Fall Mini Sessions Are Coming!

September 14, 2015

Hello all!

Fall mini sessions are coming to San Diego… WHERE in San Diego is still a little up in the air as the expected El Niño has could certainly dampen the situation. We will do our best to persevere and still get those Fall portraits done though, right? I’d love for you to join me! Please email me if you’re interested.

Mini Sessions 2015 - Fall

Back in June, I finally made my way to New York City for the very first time. I haven’t written about the trip… mostly because this blog was seriously neglected at the time. I’m not going to talk about the whole trip today, but I am going to talk about a piece of it.

First, a little back story… I was invited to a dear friend’s wedding in Boston in June and I decided to make the most of my plane ticket back east and include a personal trip to the Big Apple before heading to Boston (maybe that’ll be a post for another day). At some point in my pondering and deciding and date searching, my parents asked if they could join me in New York. They had it on their bucket list. I immediately said yes – I knew company would be awesome and it’d be fun to do with them. Plus, we were all very united in our “must see” lists.

At the top of the list was the 9/11 Memorial and Museum.

We began our day early with Mass at St. Peter’s in the Financial District. We had wanted to get Mass in first since we weren’t sure how long our other activities might take and it seemed best to start such a day with prayer and reflection at the oldest parish in New York State and just a couple blocks from the World Trade Center. It’s also the site where Fr. Mychal, chaplain of the New York Fire Department and first certified fatality, was taken (carried to the altar after his body was recovered).

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After Mass, we made our way to the Memorial. It was amazing to see the size and scope of the base of the towers through the Memorial fountains after only having seeing pictures of film of the Twin Towers my entire life.


We paused at both the North Tower fountain and the South Tower fountain before making our way into the the museum. We watched a film before making our way down the stairs to the exhibition space.


There are a few pieces out in a more open exhibition area where photography is allowed, but the bulk of the museum exhibits are behind a set of glass doors, with no reentry and no photography. We noticed at the end of our visit that the “average time to visit” that portion was 45 minutes. We were in there for MUCH longer.

The exhibition is broken into three galleries: the timeline of September 11, before September 11, and after September 11.

On September 11, 2001, I was up way too early in my Southern California home doing the homework I hadn’t had time to complete the night before. I was up when both towers were struck and when the Pentagon was struck, but I was oblivious being on the west coast (and not having the TV on). My mom woke up an hour or so later and turned on the Today show like she does every morning. She called me out of my room and together we watched what was happening on the east coast. Together, we learned with the rest of the country, of Flight 93’s crash in Pennsylvania.

“Today, our fellow citizens, our way of life, our very freedom came under attack in a series of deliberate and deadly terrorist acts. The victims were in airplanes or in their offices: secretaries, business men and women, military and federal workers, moms and dads, friends and neighbors. Thousands of lives were suddenly ended by evil, despicable acts of terror. The pictures of airplanes flying into buildings, fires burning, huge — huge structures collapsing have filled us with disbelief, terrible sadness and a quiet, unyielding anger. These acts of mass murder were intended to frighten our nation into chaos and retreat. But they have failed. Our country is strong. A great people has been moved to defend a great nation.”  – U.S. President George W. Bush.

Together, my mom, my dad, and I entered the exhibit and started at the beginning of the timeline. Relearning the day’s events that were playing on repeat on the news for us that morning. We saw the live clip of Matt Lauer announcing the breaking news in the middle of a segment. We read details, listened to voicemails (definitely the hardest part for me), saw artifacts, and slowly absorbed, as best we could, the day as those on the ground and in the air did. We spent hours in there. At times moving together and slowly drifting apart and then back together. Sharing pieces with each other and having quiet discussion. Solemnly and respectfully, we paid tribute.

Early on, I caught the conversation of a couple behind me. They were looking at a graphic of the South Tower. The graphic showed the tower with the companies by floor and who was above, below, and in the impact zone. Perhaps they’d long ago block out the knowledge that their daughter’s company was in the impact zone or perhaps they’d never realized it, but you could hear the shock in their voices and the relief in their words and on their faces. “We are just so lucky.” Their daughter was on a different floor during the attack and she made it out safely.

A little later, my dad came up to me. “Do you see that couple?” They were moving through the exhibition with their daughter. They saw a photo of a man they knew (I can’t remember now if it was a friend’s son, their son, or their son’s friend). He also survived. When I later made my way to where the were, to where my dad had been reading before he came to find me, and saw that it was a picture I’d seen many times before in the news.

As amazing as it was too see the artifacts, heart-wrenching and shocking though some were, it was made all the more significant overhearing the stories of the people walking through the exhibition at the same time as me. Some, like the ones above, knew survivors, others were local (or localish), and like me, some were visiting from somewhere else. Yet this one event united everyone walking through those galleries. We remembered where we were when we heard the news. We’ve experienced the aftermath. Like those days after the attacks, we were united. You could tell from the stories of these people, even in snippets, that politics didn’t matter in that moment. Even in moving to the after, you didn’t hear the negativity or division that you hear now. I saw what the memorial and the museum being there meant for them.

“Remember the hours after Sept. 11 when we came together as one…It was the worst day we have ever seen, but it brought out the best in all of us.” – Then-Sen. John Kerry, D-Massachusetts, in 2004.

We spent a really long time in the first gallery and fatigue slowly started to set in as we moved to the before and the after. I learned that the before, the previous attacks on the Twin Towers, took place on my 8th birthday. It was strange to see my birthday written so many times, but it was amazing to learn how that failed attack helped save so many lives on September 11. The emergency procedures and evacuation drills set in motion after that day prepared so many people.

The after talked about the memorials around the world, the clean up, the war. I was moved to tears watching video of crews ceremoniously removing the last column from Ground Zero and then I made my way back out to the larger gallery space and spent some time with that very same column.

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As we began to make our way out, my dad and I stopped to “sign” the wall (Mom was nowhere to be found, and possibly looking for me, and disappointed later that she’d missed that opportunity).


With a different set of eyes, we made our way out of the museum and saw the fountains and One World Trade again.

“Even the smallest act of service, the simplest act of kindness, is a way to honor those we lost, a way to reclaim that spirit of unity that followed 9/11.” — U.S. President Barack Obama in a 2011 radio address.


I will always remember you and I’ll carry your stories that I’ve learned with me into the world.

“What separates us from the animals, what separates us from the chaos, is our ability to mourn people we’ve never met.” – Author David Levithan in his book “Love is the Higher Law.”

A to Z

September 3, 2015

I had the pleasure of photographing these sweet boys this past weekend. I’ve met big brother (A) a few times and we took pictures last spring, but I was excited to finally see him as a brother and get his sweet little brother in front of my camera for the first time. Z is just over 7 weeks and I was so impressed with how well he did!

It’s definitely a bit more challenging to get two wee ones (A is recently 2) and especially when the baby is past that total milk drunk newborn stage. They just don’t love being “posed” as much and they’re certainly more alert. :)

Thank you for a wonderful afternoon! A to Z and certainly complete. <3





Happy Tuesday!

So, as I previously mentioned, I’m currently fundraising… if you want all the fun training details, head over to my other blog. For today though, I’m cross-posting most of my most recent post because I want you to know about this awesome non-profit.

We haven’t really talked much about Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals beyond the very basics and maybe what you’ve read if you went to my donation page. To be honest, I actually didn’t know much before I contacted them about becoming a Miracle Maker and fundraising for this race.

CMNH is the presenting sponsor and celebratory charity for the runDisney Princess Half Marathon. As with other runDisney races, there are other charity groups that you can run with (ahem, stay tuned there…), but you can also fundraise directly for them. I looked at the different charities and was strongly debating between this one and a couple others, but then something BIG popped out for me.

They fundraise for 170 children’s hospitals through the U.S. and Canada, including hospitals I know and love in my own “backyard.” Not only that, but the donations would be specific to YOUR local hospital wherever the donor was – not just where I was and not just where the race was. I loved that! I know that I love to support my own community and it was great knowing that this fundraiser could help everyone help their own community.

The local hospitals use that money however they most need it – the best kind of gift! Funds have been used to cover uncompensated care, purchase equipment, and conduct research and training, wherever the greatest need is for that hospital!


Wow! I mean, seriously, WOW. Just recently, I saw a few different lists of the top Children’s Hospitals and while little things varied on the lists and rankings slightly changed, there was just about one thing that stayed consistent – every one I checked was a CMNH affiliated hospital.


Found on Pinterest

So now you know a little more, and I’ll keep sharing as I learn more too. What a fantastic resource and support for our hospitals! Feel inspired to donate? :)

You know the saying… it’s a marathon, not a sprint? In life, we can’t just jump out the gate most of the time. We have to start small and stay consistent.

What’s that other cliche? A little goes a LONG way…

Or how about everything in moderation?

How many times a week do you buy lunch? Grab a coffee or chai tea latte? Pick up an energy drink at the gym? Maybe you love your monthly manicure or that happy hour beer with your friends? It’s not that much when you’re used to spending it or when it’s just a few dollars at the time, right?

What if I told you that you could donate the SAME way?

The cost of your Venti Shaken Iced Tea (Black, No Sweetener, thanks :)) – $2.35
One iced tea a month to help CMNH for the rest of the year? $14.10
One a month until Race Weekend? $18.80

Your 6in Subway sandwich (with a drink and chips, duh) – $6ish
One lunch a week to help CMNH for the rest of the year? $36
Take me all the way to race weekend? $48

Margarita at Happy Hour (PLUS tip) – $5
Two happy hours a month for the rest of the year? $60
I can’t two in this month, but two a month and a Dry January resolution? $85

I know we all have expenses, so I ask that you consider a very small donation, what might you not miss? And then click the monthly donation option. Carry that small amount forward through December or all the way to February. It’s a (half) marathon, not a sprint. 

And every step, every single step (and dollar), gets us closer to the finish line.

It’s time to dust off this poor neglected blog to share some exciting news! I’ve recently committed to fundraising for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals for the Disney Princess Half Marathon on February 21, 2016. As a personal challenge, I’m going to make it a Coast to Coast event and do a race here in California in 2016 as well! I promise to update you regularly with progress and facts, but I wanted to let you all know right away about this opportunity to donate. I would love your support!

Click here to donate!

Click here to donate!

You mean I haven’t introduced my nephew yet?! He’s much bigger than this now, but that’s the point of a Throwback Thursday, right?

Love this little guy to pieces and love watching my sister transform into “mama.”

I should have way more words for such a big introduction, but I just don’t today. I’ll let his cuteness speak for itself.


On his very first day looking so peacful…


As a sweet, wee lad…


And the cutest little elephant you ever did see…

Wait til you see his perfect baby blue eyes the next time I get around to blogging (which hopefully won’t be on his first birthday but rather soon instead…). :)

Throwback Thursday

November 20, 2014

Oh, poor neglected blog. I wrapped up school portraits today and couldn’t resist a little Throwback Thursday action. It really is such an honor and privilege to be invited back and spend time at such an awesome school with such fantastic little people and staff. It’s so awesome and crazy to see how much the kids grow each year. It was especially fun to see some of the kids for the third year in a row this year!

So then, on to the pictures… the best part, right?


I flew to Sacramento Friday night to meet and photograph the beautiful Lily Bug on Saturday morning. She was such a good, sweet little baby. I have so many words to come, but for now, just a sneak peek. Welcome to the world baby girl, you are so very loved!




I once wrote a post featuring Amy Grant’s “Oh How the Years Go By” about how my little cousins were growing up too fast (newsflash: they still are).

Never was that more clear though than when I went to the preschool this week for school pictures.

Wait, first, let’s backtrack. I never wrote about last year’s pictures as it was such a whirlwind between shoots, proofs, orders, and delivery all in an incredibly short between-holidays time frame. It was incredible. I loved every moment and I should have taken the time to sum it all up after all was said and done.

I am beyond grateful that the school invited me to return this year. I feel so blessed and it makes my heart burst that the parents were so happy with the pictures of their little ones. Truly. That recognition of “you captured her spirit” or “that’s SO him” is exactly why I do what I do. I once read that “taking pictures is savoring life intensely, every hundredth of a second.” To know that I found the hundredth of a second someone else savored, it is beyond rewarding.

So, back to how time flies. I spent two wonderful days with the kids at the preschool last fall and caught glimpses of them here and there a few other times when I was picking something up or dropping something off. As a result, the memories I have of these children are almost entirely of that first moment when they stepped in front of my camera – those photos that I stared at and edited for weeks after.

And then, I returned. Nearly one year later and all of these adorable, familiar faces greeted me – familiar, but not. Familiar, but much more grown. It was wonderful to see them again: to see how they changed, grown more confident, and to meet younger siblings too. Of course, it was also lovely to meet so many new little ones. Delights, each and every one.

Here’s a sneak peek of then and now. I figured since I didn’t post last year, I do a little side-by-side action for you. Last year is on the left and this year is on the right.

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