Long Beach, California Christening {Madden}

24 Sep

I was warned, but I still wasn’t prepared for Madden’s cuteness. Really? The kid has a natural mohawk!?! LOVE! He’s only 6 months old and he’s already stealing hearts. We met at Saint Cyprian Church in Long Beach and there was plenty of love surrounding this little angel. We’re talking parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, god parents, and every person who passed by and swooned over the GQ baby in the white suit. Madden already has his own entourage. As we went through the group portraits, Madden had a special moment with each member of his family. They stole kisses, exchanged warm looks and shared hugs and laughs. Madden was perfectly happy being passed from arm to arm and getting loved on all day long. Even if some people held him like they hold their dogs… Not saying any names. Michelle and Vermil, Madden is truly a sweetheart and he’s so lucky to have a family who cares about him so much! Thank you for having me along for this special day!

Look at that hair! 

Love, love, love.

Watch out Michelle, your little man knows how to get the ladies!

Theres always one image that gives me the chills and makes my heart smile at the same time. This is the one…

The reception was beautifully decorated with custom table dressings and centerpieces by Cinthya Barreras of Quince Suenos in Los Alamitos. Love the black and white damask and yellow contrast!

and the sweet ending… I had to snap this shot really fast because the amazing cupcakes and cake pops by Jane Ho of The Sweets Bar were going fast! (ps. I just discovered the recipe for Oreo cake pops on her blog! Go now!)

To see more of Madden’s day click here.

Blog about it: Cancer Awareness Day should be EVERY day

16 Sep

I’m a big philanthropy advocate and will always do what I can to support others in need, because I know I can and I want to make a difference. Some of you may have come across a giveaway I did on Facebook last week “in honor” of my birthday month. I am coming up on another birthday, which is not my favorite time of the year. I don’t like being the center of attention or the cake or the the awkwardness of opening gifts in front of people while trying to act totally surprised and excited over another bottle of lotion. I appreciate it all, but I don’t like that September 22 is supposed to be all about me. This year I asked myself how could I make this birthday different than the rest? Ultimately I decided to share my passion and give others a gift. I gave away 5 free shoots to people who I believed could benefit from a good deed and some good pictures. After the recipients of the giveaway were notified I was already thinking what’s next.  Well I came across a couple of organizations benefiting cancer patients and being that we just lost Jeff’s dad to lung cancer earlier this year, I felt compelled to share some worthy causes with you all.

Pablove Shutterbugs– in January 2011 Pablove will be launching a program at the Children’s Hospital LA teaching photography to children living with cancer. I can’t wait for this program to launch!! This is an opportunity for real people to connect and make a difference. To learn more about the Pablove Foundation read Pablo’s story.

Man-O-Gramz– A friend of mine from college recently launched a gift bucket company exclusively for men. This company offers the idea of a gift basket with a manlier appeal. Plus a percentage of proceeds go towards prostate cancer research! Holidays, anniversaries and birthdays are going to be so much easier.

I strongly encourage everyone to find a way to give back to something and someone in whatever ways you can.

For more information regarding ways to support cancer awareness and research visit the  American Cancer Society.

Los Angeles Portrait Photographer | Cerina’s Headshots

13 Sep

Cerina is a true LA girl, chasing after the dream of the bright lights and the red carpet. One day she’d like her resume to include the titles: Singer, Actress, Photojournalist and Mother of 9+ children. Talk about shooting for the stars… Did I mention she’s only in her first year of  high school? Any kid with that kind of ambition is sure to make something of themselves! When we got together to shoot I asked Cerina to think of three words to describe herself. One of the words she came up with was “destined”. With that one word I knew Cerina was confident, driven and in many ways already a success. It was a pleasure and a blessing to spend some time with Cerina capturing this moment in her life.

I’m looking forward to seeing where life leads you Cerina!

Los Angeles Portrait Photographer | Cerina’s Headshots

13 Sep

Cerina is a true LA girl, chasing after the dream of the bright lights and the red carpet. One day she’d like her resume to include the titles: Singer, Actress, Photojournalist and Mother of 9+ children. Talk about shooting for the stars… Did I mention she’s only in her first year of  high school? Any kid with that kind of ambition is sure to make something of themselves! When we got together to shoot I asked Cerina to think of three words to describe herself. One of the words she came up with was “destined”. With that one word I knew Cerina was confident, driven and in many ways already a success. It was a pleasure and a blessing to spend some time with Cerina capturing this moment in her life.

I’m looking forward to seeing where life leads you Cerina!

Wedding Shoes: Louboutin, Choo, Blahnik and Marino?

9 Sep

So typical. I’m a girl who loves shoes. To me shoes are like art. Sculptures of love if you may. Together as a pair, like a perfect union of two unique and beautiful soles. Oh yes, this love affair is serious. And if you didn’t catch that pun then you may want to just stop reading now. This goes a little deeper than my infatuation with footwear, while I was in Seattle I had a conversation with Nate and Sachin about designer shoes. Earlier in the day names like Jimmy Choo and Christian Louboutin had been dropped and the guys were… well, lost. So I knew I had to do something. I sat the two lads down for a little talk. (Well, it was more like the car ride back to the hotel). Some people spend hundreds to thousands on shoes, and if its their wedding day, you better make sure you get a shot of those bad boys. The idea of spending hundred and even thousands of dollars on shoes was a clearly mind boggling to the guys because the conversation came to a screeching halt. Yup, hundreds and thousands. But what does that mean for a wedding photographer? Do you need to start reading fashion magazines religiously? No. I mean it wouldn’t hurt to pick up a copy of Vogue every once in a while, but not so you can learn to shoot Manolo Blahnkis any different than you would a pair of Steve Maddens, but so you can make sure you shoot every pair of shoes like they are Manolo Blahniks. It doesn’t matter who makes the shoe, our job is to capture the memory of the day as best as we can. Including the shoes. I’m speaking from experience.

When I got married, I had 6 weeks to plan. On top of it all I was working full time and spending as many evenings as possible with Jeff’s dad who was battling cancer. I didn’t have much time for anything. Most of the decisions I made were in a split second. Flowers? Red and orange, whatever looks good together. My bouquet? Just make it white. Cream linens? Fine. The gift table? Wherever there is space. One thing I knew I wanted was fabulous shoes that I would only buy for my wedding day, but I didn’t have the time to hunt down that “perfect pair”. Not to mention I got married in November. If I have one word of advice, don’t try to look for light color wedding shoes in November. Not even online. I ordered a pair of nude Diane Von Furstenburgs (which I love). Thought I couldn’t go wrong with nude. WRONG. I probably would have done better with Timberland construction boots. That bad. I had two weeks before the wedding and the dress was already chopped down to fit my munchkin stature plus 3 inches. I had to do what I had to do. I purchased every single pair of shoes that could possibly go with my dress (again it was November so that was about 5 pair). I ended up settling on a pair of  $50 Ann Marino pumps from DSW. No candy red soles, no rhinestone encrusted heels, and a far cry from anything ever seen on Sex and the City. I did not want my photographer to get ANY pictures of my shoes. She did anyway, and to be honest, when I saw the images I felt like my shoes were priceless. Thanks Ala!

(A couple more photos borrowed from Love Ala.)

I added my own bling and viola! Couture!

Seattle, Washington Wedding: Laura & Billy

8 Sep

The story has been told… to the world… via the internet… and its available for downloads. Welcome to 2010. A fabulous organization by the name of CreativeLive challenged some very talented people in the wedding industry to pull together a wedding in a matter of weeks. To most this may sound like a nightmare, but as hundreds of thousands of people witnessed over a 5 day period, Laura and Billy’s wedding was more like a dream. A dream for many people (including myself), on many different levels.  It all took place in the Theo Chocolate warehouse, and just as any artist transforms a blank canvas into a masterpiece, Daniela Fagét did her thang.

The intent behind this wedding course was to offer the world an inside view of the wedding photography industry while offering a real wedding to the lucky couple. I was fortunate enough to take part in this experience and I must say I have gained so much more than I imagined. I thought I was going to learn about posing and schedules, you know, the logistical stuff. But I really learned more about myself. One of the first challenged the attendees were put up to was to think of 3 words to describe your brand. I thought I was so clever with my classy, sassy and real. Seriously? I think Barbie could come up with 3 better words than that. Then we were challenged to pose Laura and Billy during the first look while representing our brand. Well I’m a planner, so as soon as I heard the challenge I was scouting out the room. I had the perfect location, the perfect pose and the perfect light. But then I chickened out. It was time for the students to take the lead and I stood behind the cameraman mouthing don’t pick me to Jasmine. Bawk, bawk. I will spare you the rest of the story but lets just say those photos were not classy, sassy or real. But I realized that was a big part of the problem. What was I trying to imitate? Or who? On the wedding day the cameras were out of sight and out of mind, and I was in the zone. Rockin’ it out.

The day started with the ladies getting ready at the Chase Jarvis studio. When I walked in Laura was skipping all over the place. Wedding day off to a great start, check!

When Laura’s mom was admiring Laura’s something borrowed/something blue it felt like the moment had really just set in.

Vintage chic accessories + Jimmy Choo = drool.

Giddy bridesmaids!

Cutest little ring bearer ever!

Congratulations Laura and Billy! To see more of Laura and Billy watch the slideshow!

As I look back at the photos and the experience, I have to say my three words would be more like rich, raw, and natural. But thats still not set in stone. What do you guys gather from my images?

Irvine, Seattle, LA and Maui in less than 14 days

7 Sep

Well my friends, the last two weeks have been busy to say the least, but well worth the loss of sleep, missed meals and all the frequent flyer points. In the past 14 days, I’ve had the pleasure of attending the WPPI Road Trip in Irvine, the cretiveLIVE Jasmine Star wedding photography course in Seattle and after a quick 6 hour stop in LA, I headed to Maui for a long overdue romantic honeymoon with my honey. Here’s the Steph’s Notes version of my adventure.

WPPI Road Trip: I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I left my house at 6am that Monday morning, but when I headed home at 9pm that night, I was invigorated. I made some new friends, I was a more confident photographer and business owner, and most importantly, I felt like I had a plan.

Advice from Becker: “Meet people and reflect with people.” Lunch was served buffet style in the trade show room. The tables were empty and people were standing around with their food waiting for who knows what.  Not me, I sat down a table by myself (near the food of course), and what do you know people came to sit with me. Like, almost instantaneously. It was silent for a few moments and I really can’t stand the awkward silence, so I blurted out the old “so where is everyone from” line. Never fails. Its as if everyone was waiting for permission to speak. When the event ended, we ended up hanging out in the hotel lounge for a few more hours comparing notes, exchanging tips and ideas, and even discussing opportunities to collaborate. There may be a boudior marathon in our future…

What Jules Bianchi is great at: Building community. I was so excited to hear what Jules and Joy had to say about how they reach out to their community through social media AND real life exchanges. My favorite is the two worlds together in what they call the “Let’s be Friends” Party. Real people, real fun and professional Facebook profile pictures. So stinkin’ clever!! And if you don’t know about Mutt Mugshots, go check it out!

Rick Miller from Adobe: Lightroom editing 300x faster than I ever known was possible! I think I may send this man an Edible Arrangement for the shortcuts he demonstrated for us.

Joe Buissink: The total experience guru. About 10 minutes into Joe’s presentation I was ready to book a shoot with him. Not because I was wowed by his images (even though I was), but because the meaning behind his images. Each image displayed through the uncalibrated projector had its own story and its own emotions. Joe’s passion for his art reminded me of my own insatiable urge to capture real life moments.

Last but not least, the Boudior Divas schooled us on the return of boudior portraits. To be honest, I never considered boudior photography until these ladies shed some light on the subject. Who doesn’t want to capture portraits that will remind a woman of how beautiful she is for the rest of her life? What I found more interesting is how the Divas found an untapped niche in industry. Who would imagine a studio that only shoots boudior would do so well? You can find me looking for my niche…

CreativeLIVE and Jasmine Star: 5 days in Seattle: Jasmine enlightened us on so many aspects of business building, marketing and photography itself, but the most powerful message I gathered from the 5 days we spent together was BE YOURSELF. As I mentioned on the last day of filming, its not always easy to “be yourself” in LA. In a city full of pretenders actors, its hard to tell who is who, and what is real versus what is fake. Real talk. Go down to Hollywood Blvd and then try to disagree with me. As a part of being yourself you need to repel and attract. I want to attract people like myself. People who are laid back, and enjoy the finer things in life (but don’t mind going to several stores to make sure we get the best deal). People who have faith and goals. People who understand the power of a smile and sincerity.  And I want to repel anyone who has something negative to say about that. That means the person dressed up as Chucky standing in Marylin Monroe’s footprints outside of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre trying to scare people and the man in the Target parking lot who screamed obscenities at a woman who was trying to park her car yesterday have officially been repelled.

I know my Fab 5 buddies posted their photos from Laura and Billy’s wedding earlier this week, but you will just have to wait one more day for mine. I had every intention of blogging from Maui, but when I actually got there, it just wasn’t happening. I mean, would you sit in your room editing images if this was happening outside? 

I rest my case. Check back for the images of the bride getting ready and the ceremony from MY point of view.