Vlada Fomenko

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!

Reckless, Happy, and Growing

Sometimes, being a photographer, an artist, and entrepreneur can be lonely. Most of the time you work solo and even face some challenges and learning experiences solo. You wonder if you're the only one with that editing question, that tax question, or that editing question. 

In the same vein, it's this very feeling of occasional loneliness that have made me truly value the relationships and connections it's pushed me to forge with others in this industry. This journey so far has connected me with a ton of individuals I am forever grateful to. I've made friends with another photographer who also happened to be an attorney by trade. Much of our conversations entailed her generous input on the way my contracts could be tweaked and exchanges of creative marketing ideas discussed over Thai food. 

In the beginning when I didn't know which way was up and what focal points were on my camera, another photographer based all the way in Tennessee took the time to extend some Southern hospitality via email with every question I sent to her. Her advice and much-needed encouragement proved tremendously valuable as a fledgling newbie looking to steady herself in a competitive field. 

I've met other women entrepreneurs who, though not in the same industry, have offered their advice, encouragement, and have even become clients to show how much they support my dreams and remind me that it is more than ok to dream big.

And this? Well, this picture was a pleasant surprise awaiting in my inbox this past Monday morning. I received this photograph from one of my stylists I often work with, the talented Vlada Fomenko-Haggerty. While she occasionally stays to assist during the shoot, I had no idea she had snapped this photo of me working. Her talent and professionalism make me thankful that we work together and this photo felt like an extra blessing and unexpected extension of encouragement for the start of my week.

It was an encouragement to see this because sometimes, as an artist and often solo entrepreneur, I need someone to hold up a mirror to me when I'm immersed in doubt and question and remind me of what I look like when I'm happily pursuing my passion - content, creative, and happily growing.

Happy Wednesday!

PREVIEW: Ramya, 2014. Bay Area, Glamour and Portrait Photo Session

The temperature gauge on my car read 80 degrees and climbing. Needless to say, it was definitely going to be a beautiful but warm/I-hope-I-don't-melt kind of day.

The bright sunshine generously poured it's light into the studio as I excitedly prepared for this weekend's shoot with the lovely Ramya, a wife and proud mother to her little girl.

Below is just a sneak peak, but as always, there's more so stay tuned!

Happy Monday!

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

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!

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! 

Ann, 2014. Bay Area, Glamour Photo Session

A camera captures more than just a photo. And a photo is about more than just the right light, the right angle, the right moment, the right expression. It can be a means to transform and change a perspective, to influence, to shape, to bring something fabulous to share with everyone.

Meet Ann.

As many of you know from her preview blog post here, Ann is not only a wife and mother of two, but she is also a fashion consultant with CAbi. And just as I love to use my camera as a means to share a message to the world of real beauty for the everyday woman, Ann uses her talents in fashion to help women look and feel their absolute best.

I recently had the privilege to photograph Ann and learn more about her life as a mother, wife, and entrepreneur. One of the things I appreciated most about Ann was her belief that every woman should feel fabulous about herself no matter what age she is. Can I get an amen, ladies?

Here are just a few of my favorites from Ann's session with Heartbox Photography as well as a little story about the lovely person she is.

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


"Dance was a huge part of my life growing up. I started at the age of 8 and it helped me have self confidence, make friends, and learn about how important a healthy body is. In my teenage years, it was a way for me to express my emotions when I couldn't find the words and is still a a huge part of my identity today."

"I am most passionate about raising happy and confident children. I want my son and daughter to be kind, loving, and strong. I want them to know that they are loved for who they are and teach them how to enjoy the little things in life as well as how to overcome obstacles."


"If I could give my 18-year-old-self advice, it would be this - relax and enjoy life's ups and downs. Everything is going to be just fine. I would also tell her that she is beautiful the way she is, not what others think of her."

"I admire people who lead through example and inspiration. Leaders who teach you to find your own path and lead rather than just follow."


"My personal motto is: find your own happiness. Too often I see people drifting through life losing their identity. This is especially true with moms. They stop caring about themselves and forge to do things in life that they enjoy. They think they are being the best moms but they lose sight of the example they are setting.


"I have a friend named Tricia that I have known since I was 3. Having a lifelong friend you can share life's good and bad moments with is such a gift. She has taught me how much girlfriends can be supportive of one another and offer that stability along the journey of life."

"My daughter, Kira, has also definitely changed me. She has such an amazing spirit and her happiness is contagious. When I hear her laugh, my whole body fills with joy. She teaches me to be silly and girly and free from self-doubt."


"As a fashion consultant, I want women to dress in clothes that highlight their best features and make them feel good about themselves. I love seeing woman's face light up when I put her in an outfit that makes her feel pretty, sassy - or whatever feeling she hasn't felt in a while."

"Be your most beautiful self from the inside out."

It was a wonderful shoot and I am honored to have been a part of it. Be sure to check out the slideshow below!

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

Though the weekend clouds and rain normally put a stop to a lot of outdoor activities, it didn't put a stop to the fun of an indoor photo session and makeover with the lovely Ann.

I had met Ann a few months back and learned that she is not only a mother and wife, but also a talented fashion consultant with CAbi. (I absolutely LOVE their style. It's crazy hard trying to convince myself that it's not my birthday or Christmas or any other give-yourself-a-gift-kinda season right now. You'll see what I mean when you check out her site!) It's wonderful meeting other women who are advocates of empowering other women in all ways possible, including through the world of fashion and I am very excited to share with you all a preview of Ann's photo session.

There is definitely more from this shoot so stay tuned!

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

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!