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  • Lauren & Ryan

    This engagement session was a special one for me. Lauren is my cousin, which makes Ryan my future cousin?-in-law. Is that how you say it?

    Anyway, Lauren and Ryan started dating during Ryan's senior year of high school (Lauren was 16), back when they both lived in Texas.

    Shortly after they started their relationship, Ryan moved away to the deep south where he began attending Mississippi State (let's not hold that against him though). A couple of years later, Lauren began taking courses at Belmont University in Nashville. This coming year, in May, Lauren is set to graduate from Belmont.

    If you did the math/geography just now, then you came up with the Long Distance equation. In other words, they have been long distance for their entire relationship.

    It takes a really special bond to make something like that work, so when Lauren asked me to fly to Nashville from San Diego to shoot their engagement photos, I had zero hesitation. 

    It all started on a boat. It was a family affair, really. In the photo above, that's my dad (Lauren's uncle) driving the boat. My sister, Hali, is the one riding shotgun. My other sister, Frances (who is 11 and not pictured), was helping me with hair, chairs, and equipment. They all live in Nashville too.

    They picked us up on Nashville's Percy Priest Lake, and we set off for the islands that divide it.

    I tried really hard in editing to hide that fact that there were dark, rain-filled clouds looming around us the entire session. 

    I just need to go ahead and give props to whomever did Lauren's hair. The baby's breath was perfect, even with the wind trying with all its might to rip it out. 

    Up until this session, I had only hung out with Ryan one time, over a glass of wine at Lauren's parents' house near Dallas, Texas. I have to say, I had no idea these two were SO in love.

    This ring. 

    See the clouds? 

    By the way--side note: My dad and sister dropped us off on this 25 x 25-foot island about an hour prior to this photo, and they still had not returned. It turns out they were "rescuing" a sailboat that had tipped over out in the middle of the lake (unsuccessfully). There are only so many photos you can take on an island, so we all eventually had to wave them down, to prevent ending up like Tom Hanks in Castaway. 

    Geez guys, finally.

    New island, new outfits!

    And the sun came out! (sort of)

    That face says it all. "I'm in love." "This is my man." "Step away." "Bless your heart."

    They have this thing about hand-kissing. Ryan does it every time they have to part ways.

    Did you just melt a little?

    Oh, so then, jokingly, I suggested they jump in the water. 

    They did.

    Lauren and Ryan, thank you for allowing me to share this special moment with you both. I am excited for the hitching that will take place in May! See you in Texas!

    P.S. Ryan, Roll Tide!

  • Last-Minute Christmas Card Ideas

    Last-Minute Christmas Card Ideas

    If you are a procrastinator, like me, I have found an AWESOME blog post by The Dating Divas with TONS of Christmas photo ideas for your last-minute holiday cards. 

    You guys can do this yourselves! But, if you really have zero confidence in your photo-taking abilities, I still have a few dates left for Christmas card sessions. Email me, and we will get you on the calendar ASAP!

    In fact, I have really been wanting to do a chop-down-your-own-tree photo session, so if you are the lumberjack type, please shoot me an email, throw on your red flannels, and let's go chop down a pine!

    Happy picture-snapping Holidays! 

  • Andrea & Zang

    BEST couple ever. Boom. Andrea and Zang. They are set to be married in January! 

    I had the honor of photographing their engagement session in La Jolla. They showed up carrying bags of props and ideas--two things that make a photo shoot go 10 times better. 

    We started our adventure in any and every place we could find shade. (Shooting in shade makes the lighting in photos WAY better. Simply put, it makes for even skin tones and less harsh contrasts in lighting.) 

    Finding shade on a beach is tough, by the way.

    Clouds started covering up the sun every few minutes, so we utilized the natural diffusion. 

    Andrea and Zang laughed and flirted the whole time, which made the photos that much better. When couples and families choose to have fun during a photo session, it shows in the images. I really loved and appreciated their confidence in their love for each other. 

    Side note: How about this amazing ring? Good job, Zang.

    Oh, and side note #2: Zang and I share the same birthday. Go Scorpio! 

    Also, these two are strong contenders for the most adventurous couple I have ever met. They climbed, jumped, and dipped their bodies and clothes into the ocean. I mean, how could I ask for more? 

    Their wedding is set to take place in Costa Rica. I wouldn't expect less from Team Awesome.

    I just came up with that, Andrea. I hope you dig it. 

    The image below is my favorite from the day. 

    Actually, I really like this one too. My first A-Z jumpshot. Great success. 

    Andrea and Zang, thank you again for allowing me to capture such pure love. If everyone were as adventurous and real as you guys, the world would be a much more beautiful place. Have fun at your wedding!!! 

  • A bunch of photo sessions all in one

    I haven't been blogging often enough, but it's just because I have been so busy taking and editing photos. I thought I would show off a handful of good ones from some recent shoots. So here are a few!

    As you can see, I have met some beautiful, fun people in the last few weeks! I'll try to be better at blogging so you can see more!

    P.S. Four images up--the family in the field--I found the BEST location for fall photos! That is tough to find in San Diego! Go me! Whoo! I love fall. Pumpkins. Crunchy leaves. Mustard yellows. The smell of bonfires. Oh my gosh, don't get me started. Let me know if you want to schedule a shoot that looks like autumn! I've got you covered.

  • Erin & Kate

    Erin & Kate

    Coffee does amazing things: It makes you smarter (It's true-look it up). It burns fat. It makes monsters turn into humans. And, apparently, it is quite the match-maker (it's true-look it up).

    Coffee is one of those things I couldn't live without, and I'm sure Erin and Kate would agree. Afterall, coffee is what brought these two together. They met at Starbucks.

    So cute, right? 

    Now, they are planning their wedding! We spent the afternoon exploring coffee shops and parks to celebrate the engagement.

    Congratulations Erin and Kate! I hope you're serving Starbucks at the wedding!

  • Salvation Mountain

    Lately, I have been SO busy with photo sessions and Starbucks shifts (Yep, I'm also a barista. Would you like room for cream? ), that I decided a day trip was in order. There's no use in letting my brain explode, right?

    My lovely partner, Rome, and I set out early in the morning to a place I have always wanted to go, Salvation Mountain and Slab City. 

    Salvation Mountain was everything I thought it would be. It would have been great to meet the guy who made it all, Leonard Knight, but sadly, he passed away earlier this year. 

    This guy used a LOT of paint. I was pretty mesmerized by his efforts to promote the love of Jesus. Regardless of what anyone believes, and whether you agree with his religion or not, you have got to have a certain type of respect for someone who has that much passion. 

    After Salvation Mountain, we made our way up the road to Slab City, and by accident we happened upon East Jesus. It is kind of the same as Slab City, in that they are neighboring communities both made out of "slabs," and both places are dripping with artistic creations and political statements, but as the lady who gave us a brief tour explained, they are very different places. Either way, they both have the same concept: They are experimental communities, striving to live off the grid. 

    If you want to know more about Slab City, click here

    If you want to know more about East Jesus, click here

    We had one more planned place to stop- an abandoned town called Bombay Beach on the Salton Sea. If the Salton Sea sounds familiar, it's probably because it is. It has been the inspiration for movies, documentaries, and even a Michael Jackson music video. It is a sea that happened by accident, due to an engineering mistake by the California Development Company in 1905. With its increasing salinity, however, it kills almost every species living in it, and it smells AWFUL. Dead things everywhere. We were gagging the whole time we snapped photos and explored the ruins. 

    We hit up a couple more photo opportunistic spots on the way home, and we made it back by 9:30pm--not too bad for a day full of adventures, if you ask me.  

    *All photos taken with the iPhone 5c. *Photos of me taken by Rome.

  • Mara & Mike

    Mara & Mike

    The level of love this couple has for each other quite possibly surpassed any amount of love I have ever seen between two people. Of course, I don't really believe you can measure love, so that was my attempt to put into words the feeling I got every time Mara and Mike looked at each other. 

    I am going to cut the mushiness short though, since no one likes a sap. Let me tell you about what happened at this photo session instead. 

    First of all, it should be noted that our location, Sunset Cliffs, is where Mike proposed to Mara. I would tell you the story, but that would make me get all sappy again.

    So, anyway, we decided to hike to the spot where he proposed. I always try to shoot close to sunset, in case you haven't noticed, so we started to run out of time on our way there. I mean, the sun got LOW really FAST. We were close enough when we decided, ok, let's do this

    Leave it to me to ask a pregnant lady to walk down a steep incline. Mara, being awesome, did not hesitate, of course. Then she fell on her butt about, oh, half way down the hill, until she slammed into Mike and nearly took him out. I was the jerk at the bottom of the hill taking photos and laughing. What is wrong with me? 

    Don't worry--no one was hurt. In fact, there was a lot of laughing afterwards, so I'm off the hook... I think.

    Then, quickly after the two-person-slide, without missing a beat, we ran out of sunlight, but miraculously, the photos, lit by the sun's afterglow, turned out quite nicely. 

    Mission accomplished.

    You guys are going to be amazing parents. I have no doubts whatsoever.

  • Atavia & Latisha

    When it comes to business, I prefer to communicate via email or text messaging. I get to see the conversation, rather than just saying or hearing something over the phone and forgetting what was said right away. (Blame it on my generation.) So, consequently, sometimes it is tough to tell what type of personality I am going to be working with during photo sessions.

    When I got Atavia's text, however, I knew in an instant I was going to be working with someone who was laid back and cool. She wrote me, "Good morning Sydney like Australia." Boom, I knew she was awesome. I was right. 

    On their one year anniversary, I met Atavia and Latisha at one of my favorite coffee shops in Hillcrest, (insert advertising plug for Filter Coffee) where the setting was perfect for our first photo. 

    Typically, I take pictures at the beach, but the beach is getting old. I was hoping they wanted to try something different. Something urban. They did. Score. I think this was my best photo session ever. 

    I am convinced all you have to do for good photos is be in love...

    ...which they are.

    During our session, we were taking all of these urban images, and they were working really well with Atavia and Latisha's style. Then, we come across a random pile of hay. Yes please!

    Shout out to the guy at Rich's who helped us move the barrel! Thank you!

    After we got our feel for Hillcrest, we drove over to one of my favorite spots in San Diego, where the views are killer.

    Have you ever taken a photo and been so so proud of it? When you look at it, you think, "Wow, I took that." That's what this photo does to me. We probably tried four or five attempts before we got this shot. Perfect!

    Ladies, it was a privilege to work with you both. Thank you again for the wonderful memories. Can't wait to see you again!

  • Theresa & Steve

    Theresa & Steve

    Sometimes I get a chance to photograph some really gorgeous people, like these two: Theresa and Steve. My gosh, what a perfect, flawless couple. 

    Not only were they extremely beautiful, but they were also really nice. You know what I mean? Not boring "nice," but just very genuine. They are the type of people that could be rude or entitled because they are beautiful, in love, successful, happy, etc.; but instead, they are real, charming, and inviting. I felt at ease the whole time I was with these two (or should I say three?).

    That is saying a lot, considering after about 12 minutes of photographing them, I discovered Theresa used to be a runway model. Oh my gosh, are you serious?

    *I didn't airbrush these. She really is that stunning.*

    So of course, after that, all I could think about was how she must be used to lights and makeup and tons of cameras in her face, and here I am with my one camera and natural lighting. Howww intimidating. 

    Despite this intimidation, I tried to not let it show, and it took about another 12 minutes before I decided they were not comparing me to anyone or judging me. They just were making a memory, and I was the one lucky enough to be there to document it. Congratulations you both on your first-born. I can't wait to know the name!