5 Printing Options for Your Family Photos

So I got my family photos taken….NOW WHAT?
Nowadays digital photography has really changed the way we take and receive images. Before, you had to develop film and get the prints, or have photos taken and get your choice of print packages. Now, you can get even more photos delivered digitally and share them on various social media sites for all your friends and family to see. You can share your own photos of a school play, a field trip, vacations, or a family holiday instantaneously. How wonderful that you have more digital images than you ever did before! Except….let’s face it. Most of these photos don’t make it past your desktop. All these adorable images you took for your child’s first birthday are not making your hard drive look any prettier (*cough cough…totally guilty*) . Or worse-those gorgeous family photos you just had professionally taken and delivered digitally….are merely floating as your screen saver. You know what they say… photos look better on your wall than on your computer.
So what DO you do with all those photos?
Printing Services
Screen Shot 2015-05-19 at 11.17.41 AMThe typical print your 4×6, 5×7, or 8×10 is still a wonderful option for your photos! I personally am a fan of the collage frames because you can include a variety of photos and the arrangement is already done for you! You can fill a large amount of space without spending too much on larger sized prints and professional framing. Additionally, the standard album with 4×6 inserts is a great way to house them if you don’t have room on your walls. I tend to go for the albums that have room for comments. I LOVE going through my parent’s old photos and reading the comments or special notes for each photo taken.
  Wall Size Photo Prints
 Screen Shot 2015-05-18 at 8.22.55 AMWhile I love having larger prints on beautiful wood frames, I tend to get overwhelmed
with the amount of framing choices available. It’s hard enough I finally chose the photos I want to enlarge…now I have to find a frame that perfectly matches the photo and my house! Kudos to all those who can make this decision easily. For me, I much prefer frameless options. Canvas prints are my absolute favorite because you have the option of a wrapped canvas, which stretches the image around the edges of the canvas. This creates a more streamline effect. There are newer options available now, including metal prints. I had photo I took at a winery printed on metal and I loved how the texture added to the gritty nature of the photo. All these options are available in a variety of sizes depending on the type of photo you have and the space in your home.
                                                         Photo Books
 Photo Books are becoming quite popular, especially now that you can design and print your own! For me, I love this option because I can create a design that perfectly fits my style, and create a layout that I love. Shutterfly and Tiny Prints are very user friendly and have many template optionsScreen Shot 2015-05-18 at 8.32.44 AM. Adorama has even more options for those who want to have full control of their design. If you don’t have time or don’t wan to deal with the hassle of designing your own, or want to ensure the highest quality, many professional photographers have album options and can create beautiful albums for you.
If you want something out of the ordinary, try personalizing items you frequently use. I createScreen Shot 2015-05-18 at 8.16.37 AMd coasters using some of my favorite landscape photos and I absolutely love them! If you want something more portable, try customizing your own phone case with family  photos. Or go back to an oldie but a goodie-design a coffee mug so you can enjoy your morning brew while putting those beautiful photos you had taken to good use! Vistaprint & Shutterfly are both great sites that are user friendly and relatively inexpensive.
One of my other hobbies for a long while was creating personalized, hand-stamped cards, so I’m definitely a fan of card design. With email and texting so readily available, some people forget about good old snail mail! I have use photos as main images on thank you Screen Shot 2015-05-18 at 8.15.21 AMcards, get well cards, or congratulatory cards. Usually I use my landscape photos or something of that sort because, well, it would be weird if I sent a “congrats grad” card and slapped my face on the front…Luckily there are other cards that ARE fitting to include your photo on them. Holiday cards are a wonderful tradition. They allow people  to catch up with what one another is doing, how life is going, and how your family is growing. If you prefer not to send mail, consider using your photos for general stationary. Notepads, post-its, or journals are easy and fun items to customize. Any of the above mentioned sites will have a variety of stationary options.
See? Now you have an abundance of ideas for your images instead of having them hibernate on your computer! Now get out there and do something with your beautiful photos!

Samantha & Cory’s Happiest Day!

As I’ve said before in previous blogs, weddings were not an avenue I had considered when beginning my photography business. However, after stepping into the role last year, I found real enjoyment out of capturing moments of a couple’s happiest day. I remember my own wedding almost five years ago and the rush of happiness, anxiety, stress, and pure IMG_6081joy instantly come back. The fact that I get to be there and be a part of someone else’s day is a real privilege. This wedding was also special because I feel that I have gone on a journey with an amazing couple, Samantha and Cory. We have been in each other’s lives for the past year, and their wedding was the bookend of several sessions together. Spending such time together truly creates a friendship, and it was lovely to see the two of them merge their lives together forever.

I was also really excited because one of my biggest mentors in photography would be assisting me. My husband really opened doors for me when I first stepped outside “auto mode” with my photography. Luckily I had a head start from the get go. My husband is an avid amateur photographer and has collected several lenses throughout the years. This meant I could take full advantage and use his equipment when experimenting with my growing knowledge. I love having discussions with him because I have always been drawn to portraiture, while he loves landscape photography. It’s a great conversation without feeling competitive (which let’s face it, we totally can be!).
DSC_2041As if my working team wasn’t awesome enough, I was also working with one of my best friends as well as an amazing event planner. Dianna Brister of GenerationB Events helped make the scenery beautiful and the day run smoothly. I also had the pleasure of meeting three talented videographers from Chris Ward Productions who captured priceless footage of the ceremony and reception. Samantha & Cory had such an outstanding team of professionals working to make their day enjoyable.
Their wedding theme was based on the book  The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, later also adapted into a film. A heartbreaking romantic 1920s tale of love so strong it hurts. As you enter into the Singleton Pavilion at Elings Park in Santa Barbara, CA, you are immediately met with bold teal, metallic silver, and sleek black.  Cylindric pearled flowers stand on elegant candlestick centerpieces, while peacock feathers add flare and texture. A beautiful gothic style candelabra floated above where the bride and groom would meet to exchange vows.
I absolutely love having two photographers when covering a wedding, and if you can afford it, I highly advise hiring a team to photograph yours. We were able to be in two different places to capture both sides of the bridal party getting ready, as well as a variety of angles and moments throughout the night; something that would not be as  IMG_6092easy had it been just me. I was also thrilled that this couple was so open to a photojournalistic style. That opens the door to getting more intimate and real photos of the day. This, coupled with the fact that we had done prior sessions together (I HIGHLY suggest an engagement session to any betrothed couple!) made for a really smooth day, especially immediately following the ceremony where the more traditional posed photos are taken. Even if you have a more photojournalistic style, I still recommend posed photos. If not for you, do it for the future you that would love to look fondly upon them years down the road. I had so much fun during their reception. An amazing photographer, Donya of Donya J Photography, showed me the benefit of my fisheye lens-one that I had previously taken for granted. I loved being able to experiment and try out new techniques while everyone is partying on the dance floor.
The day was a wonderful success, and I cannot wait to get to work editing the photos and delivering them to Samantha & Cory. They are a wonderful couple and I am so happy to have gotten to know them better through this process! Congrats to the newlyweds!!

Look who’s 2!

I always separate my personal life with my professional when possible, but a couple weeks ago was an exciting opportunity to merge the two. My little  man celebrated DSC_1574his 2nd birthday this weekend, and we went all out! All of our family was there, and it was so fun seeing my son Xander play with his grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. While his 1st birthday was a milestone, I think I was more excited for his second birthday, because he could be much more involved in the party, and enjoy all the decorations, toys, and interactions.

DSC_1387I enjoy all aspects of photography, but my favorite to focus on is detail. A facial expression, the interactions between family, and the holding hands of the ones we love. Those are what show the connections people have with one another.

One great tip when you’re photographing kids (yours or someone else’s) is to always have something to do. We had bubbles, water guns, trains, water pools, and a piñata to keep both children and adults fully entertained. This allowed for some fun images of Xander running around with his cousins.

Another great tip is to make sure to capture expressions. Don’t be afraid to zoom in to get a face, eyes, or hands in action. Sure, you want to step back and illustrate DSC_1653what’s going on, but sometimes zooming in on a face makes a priceless photo. That’s why I simply don’t care that I didn’t capture images of the kiddos attacking the candy as it fell out of the piñata. The fact that I got this photo of my son, enjoying his ONE piece of candy he chose to dive for, is perfection. DSC_1670

I always try to join in on the fun, but I just can’t resist stepping back and watching it all happen. Not to get all mushy, but I love reflecting on my life and finding the good in it. Really stepping back to see all the joys in your life is something I try to remind myself to do; especially when I feel stressed or frustrated. No matter how crummy I feel, there’s always something to feel good about! My son is my biggest motivating factor, and being his mother is the most special gift.

Location, Location, Location!

My last post focused on finding appropriate wardrobe for your family before a photography session. Now let’s take a step back and talk about finding your ideal location! There are MANY places to choose from for your photography session. Here are some ideas to consider when choosing a location:

The first question to ask yourself: INDOOR or OUTDOOR?


Indoor can be great because you do not have to worry about the natural elements as much. Your session time can work more around you and your family’s schedule rather than Mother Nature. Crazy Santa Ana winds? Torrential downpours? No problem!

DSC_0835          DSC_0175             DSC_8929


Outdoor is fun because you can have a backdrop that cannot be easily recreated in a studio. Natural light can create some of the most captivating images, and you can choose a location that fits with your family’s personality to make it more unique and creative.

DSC_9330          DSC_6182          DSC_0111

Both Indoor and Outdoor have options within them. First, let’s explore some options if you choose an indoor session:


The great thing about a studio is you can be assured perfect lighting. Any light scenario can be recreated in a professional studio (with the right equipment). This ensures your family will look their best. This is a fantastic benefit, but also think about some of the possible downfalls of a studio. First, your final photos are limited to whatever they have. Your photographer may have fantastic props and backdrops available, or they may only have a few simple, solid color backdrops.

Your Home

The idea of “modern storytelling” photography is becoming increasingly popular. These photos capture a family in their natural interactions rather than posed images. The great thing about your home is that it can be used for both! If you have nice living room or dining room , this is a nice option for your family’s stylized photos. If you are more like me and your home looks a bit more…”lived in”… then having images that capture your family enjoying daily activities in your home can create some truly wonderful final photos.

If you know that indoor photos are not for you, there are almost unlimited outdoor options for your family’s session as well! Here are some questions to think about when choosing an outdoor location:

What hobby does your family enjoy?

Is there a place that is significant or has meaning for your family? Is there something you all enjoy doing, or a place everyone loves to visit? Maybe that should be your location! For example, if your family loves to sail or fish, the beach may be the perfect option. It can be a fun location-especially if you have a beautiful sunset.

What colors are in your home?

Not typically the first question that comes to mind, but it is important to think about how the colors in your home will compliment or compete with the colors in your final image. After all, a photo does nothing sitting on your desktop! The goal is to have it printed and displayed, so it will behoove you to think about the spot where your print will be hung. For example, if your home has earthy tones, a woodsy location will fit right in! Have a lot of pastels? Perhaps a meadow with flowers or a local garden would be an ideal spot.

 What is your family like?

If you cringe at the sight of bugs or hate to get a little dirty, a creekside setting is probably not the best location for you. Likewise, if your family loves to get down and dirty with nature, photos outside an architectural museum may not make any sense. You want the location to be pretty, but you also want it to relate to who your family is.

There are so many locations to choose from for your next family session. Hopefully these tips will help you narrow down your options. Lastly, remember-talk to your photographer! They are a professional and can help point you in the right direction to ensure your photos look wonderful.


What Do I Wear?

Congratulations! You figured out who you’d like to photograph your family. Now the next challenge-what to wear??? If you’re family is like mine, it can be a battle figuring out what to wear on a day to day basis, let alone what to wear for a special occasion.
Unfortunately helpful tips aren’t always shared with clients before hand, and their precious family photos end up on one of those awful Buzzfeed lists! Here are some tips when picking out wardrobe for your family photo session:
Avoid the “matchy matchy”
Wearing matching clothes in your family photos is an outdated concept. Instead, find coordinating colors and styles that work well together. Find a similar color family you can weave throughout your family’s clothes, and then choose complimentary colors to go with that theme. Think about what season it is what the backdrop for the photo will be. Are you shooting in front of a black backdrop in a studio, or in the great outdoors? Wherever the setting, keep that in mind when coordinating your colors.
Kristen Duke has a wonderful collection of color schemes on her website.
Stick with solids or soft patterns
If you have a really bold pattern or multiple patterns it can be really distracting to the eye, and family members end up battling for attention in the final image. This is not to say you should completely avoid patterns, but just keep in mind that if you do have patterns, maybe go for something a bit more subtle.
While we’re on the subject of bold, it’s also best to avoid super bold and bright colors that will be competing with each other. Hint: neon yellow jackets should stay at home! This is NOT to say to stay away from colors. I personally LOVE colors, but just be sure that the colors you choose are not competing for the camera’s attention.
Avoid all white or all black
Without getting technical, the camera has trouble balancing an image with such contrasting colors as black and white. This means that it is very easy for a white shirt or black dress to lose detail in a photo. While having white and black within your mix of colors won’t be a problem, try and avoid too much of either color in your family’s portrait.
There are no words
Or at least there shouldn’t be! Keep any clothes with words or easily visible logos at home. Even if you think that side sleeve that says Billabong or Ed Hardy isn’t noticeable, it will be the first thing people will see when your beautiful images are hung in your home!
Stay classy!
When you are choosing outfits keep in mind that while modern can be fun, you may change your mind a few years down the road. When laying out your attire, ask yourself-are these outfits ones that you will be cringing over five years later, or will they be outfits that give you those wonderful warm fuzzies when you see the photo? If it’s cringe-worthy, find another option!
Hopefully these tips will be helpful to you when preparing for your family photos!
DSC_0013  DSC_7408

Mentorships are invaluable

As a full time teacher, I devote myself to mentoring children; helping them become life long learners and citizens of the world. My focus is not to judge what they do or do not know, or how they learn best. My job is to make concepts and ideas available to them so they may become successful children. They see progress they make without comparing themselves to others. Mentoring and teaching a child to see the best in themselves is my passion. Knowing how important it is to have a mentor, I knew that it was vital to accept lessons from those more knowledgeable when it came to growing as a photographer.

I have been so fortunate to have such great mentors who have supported me in the budding years of my business. As someone who has been a student for many years, and as someone who has yet to leave the classroom, I understand how important it is to have someone knowledgable and willing to share strategies and ideas. The openness that my mentors have had with me has undoubtedly made me into a better photographer, and I continue to grow from their tutelage.

Often in this profession, it can be challenging to start swimming in a new pond without getting bit by the bigger fish. It is a tough business to crack, and an even tougher one to find acceptance, sometimes. I often say with every new concept, the more you know about something, the more you realize all that you don’t know. As my knowledge base regarding photography builds, I begin to see how much more there is to learn! This is where having a mentor is invaluable. I had the pleasure of learning about newborn photography and posing from Leslie Campbell. If you haven’t seen her work, you MUST check her out. She has been doing newborn photography for years and is amazing!

Recently I was able to work with Donya from Donya J Photography. We photographed a lovely wedding at the Tower Room-a location I had never been to before. Working with an experienced wedding photographer was such a great adventure. Being able to ask questions throughout the day, and receive feedback and tips while shooting was so helpful. I hope to become as natural of a photographer and she clearly is. Plus, the day was a blast! Not only did I work with an inspiring colleague, but I spent the day with someone who has a great personality! Having a calm, high-spirited couple for a bride & groom on top of all this was icing on the cake-no pun intended. I can’t wait to work with Donya again, and to continue photographing a couple’s special day!




A Fall Wedding

DSC_4222Even in the very beginning when I first started dabbling in photography, I was pretty adamant that weddings weren’t for me. The pressure of only having a finite amount of time to get photos, the list of shots not to forget, the challenge of dealing with whatever light scenario is thrown at you-seems like a stress I could stay away from, right?

Well…never say never.

DSC_4241I recently was one of the photographers at a wonderful venue in Ventura, CA. The venue is actually a historical landmark and, me being the nerdy 4th grade teacher, I was so excited to spend the day at a place so entrenched in California history. The land at Olives Adobe was sold right after the Spanish Mission period and purchased by the Olives family. It was prime real estate at that time, and many arguments & fights ensued over land ownership. Now it’s even said to be one of the most haunted locations in SoCal (the stories were laid out in further detail while I was there…eek!). But I digress…


Was it challenging to deal with the harsh light and patchworks of shade? Yes. Was it stressful knowing that it was my job to create a story and capture the memory of the day? Yes. Was it worth it? Absolutely. I had such fun photographing this wedding! The venue is an important landmark in Latino history, and this wedding fit right in. Between the mariachis, the flautas, and the groom in full vaquero garb, I was back in the rancho period.   La familia was in full swing by the reception, and everyone was up and dancing. I felt so blessed to be able to capture every moment, and proud that I was able to give the bride & groom photos they can cherish forever.

Double Trouble


I had an absolute blast photographing Reese & Reagan’s 1st birthday party! I also have to admit I was a bit jealous-the Alice & Wonderland theme is something that ANY girl would want, and this one (thumbs pointing inward, here) is no exception. Upon first approach, I was immediately pushed down the rabbit hole into a wonderland filled with a Mad Hatter tea party, swirling, bright colors, and huge bottles of bitter elixirs. It was quite a sight!

Little Reese & Reagan were the two cutest Alices I have ever seen. Certainly not helping the baby fever… They were wonderful hostesses, remaining cool, calm, & collected throughout the day. I will say, though, their table etiquette still needs a little work, but I guess that’s what happens when your body is first learning fine motor skills! I can’t really complain-it made for some fantastic photo memories.

DSC_3777   DSC_3788

I am in love with this wonderful family, and so excited to take their holiday photos next month! Stay tuned for part two!


A Menagerie of Mammals

DSC_2475         DSC_2279

I recently had the pleasure of photographing my first maternity session! I was so excited for this  happy couple, and very honored to be able to take their picture. At first I wasn’t nervous at all when Mommy-to-be explained that she wanted to incorporate her animals into her maternity shoot. Before my son came along, our two dogs  were our furry babies-my husband and I would bring them everywhere with us!

Yes, dogs were in the mix, but I soon found out that so were horses…and goats…oh my! My simple photo shoot was turning into quite the menagerie. Nevertheless, I tackled this session as I do all others-with careful planning, and an open mind. I had never worked with horses or goats before, and I knew I had to have many ideas, but place zero expectation that my planning would go off without a hitch.

Once I arrived at their home, I had such a sense of calm around all their animals-it was like I was fulfilling the wishes of the five year old inside of me! I mean…who DOESN’T want to pet a goat named Linus and a horse named Xena?  I had SO much fun during this session-observing the animals and the couple I was photographing-both in their element, both right at home. It was great capturing them in the moment, ready for the new member of the family to arrive. Take a peek at my portfolio for more animal encounters!

Getting Back to Nature


I’ve always found the beauty of nature photos, but the interest in photographing nature alone wasn’t a great interest of mine. However, during my weekend in Paso Robles, it was clear I had to attempt to capture the beauty of wine country. Not photographing the beauty of the vineyards would be like drinking Red Bull during a tasting. Just…No.

We had the pleasure of spending the weekend at a friend’s vineyard  and helping with the harvest of some of his grapes. I should clarify though, by helping, I mean waking up early and watching everyone else pick and crate the grapes while I took pictures of the scenery… in between closing my eyes imagining myself in a Disney movie with all the birds singing in the morning.

The vineyards were breathtaking. I couldn’t believe my luck-taking pictures of leaves starting to turn, grapes so ripe they look as if they could burst right off the vine, the deep purple so pronounced against the earthy background. I had so much fun experimenting with lighting and composing a photo with natural elements. It’s a great reminder that anywhere you go, you can find a picture waiting to be taken.