Thursday, December 5, 2013

A Vacation Portrait Session

Recently J & D came up to to the Bay Area to visit with friends.  Since they were here from Port Hueneme (Southern California) where D is currently stationed, they were able to take advantage of my military discount (which applies everyday) and have a portrait session done.

With our friend H on makeup and acting as our impromptu stylist, off we went!  You can't tell by these images, but it was REALLY cold!  We were out and about at 9:00 a.m. to make sure they still had the rest of the day to spend with friends.

They were such good subjects and great sports about being cold - especially J out there in that dress!  They looked adorable and I was thrilled with the results of our shoot, which was a first for me for many reasons, including photographing someone in a push-up pose!

I hope you enjoy these images as much as I do - can you feel the love?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


This is my favorite time of year for so many reasons, but not surprisingly for all of the moments that are created and traditions that are honored.

Mom used to put this ugly turkey out in the fall, but now that I'm an adult and it's one of the few survivors from the fire, I sure do cherish that ugly thing. We had a small family growing up, but we always ended up together, crammed into someone's house and inevitably, we would have a couple of "extras" joining us.  From those who's family was far away, to those who didn't know what a family was, there was always room in our Holidays to welcome them right on in with open arms and a full plate.

Grannie used to have these little birds that clipped into her Christmas tree that I adored.  She had these super-thin ornaments that were hollow on one side and had belonged to her mother. I'll never see those again, but I've found some that are similar and can't wait to get them out of the boxes for my first Christmas in my own home this year.

Grandma Nan makes the most beautiful pies you've ever seen - complete with little leaves baked onto the crusts. More often than not, we ended up at her house for Thanksgiving with all four of us grown women squeezing our butts into her two-butt kitchen. Her Southern roots bleed over into her cooking and let me tell you, that is what love tastes like to me.

My Mother-In-Law sets a stunning table with centerpieces and everything coordinates. One year she even had butter in the shape of a turkey.  You'll never go hungry at her house - we give her a hard time because she always has these appetizers that are so good you forget to save room for dinner!  She is the epitome of the perfect hostess.  By the time everyone leaves for the night, you'd never even know there had been a party at her home.

Grandma Shirley always decorated to the nines for the Holidays - ALL OF THEM.  It's a running joke in the family that she would have her guest bathroom decked out for whichever holiday, from St. Patrick's Day to Halloween.  Everything was coordinated and changed promptly within a few days of the Holiday changing.  She was a real class act. I miss her a lot and I wish she was still here with us on Halloween for Sloppy Joes, Tater Tots and Ambrosia Salad, just like she made for her kids.

My Grandmother-In-Law, Dawna, makes everyone feel at home and welcome.  Even though she's not biologically related to my husband and I, never once I have I felt unwelcome or like an outsider in her presence.  She has the kindest demeanor, one that comes with raising four children of her own, having nine grandchildren (plus five spouses), and now four great grandchildren with one more on the way. When one of us gets married or has a child, she's always the one who gets the "Our First Christmas" ornament with the year.

I just read back through the post and realized there is a common thread: Moms.

All of these ladies have shaped and sculpted my Holidays.  Some of them for my whole life, some for the past 14 years, but all of them significantly.  They taught me what makes moments special. It's about being grateful not just for what you have, but for who you have to share it with.

Preserve the moments. Keep the traditions. Start some new ones. Hug the Moms in your life - new or old. They'll be the ones keeping traditions alive for our kids.

My Mom and I, Veteran's Day 2011

I'd love to hear about some of your traditions.  Leave a comment or drop me a line.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

A Place of Passion

I've received  a lot of feedback regarding this humble little blog of mine.  If I'm being honest here (and I endeavor always to be), it's kind of surreal.

I mean, who knew I'd throw this blog out there into cyberspace and people would actually read it? And on purpose? Hmph. It's enough to make me sit and wonder about a lot of things, but specifically about why I blog and who I do it for.

I read a book not too long ago and there was a quote that just stuck with me.  I have read about 20 books since then, but I just can't get it out of my head.  If you're a lady between the ages of 18 and infinity, there's a good chance you've read this book too, but did you notice when your eyes encountered the phrase:

"Raising the ordinary to extraordinary"

I couldn't put it better than E.L. James did in that sentence.  I've considered it over and over again, and it just seems to define what photography has become to me.  

I started blogging as a way to share my photos and the story behind them.  Now that I have an official website, I keep blogging because it's a way to tune the world in to everyday moments that should be preserved and kept forever.

It's become my passion to focus on the details.  Things that others might miss in passing or an element that was dismissed because it didn't seem important. Those are the things I love to photograph.

I don't know how else to explain it except to share that quote from Anastasia Steele.  To be quite honest, I didn't anticipate ever getting far enough that it mattered why I was doing it.  The bottom line is I do it because I like to share more than just images.

I like to share stories.

I like to preserve moments.

Blogging lets me share the stories of the moments I preserve.

It's a no-brainer, really, and I hope my posts continue to be entertaining, thoughtful and informative for years to come.

I'll leave you with a shot that seemed to materialize out of thin air during a recent Hands of Love shoot.  A tenderness and reverence that would've gone bye in the blink of an eye - except *snap* I was there.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Hands of Love Project Update

If you're new to my blog or my facebook page, I've been working on a special, personal project.  I hope to have it completed by December 1 of this year, so I'd better get cracking!

My goal is a series of 10-15 exceptional images all matching the theme "Hands of Love".

I've got ideas for 8 images, one of which is already done and ready to go to print.  Another will be done this weekend, and hopefully the rest will follow shortly thereafter.

What is something you love dearly and wish you could preserve forever? Is it a person? A place? An article of jewelry? An activity?

Leave a comment on this post or, if it's personal, send me an email at  Who knows, maybe we can make it happen.

Once I have them all completed, I'll share them as a collection.  Until then, you'll just have to wonder what they'll be like.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Lessons From a Pheasant

***Disclaimer:  This post covers my recent Pheasant Hunting experience. There are images including hunting dogs, expired pheasants and firearms.  If that's not your thing, you may wish to wait for the next post.  It is also lengthy.***

As a woman who was raised in today's society, it has been drilled into me that "guns are bad", and "guns kill people".  I have never been anti-gun or anything, but I had also never really been exposed to them in "real life" so there was a curiosity and a desire to learn after it came up in conversation with a member of my extended family.

He suggested I take my Hunter's Safety Course at United Sportsemen to familiarize myself with the safe handling of firearms (plus you have to in order to get a hunting license), and one thing led to another.  You know how it goes...

Once I had my certificate, I was introduced to sport shooting and a game called 5-Stand.  It involves firing your shotgun at clay targets launched from assigned positions in a field, simulating the flight of game birds and even one rolling along the ground like a rabbit (that one is tricky!).  I had some basic knowledge of shotguns from my class and after some coaching from J I am officially addicted.

So, when the offer came up to actually go out into the field and participate with J and J and their family (in a limited capacity) on a Pheasant hunt, I jumped at the chance.  I would like to make a note here that you should not hunt with just anyone - make sure the people you are hunting with are safe and responsible.  You should try and find an experienced hunter you trust to mentor you while you are learning.

Of course one of the stipulations for me was "Can I bring my camera with me?".  It was welcomed because it would be the first Pheasant hunt for the kids and one of the dogs that would be accompanying us.  That made me especially excited.  (If you've been following me, you know how I feel about preserving moments such as these).  To be there to document it just made my day.



We arrived very early, checked in and were assigned our field.  We hung out for a little while and waited near the clubhouse.  As soon as 8 AM hit, the other trucks filled with dogs and hunters took off in a flash.  We waited until the literal dust had settled before heading out to our field and took a leisurely pace to get unloaded and geared up.  Nothing was hurried or frantic, even with 3 adults, 2 kids and 3 Labs.

Once we were all dressed and accented with blaze orange, we unloaded Belle, the most senior Lab, from the truck and the hunt was on.  She's been around the block a few times, and knew the drill the moment her paws hit the ground.


Then came Daisy, the middle child of the bunch.  Can you say "energetic" and "well behaved"? Who knew those things went together?


I have to say, it was such a special treat to see the dogs working the field and flushing the birds.  They love their family, but they live for birds.  The pure joy of the dogs as they came to life, knowing what to do by instinct, was fascinating to watch.  The love, communication and trust between hunter and dog can almost be described as intimate.


I have to take a moment and note that J showed us how it was done that day: 3 birds flushed, 3 shots fired, 3 birds falling from the sky, 3 birds retrieved by the dogs.  It doesn't get much more textbook than that.



The hunt for me was more than just going out to get some birds.  If that was all it was about, I could have just bought one.  It was about camaraderie, education, safety, sport, trust, skill, tradition, and respect.  J didn't go out to get 10 pheasants in one trip, he bagged 3 because that was what he needed.  

There were so many emotions tied to the day for me.  I felt like part of a time-honored tradition. I felt like it was being passed on to these children in the right way, a responsible way, and perhaps most importantly, in a safe way. (They had their own "guns" that played sounds to help teach them how to carry and be safe with a firearm). I learned why you can't hunt with just anyone - they might be the nicest people you had ever met, but still not know their ass from their elbows once they get in the field and excitement takes over.   I learned about the methods, where to stand and why, and how peaceful and relaxing it can be to spend a morning with family walking through thickets and getting eaten alive by mosquitoes (I even have two bites on my palm. My PALM!).  But what I really took away from the experience is the knowledge that just because a moment happens on a regular basis for some, doesn't mean it shouldn't be preserved.


The everyday stuff that we do all the time is what our lives are made of.  Keep some of those moments preserved in images.  If you fish every weekend but have no pictures of yourself doing it, you should rectify that. Your kids and family will thank you.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

New Places, (Mostly) New Faces

One of  the fantastic things about photography is the new people, places and things I get to experience with my camera in hand, many of which I would never had been introduced to.  I mean to tell you I've met some really cool folks along the way and I can't wait to continue that trend.

Recently I was fortunate enough to be asked to photograph the 10th anniversary party for The Nova Studio.  They teach classes about making soap and other bath and beauty products with proper techniques and ingredients.


Better still, I got to do it with my friend Stephanie from Quiet Life of Violet. I have missed her and the drive was a great time of just chit chat, catching up and girl talk.


What a great group and event it was! The event was well organized and you could see the dedication of their students by how many people attended.

Everyone felt welcome, including me.  They had several "make and take" tables that guests could make something fun. I got to make eyeshadow and a bath soak. How cool was that for them to include me?

 Let me tell you, as the photographer, there is usually a handful of people at any event that avoid my lens like the plague. They see me coming and head for the proverbial hills, so to speak.  That was not the case here - everyone was having a great time and actually asking to have their photos taken! What?!?!?  Yes, I said it!

Here are some of my images from the event. It  was a great day and I wish many more Anniversaries for The Nova Studio!






Saturday, September 14, 2013

All Portraits Are NOT Created Equal

I recently had the pleasure of handling a firearm for the first time. (My Dad swears I shot a .22 when I was a kid, but I honestly have no recollection so I'm starting over.) I went out to the range with some very close friends who also happen to be family. I haven't a clue why it's taken me so long to do this, but holy moly is it FUN!

Like any good Moment Preservationist, I brought my camera along with me. I decided to take a few shots (no pun intended) of J & J while we were there. J was really in his element out here and you could see him instantly relax the second we got out of the truck. I would have thought having a "new shooter" tagging along would have the opposite effect, but no.

At any rate, these are a couple of the images I snagged while we were there. This is what Moment Preservation means to me - this memory is so cool and important I want to keep it forever.

When was the last time you had a portrait done - family or otherwise - that really embodied who you are and what you love? If the answer is "never", then you and I need to talk.



*By the way, this marks my 40th post! I have a hard time sticking with things that I start, so it's kind of a big deal for me!

Friday, September 6, 2013

"I'm Too Excited to Sleep"

Remember the commercial for Disneyland that came out with the little kids saying "I'm too excited to sleep!" the night before they were leaving for the Magic Kingdom?

That, my friends, is how I feel right before a shoot.

I am getting super excited for a shoot I have coming up next weekend. So excited, in fact, that I'm going to have to put myself on a "Mommy Time-Out" this weekend for a little while. I think I'll actually get to start my Hands of Love project on Sunday. EEK!!!

Stay tuned for more to follow on that subject...

For now, I'll leave you with a fun shot from a while back that has continued to inspire me to think outside the box. Sometimes it's not about the light - but the absence thereof that makes a shot fun.

Happy Friday, Friends!

Painting with Light

Friday, August 30, 2013

Nothing But A Memory

We've all felt it ~ sometimes you find yourself at a point where you need to feel grounded. Whether it's returning to our childhood home, or having a particular food that reminds you of days gone by, at one point or another we all seek it out.  I felt that way recently, so I decided to head back to to the home where many of my fond my childhood memories live. I connected my iPod to my car's stereo and played The House That Built Me by Miranda Lambert on repeat the whole drive.  When I arrived, I got out of my car and just stood there for a while, frozen. I couldn't even get my camera out of the trunk for about 10 minutes because I couldn't seem to put one foot in front of the other.

I can count on one hand the times I've come here in the last 2 1/2 years.  Not because I don't miss it, but because it's not the same. In fact, I've spent so little time here that one of the neighbors tried to kick me out like I didn't belong.  After a little explanation of who I was, he decided I belonged and let me on my way.

It was where my parents brought me home from the hospital when I was born. I learned how to pick the right lure, tie my own line, bait the hooks, and cast away right there off the dock.  I learned that when the cobwebs were floating on the breeze in the twilight, you needed to grab your rod and reel and head out to the water.  I learned what peace really sounds like, and what a beautiful sight it is when the little fish jump out of the water after tiny bugs and shimmer in the sunset.

All that's left of my "happy place" is just a bit of melted boat trailers and some artichoke plants.
August 19, 2013, Taken with my iPhone 5. No edits, straight out of the phone.

My Grandmother's house burned down four days after my son was born in January of 2011.  It used to be a 3-Story house and a 2 car garage that my Grannie and Papa built with their own hands in the 1950's. You can see the walkway and the stairs still stand, leading to nowhere.  The firemen had to just let it burn because there were live power lines they couldn't cross. Every family heirloom, all of my Mother & Grandmother's jewelry, every photograph, keepsake and memento collected over the last 60 years is gone, including my Mother's wedding ring, her collection of spaghetti poodles, and her wedding dress.  Not to mention the fact that my Papa's ashes that were on my Grannie's nightstand. (Grannie said he wouldn't have left the house anyway).

This is the only image I have of the damage. I couldn't bring myself to take any more as I stood there with my husband and just...cried.

January 14, 2011 - Taken with my iPhone 4S. No edits, straight from my phone.

It is always a little rough going back, but I hiked up the walkway (you can see it on the left in the first picture, still just like it's always been) to the top of the levee and stared at the boats and the Delta. I decided since there wasn't anything left of the house, I'd head down to the dock and sit there a while.

As I've grown, I've begun to look at things in a different light.  Sitting on the junky old dock that I spent so much time on growing up, looking at the boats floating peacefully in their berths covered in dust and bird crap, I realized that memories have nothing to do with money or luxury.  They have everything to do with time. Here are some images I took with my "big girl camera" that reminded me of parts of my childhood.








If nothing else, take a minute today and connect with a memory - whether it's chasing down the ice cream man for a Rocket Pop, calling a friend you haven't spoken to in a while, or going to a place that holds a special memory for you.  It will brighten your smile a little.

And now you understand why I call myself a "Moment Preservationist". You never know when the photos of those special places and times you have shared will be all you have left of your memories. Cherish them and have copies made. Share them with everyone so if something tragic like this happens to you, copies are out there.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


Fair warning: this is a wordy post. If you're a bit pressed for time, you might want to come back later. It's also a little disjointed, but hey, it happens.

As much as I love me some technology (if you know me personally, you know I do), I also hate it. The art of conversation seems to be falling by the wayside. Instead of talking, we text or email because it's faster and can be done privately while still in the presence of others. I get it - I really do - but the need to be constantly in contact with the entire world has taken over some of the most intimate parts of our day. Friendships used to be forged by hours of conversation and quality time, not 4,782 text messages. Love blossomed as a result of courtship and manners. There were rules and society (generally) stuck to them.

I spent a few hours with my Grandmother on Sunday. She's 89. No texting or emailing happening there. Shopping with Grannie and my Sister reminded me how important it is to solidify the personal bonds. Time is really all we have and when it's gone, it's gone forever. You'll never get a single minute back that you spent on the phone with someone else while in the physical presence of others.

In her 89 years, Grannie has seen some serious change and major shifts in the world. The Great Depression, the invention of the guitar, the rise & fall of the Berlin Wall, vinyl records, Woodstock, radios, televisions, the attack on Pearl Harbor, creation of the interstate system & roadways, Frank Sinatra, The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Elvis Presley, Sputnik, the Apollo Missions, the Mars Rover, touch-tone phones, sending her son to Vietnam, cars, airplanes, washing machines, microwaves, the internet, mobile phones, Harvey Milk, JFK, the Golden Gate Bridge, record players, Ranch Dressing, Y2K, Civil Rights Movement, Feminism, the technology boom, and countless other innovations and historical events have happened since she was born. It's very sobering to take a look at the timeline of your life or those around you, and I'd encourage you to take a moment and think about your parents or grandparents and their lives.

At any rate, all of this thinking has led to inspiration. What do you carry with you throughout the years? What says the most about a person? Their financial status? Their education or lack thereof? Their character & morals? And how do you capture it in a photograph?

I'm going to be working on a photography project for a little while. I might even call on some of you to help me out. When all is said and done, I'll be sharing it.

This is a first real "project" for me, and there's something so liberating about doing it for yourself rather than a graded assignment. Maybe it's because there is no wrong answer...

Follow my journey on Instagram: ladydphotography_ca or

For now, I'll leave you with a photo of me and my Grannie having a glass of wine. Cheers!


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Toga, Toga, TOGA!

Having a birthday party for you and one of your besties? Why not have a TOGA PARTY! That's what these girls did and they had a total BLAST, let me tell you! This was really a fun party to shoot and the guests had an absolute ball. They've already announced their Halloween party and I can't WAIT. The jury's still out on if I'll dress up or not...

Back to the togas!









Thursday, August 1, 2013


Time flies when you're having fun, right? I hope you will kindly forgive my prolonged absence. I've been a busy bee. Since we last "spoke", for lack of a better term, I've been busy. I bought a house, moved into said house, and had a portrait session at MY HOUSE!

It's been a glorious transition for me and if you know me, you know it's been a struggle and a constant series of ups and downs. There were days where I wasn't sure I'd ever wanted anything more, days when I wanted to give up and rent a house, days when I was seriously pissed at myself for even THINKING of giving up, and days when I was really excited inside but didn't want the world to know - just in case it fell through.

I've been HOME for a little over a month, and now that it's finally sunk in that no one is going to come by and say "Just kidding! Give the keys back", I can finally relax and regroup.

As with any move, it's been time consuming. It's also been exciting and monumental. I finally have a place to store all of my photography gear and props, and our back yard is lovely. I can see many a portrait session here in the future. Of course, the inside of our home is light and bright, making for a great photography space.

Matter of fact, I had a recent shoot with some awesome kiddo's in my yard over the weekend - spurring me to publish a new blog post. My lovely friend J and her kids A & K were great to work with. They were in and out on their way to Grandma's house - although they didn't have to travel over the river and through the woods to get there. Oh, there I go... turning into my mother again.

Here are some of my favorites from the shoot. Enjoy!

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Monday, April 22, 2013

Molly's Portrait Session & My Softbox Experience

I recently purchased a couple of softboxes in advance of my session with Molly.  Boy, what a difference they made!  I can't believe what a difference it made - even outdoors.  It improved what I would even consider to be exceptional lighting conditions.

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Molly was lovely as always.

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She was patient, and so was Circa!

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I am very pleased with how these turned out.

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I love the way the colors of her tattoo stand out in this image.

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This one was my favorite of the day.

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