family portrait

down by the seashore // family portraits / laguna beach

They spun around in circles, lifting the girls sky-high & making them shriek with glee. Dizzy and breathless, the parents laughed together and released the girls to play in the sand. The kids ran in my direction, using me as "safe" in their game. Their parents, still smiling, walked towards me and asked... "So, when should we start taking pictures?" With a joyful grin of my own, I replied, "We've already begun."

PLAY is a magical thing. It's something that's in us from childhood. And yet, we learn to set it aside and "behave properly" in front of others as we grow up. But sometimes it's important to simply remember the magic of it all. To release the FUN of play, and laughter, and the connection it can bring.

The girls were asked to close their eyes and spin around three times. Keeping their eyes closed and arms outstretched, they searched for one another. Only when they found each other could they open their eyes.

Although part of the family unit, parents have a connection all their own which should be celebrated as often as possible. Coloring books and crayons kept the girls occupied a few feet away so this couple could have a few minutes of "alone time." Alone, they are witty and in-sync, wordless touches and glances all part of the conversation. And although they're not used to lovey-dovey PDA, they crave images that will capture their quiet connections. But I get it... the camera comes up and awkwardness ensues.

Invite PLAY instead of posing, and the awkwardness disappears.

Picture this: a game of "Siamese Twins." You must stay connected in some way... whether it be your hands, shoulder, head, or even just  a toe. But you can never be separated, and need to stay touching at all times, even as you move around one another. Now... GO.

It's magical, right?


Approximately two weeks after the session, the fun continues when the family gets to see their edited images for the first time and select their photo keepsakes. Utilizing special software, we can create a custom wall collection from the family's images, even testing it out on their own walls. (See the client's mock-up below)

And below are the actual canvases the family selected. They decided on (2) 16" x 24" canvases and (1) 24" x 36" canvas for their dining room area, and (1) 11" x 14" canvas for elsewhere.

Want to learn more about how I incorporate PLAY into portrait sessions? Just drop me a line... I'd LOVE to hear from you!

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!



Holiday Mini-Sessions are HERE!

  HolidayMiniSessions2012 with The Suitcase Studio


The holidays are a GREAT time to update your family photos or even just get new pictures of the kids. And photos make FANTASTIC gifts... hint, hint.

Space is limited.

Click here to reserve your spot.



Each mini-session is only $125 and includes:

  • 20 minute portrait session
  • 15 fully-edited images hosted in an online gallery for 2 weeks
  • 25 custom holiday cards (and we're talking the nice, big, 5x7 folded cards here, people...)

Digital packages and other products will also be available for purchase.


Mini-Sessions are taking place on Sunday, November 11th in San Juan Capistrano and Sunday, December 2nd in Irvine (specific locations to be shared with participants)

Each mini-session includes up to 5 people; there is a $10 fee for each additional person. Your final images will be ready for viewing within one week. Images will be hosted online for 2 weeks, at which time you will select your holiday card design. You will also have the ability to purchase additional items at that time.