Senior Pictures

Reasons You Should Have Senior Pictures Taken

It’s finally the time of year when the sun begins to poke its head out again and we have the types of days that lure you out to the city parks.  In addition to the sun creeping out, the retail store shelves have suddenly become lined with stuffed animals bearing a cap and gown and space for signatures and “Oh the Places You’ll Go” books out front.  Not only does this time of year signal the beginning of spring, it’s also a signal that many people are completing an educational milestone. Its graduation season.  Though people graduate throughout the year, May and June tend to be the biggest months for celebrating these accomplishments, with one of the biggest being high school graduations.

High school graduations have come with their own traditions since just about forever.  Some are ancient and over the top, but a few are worth continuing: one of which is senior pictures. Having senior pictures taken is a good idea for several reasons and most of them are extremely unselfish or vain.  So, before you think about skipping out on them, read ahead for a few reasons that you shouldn’t.

Senior Pictures

Reason # 1: The Family

Your family and close friends like having solid proof that all the love and support they have provided to the graduate over the years has actually matriculated into a finished product and a more well-developed person.  Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and even 2nd cousins have watched you grow up and it’s nice to have comparison photos throughout the years.

Senior Pictures

Reason # 2: For Practical Reasons

If you are a proper person or just someone who likes people to receive gifts for their accomplishments, you will likely send out invitations to the graduation ceremony. A nice addition to any graduation invitation is a picture of who is exactly graduating.  Many of your guests may not have seen you in some years, so including a picture will help them put a name to a now-grown-up face. If you slip and miss sending out the photos with the invitations, they can also be saved and sent with the thank you notes.

Senior Pictures

Reason # 3: To Share and Exchange with Friends

I know you may have heard this before, but it is very likely that you (or the graduate) will never see some of these high school friends again. Everyone grows up and moves to different places and chooses different paths in life, so having the ability to exchange photos makes sure they have something to show when they are telling stories about how much of a blast you guys had in physics class. 

Senior Pictures

Reason # 4: To Capture Who You Are at This Moment

As mentioned in reason number 3, you may end up going down many different roads as you progress into adulthood.  Your habits, interest and friends may change, so senior photos are a good opportunity for you to capture exactly who you are in this moment.  Has playing basketball defined your high school years?  Maybe the debate team or spanish club?  No matter what your interests are at this moment, try to capture them in your photos.  Meet your photographer at an empty basketball court and use that as a setting or bring props that have special meaning to you. Make your photo shoot representative of you.

Senior Pictures

Reason # 5: To Celebrate Your Accomplishment!

I would say the most important reason to get those senior photos done, is that it gives you the opportunity to celebrate your own accomplishment!  Finishing high school is a big deal.  We have all been there and know how crazy those 4 (or maybe 5!) years can be, but you have done it and done it well.  That deserves a celebration.  That deserves photos that you can look back on and smile or share with the future graduates that come after you.

Senior Pictures

Valentine’s Themed Birth Announcement | Cooper Family

One of the best parts of my job is that I get to collect amazing clients as friends and that often, long after I photograph them for the first time, they hire me again and again for their changing and growing families. Julia and Mark were wed in a beautiful Edgewood wedding last summer. When they decided to add onto their family this winter, the first thing they did was email me, which is the highest honor! Julia is incredibly creative and has an awesome eye for graphic design. In fact, she used to work at Minted and designed all her own wedding invitations and stationary. Her idea for the newest addition was just as inventive: a Valentine’s themed birth announcement! I was so honored to brunch with them in Berkeley and then tromp around the greens at the UC Berkeley Botanical Garden to make her awesome idea come to fruition.

 

Valentine's Themed Birth AnnouncementValentine's Themed Birth Announcement Valentine's Themed Birth Announcement

 

Fun Family Portrait Photography – Lake Tahoe, NV

The Kallaher family is like my own personal dream come true. They read that I love happy hour on my website and thus decided to start our family portrait session at their vacation rental with wine and cheese. Be still my heart! They also used to live in Belgium and I spent at least an hour after their session picking their brain on the country and the best places to visit. Their kids were energetic, definately not camera shy, and great to work with. The entire family was relaxed and wasn’t afraid to just let their kids be kids and the end result was a fantastic well rounded gallery of really fun family portrait photography to enjoy for years to come.

Fun Family Portrait Photography Fun Family Portrait Photography

Napa engagement session

Napa Engagement Session | Sarah + Tanner

Sarah and Tanner really wanted their engagement session to feel like a normal day and didn’t want anything too posed or formal.  They had fallen in love with my work through their friend Kelley, whose engagement session to her now husband Neal, was a romp around San Francisco.  Since Sarah and Tanner had already planned a trip with her family out to California, we decided to all meet for a Sunday funday together for their Napa engagement session.  It was a blast!  We played bocce and picnicked at their bungalow on a vineyard to start, took in an incredible vista, went wine tasting at the winery that Tanner’s brother works at, Ashes and Diamonds, and all finished up at an incredible dinner in town at one of their favorite spots.  It was such a great way to get to know the two of them and I had such a blast exploring one of my favorite places.  I’ve since been back to Ashes and Diamonds multiple times because I absolutely fell in love with their wine and I am super excited to photograph their wedding in Aspen, CO over Labor Day weekend this year!

Napa Engagement Session

Chart House Wedding

Chart House Wedding | Ashley + Tim

Once upon a time, two people named Ashley and Tim hired me to be their Chart House wedding photographer and to do an engagement session with them in my hometown of Dallas, TX but really what’s really important is that we got drunk and ate pizza and they met my mom and we became best friends forever.   

True story.

Tim is from Northern CA and he convinced Ashley that they should get married in Tahoe in August of this past year.  She was very concerned that it was going to rain.  “It never rains in Tahoe in the summer,” Tim assured her over and over.  “It NEVER rains in Tahoe in the summer!” I exclaimed with ultimate authority over and over.

It POURED.

But thankfully it poured seconds AFTER their ceremony and stopped by the first dance so clearly they are going to have the best of luck for the rest of their lives, which is what we tell people so that they feel better when it rains on their wedding day but is actually a lie.

Second true story.

Ashley’s aunts can really break it down on the dancefloor.  

Third true story.

Also, I went home with one of their wedding guests.

True or false?  You decide.

We were also all super pumped to do a post wedding portrait session and we went tromping all over the rocks out at Angora Lakes a few days later so I included some of those gorgeous images at the end of their wedding images.

Venue: The Chart House | Florist: Thran’s | DJ: Cornerstone Entertainment | Bride’s Attire: Allure Bridals from Terry Costa | Bridesmaid Attire: Lulu’s | Groom’s Apparel: J Crew | Groomsmen Attire: The Black Tux | Rentals: Camelot Party Rentals

Chart House Wedding Chart House Wedding Bride and Groom

Sand Harbor Engagement Session

Tahoe Marriage Proposal | Sand Harbor | Bill + Kayla

I found out after the fact that Kayla had given Bill pretty clear instructions: she needed to have her nails done and she wanted there to be a photographer.  He managed to nail both of those and to be a bit sneaky, instead of having me hide in the bushes or troll around the beach pretending to be a tourist for his Tahoe marriage proposal, we decided to have his mother gift her a portrait certificate for Christmas. 

The plan went off mostly without a hitch, save the fact that I expected him to get down on one knee more than 25 minutes earlier than he did in the session.  I was agonizing inside and wondering if he had changed his mind!

In the end, she said yes, obviously and we ended up with some of the most gorgeous Tahoe light I’ve had in recent months for our sunset session at Sand Harbor State Park.

Bill and Kayla: congratulations!  I’m so thrilled to have been a part of your proposal and that I was able to capture the start of a long and happy life together!

Sand Harbor Marriage Proposal 

Austin engagement photographer

Austin Engagement Photographer | Halie + Price

Once upon a time in my past life, I was a camp counselor at Camp Mystic for Girls.  I was a counselor there for six years.  Camp Mystic is a magical place where every summer, girls return again and again to spend either two weeks or a month of their summer with their cabin-mates, which stay the same all of their years spent there.  I was always the counselor who was left alone on my co-counselors’ nights off with dozens of children under the age of 10 to corral.  My cabin almost always had the privilege of getting out of rest hour early for commissary due to the fact that I consistently threatened to throw anything they left on the cabin floor out the front door.  I taught swimming and diving as my activities, training girls to do inwards and gainers and one-and-a-halfs despite their fears and worries.  I met and watched amazing young women grow up before my eyes and to this day, thanks to social media, I still keep in touch with many of them.  One of them lives in Mexico City, one studied abroad in London, some are married, a few are engaged, a few already have children.  I am so proud of all of them and who they have become.  

And then the day came that one of them got engaged and then asked me to photograph their wedding and that made me feel incredibly, unbelievably esteemed.    

You wouldn’t have to press me hard to say that Halie was always one of my favorites.   She has turned into the beautiful, smart, engaging woman I expected her to become.  There has always been a spark of laughter in her eye and to no surprise, she’s found the most amazing partner for her life.  Price is charming, respectful and clearly loves her.  I am so honored to photograph their wedding, which will be held just down the street from Mystic at Camp La Junta, and even more excited to share their Austin engagement session, during which I basically just made them go everywhere. At least we did have cocktails first though. Thanks for accomodating me, y’all and thanks for the highest honor you can bestow on your camp counselor.

Austin Engagement Photographer Austin Engagement Photographer Austin Engagement PhotographerAustin Engagement Photographer Austin Engagement Photographer

 

If you’re wondering, the umbrellas are an art installation on Aldrich Street in the Mueller neighborhood.

 

Tahoe Winter Engagement | Sand Harbor State Park | Tom + Tori

Tom and Tori had Tahoe on their bucket list for ages.  She was desperate to see the splendor that Tahoe has to offer: epic snow capped mountains, the seemingly endless lake, and fresh mountain air.  They travelled all the way from Atlanta for a getaway and wanted to capture a Tahoe winter engagement session while they were here and I have to say, totally lucked out on weather that day.  Sand Harbor State Park continues to be one of my favorite locations for portrait sessions and this day was no exception.  The lake provided an exceptionally unbelievably special sunset that night with silver strands of wispy light that bathed the beaches in a really special glow. 

Tori told me that she knew I was the photographer for them based on my FAQ not so subtly suggested that alcohol is the solution to shy partners who are hesitant to be photographed.  Their solution: champs on the beach.  

My kind of people indeed.

Tahoe Winter EngagementTahoe Winter EngagementTahoe Winter Engagement

Austin Family Portraits

Why Fall is the Best Season for Family Photos in Texas

About three years ago, after gaining a new writing client, I thought it was time to finally get some
professional headshots taken. The timing was perfect. I was updating my website and had created some
marketing materials so things were falling into place.  Everything was great, except for the fact that it was
the end of June, in Texas. Of course, the photoshoot needed to be outside to catch some of the amazing
natural light, which meant that I spent about three hours in the sun on a 103° day. Keeping the river of
sweat on my forehead from photobombing my professional shots proved to be more work than the mile-
long hike it took to get to the location of the shoot. I survived that shoot, but later on I thought about how
it could have easily been avoided had I planned for a shoot in the cooler months. Hopefully this post will
convince you to do the same.

So, Texas is finally getting some fall weather, which in the South typically means anytime the
temperature drops below 70 degrees.  Southerners have waited an excruciatingly hot six months (yes, six
months) of summer for these cool days. Now is the perfect time to get out there and take those family
photos. Why wait until the winter season to have your holiday card photos taken? Here are a few reasons
why the fall season is best time to line up little Timmy and Tanya or Rufus the labradoodle outside and
create photos that will last a lifetime

 

Tahoe family portraits

1. You Won’t Melt into a Puddle of Sweat.

Please see my story above.  Let’s face it, it’s hot as Hades in Texas between the months of June-October.
 Around the end of October we finally start to see glimpses of what I like to call, “Cold Front Season.”
 It’s not quite a normal fall in terms of getting cold and staying that way, it’s more like a cold front that
drops temperatures below 70 degrees for a few days, and then it jumps back up to 85°-90°. Either way,
you have to take advantage of the ability to actually sit (or stand) outside for longer than 30 minutes,
which means the photo shoot won’t leave you burned and applying aloe vera to your skin several days
later.  You can actually pick a shoot location outdoors and get some great natural lighting without melting
your face off!

family photos

2.  The Colors Duke, the Colors!

Summer is nice, but in Texas it tends to get so hot, that things just turn brown and die without some
diligence in watering. However, fall seasonal colors are the best.  The foliage is no longer getting beat up
by the unbearable summer sun and the leaves finally begin to realize that winter is coming.  What that
means for you is that there are lovely colors everywhere, and lovely colors mean lovely pictures.  Because
fall colors tend to be neutrals, you can color coordinate to your heart’s content.  In addition to the color
coordinating, the weather is cool enough to add in some additional matching accessories.  Try hats,
mittens, gloves or scarves for additions to your holiday card.

3. Holiday Props

In addition to cooler weather, the fall season welcomes in what the internet lovingly refers to as
“HallowThanksmas,” or the season in which we celebrate or prepare for Halloween, Thanksgiving, and
Christmas/other holidays. What this means for you is that you have the ability to use lots and lots of props
of your choice in your photo shoots. Feel free to pull out that Menorah and Dreidel, plant yourself in a
pumpkin patch or pull out the famous ugly Christmas sweaters and lawn snowman. Try variations of all
of those things if you are feeling adventurous this year.  Just know that fall is the perfect season to take
advantage.

Hopefully this article encouraged you to go ahead and book your family photoshoot now. Take advantage
of the cool breezes, the awesome fall colors and the opportunity to pull out the Christmas tree early.  The
cool weather might not last for very long and come Christmas, we may very well be looking at a sunny 90
degree day.

Tahoe Family Photos

Sutter Creek Engagement Session | Morgan + Vittawat

Morgan and Vittawat met in high school.  Yes.  That still happens.  Flash forward ten years and they are both in advanced academia, living apart and engaged.  This summer, Morgan was working and studying in Sacramento while Vittawat was still in their hometown in Reno.  When we started talking about possibilities for portrait locations, I was quick to suggest a Sutter Creek engagement session.  I had been following them on instagram for awhile and knew that they both loved wine, the outdoors and exploring as much as I did.  It was also equal distance between all of us, which made it convenient for Vittawat to get to as a weekend getaway with Morgan. 

It was partially a selfish request – I LOVE Sutter Creek.  I had been eyeing it as a portrait location forever.  My best friend’s parents live in the nearby town of Plymouth and some of my favorite clients ever (ahem, Jack and Kyle, as well as, Kerri and David) were wed there.  It’s my home away from home and one of the places in the world I feel most comfortable.  Wine, country and golden light – what’s not to love?  

Sutter Creek Engagement Session

There are more of my favorite images from Morgan and Vittawat’s Sutter Creek engagement session after the jump.  Here are some travel suggestions if you would like to visit the area yourself.  

STAY:  While the area has no limit to the kitchy bed and breakfasts’ available for the traveler that loves doilies and gardens, there are quite a few adorable boutique hotels here now as well.  

  • The Hanford House Inn is my personal favorite for staying directly in the downtown of Sutter Creek.  Downtown is a relative term: there’s one adorably quaint and walkable mainstreet.  Don’t let the tiny town fool you though – what it lacks in size, it makes up for in friendliness and charm and it has everything you would need within your reach: wine tasting rooms, a gourmet cheese shop, and a provisional general store.  Hanford House delivers warm fresh scones to your front door every morning and offers free wine tasting in the lobby every evening.  
  • Is there anything more adorable than a boutique hotel named Rest?  The answer is no.  Obviously.  Rest is only 20 minutes away from Sutter Creek in Plymouth, CA and it happens to be located within walking distance to my favorite restaurant, Taste, in the area.  
  • The Union Pub and Inn in nearby Volcano only offers four rooms over an exceptional restaurant, which happens to be owned by the same owners as Taste.  It’s been a longtime dream of mine to get a crew of people together to rent out the entire lodge one weekend for a getaway.  

EAT: it’s a sad state of affairs when you think the food in the foothills is better than the food at home, but it’s true.  I would drive two hours to eat at any of these restaurants! 

  • Taste has been awarded up and down every list imaginable that involves food and wine and for good reason.  I jump at any chance to eat there.  I’ve never been disappointed with anything I’ve been served and more often than not the meals come with a surprise delightful twist.  I’m a huge fan of their Monday Night Supper menu, which offers a first, main, and dessert course at a pre-fixe price along with wine pairings.  
  • You can’t suggest the Union Pub and Inn without including them on the eat recommendation list as well.  Their inventive seasonal menu changes frequently and it’s incredibly charming to sit on the patio and wine and dine on a warm summer night. 
  • Element is housed in the lobby of the Hanford House Inn and it’s my go-to brunch spot in the area.  Their daily egg specials always make your menu decisions incredibly difficult.  

DRINK:

  • Yorba offers small lot, premium bold wines from the Amador area.  Their tasting room is directly next door to the Hanford House Inn and their Shake Ridge Red is not to be missed.
  • Terre Rouge and Easton offers a wide selection of variety of everything Plymouth has to offer.  Their tasting room is unpresumptuous and their selection outstanding.  I love everything they offer (which is why I’m a wine club member) but their barbaras and zins really stand out for me.  
  • Helwig Winery is worth a stop for a picnic lunch just for the incredible view of their beautiful grounds, as well as a bottle of their bubbly rose.  
  • I love C.G. Di Arie for their inventiveness and spunk.  I became enamored with them after meeting the owner, Chaim Gur-Arieh, a few years back.  It helps that they are NPR under-writers also.  Chaim was born in Istanbul, Turkey but immigrated to Israel as a teenager.  He has a PHD in food science and spent a number of years working to engineer the flavors and consistency behind some of America’s most beloved products (Hidden Valley Ranch!  Captain Crunch!).  His energy, enthusiasm and quirkiness won me over and this bleeds into his wines.  Their gallery collections offer something unique to the area: inventive heavy blends using grapes like the touriga.  

 

Sutter Creek Engagement Session Sutter Creek Engagement Session Sutter Creek Engagement Session