Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Baxter Thagreat

I meant to write this blog months ago. I even included "write Baxter's blog" on my to-do list this past Saturday. But of course, I put it off and I shouldn't have.

Where to begin... where to begin...

I'll start with Bryce, an amazing amazing young man that I have been fortunate enough to know. If my daughters grow up to be anything like him, I will be a proud mama. I wrote a blog about him here if you would like to know a little bit about Bryce and why I think he is so amazing.

Last year, Bryce was moving away to college and wanted a canine companion to take with him. He scoured all the local shelters in search of the perfect dog. After a long day, Bryce finally found Baxter at Sacramento County Animal Care and Regulation and took him home. Bryce asked if I would photograph him and Baxter in San Francisco, which I was thrilled to do. Except that life got crazy (both Bryce's and mine) and we just didn't get around to it.

Baxter became quite ill. About the time that Bryce thought it was time to say goodbye, Baxter rallied. Back to his old, silly self, we decided that we needed to get his portraits done ASAMFP and we headed out to San Francisco. I had contacted the amazing Anna Kuperberg for location recommendations (I attended her fabulous dog photography workshop in SF last year and thought she would be the perfect person to ask). At the top of her list was Bernal Hill - an off-leash dog park with sweeping views of the city. Bryce, Baxter and I hiked our way up the hill and had ourselves a wonderful afternoon. We weren't able to shoot all the way up until sunset (used to the 100 degrees at home, we weren't prepared for the blustery wind on the hill). Here are a few of my favorites from that day:

As I was checking Facebook on Monday morning, I read the sad news that Baxter's illness had returned. However, this time he wasn't able to rally and Bryce had to say farewell to his buddy Baxter. Bryce, I hope that you don't mind me sharing these with everyone. I love these photos as they celebrate Baxter's life and the bond that you two have. THANK YOU for asking me to take these. I am sorry that Baxter is no longer with you, but I am so very thankful that I am able to give these to you so that you will have a little piece of Baxter forever and always.

Rest in peace, Baxter. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Silver Spoon

I'm sure that you have heard of the Midas touch... a person has that special quality where everything he/she touches turns to gold. When it comes to children's clothing, I have the anti-Midas touch. It has happened to me twice now. First, I fell head-over-heels in love with Peek... Aren't You Curious. They had a store in Roseville which was just the cutest place ever. I went there not only for the clothes, but to hang out with Rachelle and Michelle... two of the nicest people I have ever met in a mall. But, since I have the anti-Midas touch, the store closed it's doors (although the company still sells online and at Nordstrom). Devastated, I was forced to find a new place to outfit my girls with adorable, unique clothing.

Enter The Silver Spoon in Roseville. This store carries gorgeous lines of clothing that you won't find just anywhere. Designers like Eliane et Lena, Deux par Deux, Isobella and Chloe, Mayoral, Blu Pony Vintage... the list goes on and on. Don't get me wrong, I am all about the Target clothes for play (since my girls are about as messy as boys and can wreck clothes before I can screech "noooooooo!"). But when I want my girls to look nice (or when I just wanted to hear strangers say "oh my goodness... look at how CUTE those girls are!"), I shop at The Silver Spoon.

About the time I reached fanatic status, The Silver Spoon announced they were closing their doors. I was devastated. And I blamed my anti-Midas touch for the closure. Surely it was my fault, and only my fault.

Fortunately, The Silver Spoon is maintaining an online store complete with all of the gorgeous clothes that I know and love. And as the icing on the cake, Barbara and Kathy have asked me to shoot some of these clothes for their website. For the past couple of months, I have been like a kid in a candy store... photographing my adorable girls in some of the cutest children's clothes out there.

Our first shoot was with some gorgeous fall clothes by Mayoral Chic, who hails from Spain.

Chloe will not take this shirt off.
She doesn't care if it is 105 degrees outside, she will wear it.

I love this dress.
Love, love, love it.

And this outfit, too.

Our next shoot was at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco. Gary and I took the girls to the Exploratorium and I thought that the neighboring Palace would be a fabulous backdrop for some tutus.

And who knew that the back of the Exploratorium would be an awesome set for this 
fabulous animal print coat by Lipstik Girls?
Shhhhh, don't tell anyone but I want this coat for myself.

Our third shoot was at the Old Schoolhouse in Old Sacramento. I thought it would be the perfect setting for some classic and vintage inspired clothing. And it was the first time my little one would help out in the modeling department. I think she did pretty well, even if she refused to wear shoes...

And then we headed across the street to get a few shots of this ridiculously fabulous 
Lipstik Girls ensemble.
A gold leather biker jacket with sequined hood complete with ivory ruffled skirt?
Yes please.

For our most recent shoot, I thought it would be fun to bring some other kids into the mix. I had met an awesome woman at a Silver Spoon event a few months earlier, and I recalled that she had two young children. Barbara set us up and we got some great shots at her family's vineyard. Not only was the place gorgeous, but her kids were just the nicest, sweetest kids ever (I'm thinking of trading mine in). And Krista was a fabulous hostess, putting up with me and my camera through tons of wardrobe changes in the unseasonable heat.

Kiley giving us a twirl in a Isobella and Chloe dress

Yes, Silver Spoon has boy clothes.
Thank you Cole, you cutie patootie in a train t-shirt.

Chloe and Kiley in Eliane et Lena dresses.
I took this one home with me. Chloe is wearing it in her school pictures.

Kiley, have you been watching ANTM?

I love this t-shirt.
In fact, I am contemplating buying it for my girls.

Chloe in Lemon Loves Lime dress

Kiley in a Lipstik Girls shirt.
I love this shot.

And last, but not least, my favorite shots of the day.
Kiley the princess.

I wasn't able to shoot all of the adorable clothes the Silver Spoon loaned to me to photograph. There are tons and tons more... Please go to their website and check it out. The holidays are rapidly approaching... I know there are a few things on my list that I can check off here...

Friday, October 21, 2011

My Happy Place

I have been sooooooo bad about blogging. Not for lack of material. In fact, I have so much stuff to write about, I don't know where to begin. As each day passes, I feel a little more guilty for not writing and to avoid the guilt, I put blogging off for a better time. Ah, the trappings of a procrastinator.

Today is the day that I have decided to get back to my poor, neglected blog. I am starting with some photos that I took last winter in January. I think I posted one image from my trip (thank goodness I did, because I think I accidentally deleted the original file). I had meant to blog more photos, but... inevitably... I put it off.

I am supposed to be in Yosemite right now. It has been a tradition that Gary and I have, to go every year. It is our happy place. It is the first "vacation" we took together, the place where he asked me to marry him. It is the place where we are at peace with everything which, at times, seems like an impossible feat. We were going to go this weekend (after rescheduling our trip twice). But, life got busy and we rescheduled again.

Rather than be sad, I am going to use this opportunity to post some photos and to kick start a blogging avalanche (or so I can hope).

I will start with the smallest waterfall in Yosemite, Fern Springs. I think that I may actually be taller than this adorable little spout. It is my understanding that the water is cold, refreshing and absolutely safe to drink. But I abstained as I couldn't shake the fear of contracting giardia, Baylisascaris or some other parasite I learned about in school.

El Capitan. 
The first morning I shot this monolith from the valley floor.  

And the second morning, from Tunnel Bridge.

Sunset at Tunnel Bridge.

The colors and cloud formations that night were outrageous.
It was as though the sky was on fire.

And my final sunset in Yosemite.
While millions of people were watching the Superbowl,
I was watching this:

This is the image I posted on my FB page.
And subsequently deleted.

I hope that Yosemite is having fun this weekend without my family and me. I know that we will be missing you. Until we meet again...

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Your Opinion, please

Last month I was so moved by a photo I saw online that I posted this blog. I received a lot of positive response and have been so excited about my mini-sessions for military service people and their pets. Since that post, I have named the event "Vets and Pets" and have confirmed that it will be held at Sacramento County Animal Control and Regulation on November 11, 2011. Several of my friends have volunteered to help and I am so thankful to them (I will be calling upon you very soon).

The purpose of this event is to celebrate the bond between soldiers and their companions. And in order to advertise for this event, I figured that I need to start with a sample photo of a military person and his/her pet. My first thought, of course, was my husband and one of our many animals. Gary served in the US Army as a tank gunner. At the tender age of 19, he was shipped to the Gulf where he sat on a tank, named Budweiser, for 3 months. And for the 4 days of Operation Desert Storm, he didn't sleep. I don't think his mother slept either. Fortunately, he made it home safely.

Gary does not like to be photographed. And when he is photographed, he usually makes stupid faces which ruin the photo. Given his initial response to my idea ("don't do it, it will be too sad"), I figured there was no way that he would volunteer. So I didn't give him the chance to say no. When Gary came home from work, I asked him to put on his favorite Army hat, grab our cat Mop and meet me outside in front of the American flag (which he hung for September 11th). Much to my surprise, Gary and Mop were fairly cooperative. And I got a few shots that I just love. Mostly because my rough-and-tumble husband adores his one-eyed Persian cat and is not afraid to show it. And amazingly enough, Gary loves these shots, too. When I expressed my surprise, he said "why wouldn't I like them? It's me and Mop!". Mission accomplished.

Here are the 2 shots that I am contemplating using for the flyer for the event. I would love your opinion as I cannot be objective (it's my husband and our cat... what's not to love?). Please feel free to comment either here, on Facebook or email me with your opinions and/or suggestions. All thoughts are totally appreciated.

Shot #1

and shot #2

What do you think? Are either of these photos that would encourage a service person to come out to the shelter on a holiday and have his/her picture taken? And perhaps with a less-than-jubilant pet? 

I'll keep you posted. Over and out.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Trying to find a way to say thank you

I came across an image a few days ago on Facebook, shared by my friend Jacquie. It was a screenshot from a CBS news story on the funeral of Jon Tumilson, a US Navy Seal who was killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan. The image shows Tumilson's casket, draped in an American flag. And on the floor lay his loyal companion Hawkeye, who was guarding his best friend one final time.

I cannot get this image out of my head. And each time I think about it, tears roll down my face. My heart breaks for Hawkeye, for Tumilson, for his family and friends. And I want to do something to make it all better... give Hawkeye a treat, or throw him a ball. Or just give him his friend back.

The logical side of my brain began searching for ways to help the dominant, highly emotional side of my brain. And it produced an idea. It won't help Hawkeye or Tumilson's family, but it may help other soldiers who love their pets as Tumilson loved Hawkeye. I tried to tell my husband about it, and all that came out between the tears and sobs was "soldier... pet... photos...". Gary's reaction was "Nope. Too sad". Which made me think that my idea is not sad at all. In fact, it is a very happy idea.

My idea is to have a mini portrait session for US Armed Forces members and their pets. I don't know the Where or the How or the Who... but the When will be on Veteran's Day, which is Friday, November 11th. The cost will be a donation to a favorite charity (for example, a bag of dog food to the local shelter) and in return, you will receive an 8x10 print. I am trying to find a way to say thank you to those men and women in uniform who risk their lives so that we may have freedom. And I am trying to find a way to say thank you to the faithful companions of these soldiers, who await their friend's safe return.

Since I have never done anything like this before, I am going to need lots of help. And ideas. Like where to hold this event, how to get the word out, etc... If you would like to help me say thank you to our soldiers and their furry friends, please send me an email at or send me a message on my Facebook page.

You can read the story about Hawkeye here. Warning: grab a case of tissues.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

My Little Photographers

I am often asked if I want my girls to be vets when they grow up. It is a valid question, as both of their parents, as well as their grandfather, are veterinarians. I usually answer that question with an "I hope not!". Because I don't want them to feel that they are obligated to follow in our footsteps. And because the road to becoming a veterinarian is a long, hard and expensive one. And the hours just get longer and longer once you actually become a veterinarian (just ask Gary, who left at 3 this morning and probably won't get home until 6 or 7 tonight). If my girls are passionate about veterinary medicine and decide that is what they want to do, then we will support them all the way. We will support them no matter what they choose to do in life, with the following caveats: 1) it has to be legal and 2) they have to be able to support themselves.

Last week, Chloe asked if she could take pictures with my camera. I thought it was cute, so I handed her my old D80, put it on auto mode and gave her a few instructions. Before she got busy, she asked me to help wash her Sleeping Beauty doll's hair... Chloe wanted her to look beautiful for her photo shoot. I found myself spending the next hour washing, drying and styling the doll's hair. I can't even style my own hair, let alone the synthetic mop sitting atop Sleeping Beauty. But I gave it my best and handed her over to Chloe. Who ran off and closed the door to her bedroom. She emerged a few minutes later and showed me the photos she had taken. This is straight out of the camera (I didn't think it would be fair to Photoshop her work):

Now I realize that I am totally biased, but I just love this photo! I love her composition (she utilized the rule of thirds!) and her perspective. I love that I can see the toe of her pink cowgirl boot in the edge of the shot. I love that Chloe picked up the camera and produced an image that she is proud of. And most importantly, I love that she had a blast doing it:

Little Miss Macro

Little sister had to get in on the fun, too. Although I think she is not quite ready for the D80 yet:

Who knows where this will all go... for all I know, they will grow out of this new phase as they do everything else. But just in case it does go somewhere, I have a portrait all ready for Chloe's first magazine article, spotlighting the hottest new photographer in the business: