The Suitcase Studio » FUN Orange County family photography by The Suitcase Studio

daddy’s little cowgirls

The divorce was final a couple years ago, yet the family photos that filled his home still featured his ex-wife. She would ALWAYS be the girls’ mother, but now the 3 of them were their own distinct family unit as well. So we set out to fill his walls with new photos… and their hearts with new memories.

In the midst of this western-styled playground, with a plethora of things to see and touch, the girls’ favorite thing of all was to reach out to their daddy. He still carried the most magic out of everything they saw that day.

“Carry me, Daddy…” And with those simple words, and in the arms of her father, his littlest girl was content.

They held hands, wrestled, and tickled. They played bartender, restaurant, and even put on a concert with the couple pianos that were scattered about.

But most of all, their day was filled with lots of laughter and love.

What would YOUR story look like? I’d love to show you. Just click here to get started.


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a new kind of online love story

Way before Facebook and Instagram was the norm, I stumbled across Ronalyn’s blog and started following along. Comments led to discussions, discussions led to emails, and somehow we found ourselves as long-distance, online friends. She was in Maryland (and then moved to Alaska and later to Hawaii… they are an Air Force family), and I was here in Southern California.

And then my friend became my mentor. She was a photographer, and I was considering walking that path. I took a deep breath and asked if she had advice for me, where/how I might get started, etc. And while most people might do the opposite, she laid her soul bare to me, showed me the inner workings of her business, and helped me launch my own. From pricing to templates to vendor suggestions… then to ideas and support and even MORE support, she gave everything to this person whom she’d never met in real life.

I am, and will always be, eternally grateful for that… knowing there’s no way I’d be where I am today without her. (And she’s a HUGE reason as to why I try my best to pay-it-forward, as well, and help those who now come to ME for advice.)

Mentoring turned into deeper friendship, and I can honestly say that she’s one of my closest friends, and knows me inside out. We have come to know both the good and bad about each other. We email/text when we need to vent, when we need some support, and when we have something fabulous to share.

Finally meeting in person for the first time 3 years ago, we spent a few days together in Las Vegas for the WPPI expo, and it was as if we’d known each other a lifetime. (Seriously… it was like a 12-year old girls’ slumber party… with all the giggling and gabbing we did.)

Last night, we came together in person again… and it was like a slow-motion, running towards each other, mega-hug moment. Her family had come to California for vacation, and there was NO WAY I was missing out on seeing them! With limited time together, we met up at Downtown Disney for some drinks/dessert. Her kids entertained themselves on their phones for the most part, later mentioning how they don’t think any of us stopped for breath at all as we gabbed away. Ronalyn, myself, and our husbands… it was as if the four of us had been friends forever, and were just picking up where we’d last left off (even though the husbands had never met before, and we’d never met each other’s husband before this night). Magic. Simply magic. And two hours just flew by!

We left with promises to see each other again, not saying goodbye, but “see you later”… and were already texting each other again within minutes.






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first birthday cake smash

People say it’s rude to play with your food. But I disagree. Especially if you just happen to be turning ONE year old, and it’s your birthday cake in question.

first year cake smash session in orange county
first year cake smash session in orange county
first year cake smash session in orange county
first year cake smash session in orange county
first year cake smash session in orange county
first year cake smash session in orange county
first year cake smash session in orange county
first year cake smash session in orange county
first year cake smash session in orange county
first year cake smash session in orange county

before and after…

first year cake smash session in orange county

Contact me to learn more about how a cake-smash session can be the *perfect* addition to a first year photo session, and a great way to practice for the real cake at your kiddo’s first birthday party.

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Personal Branding is the New Professionalism

I’ve been chatting lately about the importance of having a great bio picture, and how it can really help get your message across. But today, it’s about pulling it all together.

Today’s post is by Nicole Longstreath of The Wardrobe Code:


Business Headshots in Orange County by The Suitcase Studio

There’s a saying that goes, “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover.”

Oh, honey – that’s so twentieth century.

Before you can establish a name for yourself as business person and service provider, you have to have good personal branding. And part of branding is telling your story in a visual way.

Not the story you think the world wants to hear, but your unique, compelling story.

So this is it, baby! A photo shoot is your chance to tell the world who you really are, to differentiate yourself from competitors, and to create an urgent, insatiable desire for your services.

Because, as most of us are aware, clients don’t buy services – they buy YOU.

Clients don’t buy a haircut, they buy attention and pampering.

Clients don’t buy the result of months of dieting and training, they buy the accountability and motivation that comes with a personal trainer.

Clients don’t buy legal services, they buy security and peace of mind.

So, for an upcoming photo shoot, you want to take a look at your current branding to see how you can create some consistency. Not in love with your current branding? No problem. Having an updated photo shoot is a great way to course-correct.

Business Headshots in Orange County by The Suitcase Studio

And, speaking of branding, we’re not just talking type fonts and colors.

When you’re planning a photo shoot, you need to consider 2 very important things:

1.) What is the overall theme or concept for my business?

For me, it’s rebellion.

My target customers feel like they’re on the outside looking in when it comes to fashion. They’re dying to be themselves and not ruled by trends – but they do have a desire to be fashionable in their own way.

So, for my own upcoming photo shoot with Michelle, we’re going with a theme of rebellion to communicate to my target clients, I get you.”

2.) How does that theme translate visually?

Remember when I said, “clients buy YOU”?

No pressure, but you’re basically summing up your entire personality and business in either one or a brief series of photos. However, you can make the process easier by gathering some inspiration images to help guide you – and Michelle – toward the final result.

(Pinterest is a good tool for this, by the way.)

First you need to consider your surroundings – do you want studio or on location?

A studio shoot is going to feel more polished. Everything is more controlled – the lighting, the setting, wind/no wind – and it usually puts 100% of the focus on you.

But maybe that’s not your brand. Maybe you want the scene to be part of your brand. Maybe your brand is more outdoorsy or artsy, and a specific, on location scene would actually help you tell your story.

Business Headshots in Orange County by The Suitcase Studio

Now that you’ve figured out where you’ll be shooting, you must decide what you’ll be wearing. Here’s the deal: you can’t phone this in with a plain white button-down and hope that your sparkling smile will be enough.

Long gone are the days when the ultimate goal was to look “professional.” Yes, professionalism counts, but people want to know you get them.

To plan your look for your photo shoot, go back to your photo shoot concept (remember, mine is rebellion) and plan your outfit around that. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you want to create a literal interpretation of your concept – like a costume – you simply want your outfit to be inspired by this concept.

I’ve been speaking a lot about

To help you put this together, imagine you’re your target client: what do you want them to feel when they see your photo?

The answer: this person gets me. They understand my troubles and have a solution for me.

See, it really comes down to being your true self – just dial it up half a notch for your photos by adding some interest with color, pattern, accessories. Even a simple, but spectacular, dress will do the trick.

And this is where making the investment of quality photography comes in.

Anybody can put a camera in your face and create a pretty picture – but what you need, as a business owner, is someone keen to helping you tell your story in a visual way. A way that compels your target client to imagine working with you, and how transformative it would be for their life.

That’s the thing about your clients – they just want to be understood. And they’re looking to hire someone to help them feel understood.


Nicole Longstreath is on a mission to save women from the dysfunctional shopping experience. She is a wardrobe stylist working with women across the globe to build personal brands that command attention and influence. You can find her at her home base,


Ready to update your bio photo? Click on the image below to learn more and save your spot!


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  • Great photos of an incredible woman with great style! Love them all.

n e w s l e t t e r