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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Katie & Casey ~ Engagement Session ~ Pleasanton, California Photographer

 

The state or quality of being in accord; harmony.

Such an amazing quality to see in a young couple.  Katie and Casey are recent college graduates starting their adult lives in the best way possible:  together.  They met sophomore year at an on-campus Christian club, became fast friends, and then started dating their junior year.  I love that they started their relationship as friends.  When you meet them it is obvious they have a very loving and relaxed repoire with one another.  There is this unity to their relationship that just makes them work.  I love couples like that!  Of course it makes my job easier, but it also makes being around them so dang fun.  It reminds me of how joyous it is to fall in love and discover your soulmate.  I know how amazing marriage is and I just get giddy when I think of what is in store for them.  The experiences and feelings that make you fall head over heals with your spouse all over again.  The way you can just love someone that much after so many years.

 

While at school in San Diego they purchased their vintage tandem beach cruiser together.  Casey told me how he used to ride it to school to pick up Katie from class.  I can picture the two of them cruising along the coast, wind blowing through their, big smiles spread across their faces.  This tandem bike is so symbolic of their unity as a couple.  The need to communicate and work together as a team to make the ride a success.  The cruiser and the beach were important elements in their session.  In our initial emails Katie mentioned they wanted the tandem bike to be a part of the session.  All I could think was “Yes please!!”  I am always up for a challenge and a two seater bike was right up my alley.  Then I began to worry, was my vision of a vintage bicycle totally wrong?  Would they wind up pulling a sporty, modern tandem bike out of their car?  And that little voice of reason in my head reminded me, “Then you deal with it and embrace it!”  Every situation provides you with an opportunity to learn something new.  Therefore you can imagine my utter joy when out came this vintage, cherry red bike.  I may or may have done a little happy dance.

Casey and Katie I wish you a lifetime of happiness, of evenings at the dinner table sharing stories and laughter, of working together as a team to create the life you dreamed of, and of holding hands until you are old and grey.

 

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National Charity League ~ Pleasanton, CA

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”

Winston Churchill

Prior to last fall I had never heard of National Charity League.  But when I received a call in August asking if I would be interested in photographing the Pleasanton chapter’s senior class I quickly got an education in this amazing philanthropic organiztion.  All I have to say is, WOW!!  NCL is a mother-daughter group that begins in seventh grade and lasts until the girls graduate their senior year.  The ladies perform countless hours of community service throughout the area.  The class of 2013 volunteered over 3,000 hours during their tenure with NCL.  I was so amazed at how the girls have learned the importance of philanthropy at such a young age.  For many of us it takes years throughout our adulthood, and here they are starting at the tender age of 12.

Sunday I attended their farewell banquet at Castlewood Country Club.  Such a heartfelt and bittersweet event.  Each young lady gave a speech about their favorite philanthropy, favorite memory of working with mom, and what they would have told their seventh grade self about their time in NCL.  It was obvious that many of the girls learned to embrace community service, found joy in helping others, and valued the time spent with their mothers.  How quickly these past six years have passed for them all.

To the NCL class of 2013 I say congratulations and I am so proud of all you have accomplished!  I am honored to have met you and thank you for giving me the opportunity to photograph your senior class.  Your hardwork and dedication has not only improved our community but also served as a shining example selflessness.

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