The Motherhood Memoirs | Fresh Cuts

When I was a little girl, your grandma never allowed your auntie, or I get a haircut. She'd point to one of the ubiquitous Sears photo studio shots of us and our glorious manes, exclaiming, "You want someone to chop off all of this beautiful hair?!... The answer is NO!" Ugh.

 The "before" shots.

The "before" shots.

 Classic Vera.

Classic Vera.

 So. Ready!

So. Ready!

But, I rebelled. Second grade picture day rolled around. I just *knew* the super-short, asymmetrical bang look would work for me. And I went for it. Your grandmother was none too pleased. At five, I promised myself I'd NEVER make my children endure such brutal oppression.

 
 Lookin' fly with my sweet bangs.

Lookin' fly with my sweet bangs.

 

Flash forward thirty years. It's bath time. You two 4.5-year-old divas are reenacting Mama Imelda's epic rendition of La Llorona at Ernesto de la Cruz's sunrise spectacular.

Then a pause.

"Hey, moooooom! When can me and sissy get our hairs cut?!"

Time to uphold my childhood promise. We went for it. Found example images. Despite the disappointment of not being able to get longer hair, or change your hair from curly to straight (and vice versa) we trudged on.

Ru, as usual, your inner *spa girl* took the reigns. You sat up on that chair, said "I'm the qweeen  of the wuuwld!" and let the professional do her thang. Delightful. Every few mins since you've done a little hair toss, mixed with a duck face lip pucker. Big success.

Vera, you cracked me up. Always suspect, I was SURE you'd end up changing your mind the second we walked into the shop. Your excitement to have a new 'do won out, however (thank GOODNESS). Anyway, even though you were letting her cut your hair, your face said something closer to, "Is she sure, I mean REALLY SURE, she knows what she's doing?" But, every single time I pointed the camera at you, you smiled a huge sh@t-eating grin. Eventually, I got a shot of your classic "Vera the Skeptic" expression. It was all worth it. You hopped up and down for joy after checking yourself out. Too good.

 Gotcha!

Gotcha!

All in all, it was a lovely day with you newly-coiffed cuties.

New Bundle of Joy | A San Francisco Newborn Family Documentary Photo Session

Meet the Gagliardi Family; Dominic, Lauren, and new baby, Elena:

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Back in early December, I had the honor of photographing Dominic and Lauren's maternity session. Even then, I could sense these first-time parents' profound anticipation of wanting to hold their baby girl so badly. So I was beyond delighted to see them and their sweet new bundle of joy, Elena, in their loving embrace.

Two-week-old Elena was the sweetest thing ever, wrapped up in her swaddle and wearing her little headband. And with two weeks of parenthood under their belt, it was a blessing to see some of the new routines Dominic and Lauren developed; enjoying a cup of coffee together, sorting through some of Ms. Elena's adorable outfits, milk-coma snuggles, and the timeless new parent ritual of watching baby's every movement, hiccup, blink or yawn in sheer amazement.

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The littlest feet make the biggest footprints in our hearts.
— Uknown
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Double the Sweetness | A San Francisco Family Documentary Photo Session

Meet the Alperin Family; Jordan, Erika, and one-year-old twins, Elliot & Lars:

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This family is so near and dear to my heart. Not only have I had the pleasure of working with them for three sessions, from maternity to newborn to one year later, but this sweet family also has TWINS! You may or may not know this, but the twin thing is a big part of my personal narrative - being a twin, having twin brothers, and also having twin daughters. I know, those are some crazy twin genes!

It has been so remarkable witnessing this family grow. During their newborn session, the twins were so itty bitty. Getting to document them a whole year later, with full-on personalities, completely melted my heart. Lars was the most charming little guy in the world, continuously giggling and smiling. Elliot, the fierce little lady, was so happy to be back home after our first portion of the session, pushing her cart around with a huge smile on her face. Clearly a homebody (girl after my own heart)!

The last bit of our session took place in the nursery. We ended up taking pictures within the same space and frame as we did during their maternity and newborn session, which warmed my heart SO MUCH. This time the kids could sit up all by themselves on the couch, serving as a beautiful reminder of how quickly time flies and children grow.

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A child’s laugh could simply be one of the most beautiful sounds in the world.
— Unknown
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The Biggest Little Personality | A Berkeley Family Documentary Photo Session

Meet the Patch Family; Dave, Stephanie, 9 month old William, and golden retriever, Chloe:

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The star of this session was William, of course, and (as you'll see) he was immeasurably adorable. At nine months old, his personality is really beginning to develop, and it was so fun to see the different elements of his shine through. This cutie took so much pride in picking himself up, cruising along the couch, and feeding himself like a big boy (maybe with a little help from dad at times). Needless to say, this was a fun one!

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Childhood is the most beautiful of all life’s seasons.
— Unknown
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22 Hours New | A San Francisco Fresh 48 Documentary Photo Session

Meet the Figueroa-Mills Family; Jason, Illeana, and their brand new baby:

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Welcome to the world! Sweet baby boy made his grand entrance on January 22nd at 3:01pm, and is already so very loved. Jason and Illeana decided to keep the gender of their baby a surprise until the birth, but they were so sure they were going to have a girl. What a wonderful surprise this baby boy was! I had the honor of meeting him when he was only 22-hours-old. So fresh, so tiny, so new! He was very calm, and only really fussed when he was not in the comfort of his swaddle. 

Fresh 48 sessions take place within 48 hours of your baby's birth, and they might be my favorite type of session. There's something so special, so real and so priceless about these very first moments of parenthood. 

Jason and Illeana, congratulations on your new bundle of Joy! Thank you for inviting me into your hospital room to document your very first moments as a family of three. It was such an honor.

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A new baby is like the beginning of all things...hope, a dream of possibilities.
— Eda LaShan
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Walking on Sushine | A San Francisco Family Documentary Photo Session

Meet mom, dad, and their adorable son:

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This one year old is the sweetest, silliest, most expressive little guy EVER. We started out the session with snack time, which was his first time ever feeding himself with a spoon. Such a monumental occasion to capture! He was so proud, as he should be!

After snack, mom put on some music for the family to dance to, and I was totally expecting to hear children's music. But then all of sudden, "Walking on Sunshine" comes on! Everyone is jammin' along, and the little guy starts swaying side to side, trying so hard to snap his fingers. It was such a hilarious moment!

Thank you for the warm welcome and the delightful music accompaniment, too! Pretty sure I've had "Walking on Sunshine" stuck in my head for the past two weeks. 

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Music is what feelings sound like.
— Alexander Mall
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When Three Becomes Four | An Alameda Newborn Family Documentary Photo Session

Meet the Wu Family:

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I had the pleasure of capturing these beautiful human beings when they were a family of three, soon-to-be a family four. And to get the opportunity to connect with this family again, with a precious newborn babe in the mix? How lucky am I?! 

Congratulations on your new bundle of joy! 

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Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.
— A.A. Milne
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Capturing Childhood: Fall Workshop

Now back-to-school isn't just for the kids. Grab your camera and get yourself in the classroom. $175 + 4 hours will change how you document your family forever! Only $50 to reserve your seat today!

Details, reservation and contact info below.

Contact Melissa >here< with any questions. Reserve your seat >here<. Space is limited.

Spring Has SPRUNG!

Had a blast running around with some awesome families (lots of growing families in the bunch too!) at the UC Botanical Garden for this year's spring mini-sessions! You guys gotta see these cutie patooties!

Quick reminder first. If any mommas with babies under 12 months are looking for fun activities tomorrow, join me, along with the 510families crew over at Studio Grow and celebrate the launch of Allyson Downey's new book, Here's the Plan: Your Practical, Tactical Guide to Advancing Your Career During Pregnancy and Parenthood. There will be some light breakfast, goody bags, a raffle, pictures by yours truly... and of course fun for the kids at Studio Grow too ;)

And, don't forget (okay, a couple quick reminders), May's Capturing Childhood workshop is coming up! Check out all the info >here<. Scholarships available to those in need!

Now back to a glimpse at these beautiful families enjoying spring!!! WARNING: cuteness overload!!!

 

 

The Dynamic Duo | An Oakland Family Documentary Photo Session

Meet Oakland parents Temi and Matt and their beautiful twin sons, Isaac, in mommy's loving arms, and Abraham, gettin' all cleaned up by daddy (don't worry, more of their cutie faces soon):

Been catching up on some blogging and I have been getting so much joy from looking over this awesome family's photos again! Temi, a fellow Twins by the Bay mom, reached out to document her family right at the cusp of her sons' first birthday. Fully expecting to arrive at our consultation to meet two babies, I was (pleasantly) surprised to meet two exuberant, active FULL-ON young boys. I discovered, shortly after contacting Temi and Matt, that not only are they die-hard USC Trojans fans, but also that Matt is a basketball coach - so the fact that Ike and Abe were active and athletic little dudes was, in hindsight, absolutely no surprise!

Being a twin mom (and twin) myself, I feel like I have heard "it all" when it comes to beliefs/superstitions surrounding twin-dom. But, Temi, being of Nigerian ancestry, shared with me the coolest information regarding beliefs about twins in Nigerian culture. Check it out:

"Two of the most common destiny names among the Yorùbá are Taiwo (or Taiye) and Kehinde, which are given primarily to twins. It is believed that the first of the twins is Taiwo (or Taiye), whose intention in coming out first is to perceive whether or not the environment that they are about to enter is a good one for his or her superior to be in. When he or she is so satisfied, he or she grants the other twin, Kehinde (sometimes shortened to Kenny), the go ahead to come out."

Super cool, huh?

Mr. smiley and curious Abe:

Mr. Ike - making sticking your tongue look cool ;)

Brothers!!!

This family's energy kept me on my toes and was truly refreshing. The love they shed upon one another was abundant and I felt right at home with their welcoming nature.

What an honor to get a glimpse of this beautiful family's everyday life. Can't wait to for the next time!

For My Daughters: La Clase De Música

Just a funny little story about daddy, love bugs.

This week, because of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, dad was able to join us at your beloved clase de música on Monday. I think he was able to see how enraptured you two are by the songs, dancing, singing, playing instruments. It made me think of a sweet story that I thought you girls would like too.

Daddy had just gotten home from a show in the city and was especially impressed at how the 8-piece ensemble (metal band at that) was able to stay in sync so well with with one another. He was so impressed, in fact, he stayed to chat with the band and when he asked, somewhat rhetorically, "how the hell do make music like that?!" the man guffawed, and said, "the only thing you need to make music are two ears... (then placing his hand on his chest) and a heart."

 Poor daddy had to learn the hard way that you turn into drama-mama when your shoes get taken off in music class.

Poor daddy had to learn the hard way that you turn into drama-mama when your shoes get taken off in music class.

 Vee, you NEVER have been more excited to be in music class. You were showing off your moves to daddy from the moment you walked (more like sashayed) through the door.

Vee, you NEVER have been more excited to be in music class. You were showing off your moves to daddy from the moment you walked (more like sashayed) through the door.

 You twirl the ENTIRE 45 minutes in class, Ru. As you can see I'm always quite amused by it :)

You twirl the ENTIRE 45 minutes in class, Ru. As you can see I'm always quite amused by it :)

 Dancing with scarves is your very favorite thing to do in music class. Vee, you love getting goofy with them too. Silly billy!

Dancing with scarves is your very favorite thing to do in music class. Vee, you love getting goofy with them too. Silly billy!

Then of course you love to jam at home.

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 Hoarding the recorders (I won't tell sissy!)

Hoarding the recorders (I won't tell sissy!)

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 Sis was serenading you, Vee. hehe

Sis was serenading you, Vee. hehe

I love you my little musicians,

Mom

Mini-Session Wrap-Up

What do you get when you mix a beautiful California fall backdrop, one super goofy photographer (a couple rad assistants I might add), a bunch of cutie patooties and their amazing families? Any guesses?! Some INSANELY FUN mini-sessions, that's what!

Here's a little sampling from my fun fall sessions at The Little Farm at Tilden Regional Park and UC Berkeley. Be sure to drop me a line >here< to stay up-to-date on future mini-session dates and other offers.

Enjoy!

As you can tell, I LOVE what I do!

Quality Time At Home | An Oakland Family Documentary Session

Back in June, I donated a photo session to Twins By The Bay's annual consignment sale raffle, and was thrilled to discovery this beautiful family had won...

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Right On Time | A San Francisco Newborn + Family Documentary Session

Meet beaming new mother and father, Jen and Jason, and their bundle of enchantment, Eliza:

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37/52: Bokeh


 

"In photography, bokeh (Originally /ˈboʊkɛ/, /ˈboʊkeɪ/ BOH-kay — also sometimes pronounced as /ˈboʊkə/ BOH-kə, Japanese: [boke]) is the aesthetic quality of the blur produced in the out-of-focus parts of an image produced by a lens. Bokeh has been defined as "the way the lens renders out-of-focus points of light"

 

Single hibiscus. Lovely bokeh.