there will never be a perfect time

you will never have this day again.each day is a gift. breathe and notice. today. every day. relish the beauty and charm of the present. enjoy this day because... before you know it today will be gone. [modified from poem by jan hatmaker]

for my dear friend, robin, who i met during my air force days (we worked at the military hospital in tucson together). we haven't seen each other in over 12 years, but she will forever remain one of my dearest, truest friends.  a few days ago, she wrote on my facebook wall...

My beautiful, talented friend....So I pose a question that lots of my friends are requesting an answer to as well...... I MUST get family photos done, but I hate the way I look in pics. I would like something hip and funky to wear.... Got any advice on photographing moms like me? Seems all the families you take pics of are BEAUTIFUL. Also, if you lived in a cold area, would you postpone your sessions until it warms outside? XXXOOO your fluffy friend.

short on time, my initial reply to her was that she is beautiful and fabulous through and through and THAT is what the camera will capture.  and i shared with her that she needs to read THIS.

i told her that i would post a cold-weather chicago shoot here on my blog, for her to see.  so here it is. i was supposed to photograph this family three weeks prior to our actual shoot date (when it was much, much warmer), but i was really sick at the time and had to delay my chicago travel. the original planned 70-degree weather ended up being in the 40s.

i also think it's important to include the words from my client, emailed to me after she saw her gallery for the first time...

I LOVE THEM!  Thank you so much for the amazing pictures. You delivered exactly what I had hoped to get! I have looked over the gallery several times before sending you a note so that I could let you know some of my favorites, to impress upon you, more than just a simple thank you -- how happy I am. But I ran into the problem that I could not choose.  I love them all.  I'm so happy that I can look past the weight I need / wanted to lose before you took our pictures.  Love love love.  That is a lot of love coming from me.  They make my heart happy.  Okay excited!

of course, can't help but love the last two photos of the night.  after our shoot, the kids were excited to show me their play room, so of course, i brought my camera back out and took a couple more photos.

and here's a few photos from my family's cold-weather session in kansas (2009), courtesy of leigh miller photography.  it was FREEZING!

hearing for the first time

i saw this video on TV the other night (can't remember what show). a 29-year-old deaf girl hearing for the first time. her mother-in-law cashed in her pension to pay for her daughter-in-laws implants.

and this morning, i learned that the story continued -- on ellen.  such a beautiful, inspiring story.  and i'm blown away how good the deaf woman's speech is...

the esteem (the device that this woman was implanted with) wasn't available when kiele was implanted.  it is a completely internal device.  kiele has an internal and external portion, which she wears behind her ear (kind of like a large hearing aid).

we love advanced bionics (the makers of kiele's cochlear implant), but having a completely internal device is awesome -- and one of the main reason's why kiele continues to not have her second ear implanted.  technology keeps improving.  hopeful that one day advanced bionics will come out with a fully implantable device.  i think it's only a matter of time -- and maybe by then, kiele will be ready for the surgery and a second implant.

this was kiele's reaction the day her cochlear implant was activated.  not quite as joyful; she was rather confused about the sound she was hearing.

i also found this video, which simulates speech and music through a variety of different channeled cochlear implants.  kiele's implant has 16 channels. it all just blows my mind!

my sweet kiele.  she amazes me each and every day...

what _____ looks like | month ten

wow! hard to believe that it's been 10 months that i've been working on this monthly project.  beyond grateful to those who invited me to participate. without further ado, THIS is a bit of what our may looked like...

a san diego business trip, shooting portrait clients and an editorial

two of my most favorite people in the world

joey's last photo :-(

me...right before dropping my camera and smashing this lens

a gymnastics meet

hearing for the FIRST TIME, while in the water

lots of swimming

a star student

favorite color: green favorite book: hop on pop favorite movie: avengers favorite sport: soccer when i grow up, i want to be: a zoo keeper i'm special because: i am nice favorite food: popcorn i have a pet: 2 pets -- a fish and a dog the person i most admire is: my mom and dad my favorite school subject: math

a brave little girl, who got seven shots, 6 scrapings and a mole biopsy

and a bunch of everyday life, which so often revolves around our living room.

there’s a small circle of photographers participating in this what ____ looks like monthly project.  i hope you’ll check them all out [clicking link to link] -- starting with stephanie moore | tucson family photographer.


san francisco casting call

we’re looking for a couple families to be photographed at our wallflower friends retreat -- the afternoon of saturday, april 28th.

casting call details: - will receive complimentary photo session - will take place at half moon bay, CA (exact location TBD) - families will be photographed by either myself or leah - must be willing to sign a model release - will be geared towards demonstrating client shooting to workshop participants - participating familes will receive approximately 20-30 5x7 prints (with the opportunity to order discounted enlargements)

if interested, please email us a recent photograph of your family -- be sure to include the ages of your child(ren) and the date the photo was taken.

some photos from our past wallflower friends retreats...

to see more photos from our past retreats, be sure to check out leah's photos too.

what ____ looks like | month seven

where has february gone?  it seems to have just flown by.  but i guess, really, every month seems to feel that way.  here's a bit of what our everyday-kind-of-days in february looks looked like... as with every month, four trips to the horse farm / petting zoo.  always a new friend or two. and many old friends.

the new barn kitten had an eye infection, but my kids loved all over him anyways. and a rat got loose but didn't go far from his hairless friend.

fighting for attention.

falling off the new horse.

and bravely getting right back on.

barn windows.

the reptile room -- one of his favorites.

tire swing at the farm.

his new walking path.



the aviary.

my boy.

dirty feet -- more often than not.

boat ride with friends.

seeing dolphin along the way.

our almost-private island.

heading home.

hands off!

a visit with jen.

and shooting with jen.

one minute up | the next minute upside-down.

sky and ryder with my camera.


few quick photos during our shoot.

balancing act.

trip to the state fair.

building the snail a home of shells.

which ended with the boy yelling in the girl's ear and the girl giving a throat punch.

after gymnastics.

portraits with my new lens.

chicken, for the school 'moosical'.

his first speaking line -- "but others are boiled and made into chicken soup...buccbuuuuuuk."

the gift she made her best friend, using the separation of cool and warm colors.


there’s a circle of 12 photographers participating in this what ____ looks like monthly project.  i hope you’ll check them all out [clicking link to link]. next up… chubby cheek photography | child photographer.

your voice

let's be honest... i had a rough couple of weeks. beyond my husband being gone, a bathroom renovation that is going anything but smoothly, and a re-roofing that left me saying "i really just hate that" [although they are fixing it] photography journey had me in tears [more times than once].

wondering... where i'm at. where i'm going. just trying to make sense of it all. of anything really.

but it's like trying to make sense of things in the midst of a tornado.  the eye -- the center of the storm -- is there. you know it. but you can't get there. you can't even see it. you can't get to that bit of clarity...that bit that makes sense. it's all just swirling. that's how things have been and felt lately.

but today, my friend sent this to me, prefaced by...

saw this today and thought about you.

don't dilute your inner voice by soliciting the opinions of others, heeding them over its counsel. why ask mere mortals for advice when you're guided by sacred wisdom? treasure your sixth sense. treat it like gold. wear it close to your heart, and don't allow anyone to rob you of its power. -sonia choquette

can't even begin to share how much this quote speaks to me. so much about this photography journey is trusting yourself. allowing yourself to just be. and learn. and grow. but trusting, and listening to that inner wisdom, along the way. and not being influenced by the craziness that surrounds you. and well, there's a lot of craziness going on in this industry right now.

with that being said, another wise, inspirational friend emailed me last week and shared how i need to just be patient. there's so much i still don't know. i'm still not educated on. instead of focusing on what isn't happening at this moment, i need to embrace and be grateful for what IS happening.  words of wisdom from someone who has been there and done that.

in my spare time

...i've been working on my family's annual book. anyone who's read my blog over the past couple years, probably already knows how much i adore and treasure my family books. they grace our credenza right as you walk in the door and i get chills each and every time i look through one of the books.  last night, i found the  kids looking through them -- laughing and giggling as they turned the pages. i've been doing an annual book ever since i started photography [2006].  i always joke that if there's a fire and my family is all safe, my books are next to be saved from the flames. but i'm serious.

i started working on the book a bit earlier than usual, so i'm not rushing to get it done the end of november.  i give the books to grandparents for christmas every year and need to make sure i allow time for printing and shipping. this year my book is called life passes so fast, with an accompanying closing quote on the last page.  sigh!

while i'm sure the book will be tweaked many times between now and the end of november, this is how it's looking so far...

you can see a larger version HERE.

a bit about my book-making process: i design the book from scratch [no template]. 11x13 landscape format. hard cover and premium matte paper. use booksmart via blurb. every year is different (e.g. here's last year's layout). include favorite photos from the year. quotes to go with some of the photos. words | thoughts about each child. every book is unique. and so very special.

in closing... i beg you to get your digital files off your computer and printed. on your walls. in a book. somewhere. anywhere.

i'll be sharing another project i've been working on in a few days. just a couple more things to get done first.

the everyday

as much as i hate the mess, i absolute love and cherish my kids' imaginary play.  i think the littles learned it from their big sister.  she's the pro at it. although...they were watching sponge bob at the time of this photo.  hence, the not-so-imaginary trance.

yesterday, i was here, spending the day with this awesome friend.

tonight, i will be in the fields of wisconsin.  photographing a most incredible and magical family tomorrow.  can't wait, but i'm a wee bit nervous too.

unapologetically me

last night, i watched this documentary...

i've loved sally mann, from pretty much day one, of photography. i love her even more, since seeing her documentary. she's truly such an amazing artist. she makes no excuses. she photographs what she loves. what she is deeply connected to. what she is passionate about. her children. her husband. her animals. her land. and yes, death.

there was a time when i worried about what others thought about my work. but more and more every day, i feel that the work that i produce is unapologetically me. you can take it or leave it. but i'm passionate and proud of what i do and the photographs that i produce.

i almost ditched the above images.  i'm beyond thankful i didn't!!

i woke up to foggy windows.  couldn't stop thinking about them.  hours went by.  i looked and still foggy.  the moment was not only there, it remained. so i asked sky if she'd do just a couple photos with me --

it will be fast.  i promise.  you can stay inside.  you just have to look out the window.

so i shot a few photos.  maybe a minute.  five frames at the max.  and thought, oh well...i guess my creative spirit wasn't with me today. i was so frustrated that i almost deleted the photos right then and there.  but i didn't; i put my camera back in my bag.  a few days went by and i thought about formatting my card (deleting the above images) but didn't.  i uploaded them today and well...i LOVE the above photos of sky.  they are...unapologetically me.

p.s. i wonder if sally mann would allow me photograph her family? maybe one day, i could knock on her door and ask her. not sure how i'd find her house. who knows...maybe someday, somehow.

goodness, i love sally mann. always have. always will.

have you seen...

courtney courtney? if you follow my facebook, you've probably noticed some courtney courtney posts recently.  that's because i love and support her product.  i have basically told her that i'll help her any way i can.

i've been wanting to blog about her for a while now and decided that it would be fun if i asked her some questions and let her speak for herself.  so here we go.  introducing the fabulous owner and designer of courtney courtney...

name: Courtney Anne Chu location: Chicago, IL age: 28

have you always loved to design and sew? No, but I have always loved making things.  Especially jewelry when I was little up until high school, then I began experimenting with textiles and silkscreens one summer in high school.  My only experience with sewing was home economics (is it still called that?) in 7th grade.  I got my first sewing machine after my first year of college.  Slowly I began experimenting with knits and got my serger which changed everything!

do you work alone or do you have a staff that assists you? No staff!  My mom and friend help me cut fabric sometimes (but they don’t live here) and my dad also enjoys hitting up the thrift stores :D I guess I’m just fast.  And I guess I’m a quick decision maker.

did you formally study fashion design?  if not, what did you study and where? Another no here, I studied Industrial Design at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.  I did a summer pre-college program at Rhode Island School of Design, for textile design, so I think most of my interest in dyeing fabrics and silkscreening came from that.

how did you get started in designing upscaled children's clothing? It was more of a reaction to my full-time job.  As a designer you rarely get to see your designs 100% through to production.  My sewing allowed me to do that.  As my friends might know about me, I don’t really like to plan or set goals.  So the sewing at first was just a feeling of, I want to make this and I want to see a complete little dress.  Every little dress I try new things.  With my full-time job also in children’s fashion, I know what else is out there and what I like.  I am able to make what I do not see.

what is your inspiration, in designing your dresses?  what inspires you in general? Everything can be inspiration.  It’s kind of funny to think that when I see boring dresses I am inspired.  I do look at range of fashion, so that surely inspires me.  The fabrics of course play a huge part.  Knits have a little bit of wiggle room but you have to know how they behave.

I like a challenge, it seems lately that I like to see how I can pair fabrics and patterns that no one expects to see together.

I like to think the person who is buying the dress, the child who will wear the dress, will have something no one else will have.  Of course they will be comfortable cause it’s knit and it’s like wearing a tshirt, but they have on a special dress that no one else has, which is ready for any adventure.

have you thought of expanding into a physical or online store? I used to want a physical store, but then when would I sew!

I did the online store thing, but I spent so much time listing items only to be bought up immediately.

have you ever considered doing boy's or adult clothing? The issue here seems to be that I save my ‘boy’ fabrics for the girls.

And women are so picky about their bodies!

what does courtney courtney look like in five years?  in 10 years? Ha!  Someone asked me this before, and my response is the same. Ask me in 5 years, ask me in 10.

how can someone go about purchasing one of your dresses? Right now I offer my dresses through email.  So every other day or so, an email will go out to the sizes offered that day. Sign up here and make sure to select your size(s).

please share one thing you want everyone to know about you or you or your work. I never want my work to be anything but one-of-a-kind.


i've tried to convince courtney that i'm not picky about my body, but she's not buying it and still not making adult clothing.  DARN!!

seriously though, i can't say enough about courtney and the clothing she designs and sews.  sky owns a number of dresses now and i've seriously considered dumping all of sky's clothes and just stocking up on nothing but courtney courtney.

and here are all the links for courtney courtney... mailing list, to view and purchase her dresses: blog: facebook:

it's a cat-and-mouse game

that's how i feel right now. i guess that's kind of how i've been feeling for quite a while, when it comes to catching up -- my house is never clean these days, more to edit, workshop to keep up with, orders to complete, and the list goes on and on. and while this might seem like i'm complaining, i'm so NOT!! i'm grateful to have all these things in my life. the cat-and-mouse game is just part of my norm.  and i try and keep a detailed to-do list to manage this norm.

speaking of the workshop (via the bloom forum), it's going amazing. i'm loving every single minute of it. and feel it's exactly where i'm meant to be right now -- sharing and teaching.  leah and i have also begun discussing our 2012 wallflower retreat dates and location.  and we'll be talking much more at the NAPCP retreat, where we are so thrilled to be speaking, next month.  lots of excited things ahead!!

i am driving to charleston, south carolina today, for a mini vacation. the littles and i are meeting a friend there, with her little girl. we're staying right on the beach. i so can't wait to just hang out and chill for a few days.  i anticipate lots of fun, laughter, inspiration and great conversations, along with some shooting.  :-))  but yes, we will have to do some work, while there too.

lastly, kiele is at a deaf / hard-of-hearing camp (such an incredible opportunity) this week, next week she visits a friend and then she goes with her dad for six weeks. so we won't be back to the horse farm until august. the barn cat will be there when we get back, but these kittens won't. my kids love these kittens so much.  they will really be missed when we return.

it's awesome though, to see the week-to-week changes at the barn (beyond the kittens growing up).  this past week... baby mice were born (still pink and only twitching) the geese eggs still haven't hatched (i would have attempted a photo but one goose was loose and very protective of his eggs; he chased me when i got remotely close). the baby ducks are now big ducks. we also seem to find a dead animal almost every time we're there; this time it was a bunny.  but my kids have learned that when you have that many animals on a farm, it's part of the circle-of-life.

we love the farm!!

the baby mice...

and a 14-year-old dog for good measure, from my most recent family session...


upcoming travel sessions | child and family photography

just got back from travel sessions in VA, NC and san diego and am super excited about lots more traveling around the corner... salt lake city, UT -- may 7 - 8 denver, CO -- july 23 - 24 maui, HI -- july 13 - 20 san diego -- sep 3 - 7 NY, NY -- sep 9 - 11 chicago -- sep 13 - 14

session dates still available in each location (regular pricing | no additional travel fees). please email me for more information or to reserve your session date and time.

closing with a few photos from one of my san diego sessions...

mother's day

yes, mother's day is quickly approaching -- may 8th, as a matter of fact.  and what more magical gift to give a woman for mother's day than a family or children's photo session.  who wouldn't love and cherish that gift?!!  and if they grumble for any reason, simply direct them here -- to my the perfect time post.  i promise they won't grumble any more. i know it's a dream of mrs. B's (below). at the most recent wallflower friends retreat, where we had the awesome opportunity to photograph mr and mrs B and their youngest two, we talked about how one of these days, she is going have all eight of her kids photographed together...and what a special mother's day gift that would be!!

if interested in reserving a photo session or purchasing a gift certificate, simply email me here.

also, don't forget about all my upcoming 2011 travel locations.

photography journey

i was just going through my website, checking how everything looked and flowed, after making some recent changes and updates. and as i went through my portfolio images, tears filled my eyes. i just feel so blessed to have met all the people i've met, while on this photography journey. the clients, who have trusted me to photograph their families and/or their children -- some of them, over and over again.  many of my friends, who i so cherish and would most likely have never met if i hadn't pursued photography. and to be a military family, which has given me so many opportunities to meet new people and explore new areas. i really hope that my photography journey has only just begun...but no matter what, i am grateful for all that i have experienced, which has truly filled my heart and soul. and to think, i may never have started down this photography path without going through those three months of hell in 2005, living in the rat, maggot and fly infested house, in san diego. some things are just meant to happen...even though we may not realize the gift they will one day bring us, at the time.

from san diego, where i first started learning photography, to kansas, which i never imagined i would enjoy as much as i did, to tampa, where i hope, dream and wish my journey to continue and paths to expand.

heart to heart

an oldie i came across today, from may 2008. apparently, i thought it should be titled heart to heart because that is the file name. i remember how much i connected with this image when i took it...and i still love it just as much now. a bit lost at the moment, i feel like i'm searching.  growing.  evolving.  i need to get back to shooting for me.  taking risks.  it's been a while.

my first

had my first tampa shoot last week.  i mean i've shot here before.  but this was my first family shoot.  here in tampa.  a client.  a friend.   i adore them. we decided to head to picnic island because they wanted beach and it's pretty close. i had shot there before on a cloudy (empty) day.  the M family moved here this past march, from ohio, and they wanted something florida-y so we thought picnic island would be perfect.

K and i talked about the location after -- nice because it offers both green and beach.  but the beach was not the greatest, we agreed.  the water isn't the kind you really want to get into and it was a bit crowded with some interesting characters.  so i'm still longing to find that magic beach, like this one.  i will eventually find it.  maybe here.  i mean really...PB pier didn't come to me overnight.  it will happen here too.  and so...the tampa location scouting continues.

with all that said, i do love the mix of green and beach that picnic island has to offer.  but i miss the texture and shade of a pier.  thanks M family for being my first!! :-)