Sneak Peek - Schrader Holiday Photos!

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We spent the weekend in Tahoe so we decided to head out to the mountains and take some family photos in the early morning light. There's nothing like autumn, morning, mountain light to get a photographer excited! Unfortunately the kids only lasted about a half hour before melting down but it turned out to be plenty of time to capture some cute photos. That's why I'm offering mini sessions this season! 30 minutes is the perfect amount of time for young families. 

Love these guys! <3 

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Sneak Peek - Samuel's 1 year shoot!

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My friend and I decided on a studio shoot for Samuel's 1 year photos. I have to say, the studio is not my strongest area. I always have all these lofty ambitions when it comes to studio lighting but when you add an active 1 year old they go right out the window! Why? Well, you set up some nice lighting for one specific spot and then they move. So, I try to light the whole scene as best I can. Luckily Samuel is the happiest little kid ever! He made this soooo easy on me. Plus, those big brown eyes and those curls are just to die for! This kid seriously can not take a bad photo! 

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Tried going for a Dr. Seuss theme, but that didn't last long... I had these ideas of him standing, holding onto the chair with the Dr. Seuss animals around him... haha yeah, right! He's 1! Way to put me in my place, Samuel! How quickly this mommy forgot what it's like to have a 1 year old.  

That hair! Someone took his hat off and then tried to put it back on, resulting in the cutest hair I've ever seen! 

That hair! Someone took his hat off and then tried to put it back on, resulting in the cutest hair I've ever seen! 

Just dying over this expression! 

Just dying over this expression! 

Couldn't get him to stand holding onto the chair so Samuel's Mom suggested an activity table! Thank goodness I had one. What a lifesaver! Thanks Deanna! And can we please talk about those cute suspenders?!?! 

Couldn't get him to stand holding onto the chair so Samuel's Mom suggested an activity table! Thank goodness I had one. What a lifesaver! Thanks Deanna! And can we please talk about those cute suspenders?!?! 

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After he had it with the studio, we let him crawl around. He went to the back door to watch my dog, Piper. He loved her! Couldn't resist snapping a few natural light shots :) 

After he had it with the studio, we let him crawl around. He went to the back door to watch my dog, Piper. He loved her! Couldn't resist snapping a few natural light shots :) 

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Those big brown eyes! 

Those big brown eyes! 

Jianan & Stephen

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These two!! Ahhh! What an incredible wedding at Byington Winery and Vineyard! I actually met these two the day they got engaged in Halfmoon Bay. They stopped me while I was hiking with my sisters and asked me if I could take a photo of them. Of course I said yes, and the rest is history! A serendipitous meeting, if ever there was one :) 

 

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The couple said private vows to each other before the ceremony. It was beautiful! 

The couple said private vows to each other before the ceremony. It was beautiful! 

Moody wine cellar lighting! My favorite! 

Moody wine cellar lighting! My favorite! 

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Such a short but sweet ceremony full of love and laughter! 

Such a short but sweet ceremony full of love and laughter! 

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Seriously, the best first dance I've ever seen! 

Seriously, the best first dance I've ever seen! 

In the vineyard at sunset. :) 

In the vineyard at sunset. :) 

Cocktail hour in the wine cellar! 

Cocktail hour in the wine cellar! 

Eating out under the sky! What a beautiful setting! 

Eating out under the sky! What a beautiful setting! 

Walking through the vineyard once the sun set.

Walking through the vineyard once the sun set.

Despite the crazy heat, this was an awesome day! You can't help but notice how much these two love each other. Melts my heart editing these photos. They just have so much fun together and their friends and family have the most incredible love for them too. It was infectious! 

I have to give an extra big shout out to Whitney for helping me again. Especially on this one since I had just got back from Norway and was fighting some pretty rough jet lag. Couldn't have done it without you!! 

I'd also like to mention that they had some incredible vendors. If you're ever looking for any of these services for your big day, these guys come highly recommended! Great working with all of you! 

 

DJ -- www.thewarrenwong.com-- warren@thewarrenwong.com

Byington Winery -- http://byington.com/events/ -- bbauer@byington.com
Photobooth -- http://photobombsj.com/ -- louisxngo@gmail.com
Videography -- www.sworksdesign.com -- sworksdesign.films@gmail.com

Lake George: Underwater

I challenged myself to take underwater photos while on my trip to Lake George, NY this year. In some ways I was successful and in many other ways, I struggled. I'll, of course, explain below... 

The edges of an abandoned beaver lodge in Paradise Bay. 

The edges of an abandoned beaver lodge in Paradise Bay. 

I am completely in love with underwater photography. I've done so little of it but I'm totally obsessed. The draw for me is that there are so few people on this earth that even know what it looks like under the surface of most bodies of water. In fact the ocean is truly the last frontier on earth. It's beautiful and scary and surreal. It's like a whole other planet exists right under our noses and we barely notice.

The draw for me to take photos under the surface of Lake George is multifaceted. One, I LOVE Lake George. It's possibly my favorite lake on this planet. I grew up there in the summers. I know the surface of it like the back of my hand. I can close my eyes and tell you where every buoy on the lake from the village up through the narrows is. As a kid (and still as an adult) I love to dive down deep and open my eyes (with or without a mask) and just listen to the underwater sounds and watch the light dance. It's truly the most peaceful and strangely turbulent world I've ever had the privileged of falling in love with. I did a little research and found very few underwater photographs of the lake. Knowing that on good days the visibility is about 30 feet, I figured I'd take a stab at photographing it. I rented a Canon 8-15mm fisheye lens and brought it along. My previous underwater photography adventures included a 50mm macro lens. I wanted to try something new and see if I could master underwater landscapes. As you'll see, it didn't come without challenges (even 30ft of visibility is hard to get sharp wide angle images). But despite it's challenges, I had a blast! 

 

This stick had fallen in our swim area. I was going to pull it out but after observing it underwater I noticed it had been there for a while. So I let it be. 

This stick had fallen in our swim area. I was going to pull it out but after observing it underwater I noticed it had been there for a while. So I let it be. 

So while I botched this one (soft focus on the log) this image is exactly what I think of when I think of the bottom of Lake George. It's a very common scene in shallow bays. 

So while I botched this one (soft focus on the log) this image is exactly what I think of when I think of the bottom of Lake George. It's a very common scene in shallow bays. 

Lily pads growing in our swim area next to the dock. 

Lily pads growing in our swim area next to the dock. 

More lily pads. 

More lily pads. 

Nesting bluegill 

Nesting bluegill 

One dedicated Mama! 

One dedicated Mama! 

Please don't feed the wildlife! These ducks are so used to being fed by humans they came right up to me when my husband threw grass into the water in front of me. I appreciate the interesting photo op but I'd rather these ducks not get so used to being fed! 

Please don't feed the wildlife! These ducks are so used to being fed by humans they came right up to me when my husband threw grass into the water in front of me. I appreciate the interesting photo op but I'd rather these ducks not get so used to being fed! 

Ducks on top, fish underneath. 

Ducks on top, fish underneath. 

Fallen leaves in Paradise Bay

Fallen leaves in Paradise Bay

More images of the abandoned beaver lodge, now home to fish and algea! 

More images of the abandoned beaver lodge, now home to fish and algea! 

One of my favorite images from a framing standpoint but once again I botched the focus! Grrrr! 

One of my favorite images from a framing standpoint but once again I botched the focus! Grrrr! 

From a little further back... focus is much better on this one. 

From a little further back... focus is much better on this one. 

Beavers sure are hard workers 

Beavers sure are hard workers 

Crazy reflections

Crazy reflections

Drifting weeds

Drifting weeds

OK, so here's where I tried to capture the dancing light underwater. Paradise bay is quite deep. I asked my twin sister to dive down while I took some photos. With our kids losing their shit on the boat, we had very little time for this. But I captured a couple neat photos. I suppose I'll always be chasing that perfect underwater photo - the one that captures all the wonderment and peace I experience when I dive down deep in this beautiful and clear lake. So, screaming kids or no, I'll be attempting many versions of these photos in the future. 

Mermaid Bri watching the dancing light. So close to what I was hoping to capture, but not quite there yet! 

Mermaid Bri watching the dancing light. So close to what I was hoping to capture, but not quite there yet! 

Halo of bubbles

Halo of bubbles

So this is the part where I talk about all my failures and fears. Boy are there A LOT! They all led to some valuable lessons but I really could have done without them... 

First off, like most people, I think that all successful photographers and successful creatives of all types have no fears. They are successful, why would they doubt themselves? Only people like me doubt themselves. Well, I'm 31 now and I realize what a bunch of bullshit that is. We are all afraid. I am afraid all the time. Especially when it comes to my work. I don't want to fail. Failure blows. I'm scared of it all the time! It's stopped me in my tracks. It's terrible. It causes endless procrastination. That fear and self-doubt is the number one reason I seem lazy and the only reason I have not reached the goals I've set for myself. And even being aware of this, I still can't always face the fear and keep working. Because, shit, it's hard to believe in yourself when the judgement of your work is soooo subjective. The only thing that keeps me going is the work itself. When I can manage to drag my butt off the couch and go out and shoot, I lose myself in it. I mean my husband had to drag me out of the water on numerous occasions to remind me that my other slightly more important job of being a mother, needed to be tended to. I heard somewhere (can't remember where) that when it comes to photography, if you don't love the journey you're never going to survive. Why? Because there really isn't a destination. It's a fluid medium. There's no point at which you're going to say, "I've made it. I don't need to learn or create anymore images." That's just ridiculous. So for me, I realized I DO love the journey. So much so that I'm willing to battle the fear almost every day. Sometimes its an easy battle, but most days it's really f'ing hard. 

Now that we've gotten the fear part out of the way, let's talk about my failures on this trip! The biggest thing was thinking things would be easier than they ended up being. I underestimated the challenges of shooting wide angle with only 30 ft. of visibility. While it's doable, it's not easy to get sharp images. I also did a good job of mucking up the water for myself. Especially if I was hovering in the same spot for a while trying to get the nesting fish. Second, I was staying relatively close to the surface to use ambient light which worked sometimes and not other times. Third, I saw a very inspiring photo by adventure photographer Emily Polar that I wanted to try to recreate for a self portrait and I figured it would be cake! Turns out making a normal face while holding your breath is really, really hard. (See below images... I pretty much gave up). And last but not least, my biggest regret and hardest lesson learned... I spent an extra week at the lake with just my son while my husband flew back to work. Because I didn't want to truck a ton of bags and a 2 year old through the airport on my own, I sent him back with my underwater gear. UGH! Total mistake. The day he left this huge mama bass and her school of babies came into our swim area and stayed there ALL DAY LONG. Without my gear I tried using my ancient GoPro to capture them but as you'll see below, it failed miserably. I was grumpy about it most of the rest of the trip. So lesson learned. Suck it up and keep my equipment around. I'll always hate myself if I keep letting opportunities go by because I'm afraid of a little discomfort. 

This was the best self portrait I could manage... I still look like I'm drowning but it's not as bad the rest of them... 

This was the best self portrait I could manage... I still look like I'm drowning but it's not as bad the rest of them... 

This one is definitely a winner... 

This one is definitely a winner... 

Yup, I look constipated. 

Yup, I look constipated. 

There are worse... I know it's hard to believe... 

There are worse... I know it's hard to believe... 

There she is. Those dots all around her are her babies! Ahhhhhhh! My husband asked me a million times if I was sure I wanted him to take my equipment back with him... and I said yes....  :( 

There she is. Those dots all around her are her babies! Ahhhhhhh! My husband asked me a million times if I was sure I wanted him to take my equipment back with him... and I said yes.... 

:( 

AHHHHH :(

AHHHHH :(

They were there... ALL... DAY... LONG... even after it started to rain.... 

They were there... ALL... DAY... LONG... even after it started to rain.... 

So many that could have been soooo awesome... 

So many that could have been soooo awesome... 

So many great shots... 

So many great shots... 

So much regret... so very, very painful... 

So much regret... so very, very painful... 

That concludes the underwater portion of my two week trip to Lake George. Next week stay tuned for the kid travel portion. I'll go over flying by myself with a two year old (yikes!) and what it's like to photograph with toddlers around and, of course, some really awesome photos I took of the kiddo and his cousins. 

In conclusion, I just want to mention that I recently watched Chasing Coral on Netflix. I cried through most of it. Please watch it. After this blog post you have to know that I love the water. Watching the oceans die is really emotional for me. I always find myself wondering what the oceans looked like 30 years ago. Especially since I've noticed the coral bleaching and dying on dives I've taken in Hawaii. It's heartbreaking. I'd like to share this underwater world with my kid someday. We need to protect it. That's all! Enjoy your week and let me know if you have any questions or want to share your own fears and failures in the comments below! 

New Zealand Day 1

Day 1. So we flew into Christchurch, arriving around lunch time. We decided to then immediately drive to Queenstown and take in a few sights along the way. In hindsight, not the greatest plan since a long road trip after 12 hours of flying is a bit rough on an almost two year old... but the drive was incredible! We weren't able to take our eyes off the scenery and we instantly fell in love with this country! Below are a few photos I quickly snapped along the road. 

Church of the Good Shepard on the shores of Lake Tekapo. 

Church of the Good Shepard on the shores of Lake Tekapo. 

The incredible blue waters of Lake Tekapo. 

The incredible blue waters of Lake Tekapo. 

Church of the Good Shepard. It was hard to get a photo without a ton of tourists in it... tried my best! 

Church of the Good Shepard. It was hard to get a photo without a ton of tourists in it... tried my best! 

We arrived at the very beginning of fall. Here are a few fading lupine stalks blowing in the wind. 

We arrived at the very beginning of fall. Here are a few fading lupine stalks blowing in the wind. 

Again, trying to avoid strangers in my photos. So I got down on the ground! 

Again, trying to avoid strangers in my photos. So I got down on the ground! 

Can't avoid everyone... but at least that guy provides a sense of scale! 

Can't avoid everyone... but at least that guy provides a sense of scale! 

We were passing Lake Pukaki pretty close to sunset. With the snowy peaks in the background, I was very excited to get out and photograph. Unfortunately, Lee woke up from what was supposed to be the beginning of his night time sleep and was screaming bloody murder. So all I got was the above and below hastily composed and shot images. I wish I could have gotten more because the drive along this lake was nothing short of spectacular! But my kid's comfort definitely means more to me. So off we zoomed and the kid fell back asleep (for another hour or so...)! 

We were passing Lake Pukaki pretty close to sunset. With the snowy peaks in the background, I was very excited to get out and photograph. Unfortunately, Lee woke up from what was supposed to be the beginning of his night time sleep and was screaming bloody murder. So all I got was the above and below hastily composed and shot images. I wish I could have gotten more because the drive along this lake was nothing short of spectacular! But my kid's comfort definitely means more to me. So off we zoomed and the kid fell back asleep (for another hour or so...)! 

Does anyone know if that's Mount Cook in the center? I figured it was but I'm no expert... 

Does anyone know if that's Mount Cook in the center? I figured it was but I'm no expert... 

I know I've sort of dropped off the map, lately. I've been pretty silent on the blog and social media. But please stay tuned for a blog post about Day 2, hopefully next week! I'm so excited to share all the details of our trip and hopefully inspire you parents to drag your little ones along on all your adventures! 

In the meantime, also look out for my next blog post about the incredible wedding of two of my favorite people! I was so lucky to be their photographer and capture their special day! Staying true my my incredible procrastination roots, I shot the wedding back in April and STILL haven't posted a sneak peek! It's forthcoming, I promise! Thanks for sticking with me, folks! 

Enjoy your week!

2012 Lake Powell Time Lapse

Check out a really old time lapse I did of the night sky at Lake Powell back in 2012!

I've been organizing our server and clearing out space on my hard drives to improve Lightroom's performance. I came across this time lapse that I never finished back in 2012. I had shot it and created the video but never graded it. Why, you say? Because back then I shot my images really, really flat with no saturation (see the straight out of the camera image below). The idea was that I would have more room to color grade it exactly the way I wanted it. Which is true. But it's super time consuming! So I never finished... until now! And even now it's not the exact way I envisioned it. But I've learned a valuable lesson... yes, shooting flat gives you more control over the final image but, to use a very famous quote, "AIN'T NOBODY GOT TIME FOR THAT!" While certain projects in the future may require more precise color grading, I do not use this method anymore. I like the images to come out of my camera a little closer to a final product. Saves me time, even if I have to deal with a little frustration over the final image. After all, time is money! 

I hope to do some more time lapse photography since I haven't done any since this! Maybe this summer I'll find some time... :) 

Unedited image from time lapse

Unedited image from time lapse

Sneak Peek: Riley's First Birthday Shoot!

I can't believe Riley is almost one! She is such a joy! Boy was this a fun and laid back shoot! I wish more families would do morning shoots. Riley was in an incredibly good mood and the spring light just rising up over the hills in Alamo was incredible! Can't beat the green hills, either! 

So while the Yahrs were totally on top of it, I unfortunately was not... forgot the picnic blanket (Bri saved me on that one!) and messed up my battery system so I thought I had 2 charged batteries when I really had a fully charged battery and a half charged battery... And for some weird reason I used the half charged one first and had to run to my car and change it out halfway through...Thankfully Justin and Megan were awesome enough to put up with my scatter brain! :) 

Happy Birthday Riley!! 

That smile!! :) 

That smile!! :) 

Those blue eyes!! 

Those blue eyes!! 

Absolutely in love with Megan's hair. I know this is about Riley, but I'm obsessed with the color! 

Absolutely in love with Megan's hair. I know this is about Riley, but I'm obsessed with the color! 

Daddy's little girl. 

Daddy's little girl. 

Love these moments! 

Love these moments! 

My favorite couple moment is always right before a kiss. I sort of botched this one (too low of a shutter speed) but I still love this photo! So much love! 

My favorite couple moment is always right before a kiss. I sort of botched this one (too low of a shutter speed) but I still love this photo! So much love! 

Loved this dress! Wishing I had a little girl right about now ;) 

Loved this dress! Wishing I had a little girl right about now ;) 

New Territory: Product Photography!

I ventured into new territory recently! A client who I did family portraits for last year has her own Fair Trade earring business and she asked me to do some product photography for her site and her social media accounts. I thought, why not? Below is a small sample of the shots I took. Check out her site for more photos and, of course, to order these beautiful earrings! http://www.skyeandgrace.com/ And to see more of my photos and to stay up to date on any sales, check out Skye and Grace on Instagram. @skyeandgrace 

Working with different backgrounds for some of their social media accounts. Check this one out on Instagram! @skyeandgrace

Working with different backgrounds for some of their social media accounts. Check this one out on Instagram! @skyeandgrace

Getting the perfect white background while still maintaining shadow detail for a website is a bit of a challenge... I watched 3 different tutorials before finding the method that worked best for me! 

Getting the perfect white background while still maintaining shadow detail for a website is a bit of a challenge... I watched 3 different tutorials before finding the method that worked best for me! 

Working with colors and different backgrounds! 

Working with colors and different backgrounds! 

Putting the earrings in context! 

Putting the earrings in context! 

I also took a crack at studio portraits for social media marketing. What a ton of fun this shoot was! 

I also took a crack at studio portraits for social media marketing. What a ton of fun this shoot was! 

Stay tuned for more studio portraits! I will be taking a crack at a studio newborn shoot this weekend. Hopefully I can soon offer that as a regular service!

Also heading to New Zealand at the end of next week. For those of you missing my landscape, wildlife and underwater photography, stay tuned for some epic shots next month! Super stoked! 

I'd love to hear what you guys think so far and what you'd like to see more of! Leave me a comment on this post or head on over to my contact page and give me a shout out! Thanks!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day everyone! A special shout out to my wonderful family. Love you all so much! 

Two of my three valentines. Piper and Lee. Image taken back in December. 

Two of my three valentines. Piper and Lee. Image taken back in December. 

And Happy Belated Birthday to my third valentine ;) 

And Happy Belated Birthday to my third valentine ;) 

A Muir Woods Wedding

What a unique and wonderful wedding this was! Beautifully executed in just two weeks, this wedding took place in Muir Woods at dusk on the Winter Solstice with just a few guests as witnesses. The fading light proved to be a bit of a photographic challenge for me but resulted in truly unique and beautiful images! Thank you to the newlyweds for including me! 

Almost got swept away! Picture on Muir Beach. Incredible sunset that evening. 

Almost got swept away! Picture on Muir Beach. Incredible sunset that evening. 

The perfect wedding in the woods! 

The perfect wedding in the woods! 

I love Chiana's expression and her beautiful blue eyes in this one!

I love Chiana's expression and her beautiful blue eyes in this one!

So much love. 

So much love. 

Ancient trees. 

Ancient trees. 

Silly faces. 

Silly faces. 

The whole family!

The whole family!

Traditional Persian dress. 

Traditional Persian dress. 

Same as the first photo but in black and white. I think I find this so compelling in black and white because the pattern of the light on the water almost matches the lace pattern on her dress. 

Same as the first photo but in black and white. I think I find this so compelling in black and white because the pattern of the light on the water almost matches the lace pattern on her dress. 

Marisa & Kyle's Surprise Wedding!

Here's a quick sneak peak of some of my initial favorites.

Marisa put this small ceremony together in a week! I can't believe it! It was just perfect. Exactly the small and intimate ceremony she always wanted. I had such a wonderful time shooting this wedding. The whole evening was laid back and despite the cold it was full of so much joy and love! 

Love these two!

Love these two!

Getting ready. 

Getting ready. 

Kona even dressed up for the occassion! 

Kona even dressed up for the occassion! 

Dodging Raindrops!

This time of year brings some seriously unpredictable weather. After moving this shoot earlier in the day to avoid rain we still got caught in some! And all this after rescheduling the first time because the entire park was closed last weekend! But these guys kept their spirits up and, as it turns out, umbrellas are fun to play with! 

Kaia was an absolute joy to photograph! Her sly smiles just crack me up. What a personality! 

Kaia was an absolute joy to photograph! Her sly smiles just crack me up. What a personality! 

Staying dry and having a little fun! 

Staying dry and having a little fun! 

I probably shouldn't admit this but this photo is one of my all time favorites. It's moments like this that make my job so awesome and fulfilling! 

I probably shouldn't admit this but this photo is one of my all time favorites. It's moments like this that make my job so awesome and fulfilling! 

Kaia didn't want to smile for me at first but there was no shortage of smiles for Mama! 

Kaia didn't want to smile for me at first but there was no shortage of smiles for Mama! 

Alana was the biggest trooper of them all! Didn't seem to notice the cold weather or the rain. Even fell asleep on her Mama for most of the shoot! 

Alana was the biggest trooper of them all! Didn't seem to notice the cold weather or the rain. Even fell asleep on her Mama for most of the shoot! 

I think you're in trouble with this one Jaime and Ken! 

I think you're in trouble with this one Jaime and Ken! 

Despite multiple scheduling roadblocks and foul weather I'd say we pulled off a successful shoot! FINALLY! :)