children's portraits

Inspiration & Creation // Sweetlight Collective Workshop

Tears spring to my eyes, my vision blurring as I stare at my computer screen. Hands quickly dashing the tears away so I can see what's in front of me. Only to have the tears come again. This is a good thing.

I did this. Wow... I did this? Yes.

I did this.

Childrens Portrait on Carousel Horse by The Suitcase Studio

My heart is so full it feels it might burst through my chest. My mind is exhausted but still racing... planning, thinking, creating.

Stylized Childrens Portrait in Teepee by The Suitcase Studio

It was a process. I'd forced myself to slow down, to take the time to envision. Create it, direct it, mold and shape the scene. Then add touches in post-edit to complete my original vision.

For the first time in a long time, I feel like a true artist.

And I'm excited to see what other creations await.


Stylized Childrens Portrait in field wearing animal mask by The Suitcase Studio

I am still reeling from my photo adventure last week. I'd attended a 2-day Sweetlight Collective workshop held by Skye Hardwick of Work of Heart Photography, where the focus was completely on learning to stylize children's portrait sessions, as well as incorporating posing techniques for the full effect. (Which will definitely be utilized in upcoming offerings of mine... hint, hint.)

On Tuesday morning, 12 photographers arrived at the Condor's Nest Ranch in Pala (just past Temecula)... bright eyed and eager to learn. By Wednesday evening, we left with smiles on our faces, but were bone-tired, knowing we had given it our all. It was fantastic.

Not only had Skye set up beautiful scenes for us to photograph, but had provided fantastic models, to boot. It's still strange to think of them as "professionals," but they were very much so. The kids ranged in age from 3 to 15, and most of them had been doing this for years.   You might even recognize a few from Gap  or Ralph Lauren ads.

Childrens Portrait in grass by The Suitcase Studio

That's not to say they weren't still kids. I fell in love with one girl in particular, who held herself in such a soulful way... until the cameras went down. THEN she'd launch into a crazy song and dance about a cheeseburger, or runaway lips, and I couldn't help but laugh right along with her. (I'm happy I pulled my camera back up to capture a few of those moments, as well.)

These two days with Skye and the others have been instrumental in helping me find just what I need to make my latest ideas come to life. Inspiration, execution, and all the in-betweens.

Stylized Childrens Portrait in Pink Chair in Field by The Suitcase Studio

There are soooo many amazing photos that I want to share from this experience that I will be adding them to several different blog posts instead of simply adding them all here.

Enjoy the journey.

TheSuitcaseStudio-SweetlightCollective  001.jpg TheSuitcaseStudio-SweetlightCollective  053.jpg TheSuitcaseStudio-SweetlightCollective  099.jpg TheSuitcaseStudio-SweetlightCollective  111.jpg


psssst: if you haven't heard yet, I will SOON be offering stylized sessions of my own. Make sure you're signed up for my newsletter (click the red tab on the left) to be among the first to find out when this new service is launched.


A New Kind of Family Portrait

The Barone family decided that they wanted something just a bit different than their traditional "sit on the rocks at the beach in matching clothes and smile at the camera" family portrait. And so they came to me, ready for something new. Ready to PLAY. Shelby and Steve were still a bit nervous... as all parents are in new circumstances when they're not quite sure just how the kids will respond. But once we got started, they breathed a deep sigh of relief and were able to really relax and enjoy themselves for the afternoon.

Because we let go of the "rules" of traditional portraits. You know... sit, smile, look here, scoot closer, place your hand here, tilt your head, hold that, do it again, etc. Bleh. That doesn't sound like much fun, and if I was a kid I'd certainly get restless in a portrait session like that, too.

Instead of capturing families in a "perfect pose," I celebrate their personalities. Their interactions, bonds, and everything special about each member of the family as individuals, too. I let each person be themselves, and am there to capture it along the way.

How? By making it interactive. We have conversations. We play games. Which leads to LOTS of natural smiles and laughter.

I focus on capturing what I call the "in-betweens." It's what happens when the person is able to forget about my camera and simply reacts to what's happening. They radiate joy and their personality just SHINES. And all the things that make that person unique come shining through... the way they wrinkle their nose or tilt their head or smile widely... the way they REALLY are when nobody is watching.

THAT's what I strive to capture. Pictures of the people you know and love... cute quirks and all.

Because seeing someone as their true self is to see how beautiful they really are.

Click here to read Shelby's review of her portrait experience with me. TheSuitcaseStudio-OrangeCountyFamilyPortraits-Barone_0001.jpg TheSuitcaseStudio-OrangeCountyFamilyPortraits-Barone_0002.jpg TheSuitcaseStudio-OrangeCountyFamilyPortraits-Barone_0003.jpg TheSuitcaseStudio-OrangeCountyFamilyPortraits-Barone_0004.jpg TheSuitcaseStudio-OrangeCountyFamilyPortraits-Barone_0005.jpg TheSuitcaseStudio-OrangeCountyFamilyPortraits-Barone_0006.jpg TheSuitcaseStudio-OrangeCountyFamilyPortraits-Barone_0007.jpg TheSuitcaseStudio-OrangeCountyFamilyPortraits-Barone_0008.jpg

Ready for your own portrait experience with me? Contact me to learn more and get started!



bubbles, balloons & the beach

I was greeted by a rush of running children, and the one who reached me first and gave me the biggest hug was the one I'd been told might be a bit shy. Of course, it could have been the handful of balloons that I'd brought with me that won her over. The kids were already excited for the day, because it was Abbey's 5th birthday. There was a pirate party planned for later that day. With a sleepover. And I was the way to kickoff their fun... with some birthday photos.

Since the family was already gathered for the celebration, it was the PERFECT time to get pictures of the cousins together. And so, we played... with balloons, bubbles, and even some lollipops. Here are a few favorite shots from the morning:

Seriously, this girl had some great poses. This was ALL her...

And THIS was just cuteness to the MAX!

ALL the kids were so freakin' cute! It was so fun for me to see their different personalities shine through.

Close-up of the birthday girl. The "shy" one. Full of spunk & personality. And with the cutest dusting of freckles I've ever seen.

I heard that she had a wonderful party, and that her mom survived the sleepover (with 13 kids!!!). Happy birthday, dear Abbey!