this made me cry today...

that's what the subject of the email was, when she emailed me this.  leah is one of the greatest friends a girl could ask for--someone who is as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside.  beautiful to the core.

i hope that you will take a few minutes to read the women's stories in this article.  each is beautiful.  truly and deeply beautiful...and inspirational. i have no doubt that you will relate to at least one of the stories...or at a minimum, it will pull at your heart strings.

in closing, i leave you with this question... what honestly makes you feel beautiful?

i'll be sharing some of my thoughts on beauty, in a post next week.

p.s. the photographs in the article are by a woman and photographer i so admire--the amazing mary ellen mark.  i attended a mary ellen mark workshop the beginning of this year, which was awesome.  and i was so fortunate to have been able to have breakfast and dinner (and incredible conversations) with her each day.  she really is an incredible woman.  and as leah said, the photos in the article are absolutely lovely.

A is for awesome!

oh how i love the alphabet shop.  i'm going to get an S, for my living room.  although i secretly wish our last name was anderson or peterson. ;-)  how great is A and P!

learned of the alphabet shop, from here, which i found through here.  oh this world of blogging.  feeds my soul in so many ways.


had an awesome shoot with sam's family this morning.  and two shoots tomorrow and sunday.  the san diego coast morning fog is amazing.

their miracle

could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other's eyes for an instant?- henry david thoreau

i met marcina through max's family last year. and from the moment i met her, i knew there was something special. there was just this beauty and essence about her. you could see it. you could feel it. an then i learned her story...

two years ago (in november), neil was taking their daughter, kendra, to a screening in LA. kendra had been acting for years.  at the end of the day, he began throwing up and thought he had food poisoning. he felt he was okay to drive home to san diego but things got worse and he had to pull over at a gas station, to throw up again.  shortly after that, marcina got a call from kendra,

mommy, daddy's really sick, we're on the side of the freeway and he is now sleeping and has thrown up all inside the car.

they were on the side of the highway, with neil in and out of sleep.  with marcina's mom on the phone with kendra the entire time, to help her feel safe, and marcina's dad on the computer mapquesting and directing marcina to neil's location...marcina was on her way, driving into miles of heavy traffic. luckily, kendra was able to read a few signs out the window, to help determine exactly where they were. when marcina arrived, neil was asleep and kendra scared but safe. they drove back to san diego and marcina put neil into bed.  after continuing to vomit and sleep throughout the following day, marcina decided to take neil to the emergency room that night.

they sat in the waiting room for a bit and then neil was called back to be seen. thirty minutes later, a nurse came out and asked kendra if she would like to come with her to color. a few minutes later, two doctors take marcina in the opposite direction, to tell her that neil is very, very sick and most likely would not live through the night. they encouraged marcina to notify family and that she and kendra should say their final good-byes. this was the beginning of their seven-month journey on an emotional and painful rollercoaster...

over the next seven months, neil most likely had a stroke and suffered a brain bleed. he underwent four brain surgeries, infections, two weeks in a coma, months in the hospital and now has a prosthetic bone flap and front skull. the family was told three different times that neil would not live and that if he did, he would most likely have physical challenges and brain damage.

well today, neil is alive and doing fabulous.  while he still has very vivid dreams from his days in a coma and continues to be closely monitored, if you met him, you would have no idea what he went through.  you see no scars.  he has no lingering ill effects (that are apparent to me).

the C family has the most amazing love for one another and outlook on life. and needless to say, neil being alive today is a miracle.

but there's more to this story. the first time i photographed the C family was last november. originally they were scheduled for 2009, but i happened to have a cancellation. after we were done shooting and marcina was sharing with me how thankful she was to be able to get in on a cancellation, she suddenly realized that the shoot was on the same day as neil's first brain surgery--an anniversary of sorts. and it is for that very reason that the photo below is so much more than just a photo for them. and it's a photo that almost didn't happen...

their entire session was super overcast, until the very moment of this shot. we were walking back to the car and i noticed the sun had come out.  when i looked at kendra and saw the halo of light surrounding her, i said that she looked like an angel and asked if we could take a few more shots.  little did i know at the time how important and magical the photos would end up being.

i also wanted to share a bit more about what kendra is currently working on.  she's 10 years old now and has recently written and is going to be recording a song, voices of the children. the producer is already working with the band and hopefully kendra will be recording in a few weeks, with the release date anticipated to be the end of the year. kendra has decided that she will donate a portion of the proceeds to two children's charities: casa de amparo and childhelp.

one of the goals of last weekend's session was to get a photo for kendra's CD cover. this one is my favorite.

it is always such a joy to see them, as each of them is amazingly beautiful inside and out, with a zest for life that is unmatched. i am truly blessed to know them!!

ETA: neil was officially diagnosed with a cerebral hemorrhage (bleed). to this day, they do not know what caused this to happen. the first night in the hospital, his blood pressure was around 250/150. however, they can't say definitively that that is what caused the hemorrhage.

will you ever?

i don’t think you will ever...fully understand how you've touched my life and made me who i am. i don't think you could ever... know just how truly special you are. - erica jong

i have this thing. always have. i'm good at blocking things out. the bad things. the things that have been difficult in my life. i put them in a place, a place where i can't find them and they cannot escape. it's part of my personal survival mechanism in life. how i survived my past. i's not exactly a good thing but i've become very good at it.

well, i have this thing with leaving too. this coping mechanism. if i keep telling everyone that i'll see them again before i go (truly believing that i just might), then i might not have to say an official good-bye. well this all hit me today. as i arranged to meet one of my greatest friends here in san diego, for a last play date together, because she is going out of town tomorrow and if we don't see each other today, i won't see her before we leave.

damn. that screws up my ability to say, i'll see you again before i go. because i won't.

this play date arrangement all happened via email, while i was editing max's family's photos. and all of a sudden it hit me--the moving, the leaving. it hit me like a train and the tears began to uncontrollably flow. i couldn't keep them in that magic place, unable to escape...and i breathed and let them flow.

i have made some of the best friends i have ever had in my entire life, while here in san diego. and while i know for certain that i will see most of them again, it just doesn't matter...this leaving thing just sucks!


long overdue, i am working hard to finish max's family's photos, to get the photos to the them before i leave. in the beginning of the year, i had told andy and melis that i really hoped to do a family photo of them before i left, if and when they were ready. in april, they were ready. i knew they would include max's shark, bruce, in the photos (always), but i had an idea for them to release seven orange balloons--max is forever seven and his favorite color was orange. they agreed. we walked around and shot all over balboa park, one of max's special places. a couple hours later and almost to our cars, melis says, darn, we forgot about the balloons. no worries, just get them and we'll photograph them somewhere here [near the parking lot], i replied.

and we did. i photographed the family releasing seven orange balloons for max to catch and hold onto in Heaven.

while editing the photos this morning, i came across this one, which literally took my breath away. it was my test shot for lighting. i'm not even sure what i focused on in the was just a test shot. but it wasn't; it turned out to be much, much more than just the test shot. it's like the light is pulling the balloons, calling for them. how did the wind of the balloons and the light of the flare line up so perfectly?  i have to believe it's max's light shining down, letting them know that he's okay. and did andy see it? did he see or sense something that was beyond what he even knew at the time? all the other balloon shots i have...not a hint of wind.

the first shot, just testing the light


the moment the balloons were released, beginning to float away


watching them float to Heaven. to max.

will these people that have come into my life and changed my life forever... will they ever know how much they mean to me? how special they are? how they have become a part of my soul?

i hope so.

max, i miss you little buddy!