Month: July 2018


I finally had the opportunity to visit Rockhaven Sanitarium located in Montrose, California.

Now, one would think that since I was born and raised in Glendale, lived in La Crescenta and my daughter went to preschool a block away, that I would have known all about Rockhaven.  I was completely clueless until a few years ago when one of my high school friends posted an article about Rockhaven on Facebook.  The California State Historical Resources Commission gave unanimous approval to list the Rockhaven Sanitarium to the California Register of Historical Resources on April 18, 2016.   Despite objection by the City of Glendale, the Friends of Rockhaven successfully nominated the Rockhaven Sanitarium for listing in the National Register of Historic Places.  Why the city that should be the proudest of such a historic property still not approve it is beyond comprehension.

Rockhaven was opened in 1923 by psychiatric nurse Agnes Richards as a private mental health institution for women with mild mental and nervous disorders as the brochure read.  At Rockhaven women could be treated with dignity and grace in a beautiful and serene environment

Agnes Traviss Richards, a registered nurse, was inspired to found her own institution when she became discouraged by the way women with mental illness (and those accused of being mentally ill that were not) were treated by large, state-run facilities.  Having worked in state-run insane asylums in Nebraska, Iowa and Patton State Hospital in San Bernardino, California, she witnessed the atrocities firsthand.  Richards’ vision was to create a peaceful, homelike setting where women could be cared for surrounded by gardens and lush landscaping.

Rockhaven was inspired by principles of the Cottage Plan of Asylum architecture for mental institutions, first developed in the late nineteenth century. The Cottage Plan placed numerous individual buildings within landscaped gardens in order to create a serene, homelike environment for residents.  Rockhaven is one of the best examples of an early twentieth century woman-owned, women-serving private sanitarium in California, and was one of the first of its type in the nation.  It reflects the vision of founder Agnes Richards, R.N., and represents a small, yet significant movement that sought to improve the conditions of mentally ill women in the early twentieth century.

I cannot say it better than the Friends of Rockhave, In this age of a new women’s movement it seems natural that a site with such significant history as the Rockhaven Historic District should be opened as a park.   95-years ago Agnes Richards opened a place for safe, dignified treatment of women BY women.  It offered  progressive treatment of both the residents and the women who worked there.  Now the property stands the last of a significant California business and is fully intact due to the forethought and action of a group of civic leaders in 2008.  It is waiting to be opened to everyone to experience and learn and enjoy whether or not they can afford it.  This Historic Park is owned by the public.  And we the public would like to have this remarkable jewel of Glendale opened to the public.”  If you would like to help – go here for the list of representatives that need to hear from you!

Here are a few of the photos I was able to take.  There was so much more to see that I could not get access to, but I hope my second trip will bring more images:


The Engagement Session – Is It Really Necessary?

I am often asked when meeting with potential wedding clients, “What if we don’t do the engagement session?”  I smile and politely let them know, “The engagement session is for me!”  Just kidding – well not really . . . well sort of . . .  Of course, the engagement session is about you – the happy couple, BUT it is really for US as a team.  That is why my engagement sessions are complimentary.  I want to have the opportunity to get to know my clients and for them to get to know me; what it’s like to work with me as well as an opportunity for you to preview my work on a personal level.

If you are newly engaged and wondering if you should really go through the time and possible expense of an engagement session – my answer is YES!  It is an important part of your engagement.

WHY?  Glad you asked!

This is absolutely, hands-down, the best way to get to know your photographer and see if you really want to take that next step with them – The Wedding Day.

You are not just hiring some nice (seemingly nice) person with a good camera and website – you are hiring someone for their vision – a unique vision for the two of you – who doesn’t just show up and do some cookie cutter poses and call it day.  You want someone you are comfortable working with and can trust.  After the engagement session, you get to see their work and if they really are a good fit for you.  Remember, this is the person who will be with you for HOURS on your wedding day, capturing intimate moments and special details – recording one of the most significant and emotional days of your life.  If you don’t really care for your photographer, it will be awkward for you on the day of your wedding.  Your photographer is pretty much your shadow the entire day.  By the end of the day, you will either want to go out for a drink with them, or drink because you spent the day with them!  An engagement session provides the opportunity to get to know your photographer.

Get Camera Ready

I personally know how awkward it is to be in front of a camera, not knowing what you look like and hoping you are taking direction correctly from your photographer.  People often overthink it and then actually look and feel stiff and uncomfortable.  Your photographer will work with you and make you more comfortable in front of the camera.  Once you have a chance to get used to being photographed and relax into the process, you will be amazed at how comfortable and natural you will feel!  Having an engagement session gives you a chance to develop that comfort before your wedding day.

Confirm the Photographer’s Style Is What You Want

Wedding photography is a major investment – for good reason.  Even if you have viewed the photographer’s previous work, you should still get a taste of how your photos will turn out – it’s like a test drive!  Having an engagement session eases your mind.  After you see your beautiful portraits, you will have a much clearer sense of what kind of images your photographer can create for you.  Not to mention the really great portraits you will have in the clothes and environment that most speaks to you and represents who you are individually and as a couple.

You Are Engaged!  Own It!

Being engaged is so exciting!  An excitement that you will never have again.  You are only going to do this once in your life!  You’re excited to have committed to your best friend, making plans for the wedding, and making plans for your future.  Doing an engagement session is a wonderful way to preserve memories of this brief period, so that you can look back on them for years to come.

Who Are You?

An engagement session captures pieces of who you are and the connection between you in a most natural way.  There are no people standing around watching or waiting for you to be done like they will at your wedding.  We can spend as much time as we like to create a beautiful and meaningful portfolio of your love.  We will stylize your engagement session.  We will pick a location that best represents you, maybe have props and/or wardrobe that shows your combined interests.  For example, I did an engagement session for a cute couple – he played hockey – she was an ice skater – so we did the entire session on the ice!

Engagement Sessions Are Really Fun

We just goof off and relax.  It’s a day out, just the two of you – well, and me . . . you get a few hours of just focusing on each other and playing.  During your engagement session there will be some light posing, but it will mostly be me taking beautiful photos of the two of you just being together.  And more than likely, you or I will come up with a really fun and/or crazy idea unique to you!

Details to Add to Your Wedding

You can use your engagement photos for:

  • Save the date cards
  • Thank you cards
  • Incorporated in your wedding décor
  • Create party favors with your photo on them
  • I can create a unique guest book full of images from the session
  • Wedding website


And finally – beautiful photographs you will want to include in your wedding album and hang on your walls!  Your family for generations will cherish them!

Hopefully, you are now actually excited about doing an engagement session!  Engagement sessions are one of my favorite things!