Archive for September, 2015

Many years ago I first heard of Squam Art Workshops from my best friend Kate who had found it through a blog called Soule Mama.  She talked about it like it was this colorful, creative, positive, woodsy, fun dream.  One day, she thought, she’d love to get there. 

A few years later, another bestie, Flora Bowley, was asked to teach at Squam.  Flora stayed with me when she returned from the workshop and was legitimately love drunk about it.  In fact, her life has been dramatically different from that initial time at Squam, and she realizes that at least part of her professional turning point happened there. 
So, you can imagine how humbling, terrifying, exciting, and holy shitting it was to be asked to teach there myself last year.  Elizabeth Duvier started Squam Art Workshops after attending another gathering of creative like-minds out in Washington State.  Understandably,  she must have had a true What The Fahk moment when she realized there was nothing like that on the East Coast.  I’ve never asked Elizabeth for her business card, but the only thing it should say is ‘Elizabeth Duvier: Manifester.”  This woman gets. shit. DONE.  Most of the inspiration from both of my times there has been over the fact that this woman dreamed this thing up, and now it’s sold out every year by this tribe of smart, creative, fun, funny, smart, cool, talented women.  THOUGH it’s not just for women.. and any smart man would attend.  🙂
So, Squam….. it’s on the grounds of some sort of Dirty Dancing camp in the deep New Hampshire woods at a family camp called Rockyworld Deephaven in Holderness, NH.  The cabins are serviced by ice boys and log boys (gulp) who literally fill the ice chest with new frozen ice from the lake, and restock your firewood EVERY DAY.  If that wasn’t enough, every single cabin has a private dock on Squam Lake and all the screen doors creek and slam.  And did you like Alvin and The Chipmunks growing up?  How about Chip n’ Dale?  Of course you did, you’re a human being with a heart.  Well, they live there.  And so do all their friends.  It’s literally the cutest thing on the planet and I wish I lived in a village of only chipmunks.  
So, going to Squam, whether teaching or attending, is four days of this dreamy, woodsy, fun, funny, creative, INSPIRING AS HELL, rejuvenating, relaxing, exciting, hilarious, giggly time.  Like anything, you get from it exactly what you need.  Elizabeth makes a point to remind everyone that you actually don’t have to do a damn thing.  You can sit on your dock and do nothing all week, or you can attend the classes you signed up for.  It’s YOUR week, and she trusts that if you got there, you will leave a different person.  Defined by you, designed for your own life. For your own personal evolution, frankly.  
If this sounds even kinda nice, why don’t you head over to her website and sign up for the newsletter, or keep track of the hashtag #squamartworkshops  Start putting it out to your friends… or not… and just start the journey. I can literally feel myself start a new chapter in life every time I return.  You will return home more alive, more inspired, more determined, and more full.  Never mind you’ll have ten new friends all over the country and be reminded how truly. fucking. awesome. you. are.  
Here are some photos I took of my classes learning how to see people like the shiny, gorgeous, stars that they are.  Photography as a tool to spread love.  Who knew. 
Life don’t last forever, ya know.  Love more. Fear less.  Go sign up.  🙂
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Liz and Todd’s family is grown like gorgeous little weeds.  If you’d like to see how these two don’t age, but just keep having more children, see for yourself right here.  We were lucky enough to meet these two human gems when we photographed their wedding in 2009.  They are kind and smart and loving and generous and thoughtful and have been deeply secured in my heart since the day we met.  This is one of the many families that I’ve been able to watch find tons of professional success while also growing their families and their hearts.  I wouldn’t wish this life on two more deserving and beautiful people. And we welcome Andrew to the crew. The luckiest baby in town. 

Huge love to all of you.  Thank you so so so much.
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Have you ever been to the Boston Harbor Islands?  Ya, me neither.  Until last week. It’s a really kinda cool way to spend an afternoon and I highly recommend it.  

I have been photographing this absolutely adorable family since Lily and Graham’s first birthday. Which was adorable, by the way, and is right here.  
Gina is the kind of mom who was actually born for motherhood.  I’m sure she took care of all her friends through college, babysat all through high school, and probably had forty babies as a child. She is astonishingly tireless in her patience, her readiness to play games with her kids, and her low key but thorough “discpiline” to make her kids polite and nice and helpful to kids and adults alike.  Her children are wonderful and its’ immediately obvious it’s because of Gina and Trevor.  Trevor, by the way, is also utterly rad, but we talked and he’s literally blown away at how good a mother Gina is, too, so I know he’d agree with everything I just wrote.  He’s a helpful, patient, kind, fun, involved dad.  He tells me he learned it from his wife. 
Ya, so Gina is a photographer herself so really get’s it.  She knew that going on this little adventure would provide endless sweet moments for me to capture.  So, basically she through me a softball.  I’m tellin ya, she’s good. 🙂  So we caught the boat from Hingham harbor, stopped by Peddock’s Island, and then headed to George’s Island. It was a beautiful, fun little adventure and I love this family very, very much. 
Thank you so much you guys.  It means the world. 
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If you’re wondering how in the world I get to photograph so many great families in San Francisco it is because of my good friend, Erin.  Erin and I met when we were studying abroad in Australia in 1995.  And the rest is history.  She can talk anyone into anything (take it from me who spent my 20s getting into so much shit with this girl) and I believe she convinces all of her pretty mom friends to hire me.  Her husband, Matt, was working the whole time I was there, but Erin and her daughters, Emily and Ava, and I all snuck out for a little walk in the woods.  I wanted to make sure I featured my beautiful friend on the blog here because without her, not a single SF shoot would have happened.  Erin, like I tell you all the time, your loyalty and support of me is incredibly beautiful and humbling and I love you very much.  Thank you.

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Love me some twins, I do!  And talk about a giggle fest.  These two little pumpkins, Paige and Olivia, laughed and played and ran around Southie for a straight hour.  It was the cutest thing of all time.  Every time I look at these little faces I smile right back at ’em.  To die for. 

Thank you guys so much.  It was an honor, and I hope to see you again soon! xoxo
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There’s nothing I love more than photographing a great wedding, and then a couple years later getting a phone call that I have a family to photograph! Jessica and Dan’s wedding was (somehow) five years ago, and if you’re curious it’s right here.  I walked into their super sweet place in Cambridge, took one look at their son, Harrison, and almost passed out.  I think I said the phrase, ‘so cute…’ like 500 times.  It was a perfect morning with my friends, Jessica, Dan, and Harrison, and I left absolutely floating.  I felt super lucky to be families’ documentarian in their one precious life, and I felt super super happy for Jessica and Dan.  I wouldn’t wish a great life full of love on a better duo.   Love you guys so much.  Thank you thank you thank you.

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Welp, you can bury your dreams of being the most fun, creative family of all time, because that award has been taken.  By the Angelis family of San Francisco.  The next 6 shoots are 6 of the 8 shoots I did over four days in San Francisco in July.  (gulp).   I met Jimmy and Birgess, like you meet all your rock star friends, on a golf cart in the hip little surfer town of Sayulita, Mexico.  How’s that for the most pretentious sentence you’ve read on a family photography blog ever? No, no, don’t be impressed. I’m sure I put the whole trip on a credit card, and it was to celebrate one of my best friends, Dod, for his birthday.  Jimmy owns the wicked successful Bacon Bacon food truck and restaurant in San Francisco, and Birgess, his wife, does event planning.  I mean, if people in San Francisco knew how to party, that is… 

Sloan and Vivian are their daughters, and I’m sure you can tell how absolutely fun and loose and silly and fun this family is.  We went to play dress up in their room and Jimmy walks in in a jump suit and was like, ‘Heeeeyyyy, I wanna dress up!!”.  And it was on.  We took a walk, we posed in the middle of the street, I couldn’t even stand up I was laughing so hard.  This is a free spirited, absolutely loving family who knows how to let kids be full of kid-ness.  Life is meant to be enjoyed, and this family is gonna laugh and hug and smile and sing and play all the way through.   Hell ya, you guys.  This is the kindof shoot that as I was taking it, I knew I was the luckiest photographer in the WORLD.  I mean.. to be allowed in to this home?  What more could I ever ask for as a family photographer. 
I guess as I look again at these four on the first day of school in our country (September 1st) I would humbly encourage all of us to have more fun.  To be more silly, to take ourselves less seriously, to eat more ice cream, to sing louder, and play instruments whether we know how to or not.  It all goes by so quickly.  I know, as you walk back inside after the bus just pulled away, you feel the gravity of time.  So, have cookies ready for your kids when they come home.  Go to the movies on a school night.  Have pancakes for dinner.   All we need is love, you guys.  That’s the only thing that matters. 
Aaaand I’m bawling at a coffee shop.  Literally. 
Thank you guys.  I love you very much.  I’m so so so honored to have been allowed to take these pictures. Thank you.
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Chris Hanson has been one of my best friends since the day we met 15 years ago.  Though never living in the same state, we’ve actually been through a lot together.  Mostly what we’ve “been through” has been the funnest, funniest, most ridiculous crap two people can get into.  He’s tried to set me up with literally every single friend he’s ever had, and I scare every single one of them away.  The dude still refuses to leave my side, though.  I seriously do not understand why he sticks around for my friendship.  At this point, I visit his aunts and cousins without him, and I’m all but expected at Christmas Eve.  I would undoubtedly walk into a burning building for this guy and I know for certain he’d do the same for me.  So, when he met a girl at work however many years ago, I was DYING to love her.  And, spoiler alert, Ashley and I keep in better touch than Chris and I do.  She’s an aaaangel.  The best cook, the prettiest girl, super funny and fun and chill and cool.  Just adore her.  Ashley was nine months pregnant at their wedding.  Wanna see? It’s right HERE.   Oh, and before they got pregnant they adopted a pitbull named Benny.  Benny is such a good dog I’m kindof embarrassed that my dogs do nothing outside of kiss people to death.  I slept over their house and started shooting at about 6am.  We took a family nap at like 10. 

Hanson, have I ever expressed my love for you?  Oh, I have?  A couple times?  Oh, ok.  I love you guys.  Thank you so much.  See you on Christmas Eve.  Promise I won’t bawl at dinner and then “tip” the church $100.   Good god, you guys.  Why are you friends with me? 
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Yessss!!!   How fun is it to see a gorgeous, fun, generous family every other year and each time I visit there’s (literally) another adoooorrrable child.  Answer: It’s wicked fun. Please take five seconds and see their FIRST shoot and their SECOND shoot.  So, the Kroeker family has moved to Mill Valley.  Right next to a little baseball player ya might have heard of, Barry Bonds.  Because I’m an American woman I am in good company when I’m impressed by pure scandal and celebrity so I’m totally impressed with their new neighborhood. 🙂 OK, so since I’ve been to visit, baby John has arrived.  John is the most adored, adorable, free spirit on planet California, and I’m in the fan club big time.  William is the third kid, and is soooo funny.  He literally will not smile normally at the camera.  Like refuses, but in this wicked funny, manipulative, quiet way.  He pretends, very quietly, that he’s not quite sure HOW to smile.  It’s so obvious and such a riot.   He’s the cool, low key, funny guy in the crowd. (insert that emoji with hearts for eyes). Heidi is the most beautiful little girl in the world so I mean, no big.  SHe’s suuuuper sweet and quiet and stylish and wicked loving.  Andrew is the oldest, and he’s a gem. Very smart, very talented, very low key, a great big brother, and a great son.   Chi and Karl are the mom and dad, and I absolutely and whole heartedly adore these two.  They love their children and their community.  They’re honest and real and open and SO INSANELY generous to me.  I end up staying for much longer than I planned because we get into these deep conversations about the meaning of life.  And yes, I run around this gorgeous home of theirs and then embrace them and jump up and down and scream, “I AM SO HAPPY FOR YOU!!!!!! LOOK AT YOUR LIFE!!!”  It’s a great friendship, and I’m wicked WICKED lucky to be trusted by this family.  I love you guys.  Please adopt me. 

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OK, so before we get into this, please go to this beautiful family’s shoot five years previous, right HERE.  Five years, as we know, is a long time when you’re a little kid. Us adults, however, don’t age WHATSOEVER in five years.  Natalie answered the door to their Mill Valley, CA home and I literally burst into tears.  I fell in love with her as a two year old, and now there was this gorgeous 7 year old girl answering the door, and I truly got overwhelmed with…with love, with life, with time, with adoration.  All of it.   

Things are different than they were five years ago with the Dean clan, and life is moving on in a loving and safe and beautiful way.  The best is yet to come, after all, and we all have open arms for that reality. I was back at Muir Beach with these monkeys after we played around their home for a bit.  It’s hard to take a bad photograph of such beauty.  I’m the luckiest girl in the world.  
Amy, thank you deeply for your continued support and trust.  If I lived closer we’d be thick as thieves.  Until next time.  Thank you thank you thank you.
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