Bay Area

A Celebration of Phenomenal Women | Peggy, 2019


I think what made me the most excited to have Peggy in for a photoshoot was simply the story of her life thus far. She is the owner and founder of Ballet Petit, but she is a teacher and long-time investor of children who love the art of dance, she is a wife, mother, and grandmother, she is a cancer survivor, she is a woman whose smile, humor, and warm conversation make you feel like you’re talking to a long-time friend even after a few minutes of meeting her.

Peggy had never done a photoshoot like this before and as with most women, had some hesitations to step out in front of my camera. However, that did not stop her because in a very real way, this photoshoot was more than taking a few photographs - it was celebrating her journey with life on so many deeper levels.

I beyond honored to share with you all a few images from Peggy’s photoshoot, a behind the scenes video glimpse below, and most of all, a little bit about her through her own voice.

Here’s to the celebration and journey of life, both the peaks and valleys, and being able to see a deeper beauty through all the seasons.

Images | Heartbox Photography

Styling | Kalani Brown

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“About three years ago, I went to yet another doctor’s appointment to try and control my asthma. After a chest X-ray, and several more follow up appointments, it was determined that asthma was not the issue after all - I had Hodgkins Lymphoma, Stage 2B, with some extra symptoms.

It was a huge shock. I was told, due to concerns for my immune system during treatment, I was not permitted to teach school during my treatment, but was encouraged to teach ballet and take my ballet classes each week, for as long as I was able. It was a scary time. Less than a month later I started 6 months of chemotherapy every 2 weeks, followed by weeks of daily radiation treatments.

I decided the day I was diagnosed that I would do my very best to keep dancing, knowing that it would help my survival physically, as well as emotionally. I wanted to be strong for myself, and to set a good example for my students of the power and strength that comes from doing what you love. “

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“I kept my focus positive, accepted the help and love of my community, and happily kept dancing all the way through my cancer treatment year. I didn’t give up.  I made it and I am proud of that!”

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What would you tell your 18-year-old self?

“I was a pretty strong-willed and ambitious 18 year old. I thought that if I tried hard enough, I could make just about anything happen or not happen.

I would tell my 18 year old self, “You may think you can control your life, but you can’t. Life happens. You can, however, have some control over how you handle what comes your way in life.”

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“A beautiful woman lives her life according to her beliefs and the dreams she holds in her heart. Whatever it is that she values, desires, aspires to be or do, wants to achieve, her beauty shows through as she takes the steps necessary to fulfill herself and make her dreams become a reality.”

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“Everyone has a place. Everyone has worth. No one is perfect. We all have imperfections.

This reminds us that we are all human. Regardless, we can all try to be our best selves while seeing the best in others. We become our best selves by being honest, open, and aware of ourselves and how we share this planet with others as we navigate through our lives.”

“I have been so fortunate to have lived my life surrounded by wonderful people in my family, my schools, and in the world of the classical arts. The proverb about it taking a village to raise a child rings so strongly for me.

I am grateful for the many people who have been a part of my village from the day I was born to the present day. They have been such an important part of my life story. I have been lucky to have had such a vibrant and supportive village. They have all had some part of who I am today. It has been pretty wonderful, the ups and even the downs. All in all, I am happy with how my life has turned out.”


Ruchi | 2016 | Glamour & Contemporary Outdoor Portraits | San Jose, CA


I once heard my old pastor say that in a marriage, a woman is a reflection of what what her husband gives her. I remember him saying that she is the valley that will flourish healthily if the streams of water and care flowed down to her are filled with love and care. For all these years, that sentiment has stuck with me and recently came to mind when I had the opportunity to photograph Ruchi.

Ruchi is a software engineer who just recently graduated with her Master's degree from San Jose State University here in the Bay Area. While the afternoon was planned for a portrait session exclusively for her, her husband, Manas, patiently tagged along to not only help assist, but to also capture a few shots with his own camera. And who could blame him? She is not only a beautiful woman outwardly, but has the cheery smile and spunk that was as bright as the golden light we photographed her against. In every way that she spoke of him and in the quiet smile he returned in response to her teasing, one could tell they absolutely shared something lovely and special.

Ruchi is confident, smart, sassy, genuine...and it is obvious she is filled with love. A woman who is overflowing with all these wonderful things simply brings this beautiful "extra" that you can see in her eyes, in every photograph. And it is beyond stunning.

So proud to share with you all not only a behind the scenes video into Ruchi's photoshoot but also some of my favorite photos from our time together! 

Ruchi, you are stunning. Both inside and out. It was such an honor to be able to capture you in these photographs as a celebration of the woman you are now and the woman you will continue to grow to be in the future. Thank you for the opportunity to not only meet you but also your husband and to see a glimpse into what you hold near and dear. It is indeed special in ways that can not be captured by words. Cheers to you both, to your recent graduation, and to shaping the world as a woman in the engineering world!


What do you wish you could say to yourself when you were 18?

"Believe it or not, you are beautiful and always will be. "

"Oil painting and glass painting has always been my passion. In my free time, playing with the colors to decorate my house - and life - makes me happy."

"[I think} there is nothing that can "make" a woman beautiful because [I think] we women are [already] beautiful."

"God has given me a special person who thinks I am beautiful. And having him makes me the happiest person on earth."


Many thanks to Keziah Dauz for her styling of hair and makeup!

Preview | Sonia | Glamour and Contemporary Portrait | Fremont, CA

As the years swirl by with a speed that seems to increase each passing year, there is something still so sweet and refreshing about reminders of childhood memories. From the wave of nostalgia that comes from passing by an old neighborhood to rehashing memories with old friends in the laughs that remind us of long summers, giggles over latest crushes, and grade school book reports.

I have known Sonia for more years than I can count. She is truly a beautiful person inside and out and I am so honored to have the opportunity to capture her in these photographs.

Below is a preview into Sonia's photoshoot that I am thrilled to share with you all. There is more to come as always, so be sure to stay tuned!

Many thanks to the wonderful Becky Lau of Beautiful One Makeup Artistry for her styling of Sonia's look for this shoot!



Erin | Glamour & Contemporary Portraits | Santa Clara, CA

I recently had the wonderful opportunity to photograph the lovely and talented Erin Nolan. Not only is Erin is a professional actress and model here in the Bay Area, but she's a woman with a lot of great insight on the impact women have made in the entertainment industry as well as the challenges they still face today. 

For someone like me who sometimes buys into the common misconception that models and actresses have it wonderfully easy, a conversation with Erin helped correct that perspective. Actresses and models face some of the same challenges that everyday women face, perhaps even more so due to the industry they work in. But despite these challenges, there are also more women today influencing change in the film industry, sharing powerful stories that beckons an audience to listen like never before. 

Erin, thank you for allowing me to capture you in these photographs. But even more than that, thank you for allowing me the opportunity to hear about the hopes and aspirations you have for all women, not just those in the entertainment industry. Here's to inspiring change for women in film - and beyond.  


What do you think makes a woman truly beautiful?

"For me, a woman's beauty is based on the things that make her who she is - not what society thinks she is or should be. For me, the answer then becomes the same things that makes any human being beautiful.

Be it their inspiring compassion. Their bold creativity. Their contagious positivity. Feminine beauty of all too often evokes images of unattainable physical form or superficiality - and can lead a woman to suddenly fear, "if I have none of those things, am I not beautiful?"

Why must feminine beauty be based off of something purely physical and ever-changing, when women do SO much more their whole lives? They are mothers, best friends, CEOs, teachers - they are the brave pioneers of a new path of women every day. They are bringers of love, of hope, bearers of life - and isn't life the most beautiful thing?"

"To me, there is nothing more beautiful than a woman being all that she is, and all she ever wanted to be, living a kind, honest and beautiful life, far too free to allow any suppressive standard stand in her way."

What do you appreciate most about your life now?

"That I have freedom live in an evolving world that is becoming more and more accepting and encouraging of a woman to takes charge of her own life and not define herself as others seek to define her."

"And of course, to be so blessed to have the incredible support of friends and family to live this life on my own terms."

As an actress, what would you like to see changed about the industry and how women are portrayed and perceived in the media?

"I would like to see the microphone passed to women, to truly be given an honest and steady voice for their stories in film. Issues that we face each day have a way of being reinforced by stereotypes perpetuated through film."

"A huge problem is the overwhelming majority of stories center around a male protagonist, where the female character is there often for little more than to "embellish" his story.

They are the cute love interest. The seductive femme fatale. The captive princess. The murdered wife. The kidnapped daughter. The motivator for the male to begin his journey, to tell his story. But their identity is forever lost within that role, eternally valuable within the plot only for how they add to his story. "

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"Women have so much more to offer.

In fact, the more that Hollywood has allowed and created female characters who stepped outside of the real or imagined society of their cinematic reality, we have been rewarded with incredibly captivating and iconic characters."

"When we cease to base a female character's value on their appearance and sex appeal, or as an accessory to the male protagonist and re-shift the focus to the female character's actual experiences: her journey, her struggles, contributions, and triumphs, we get Ripley, Katniss, Daenerys, Sarah Connor, Liz Lemon, Aibileen, Lisbeth, Elsa, Aowyn, Hermione, Rey, and Furiosa!

Is it any coincidence that these characters are all a part of some of the most beloved, critically acclaimed and prestigious award winning films/shows of our lifetime? Certainly not, for these are accomplishments that would never have happened without them had they instead taken a quiet backseat to the story.

Every woman has got an incredible story to tell. Now is the time for us to listen, and to be inspired to live as bravely as they do."

I couldn't have said it better myself.

Be sure to check out the slideshow below showcasing Erin's photo session! 



Photography: Heartbox Photography
Hair and Makeup:  Kat Tinney of A-List Makeup 

Van | Glamour and Contemporary Portraits | San Jose, California

It was a unusually beautiful day in San Jose. The weather was warm for a February and if you clicked the radio on or tuned in on your television,  you'd soon learn that the much anticipated Superbowl 50 was about to commence in Santa Clara.

But for Van, instead of football (she's a champ!), it was going to be an afternoon filled hair and makeup styling and some time in front of my camera. 

Van is a wife and devoted mother and also the president of the Silicon Valley-based company, Tempo. Her passion  for all people living healthier lifestyles while maintaining a greener planet, fused together and became the foundation of what Tempo is built on. 

Van, it was a honor to photograph you, to hear the story about Tempo, but even more so, to get to know you as a person. Thank you for allowing me to pull you away from all the afternoon Superbowl festivities, to bask in the afternoon light for these photographs, to trust my camera to capture the very best of you in these images. You rock!

Below are just a few of my favorite shots from Van's photo session with me. To view all the photos, check out the slideshow below!


This afternoon light?  It makes any photographer die from sheer happiness. LOVE.

Every women deserves to have a photograph of herself that reminds her that yes, it's totally ok to rock out your inner fiercenss.  

I love red. And teal colored bikes with flowers. And stripes. And red shoes. With golden sunlight. YES.

Van, you just go on with your beautiful self!

For me, this photograph below reminds me of what I'd love to remind other women of - that they are beautiful and uniquely made in such a way that they can be proud of. 

Many thanks to Kat Tinney for the styling of Van's hair and makeup!

Jessica | February Birthday Rewards | Portraits by Heartbox Photography | Bay Area, CA

I had the opportunity to meet Jessica a few years back at a networking meeting here in the Bay Area. Jessica's quiet demeanor and shy smile may be what you see on the outside, but after I got the opportunity get to know and work with her, I quickly learned that beneath that quiet demeanor was a woman of deep thought, an articulate speaker, a true leader and someone I admire and respect.

And needless to say, I am so very excited to announce that Jessica is the winner for February's Birthday Rewards drawing with Heartbox Photography!

Jessica, I hope you had a wonderful birthday celebration! Here's to more years of celebrating life!

Happy, happy birthday!

Hair and makeup by Ashlyn Taylor 

Glamour Photo Session and Makeover

It's easy - very easy -  to find a picture of "pretty" in magazines. The grocery store check out lines are adorned with a plethora of photos from Hollywood's latest and greatest of celebrities, last week's red-carpet event - you  name it.

"Pretty" is easy to find - it is displayed on the surface, it's common and it's nice and sweet.

But, beautiful?

Beautiful is this rare combination of absolutely everything she is - something much deeper in her heart and soul, a complex blend of every thing she believes in, stands for, works towards, fights for. Beautiful is in the eyes she uses to see into the heart of her family and friends, the needs of the world around her, the smile she shares with others. Beautiful is wrapped up in every challenged she has ever faced in this life, in every victory and failure.

I had the privilege to recently photograph Elizabeth. She is a mother, a wife, and engineer doing wonderful things in this world with the skills she's been given. And as with every woman I am given the opportunity to photograph, the more I learned about her, the more I was reminded about how wonderful it is to work with women who are shaking up the world with the abilities, talents, and passions they have been given.

Beautiful is the way God sees every woman and it is my hope that the world will move towards treasuring the truly beautiful and settling less for what is merely "pretty".

A special thank you to the talented Vlada Fomenko of Vlada Fomenko Makeup and Hair for Elizabeth's beautiful hair and make up! 












PREVIEW: Glamour Photo Session, Bay Area, 2013.

As with the embarking of every New Year, I do my best to really evaluate what the previous year looked like as well as intentionally set new goals, both personally and professionally, for the new year ahead. Taking an honest look at what was done, not done, the mistakes and victories, what is continuing to be, isn't always easy, but I personally believe it's so important especially if you still maintain an interest in growing as a person.

I'm not the bravest person in the world or always the most spontaneous, especially when it has to do with getting out of the wonderful, warm and fuzzy comfort zone I surround myself with. I'm as stubborn as a mule with arthritis sometimes, especially before 7 AM in the morning.

But...I try hard. And the reason I keep trying and keep pushing is mostly because I'm surrounded by a ton of people who don't sit on their laurels talking about the good they can be doing in the world - they actually do something about the change they want to see. And as warm and fuzzy as my comfort zone can be, believe me, you can't be surrounded by that kind of passion, enthusiasm and action and not be influenced in some way.

Meet Elizabeth. This awesome woman is a wife and mother of two girls. I was recently given the privilege to not only photograph her but also learn more about her as a person, as a mom, and her work as an engineer.

Here is a preview into her recent makeover and photo session with Heartbox Photography - stay tuned for more!

A special thank you to the talented Vlada Fomenko of Vlada Fomenko Makeup and Hair for Elizabeth's beautiful hair and make up! 
Happy Thursday!

Jessica, 2013.Glamour Photo Session, Bay Area

A while back, I had blogged about how much I struggled with going to networking meetings and just mingling with strangers in general at any social gathering. I can't tell you how many times my eyes have casually wandered to the nearest exit (or at the very least, that open spot in the back of the room near the guacamole dip) whenever I had no choice but to chat with the person next to me and exhibit some display of cool vs. nerd.

However, despite my sometimes obvious social anxieties and attraction to guacamole dip/any available exit, I'm slowly realizing that there is actually nothing wrong with being shy or even quiet. That it may even be a strength and a valuable leadership quality. 

And Jessica is proof of this.

I had met Jessica at a networking event for women business owners and as I have gotten to know her more these past few months, I learned that beneath her quiet demeanor is an articulate leader, someone who has great ideas, and a passion for being involved with organizations that help others. I am proud to know her and be inspired by hearing her express and contribute great ideas during discussions. It reminds me that being a great listener is essential in growing as a leader.

Jessica, thank you for allowing me the opportunity to capture your beautiful self in these photographs. And most of all, thank you for reminding people like me that I don't always have to gravitate towards the back of the room near the guacamole dip. =)


"I'm a pretty easy-going, creative person who likes helping others and connecting with people. I work as a graphic designer and marketing assistant and am involved in various groups, including Toastmasters and Promote Her Business."


Who or what 3 things have helped shape you to be the woman you are today?

God would have to be the first I'd list because every time I think of who I really want to be in life, it's someone who's close to Him. I'd say being an introvert has also shaped me because it taught me to look more internally for solutions and answers and has allowed me to be a greater listener. 

My family has also shaped me because it was from them that I learned the value of education, friends, and family and being there for others.

If you knew then what you know now as a woman, what would you have told your 18-year-old self?

"I didn't really know myself at that age. My mind was still kind of closed off - I didn't accept myself for who I was. It felt like I was hiding from myself and the world. 

The thing that really changed that was "letting go" and finding peace. If I had told myself to look for those things [at that time] I'm still not sure I would have found it instantly or even understood what those things meant. If I had to tell myself something at 18, it would be to hold on and be patient because life would work out and make sense eventually."

What is your personal motto or mission statement? 
"Life is just a chance to grow a soul." 

"I've always admired people who were strong-willed and determined. Nothing can stop a person who doesn't stop themselves with their own doubts and fears. I admire people who look after others and empower people around them."

"I've always been passionate about art, music, nature, and spirituality."




If you could share a message about beauty, self-esteem, or self-worth to other women, what would that be?

"I've found that what changed in my life when I really gained self-esteem and a better sense of self-worth was the way I treated myself when I failed. When I would make a mistake or fall short of my own expectations, I would assume myself to be a failure. 

But when I finally embraced who I was, I would instead exercised patience and acceptance towards myself whenever I fell short. I was reassured I could still improve, that life wasn't over, and I still had time to change things. I didn't give up on myself in those moments like I used to. "
My message to women would be to love themselves compassionately as they would a friend who had fallen down and needed help getting up again.

A heartfelt thanks Ashlyn Taylor of Madame Me for Jessica's lovely hair and make up! 

Happy Monday!

Makeover and Headshots - Julie Kurtz, 2013, Bay Area.

Everybody's got a story. 

Everybody's got something to say. And the diversity of the lives I have been fortunate to photograph thus far span from the backgrounds of wives, mothers, students, working professionals, artists, the girlfriends, the single gals - women who all have something to contribute, something that helps shape this world and the lives of others.

Julie Kurtz is no exception. As a marriage and family therapist, she has helped many individuals by contributing her counseling skills to couples, families, adults, and children since 1992. In 2011, she was honored by the Silicon Valley Business Journal as one of 100 Most Influential Women in Silicon Valley.

I had the honor of meeting Julie as she was the winner of a gift certificate from Heartbox Photography for a photo session. Her friendly demeanor also displayed an obvious passion for what she does serving as a counselor and therapist, which you can read more about here

It is my hope that my photography and the stories shared by the women I photograph help encourage other women, of all walks of life. I've asked Julie to share a little more about the type of advice she would give other women and the advice she herself wishes she heard when she was younger:

Advice to other women on success?
I wish that I could give brilliant advice to other women on "success". What I have determined is that life is a journey. There is no end of the path of "success" where you say, "I finally am successful". Along the way, the key is to be present in the moment and engaged with life and the twists of joy and sorrow it brings daily. As each experience comes to me, I pay attention to what I can learn, how I feel, and think thoughtfully of how I will respond. 

Even in the depths of tough times, there are opportunities to learn, grow, and pay attention. I have grown more during the hard times than when at the peaks of joy. Whenever you think it cannot get any worse than it is right now, remember that this too will pass. 

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The advice I would give myself at 18? 

- What the heck are you constantly worrying about? Life is so short. Enjoy every moment. Worrying about the future or brooding over the past will never change the moment. 

- Men created high heels to slow you down and not catch up with them. 

- All the images on TV and magazines are meant to keep you down and distracted. You will never be happy with everything about yourself. If you don’t snap out of it, you will waste your life wishing you were something or someone else.  Just highlight and build on your strengths.  People will be attracted to you only if you are attracted to you.

-Get a Ph.D in YOU and then no one can convince should be something you are not.  The more aware of yourself, the less you will be shaken by the external pressures coming at you.  

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Julie, it was an honor to photograph you and to learn more about the work you do serving and helping others be the best of themselves. 

Happy Monday!

Special thanks to Nini Yang of A List Make Up for hair and make up styling

Birthday Wishes & A Grateful Mindset. Glamour Photo Session, Bay Area, 2011.

My parents instilled in us early on the importance of having manners. "Please" and "thank you" were very much a part of our every day vocabulary from as early as I can remember. Often at times, even during our birthday parties in which our eyes met disappointment at a gift we were given that wasn't exactly the Barbie doll we were hoping for, you can still bet that Mom would be close by to nudge us into saying "thank you" nonetheless to the giver of the gift. Simply because it was the right thing to do. 

As I grew older, saying "please" and "thank you" became more than just the "right" thing to do - it became more like the very least I can say for what has been given so generously to me. Especially being an entrepreneur, every little bit of help, advice, encouragement, and time that has been given  to help grow my business by various individuals along the way has reminded me of all that I have to be abundantly grateful for.

A few years ago, I was in the midst of building up my portfolio. Needless to say, I solicited the time and untapped modeling skills of various acquaintances and friends to grace the front of my camera. It's amazing the inner-Vogue skills some folks have if you just venture out and ask!

One of my models, Ariane is featured in the photograph below and in one of the earlier promotional videos here. Today is her birthday (I am slowly becoming a little better about remembering birthdays with the help of, ahem, Mr. Facebook!) and in addition to wishing her a very happy and blessed birthday, I'd like to also like to express a huge thank you for not only allowing me to photograph her but for also being one of the many faces of women photographed by Heartbox Photography. As many of you know, my photography primarily focuses on photography and makeovers for all women and Ariane was one of the early models when I decided to shift the business focus entirely on this genre. 

Thank you again, Ariane, and happy, happy birthday!

Happy Thursday!

PREVIEW: Dee, 2013. Bay Area, Glamour Photo Session

New random fact: I really like looooove the show Duck Dynasty. I barely watch television, but believe me, I love this show because it makes me laugh, is super inspiring and want to end every sentence in ya'll!! Minus the ZZ Top beard of course. (Watch the show. You'll see what I mean.)

I had recently finished reading Happy, Happy, Happy: My Life and Legacy As the Duck Commander  by Phil Robertson, one of the main characters on Duck Dynasty and author of this book. I told my husband I'm now inspired to buy a duck call. Why? I just think it would really be cool to be able to summon the ducks around me at the local lake and form a group called (drum roll, please)

....wait for it....

The Quack Pack. 

I am not a nerd. And even if I was, I'd be the nerd with a freakin' awesome duck call! Amen.

Onto other news - I'm very excited to be working on the latest photo shoot and can't wait to share it with you all! Below is just a sneak peak into the latest photo session so be sure to stay tuned for more!

Ya'll have a happy Monday!

Special thanks to Tammy Do for fabulous hair and make up!