The start of an amazing new year

There is nothing better for me that enjoying the holidays with loved ones, eating way too much and using my camera for my own family memories. But, the holidays are over and we are moving into a new year, with new hopes and renewed dreams.

I have been working hard to bring you you a special Mothers Day Event in April. I don’t have all the details worked out yet, but it will be an indulgence for the wonderful mothers out there…a day of pampering so to speak. I have been working with some local mothers and daughters, talented makeup artist and exceptional hair stylists to make real heartfelt memories with professional portraits.

As soon as I have the details ironed out, I will officially announce the event.

For now, please enjoy the images below…

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Senior Portraits

As I wrap up my senior portrait season, I am reminded how totally awesome my very own senior portraits were…from 1987!!!! Could I be any more sarcastic? First of all, senior portraits weren’t “a thing”, the guy came to our campus and snapped pictures of us on a gray backdrop sitting on a “fashionable” old wicker chair. My big hair was the lovely icing on the cake. Oh wait, maybe it was my fabulous blue eye shadow that stole the day? Oh hum…maybe when I am a bit more brave I will post my senior pictures, circa the fabulous 80s, here one day. In the meantime, I just love this young lady’s images…

I made this little video so you can get an idea of what a senior session with me entails.:)

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Missing In Action?

I did take a 30 day hiatus…a roadtrip around the country with my favorite 3 year old. We went camping literally across the United States. Keep in mind, I am NOT a camper. I have never camped in my life before now. Well, that’s not entirely true…there was a time my mom took m camping (she wasn’t a camper either) in the Oregon mountains. A friend dropped us off in the woods. I was 12 and hated it thoroughly. She mistakenly put the tent atop a yellow jacket nest in the ground and well I just lost it. We were unarmed in bear country. We froze and were scared to death. Starving and depleted of all spirit, we made it through the night. Our friend came and got us the next day and that was the end of my camping…until now.

I swore I would teach my little one to camp, to reply on our wits, to enjoy the outdoors. The first  night was just awful. I could not get the tent up. It was 105 degrees in Arizona and I literally started to cry. I think we both had a touch of heat stroke. I could have (and thought about it endlessly!) given up and found a hotel for the night, but what kind of example to my would that make?

We zizagged from California to Arizona, New Mexico, Texas through Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and then Florida. Then up through Georgia, across Tennessee, Kentucky and up through Illinois and Wisconsin and across Minnesota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana and Idaho. After spending a good deal of time in Northern Idaho, back down through Washington, Oregon and back to California. Whew…that made me tired just typing it.

Here are some images both with my “real” camera and with my cell phone…

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Birth of baby Paige

After getting the call, I jumped up, grabbed my camera bag, my keys and a BIG mug of coffee and was off to Dignity Health French Hospital Medical Center in San Luis Obispo. This was momma’s second baby and I just had a feeling little Paige was going to enter the world quickly. How wrong I was.

Pacing the halls and visiting the cafeteria for the umpteenth time (how much coffee can my body hold was the name of the game that night), momma was told to go home and come back the next morning to be induced.

This is the life of a San Luis Obsipo birth photographer!

My Spidey sense still told me that baby Paige was going to come quick. I went as close to induction time as possible. Still baby Paige was reluctant to come. I actually did find out that 5 cups of coffee was my limit. I also found out that hospital cheeseburgers are really not so bad. 6 hours in and still no closer than she was last night, I grabbed a newspaper, yet another sandwich and sat down making the corner of the cafeteria my new home. It was home for about 5 seconds when I got a text “baby’s coming soon!”. Gathering up my stuff and headed down the hall where I was met with a room full of nurses and an incredible momma holding it together with no epidural.

What strength this woman has, I thought. Her husband never leaving her side and her little one year old daughter being passed around from nurse to nurse as momma pushed with everything she had. Once she started pushing for real, baby Paige had come fast…I mean really fast. Little Paige, her parents newest addition, a little sister, a niece and a granddaughter came into this world with mighty lungs. As I write this, I am sure she gets that strength from her incredible momma.1 7 16 35 39 40 42 48 49 51 59 67 71 73 74 87 90 93 117 125 126 145 154 158 160 163 177 182 185 210 213

 

 

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Senior portrait in Cambria

The class of 2017 is enjoying the summer days getting ready to embark on their final semester of high school. Oh boy, how I remember those days!

Soon, August will draw to an end, Back to School commercials will bombard our daily lives and the new senior class will be researching Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat looking for their photographer to take that ever important senior portrait.

Living in Cambria, I am so blessed to have amazing backdrops. Honestly, in many cases I just step out my front door and walk down the street for a minute and I have amazing views of the ocean, wild grasses of our local ranch, amazing monterey pines and stunning oaks. We have rocky shores, old buildings and gorgeous orchards as well.  This is not to say I don’t love doing senior portraits in my studio…I get fabulous light, but there is something fresh an invigorating about outdoor senior portraits.

Here is Jacob…an amazing young man. He was my last 2016 graduate I photographed. I am ready to take on the new season with fresh ideas and glorious locales!

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Family portrait

I do apologize for not taking the time to blog sooner. I have actually been doing several photographic projects lately and am on call presently for two births coming up. Super exciting as I love birth photography. This is not; however, what this post is about.

Often times I have people ask me why/how are you different? Some say, I just have our neighbor come over and take pictures of our family with his camera. No, he isn’t a professional photographer or anything, but its good enough for us. What is so great about professional pictures?

I am here to tell you this…if it is truly not that important to you to have beautiful images to pass down to your children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, I am in no way in a position to change your mind.  I can’t “sell” you on something that you do not value. There is nothing wrong with that at all. For some people, having photographs is not important or just snapshots are fine…and that’s ok! For me personally, I wish I had more portraits of my family…my mother, my grandmother and great grandmother. Sure I have many snapshots of my mother and grandmother (sadly very few of my great grandparents), but I love to see them at their best…you know those old black and white, beautiful vibrant professionally done images? I LOVE those. I frame those and have them throughout my house (mixed in with some favorite snapshots).  That is what I long to bring back to people. Get those images off your computer, print them on beautifully archived paper, put them in a favorite frame and hang them proudly in your home. I love that. I love the sentiment of well done portraits.

This is how I am different. I want the experience to be one you love. I want to get to know you and whoever you want photographed. Maybe you want a beautiful image of where you are right now in your life, an image of you and your children or you and your partner or maybe a girls day out and you bring your girlfriend(s) in and be photographed individually and all together. I want you to exist in pictures.

Lets plan a photographic session around your loves. First we chat about what I offer, then we have a consultation. Don’t let that word scare you…it really is just talking about how you would love to be photographed. We talk about wardrobe, hair and makeup and the style you like. We talk about the products I offer, the pricing and then we set up your specialized session. You come in early to get your hair and makeup professionally done, have some snacks, a glass of champagne or sparkling water. We then go into our session and I pay close attention to posing and making sure you always look your best. These sessions can take up to 2 hours (not including hair and makeup), but we take breaks to get something to nosh on here and there.

After you are all done dressing up and feeling glamorous, take the rest of the day to celebrate you! I will be here going through each image making sure it is the best of the best.

Once I have selected the best images of the day, I hand edit each one. Print them and invite you back within two weeks to view and order your gorgeous portraits. You only buy what you truly love.

I am in the process of making a video of the session below to give you a look behind the scenes of making your portraits. I will post that when I am through. For now, please enjoy these gorgeous portraits.

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Musings on becoming a real photographer

Who, what me? A photographer. Yea right, I thought to myself as I sipped down my second glass of wine. I was sitting with my good friend who had begun taking online classes from the New York Institute of Photography.  She did landscape and wanted to…hmmm…I am not sure what she wanted to do now that I think about it. She probably told me, but I was probably knockin’ back my third glass of wine before she got to that part.

She showed me some of her work and told me about the classes she was taking and her weekly assignments. It was all very fascinating to me. From what I recall she was pretty good even back then.

What struck me was this;  she was spending money and doing remote instruction to do something she loved to do.  When I thought of when I was in college, I was doing it because I had to…how else was I going to get ahead in this world? I mean I enjoyed my subjects for the most part, but I was actually there because I thought that is what one was supposed to do after high school.  It never occurred to me to go to college to simply enrich my life.

Several weeks later, I was still pawing at this idea of photography. I mean I had always loved it. I had always been in awe of images that made you stop and look. To feel. To cry. To think about that image long after you had stopped looking at it. I was in awe of the person who could create that. I wondered if I could go to school and actually try to make a living at it? I mean, my friend was going, why couldn’t I?

I lived in San Francisco at this time which was, I must admit, many MANY moons ago. I was making good money at my job and thought why don’t I take some of the money and enroll at the Academy of Art College? Its now the Academy of Art University. I jumped in with both feet. My mom bought me a Minolta as a surprise present… film camera…these were the film days in case you were wondering and on film is how I learned. I learned the hard way in comparison to today. I learned that it was expensive to make mistakes, you couldn’t just delete and start over. A light meter was a must as you couldn’t just guess at exposures because then you wasted film, wasted time in a dark room, wasted paper and well just got yourself into a tizzy over missing the shot.

Speaking of light meters, back in “the day” whatever that really means, I had to understand light, light temperatures, directional light, light color and how to shoot–in manual–with correct exposures. Today’s technology is much easier…the cameras are amazingly sophisticated, but the education I got in learning…really learning to shoot…is invaluable even in today’s amazing digital world.

After many many invaluable classes and amazing instructors who were actually working in the real world as professional photographers, I started out to build a business. I did weddings here and there. Some for free, some for minimal costs while I built a portfolio. Some were great, some were not. I cut my teeth on the fast paced life of weddings. I failed miserably at the business end. I didn’t know how to run a business! Who would have thought that being a photographer was more than taking pictures????

Looking back, my first websites were terrible. My marketing skills were all but nonexistent. I floundered for years.

I didn’t just flounder trying to run a business and be successful at it, I floundered in what it was I wanted to photograph. I floundered when it came to crossing over to digital.  I fought the digital revolution tooth and nail. I felt it wasn’t art. I felt the panic of no more darkrooms.

Eventually I embraced it and being in it now for many years, I love it. An actual darkroom has become a virtual darkroom and so much beauty can come out of this. I truly feel like one of the luckiest people since I actually learned the camera craft and understand what all the buttons on a camera do. I feel lucky to have spent hours in a darkroom, I feel lucky to have been able to develop my own negatives. I feel lucky to know what developer is, fix is, what stop bath is and how to manipulate the time negative stays in these chemicals to change the construct of the finished negative image.

Wow, that last paragraph brought back memories!!! It is true that I really do feel lucky to have had an amazing education, that enriched my life beyond measure.  I think back to that time many years ago, sipping wine, musing over how my friend took online courses and how that really prompted me to find out more about photography.  That moment was instrumental in who I am today.

Well, at present time, I have found what I love to shoot; birth photography and beauty portraits. I will explain my version of beauty portraits in the next blog post.  I am a better business person, but always have room to grow. I will also attempt to explain what goes into a photography business on another blog post.  For now, I wanted to explain how it is I became a photographer.

If you made it to the end of this blog post, I commend you…lots of words…too many for a photographers blog, but hey, that’s how I roll I guess.

 

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Adding texture to portraits

When I am between assignments, I bring out some older work and play. I sit and look at an image until something comes to me to make it better, different or more creative.

While I have been doing a small amount of texture experimenting in small doses, I realized I could add a lot and make portraits more painterly. This is a look that I am really starting to love. While I love all of my portraits and think they are worthy of a frame and sit prominently in someone’s home, textures and the color of those textures can add so much to a homes decor.

Below are some screenshots of adding texture and making a beautiful portrait even more beautiful.

First you start with your image and your texture…screenshotX1

Then with your move tool, drag the texture on top on your portrait…screenshotX2

Once the texture is in place, you can change the lighting and opacity of that texture layer. I tend to use multiply a lot, but play around and see what suits you best…screenshotX3

Once you have your lighting and opacity where you want (you can always tweak later), add a mask so you can erase portions of the texture you do not want. Remember to set your opacity and flow from the top menu bar…screenshotX4

Here is an example of having 100% opacity and 100% flow. You may like this and it can work for various portraits. However; with this portrait, I will dial it down a bit…screenshotX5

I generally choose an opacity and flow in the 20 range…just so the subjects blends into the texture. Don’t worry about getting every last piece of texture off the subject, it actually looks a bit better and makes it look a little less “cut out”…screenshotX6

The eyes, I will erase a little more. I have the opacity and flow around 70. If you use 100%, it might look like she has cut out eyes…screenshotX7

You can play around this the textures saturation and hue to get it to where you would like. Make sure you click off the mask and click on to the texture to do this…

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Then do some dodging and burning and experiment with what you like best. 🙂

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Modern and fashion inspired engagement photography

Has he proposed? Has she proposed? If so, you are likely over the moon and already thinking of the dozens of things to do in order to throw a wonderful wedding.  Have you thought about memorializing where you are right now…on the brink of embarking on this new adventure? Most people get engagement photos nowadays. You see really brilliant work out there and depending on your style, there is likely a photographer for everyone. I love doing beautiful pieces that you can hang proudly in your home. I love fashion. Plain and simple. I am not super trendy, but classic style I have always been in love with. I try to incorporate that in my work in some way. The images below satisfy my urge to elevate the standard engagement photo to new heights. I wanted to do a real fashion inspired shoot that could easily fit on a large print or grouping of framed prints in their home. I hope you love them as much as I do.

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Portraits of ballerinas as fine art

Often times, we feel portraits should be of a person looking at the camera and saying cheese. These portraits can be really great and fulfilling and most definitely have their place.

I tend to take a slightly different approach to portraits and fine art work. Everyone has a beautiful and unique gift to give. Whether you play a musical instrument, knit baby booties or are a computer programmer; we all have a light shining from within. Now, I don’t mean to sound cliche with that. I mean it in all seriousness and it is that very quality, that unique gift that is your and only yours that I am looking to capture in a fine art portrait.

Speaking of fine art portrait, what makes something a fine art portrait and another a only a  portrait?

Well there is no real black or white answer to that. Loosely speaking a portrait is when a client comes in and wants a family picture, child portrait or a head shot of some sort. It is the making of a photograph for a client’s specific needs.  Like I said these can be extremely fulfilling and quite lovely.  With a fine art portrait, the concept, composition and lighting of a shoot is left entirely to the artist, they envision how and where to shoot, how that image will be processed and what the final creation should look like.  Often times this is creating art for the sake of art, but not always. It can mean a client comes to them and wants them to create something for them and  that the final photograph will be left up to the photographer to create in it’s entirety.

Below art some fine art images I did. These young girl’s special gift, among other things, is the gift of dance. I wanted to capture some fine art portraits in way that was unique to these specific to these young ladies.

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