A Documentary Newborn Session with The Dotson-Kelly Family

I met the sweet Dotson-Kelly family back in 2017. They are both from Southern California and have so many connections to our sweet village of Claremont: from the high school drama department, to the violin maker (you know that adorable shop in the village!), and even to our summer CEF SLICE program where they both taught.

Well, they welcomed their second girl in November and were already pros at the whole parenting gig. Within a week, they were making coffee while holding a newborn (an essential skill) and reading books to their 2 year old while comforting the baby and making breakfast for their dogs. I wish I was that capable when I was a new mom of two under two.

I love that we were able to capture a slice of their real life with their new baby. Please enjoy their film and then the images below.


THE FILM

THE IMAGES

9:20am - Newborns and toddlers live according to their own schedule, so everyone was up (even the dogs!) and ready by the time I was able to whip out my camera.

DocumentaryNewborn-EricaFaithPhotography-5.jpg
DocumentaryNewborn-EricaFaithPhotography-3_Blog.jpg

Every newborn arrives into a family and is instantly part of a coalition that has existed for thousands of years. This new baby’s family has a past that goes on for generations. Though this baby may be a new fresh life, they are also continuing the priceless line of people who love each other as well as the baby. It struck me throughout this session how this new little girl arrived as the family was still remodeling their kitchen and figuring out where to place appliances and furniture. Life continues on as a new life begins.

DocumentaryNewborn-EricaFaithPhotography-33.jpg

9:30am - Time for coffee and to tend to their first babies: the dogs.

DocumentaryNewborn-EricaFaithPhotography-7_Blog.jpg
DocumentaryNewborn-EricaFaithPhotography-9_Blog.jpg

9:45am - Another outfit change for the littlest family member. These sisters are already creating that unique bond that should last a lifetime.

DocumentaryNewborn-EricaFaithPhotography-14_Blog.jpg
DocumentaryNewborn-EricaFaithPhotography-1-3_Blog.jpg
DocumentaryNewborn-EricaFaithPhotography-1-4.jpg

10:00am - Apparently it’s time for big sister to take charge and introduce her baby to all the toys and books.

DocumentaryNewborn-EricaFaithPhotography-21_Blog.jpg
DocumentaryNewborn-EricaFaithPhotography-25_Blog.jpg

10:20am - While her new “baby” naps, big sister soaks up the undivided parental attention.

DocumentaryNewborn-EricaFaithPhotography-19_Blog.jpg

10:45am - What do most families with newborns and toddlers often find themselves doing? Cuddling on the couch (with dogs too!) with many toddler-level books.

DocumentaryNewborn-EricaFaithPhotography-29_Blog.jpg
DocumentaryNewborn-EricaFaithPhotography-3-3_Blog.jpg

Short Story: The Early Mornings | Claremont Documentary Photographer

Everyday human stories and beautiful light inspire me. So, it’s natural that I’d lift up my camera to document the gorgeous morning light that surrounds my children as they wake up and start the day.

These are the normal, everyday activities that are common to every family and the routines that we may forget by dinnertime. But, they are important because I love these people. I love how small they are; how they just have to eat cereal without milk; how they have such adorable belly buttons.

We need to document the everyday activities
that we risk forgetting.
These activities are the ones that create
our sense of family and home.

Documenting the early morning with a school age boy.
mornings-1-2.jpg
mornings-2-2.jpg
A child getting dressed.
I love how the light lands on the tiny toys my children save.
Breakfast with children
Cereal without milk
I love seeing the extreme differences between the warm inside artificial light and the cool outside sunrise.
Sun flare and children are always gorgeous.
The youngest and the slowest eater.

When we are surrounded by the people we love and trust…
When we’re doing the everyday activities we love…
That’s when we’re our truest selves.

Document and treasure those moments. They’re worth it.

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.

in-home-grandparents-2.jpg
in-home-grandparents-3.jpg
in-home-grandparents-1-2.jpg
in-home-grandparents-6.jpg
in-home-grandparents-7.jpg
in-home-grandparents-4.jpg
in-home-grandparents-5.jpg

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. 

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

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.

DO

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

14Dec07-blueoutfits.jpg

DON'T

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.

DO

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.

ShadesofBlueOutfits.jpg

Shop this look:


Who is the Star?!

Pick a Feature Outfit

DON'T

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.

DO

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.

reddress.jpg

Shop this look:

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.

THE FINAL IMAGE

(After getting edited in Lightroom and Photoshop)

Underwater photography of children in Claremont, CA

BEFORE

Straight out of the Camera (GoPro Hero 5)

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

 
 DCIM\101GOPRO\G0241158.JPG
 

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?

Snapshots: 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. 

minivan-claremont-3.jpg
minivan-claremont-4.jpg
minivan-claremont-5.jpg
minivan-claremont-1.jpg
minivan-claremont-2.jpg
minivan-1.jpg

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.
underwater-2_blgstmp.jpg
underwater-4_blgstmp.jpg
underwater-8_blgstmp.jpg
underwater-10_blgstmp.jpg
underwater-7_blgstmp.jpg
underwater-6_blgstmp.jpg

Family Photo Ideas at The Claremont Colleges

Sibling and Family Photo Ideas in Claremont, CA

Ready for some family photo ideas?

Back in October, my dear friend and I were brainstorming some family photo ideas for her Christmas cards. Though we have many beautiful nature areas near our homes, she was hoping for a more urban feel.  Luckily, we live near The Claremont Colleges which are filled with amazing architectural details. I've wandered all throughout the colleges before with my own family and there are just so many picturesque corners everywhere you turn. So, after she picked out an awesome wardrobe for her entire family, we picked a day and decided to wander around Scripps College in Claremont.

Tips for Getting Successful Family Photos.

1) Look for the light. This can be backlit sun or reflected light off buildings or a myriad other other light sources. The goal is to follow the pretty light.

Individual and Family Photos in Claremont, CA

2) When in urban areas, find interesting architectural details. Stained glass windows in libraries. Gorgeous tile stairs in hidden corners. Or, in our case, Scripps College has the most interesting walled garden with "graffiti" from each graduating class. Extra points for cool light through windows!

Family Photo Ideas in Claremont, CA

3) You can often still find nature in the midst of buildings. Ivy walls are great (just watch for icky spiders). Rose gardens are always gorgeous. And fountains can be a nice place to recharge and capture some candid photos. 

Children and Family Photo Ideas
Siblings hug during family photos at Scripps College in Claremont, CA
Children play with nature during family photos at Scripps College in Claremont, CA

4) Now, change your plans when the kids could care less about "looking at the camera and smiling." Decide to make them laugh instead. Maybe have them throw leaves at you. Or have have the kids try to pull their parents' arms off. We gotta make these photography experiences fun after all.

Children play during family photos at Scripps College in Claremont, CA
Family Photo Ideas at Scripps College in Claremont, CA

By the way, do you recognize their daughter? She had her premier on my blog about x years ago! Check out that session here! Ahh, now she's all grown up and wrestling with her brothers (and sometimes ignoring them).

 

 

The Second Half Project - Custom Squarespace Website Design

The Second Half Project is a ministry and community created by Janet Kidd for women  over 40-45 years old. She wanted a website that would cultivate community and offer resources for the issues unique to womens' lives. We created a brand new website for her through Squarespace that she can continue to build upon with resources and blog posts.

iMacMockup-GreenPlant.jpg

What We Did

CUSTOM WEBSITE DESIGN

  • Website design on Squarespace
  • Mobile-Ready / Responsive Design
  • Mailing List and Social Media Integration
  • Custom coding for logo and headshot swaps, mailing list integrations, etc.
  • Client Training

BRANDING

  • Logo Design 
  • Color and Font Design

Brand Board

 
Brand Board for The Second Half Project. Created by Erica Walker
 

Screenshots

Custom website design by Erica Walker
Squarespace website design.