Bay Area portraits

Malia, 2018 | Senior Portraits

“Share your sparkle wherever you are.”

-Dodinsky

It’s official.

The class of 2019 is well under way to completing their final year of high school, a chapter of life that once seemed so far away and now is just around the corner.

This is Malia. She’s a beautiful young lady who is part of that soon to be graduating class of 2019. And if I could write a long ol’ post on what I wish and hope for her in this next season of life, it might be a list that looks just a little like this:

  1. I hope you life a crazy and adventurous dream of life. Full of the ups and downs but even more than that, a sense of richness that can only come from LIVING.

  2. I hope you get to not only see parts of the world that you’ve never seen before, but also remember that simply enjoying a moment in the sunshine right where you’re at is just as valuable, is just as worthy of your attention and awe. Especially when it’s shared with loved ones and friends that make the moment worth it.

  3. I hope you grow in confidence as a woman and fully see the unique advantage and opportunity you have in this world to make changes, big and small, within your circle of influence and beyond it.

  4. I hope you never stop being open to learn, to try, and to understand. In books, through people, through life experiences, both in the classroom and outside of it. It’s incredible and it’s available to you - take hold of that chance to learn, always.

  5. I hope you don’t settle for just making a living but instead always grasp how much more fun it is to LIVING LIFE.

  6. I hope you love and laugh hard. And that people can see that love and laugh in your eyes before you even say a word.

  7. I hope you take great care of your skin, drink a ton of water, and sleep well. Trust me, coming from a woman about twice your age, you’ll wanna remember this. :)

…and the list goes on, but I’ll save that for the graduation ceremony, kiddo.

Below are just some of my favorite shots from Malia’s senior photoshoot as well as the a video of all her images. Be sure to check it out.

You are almost there, class of 2019. GO GET ‘EM!

Happy Thursday!

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Preview | Malia, 2018 | Senior Portraits

"As you start your journey, the first thing you should do is throw away that store-bought map and begin to draw your own."

- Michael Dell

This year seems to be filled with just a smidge more risk-taking, newer adventures, and a fresh-er (is that a word) perspective. In addition to launching the very first magazine for Heartbox Photography (whoo-hoo!), which I'll talk about more about in a later post, I am excited to now launch into senior photography and get a head start on the class of 2019!

All stages of a young woman's life, including her transition from high school into the adult world of college and endless possibilities are more than enough reason to celebrate - and what better way to do that than through capturing this moment in a story told through timeless images? :) 

And oooooooh, can I just say I LOVE this? As part of Malia's shoot, she wanted to integrate something that was a nod to her Polynesian background and to her faith - hence the haku headdress and the beautiful tattoo of Romans 8:38. Mix that with a bit of afternoon lighting and I swear even the camera smiled at the result.

This is just a sneak peak but stay tuned for more to come!

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Behind the Scenes

To see the final results out of a client's photo shoot with me is by far one my favorite parts of the process. I love finalizing edits on every image, be it the last touch of color or last bit of sharpening for printing at the lab. If I could describe the feeling, I'd say it's very similar to when a painter is putting the final brush strokes and touches to a masterpiece that's ready for the gallery. It's like the baker who is putting the final swirl of frosting and decor onto a sweet creation for others to not only enjoy the flavor but the aesthetics of it. It's even like the dancer who has practiced for hours and has finally, with an exhausted breath, perfected every move of the performance ready for the stage.

What makes it even more satisfying to see the images is to also look back on some of the behind the scenes images that capture the process of it all. And SOMETIMES, as in this photo below, I'm lucky enough to capture a behind the scenes shot that is just as exciting as the final portrait images. 

 
A behind the scenes glimpse into the shoot I was was fortunate to do with owner and founder of San Francisco-based company  Future Glory , Theresa Lee. On point for hair and makeup in this photo is stylist,  Tammy Do .

A behind the scenes glimpse into the shoot I was was fortunate to do with owner and founder of San Francisco-based company Future Glory, Theresa Lee. On point for hair and makeup in this photo is stylist, Tammy Do.

 

 

This light? Oh man. #swoon

Happy Wednesday!

April | 2017 | Glamour and Contemporary Portraits | Fremont, CA

 

I recently had the privilege to photograph this beautiful lady woman named April. We had crossed paths a few times through mutual friends (even being in the same fitness accountability group!)  and she had reached out to me about a photo shoot for the simple reason of wanting to celebrate her life. I read that and immediately smiled because celebrating life through photographs is, as you know by now, kind of my jam. :)

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This vibrant young woman willingly shares her heart, her talents, and embraces the victories as well as the ups and downs of her life. What I appreciate the most about April is that though the trajectory of her life has been anything but a straight and smooth line, the joy that radiates from her smile, her enthusiasm to share her story with others, reveals that ultimately, she knows God is continuing to work His perfect plan no matter what and that her purpose remains the same -  to embrace Him and show others who He is. 

I am proud to share with you all these images from April's photo shoot with Heartbox Photography! Be sure to also check out the behind the scenes video below that captures a glimpse into April's day with us!

Many thanks to the awesome Keziah Dauz of Beauty by Keziah for the styling of April's hair and makeup!

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"My parents divorced when I was 6 years old so my mom, older brother, and I moved to Hayward with my aunt and her family until my mom was able to buy a house for us. 

Growing up, I excelled academically and the only extracurricular activities I had were choir and dance class because I just love the performing arts. I also battled with childhood obesity so for the longest time I despised being in my own skin.

Fast forward to college, I was blessed to attend the University of California, San Diego, and I lived there for 4 years. I really love that city. I love the ocean, sun, and community events. After graduating, God has really given me the chance to visit friends like family twice a year there to reconnect. Part of me feels like it's a mission field because my friends and I often talk about our struggles when I am there and I'm thankful I can physically be there for comfort.

San Diego is also where I discovered Christianity at the Rock Church in Point Loma during my first deep heartbreak with my bf at the time of 3 years. We weren't together for 3 months after that, but I think it was the time where I learned that my dependence did not come from a human being. Because of my upbringing and broken family, I did not really know how to approach romantic relationships so I often became dependent on my partner, which was very unhealthy. We did end up getting back together after those 3 months and lasted for 6 years total (if you included that hiatus), which led me to an even darker place of depression (although not clinical). 

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In college, I also had the privileged opportunity to travel abroad for service in Costa Rica, Honduras, and the Philippines, which opened my eyes to the need of compassionate healthcare providers and confirm my desire to work in the medical field. I love volunteering and being of service to those in need.

My career plans are to apply to graduate school to get my master's in Physician Assistant Studies so that I can apply my experiences, skills, and talents to help under served communities thrive in life with a healthy approach. I also know that this requires me to constantly work on myself, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. This journey has definitely helped me to see God more in all of my circumstances!"

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"I believe what makes a woman truly beautiful is how many times she falls down to rock bottom, yet somehow finds the courage to rise up to the challenges and is stronger, vibrant, and more joyful than ever before."

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"I absolutely appreciate my singleness season. I used to despise being alone in this season, but I realized that singleness is truly a precious gift from God. This season allows me the freedom to dive deeper into devotion with Him and other believers without any unnecessary distractions. Through this time, God is teaching me invaluable lessons that will be beneficial for me in the long run, such as how to extend grace in tough times and even how to be more gentle, honest, understanding, patient, and loving. For the first time in my life, I don't feel like I need to fight this season, but instead embrace every single day as it comes.""

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"My singleness also allows me the opportunity to pursue higher education whether that is near or far from home and even travel around the world with friends without any agendas. I love being able to sit at a local Starbucks and read a book or take a solo trip to the movies spontaneously. I also like spending quiet time with my ultimate Provider who never gets tired of hearing from me. I have found that He is extremely humorous at times so it makes this walk with Him even worthwhile. Most importantly, my singleness has allowed me to take more risks in general and I think with or without a significant other, I am safe and loved in His arms."

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"If given the chance, I would tell my 18 year old self that a life pursuing academic excellence and trying to keep a complacent long-term relationship going will not fulfill you. Trust in God knowing that He has great plans for your life. Even though it does not feel that way right now, He is going to use you for some amazing plans. Embrace it!"

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"Some advice I would give young girls and my future daughter would be to focus not on what the world thinks you should do, but tune into your unique personality and talents. God has gifted you in order to bless others by spreading more love and joy in this world. We live in a time of much heartbreak, loss, abuse, and neglect, thus your mere existence in this world is proof that there is a living God. He can use you to help others know Him for His unfailing love is truly the greatest. Let His light shine through you to accentuate the true beauty that only comes from within."

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Sisters | Amy, Julie & Kristina | Glamour and Contemporary Portraits | Santa Clara, CA

 

My own sisters and I like to joke that we all share one brain. A little weird to picture, but I think that joke originated from the fact that we simply shared our lives together, that there was this special bond between us that only sisters could understand.

When I met Julie, Kristina, and Amy, I could immediately tell I would just love working with these awesome ladies. There are four sisters altogether, but only the three of them live in California, with their fourth sister living in Florida. Their closeness and love for one another was obvious in the abundance of laughter, smiles, and jokes shared during their photo shoot with me on a Saturday morning.

To be a part of helping celebrate these beautiful ladies and their sisterhood was a great honor and I am so excited to share with you all a few images as well as a full slideshow/video of their day with Heartbox Photography, so be sure to check it out below!

Kristina, Julie, and Amy -                                                  

Thank you for allowing me the privilege to not only capture the essence of who each of you are as beautiful individuals, but also what you are together as sisters and women who support and love one another. May these images and experience forever be a treasured reminder of how beautiful it is to be a woman - and what a blessing it is to be a part of this gift of sisterhood. 

"We are extremely close. We grew up going to school together, shared a room, as well as shared all of our clothes - yes, we all wore the same size! Kristina and I were only a year apart in school so we had the same friends, shared the same first car, attended the same college, and were even college roommates."

"We all listen to the same types of music, all enjoy shopping and love to eat the same types of food. You could say that we have A LOT in common. We still share our clothes and talk to each other on a daily basis."   - Amy

What is something you wish you could tell yourself back when you were 18 years old?

"Happiness comes from experiencing things you love surrounded by people you love. Don't worry so much about what others would say or think of you because in the end, time will continue to move and you don't want to waste your lifetime living for others. Use your lifetime to create memories experiences that you want to look back on and fall in love with the story of your life." - Amy

"Your body is beautiful, embrace yourself. Education is beautiful, because no one can take that away from you. You and only you, control your destiny." - Kristina

What do you appreciate most about your life now?

"I appreciate the fact that I have a relationship with God. Through this relationship, I have found the true meaning of love and happiness. I realize how blessed I am with my family, the memories that we get to create together, and every single day is embraced in our household."  - Amy

"I appreciate my family more than anything. I appreciate our health, our time together, and our love for one another."   -Kristina

"I am the youngest of the 5 siblings. I just moved to California two months ago because my husband Robby accepted a job opportunity in Silicon Valley. I am 39 years old, married to my best friend, whom I have known since I was 14 years old, though we did not date until after I graduated college. We have 3 precious girls - Chloe, Audrey, and Leia. Yes, our daughter was named after Princess Leia in Star Wars. They are the center of our world! We love to spend time outside as a family hiking, beaching, and exploring new places." - Amy

"Beauty is definitely more on the inside for me. It is the beauty of someone's heart and soul. Her genuine character. The love that she shares with others." - Amy

"I have three young girls (4,6, and 8) and I tell them they are beautiful everyday. I tell them that God placed them here on this earth for a reason and each one is blessed with special gifts. Embrace the gifts you are given and use it to show love to others. That is how we can grow the love here on this earth and beyond. So if someone was mean to them, we talk about about we think they would act that way, pray for the individual, forgive him/her and move on." 

"I want them to know that people's actions and words reflects who that individual is and should not affect us. So they understand that everyone is supposed to be different with different looks of beauty, talents, gifts, and qualities."    -Amy

Julie and her husband, Bobby, met in high school. It was truly a match made in heaven, as they were inseparable after that. Julie moved to California with her husband and first son, Christian when she was in her late 20's. They had their daughter, Hayley, here in California. 

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She has a career as a loan officer and her family is very much into fitness, food, and fashion.  Julie loves to shop...for everyone, according to her sister, Amy. They enjoy going out to eat as a family and loves the beach/warm weather so they spend their vacations either on the beaches of Hawaii or Florida. 

Kristina moved to California after graduating college in her early 20's. She met her prince charming in San Francisco and married him. Kristina and her husband, Howard, have two beautiful children, Lauren and Lance. Her family loves to travel around the world and experience new foods, culture, and scenery. They are also very involved in the community and what is best for their kids.

"I believe nothing makes a woman more beautiful than the belief that she IS beautiful." - Kristina

"Your body is not everything that defines you. Don't take everything so seriously - enjoy life! Most of the stuff that makes you anxious doesn't really matter when you're older." - Kristina

"We are truly blessed to have this sister bond and we all know it. I could go on and on about all the things we share. We've created so many memories together and now all of our kids are growing up together as loving cousins. What more could we ask for in life?" - Amy

I couldn't agree more. :)

 

PREVIEW: Kelly | Beauty & Glamour Maternity | Santa Clara, California

There is something so magical about bright and natural light weaving it's way into the photographs of a woman celebrating an important moment in her life. And the bright afternoon sunshine that softened it's glow through the white curtains made for the perfect backdrop for an afternoon beauty and glamour maternity photo session. 

Kelly is a lovely wife, mother of one little boy, and soon to be mother of a second boy in August. I was recently given the honor of photographing this beautiful woman for her maternity session and I am so excited to share with you all a little sneak preview image from her photoshoot. There is definitely more to share, so stay tuned!

Many thanks to the talented Kat Tinney for Kelly's hair and makeup!

FAQ & Tips: How to Prepare for Your Portrait Session with Heartbox Photography

Having your portrait taken is absolutely an exciting and huge deal. It's a chance for you to celebrate where you are right now in this moment in life, a chance to #existinphotos for your loved ones and even more so, a rare opportunity to encourage other women by stepping out in front of the lens to share your story and definition of beautiful.

As with any special occasions, there are preparations to be made and I highly encourage my clients to approach this in the same fashion. Below are some of the questions I am asked the most and by sharing them here, I hope they serve as a helpful guide to every woman preparing for her portrait session with me!

And of course, the biggest tip I can give? Don't forget to book a night out afterwards with your best friends, your special someone, your loved ones - because you will look fabulous!

When does the session begin?

The session begins promptly at the time that we agree upon in your contract. I am a natural light photographer, so please be sure to arrive promptly to ensure we capture a ton of beautiful images for you!

What should I expect when I arrive?

Please be ready and on time, dressed in a comfortable outfit (you can change into your photo shoot clothes later on) with no makeup applied and your hair clean and dry, free form any hair product. I will take a few “before” photos of you then your stylist will begin your makeup and hairstyling.

What should I wear?

I highly suggest bringing at least 2-3 different looks.

  • Avoid patterns, baggy/boxy styles or “office-wear” type collared dress shirts.
  • Fitted outfits in solid colors work best and is most flattering for all body types.
  • Try to think of an outfits that you would wear if you were going out for the night, something fun, and most importantly, outfits that make you feel at your best and most beautiful! This could be a gorgeous dress or some pants with a chic and fun top.
  • Make sure that the tops you choose have the most flattering neckline for you. (This could mean a v-neck, scoop, etc.)

Can I wear accessories for my photo session?

Yes. Earrings, bracelets or necklaces are welcome. However, I would recommend that they are kept to a minimum as the most classic and timeless beauty shots that come out the best are the ones that focus on you and not the accessories you are wearing.

I don’t wear a lot of makeup. Can I still do this type of shoot?

Absolutely! The stylists I work with are very familiar with varying degrees of makeup looks that can range from a more classic/natural look to something heavier and dramatic. We can provide suggestions, but also can tailor it to your preferences.

Do I need to get my hair dyed/manicure/pedicure/waxing done?

The more prepared you are for the shoot, the better you will feel while being photographed and the more you will love the final product. This is a special occasion and the more effort you put into it, the better the outcome.

 

Any other tips on how to prepare for my session?

To feel your best, get enough sleep the night before. Do not try any new beauty products outside of your regular skin or hair care routine the day before your photo session. Do not attempt any crash diets in the months leading up to your photo session. My goal is photograph you as you are today fabulous and beautiful!

I’d like to book a photo session now but I need to get into shape.

Time doesn’t stand still – I definitely encourage you to celebrate who you are today. As a professional, I specialize in being able to pose my clients in the most flattering ways no matter what the body type.

Will you direct me on how to pose?

Absolutely! I will guide you through every single pose, position, and direction. You will never be left in front of my camera not knowing what to expect. As a professional photographer and as a woman, you can be assured I will guide you into the most flattering poses for the best photographs!

What is required to book a session?

All appointments are on a first come, first serve basis and are considered fully booked when the signed contract and non-refundable retainer has been received by my studio.

How long is the photo session and makeover?

Please allow approximately 4 hours for this experience.

Can I do a photo shoot outdoors instead?

Yes. These arrangements can be made at the time you book your appointment.

Do you have just females on your team?

Yes. I am the only photographer and any assistant or stylists I work with are women as well. My business is run purely by women and for women. I believe this makes my clients more comfortable during the photo session.

I don’t have any idea regarding how I’d like to be photographed I just want nice photos.

We can chat over coffee, over the phone or on email and work out the feel and style of the shoot during that preliminary conversation.

How will I view my photos?

We will schedule an in-person viewing session to view your photos within 3 weeks of your session. 

If I refer a friend or family member, will I get anything?

Absolutely!

If your referral books a photo session with me, you automatically a number of credits towards any prints or products on the current Product Menu. The person you refer ALSO receives a certain amount of credits towards her prints and products. There is no expiration on these credits and you may earn as many credits as you wish! Certain restrictions and rules apply. Please see me for details.

Are there any other rewards programs available?

Yes! Ask about our Birthday Rewards for special drawings exclusively for clients. 

Why Are Photos Important?

...because of moments like this.

I'm a day late on the #nationalsiblingday festivities. However, this has been one of my favorite photos of my siblings and I on a rare moment in Arizona when we were able to spend some time together. And I couldn't pass up another chance to share it. It's a photo I never get tired of looking at or posting because it captures everything of my siblings that I love. 

And when we're 100 years old with five teeth left, having prune juice slurpies on a hot afternoon, I hope the essence of what we share in these photos still exists even stronger than the day it was captured.

#nationalsiblingday