Five Reasons You Don’t Have to Face Your Photographer During A Family Session

Everyone loves a well-posed portrait. These photos sit for generations on someone’s bookshelf, someone’s mantle, adored and admired by all who pass by. And the highlight of the holiday season is when grandparents unwrap an updated family portrait of their grown kids and grand kids. I mean, look at these gorgeous smiles!

In between the posed shots, there lies magical yet real moments that, in my opinion, are the truest images in family photography. Within these moments, children are freely acting as themselves, as are the nervous parents who wrangling the little ones for one more posed shot. My shutter keeps firing because this is pure gold. We are actually playing now, and the family dynamic is truly on display. Parents know how to make anything into a game. Most of these situations turn into a lighthearted, fun and dynamic display. I love these photos. They speak.

But. Big disclaimer here. I love a posed portrait. I mean, if you can get two frazzled parents of active, squirmy young children looking at the camera, that’s magic, too, right? That being said, let me give you five reasons to not worry about looking at the camera during a family photography session.

You’re Busy Playing

Is there anything more natural than for a child to play? For her to find something so mundane as sand, let it run through her hands and hear that giggle as it tickles the insides of her forearms. Or for him to so quickly find collect all the driftwood on the beach (how did he manage to find it all so quickly any way?).  See your child’s eyes and you’ll be busy playing — too busy laughing — than worrying about the end result of your photo session.

mother daughter beach photography

You’re Busy Enjoying Your Location

Photographs tell stories. There are people in these stories and that’s your family. But there is one more character that you may not have been aware of, but you’ve intentionally chosen. It is your location! Pick a location that means something to you. And enjoy it. Look around and soak in your environment while the camera is looking at you.

children playing on beach, family photography, los angeles

Because Smiling Can Be Tiring

Gosh, those cheeks need a rest! Be yourself. I’ll prompt you with a variety of activities and questions for you to explore your relationships in front of the camera.

Because We’re Here to Document Something Unseen

Ok, I said it once I’ll say it again – yes, I still do love a great posed portrait. But those shots taken between our scripted moments are the real ones that make a photograph three dimensional. Connection. Emotion. Love. The things that are unseen but can still be captured in a photograph.

So, look away. Look around and by all means, yes, look at the camera now and then with your eyes and say, “I’m happy to be here.”

The Walsh Family and all the waves at Playa del Rey Beach

Friends, its SUMMER!! Give me all the beach, all the sand, all the waves! I cannot think of anything more iconic, more suitable for a Southern California family photography session than some time at the beach. Documenting an early golden hour afternoon with The Walsh Family was the perfect way to get this summer started.

family beach session los angeles blue waves

I’ve lived in Los Angeles for a majority of my life now and I always forget about this vast, glorious space called the Pacific Ocean. Its so close that I’ve taken it for granted for too long. That is up until 6 months ago when we spent the whole day at the beach for my birthday. I owe it to my daughter. She is constantly drawn to the sea. She can stare at it all day, chasing the waves, watching the tide ebb and flow. I’m so grateful to her childhood perspective and how it has renewed my love for something so natural and innocent!

And its not just her! All my families love the ocean. Children are all at once nervous about its power and enticed by its playfulness.

mother daughter beach photography

kindergarten windy beach session I love my family sessions but we wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the couples that started it all! I love taking a moment to photograph mom and dad. We settled the kids down with a snack and an activity and walked a short distance away. The waves were certainly unpredictable that day and coming in really close.

I give my couple a posing prompt to ease them in, but before I know it, Dad is yelling, “Incoming!” A big one glides right up against us, waist high. My phone was in my back pocket, my two cameras on either side. What do you do, friends? Well, I chose my cameras over my phone and lifted those girls high up in the air as the waves washed up against me.  Needless to say, I got a much needed social media fast!

I’m not one to give up, and neither was my couple! We tried again and this time, the waves were much kinder.

couples beach photography

couples beach photography

Thank you to The Walsh Family for their beautiful bond and for trusting me to capture this beautiful time in their family life!

Happy birthday, Jean!

Sparkling chandeliers. Red roses. A cool, spring evening. A murder mystery dinner birthday party is underway!

I can think of few people more deserving of a gorgeous birthday party than my dear friend Jean. In some ways, she is my peer and in other ways, I see her as a mother figure. She has a sparkling laugh, a witty personality and a generous with a giving attitude rooted deeply in her faith. Her and her husband Marvin have seen my husband and I, individually, and our family through so much 0f our adult lives!

Okay, sun’s setting. Photographers, what do you do?

Take a portrait!

And what do you do for the hostess with the mostest? You let her host her own party. Yup, you do.

It might not seem right to let the woman who gives her all to everyone throw a milestone birthday, but trust me, friends, no one could’ve gotten it right except Jean herself.  Her lush backyard was decorated with twinkling lights. Tables were decorated with beautiful crystal details and red roses. Personalized labels adorned the most delightful red and white wines. Our delicious dinner was catered by Chef Coreen.

It was all perfectly paired with the night’s entertainment — a murder mystery!

We were told from the start: TRUST NO ONE.

So who did it? The details are complicated, slightly sordid and, honestly, not obvious. BUT, my tablemates and I did win even if we didn’t solve the mystery exactly. And you know it is a good party when there are photos you shouldn’t publish on the internet. I’ll leave it right there.

The evening’s activities ended with a cake that literally stole the, well, cake.  I mean, guys, it is a TEAPOT. With cups! Jean is from England, and nobody wise has ever denied her a cuppa.

After we sung our happy birthdays, Marvin delivered the real surprise. He sang to her. Not once. TWICE!

Her reaction says it all. Happy birthday, Jean. You deserve the best!


A birthday gift for Grandpa

What an incredibly flattering moment it was when I received an email from Ashley asking me to be their family photographer! Her father’s birthday was approaching. With her brother coming to town with his family, she gave her father the gift of professional portraits of all his grandchildren together. What an incredibly thoughtful gesture.

Ashley is a new mom herself. She just had twin boys about two months ago. I suggested we have a relaxed “at home” session where everyone can feel relaxed. Between an active 6 year old, a 9 month old and newborn twins, I felt a comfortable setting was paramount!

While it was overcast outside, their Culver City home had beautiful natural light. We captured many images that highlighted the budding bond between the four cousins and the love Grandpa had for all of them!grandpa grandkids

Angelina’s Back to Work Motherhood Session

I always assure my families, “Don’t worry. We will absolutely shoot that posed family photo that Grandma wants on her fireplace mantel.” But the truth is, I’m here for the stories. I’m here to see the bond. I’m here to see the unabashed love families have for one another.  I’m here to click the shutter at that right moment when I see the hairs rise on your skin right when you make eye contact with someone you love. I’m here for the real stuff.

Angelina and her baby boy brought the real stuff.

motherhood mommy and me

While she admits she rarely lounges around in a flowing white maxi skirt, you wouldn’t know it. She moves with ease and class, all the while with a self-deprecating sense of humor that makes her so likable and down-to-earth.

Baby boy is her second child. She wanted some photographs of them together before she returned to work in a few days. Without saying it, I knew she would miss him dearly!  Thank you, Angelina, for the privilege of being your family photographer!

Lucas’s 4th Superhero Birthday Party

X-Ray vision, super human strength, capes, masks, and … don’t forget the fancy gadgets! It can only be a super hero party! Happy birthday to Lucas! His fourth birthday party at Carlson Park in Culver City was nothing short of an extravaganza full of friends and family and superhero antics.  But what’s a superhero party without superheroes?

Best. Party. Ever! surprised Lucas with Spiderman, Wonder Woman and Batman.  The actors were so professional and the children were immediately captivated by all the games and activities they had planned. I can’t tell you what the games were specifically, but I will say, it involved a lot of running. I mean,  A LOT!  I love action shots like these at birthday parties — no parent should have to run after their own child like this during a birthday party, but I’m happy to do it for them!

Happy birthday to dear Lucas! May you truly discover what a superhero you are this year and always!!