I'm so sad that I don't get to shoot Boudoir Sessions more because they're honestly one of my favorite things to shoot. I almost feel like shooting Boudoir is kind of theatrical...the subject is playing the part of someone she doesn't get to be everyday.
I wanted this shoot to be clean and simply sexy. By "simply sexy" I mean sexy in a way that isn't obvious...the kind of sexy that has a little bit of depth. My model Taylor's beautiful spirit absolutely popped out of her soulful brown eyes. I feel like her eyes tell the story... playful, desirous, and a little mysterious.
Model: Taylor Saxelby
Make Up: Madelin Adena
For Leslie's Maternity Session we decided to keep it lifestyle and relaxed by shooting in her Hollywood residence. Getting to use her home as our location was like being in Disneyland for me! The decor and architectural elements were all so gorgeous! I always love when soon-to-be-mommies opt to shoot in their home. I think it adds a really personal, intimate feel to the images.
I've been photographing the Howard Family for a few years now and this year we decided to do something a bit different by shooting at Vasquez Rocks. Ashley is an amazing yoga instructor (check out her site here) so I wanted to shoot somewhere that reflected her spiritual and peaceful nature. We had so much fun highlighting the kids' playful side by incorporating fun props like the tee pee, jumbo balloons, and magic wands. The family spends a lot of time outdoors so it was awesome to snap some pics of them totally in their element climbing on rocks and jumping from path to path. Ashley's dress is by Free People. Hair by Ashlee Norman. Make up by DoubleTake Makeup Artistry. Reese's flower crown by Celebrate.
“Love is the essential existential fact. It is our ultimate reality and our purpose on earth. To be consciously aware of it, to experience love in ourselves and others, is the meaning of life.” -Marianne Williamson I'm just gonna say it...I love Valentine's Day. I love everything it represents. I love celebrating love. As a Wedding Photographer, I believe in love above all things. I believe in the power it has to unite us, define us, drive us, and transform us. I believe love is the most powerful human emotion there is.
Unfortunately, Valentine's Day gets a bad rap sometimes. If you're single, it can be hard to feel like you don't have anyone in your life to share it with. If you're in a relationship, there can be a lot of pressure to live up to your partner's expectations. I think we should reframe how we think about Valentine's Day and choose to see it as a day we can celebrate the love we have in our lives.It doesn't have to be romantic love. It can be the love of your parents, your friends, even your dog. It can be the love you feel when you listen to your favorite song.
To celebrate, I decide to make a list of the things I love most in this world.
...waking up in a new place.
... the smell of campfire.
... the sound of rain on my window.
... Voluspa candles.
... wearing red lipstick.
... cold beer.
... drinking wine by candlelight.
... aisle seats on an airplane.
... laughing with my girlfriends.
... back rubs from my mommy.
... chocolate. Anything chocolate.
... driving on an open road.
... wind in my hair.
... breakfast. Although I'd be happy with bacon on a plate.
... afternoon naps.
... when my dog nudges my hand with her nose to pet her.
... sunlight through the trees.
... dancing with abandon.
... movies. ALL the movies.
... making my dad laugh.
... getting the shot.
... morning coffee from my favorite mug.
... watching the people I love accomplish something great.
... singing in the car. And the shower. And everywhere else.
... acoustic guitar.
... the sound of my shutter closing.
... desert stars.
... when it's right.
... making plans.
... creating something beautiful.
... watching my brother become an adult.
... dresses with pockets.
... the butterflies I get when the wheels leave the runway.
... forehead kisses.
... when the walls come down.
... live music.
... Netflix binges.
... sipping margaritas in the sun.
What do you love? You should celebrate it.
For Janae's shoot I wanted to capture something that was feminine and kind of whimsical. I felt that wardrobe from Free People would be able to provide that soft, flowy look I wanted. Janae actually did her own make up for this shoot. Not only is Janae a stunning beauty, but she is also an extremely talented make up artist and half owner of DoubleTake MakeUp Artistry along with her twin sister. Yes! She's a twin!
We were tired after a long day of playing like children in the infinite Alaskan winter and the bite of the crisp air was beginning to wear on us. We quickly retreated to the cabin, seeking shelter and a place to thaw our souls. It's warm window lights beckoned us inside with the promise of hot chocolate and lazy naps. Ripping our snow boots off as we stomped through the doors, we hastily made our way to the loving embrace of the couches...falling into them like the arms of an old lover. Christine, covered head to toe in her striped onesie, melted off the couch and made her way to the stove. Her face wore a stubborn determination as she furrowed her brow and began to pick up logs of wood to place them in the stove. She was going to start a fire.
Mark and I looked on as she searched for a match, undoubtedly questioning if we were going to freeze to death that night. Finally, after a long period of watching Christine poke at the fireplace, Mark began boasting his prior experience as a Cub Scout and stepped in for assistance. She resisted him as he continued to voice his suggestions.
"You have to blow on it to give the fire oxygen," Mark urged. "This is an education in fire for you."
She turned and gave him an evil glare. I laughed at them from my little corner of the room. They were like siblings bickering in their pjs. Both stubborn. Both pushing one another to be better in their own way.
"An education in fire," I thought. "Beautiful."
After a bit of coaxing, the fire finally ignited with a brilliant glow. "Take that Mark Groves!" Christine shouted. She was satisfied with herself and walked away with a proud smirk.
It was New Year's Eve and we had yet to spot the Northern Lights. There was a lot of talk of a recent solar storm making for powerful Auroras but, so far, we had just seen a lot of cloud coverage. It was the reason we had come to Fairbanks and with the end of the trip drawing near, we began to fear we may not be able to check "See Northern Lights" off our Bucket List.
Christine had brought a list of questions to help us reflect on our experiences in 2015 and to set our intentions for 2016. We sat around the kitchen table in our pajamas, sipping on moonshine and beer and opening our hearts to each other. I felt vulnerable and safe at the same time. We talked about the things we were most grateful for. We discovered that, sometimes, the things you are most grateful for in the end can be the very thing you feared would destroy you in the beginning. We talked about the people who had influenced us most over the course of the year and my heart felt overwhelmed. As I sat there with two of the most inspiring people in my life, it all suddenly made sense to me that my hurt was a gift.
We took a short break from our goal setting to peer out the window for a light check. THEY WERE OUT! We jolted up from our chair and threw our snow boots on, grabbing our cameras and scrambling outside in our pajamas. The cold could not pierce the excitement we felt in that moment. We set up our cameras and began to take pictures. It was all happening, just as we'd imagined...only better.
"5-4-3-2-1! Happy New Year!" The clock struck midnight and a rush of fireworks filled the sky beside the Auroras. We popped our champagne and began to pass the bottle around, each taking a celebratory gulp. I stood there below the dancing curtain of neon mist and felt myself become part of something bigger. I could feel my face fill with wonder and all I could seem to whisper was "it's just too much." It was suddenly so clear to me that life can be this good. That living your life with passion can bring you to beautiful people. That life is meant to lead us to moments that make our hearts ignite.
This was my education in fire.
This year, what a year. 2015. You started off pretty rocky and showed me again and again the power of surrendering to what will be. You taught me that surrendering control of what I thought my life would be can only lead me to places I never had the courage to imagine for myself. You taught me that sometimes, even when things don't make sense, they always seem to come together in the beautiful tapestry of life's mystery. My 2015 was the year of "surrender." Over and over again, I surrendered. In that letting go, I was found. Looking back on the flurry of the last 12 months, I am filled with unbelievable gratitude for the gifts I've been given. I've had the opportunity to see the world doing what I love while also establishing some very cherished friendships along the way. This year has proven to me, more than anything, that the most important things in this life are the memories you create and the people you choose to surround yourself with. That, given a little time, everything works out the way it's supposed to. That this life is as grand, as wild, and as filled with wander as you can imagine. You are the architect of your own life. Build it big.
In March, I had the opportunity to travel to Costa Rica to second shoot a wedding with my dear friend, Christine. Intimate Destination Weddings are my favorite. Check out the blog post here.
I met some awesome adventure buddies. I was lucky enough to travel to Maui to shoot a wedding in April. I still dream of the crystal waters and can't wait to return. I worked with some pretty cool people and hopefully got them excited about my passion, too. I was lucky enough to travel to Yosemite for a beautiful wedding nestled in the trees. Click here to see all the pretty. Here I am in Joshua Tree shooting Scott and Hayley's wedding.
Probably one of the most significant parts of my year was becoming a dog mom. This small furry creature is the love of my life. I can't image my life without her.
Finishing the year off with an Alaskan adventure. Life is magic. Where to next 2016?
The Holiday Season is such an amazing time in my year because I get to work with so many awesome people. This year was no exception. Not only did I get a chance to capture some very special return clients, but I also had the opportunity to meet some amazing new clients as well! One of my favorite things about my job is getting to capture the growth of my clients' families through out the years. It truly amazes me how quickly time goes by! I have been shooting many of these families from Maternity to Newborn to Family Sessions. I feel like the luckiest photographer in the world to give the gift of memories to my clients.
I waited awhile to post these because I know a lot of these images were intended to be used on Holiday cards and I didn't want to spoil the surprise. As I go through them all together in one grouping, I am amazed at how truly special this time of year is. The Holiday Season is about family and togetherness and going through these images made me feel overjoyed with so much love.
Wishing all of you a very Happy Holiday season with those you love! Thank you for an amazing season of Family Sessions...can't wait to do it again next year!
Today is a day we celebrate our freedom. We'll gather with friends and family to BBQ. We'll have one too many adult beverages. We'll stand in awe as we marvel at the brilliant colors dancing across the sky. We'll remember the brave men and women who gave their lives to protect the freedom of their families and the generations to come. To be free is to be American. But, to me, freedom contains a complexity of other meanings.
Today marks exactly one year since I left my former career as a Casting Director. I spent my last 3 years at the company completely and utterly miserable. What may have seemed like a glamorous job on the outside, was eating away at my soul on the inside. It was torture to wake up every morning knowing I had to survive through another day at work. It wasn't so much that the job itself was terrible, but rather, that I wasn't in alignment with my own heart. I wanted nothing more than to take pictures and travel.
Freedom means...being authentic to your heart.
I had this vision of a life I didn't have to survive in. I wanted a life I could thrive in. I have distinct memories of sitting at my desk while staring longingly at the travel photos hanging in my cubicle and wishing I could be there, the echoes of my office phone taunting me as if to remind me of where I really was. In retrospect, it wasn't my cubicle walls I felt trapped by...it was my fear. I was afraid of leaving a secure job to pursue a passion without a certain future. More so than anything, I was afraid I wasn't good enough.
Freedom means...choosing love over fear.
My road to freedom was not easy. There were many nights I would come home to edit photos after working a 14 hour day, many weekends I dedicated my only days off to shooting weddings or portrait sessions. I knew with complete certainty taking pictures was my calling because it didn't feel like work. I ached for the moments I could create photographs.
Freedom means... living with passion.
I still remember the moment I walked out the doors of my office for the last time. My soul literally felt a lightness I can't explain. I could see my dream and it didn't feel so far away anymore. I made the choice to trust that the universe would provide me with what I needed to be successful as long as I worked hard. I closed my eyes and jumped into the great unknown. I felt free.
So far, the universe has delivered.
My session with Ava Grace was seriously one of the most soothing experiences I've ever had. The entire shoot was filled with music from the likes of Bob Marley and Jack Johnson, along with sweet Hawaiian melodies. The atmosphere was calm and tranquil...just as the expression on Kelly's face in these photos might suggest. I always tell my clients how special it is for me to shoot both their Maternity and Newborn Session. It's truly magical for me to behold the life that was once growing inside them. Kelly was no exception and I loved watching how gracefully she transitioned into being a mommy. Congratulations!
Babies have this way of melting the hearts of those around them and baby Rosie is no exception. From the moment I stepped into the door it was clear that she had single handedly captured the love of her mom and dad, not to mention her Grandparents, Aunties, and Uncles. It was clear from her pensive gaze and quirky smirk that she's going to be a playful little girl. I felt like her nursery, with interior design by the fabulous Casey Mason, reflected her personality perfectly. Check out Casey's awesome design blog here. I may have gone a little crazy shooting details because the decor was so darn cute! Enjoy!