry, her husband, is behind the bar.

I love meeting genuinely nice people, like Garry and Nancy!

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Other People You May See at RM Winery

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Oh wait.  You won’t see Baby Ava there!  Except for today.  She and the hubs accompanied me today.

Isn’t her expression funny?! This is Ava saying, “Eek!  Mama, it’s HOT out here!”  ;)

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Olive Oils

RM Winery just introduced two flavors of olive oils.

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The Leccino Olive Oil is my favorite.  Yummy!

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Derek is 7

Derek.

I was the first to see him after he was born (other than his parents, of course).  I loved holding him when he was a baby and was always thrilled to babysit him.

He is my nephew, and he turned 7 years old today!  WOW.  Seven!

Here are a few photos from his party today…

Derek’s Interview

My sister-in-law Jenny was interviewing him with her camcorder when he was in the jumpy house.  (The fuzzy thing on the right is from her hair/head.)

I love the look on his face in the camcorder’s LCD screen.  And you can really see that Pokemon ring.  It’s pretty funny!

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Cake Time!

If you’re gonna get one shot at a birthday party, it is of the birthday person blowing out the candles!

Now hand over a piece of cake please!   =:P

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Frosting Only

My kids, like most kids I suppose, prefer to eat the frosting over the cake.  Alas, I cannot do a thing about it.  *sigh*

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Hmmmm… and he finds it funny!

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Sydney and her Giant Bows

My sweet lil’ niece (Derek’s 3 1/2 year old sister) wore her giant pink bows for me!  Tee hee. 

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Happy Birthday, Derek!

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And here’s a funny face one of the group…

I like the one where the boy is almost gauging his eye out!  OMG, it’s so funny!

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Deloitte’s Toast of the Town

Deloitte held its annual “Toast of the Town” event last night at the acclaimed 5A5 Steak Lounge in San Francisco.

The people, the speeches, the venue and the food were all fantastic.  It was a privilege to shoot this event!

Here are a few images to share from last night.  Enjoy!

Standing Cocktail Party

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Oh, the Food!

I’ll have to return to 5A5 to actually eat there some time.  Doesn’t that look delicious?!!

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Mixed Light

The windows were at the front of the restaurant, and they let in the most perfect light.  The rain had finally stopped and left clouds scattered across the sky, so the sunlight was bright, but soft.

The interior lights were orange, which is why you see the people standing closer to me with orange skin.

(FYI to Photographers:  I could have used my flash as filler light, and that would have diluted the orange color on their faces, but I turned off the flash to capture the soft window light on that man’s face.  I did this throughout the entire night based on what kind of light I wanted for the image.  Turn on the flash, turn off the flash.  Repeat.)

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More images by the window…

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I love the editorial nature of this photo.  You can tell the server is describing the food to this gentleman.  You can almost hear them talking!

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Half -n- Half

I wanted to take a photo of these two handsome men, but I also love the pattern of the tiles, so I composed the image with half pattern, half people.

(FYI to Photographers:  Mix it up.  Don’t always put your subjects in the center — but make sure there is a reason for them being off-center!  This is also true with holding the camera askew.  Don’t take photos that way unless you have a reason; otherwise it just looks like bad photography.  Shoot with a purpose.)

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High Contrast

I love-love-love how the light outlined this man’s face.

(FYI to Photographers:  I didn’t turn up the contrast; this was straight-out-of-the-camera.  I just made it BxW in post-processing.  Most of the image was dark already because it was in shadow, so it almost looked BxW.  Actually changing it to BxW just makes this image cleaner.)

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Vertical Half -n- Half

(FYI to Photographers:  I composed the shot so the subjects — men and bottles — sit in the lower half of the image.  This creates a visual line that is appealing to the eye.  Also, having the men in the corner makes them stand out more than if they were centered.)

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By the Entrance

The orange tile decor surrounded the main area of the restaurant and created a pretty backdrop.

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Type of Function

When I saw all these men in suits, I knew immediately that I wanted to take a shot of just their pants and shoes.

You can tell it’s a corporate event held on a weekday!  Love it.

(FYI to Photographers:  This is another good example of when I turned off my flash.  I didn’t want to see everything; I just wanted to capture a feeling of a lot of people and get glimpses of what they were wearing.  The natural light from the window was all I needed to accomplish this.  So I bumped up my ISO, had my aperture wide open and a fast shutter.)

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Some Speakers

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Prizes

Video games from EA, a Deloitte client, were given out as prizes.

These winners were looking at what game they won.  They were also probably wondering why I was crouching to take a photo!

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Posed versus Editorial

For event photography, I don’t ask people to “look at me & smile”, but if they do it themselves, then great!  Lemme at ‘em!

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Peeking into the Kitchen

Hey, I walked straight into the kitchen and took some shots of the food dressed to perfection.  However, I still chose to take a few shots from outside the kitchen!

I love finding natural frames when I’m on a shoot.  This frame is made out of the orange tiles you saw in a previous image.

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End of the Event

As always, I still shoot even when I’m leaving!  I was getting my bag from the coat check area when this man came to retrieve his hat.

Isn’t he suave with his hat and bow tie?!!  I just had to take a photo of him!

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Experiment: Low Light + No Time

So in my “extra time” (whatever that means), I did an experiment with my rings.  Please disregard how they haven’t been cleaned in about a year and the table I placed them on is scratched up & dusty!  Who has time to dust?!!

My experiment consisted of shooting my rings in terrible light and seeing what kind of difference a little flashlight could make.  No fancy professional lighting equipment.  No reflectors, no strobes, no tripod, nothing.  Just me, my camera, my rings…and a flashlight.

In addition to no extra equipment and icky light, I wanted to see what I could produce in a short amount of time.  That is what’s realistic anyway!  Whether for wedding photography or product photography, I don’t always have time to walk around to find the best location for shooting one image, like rings at a wedding.  So I intentionally shot my rings on an old table.

The results were drastic!

IMAGE 1:  LOW LIGHT = NICE, BUT BORING

To shoot in extreme lighting conditions, I used a lens suited for this.  A lens that goes down to f/1.8 or 1.4 is perfect.  But since I was shooting tiny rings, I chose my macro lens, which goes to f/2.8.  That works great too, plus I can get super close to the rings.

So even though it was indoors at 7pm, I was able to produce a nice shot with my macro lens.

However, the soft, even lighting is a tad BO-RING for me.  My bling-bling has no zing!

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IMAGE 2:  USE A $5 FLASHLIGHT = ZING ON MY BLING!

This time, it was the same dusty old table, the same uncleaned rings, the same lens, the same time of day…

But I added the light from a small flashlight that you can find in any house or car.

The result is staggering!  WOW!

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Here is another set of images, so you can see the difference side-by-side.  Again, the only difference is that I held a simple flashlight with my left hand while I shot Image 2 (below right).

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With the use of a simple flashlight and no extra ‘product fluffing time’ or special equipment, the rings look more expensive!  Even the table looks better.  A nice bonus!

Just do me a favor and pretend you don’t see the lint and dust on the rings! <:)

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JEWELRY IN COLOR vs BxW

I also did a comparison between a color image vs. a BxW image of jewelry.  I never see BxW photos of jewelry, especially diamond jewelry.

I know it is because the color images show off the beauty of diamonds, but I wanted to test this out.

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In the color image, I couldn’t get the table to look as reddish-brown like the images above, but I did get a rainbow sparkly reflection from angling the flashlight just right.

Here is the same image in BxW…

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I actually like the BxW version of the rings!  I think a jewelry booklet with mostly color images and a few BxW would look pretty sleek.

But that’s just me.  I love the timeless feel of BxW.  What do you think?

The Patient Princess

Two years.

That’s how long Melia waited to have a Princess Party!

Yep, she started asking for a princess party since she was 3 years old.  I had an art themed party planned for her 3 year old birthday, and then we skipped the big party thing last year as part of my parent strategy of raising humble kids by not throwing big parties every year.

So, even though there are times she demands to have things right away, I must say that she has also shown that she possesses a great deal of patience for her age!

Here are some photos from today’s long-awaited party…

Pre-Party Jitters

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The Set-Up

The party was at Super Franks.  I love this place!  The service was top-notch and there were so many great details to admire.

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Princess Dress & Princess Hair

Cinderella, Melia’s favorite princess of all-time, helped her pick out a dress from the castle’s closet and styled her hair.

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Thanks, Cinderella, for making my little princess feel so special!

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Party Like It’s 1999!

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Barbie Cake

Melia picked out her own cake this year.  She decided on a Barbie-themed cake before even stepping foot in the store.  Heck, she decided months before her birthday!  I had to bite my tongue.

When I taught 7th Grade Math years ago, I had a Barbie project where my students had to measure and draw Barbie to life-size while keeping the same proportions as the doll.

The result:  Barbie was staggeringly Amazonian and, if alive, wouldn’t be able to stand up because of the small size of her feet and disproportionately small waist and oversized chest!  I won’t get into it, but puh-leez — what kind of message about body image does that send to our young children?  Ahh, another blog, another time.  :)

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Party Favors

Handmade invitations and favor tags by Melia and Melia’s mom.

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So Was the Two Years of Waiting Worth It?

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You Decide!

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