Ayannah -- MELROSE PLACE SENIOR PORTRAITS

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I first met Ayannah when she contacted me for a school project. As an aspiring photographer herself, she needed to shadow a photographer during a session. Ayannah joined me for a shoot with several models for eco-couture designer Deborah Lindquist's bridal line. She was not only on time and pleasant (not guaranteed things anymore), she was helpful, knowledgable, and brought an overall great vibe to the atmosphere of the photo shoot. I was more than impressed! Which meant that when Ayannah let me know she wanted me to shoot her senior portraits, I was extremely thrilled and excited. 

Everything you see below I would consider a collaboration between she and I. She chose the location and wardrobe, and many of the other elements of the shoot. Knowing that I had a lot of creative control, we used it as an opportunity to experiment a bit. I loved doing the shoot, and I have to say, it was incredibly fun to hand with her and her mom, Shaherah! No doubt at all that she has a .bright future ahead of her and, with her creativity, she'll go far! Can't wait to see what the coming years bring for you, Ayannah! 

Wade + Rachel -- CALIFORNIA SCIENCE CENTER PROPOSAL

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If you know anything about my alter-ego, you know that I direct a giant christmas musical every year (no, the space shuttle isn't from THAT.... and if you've seen the scale of the show, you'll know why some people might actually wonder about that...). Working on that show the last few years is how I met two of my favorite people - Rachel and Wade. Rachel served as my Production Designer, Stage Manager, and Wonder Woman (no, literally. She played Wonder Woman...). She's a genius, incredibly creative, a wealth of comic book and general nerd-dom information, and experienced in all things stage, tv, and film. Wade is similarly gifted and served as the primary Set Builder for the shows, bringing Rachel's ideas to life, oh, and stepping in to play Dr. McCoy too. One of my favorite parts of seeing them work together is their yin-and-yang connection. Rachel is passion, fire, excitement, and let's-do-this-now (a grouping of personality traits that I love and share with her!), while Wade is peace, calm, surety & strength, a pillar of knowledge and efficiency wrapped up in gentleness. They are an incredible, and unstoppable, team. So when Wade pulled me aside to let me know that he was going to be popping the question before Christmas, I did a literal happy dance. No really, I did an actual dance right there in the hallway of the auditorium because they make that much sense together. And when he said "by the space shuttle", oh man, my inner-geek was SO FREAKING EXCITED.

And so it was that, after a two-day scavenger hunt, and with the help of many friends and family, Rachel found herself directed to the Space Shuttle Endeavor at the California Science Center, where they shared their first date,  Wade waiting beneath Endeavor's wings, ring in hand. Check out the images from this sweet and very special surprise proposal below! 

Raelyn -- MONO LAKE

Sometimes you get an opportunity that is just too good to pass up. Like when you're driving back from Lake Tahoe with your assistant photographer and you're headed down your favorite highway (395 South) and there it is, one of the most amazing pieces of nature in the state. Mono Lake. You have to stop. You have to pull the gear out. And if you're lucky, your assistant doesn't hesitate to get into the briney lake. 

Mono (prounounced moh-noh) is a truly other-worldly spot. North of Bishop and Mammoth Lakes, near the June Lake loop, this lake is both natural and devoid of all life except for bizarre tiny brine shrimp. It changes color throughout the year and probably most famous for is tuffas (too-fuhs). These strange formations along the water's edge are extremely weird and extremely sharp (trust me, I cut open my foot on one during this shoot...). After confirming with the local park ranger (who showed us those wackadoo brine shrimp) that it's safe to get in the water for short periods of time, we made a little magic. 

Let this be a reminder to you (and really, to me) that sometimes, pulling over for 45 minutes and exploring is much more worth it, for body, soul, and your blog feed, than you may have thought. Happy adventuring!

Going Rogue (artistically, of course)

Like just about everyone else I know, I've spent a lot of time in the last few weeks reflecting back on the last year and, for me at least, the some of my most favorite photo shoots. I made the decision to split out my instagram feeds at the beginning of the year (professional, personal, and underwater) for the sake of organization and effectiveness. But don't be surprised if some of these types of sessions creep up in any of those feeds. This, right here, was one of my most favorite experiments to date. There was no real reason, per say, for this session, other than the synergistic blend of three amazing female artists. Rochelle's floral genius, Alex's incredible skills with makeup and modeling, me with my camera and lighting, and we were off to the races. Just, you know, in the middle of the night in Rochelle's floral studio. Using her tub. Like you do....

I do things like this for me. For my own stretching, growing, and need to get off the beaten path. There have been a lot of self-discoveries lately, but one of the realizations that has been most clear is that I really and truly have always had this almost instinctual need to do something different than everyone else. I'm not re-inventing the wheel or anything, but I am most definitely one of those people that, when told to "go right", almost can't stop myself from immediately going left. Trust me, just ask my mom. 

So these little moments to go rogue? I need them. And I'm so honored to have incredible women around me who get that, and who jump right on the bandwagon to head into some unknown space together. It's pretty awesome. 

Jessica + Warren -- Maternity Portraits

It's been my privilege to watch Jessica + Warren's family grow over the years. I first worked with them for their engagement session and then destination wedding several years ago (trust me, if you've been following me for any length of time, you've seen them in my feeds before!). It's been an honor to now photograph their maternity session and their baby boy Bennett's newborn session before they moved out of state. Jessica is the embodiment of grace, elegance, and expectant beauty, so it's no surprise that her maternity session is still one of my most favorite to date! Take a peek (and feel free to gush, I know I did!): 

Hannah -- Senior Portrait Session

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I can attest personally to the fact that Hannah is one incredible young woman. Besides the usual - she's kind, brilliant, easy to smile, hard working, obviously she's gorgeous... - there's one particular fact that strikes me about Hannah. She's a perfect team member. She combines all of her amazing skills and puts them to work on the teams she's a part of. She is smart enough to figure out what to do and to learn it fast, while still being pleasant, friendly, funny, and efficient. That's rare and while it may seem less-than-glamorous, for any of the occupiers of the "real world" reading this, I know you know how important of a skill set that is in the #adulting world. Hannah will go far. She's already making waves (and fans) wherever she goes and I have not doubt that will continue! Best wishes for your internship, your goals, and all the dreams in front of you Hannah. Your'e a true gem! 

(Makeup by Elegance By Alex)

Shannon + Hussein -- Santa Ana Courthouse + Disney California Adventure Elopement

One of the best perks of this job is that I've been fortunate enough to document the love of my friends and their partners. I've known Shannon since junior high (yup! we survived that aaaaaawkward stage) and we were even roommates for a bit in college. Which, incidentally, is when she met Hussein. They were both working for Disneyland at the time, so naturally, taking their elopement lunch back to Disney was the perfect option. After sooooo many years together, and a long engagement, this amazing (and PATIENT) couple tied the knot at the historic Santa Ana courthouse, then headed over to California Adventure for more photos, and of course, the amazing lobster nachos at the Cove Bar with friends and family to celebrate! Take a peek!

PS: Custom dress tailoring, makeup, and florals by BeautyFull Design

Alex Flores : Featured Artist (The Gypsy Collective)

One of the best surprises I've found since stepping foot into this crazy career called professional photography over a decade ago has, hands down, been meeting and working with other incredible artists. I have had the chance to work alongside and collaborate with some of the most talented artists in Los Angeles and all over the world. Alex Flores is just one of the more amazing examples I've been lucky enough to work with, capture, and now call friend. 

You've NO DOUBT seen her work on my feed, my website, my blog, my every personal and professional display space. We joke and say "you're the yin to my yang" and while we say it with a touch of laughter, it's 100% true. Alex is the type of artist who has a bit of the Muse in her. She brings out a level of creativity in my work that is only there because we are working together. When we work together, create art together, it's synergistic; it's more than 1 + 1. She inspires and supports everyone around her. She fights for beauty, she speaks her mind, she paints with more than just her cosmetics, and she happens to be incredibly technically proficient to boot. It's no wonder that The Gypsy Collective (an agency) snatched her up, or that she's my official first "Featured Artist" on my blog.