So Life Is Just Too Much Fun!

I have been absent from my blog planning my youngest daughter"s wedding and recovering from my middle daughter's wedding three months ago.  I immediately posted the few photographs of Samantha's wedding (which was yesterday) on flickr to share with friends and to post anything other people may have taken.

Wedding Day Snapshots

My three girls love to tease each other and laugh.  All day long they were quoting lines from wedding movies.  I think this photograph shows them laughing over a mean quote from "Bride Wars", you know how sisters can blurt out the same thing at the same time?  It was an unbelievably wonderful day and I don't want to go back to regular workaday life just yet.

If you need a good laugh, join images from other photographers in this weeks Iheartfaces.com challenge called "Bust a Gut" on Monday November 28!  Have Fun!


So it's all about the sun flare...and how we love it!

Joshua Tree Engagement Session

How we love to photography in the late afternoon/early evening because of the sun and how we love the sun flare!  It adds to the mood of a photograph, giving it a warmth and joy we want in our images.

Once I took some images to be printed by a local processing lab and the owner chastised me in the rudest terms for our amateur images, that sun flare is a poor cover up for good technical skills.  As I looked around at the prints on display, I saw 80's style photography and composition I would consider unappealing.  I know how well my daughter knows her camera and how hard we have both studied to hone our technical skills so that our images need very little editing straight out of the camera.  We have become familiar with all types and styles of photography (because I just happen to have a rather large collection of vintage photography/books/magazines from conducting estate sales) in order to train our photographic eye.  She didn't change my mind about our love of the sun, sure it can be overused and there are lot's of ways to use light in a photograph.  That's the fun of photography and thank goodness for sites like Iheartfaces that embrace the sunflare!

This image is from an engagement shoot that I styled for my photographer daughter's engagement session with a couple of other up and coming photographers in Joshua Tree National Park.  The session was just so much fun and so beautiful.  We had the best weather and a wonderful picnic as well.  I was able to take a few pictures myself despite being the "mexican pack mule", chef and stylist for the shoot.  This is my own unique image with my favorite antique silk parasol.  Our website will have more images from all the photographers the first of October.

You can see more wonderful entries featuring THE SUN here!


White Feather a la Marie Antoinette

My middle daughter just got married and the obvious choice for an entry to the white challenge on Iheartfaces would of course, be... a bride in her wedding gown.  But my favorite photograph that I took from that day was this one of my youngest daughter.  The hairdresser was inspired by a photograph my daughter had given her and she ended up with a very Marie Antoinette look.  The hairdresser told her she could give her hair a more platinum blond look by powdering chalk on a nail file and dusting her hair.  I can't believe my little tomboy has grown into this beautiful young woman who loves to primp and dress so girly, who loves shoes and pretty things.
Marie Antoinette with white feather
We all agreed she looked very french, very Marie Antoinette.  (Can you believe she is half Mexican?  If I didn't have her at home, I would have taken her back to the hospital thinking she wasn't mine because she was born with strawberry blonde hair)  A creamy white peacock feather was added for the final touch and I had to photograph her satisfied face, happy with how she looked.

This photograph was taken in natural light and processed using Flora Bella Luxe II collection using "Milk"...what else for a white challenge?  You can see more wonderful entries featuring WHITE here!


Oh that beautiful baby! Those beautiful baby eyes!


My new favorite thing is to take closeups of baby faces, feet and hands for a triptych.  This little girl has the most amazing big brown eyes framed by pretty eyelashes that twinkle along with her shy smile.  I like it best in black and white so her eyes are featured.  It is a fitting entry for the beautiful eyes challenge at Iheartfaces.  You can see more beautiful eyes here



New BFF for LIFE!

Meeting their new BFF for life - brothers!
The new grandson is here and he has a built-in BFF in his big brother! I was practicing my newborn photography and JoJo's big brother Dominic wanted to get close.  It's funny that when he talks the baby opens his eyes real big and turns his head right towards his big brother.  We will all enjoy them growing up together and we know they will be the best of friends.  I think this is the perfect entry for the new Iheartfaces challenge on friends.

You can see other other entries here.    


...so I love props of all kinds with kids photography, but sometimes it's the simple things that make a memorable shot.

dominic listens to jojo

I have buckets and blankets, wagons, pinwheels, baskets and platters, knitted cocoons, tutus and headbands, fedoras and beanies, vintage suitcases, typewriters and telephones.    I have backdrops of all sorts from fabrics, boards, tin and printed professional nonglare vinyl/canvas.  Because of years spent in the antiques business, I entered into children's photography ready for any type of image a parent could desire.  

But it's not always about the props, it's about the kids.  Not stiff posed kids but sweet innocent children who believe that the prop is a real part of the moment.  That's the hard part.  That's what I am good at.

I am the oldest kid in the studio.  I am the kid that didn't have any toys (or friends) in childhood, or that took the pain of my childhood out on the few toys I had...I didn't deserve them.  I wasn't good enough.*  So I become the child along with the one I am photographing.  I am excited to play with these toys and share them with my new friends, we have a good old time.

I noticed with my own children that the toys rarely got played with regularly.  They preferred the box or the adventure of imagination.  We played together making costumes, blanket forts and tea parties.  I now chase my grandson, crawling on all fours as a dog or a cat.  We play peekaboo and marching band with the pots and wooden spoons.  

His baby brother is due any day now.  I wanted a picture of him interacting with the baby in his mama's belly.  We've been reading books about babies, I wonder how real all of this is to him.  So I made him a new toy to "talk" to the baby with.  This is a shot of that interaction.  You can see more shots of this 10 minute mini session on my Facebook fan page.
See more images with props at Iheartfaces  latest challenge here.

*Note:  I am fortunate that my family has overcome the challenges we all suffered when I was a child and I have a wonderful relationship with my parents.  They love being great grandparents and I look forward their continued wisdom in my life.


...so crazy can be whimsical (in a photographer), right?

I look like a normal baby boomer grandmother but inside I cherish the wonder of a little girl, I have a running quirky commentary asking "WHY?" and can be quite the smarty pants.  That's why I love photography.  I can express that in my photography.  I think that's where my daughter Samantha get's her slightly off center point of view in her photography as well.  Is that what whimsy is?

When my oldest daughter had a bug party we helped plan and made a photo booth as well as photographed the festivities.  Samantha did the face painting and this is her favorite shot from that day in the Iheartfaces.com whimsy challenge.  You can see more whimsical images here!


So trying to photograph a large family with boys is like trying to catch a greased pig...

it can be done but it'll wear everybody out!  Well maybe it wasn't all that bad but it was hard!  My baby brother and his family were out for the weekend, celebrating their son's gaduation in my backyard as a family graduation pool party.  The next day I wanted to take a family portrait for them and they brought clothes to wear (mom brought an assortment of outfits...so fun).
Chavez Family Portrait
I had hoped to get them up early while the morning overcast was still around but not only would they not get up, they had a hard time getting going as well.  I didn't want their mom to stress out at them because I probably wouldn't get a happy family picture that way so we just worked with what they gave us.  That's the real Chavez family anyway, we don't sit still well and we don't go until we are good and ready.

This is one of three places I photographed them.  Before I took this one, I had them jump around, kick like ninjas and wrestle a little.  The boys love this one and I am happy with the attitude mom has, just going with it even though she wanted to strangle them all morning.  The session took about an hour and I am tempted to make a stop motion of all their shenanigans it took to get the shots.  I wish we didn't have the harsh summer morning sun but it is what it is.  What do you think?

To see more images of boys, this weeks theme on Iheartfaces.cojust go here!


So the theme is yellow...

for Iheartfaces.com weekly challenge.  This image is from an engagement session I did with my daughter that was so much fun with the cutest couple!  You can have a sneak peak of our new website and a stopmotion video of their complete session at an abandoned mansion that was so cool...
at Vintage Modern Photography...Look for the cinema tab to see it.   Heidi and Brett love the movie "Benny & Joon" and that was the inspiration for their engagement pictures.  Here they are in a field of yellow wild flowers.  You can see more images inspired by yellow HERE!


So every spring I buy flowers, I grow flowers...

...and I photograph flowers.  I just can't get enough of the flowers blooming everywhere from my white star magnolia that blooms in January along with the roses (only in California folks) to the full bloom riot of color in April and whatever chooses to pop up each month afterwards, I am picking, arranging, buying and planting flowers.  Here is an arrangement of storebought parrot tulips with homegrown lilacs (that took me 4 dead plants til I finally planted one that liked it here)
I carried around my favorite log vase filled with the pretty blossoms and photographed them all over the house for just the right setting.  I photographed them in my bathroom, in the entry where they sat and then on the window seat where I liked the colors in the afternoon filtered light best.  I added some artistic filters in Photoshop and a texture because I wanted it to look like an old master painting.  I am making a set to print on canvas for my guest bedroom.  What do you think?  

You can see more pretty flower photographs at in this weeks challenge at Iheartfaces.


So I went to a wedding and took a few pictures...AS A GUEST!

posing for the photographer
As you know I am portfolio building and I am a second shooter for my daughter's wedding photography which means I take pictures of the dress, rings, the cake and whatever my daughter might miss.  It also means I schlepp around the equipment, round up the bridal party and family for portraits and make sure the main photographer eats something.  Another part of my job is heading the wedding papparazzi off at the pass in the nicest way possible.

What does that mean?  It means that I watch for those serial amateurs who will flash their point and shoot 30 or 40 times during the cake cutting sometimes ruining our shots.  It means that I watch for those who will get up and stand in front of the photographer to get the shots she has set up.  It helps that I am not a small girl like Samantha.  I just step in front of them and let them know they can have at it when she is done.  :)  There is nothing that can be done for those who stand in the aisle to get the bride walking down about 15 feet away from both of us but right in the way of the shot.  At my daughter's wedding, a zealous budding photographer stood with the photographer at the altar to get her shots.
Murillo boys Look up...it's her! Here comes the bride 
 I have seen the results of these self professed amazing pictures and I am surprised that they don't see the difference between an amateur with a point and shoot trying to get the shot the trained photographer has set up with professional equipment.  Now don't get me wrong, many times the amateurs will catch moments the professional might not get.  As friends and family, they know the relationships of most of the people there.  The wedding is also part of their memories as well and many will never see the very expensive wedding album so it's an important opportunity for guests to get those pictures of their friends and family all dudied up real purty, smiling and happy where big bucks were spent on them to show up at a pretty place.
traditional cake fun
I was recently invited to a wedding of a young man who grew up around our kids.  The family has recently moved away so I knew we wouldn't get to see the wedding pictures.  They also could not invite everyone they would  have liked to so many friends wanted to see pictures of the wedding.  As a guest, I wanted to capture my own memories but I knew from experience photographing weddings that I wanted to stay out of the photographers way.  I brought my midrange dslr with a nice prime lens and another in my handbag.  I left my flashes at home, that would just make me look like the wannabe wedding photographer, right?  We got there late (due to a Starbucks/Krispy Kreme detour) but that always means a seat in the back where I can see most of the action and stay out of the way of the professionals.
singing "My Guy" to her man  first dance
The wedding was at midday outside which is the worst light unless you are an gifted flash ninja cuz' even photoshop isn't going to get the harsh shadows off their faces.  I don't mind them so much because my memories of a beaming young man marrying the gorgeous girl of his dreams colors my images with a rosy glow.  I did take one photo of the photographers set up about 5 to 7 feet behind her with my 85mm lens.  I am sure hers was beautiful because she was countering the harsh glare and shadows with her flash.  But I will never see it, it was a beautiful pose - I wish I knew who the photographer was now.

I hope I was not a wedding papparazzi.  I didn't take a huge amount of pictures, only enough for my memories to share with other friends of the groom...like this great one of the grooms only nephew dancing with himself.
Aidan dancing with himself

Note:  I've been meaning to write this for awhile now...a post by http://www.digital-photography-school.com/ got me to actually do it.  What would be interesting is to hear from the photographer of this wedding.  What do you think?


So what do you do with a fussy newborn?

jake1 the best one of the bunch
...the best you can!  I am portfolio building for a website launch with my daughter Samantha.  We have some jobs lined up and we need to round out our portfolio for a website.  A friend who is also portfolio building (PatriciaEstellePhotography.com) asked me to join her in this photo shoot.

We met at my house, I have a ton of newborn props and setups ready to go.  Little Jake has had a rough start.  He had to go into the hospital for a few days right after he was born because he wasn't gaining any weight.  So although he is better, he was having a hard time if he wasn't right on his mama. 

In that instance, I think photographing the baby in mama's arms is the way to go but she wasn't prepared for that so we did what we could.  The room was toasty warm for him, he was fed but he had a hard time relaxing.  I didn't even get a baby toes shot because he struggled so much to be comfortable unless he was swaddled up tight, poor baby.  
He had his big sister with him so we took a few shots with her while he settled down.
jake (sister) 5 jake (sister) 4
We tried the suspended hammock setup but he hard a hard time getting comfortable even though we had his mother right underneath him rocking him gently (and for safety...very important!)  First we set up our focus and settings with a lettered beach ball then we had mama hold him in her arms in the fabric of the sling as she slid underneath.  He was somewhat still for about 5 seconds and then he just had enough.
jake setup ake in a sling Portfolio Building Newborn Shoot

When a baby is done, he is DONE.  Jake let his mama know he couldn't take anymore so we called it a day.  His mama said she would be happy with one good shot and she wanted the pictures of his unhappy faces.  It was good practice but I was worried about this little guy for a few days.  The mama dog in me wants to make sure all little pups I meet are safe and happy, I hate to see a baby feel bad.  I am sure he is feeling more secure over time knowing his sweet mama is taking good care of him as long as he doesn't have to go back to the hospital (and it looks like he won't have to.)
           jake10 Jake 3 - Portfolio Building - reality of a newborn photo shoot


So this is love...

My daughter and her boyfriend have loved each other since they were children...okay, it's been 5 years but they were only 17 and 18...babies, really.  They are talking marriage now and Samantha is taking more pictures to document their love.  (I'm gagging a little here, gotta work on being more sentimental...isn't that important in a photographer?)  She's trying to figure out how she is going to photograph her own wedding, not really.  She has already narrowed down her choices of photographer, this is more important than the ring...haha!

I hope this brings back memories for you or gives you something to look forward to or even softens your hardened heart (you know you want to be a softie!)


,,,so it's all about the shadows for me and Iheartfaces.com

I have so much fun experimenting when it comes to taking pictures of my grandson.  Little boys don't have as many fun props as little girls.  Little girls have tutus and flowers and crowns and wings, tea parties and dolls...so many girly, fun things.  Little boys have old toys and hats....same pose, different hat. 
film noir 
I bought a fedora from Blueberry Hill at WPPI and looked forward to the photo shoot I would have with my grandson.  I recently went to the Flashbus Tour with David Hobby and Joe McNally demonstrating off camera flash techniques  I absolutely had to put what I learned to use so I used the fedora as my inspiration for creating mood with off camera flash (post coming on the lessons learned).  Here is one of the images from a set using ambient window light as the fill light and off camera flash as the key light.  The deep shadows are created when the ambient light gets dialed down in the camera for drama.  The flash is behind a Lumiquest Softbox on the floor sideways dialed down to 1/32 power manually so as not to blind the kid or blow out the details.  The "neon light reflection" is done in postprocessing.

You can see more creative shadow images from other photographers on Iheartfaces current challenge here!


So it's time for the random...

Often photography guides will tell you to get on a child's level, don't look down on the kids but I say "PishPosh" or whatever polite way I can think of to disagree.  When a child is trying to get your attention and you look down and see this cute face, well you just want to capture it as is.  So here is some bigheaded kid happiness of one of my favorite non grandkid kids.
To make this just about the Tay-ster, I eliminated the busy background (with the lasso tool/delete), selected the area around her and on another Photoshop layer, painted it white then gave it a good strong gaussian blur.  It's like she's lookin' right at you, isn't it.  I'm pretty sure she's askin' for something and I gotta tell her to ask her mom and dad...I just wanna give it to her but she'll get a big hug and a tickle right away instead.  This smile should get you through the week, consider yourself hugged and tickled.


...so it's April Fools and March's Best Face!

and as they say, there's no fool like an old fool.  I have been furiously working on orders, projects and a website so I was caught unawares with the shenanigans that is April Fools Day.  I got caught up in an email prank, I was totally thrown off by Iheartfaces.com's goofy post for a new "Photography Posing Guide book"  and editing Photo Booth pictures just made me realize that today is no day for serious work.  So here is an image from one of our Photo Booths that will make you laugh.  Heeeeeere's Johnny!
photoboothfaces - there's been some pretty crazy April fool's shenanigans today so this pictures my mood as a result.
For more April Fool's pranks to tickle your funnybone, go here! ...or here for another photography joke!

In all seriousness, this was a test for a basic photobooth with a plain white background where the faces of those being photographed are the focus.  The images can be fun with props or people can use the photobooth as a DIY portrait session.  I've been meaning to capture Johnny's faces before he outgrows his goofy stage and won't do them anymore so this is my favorite face for March.  You can see more at Iheartfaces.com


...SOOC Seascape too beautiful for words, an adventure!

sooc Cannon Beach, Oregon
I went to Portland Oregon for a few days to join my beloved on a business trip and decided to drive here, a place I didn't know anything about other than it would be worth the drive and it had big dramatic rocks.  My husband and I drove down during a heavy downpour (tsunami warnings from Japan's quake kept us from going on a nicer day weather wise).  Our GPS took us the most roundabout way possible so we got there very late in the day, almost sundown.  But it was totally worth the drive to get this shot!  
We walked down to the beach between some houses with my tripod in a freezing wind and the clouds parted for just a moment .  Everything went from blue/grey to natural sepia sand tones and I was fumbling like crazy with my settings...since manual is still new for me.  The light kept changing and so did my settings...this is my favorite shot, I can still hardly believe I got it!  We drove a total of 6 hours to see this...oh, and our dinner was amazing as well...we drove back to Portland happy with our adventure although a little nervous on a dark unknown road in the rain!  I feel like a real photographer now.


...so it's wednesday and that means a little something I call...

It's just a little something today of favorite things.  I wish I could still wear shoes like these!  I snuck into Samantha's room and took a photograph of a couple of her favorite things.  Then I had a little fun taking more photos of her closet but you'll have to jump over to flickr to see those! 
samantha's favorite things and a Fashion Blog Inspiration


...sometimes a photograph inspires the art

I decided to reinstate hump day happiness to get you through the week even though somebody creeped me out with what it means to them, the sicko.  For those of you that toil away at work or at home longing to get through the week or be somewhere else or following your dream, I offer a little inspiration.

Have I mentioned my daughter is a photographer?  Okay, I'm a proud mama.  It's exciting to see her blossom as an artistic person and to see that her work inspires others makes me very proud.  Recently she was going through her tumblr and unexpectedly found a sketch inspired by one of her photographs.  It was drawn by another talented young woman in Chile.  Her flickr stream is all sketches based on the photographs she finds in tumblr.  Some of her sketches would take you to the kittens if they were photographs probably as NSFW but I love the simple sketch she created from Samantha's very innocent photograph.  (I'm an old lady and since many of my blogreaders are children's photographers, I thought I would just give a little warning but I want her mama to be proud she is getting exposure too!)  

Here is her pretty little sketch...
le chat

Here is Samantha's photograph that inspired it...
Poor little rich girl

I can't tell you how excited I was when my favorite blog from the writer of a favorite decorating book The Paris Apartment used one of her photographs in this post.  We live in a small town on the way to nowhere and Samantha would like to do commercial/fashion work.  As she finishes her schooling and continues to photograph, we hope the internet exposure is a good thing.  We'll see won't we?
Note:  The cat in the photograph (Neal) has been missing for a few days with the recent cold storms.  We are hoping his sweet nature captivated another family and not the coyotes, owls or hawks.  We miss him dearly as does his brother.