The Last Shoot

You know that saying “Go big or go home?”  Well we chose the first option for my last shoot of the decade!

This lifestyle shoot involved stepping across a narrow cliff, climbing on rocks while holding a camera in each hand and in rain boots, and standing in a creek.

Unlike my usual lifestyle session where I move around without much awareness of my environment (the reason I prefer to wear boots to my shoots!), I needed to be keenly aware of my surroundings!  If I wasn’t, it could mean falling off a rock, slipping into the lake, stepping in poop, hitting my head on a branch, running into a tree, or brushing up against poison oak.  It was adventurous and, honestly, just a regular weekend for The Franks!

Their pup, Georgia, must have known we were “going big”, so she made sure to create one of my favorite family portraits EVER!  See if you can figure out which photo it is below.  :)

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Lucky Duck

Once upon a time, a photographer was on a shoot that had her laughing so hard, her cheeks hurt!

Her clients were so cool and funny that even mid-shoot, she made a point to stop and appreciate everything.  She photographed kids who arrived revved up to play and beautiful parents who had the best blend of organized and relaxed that 2 hours disappeared in a blink.

The location had diverse backdrops, two climates (freeze-your-bum-off and almost-warm — haha), and multiple types of light.  There was also a lone black duck who followed the family and photographer around like an extra on a movie set!  There was hot cider, loud animal sounds, a vista that overlooked the bay, and lots of embracing, carrying, and chasing to keep warm.

This photographer is so lucky.

I never would’ve believed it when I was in my 20s and working late into the night at a corporate job, but this lucky duck is ME! ❤️

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All You Need

LOVE is all you need.

Rain or shine, locations with events being held or not, their lifestyle shoot was going to happen no matter what.  And it did.  Their positive attitude was rewarded by the rain halting, the sun peeking, a group of Santas running, and a family of seals swimming by us.

We were able to gallivant outdoors, and the Youssefs kissed, marched, danced, and hugged in the best city in the World, their home.  The Youssefs have the kind of love that I can capture easily like sonnets flowing into a poet’s pen.

Even if it had ended up raining, we would’ve been fine.  We already had all we needed.  ❤️

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Looking Forward

When clients tell me they look forward to their photoshoot every year, I may respond with a calm “oh, that’s so nice”, but what I want to say is:  “SQUEEEE!  ME TOO!  ME TOO!!!”

Shooting repeat clients through the years means catching up with friends, watching their kids grow up, visiting their new homes, hearing about transitions like new careers, and getting to bond with their little ones.  So every year, I can’t wait!

Last weekend’s shoot with Christine, Kevin and little KJ was like this.  At one point, Kevin said to his now-talking-and-running toddler, “Auntie has known you your ENTIRE life,” it made me chuckle since he is 23.5 months old — but it’s true.  I first met them at Christine’s maternity shoot and now, I could see KJ’s personality emerge, and it is so cool!  Already, I know he is enamored by cars and trains and everything-construction.  He likes things in their place, including trash in the cans.  He is polite and a great sharer.  Daddy is his best friend and mommy gives the best cuddles.  Whenever I walked away to shoot from behind something, he would get up to look for me.  He loves knowing where everyone is at all times.

By the end of the shoot, we became buddies (heehee), and I am already looking forward to seeing this darling family next year!  ❤️

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Some behind-the-scenes shots of me and my buddy:  :)

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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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