Chris, Desi, & Wookie – Family Lifestyle Session

When my friend Desi asked about family photos, a little idea popped in my head. I’d always wanted to try a ‘lifestyle’ session–which is a little bit about posed, formal portraits but a LOT about capturing people really LIVING together! Whether that means flying kites, painting birdhouses, or–in Chris and Desi’s case–making dinner, a ‘lifestyle’ session is meant to rise above saying “Cheese!” and delve more into the relationship within families! I was elated to hear that Chris and Desi would totally play along with my crazy idea of documenting them in their home, doing what they love to do: make dinner and spend time together on the couch!

We started with more traditional portraits on their immaculately manicured front lawn with their beloved dog, Wookie (How can I not love fellow Star Wars fans?!?). See how cute they all are together?

Couple on their lawn, posing with beloved dog

Ridiculous, I know!

Next we moved inside and started food prep for their stir fry dinner.

Veggies prepped for stir fry dinner

Is anyone else getting hungry?

Chris and Desi chopped veggies and got to cooking, then enjoyed their meal at their cool little dining bar!

Prepping, cooking, and enjoying stir fry for a lifestyle family session.

Couple cooks and eats together during family lifestyle session

Couple snuggles with their dog

Aren’t they just great sports for playing along? I think the images turned out so well! Chris and Desi even decided to hang two images in the kitchen of them cooking dinner–what a great addition to their decor!

I am totally game for more lifestyle sessions in the future, as they really mean so much more than “just” regular portraits (although every lifestyle session DOES allow time for some traditional portraits!). Please contact me with your ideas so we can brainstorm the perfect lifestyle session for you and yours!

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Conner Family Photo Session, Lancaster, CA

I am so pleased with this family photo session of the Conners! Even though we were only together for a very short time, I really enjoyed…well, making a fool out of myself in order to make these girls laugh! We met for a mini session at the Prime Desert Woodland Preserve in Lancaster, CA. Since this family is packing up to move out of state, we wanted a location that could really capture the desert we live in, since they’re headed to an environment much greener than Lancaster! It’s so close to moving day, I hand-delivered their prints yesterday amidst towers upon towers of U-Haul boxes!

It makes me so happy to know that this beautiful mama and three daughters will have gorgeous, current family photos to warm their new home as they settle in; and the grandparents they will leave in the Antelope Valley also have their very own prints to hold close as they adjust to these new changes!

Thank you, Kelly, for gifting the Conners such a wonderful, timeless surprise. Thank you, Conner Family, for being fun, a little crazy, and extremely photogenic!

This is a family photo session set at the Prime Desert Woodland Preserve in Lancaster, CA


This is a family photo session at the Prime Desert Woodland Preserve in Lancaster, CA

This is from a family photo session at the Prime Desert Woodland Preserve in Lancaster, CA. Each daughter had a special moment with their mama.

This is from a family photo session at the Prime Desert Woodland Preserve in Lancaster, CA. Three beautiful sisters snuggle for their portrait!

Growing Up, One Accessory At A Time | Trades of Hope Giveaway – Closed

UPDATE: The contest has ended–check below to see if you’re a winner!

I’m a t-shirt-and-jeans kinda girl.

You’d think this was an isolated incident, perhaps — t-shirt, jeans, masculine sunglasses and no jewelry. Nope. Everyday. This photo is seven years old and the only thing that changed was my figure. So let’s just stick with a photo from when I was erroneously convinced I was “fat.” LOL

Seriously. I own three dresses, and you will probably disqualify one of them because it’s my wedding dress. I’ve worn the same two pairs of earrings nearly every day for 8 years. Plane Jane to the max over here!

I wasn’t raised in a household where accessorizing or wearing makeup or anything girly like that was encouraged or practiced, so all of that was a bit scary. Finding clothes that fit properly was enough of a challenge, so walking into a Charming Charlie store was the last thing I wanted to do, and forget trying to figure out how to put on eyeliner. For most of my adult life, my wedding band was the fanciest thing I wore on any given day and while my husband has always encouraged me to be more “girly,” his affinity for being places on time has probably overruled any real effort to complicate the getting-ready routine. *wink*

But then I had kids. Lots of them. Okay, I’m about to have my third. My third boy. THREE BOYS. You’d think that would give me even more allowance to embrace the simple t-shirt-and-jeans life. Hug it tight for simplicity sake, since being a mama tomboy would be pretty darn easy!

But I realized that my identity was disappearing in a whirlwind of trucks and cars, sticks and rocks, Transformers and Lego mini-figures. Three kids in, my body is no longer anything like I remember. My daily wardrobe is utilitarian and sports a few stubborn spit up stains preserved for posterity’s sake. Nothing. Fits. The. Same. And, honestly, I’d totally love for my husband to be enticed by me because I actually look like and dress like an attractive woman!

So I decided to grow up. And make an effort to look more put together. And try to accessorize.

(Also, around the same time, I had decided to be much more cautious about what companies and causes I support with my spending. I didn’t want to support businesses that frequently exploit others or keep them in a dependent cycle of near-poverty in order to make huge profits. The fair trade movement was looking more and more appealing to support, but I didn’t know where to start. The combination of these two decisions turns out to be legen–wait for it–dary!)

(Excuse the cell phone selfie here.) Look…I’m really wearing earrings AND a necklace! At the same time!

And then my best friend, Jaimie, became a Compassion Entrepreneur for Trades of Hope. Suddenly I had a viable solution to support healthy, moral business practices while starting down this road of femininity! Yay!

Trades of Hope is an amazing company, built on the premise that so many women around the world are poor, undervalued and undereducated, not because of lack of ability, but lack of opportunity. Without the proper opportunity, community support, and training, many women are forced to turn to less desirable means of making a living. Some are sexually exploited. Some are disabled or HIV positive, becoming undesired pariahs of their community. Some work for pennies a day in sweatshops. Some are widowed and live in a society so male-dominated that they simply have no way to feed their own children or get them the medical attention they desperately need.

So Trades of Hope partners with and supports artisan groups which provide these women with the training and employment to create beautiful handmade products. Trades of Hope gives these groups supplies, animals, equipment–whatever makes it easier for them stick with this rather than turn back to the kind of life they had before. They compensate them for their products and even pay for shipping, then sell these gorgeous accessories to women like you and me at home parties. Everything is 100% handmade and is usually created with salvaged or recycled items found in their communities.

Currently Trades of Hope is working with 15 artisan groups over four continents and that number increases constantly. One artisan group is actually based right here in Southern California and rescues women trapped in the sex industry. Their Redeemed Necklace is actually one of the newest items offered by Trades of Hope and is an incredible symbol of breakthrough and transition from a place of darkness into the light. I’m also proud to say that that relationship was fostered by Jaimie, who is actually now on their staff (Click here and scroll to the bottom! Yay for awesome friends!).

I hosted a party a few months ago and now own some awesome pieces that I wear all the time, such as the Deep Aqua Layered Necklace and the Peruvian Turquoise Earrings (which look great together, by the way!). Knowing that I am supporting other women all over the world with the accessories I am excited to wear each day makes such an investment that much sweeter!

Today is your lucky day to start down this road with me! While many of you probably wear jewelry all the time, I’m betting most of the items you own were purchased from a store and you have no connection or history with the creation of this item, which is what we’re all used to. But this is an opportunity to put your money where you know that lives will be changed, children will be clothed and fed, and you can own accessories with a story–a real, full-circle, more-intense-than-Lifetime-TV story that can make you realize that where our money goes can literally change lives on the other side of the planet.

So, to get you started, I’m hosting a giveaway of one of THE most beautiful scarves I’ve ever seen! It’s called the Nepali Aqua Scarf. The beautiful little card attached to it gives you a bit of history:

“Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world, with an unemployment rate of 42%. Many girls are lured into the sex trade to survive. Every year approximately 10,000 girls from 9 to 16 are sold, stolen or forced into brothels. Parents are even afraid to send their daughters to school for fear that they will be taken for the sex trade. These girls have been given an opportunity to earn a fair wage by making handcrafts, allowing them to have hope and dignity. Theya re being trained to own their own business and take pride in their work. They thank you for being a lifeline to help them out of poverty!”

There are many ways you can gain entries for this scarf, but the first way you can enter is to visit the Trades of Hope website and leave a comment on this post telling me what you’d add to your collection first (and maybe why?). The winner will be announced on Monday, July 29th–which happens to be my due date for said THIRD BOY!:)

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The Ottos | Families by EDP

I cannot fully tell you how **ridiculous** it is that I’m just now posting the Otto’s session, especially because these family photos are some of my absolute favorites! How can you not fall in love with this little girl? We told her on the way over that we would get to go walking when we got to Placerita Canyon and she took that very seriously! We pulled off the trail several times for photo opportunities and all she wanted to do was keep moving forward, so walk we did!

Isn’t she the best? Look at her dancing little eyes!

We even had a chance to get some pictures of mom and dad, which is one of my favorite parts of a family session. All too often clients focus solely on the kids (since they’re growing and changing by the minute) or the family as a whole, but completely forget about themselves! Whether you’re a family of three or ten (or more!), your family started with you two! I always make a point to get separate portraits of the two of you, which many couples choose to display in their bedroom. A sweet little 5″ x 7″ on the dresser or nightstand puts a personal touch and ever-present reminder of your commitment to one another. And I’m all for strengthening commitment!

If you’re interested in family photos, visit this page to get you started. Also, check out my facebook page for current specials!

Much love,

Elaine's signature

What to Wear for Family Pictures

I’m so proud of you for deciding to take family pictures! It’s amazing how long people neglect to take photos and yet people value photographs of loved ones only second to the loved ones themselves! It’s really just a race to capture time. Your little ones change from day to day it seems. Baby skin toughens. Knuckle dimples give way to slim fingers. Dimply, roll-y thighs give way to skinny jeans (and, in my case, back to dimply, roll-y thighs…is that TMI? lol) Sesame Street gives way to unlimited texting plans and before you know it, those babies are up, grown and gone!

That being said, if you’ve finally booked your session, you still might feel a little heebly-jeebly about deciding what to wear for your family pictures. Here’s a few quick and easy tips on how to select your wardrobe.

The List

  1. You can compliment without photocopying. You DON’T have to dress in all white, all black, all anything. You won’t (I hope) dress like that to any other function anywhere, so don’t do it in your family pictures. Instead, try to gather outfits that blend well together. My advice is to figure out what the girls are wearing, then dress the boys to coordinate. A few ideas are: all pastels, various shades of one color, or dress the kids in bold colors and the adults in muted shades of the same. You can even look at magazines like Better Homes and Gardens and use photos of interiors to give you inspiration on color combinations. A fun color site, called Color Scheme Designer, lets you experiment with colors. Play with the color wheel after clicking on one of the smaller controls above it to get fantastic color matches. Remember, you don’t have to coordinate your outfits to be that VIBRANT, but it will help you get the right idea.
  2. Wear something you like. Duh. If you feel stupid wearing it, you won’t look confident in it while I take your picture. Wear clothes that FIT you comfortably and make you feel good. You’ll be moving around a lot during your session, so try not to wear something super restrictive. Comfortable clothes give the kids one less thing to whine about too.:)
  3. Layer it on. I totally understand that while you want a couple different looks, you’re not changing out of one dress into another one at the edge of a lake. To get around that, dress your family in layers so that by adding or removing layers, it looks like you’ve had a cohesive series of wardrobe changes. Just a couple layers or accessories will do the trick, as well as maybe bringing an extra pair of shoes (or four!) for mom. Also, kids HATE clothing changes. Even the diva princess who plays dress-up all day will eventually break down if you have costume after costume for her to wear. For kids, two complete changes, max. Better if you can stick to one outfit with the aforementioned accessories, which give them something to do with their fidgety hands! (That being said, parents of babies: You should already know to have a backup or two in case of spit-ups or poopcalypses.)
  4. Feel free to be daring. I am totally in love with bright, bold colors and patterns on my clients, but so few indulge me! You don’t have to turn into a neon billboard, but rock some fun and funky patterns in moderation. Try a couple colors that POP, even if it’s only present in some accessories. These make the pictures interesting, engaging and will look A.MAZ.ING on your wall!
  5. Go dark. Remember hearing that dark colors are slimming? It’s true. If you have an area or two of your body that you’d like to minimize, darker colored clothes will do that for you!
  6. Don’t date/curse yourself. This isn’t the time to wear your favorite, “The voices only talk to me” shirt. It’s not the time to let your teenager wear skinny jeans two sizes too small. (Is there ever a time for that? I’m getting so old already…) No words, no logos, nothing so super trendy that it’ll be outdated in a year. Get your hair cut/eyebrows waxed/spray tan more than a couple days before!
  7. Ask me! Seriously, I’m happy answer questions about wardrobe anytime. Check out my wardrobe board on Pinterest. Send me a Facebook message with a picture of everyone’s outfit on the bed. Send me a photo you found on the web that looks awesome. I’m totally here for you and can’t wait to photograph you looking your best!