Getting Personal

For quite some time I have been wondering how to approach this whole blogging thing.  My conundrum is that you, all of my clients, graciously let me into your lives.  You share special moments with, tell me all these details and charming stories of your lives.  I feel like I should be giving something in return, details of my life.  It seems only fair that you should get to put me under the microscope as well.  But where do I do that?  Do I create a personal blog to include these snippets of our life, or do I post them on my professional site here at the Pixel Pages Photography webpage?  Then, to make things more interesting there is this whole thing called “a brand”.  Do these details and daily musings really fit in with all of this?  I mean, how confusing can we make this whole process?!  Oh!  And don’t forget social media.  It is enough to make anyone’s head spin; and since I already over-analyze ev.ry.thing. it feels as if my head is on a constant whirling dervish in my attempts to figure it all out.

Here’s what I feel is the best solution for me, my life as it stands right now, and my business:  I will be blogging about business and professional life right here on the Pixel Pages Photography blogsite.  One less place for you go, and one less place for me to maintain.  But the type of personal content I post will fit into who I am as a person (mom, business owner, wife, co-parent, photographer), the people, places, and things that inspire me, and the beauty of everyday life.

We have had a lot go on this past month that has changed not just me, but my entire family.  As a result I am throwing the book out the window and doing what I feel is right for my business, my clients, my family, and me on this blogsite.  I hope you all enjoy the changes!


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Mike & Dallas ~ Wedding Portraits ~ Lake Tahoe, California Photographer

True  (tro͞o)  a: steadfast, loyal   b: honest, just

There was a place I used to go as a kid.  It was a tiny town nestled in the heart of the Sierra Nevadas.  This part of the Sierras holds such magical memories for me.  All those summers of running around chasing my imagination, swimming in the Feather River, getting a frosty in Graeagle, and dinners at the lodge or Mount Tomba.   The countless winters of sledding and snow mobiling up the Yuba Pass, the sound of the wind blowing in the trees, the crunch of the snow beneath my boots.  Yes, those were the days…  The freedom, the joy, the outdoors.  This place holds a magical place in my heart because it was all those things a kid should do in their childhood.

Imagine how my heart leapt out of my chest when Dallas and Mike asked me to photograph their wedding in this same region!  I was just plain giddy.  The two of them were tying the knot an intimate wedding at a horse ranch in Quincy.  I may or may not have jumped out of my chair and done a happy dance when I received her email.  Would I be available to travel to Quincy?  Photograph their wedding?  Hang out with horses?  Yes, yes, and yes!!!!  It was not only the location that made me so excited for this wedding, it was also the couple.  We first met during their engagement session.  Mike and Dallas brought along their dogs, River and Lily.  They warned me they were nervous and were feeling awkward about posing in front of the camera.  The funny thing was this ended up being one of my favorite sessions.  Not only did their love for one another and senses of humor sweep me off my feet, but we just had a great time.  They were just so easy to be around, the kind of people where what you see is what you get.  It was this ease and their love for one another that made their images some of my favorite and most genuine.  I was honored to spend a weekend with them during such an intimate time in their lives.

I arrived on Friday to photograph the rehearsal dinner.  A real cowboy cookout, complete with a huge iron triangle they rang when dinner was ready.  Mike, Dallas, and their families welcomed me into their fold with open arms.  The evening was filled with laughter, good food, and multiple rounds of pool and ping pong.  Watching Dallas’ parents battle one another in ping pong left me in stitches.

On Saturday there was so much calm.  I observed as Dallas and Mike went over their vows with her dad’s close friend who was ordained for their wedding.  River and Lily lounged on the patio of their cabin.  Friends and family fished in the pond.  The guys played their favorite board game while the girls did hair and makeup.  Everyone just calmly went about their day.

The ceremony was lovely, even I grew misty eyed.  Something about their love was so genuine and true.  Like all of the guests, I was ecstatic to these two lovebirds make the commitment of marriage.  The way they looked at one another, the way Mike wiped away Dallas’ tears, and the way their fingers were tightly interlocked through the whole ceremony.  It is in these little details that you can see the truth in their love.  Then, to add to the excitement of the wedding, as soon as Mike and Dallas kissed a team of horses was released in the background.  Absolute magic!

Mike and Dallas, as clichéd as it sounds I wish you a lifetime of happiness.  The love you share with each other and your families is just magical.  This is such a vital component to the foundation of your marriage.  I cannot wait to see what life has in store for you, from your passion for all things Star Wars, to your two fur babies, to your fabulously themed parties I know there will be many joyous times and much laughter.  I totally want you two to get married all over again so I can photograph your wedding once more.  Much love to you both!

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Josh ~ Senior Portraits ~ Pleasanton, California Photographer

“A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.”

Nelson Mandela

After meeting Josh and his family it is easy to see where he gets his good heart and head from.  Just look no further than his parents.  These two adoring parents have created a family that is a complete reflection of them, full of kindness and spirit.  In addition to these traits Josh also has a quiet confidence about him.  This was obvious during our session.  After spending enough time with teenage guys I realize that having their portrait taken is definitely not at the top of their priority list.  Nine times out of ten it is us moms who love a treasured photo of the major milestones in our children’s lives.  But his calm confidence made Josh a natural in front of the camera.  There was no awkwardness or stiffness that many of us feel initially in front of the camera (myself included!)  Josh, you had such a good nature and wonderful sense of humor throughout the whole process.

This session celebrated not one, but two major milestones in Josh’s life.  In addition to photographing Josh’s senior portraits and his new status as a high school senior, we were also documenting the newest addition to his family, 17 year old Saris.  A few weeks prior to our session Saris became an official member of Josh’s family when his parents adopted her.  When I discussed the session with his mom, Staci, she told me about the exciting and surprising events that were unfolding for their family.  It was important to her to capture this special time for all of them.  It is truly an extraordinary day when I get to photograph and preserve these moments for a family.  Each family has a story to tell, and this was one exciting chapter for the Valdix family!

During our session Josh and his family shared many details of their lives.  I have to admit, as someone who leaves a lot to be desired in the athletic department, I am quite in awe of his ability to run a mile is well under seven minutes.  He is looking to attend a small Christian college; the perfect choice for this upstanding young man and his devout Christian values.  During their session Staci shared a road trip story that had us all in stitches.  She and a friend envisioned a mom and kids road trip full of fun and adventure.  Unfortunately the visions were not the reality of the trip. It became one of those “if-it-could-have-gone-wrong-it-did” vacations.  Adventure?  Yes!  Full of crazy mishaps?  Absolutely!  Having lived through one of trips in my youth I know how hilarious they can be after the fact.  The Valdixes were in hysterics sharing memories of that adventure.

Josh I hope you have a specular close to your senior year!  I have a feeling this is just the beginning of many exciting experiences in your life.  Like your unforgettable family trip, life is full of crazy mishaps and adventures .  But if you can look back, laugh at them, and discover some valuable lessons along the way then you have come out ahead of the game.  I have no doubt that your good heart will bring you many successes laughable moments along the way.

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Ted, Annie, Raylan, & Lily ~ Newborn Session ~ Brentwood, California Photographer

“A new baby is like the beginning of all things – wonder, hope, a dream of possibilities.”

Eda J. LeShan

The joy of photographing friends from your past is that you get to catch up on all the changes and additions to their lives and revisit the good old days.  Annie and I were in the same sorority in college.  I am always amazed at how drastically all of our lives have changed from the Chico days of partying and studying.  All of us girls are married and having babies, grown up with real jobs.  Truly one of my favorite perks of my occupation is that I get to meet their families and hear the stories of their grown up lives.

This brings me to the story of how Annie met Ted.  Hands down one of my favorites ever!  It involves KT, another sorority sister whose zest for life is unsurpassed.  KT is truly one of those people who is the life of the party.  Both ladies were celebrating the end of the work at a local hang out when Annie and Ted spied one another.  As Ted was exiting the restroom KT stuck her foot out and tripped him.  As he stumbled and looked at her said she brightly exclaimed, “Have you met my friend Annie?”  That chance meeting has resulted in their marriage and two adorable kids.  I mean, what are the odds?!

When Annie asked if I would be able to photograph their sweet new addition, Lily I jumped at the chance.  An opportunity to catch up with an old friend!  It was such a joy to hear all about Annie’s life since our student lives in Chico, meet her husband Ted and insanely adorable wee ones Raylan and Lily.  Annie and I discovered we have quite a bit in common.  Our husbands work in the same field and we commiserated about trying to keep toddlers quiet while your husband sleeps during the day after working the graveyard shift (a near impossible task!)  I loved hearing about their wedding, Ted’s experiences after moving to California from Texas, Raylan’s life as big brother, and their lives together as a family.

Lily welcome to this world!  You are so lucky to have such an incredible family to love you and a sweet Weimaraner to give you lots of big wet dog kisses.  May you not only share playful giggles with your big brother and loving cuddles with your mom and dad, but also the marvelous joy of sharing those so many new beginnings with your family and those who are madly in love with you.

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Carlos, Cynthia, Bella, & Talina ~ Family Portraits ~ Dublin, CA Photographer

“What greater thing is there for human souls than to feel that they are joined for life – to be with each other in silent unspeakable memories.” ~ George Eliot


When I stumbled upon this quote I just knew I had to use it for Carlos, Cynthia, Bella, and Talina.  They have a quality that I so admire, a large, close-knit family with lots of aunts, uncles, and cousins.  Having grown up as an only child in a small family I can’t help but be fascinated and envious of them.  Such a joy to have so many people to celebrate holidays and milestones with!  I first met Bella and Talina through their Tia Amelia years ago when they were little wee ones.  Now they have grown into these sweet, polite, and fun loving young ladies.  Something that made an impression on me right off is how Carlos and Cynthia are with their girls; firm but full of love.  It is no surprise that Bella and Talina have turned out to be so, well, awesome!  These two definitely share a strong bond.  Skipping in the setting sun together, holding hands, and sharing giggles.  There is something so charming about watching a big sister guide her little sister, acting like a little mother hen.  Just fills my heart and brightens my day.

The girls and I talked about their favorite things, school, and the quickly approaching Halloween holiday.  Bella’s favorite princess is Belle, while Talina loves Ariel and Sleeping Beauty.  I was impressed to learn that Bella’s favorite subject is math.  She quickly demonstrated how she can count by 100s and had me blown away.  Talina is enjoying pre-school and the pride of going to school just like her big sister is palpable.

Cynthia and Carlos have this very easy, relaxed relationship together.  The kind that comes from years of marriage and raising kids.  The type of relationship where they seamlessly share responsibilities and can anticipate what their partner is going to do.  Carlos graciously missed the big game for our session.  As the wife of a sports fanatic I completely understand what a big deal this is!  One of those sacrifices he made as a husband because he understood this was something important to his wife.  The playful yet understanding groan from Cynthia when Carlos would get texts with game updates from his brother because as a wife she understood how important the game was to him.

Carlos, Cynthia, Bella, and Talina I hope I was able to create a few new memories for you during our session.  I know some were created for me:  the tender image of Bella and Talina sitting under the tree, the setting sun bathing them in a golden glow while they read books, the look of adoration on the girls’ face as they sat with dad on the tree, and the love and pride in Cynthia’s eyes as the girls frolicked in the grass.  I thank you so much for spending an evening with me, and the glimpse you gave me into this amazing life you all have created together.

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