Sunny

After weeks of devastating wildfires here in Northern California, hazardous smoke choking the air, and now heavy rainfall, it is a visual breath of fresh air to look at these incredibly warm and sunny images from Courtney’s Senior and Family Shoot.

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

In fact, everything about this shoot was sunny, not just the sky.  The bond of these siblings; the laughter from poking fun at one another, like Ted and his inseparable bag (tee hee); the bold and playful family who danced, jumped, and pretended to be zombies — the funny kind.

Regardless of what is going on around us, feeling sunny sure makes things better!

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Meet KJ

Meet KJ.

He has squishy cheeks and soft golden brown hair.  He knows how to self-soothe his teething woes.  Swinging makes him sleepy.  His face lights up with the sight of a cutie orange.  He will look at anyone who calls out the name of a fruit.  He is an expert crawler, but wet grass is yucky.  He loves playing with dad and snuggling with mom.  His mouth is leaky, but he doesn’t mind because he’s a mellow fellow.  He loves his Air Jordan sneakers because they match his dad’s.

And today he is one! ❤️

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Happy 1st birthday, KJ!

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With You

Sure, some things I may ask you to do during your shoot may feel strange or even downright goofy.  To some.  Maaaaaybe:)

That’s where trust comes into play because I promise, there’s a reason for all of that.  During a photoshoot, images pop into my head based on what I see in front of me — the quality of light, patterns and textures in the environment, and the people I am photographing.  The best “directing” is when they feel more like spontaneous ideas between friends than directions.

Plus, it helps to know I am right there with you.  Through it all.  Laughing… being silly… being serious.

All of it.  ❤️

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Leaping into the Clouds

We loved last year’s pink unicorns, rainbow light, sounds of waves crashing against the shore, overly friendly bees, and the hot sun.  But this year, we threw caution to the wind and went for the opposite…

We hung out in a garden surrounded by a concrete jungle, thick fog, nagging gnats (ooh that is fun to say), sounds of people protesting in the streets, and the cold brisk air.

From beach to city, we embraced the Bay.  Olivia and Emma had smiles that made strangers take note and wave hello.  Emma climbed everything and had the ability to leap into the clouds — or so it felt.   And Olivia with her sweet face that turns silly at any given moment still makes me laugh.  ❤️

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Family Treasures

While I was cramming for midterms one ordinary College day, I received a phone call that broke a long silence.  It was a good friend who lived in the same apartment building.  She spoke so fast that her words blended together.  Huh?  Say that again?  When she repeated herself, all I heard were bits and pieces….

“Big fire”
“Coming towards you”
“Evacuated a long time ago”
“GET OUT NOW!”

In complete disbelief, my roommate walked outside “to see if she could see anything”.  She returned shaking.  The wildfire was not only in sight, close by, but also distinctly heading towards our building.

We gave ourselves one minute to grab what we could before running to my car.  Adrenaline was fueled by panic.  I will never forget what I grabbed:  my keys, wallet, a couple pieces of jewelry, and photo albums.  Every single photo album.  Those albums weighed like 10 lbs each, and I had to have them all!

What I learned from the Oakland Fire of ’91 is that I found photos to be one of the most important possessions I own.

That’s because a photo isn’t just a photo.  It’s something that makes memories permanent, so you can enjoy, share and hopefully treasure them for years to come, or even with future generations.  Each family I photograph has their own unique style, connection, and way of interacting, and I am grateful to have the important role of capturing this for them.  xoxo

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Annual Playdate

I know I sound like Cheesy McCheeserson, but some shoots feel more like I’m playing and hanging out with friends than a job.  Nah, let’s be real, it’s almost every shoot.

From the time Danny pulled his car into the parking lot, I hopped out of mine and saw little Rory’s excited face pressed against the window.  Then Emily drove in with Dex who looked like he grew a foot taller than the previous year.

SQUEEEEE…

There was no time to waste.  We all darted into the arboretum, so the playdate photoshoot could start!  :)

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Puzzle

Family is like a puzzle.  It can be a big puzzle with lots of pieces, a small puzzle with big pieces, or anything in-between.  The pieces can be made up of individuals who are blood-relatives or individuals who are close to your heart, but not related to.  The puzzles can be complicated or simple, serious or fun.

We are all a part of a puzzle and our puzzles are all unique.

Sometimes, just sometimes, I get to photograph a family that visually fit together like pieces of a puzzle too!  ❤️

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Mochis and Monsters

There were mochis and monsters at this shoot.  Well, more like mochi-eating monsters, which weren’t as scary as they were playful.  :)

The mochi-eating monsters and their parents also shared the lake with a couple of deer, ducks with laughter-sounding quacks, and a VERY large group of turkeys.  It was a fun and eventful morning.  It had a different feel than their Lake Shoot last year that was foggy and quiet.

The moments where the family melted into each other and laughter infected others around them required great concentration to continue shooting because what I really wanted to do was take pause and breathe it all in!  ❤️

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Sama on the Bay

Donning Mediterranean colors, Priti and Rachad with their little ones had vibrant personalities to match.  They played, laughed, hugged each other, and gave themselves bunny ears.  You’d think they’ve done this before!  ;) (SQUEEE!  This is actually their 9th shoot!)

It was obvious being on the water is their happy place.

So we climbed aboard their new boat, Sama, which they named after their children/their heart — Samir and Maya — and means “sky” in Arabic.  *swoon*

Though we’ve had photoshoots on the San Francisco Bay before, this time was different.  I climbed into another boat in the middle of the Bay, so I could capture images of the family from outside their boat.  With nothing to hold onto, except an assuring hand and Rachad’s shoulder, and my cameras dangling to my sides, I jumped.

I love a good challenge.  Shooting subjects on a moving boat while on a boat that is zipping around and flying over waves is a challenge indeed.  And loads of fun!  Check out Sama on the Bay…

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Typhoon in the Marsh

If you look carefully, you will see the tall grass blowing in the typhoon-like wind.

If you look carefully, you will see the adoration in the eyes of the couple.

If you look carefully, you will see a sister and brother who genuinely enjoy each other’s company.

If you look carefully, you will see children who respect and love their parents, and vice versa.

If you look carefully, you can tell I loooooooooooooove this family to pieces!  I love how they travel the World, and yet always remain thoughtful, humble people who enjoy the simple things in life, like a good joke, some bubbles or a walk down memory lane.  xo

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