O Christmas Tree..

Trimming the tree is a family event in our home.  We put on the Christmas music and enjoy unwrapping each ornament, remembering where and when we got it, whether it was a gift or a craft made by one of the kids in preschool.  We have the usual mish-mash of ornaments that we've acquired over the years.  There are the special ones, and plenty of the basic shiny balls to help the tree look full.  I keep thinking someday we'll have enough cute ones that we won't need those cheesy ones anymore, but the kids think they're pretty and they'll put them front and center unless we suggest putting them more towards the back.  Every year, we get a new ornament, hopefully one that symbolizes what the past year has been about.  Last year, we got the beagle ornament to mark our first year with Sundae, our new puppy.  Maybe this year I'll find the perfect little camera ornament :)  

This is the first year we let the kids decorate the tree all by themselves.  We gathered around and watched Claire and Sean put them wherever they wanted.  I kept thinking that I'd probably move things around later that evening, fix it up so it looked just right.  But I decided about halfway through that I would just leave it.  For someone like me, who tends to stress out about the little things and want things just so, I realized that I could let this go.... I should let this go.  There may be big ornaments at the top and small ones at the bottom; the cheap old grocery store balls may be holding the prime spot where one of the cute special ones should go.  My family was together, and my children had a great time. Who am I to say it's not good enough?  So, I haven't touched a thing, even though there are some empty spots, and areas where three ornaments are fighting for one branch.  Our tree looks nothing like the shimmering specimens in the Pottery Barn catalog.  The star is crooked and there is no identifiable color scheme.  It is far from perfect.  But my family had a wonderful evening together... The smiles on my kids' faces and the cuddly hugs of excitement are all the perfection I need.


In Camera Photography Workshop - San Francisco

I participated in the In-Camera Photography Workshop in San Francisco with Zach and Jody Gray of Gray Photography last weekend... and it was AWESOME!  The day started out in the classroom, and then we headed out to do some shooting after lunch... in the pouring rain, no less!  Our lovely models, Danielle and Jenna, were such great sports out there and, of course, they remained their beautiful selves while the rest of us were a wet, mangy mess by the end of the afternoon! Then it was back to the studio for dinner and more time in the classroom.   I learned so much... and have some new accessories to add to my Christmas list!  I can't wait to get my ExpoDisc, and I'm looking forward to playing around with a reflector on some upcoming shoots.  It was great to meet and shoot with other photographers, and I totally loved working with models.  After a 10-hour day, I came away excited and inspired... Thanks to Zach and Jody for a truly amazing day :)

Here are some of my favorite images from the day:

Oh-so-pretty Danielle...

And lovely Jenna...


The Wonderful Wedels - Sacramento Family Photographer

When Heidi contacted me to schedule her family session, she let me know right off the bat that she didn't want photos of them trying to look cool... they are "cuddlier" than that.  It made me smile, and I totally agree.  I am always striving to create portraits that are genuine reflections of people's personalities and their relationships with each other.   And they are, in fact, a warm and fuzzy kind of family!

I had the pleasure of hanging out with the Wedel family in all their cozy cheerfulness on a brisk afternoon in Midtown.  It was such a joy to watch this lovely family play together and capture the love and warmth between them.  Seth and Jackson are absolutely adorable, super-bright wonder twins, and it was so much fun to see their individual personalities emerge as our session progressed.  Seth is a spunky little guy Jackson is a sweetheart!  I have always admired Heidi's beauty, and she and Brian make such a cute couple!  


The Fabulous Fishers - Sacramento Family Photographer

I have known Megan for pretty much as long as I can remember.  Our parents were part of a large group of  close friends, and they often got together for Easter brunches and 4th of July celebrations while we were growing up.  Megan's several years younger than me, so we didn't exactly hang out together, but we certainly saw each other every spring and summer when our parents toted us along to their parties!  I remember one 4th of July in particular... I was in my early twenties, so Megan was a teenager.  Of course, at 15 or 16, you don't have to accompany your parents to their parties anymore because you have your own stuff going on!  So, Megan rolled up with her little posse of teenagers to kind of check in with her parents for a few minutes... I'm not sure how long it had been since I had seen her last, but I was blown away when I saw her!  Not only had she all of a sudden become a young woman, but she was utterly gorgeous!  

Fast forward to the present, and she is still gorgeous - and a sweetheart!  I had the pleasure of shooting Megan and Steve, and Steve's adorable son, Tyson, on one of those perfect autumn days in Land Park.  I made the mistake of asking Tyson to stick his tongue out... and he thought it was so funny he figured he'd keep it out for the rest of the session!  I somehow managed to fool him into smiling instead for some of the time, and was able to capture his wonderful 5-year-old-ness!  Oh my goodness, what a cutie... That hair!  As Tyson ran some circles around us, we also got in some engagement photos of Megan and Steve... They were married the next weekend!  Congratulations to you both, and kisses to you all!


Birthdays and Pavlov's dog...

It's my birthday today... I'm 38.  No need for sympathy... it's okay, I'm cool with it!  38 is the new 28, right?  I was born on election day.  My mom has said she should've known something was up when she got her first contraction as she was voting for Nixon :)  Since today will undoubtedly be a pretty normal day of school drop-offs and pick-ups, homework, and soccer practice, we celebrated over the weekend.  My ever-amazing husband planned a birthday dinner out with wonderful friends, and we had a family party at Mom's house last night.  Yesterday, I got some lovely, lazy alone time on the couch with my book... and my iced venti Americano delivered right to me!  Aaah... I never get to read during the day!  Dude, what a treat!  The only bad thing is that I finished my book.

Why is that bad, you may ask?  Well, I get really bummed when I finish a book, especially when I don't have a new one to read!  And yesterday was even worse, because not only did I finish a book, and not have a new one on the horizon, but it was the last one in a series!  Series are awesome because you get to be excited when you finish the first book or two... there's another one ready and waiting for you!  But now I'm all invested in this damn tattooed girl who keeps playing with fire and kicking hornets' nests (I'll give you one guess which series I was reading) and it's OVER!  I can't go to sleep without a book!  I have completely conditioned myself to fall asleep while I'm reading.  I know I'm ready to turn the light off when I realize I've had the book open to the same page for 10 minutes while I fight to keep my eyes open... and I'm starting to drool.   If I go to bed with nothing to read, even if I'm wiped out, I toss and turn because I just can't get to sleep by simply laying down and closing my eyes.  I'm so conditioned now that if I sit down to read during the day, like yesterday, I start falling asleep after like 5 pages... and I'm so not a napper!  Seriously, I'm like Pavlov's dog, except that I don't salivate at the ringing of a bell... I get drowsy when a book is put in front of my face.  

So, I wasn't looking forward to bedtime last night.  No book... Ugh!  But, as luck would have it, my Auntie Marcia came to my rescue last night at my birthday party...  She gave me a new book!  Yay! And it's 985 pages, so I don't have to worry about being without a book for at least a couple weeks, right?  I doubt she realized quite how appreciated her gift was... well, I think I was gushing, so maybe she did.  Anyway,  I went to bed happy as a clam last night, and now I'm invested in a boy in 1911 who went down in the coal mines on his first day of being a man, on his 13th birthday.  I could tell you more about it, but I fell asleep after the first 15 pages... 


Breathtaking Brittany - Northern California Senior Photographer

I have a soft spot for young people, especially teenagers.  Some people may think, "Ugh", but I think, "Ah... I remember".   I remember that time in my life... really well. Those years are an exceptionally special time in a person's life. It's a time of self-discovery, of choices and finding one's path.  At no other point are you in such a state of transition.  Senior year is all about being on the verge.  What a spectacular honor it is to capture someone about to embark on all of life's adventures! 

Oh my goodness... I am seriously dying over Brittany's amazing senior portrait photos!  After doing family portraits with the Stunning Saldivars, Brittany and I set off on our own for a fun senior session.  She came ready with several cute outfits, so we got tons of cool shots with different looks... and she rocked 'em all!  Geez, what a gorgeous girl!  Congratulations and good luck, sweetheart!



The Stunning Saldivars - Auburn Family Photographer

What an absolutely special way to spend a birthday!  Sometimes it's difficult to get the whole family together.  Everyone's so busy with work, school, homework, sports, potty training...Things can get pretty hectic!  It seems like kids grow up right before our eyes, and family portraits are a wonderful way to take a break from the roller coaster and truly spend time together... and to capture and cherish those moments. 

It was Tennille's birthday a few weeks ago, and she gathered her entirely adorable brood and met me at Recreation Park in Auburn for a fun family photo sesssion.  Usually, it takes a while for people to warm up to the idea of being in front of the camera, whether they're 3 or 33.  Sometimes (especially if your name is Star!) they're ready for their close-up right out of the gate!  Either way, it always works out and by the end everyone is having a good time and we get some truly beautiful photos!  Here are some of my faves of this super cute family... 

Playing in the leaves is the perfect way to get the little ones laughing!
Star... Ready for her close-up :)

It's so rewarding to stand back and wait for those genuine smiles!
Wow... Simply stunning!

Stay tuned for photos from Brittany's awesome senior session!