Bay Area photography

A First Try and Reflection Back

This past weekend a friend of mine celebrated the fourth year anniversary surviving a brain aneurysm. Back when it happened, I wasn’t as close to her as I am now and to put it bluntly, I am thankful to God for allowing her to miraculously survive and heal from that - to live today. I would not have known her had she gone home so to speak. :)

As part of celebrating her (and her brain!), she invited a group of us to join her for a hike that, truly had it not been for love for my friend, I would NOT have done. Give up chocolate for a day, yes. Climb up a hill for fun, no. But alas, friendship and love makes you do some weird things.

It was long, it was warm day, and there was an incline towards the end I wasn’t a huge fan of. BUT! We all made it! And yes, indeed it was beautiful and also so interesting to physically look back at the path and think “Seriously? We went and surivived ALL that way?!?”

I think that as much as being in the present and hoping for the future, it is equally important to look back. It makes the entire endeavor that much more meaningful, that much more sweet, that much more interesting, really.

I got to thinking about this as I looked at archives of past work. Below is one of the first photos I ever took when setting out to be a photographer of contemporary and glamour portraiture. I barely knew my camera, barely knew what I was aiming for, barely knew what it was like to create something without fear. I only knew that I wanted to create. That’s all.

And while it shows indications of a newbie just starting out, to me, it’s an image I am proud to share with you all and proud to say I created, even while still learning so many things.

Happy Wednesday!

Image |   Heartbox Photography    Hair/makeup | Julieta Camacho

Image | Heartbox Photography

Hair/makeup | Julieta Camacho

Preview | Tara | 2018 | A Celebration of Phenomenal Women

“The grace of my style.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.”

-Maya Angelou

I had the privilege of meeting Tara a few months ago when she invited me to be a part of a fitness fair she was organizing for her clients and the the community. She is an incredibly driven woman, passionate in what she does as a coach for others as well as a loving mom to both her son and fur kid - both of whom I also had the privilege of meeting at the time of her photo shoot!

I am so excited to share with you all a sneak peak into Tara’s photo shoot as part of the continued celebration of phenomenal women all over the Bay Area!

Portraits by Heartbox Photography. Copyright 2017. All rights reserved._0033.jpg

Many thanks to Kalani Brown of Kalani Style for Tara’s hair/makeup!

Melba | 2017 | Glamour & Contemporary Portraits | Santa Clara, CA

I just want them to know
That I gave my all, did my best
Brought someone some happiness
Left this world a little better just because, I was here

I was here, I lived, I loved, I was here



Sometimes, when pulling together the final story to share on the blog, I close my eyes to feel and get caught up in the lyrics of a song, allowing the music permission to carry me away even for just a few minutes. It not only awakens a deep-seated creativity, but interestingly enough, it also often takes me back to actually remember the expression of the woman I currently photographed, the person I am writing about. It reminds me of her story, who she is as a woman, the richness of her who she is a person. How she looked as she arrived at the studio, how she shared small bits of who she is, who she is becoming, what and who matters to her, and even more importantly, why.





From her favorite color, to the details of this season of life she finds herself in, to what she likes or dislikes about herself, to how she feels about her family, her friends, this life.

How she feels about being photographed.


Her excitement and nervousness, the look on her face when she sees her heart show up in these images.


When she sees that her smile is her best feature.




Melba's life is rich. Rich in many, many ways. And yes, in reflecting upon that, the lyrics to Beyonce's song "I Was Here" seemed more than fitting for this beautiful woman, this wife, this mother, this grandmother, this friend, this sister, this human being.


You can immediately see the passion Melba has for life, the deep love she has for her family, the joy that radiates from inside her heart when speaking about her husband, her children, her grandchildren, her friends and the overall colorful tapestry of experiences and memories that make up her life thus far, from a young girl, to a grown woman today. 


Her life is a beautiful testament to what shaping a legacy of family, life, and love look like - a legacy of love given freely, deeply, and without boundaries. And it is my privilege and honor to share a piece of who Melba is with you all here.













"There are so many more countries I want to see! I was blessed to travel with a longtime friend during 2015 [to Europe].

She made the arrangements since she had lived in Europe and the MIddle East. We visited Paris, took a train adventure through Austria and Switzerland."















Who makes you laugh the most?


"My hubby, Tino - we make each other laugh everyday.

Even when bad things happen we find a reason to laugh."




"Since I [entered] my 50's five years ago, I've been trying new things. I took my husband, my youngest daughter, Ariane and her then-boyfriend, Quinn, tandem skydiving over Hollister. [I] could see Monterey Bay from 15,000 feet. A few weeks after that, I went scuba diving in Monterey Bay.
Still have more I'd like to try. Honestly, the most recent was this photo shoot.
I was very nervous and had no expectations - just knew I didn't feel comfortable having my picture taken. But it was amazing and I'm so grateful."





What do you think makes a woman beautiful? 



"Her laughter, her honesty, her caring actions."



What is one piece of advice you would give your 18-year-old self?

"Concentrate on finishing school, full time work can come later."







What do you  most appreciate about your life now?


"Grateful for my husband, our family,

and the opportunities to share new experiences."







If you could meet anyone in history, who would that be and why?


"I've always liked math and science - [so] Albert Einstein!

"Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new." - Albert Einstein

Photography: Heartbox Photography

Hair/makeup: Kalani Brown

Margret | September Birthday Rewards | Portraits by Heartbox Photography | Bay Area, CA

As the cooler air starts to settle in and we teeter between the remnants of summer weather mixed with the anticipation of a new season to come, I'd like to take the time out to say a happy birthday to the September Birthday Rewards winner, none other than the lovely Margret!

Margret and her family were one of the earlier supporters of my endeavors with Heartbox Photography and to have that trust from people to allow you into their world in front of the camera is a gift I will never forget.

Margret, I hope you had a fabulous September birthday celebration. Thank you for always being so supportive and genuinely kind. Here's to many, MANY more beautiful years to come!

Sandy, 2014. Santa Clara, Glamour Portrait Photo Session

Many of you know that I have embarked on a health and fitness journey for no other reason that to be just that...healthy and fit.

And part of what inspired this journey are women like the lovely Sandy.

I had met Sandy through Total Woman Gym + Spa, a gym and day spa dedicated to helping women achieve their health, fitness and wellness goals. Sandy's photo session too place on an afternoon that was as sunny as the bright smile she wore when she walked into the studio. Her joyous laugh and conversation flowed through the studio as she got styled and prepared for her shoot by the talented Kathleen Tinney. No doubt this was going to be a fun shoot!

In our initial correspondence, I learned that Sandy is a wife, mother, and woman who made a decision to change her habits to reflect a healthier lifestyle. For most of us, especially us women living in an image-laden world, I know it is not easy to be so honest with strangers and simply say that you made a decision to get healthy because high-blood pressure, or unintended weight gain could lead to something worse down the road. But honest is exactly what Sandy was as she detailed to me her reasons for wanting to be make her health a priority, to be fit, to be strong. (It was shortly thereafter that I began working with a trainer, too, to push and challenge me - one of the best decisions inspired by her story!)

Sandy, I am incredibly honored to have been able to participate in this celebration of you - a celebration of your life, your health, your beauty. Thank you for sharing everything you are and most of all for inspiring me to push myself to new challenges in my own health and be unafraid to work with a trainer who can help keep me accountable.

Here's to inspiring women everywhere to get healthy!

A heartfelt thanks to the talented Kathleen Tinney of A-List Makeup for Sandy's beautiful hair and make up!

"Kindness, compassion, humor, creativity, love.  I think that all shows on a person's face, and more importantly, the people in my life whom I think are beautiful are the ones that make me feel beautiful, too."

"I don't think there is just one definition of beauty. There are so many different kinds of people in the world and so many ways to be beautiful. I mean, obviously there are things that are considered aesthetically pleasing - smooth skin, symmetrical face, fit body, youthfulness - but I really feel that it's what one puts out into the world that makes one beautiful." 

"I was not confident about much when I was 18. But life teaches you so much. I'm more confident in what I believe, and what I don't believe now than when I was 18. I'm much more comfortable with who I am. It would have been difficult for me to say that I liked myself back then. 

I wanted to be someone different, someone fabulous. I do like who I am now, not to say that there isn't room for improvement, but I do like myself. I have recently rediscovered that I do have a strong body and that makes me more confident in what I can physically do. I also appreciate that, in general, I'm in good health and shouldn't take it for granted."

"If I put it in the context of giving advice to my daughters, I would say take care of yourself. Take care of your body, take care of your mind, take care of your spirit. That's where beauty is."

"I've been lucky so far and have had no major illnesses or injuries. Part of the reason for gettingin shape is that I need to stop pushing my luck! 18 year olds think they will live forever - 48 year olds know better!"

"Practice acceptance. Accept your shortcomings and imperfections and be accepting of others as well. Don't ever be afraid to ask for help. I couldn't have made the progress I've made in the last few months without the help of my fabulous trainer, Leily. I will be eternally grateful to her."

Elizabeth, 2014. Bay Area, Glamour Photo Session

The sunshine of a beautiful Saturday morning happily peeked through the curtains as I carefully pulled them back in preparation for that day's scheduled photo session.

As I was immersed in the task of setting up backdrops and reflectors, in walks Elizabeth with a smile, outfits in hand, ready for the fun of having her hair and makeup done by the talented Vlada Fomenko-Haggerty and photo session to follow. It was a day for her to take a break from her duties as a wife and mom and needless to say, I was super excited to provide this experience for her!

One of the things I like most about Elizabeth is that not only does she exude intelligence and confidence, but is also one of the most friendly and down to earth people I've met - an individual who is just plain fun to chat with about everything! I learned that in addition to being a native East-Coaster, a wife and mother, Elizabeth has a passion for writing, sharing, and learning about the world around her. I'm an avid reader and natural introvert, and upon finding out that she shared those same qualities, it took every bit of self-restraint I had to not high-five her right then and there for being super cool.

Elizabeth, it was an honor getting to know you and capturing the essence of you as a person in every single one of these photographs. Thank you for being part of the Heartbox Photography movement that strives to remind and encourage every woman that she is not only beautiful, both inside and out, but is also worth celebrating today.

A heartfelt thanks to the talented Vlada Fomenko for her beautiful styling of Elizabeth's hair and make up!

"It's OK to make mistakes - in fact, making mistakes is one of the most effective ways to learn. I'd have spared myself a lot of pain if I'd stopped chasing perfect earlier in life."


"I admire leaders who help other people reach their own highest goals."



"I love inspiring people to achieve their potential. Mentoring high school students is one of the sot fulfilling things I've done since I moved to California. You get to watch your mentees grow while stretching your own capabilities at the same time."


Her personal motto or mission statement?
"The powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse." - Walt Whitman





"Aim to achieve your own idea of beauty - internal or external - rather than chasing others' ideas about what beauty is supposed to look like."

Be sure to check out more from Elizabeth's photo shoot in the video here!

Happy Monday, everyone!

PREVIEW: Sandy, 2014. Bay Area, Glamour Photo Session

If there is one thing that I can appreciate and respect, it's when I hear women who are taking steps to be healthier and stronger. It's especially exciting for me to photograph and tell their stories because I think that if it inspires and encourages even just one woman out there to take care of her health, then I'll know it's making a difference already.

This weekend I had the privilege to meet and photograph the lovely Sandy.

Though we had not met prior to her photo session, I could already tell through her emails that I was definitely going to enjoy getting to know her more in person. Sandy shared with me what got her started on living a healthier lifestyle and also credited her personal trainer, Leily from Total Woman Gym and Spa as being a tremendous help in the entire process - she's already feeling stronger and more confident and for that alone, I think Sandy deserves a high-five. =)

I can not wait to share with you all more of Sandy's story but for now, here's a sneak peak into her photo session this weekend. (Sandy, if you don't already know it, you rocked the shoot!) 

There's more to come so definitely stay tuned - happy Monday!

A special thank you to the talented Kathleen Tinney of A-List Make Up for Sandy's beautiful hair and make up! 

Margret, 2014. Bay Area, Glamour Photo Session

I love being able to tell the story of every woman, but especially mothers. The kind of beauty they posses deepens far beyond what the eye can see and is made of an intricate depth that was fashioned out of both the joy, pain, and perseverance that make up the life of a woman who shares her heart with others as a mother.

They are fabulous in their own way and Margret is no exception. She has experienced the highs and lows of past experience that have helped shape the woman and mother she is today to two beautiful daughters. Though having experienced the grief of a past miscarriage, she still believes everything happens for a reason and felt no desire to take it against God or anyone else.

Margret is a firm believer in having not only faith and confidence, but also being a go-getter, and unafraid to learn new things whether it's in cooking/baking or in business. But more so than that, she also believes in sharing a message with other women that beauty on the outside as well as within are what build a true and genuine confidence.

Margret, thank you for being a joy to work with. You are generous with your smiles and laughter and it was a honor to photograph you and share your beauty, both inside and out, with the world.

Here's to celebrating a mother's timeless beauty - Happy Mother's Day!

A special thank you to the talented Vlada Fomenko  for Margret's beautiful hair and make up! 

To see more of the behind the scenes of Margret's photo session, feel free to watch the video below!

PREVIEW: Elizabeth, 2014. Bay Area, Glamour Photo Session

"Exist in photographs not only for yourself, but for your children."

I once heard a photographer say this and it made my heart skip a beat because even I sometimes forget how powerful a photograph can be not only for the person being photographed but for whoever treasures the image for years to come.

I had the honor of meeting Elizabeth a few months ago and the privilege of photographing her this past weekend. It was wonderful to catch up and needless to say, I was very excited to work with her on this shoot.

Elizabeth and her husband have a young son and as I write this post, I can't help but remember the powerful words of that photographer. Because one day, when her son looks back on this photo years down the road, I hope he sees an image of his mother that captures everything that speaks of strength, love, and beauty that shines from the inside out.

Here's a little sneak peak into Elizabeth's shoot - stay tuned for more!

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

PREVIEW: Margret, 2014. Bay Area, Glamour Photo Session

It was hard to forget her friendly face and bubbly personality when I had first met Margret a year ago to photograph her lovely family for an afternoon session. And while I don't do family photography anymore, I was privileged to not only catch up with Margret again this past weekend, but also to capture that unforgettably friendly and lovely face again, this time for a glamour photo session and makeover.  

To get together and catch up on life is so much fun. And then you add that to a sunny afternoon with hair styling, makeup, and a photo session? You get an extra dose of fabulous, for sure.

Here's a sneak peak into Margret's photo session - stay tuned for more!

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