Tag: Senior Portraits

Class of 2023 Senior Team – Early Enrollment

We are accepting applications during the month of January for our Senior Influencer Team! All those that sign up for the team in January will receive a 15% discount on the package of their choice – which will be discussed at a team meeting in February. Class of 2023 sessions will begin in March!

Side Note to Class of 2022

Schedule your senior session in January (to take place anytime between January and April 2022)
and you will also receive 15% off any package.

Have you ever wanted to learn more about how to leverage your personal brand . . .

You are in luck because I’ve created a guide geared specifically for your generation, so that you can learn how to do this in an organic way – that is uniquely YOU. All the influencers you see on Instagram started somewhere, and you have just as much a shot at that as they did; you just need to:

  • Decide you want to represent
  • Learn the principles
  • Focus and implement them
  • Stay authentically YOU throughout the process

The Senior Influencer Team isn’t just about being and learning how to be an influencer, it is about documenting your senior year in high school. This is a huge milestone that you have been looking forward to most of your school years. It’s a transitional time in your life and should be documented.

What is Included?

  • A full two-hour Senior Session
  • Custom designed 20-page LUXURY ALBUM with up to 20 images from your senior session (worth $900)
  • Social Media Mini Course
  • Makeup Party with Mia Vasquez and Mini-Headshot session for college apps and/or jobs/acting
  • Fall Theme Group Session
  • Holiday Theme Group Session and Party
  • BFF or Pet Session
  • Special Interest Session (stylized for each Team member)
  • Prom Discount & Priority Booking
  • Casual Cap & Gown Shoot before graduation
  • Social Media sharing files
  • Continued guidance all year on various topics: healthy skin, mind, body, college prep
  • Internship opportunities & lots of goodies
  • . . . and so much more

Happy New Year!

Here’s me just blathering on about nothing really – enjoy!

The after party!

I love New Year’s! With one exception – I don’t like losing the joy of Christmas lights! New Year’s Eve for me is a closing of a door and an opening of another.

It’s a mind set for me. It really is just another day on the calendar – all it really means is having to remember it is 2022, not 2021, when writing the date. But as the manager of a my life and business, it kind of gives me a little bit of a do-over – fresh slate – a starting line to start over with the lessons I’ve learned from the previous year under my belt.

Resolutions – oh heck no – I gave those up years ago. I think about 20 years ago I made the resolution to not make anymore resolutions! It’s the only one I actually stuck to! Instead, it’s goal setting time. It’s time to create big ideas and dream. I actually start in October, but December really lights a fire under my butt.

I was listening to a Donald Miller podcast episode yesterday – Business Made Simple – and he talked about writing those big dreams out – those goals for the year and reading them every single day when you get up – oh shoot – was that him or Jon Acuff’s All It Takes Is a Goal . . . UGH I’m pretty sure it was Donald Miller LOL I listen to a lot of podcasts! Okay – it was Donald Miller – he has a cool six-week series starting January 6 – Hero on a Mission. ANYWHO . . . dream big and review it every day to keep yourself in that headspace.

One of the things I would like to adjust are my mornings. I have no ritual per se – getting out of bed is an act of God, so that’s my ritual. I love the idea – that many mentors have advised – of starting the day with high vibrations. And what could be more high vibrational than focusing on your dream – your big goal? And drink that down with being grateful. Wow – I think that would be a great way to start the day off right . . . and then refrain from road rage on the way to the office . . . just saying.

I am so grateful for my family, those that have entered my life in the last two years, and those that have stuck around. I am beyond grateful to my cheerleaders that try to get me business every opportunity they can; those that believe in me and push me forward; and clients that return every year and have become friends. I am grateful for all of the love and support I have received from so many. People have been very kind to me even when I’ve dropped the ball. It’s actually been quite a kind year for me – it’s allowed me some space to sit in all the emotions that have come up and work through them – and trust me – ALL the emotions have come up! Being grateful is super easy for me.

Goals and Dreams – so if you believe in the whole birth-sign thing like I do – you will understand my struggle around setting goals and dreaming big. The Pisces in me can dream big and live like there is an endless supply of money and time – she’s kind of irresponsible, but creative and happy – a joy seeker. The Capricorn in me – my protector – is practical and kind of jerk and brings me down. She immediately jumps in to my “dream time” and says, “Yeah that’s great – how the heck are you going to accomplish It? What’s the plan?!” She is just really worried about living on the street and can’t think about anything that isn’t the picture of security. She really doesn’t like to take chances.

So dreaming big is really difficult for me – I mean like REALLY difficult. I would love to hear in the comments below if you face the same challenge or different challenges, and how you break through them. Danielle Dowling has actually been quite helpful. Early last year I participated in her six-week program Hello Joy and gained a lot from it, but as we all know – you must practice practice practice – or it will not stick. She came up with a fun side project to do on your own – Dreamscape December Journal – she even created a special essential oil blend to go with it! My journal is a work in progress – as is life, but I like that. I did it last December and have picked it back up to continue it! This journal will be what I look at every morning to remind myself what I’m moving towards.

I have dreamed of having a photo studio since I was a kid – I have a photo studio. I love it! So why do I find myself having to sometimes smack myself back to reality when I’m feeling down? I have this thing I’ve been working towards and dreaming about that has actually come to be, but I haven’t stopped to really give myself some credit. I just keep focusing on where I’m lacking – what I’m doing wrong – how to fix myself – all the what-ifs. Well baby steps – someday I will look back at today and see how far I’ve come.

While I am writing this, I just found out that Betty White passed on this morning. Talk about a crappy way to end this challenging year! I know she had to be ready, but I don’t think we were ever ready for her departure. She was such an inspiration and a Bold Brave Badass woman! UGH I’m so sad!

Today – I am grateful to tears (literally right now) for all the gifts in my life – including all of you.

Try to live next year with some reckless abandon, take good care of yourself – mentally and physically, honor yourself, learn to pause and love.

May 2022 bring you all joy, love and prosperity.

Here are a few photos from this past year:

Why I Love Fall Senior Sessions

Let’s face it – we live in Southern California – there aren’t really many bad days for photo sessions. I would love to do one in the rain some day though.

I think my favorite season has always been Autumn. When I think of Autumn it feels like a warm and cozy, family and snuggle time of year; not to mention it’s the beginning of holiday season. It’s not hot out. You get to wear layers and boots. There is great beauty in dormant trees and I love fallen leaves as added ambiance to my fall sessions.

Senior Portrait, fall sessions

Since it does not get too cold here in the OC, the Autumn allows for more options – you can still dress summery without freezing, but also dress in layers without passing out from heat stroke. Dressing in layers is always a great look and allows a lot of different looks without having to change your whole outfit.

The sun is a bit kinder too during the fall and winter months – true we have a shorter shoot time, but the sun is lower and not quite as harsh.

All in all – I would pick the fall hands-down for your senior portraits!

SAVE THE DATE – November 13, I am hosting an introductory senior mini-session event for $175. You must book by October 15th and space is limited! The session will include a 15-minute session and one digital image printable to 8×10. Packages start at $300 and the session fee is credited towards your purchase.

Fill out this form if you would like more information or to book your space!

Happy New (School) Year

DON’T FREAK OUT . . .

You know what’s cool about the start of a new school year? It is similar to the calendar “New Year” – it represents new beginnings, the hope of a year filled with fun experiences with friends, plans for hitting the ground running, shopping for school clothes and supplies – who doesn’t love a bunch of new pens and mechanical pencils – I still do!

Here are some of my own been there-done that tips for your new school year:

  • Get Involved!

The best way to stay present and connected is to get involved.  If you are not already part of a team, or other school activity or club, join or start one. Get involved with ASB.

  • Start / Join a Study Group

Not only will you have fun, possibly make new friends, and get your work done on a regular basis, you will ultimately absorb and learn more.  Study groups have students at different levels so it helps those that may not completely understand certain concepts.  Study groups – done right – are especially helpful for those that have a particularly hard time focusing.

  • Start the Year with Good Habits – Buy or Make a Planner

Make sure it includes a habit tracker.  Track all kinds of things – water intake, exercise, study times – things that you want to do or keep track of on a regular basis.

On your calendar, mark out blocks of time for each assignment and other regularly scheduled commitments. Plan manageable chunks of time to work, not one big marathon. Use color-coding for each subject.

Spoiler alert:  My senior team members get customized planners!!!

  • Study Space

Create the space to get your work done.  A space that is comfortable and without distractions.  Enjoy background music?  Create a playlist of music that will keep you energized, but not distracted.  If Mom isn’t going to call – put your phone on do not disturb for short blocks of time.

Make sure to schedule and take breaks every half an hour, but true breaks – check your phone for calls or texts you need to attend to but don’t camp out on your phone and get sucked into that rabbit hole. Meditate for five minutes, do 10 burpees, get a refill on your beverage, hug your pet, go for walk or stretch – maybe even take a three-minute dance break to get your energy level back to full.

  • Stay Away from Drama

Surround yourself with positive people – find your tribe – “we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.” – Jim Rohn  

  • Allow Yourself Some Quiet Time

Just because you don’t have plans on a Friday night does not mean anything other than – it’s a great time to regenerate from a long week of school and practice some self-care.

HAPPY NEW (SCHOOL) YEAR!

I hope you have a great and memorable year!

August Is for Seniors!

Hey CLASS OF 2021

Buy one get one!

Book your stylized senior session by August 31, 2020, and receive a complimentary cap & gown session to take place either at the time of your senior session or at any future date!

Tell Us a Little Bit About You!

Life Doesn’t Stop for a Pandemic

I’m so over this whole COVID thing; I’m sure you are too. I’m over the conflicting information, the endless arguments of wear a mask – don’t wear a mask. Fourth of July canceled – how do you cancel the Fourth of July?! I’m over not being able to work with very many clients . . . or any. Don’t get me wrong – I want everyone to be safe and I’m totally down with following the guidelines and have been. I just mean I’m ready to work – it makes me sad and sometimes scared about income – or lack thereof. But as the bank commercial says, “There’s a crack in everything for a reason . . how else can the light get in.”

Canon Mark IV – Converted to Infrared – Location is Descanso Gardens

We are in a time of change and change is never comfortable. But for things to change – so so much needs to change – we must endure these pain points.

Last September I quit my full time gig to work on this business. I had just enough money to get me through one year. I basically took the last three months of 2019 off. I did several sessions and worked part-time at the law firm I just quit, but I also just existed. I was recovering from many years of grief-inducing events that I never really sat down and let myself feel and get through.

When I quit my “career” of 31 years to do this full time, I thought to myself, in an attempt to help me be brave with the leap, if I didn’t make a dime in 2020, I would be fine. I had enough in savings to get by. UH, I DIDN’T MEAN FOR IT TO HAPPEN!

Enter 2020 – It started off okay – things were looking positive and definitely moving in the right direction. Seeds were being planted, I had a coach helping me out and my community was growing . . .

Shortly before the “lock-down,” I decided to take over a studio space. “Well as usual, I have great timing!” I could have backed out of it. I could have said, “No, bad timing.” “I’ll just play it safe.” But at 56 I’m sick of waiting for this to happen! It’s now or never. I’ve waited and worked on this business for way too many years to even say. It IS time (whoa, I just heard Rafiki in my head).

Rafiki from The Lion King

Fortunately, I know several other photographers that I look to as mentors that started and/or sustained their businesses during some of the worst times in recent economic history and are thriving still today.

When this all happened, I was actually excited – giddy in fact. Prior to, I felt like I wasn’t getting any headway on building the structure of my business. I didn’t have my systems in place; my pricing firm; products I want to sell; etc. Then this happened and I felt like the world was literally put on pause for me to catch up. I was ecstatic! It truly felt like a gift.

Have I caught up? Well, for the most part, yes. It’s been fun putting together my studio and my office/client lounge. I have all the printables I need designed and printed. I have created and printed magazines. I have completely revamped my website; produced videos. Designed and ordered product samples. Put together mock-ups so you can see how your photographs can look in your home. I know how much I’m charging and why. But money is going in the wrong direction – well at least only in one direction.

Mock-Up in ProSelect

Each day is a different emotion. For the most part, I’m tootling along working on the business – nothing is ever completely done and ready to go in a business. Kind of like when to have a child – you’re never really ready. It’s rarely the perfect time. When I start thinking about designing special sessions – the when, what and where – I feel like “what’s the point?!” It’s hard to plan a party when you don’t know when it’s going to be.

It’s sad and discouraging. Will my business make it through this pandemic? What does our future look like? I don’t want to end up saying, “Well that was a huge waste of money and nothing to show for it.” Will I be the success story that I believe I can be? And God forbid what if I or my kids get sick?! Sometimes, frankly, I’m really depressed.

So, I just continue to put one foot in front of the other as if I’m going in the right direction. I guess that’s all we can do. That’s what faith is, right?

I am open for business and generally photograph out on location more than at the studio anyway, but the studio is safe and clean. And reveal sessions can be done remotely. We have options. I’m anxious for everyone to see and experience my studio, but I’m more anxious to just be out there creating and bringing people joy.

Here are some of the photos I’ve been able to do during this pandemic . . .

How to Style Your Photo Session

One of the most common questions people have when preparing for their photo session is what to wear and what to bring.  You want everyone in the photos to look their best, but you also want all the details in the photos to tie together so it looks cohesive and not overly matching.  These simple tips will give you a better idea on how you can style your own outfits, accessories, and props so that everything meshes, but still pays tribute to who you are as a family.

Styling Your Photo Session

  • Coordinate Colors

Most families tend to match their outfits by pattern or color but for the best results, you’ll want to skip putting everyone in matching clothes and colors and instead coordinate their outfits to play off one another.  Let one of the family members secretly be the star of the photo shoot.  Dress them in a patterned outfit that consists of at least three colors.  Keep the rest of the family’s outfits simple with pops of color that coordinate with the star of the show’s outfit.  And don’t forget to take the shoes into consideration as well.

  • Accessories

Think about adding hats, scarves sweaters, vests, jackets or even flowers to hold or put in the hair.  Consider accessorizing your kids in layers, textures and offer something for everyone to interact with.  You don’t want the accessories to overwhelm the photo, but they can be a great way to offer a lot of variety throughout your session.  Think of things that can be easily taken off or put back on.

  • Props

It can be easier to work with children especially if they have something to play around with or hold for some of the images.  Think about adding in some props that are meaningful to you and your family, maybe a favorite stuffed animal, family quilt or heirloom or even the family pet can be a great addition to your photo session.  When choosing props ensure that they fit in well with the photo session and coordinate with the colors in your outfits – no bright pink bottles of bubbles with an earth-tone outfit.  Nature’s decor like flowers, apples, or pumpkins are also a few great ideas for props.

How to Find the Perfect Photo Shoot Location

Choosing a photo shoot location might seem like a big deal but it really doesn’t have to be difficult. A location usually drives some of the other decisions you will need to make about your shoot so it’s important to choose the right place.  Here are a few questions to ask yourself before you decide on a location:

  1. What kind of theme do I want?  If a particular building or natural backdrop would work well with your theme, look around your area for spots that meet your requirements. If you don’t know what kind of backdrop you want, take an afternoon drive around your city for inspiration. It’s easy to overlook beautiful spots that are practically in your backyard.  Ask family, friends or your photographer for ideas too.

  1. Are you allowed to take pictures there? Make sure that you can legally take pictures at the location that you have in mind. If it’s not public property or available to the public you will need to get permission first.

For example, this is an adorable English cottage facade, it is located at a venue that charges $300 an hour to photograph there.  Is the venue worth it?  My answer is yes, of course!

A great number of sought-out venues require a fee and many others need permits purchased ahead of time – so make sure you do the homework.

  1. Is it accessible? Consider that not all outdoor locations may be available all year round or you might not be able to get to them at all. Your safety is also an important aspect to think about before you decide on a location. Taking pictures on a mountain ledge may look neat but it’s best not to put yourself in harm’s way.
  2. How do you get to your location? Will it be easy to walk to the session location and if not, are you able to change your clothing and touch up your hair and makeup before the shoot? You should also find out whether there is a restroom that’s close enough in case you need it.

  1. Will the photo session be in a public place? If the location you have chosen has a lot of foot traffic, you need to ask yourself whether you are comfortable being photographed in front of others or if they will get in the way.  You might want to rethink your choice in location.

Make sure that your location doesn’t become a distraction and that there is shelter nearby if you need it. Your location tells a story so it’s worthwhile to choose a meaningful spot.

Sister Portrait - Seal Beach, CA

Don’t Leave Your Photos Stranded and Alone

Sister Portrait - Seal Beach, CAWe ALL do it, well unless you are the kind of person I dream of being – completely organized and everything in its place.  We put off printing our photographs.  We always have tomorrow – right?  We are just too busy to sit down and really spend quality time on the computer figuring it all out and then going to the framer or creating an album online – it’s so daunting and time-consuming.  That’s where your professional photographer (me) can be of great service.

My service and price includes printed photographs AND digital files.  I can also provide various types of wall art, including acrylic, metal, professionally framed prints, canvas, and/or custom albums!

Back when I was a shoot and burn photographer, I would photograph my client, edit their images and then upload the photographs to a site where they could download them to their computer.  I have had clients (not many but enough to know there are probably more) contact me and ask me to either send them the link to their photos again or inquire as to where their photos went – several years later!   Wait – what?  You paid a professional photographer to take your photos or record your wedding and they are still floating in cyberspace?!  Yes, I could have given a disc or flash drive, but that could just as easily get lost.  THIS is one of the biggest reasons I am no longer a shoot and burn photographer.  I value my work and photographs too much to not print and share them.  Putting your photos online for you to download sounds super convenient, but I’m not serving you – my client – by doing this.

My service includes the printed photographs mounted and matted and placed in a gorgeous folio box you will want to show off, or even framed if you like.  Or you can have them printed in a beautiful keepsake album.  You will have something to put on your coffee table and share with guests or just look at from time to time – and pass down through the generations.  Do you still get your digital files – YES!  But all the other work has been done for you.

I am a boutique business and boutiques are all about personalized service to their clients.  I don’t just take photos and then leave you to sit in the dark after work trying to figure out how to download 1,000 photographs from your wedding or spending half a day searching for that little flash drive or disc you put in a “safe place.”

When you see prices and packages of professional photographers like me, you probably step back and say, “But all we want are the digital files.”  “It’s so easy – you just take the pictures and upload them right?”  “Why do you charge so much and why can’t I just get a disc?”  Because I care about you, my level of service and your photographs.  There is a lot that goes into those photographs:

  • You get a free consultation right off the bat – whether you hire me or not.  We discuss what your end-game is – do you want large wall portraits, gifts, album(s) . . . etc. – what you are looking for in the style of your photographs – locations, etc.
  • Before the session, I am visualizing, creating a shoot list, possibly buying props – you are on my mind a lot.
  • The photo session:  We have a great time, different poses, play, and connect.  We are done when we are done – if we want to hang out and wait for the sun to nearly set – we do that – simply to obtain the best photographs that you are dreaming of.
  • I don’t think I need to mention all the education, workshops, years of practice, and expensive equipment I have.
  • Then culling and editing.  This takes much longer than your session did I guarantee you.  I sit with your images, I toss those that are duplicative or not perfect and then I create.  I retouch, head swap in family photos if someone blinked or looks better in another photo, sometimes I add textures and special tones, and I analyze how I want each and every separate photograph to look.  I put great effort into making sure every photograph is ready for printing and hanging.
  • Reveal session.  We get together and you get to see at least 30 photographs all retouched, printed, mounted and matted ready to take home.  AND you get the digital files for every image you purchase!  Win-win!

Wouldn’t it be a shame to only put your images online after all the work and love that went into them?

family portrait oak glen, ca

IT’S YOUR SENIOR YEAR!