Our Favorite Picture Books that Encourage Good Relationships

Did you know that I used to be a librarian? I've always had a natural desire to research and know everything so being a librarian and sharing that knowledge with others was a great fit.

After retiring from the academic library world to raise my three wild things, I put my experience to work finding the most amazing books for them. I didn't want our precious reading time wasted on books that possessed no literary value; we needed top quality, engaging, fun books.

Additionally, I wanted books that showed great sibling relationships or children trying hard to do what's right. Like sneaking vegetables in their meals, I sneak good teaching into our read along time.



"The world belongs to those who read."

- Rick Holland



We started with picture books when they were younger and even now that my children are entering 4th grade, 2nd grade and kindergarten, I'm still busy searching for top quality books for everyone.

I think it's high time I shared some of our treasures with everyone, starting with our favorite picture books.


McLerran, A. & Cooney, B. (Illustrator) (1991).

Imagine your parents or grandparents as children growing up in rural southern California. I bet they acted a lot like the kids in this book: turning sticks into horses, rock piles into houses and pebbles into buried treasure. This book celebrates the idea that children can work together and use their amazing imaginations to create entire new worlds for themselves. And the illustrations will have you searching for everything else that Cooney has touched.



Hughes, S. (1977).

Big sister loves her little brother. Her little brother loves his stuffed dog. He loses his Dogger and his sister is his savior, helping him and comforting him like I wish all siblings would act. And, you gotta love the 1970s outfits.


Three Tales of My Father's Dragon

Gannett, R. S. & Gannet, R. C. (Illustrator). (1998).

This sweet early chapter book is about the adventures of a little boy who travels throughout this fictional world to help a trapped baby dragon. He is resourceful, helpful and curious - all traits I'd love for my children to develop. As an early chapter book, it's also a great book for your child to read to you. Skip the endless "level 2" licensed character books and give this to your 1st grader. They'll love it.

 My Father's Dragon is a fantastic early chapter book about a boy who helps a little friendly dragon. This book is great for early readers.

The Maggie B.

Haas, I. (1975).

Another big sister really loves her baby brother. She also wants to be free on an adventure. So, she takes her little brother on her sailing ship, cleans the ship, makes him meals, rocks him to sleep, and brings animals for him to visit. It's a tender love story of adventure and family at the same time. I now want more babies and a ship. 

"North Star, star of the sea.
I wish for a ship
Named after me.
To sail for a day
Alone and free.
With someone nice
For company."


George Washington

D'Aulaire, I. and D'Aulaire, E. (1936).

Every book by the D'Aulaires is gorgeous with wonderful stories. We use their books (like this one about George Washington) to learn about real people. The illustrations spark my childrens' imaginations and the text will draw in the older readers.


Homer Price

McCloskey, R. (1943).

A curious boy (about 8-10 yrs old?) uses his own wits to solve crime and gives us a humorous look at small-town America. 


Becker, A. (2016).

I have no words at all. I mean that this book is completely wordless. Pictures tell an entire story of adventure, danger and family helping each other. It will be read many many times and you'll then be seeking out the author's next books.

Kristen - Lifestyle Headshots in Claremont, CA

Kristen and I have been friends since our babies were even more babyish. They're all now in preschool and school... and they keep growing. She's now back to work and has such an awesome job! 

Kristen is a School Speech Language Pathologist. She works with kids in her district to get and use devices to communicate. You know the child who really wants to learn but is having problems communicating (speaking, hearing and/or understanding language)? Well, Kristen is like Santa and figures out what that child needs and gets them the proper equipment and training to communicate! How amazing is that?!

So, we got together recently when she wanted outdoor lifestyle headshots. I live in the most adorable small town in southern California, Claremont, so I knew we'd have a long list of places great for headshots. Would you believe that we ended up within a block of a parking garage? All that beautiful light and architectural details! *Sigh*

Be sure to check out Kristen's instagram and check out below for her lifestyle headshots.

 Claremont's amazing architecture makes for beautiful lifestyle headshots.
 Claremont, CA has many beautiful places for outdoor photos.
 Outdoor lifestyle headshots for professionals in Claremont, CA
 Get professional outdoor headshots while relaxing in Claremont, CA
 When you need updated headshots, head to Erica Faith Photography.

Are you unsatisfied with the selfies that you're using as headshots?

Would you like modern, customized and amazing lifestyle headshots?

Photographing Across Generations - Grandparents and their grandkids

As a parent and photographer, I am always wanting to capture the connections between people. I love seeing where we "came from" and who we're connected to. So, it's only natural that I'd bring my "big" camera on our near-weekly visits to the grandparents and attempt some documentary photography across generations.

As my children have grown bigger and louder, these visits to the grandparents have also evolved. We used to all sit in the living room and stare adoringly at the cute baby on the blanket. Well, now those three babies are running and screeching throughout the house and the grandparents tire out very quickly.

I took the opportunity one recent trip to capture what my children find to do in this "non child-friendly" environment. Someday in the future when my children have forgoten how they used to fit inside a kitchen cabinet, I can drag out the photo album to remind just how small they used to be.


Do you wish you had more photos of you with your grandparents?

Wouldn't you like to create photos of your own children with their grandparents?

I wish I had more photos of my grandparents and of myself with them. So, if you're like me, let's grab coffee and chat about how we can honestly capture on camera the multi-generations in your own family.

Let's Talk

A Claremont Ice Cream Shop Photoshoot

If you aren't already following the food and mom blogger, Charisse Yu (Easy Toddler Meals), you need to head over to her Instagram right now and get on it.

I met her several months ago when she needed updated headshots and lifestyle photos with her adorable boys. We captured some fun photos walking through downtown Claremont and eventually we ended up at Bert and Rocky's Ice Cream Shop. This ice cream shop has been a fixture in Claremont for 40 years and I knew that we needed some photos of this food blogger there. So, check out Charisse's blog and then check out Bert and Rocky's! But first, check out our photos of Charisse with her boys.


Portraits of Childhood - Capturing the best photos of children's personalities

I absolutely love when I can capture close-up portraits of children. Some children are nervous with a camera in their face while other children use this chance to goof off. I happen to have both kinds of children in my own family.

My oldest and youngest love attention and really love seeing their face on the back of the camera. My middle guy is the quieter one; he lets me capture photos of him absorbed in an activity but does not usually sit for a formal portrait.

When I do have the opportunity to take some "formal" portraits of children, I usually ask them a silly question or suggest a goofy scenario. This lights up their imagination and it just shines through their eyes and face. Sometimes I'll even ask them to show me all sorts of kinds of faces, from excited to sad, scared to happy. In the photo below, I asked my girl to show me a few "excited" faces.

 A young girl making a silly face in her photography portrait.

In this photo, I simply asked my boy to show me several "faces" including his crying face. I really liked the balance with the rain cloud on the pillow behind him.

 A black and white portrait of a boy pretending to cry.

Sometimes when I create a portrait of a child, I don't even need to capture their entire face to really get their personality. I don't even know what my little guy is doing in this photo, but I love the mystery.

 A close up photo of just the eyes of a preschool boy.

Portrait photography needs two vital components: an awesome personality and great light. The personality part is a natural for kids. They can't help but be their awesome selves. The great light is also found almost anywhere, including a hallway (lower left photo) or a bathroom (lower right photo). I drive my family crazy sometimes when we're out walking and I just stop. It's usually because I see an interesting light pattern on the ground and I must know what created it. 

 Portrait photography of a young boy makes great use of shadows.
 Find the great light first when making portraits. This can even be in bathrooms.
 Getting great light is important for beautiful photos of children in Claremont.

Portraits also don't always need to be made sitting down. Some of my favorite portraits of my own children are the quick action shots that I have to nail in a split-second such as when he's running towards me in a tiny tunnel or swinging in a hammock or even taking an evening walk through The Claremont Colleges.

 Portrait photo using great use of light and composition.
 Outdoor portrait child photography in California.
 Scripps College is a great place for family photos in Claremont.

Childhood portraits are such a natural component of my family lifestyle sessions. I love to tell the story of childhood from the point of view of these little humans. Candid and formal images are necessary to fully tell that story. 

Are you ready to capture your children's story?

Let's talk!

What to Wear for Summer Family Photos

Summer is a great time to schedule your family photos! The gorgeous sunsets, awesome weather... and gorgeous trees and nature backdrops all around us. And you need amazing outfits for your family too!

These will be the images on your walls that make you smile for years to come. So it makes sense to plan ahead of time. Think about the colors you love. Think about  which rooms you plan to display the photos. What colors are those rooms? Don't do what I've done is wake up on the day of your family photosession and scramble to find whatever is clean.

I want you to be beautiful. I want you to be comfortable. And, I want you to love these photos for years, so, let's face it, the outfits do matter.

So, here are some do's and dont's to picking awesome outfits.

Let Your Personalities Shine!


Don't let the outfits steal the show. You are the heroes, not your clothes. When you look at your photos for years to come, you want your awesome faces to be the star of the photos. So, please stay away from logos, large distracting patterns and fluorescent colors.


Reflect a bit your family's personality. Are you a hike and picnic in nature family? Do you all spend lots of time at urban festivals and museums? Let your passions and your personality show in your clothing!

 Amazing boho outfit choices for a family photoshoot.

Shop this look:

Just the Right Color



Don't go matchy-matchy. It's not how you dress in real life, right? I do admit that my 5 and 7 year old like to wear matching shirts sometimes, but my husband and myself? Uh, no.


Find complimentary colors for the family to wear. Do you love blue? Instead of wearing matching blue button downs, have each person wear different shades of blue. My sweet friends (to the right) did a beautiful job combining blues and greys for an authentic representation of their family

Looking for a hot weather version? Check out this collage of blue outfits with hints of brown and grey. Perfect for a family photo session at The Claremont Colleges or the beach.


Shop this look:

Who is the Star?!

Pick a Feature Outfit


Don't try to style everyone in their favorite outfit. If Dad wears his favorite striped shirt and Mom wears her favorite flowery dress and the kids each wear their favorite neon-shirts, the end image will be way too busy and detract from the beauty of the actual people.


The goal in finding outfits for your photo session is to create a cohesive look as a family. So, pick one outfit to be highlighted or featured. That can be the chid who is the picky-est dresser or Dad who insists he'll wear his favorite striped polo or Mom who purchased a gorgeous dress just for the session. Then, find outfits for everyone else that match or coordinate with the colors and style of that feature outfit.


Shop this look:

Do you find yourself postponing your family's photos because you can't decide on outfits for everyone? Call me! I offer outfit selection help for all of my clients, whether it's business lifestyle headshots or updated family photos for your walls. Together we can find the perfect outfits for your family's photos.

Underwater Photography - A before and after comparision

Underwater photography relies heavily on post-editing. No matter the camera - whether I use my fancy DSLR with underwater housing or my GoPro - the image that is straight out of the camera (SOOC) is never perfect. Cameras just can't capture the contrast and detail that a human eye can see. So, I always spend a good amount of time with each photo in Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop pulling out those important details. Here is one of my latest underwater photos. I thought everyone might want to see the difference between a SOOC image and the final edited image.


(After getting edited in Lightroom and Photoshop)

 Underwater photography of children in Claremont, CA


Straight out of the Camera (GoPro Hero 5)

My settings: ISO 100, 3mm (ultra wide angle), f/2.8, 1/2500 sec


Underwater photography is really an exciting activity. I have the honor of capturing children completely absorbed in their own activities and everything takes on a bit of magic. How often do we get to fly, float and spin upside down?

Do you have access to a pool and want to chat about creating totally unique underwater photos for your own family?

The Suburban Mom Lifestyle - life in a minivan

Raise your hand if you spend as much time as I do just driving your children back and forth to All. The. Activites.  So, it's only natural that since I carry my camera almost everywhere we go, that I'd capture some of our life in that beloved minivan. Seriously... this thing is messy and full of crumbs, but has sooo much space. Enjoy this snapshot of our life in our minivan. 


Underwater Photography

When I take my camera under the surface of a pool, it's like I'm in another world. Shadows and highlights are entirely different than on land. Bubbles surround and accentuate everyone. And the colors! Sun streams through the surface, darkness creeps up from the deep end and everyone's swimsuits scream summer with every shot. As a lifestyle photographers, I love seeing connections and movement everywhere; and this includes underwater. I love seeing siblings getting crazy and parents helping their littlest of fish.

I'm lucky that I live in California where we have such a long swim season. Underwater photography has given me such creative expression that I enthusiastically jump in the pool with my kids at every opportunity.

 Two kid grab onto their dad in the pool.