children photography

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.

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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.


fair play

On Sunday, I went to Octoberfest. No, not the kind with German beer and schnitzels... this was a family-friendly fair held at the school that my nieces attend. My husband and I decided to join up with his sis, husband and their kiddos for all the family fun. And just in time, too... because it was the last day of the fair.  Not only did I hold my position as kid wrangler and entertainer, I also managed to be a member of the paparazzi, as well. Here are a few favorite shots that I was able to snag along the way:

Michael and his Mama (my sis-in-law, and also my 2nd shooter, Maria)


This was Grace's favorite ride of the year... she must have gone on it at least THREE times... and that was just while we were there that one night.  (This was their 3rd day at the fair).  Called the "Tornado," it was almost like Disneyland's teacups ride, but raised up a bit. She didn't want to spin her area, though... she even rode separately from her sister so that her sister could spin her own seat, cuz Grace just didn't want to spin. It wasn't until my husband (Tony) joined her for the last ride that she finally gave in and practically BEGGED him to spin it faster and faster and faster! (Ah... the magic that is "Tio.") Grace had a blast... Tony was dizzy.




Michael and "Tio." They are soooo cute together.





Ah, the ferris wheel. We didn't get to ride, but it's a beautiful thing.


Now, THIS one was interesting... my other niece, Laura, pretty much BEGGED me to go on it with her. I turned her down because I didn't want to waste any of their ride tickets on myself. But she was pretty adamant. She was willing to give up going on another ride so that I could come with her on this one. Sweet kid. So, I went handgliding with her. And HOLY COW this ride was SOOOOOOO FUN! (Though I was incredibly dizzy for a LONG time afterwards, but it was totally worth it.)


I held the camera out in front of me the entire time... here are a few shots of what it looked like from ON the ride:




And, here is my niece, singing "I believe I can fly!" (over and over and over again...)


The sun started to set on our day...


"FAIR" thee well....