working together

she said she usually cried at least once a daynot because she was sad but because the world was so beautiful and life was so short. - storypeople

over the weekend, steve and sky built a ladder together. a ladder so my kids and the  boys behind us can climb freely over our backyard fence.  when steve and sky were working on our neighbor's side of the ladder, the boys helped too. and it all makes my heart so happy.  and well...i'll just leave it at that. the end.


what _____ looks like | month thirteen

a month of settling back at home after a very busy summer (most of it spent away), awesome friends visiting, a trip to crystal springs and LOTS of time spent in the water.  here's what august looked like... back with kiele.

hanging out at honeymoon island.

payton and the mermaid barbie she found rescued from the water.

kayaking and swimming at three sisters spring -- where the water is a constant 72 degrees and the manatees like to hang out in the winter.

the whole gang.

the security guard at our hotel, who has lived in the area his entire life, told us that three sisters spring was named that because three sisters had died there.  he shared that it was shut down for quite a while. so when editing the photo below of my friend, it kind of creeped me out to see three hands in the image (heather's plus two reflections of each hand).  but of course, it also made me love the image that much more.

twister with friends.

at our hotel.

jumping into the river, where we saw five manatee swim by.

celebrating jen's birthday.

lake time.

swimming at home.

playing in the street puddles.

me, shooting in the rain, in the street [taken by jen].

shooting in the smelly bay with jen & the littles [more photos from here coming soon].

and of course, the first day of school [taken after school].

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 leah zawadzki | orange county family photographer.

they made it too easy

the heart of marriage is memories.- bill cosby

during family shoots, i always ask encourage the parents to allow me to photograph just the two of them [without their kids] for a bit. many times, i take one...or two photos [if i'm lucky] of the parents...and then they say, that's enough. i respect their wishes and never get too pushy, but i personally think it's an important aspect of a family session -- photos of the family together, siblings together, kids by themselves and parents by themselves.

last week, the joseph family was game for anything and they just happen to make photographing the two of them way too easy for me. so i kept shooting -- just the two of them. ryan is an awesome photographer here in town and shared with me that they never had family photos done together.  sigh...i'm so incredibly happy i could capture these memories for them.

looking for light in tampa

the other day, sky went with me to see what the evening light would be like at a specific location. i knew it got dark there quickly because of all the trees and wasn't sure if 5:30 PM was going to be too late for my shoot the following week. sky is my muse. completely. and i can't get enough of her although i respectfully try [and always make sure to thank her...over and over again]. from our looking for light adventure...

sky is my free-spirited one.  the one who is, in many ways, my opposite.  she definitely completes me and oh, i love her so!!

thank you courtney courtney for the fabulous dress and owl cardigan.  we love them so!!

what is passion?

what is passion?it is surely the becoming of a person. are we not, for most of our lives, marking time? most of our being is at rest, unlived. in passion, the body and the spirit seek expression outside of self. passion is all that is other from self. the more extreme and the more expressed that passion is, the more unbearable does life seem without it. it reminds us that if passion dies or is denied, we are partly dead. - john boorman

what ____ looks like

"your kids must have the most amazing pictures." i get that comment A LOT.  and while my kids do have some pretty fabulous photos from the past five years that i've been doing photography, somehow along the way, i seem to have lost my ability to capture the every day lives of my family.  you know, those photos that document the simple joys and everyday moments.  it bums me out.  and i have complained about it for years, yet i haven't done a whole lot, in an effort to remedy the situation.

so when i was recently approached by a photographer about participating in a project entitled "what _______ looks like", i jumped at the opportunity.  i will be working on this project along side a group of eleven other incredible photographers. the goal of the project is to capture our families in a real, everyday kind of way -- to capture moments that document the reality, the beauty, the mess, the truth, the everyday of our family life.

each month we will each choose to fill in the blank with a word of our choice.  some of us may choose to use the same word all year. others may choose to change it up every month or every couple months.  at the end of every month, we will all be sharing some of our photos on our blogs. we will each link to another photographer until our circle of 12 is complete.

i'm excited about this.  i needed this.  but more-so, i feel that my children deserve this. along the way, i also hope this project will inspire you to take more everyday pictures of your own famiy!!

so here we go.  this is what a bit of our everyday august looks like...

all the cousins together, at oma and opa's, in NV.

standard toy mess. watching TV.


steve jumping.

first day of school.

in the pool. almost every single day in august.

not-so-pretty toenails, courtesy of the pool.

how he always sits.  his favorite toy. and the littles' handmade cardboard box chair.

on our way to gymnastics.

new friends at the horse farm.

play time.

their fort.

computer games.

girl time.

before school. forgot to brush.

so what have i learned in the first month, with this project?  i learned that i have a long way to go in documenting my family's everyday. and that i need to try and carry my camera around with me more. but honestly, even in this short bit, i already feel like i'm noticing and capturing more of the beauty and magic of our everyday.  and that makes my heart so very happy.

can't help but think of this quote... enjoy [and capture] the little things, for one day you will look back and realize they were the big things. - robert brault

i hope you'll now head on over to stephanie moore's blog to see what she had to share about her project this month -- stephanie moore | tucson family photographer.

p.s. i used more than one word for my blank...hope that's okay.

behind the scenes

as many of you probably already know, i'm pretty obsessed with underwater shooting.  so i thought i'd share a couple behind-the-scenes photos and thoughts. shooting underwater is WAY tougher than it seems.  i use equinox housing, which is large and heavy (originally designed for diving videography and photography), but the quality and security of the housing is amazing.

my friend, emily, who was visiting me last week said,

"you couldn't pay me enough to photograph underwater!"

although she did so-graciously oblige to be my underwater subject a time or two, while here.  :-))

here i am in our backyard pool (photo courtesty of emily corey), being held down by ryder, while photographing underwater.  i think i'm going to have to invest in a weight belt, to keep me down, in the very near future.  and a swim cap for my dreads.  it takes my dreads eight-plus hours to dry every time they get wet.  it's kind of like having a wet dog wrapped around your head and neck for eight hours...not fun!!

and most of my dresses have now made their way into my pool.  steve's bike has became my drying rack.

and a new 'flooded reverie' image from last week...

and a photo of em and lu, while they were visiting.  capturing this photo of em reaching out her hands to lu makes my heart so incredibly happy (they waited a long time for their precious little girl).

super exciting things on the forefront with this underwater adventure.  hoping to share some news and updates VERY soon.

when friends come to visit...

i truly cherish my friends. and my dear friend emily and her daughter, lu, came to visit for the past three days. while we didn't really make it any further than my house, we had the most incredible, fun time together!! a few photos from the past few days...

em and lu, i love you so.  can't wait for the next time.  xo.

and's back to that long to-do list.  ugh.

H2O love

be careful what you water your dreams with.water them with worry and fear and you will produce weeds that choke the life from your dream. water them with optimism and solutions and you will cultivate success. always be on the lookout for ways to turn a problem into an opportunity for success. always be on the lookout for ways to nurture your dream. - lao tzu

here i am in tampa. trying to get my business going. not easy task. uninspired by the landscape. missing the open fields. and the trees. wondering if i'll find my way here. knowing deep within that i'm on the right path. yet still struggling.

i've had the most incredible opportunities that wouldn't have been possible if i was swamped with client sessions. i know i'm right where i'm supposed to be, yet i yearn to be inspired with tampa and it's landscape. and today, it happened. that spark has been reignited and is burning bright.

i received my underwater housing today and tested it out a bit this afternoon, in my backyard pool. and i can't even begin to tell you how excited i am about the possibilities.  about the future. the adventure has just begun.

i will be bringing my housing with me, to hawaii (for the next nine days), to continue testing it out. i still have TONS to learn and luckily have a cooperative subject, who can hold his breath way longer than i can (my husband).

YES...i'm exactly where i'm supposed to be. and i'm dreaming big. really big (although i'm really sore and my shoulder and back are killing me. not sure if it's crossfit or heavy housing related.).

i'm so optimistic about the future, i can barely stand it.  more super big news coming soon!!

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:


so love that my three still play together like this.  when i edited this picture, from a a couple weeks ago...

i couldn't help but think of this picture, from 2008 (in our backyard, san diego).

and that had me looking through more photos of my three, cherishing these memories i have of them together. makes me weepy, when i think how fast the time has flown and how big my three now are.

feels like i haven't shot in forever. but now that my entire family is done with this week long belly bug, i'm hoping to remedy that soon.

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.

all american

i had been longing...dreaming... about doing photographs with my kids and an american flag for a really really long time.

it was important to me, as a former military member and now a military spouse. i'm proud to be a military family. very proud.  very blessed.  i wouldn't change our military life for a second.

so a couple of weeks ago, while having a family day at the beach, i decided to bring along our american flag.

and this is a bit of what happened...

note: flag was handled with extreme care and respect, in the making of these photographs. i promise, opa marty.


ask anyone who knows me...i have a thing about website portfolios. and here's some of my pretty opinionated thoughts... clients come to your website to get an idea of who you are as a photographer and the photographs you produce. they want to have a thorough understanding about what they're potentially going to invest in. and therefore it's important for you to have an honest and up-to-date representation of yourself and your work. your portfolio is your business' first impression. and shouldn't you have that first impression be the best it can be?

nothing frustrates me more than when photographers say they they don't have time to update their portfolio. especially for years!! for me, updating my portfolio is not even an annual thing; it's ongoing throughout every year. my prospective clients deserve that. they deserve to know exactly what they're getting if they choose to invest in me, as their photographer.

and i hope that anyone i have photographed over the years would say that i have an honest representation of my work on my website.

so as we start this new year, PLEASE consider looking through and updating your website portfolio. and then consider continuing to update throughout the year.

here's a few photographs that i just added to my portfolio. and with that, a few others that didn't feel quite right any longer, were removed.

and a couple oldies that just made it back into my portfolio.  that's the beauty of portfolios; your loves, tastes, editing, etc. -- it all changes over time.

ETA:  i just had another thought.  i've heard from some photographers,

if they [clients] want to see updated photos, they're on my blog.

well if that's the case and that's the route you want to go, get rid of your main website. again, if you have a site AND a blog, take responsibility for both of them. your client doesn't know what you're thinking; they just know what they see.

lastly, keeping your high-res portfolio images organized and easily found will greatly help in portfolio management, access and updates.  trust me! :-)

finding peace

so it's the 2nd day of the new year and i haven't stopped thinking about what this year will bring.  or where i'm headed. or what my goals are. blah. blah. blah.

i THOUGHT i wanted to start my own personal happiness project.  the initial THOUGHT of it excited me.  and then i made a monthly resolution chart and the THOUGHT of it made me anxious as hell.  i'm not sure i could ever focus on one thing for an entire month; my brain so doesn't work that way (ask leah).  so i'm not sure i'll go much farther with my happiness project than this...

JANUARY’S RESOLUTIONS: JUST BE HAPPY (exploring everything happy) FEBRUARY’S RESOLUTIONS: SHOW ME THE MONEY (managing finances) MARCH’S RESOLUTION: LOVE GREATER (bettering my marriage) APRIL’S RESOLUTION: LAUGH MORE (lightening my attitude) MAY’S RESOLUTION: HAVE FAITH (exploring spirituality) JUNE’S RESOLUTION: PLAY GAMES (being the parent i want to [& should] be) JULY’S RESOLUTION: THIS OLD HOUSE (fixing up the house & yard) AUGUST’S RESOLUTION: REALLY FORGIVE (working on my past) SEPTEMBER’S RESOLUTION: COMPUTER-LESS (working on less computer, etc. time) OCTOBER’S RESOLUTION: LET GO (being less perfect) NOVEMBER’S RESOLUTION: WRITE THANK YOUS (appreciating friends) DECEMBER’S RESOLUTION: GIVE MORE (exploring ways to give back)

but it at least forced me to think about 12 things i'd like to work on throughout the year.  that's good...right?!  oh and business wasn't on my monthly resolution list because i KNEW there was no way in hell i could pick a specific month to dedicate to business.  that thought made me even more anxious. and health and fitness wasn't on there because i am totally getting back in my routine this week (yes, i've been absolutely terrible over the past couple weeks).

so what are my goals? i don't know. maybe i'll figure something out tomorrow. because right now, my brain hurts from trying to come up with something. maybe i'll just come up with a few business and personal goals and be done with it.  or maybe i just won't do anything at all and i'll let the year unfold exactly as it will.

anyways... here's a few shots from our day today.  spending time with amazing friends...boating to a tiny private island for lunch on the beach and spending time together playing, sharing, laughing and exploring. could it get much better than that?

the flag, to claim our island

and with that all said...and coming to peace with the fact that i don't need to make any darn resolutions or goals or anything for that matter on the 1st day of january...i feel better already.

give love

taken this morning.on our way to art class. in front yard. drawn to something about it. her. the statement. real. nothing fancy. just drawn. so go... give love. and have a fabulous weekend.

p.s. this morning is magically foggy but the kids have art class and then i'm attending a cookie exchange.  hoping with all i have to hope that tomorrow morning is foggy and i can go shoot my kids on the beach with some fabulous fog in the air.

how things work(ed)

meet my dear friend, heather, and her two boys (ages 3 years and 8 months). her husband isn't in the photographs because he's currently deployed in iraq and has been for the past six months. yes, he deployed when the baby was only a couple months old and the baby hasn't been the easiest baby in the sleeping department. we're hoping heather's husband is home in time for christmas. fingers crossed!! heather absolutely amazes me -- her strength, kindness, patience and generosity -- to mention just a few of the amazing qualities this woman possesses. i've known heather as long as i've known steve. you see...heather was actually the mastermind behind steve and i meeting one another in destin, florida, at AJ's. heather reminded me of the story yesterday, which goes something like this...

some guy spilling his beer on me. me getting mad, having had a beer or two myself. guy's friend, heather, intercepting by sending a cute guy over to create a distraction. enters cute guy...steve!!

steve and i saw one another every day from that day forward (until he had to move to WA and i had to stay as an air force nurse in FL). that was back in fall 2001.

and heather just happens to be married to one of steve's best friends, brian (he and steve went to EOD school together). so after not seeing one another for almost nine years, our families now live 40 minutes apart. how lucky are we?!! funny how things work sometimes. actually, it's amazing how things work sometimes. and it all brings me back to how very blessed i am!!

thank you heather for being you -- for your friendship and for your never ending support, encouragement and inspiration (oh...and for introducing me to my husband :-) ). adore you and your family and am so excited to share our next three years together! soon, we will celebrate and do photos of your complete family. can't wait!! xoxo.