Minh and An, 2018 | San Jose Municipal Rose Garden, CA | Portraits


“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”

- Lao Tzu

Minh and An are this really awesome and fun couple I had the honor of photographing not too long ago. Even after only a few minutes with them, I could see immediately that they were two people who thoroughly enjoyed laughter, love, and each other. I am so very excited to share with you all some of their images as well as a video of their session and time with Heartbox Photography. :)

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Minh and An, thank you for allowing me this opportunity to get to know you both and to document your love. May these images serve as a treasured reminder to continue celebrating your journey together for years to come.

And of course, many thanks to Kat Tinney for styling Minh’s beautiful look for this photo session!

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First impressions of one another?

I thought “tall, dark and handsome. An says he thought I was really bubbly (not sure if that’s true, I’m convinced I have RBF…) and smart (I think he meant I was a wise-ass.)

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Who is more organized? I would argue that I am! I organize my things religiously. Everything has its place.

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Who is the messy one?

An would say that it’s me, but I think we both think of the other person as super messy because we like our space a certain way. Haha, woes of living together.

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Who is more forgetful?

An - he can’t leave the house without asking me where his phone and keys are. I have to invite him to events via calendar because he forgets what I say a second later when it comes to planning social events. Men can’t plan but they sure can draft their fantasy football team with great finesse, lol!

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Who is most likely to be late? We both like to show up to things on time, if not fashionably late by 5 or 10 minutes.

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Who is the night owl? I am - I stay up until 1 AM while An tucks in at 10PM.

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Who is the better dancer? An can totally twerk. Watch out, he’s climbing on your tables!

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Who is more likely to get sick? I am. :(

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Who laughs louder?

We both seem really reserved in new settings, but we end up being the loud and rambunctious couple when we’re in a warm and welcoming space.

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Who is the better cook? No comment. We both can’t cook and like getting takeout, but I’ve been trying to be a good dutiful wife and finding recipes for the Dutch oven. An is really brave for even trying to eat my cooking.

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Who is more affectionate? We both are very affectionate people if we get to have our own time alone to recharge. Even after 8 years, I think we will have a lot of chemistry (read: really bad habit of PDA.)

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What you do you appreciate and love most about each other? I really appreciate that he takes care of the little details of day to day life for me, like washing my car or bringing me my favorite food, especially whenI have my head in the clouds. An appreciates that I provide him with support, even when days are dark.

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What are you both most excited for with regards to your new future together? We’re both excited to strengthen our long term relationship into a marriage full of friendship and laughter for the years to come.

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Preview | An and Minh, 2018 | San Jose, CA | Portraits


“To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.”

-Timothy Keller

What better way to start this weekend than with a sneak peak into this shoot with the beautiful couple, An and Minh. 

This photograph is only a fraction of the laughter and love that radiates between these two and to say that I am honored to be able to capture a glimpse into their lives together would be an understatement. 

As always, there is more to come that I am excited to share with you all so stay tuned! :)

Hair/makeup: Kat Tinney

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Hearts Apart Portrait Session | Pendle Family, Bay Area, CA | 2014

Over the weekend, I had the amazing volunteer opportunity to participate as a photographer for Hearts Apart. I had heard about this organization sometime back and upon learning that they work with professional photographers to provide photography services for soon to be deployed servicemen and women, I immediately signed up. If you are a photographer reading this, I highly recommend checking out Hearts Apart!

It was an awesome first assignment and the Pendle family made it even more fun and memorable. Lonny and Katie are the sweetest couple with a spunky and beautiful little girl named Addisyn - and the more I got to chat with them, it was obvious that love and a real sense of family was at the core of who they were.

Lonny, Katie, and Addisyn, thank you for allowing me the opportunity to photograph your beautiful family. Lonny, once again, thank you for your service to this country. You do what many of us can not do and I hope you remember that. 

And Katie? Thank you to you, too. I have no idea what it is like to be a military spouse, (so many of us don't) but the perseverance and support you provide for your family and husband during the many changes and transitions isn't an easy one, I'm sure, and for that you deserve a heartfelt salute as well. You rock.

Happy Wednesday!

Noel & Jorge. 2012.

As I'd mentioned in a previous post, Noel is an old friend of mine from back when pagers were our Facebook, when it was actually cool to sport overalls AND roll up the pant legs (yeah, baby!) and when last night's episode of Fresh Prince or Beverly Hills 90210 ranked as the highlight of our lunchtime conversations.

Jorge and Noel cracked jokes about cancelling their photoshoot with Vogue to hang with me instead for a sunny afternoon with my camera. And I am grateful. Because really, the way they worked it, reminded me of why I love capturing photos with an editorial flair. 

Big thanks goes out to Noel and Jorge for letting me act paparazzi-like with my camera and capturing their love to share with the world.

Happy Monday!

Bad Cheese & A Subject's Heart

If something is really funny, I laugh. Loudly. And sometimes, my laugh gets my face all weird looking so much that I'm POSITIVE people around me can see my cavity fillings or at the very least, what I had for lunch stuck in my back teeth. It's in that moment that I suddenly get really self-conscious and try to unsuccessfully reel back all evidence of dork/nerd that's already escaped me.

This past weekend my husband and I set off to meet up with our good friends, Noli and Noemi for a photoshoot in their neighborhood. As I'd mentioned in this post, it's guaranteed that most of our time with them is going to be spent laughing becuase this couple has got a sense of humor like no other. And that dorky laugh of mine? Yeah, it does some serious overtime when we hang with these two.

However, I had a bit of a panic attack (internally, of course, so as not to blow my cool cover) on the way to the shoot location with our friends because I started wondering how was I going to capture serious photos of these two when all we do was laugh at, like EVERYTHING?! Ever try to smile on the outside and mask panic attack you're having on the inside? It's kinda like you ate bad cheese but wanna reassure everyone around you it tastes fine. No, really, it's fine, guys!

When our friends casually mentioned in the car that they don't take serious photos, my husband's response helped me get a grip.

"It's ok, guys, because it will allow her to capture who you guys realy are on camera."

That comment right there? It reminded me to quit stressin' because it'll be fine and it'll be fun. (And it was!!) More importantly, it was another reminder to me about what makes a great photo-- capturing the essence of a subject's heart and all that they are as a person on camera.

And the heart of this couple? It's all laughter and love. 

As it should be.

More to stay tuned!

Mitch and Alia.

It was a Friday night at a local diner that I met Alia and Mitch to discuss their upcoming February wedding. They were finally going to have a church ceremony to celebrate their marriage (they’d had a smaller ceremony a few years ago) and wanted to have a photographer there to capture every moment of a celebration that has been long in the making. The clanking dishes and buzz of the restaurant patrons loomed over our conversation, but there was no mistaking the sounds of their happiness as they filled me in on the details of their wedding day and how they met.

It was during their high school days…the days of AOL chat rooms, prom seasons, and just the fun of being high school sweethearts. Alia met Mitch’s family before meeting Mitch and she laughed to remember the small details of their high school times together, down to the glasses she wore during that time. As she scrunched her face remembering those glasses Mitch just smiled and still declared “I like you with your glasses.”
She is more of the goofy laughter and he is the quiet smile that accompanies it. Together they are an example of what it’s like to celebrate love in everyday moments---raising their 3 babies together, him giving her his jacket when she’s cold during the photoshoot, and her making sure he eats vegetables every so often. (yummmm, broccoli!)

Mitch and Alia, thank you for giving me the opportunity to document this special day for you both. As an extra thank you, my dear hubby created a slide show of some of the special moments of your wedding day....hope you enjoy it!

May you both continue to celebrate love and life in the everyday moments the way that you already have.
With love, 
Heartbox Photography

The guys and gals were rockin' it like no other that day. I love me some alleyway shots!

Amia Bakery provided their beautiful wedding cake...

Their reception was held at Century House and we had lots of time to take some fun shots before the start of the reception....

I. LOVED. HER. HAIR. 'Nuff said.

Alia's awesome hairstyle and hairpiece were designed by the ever talented Kristina Eugenio of Salon Ethos.

One of my favorite shots of them....

Jon & Claire. 2011.

These past few months as I've been working towards building my portfolio, brainstorming on different ways to design my photography business website, etc. there are a few things I'm noticing. One of them is that I still get a bit nervous before each shoot, even if it's just with friends who are wonderfully supportive. In fact, I just recently confessed to my husband that literally right when we're driving to the photoshoot site, the thought of "Um, I don't want to do this, why did I ask them to do this shoot, oh maybe they'll cancel?" actually crosses my mind. That fearful type of thinking tries to take hold of me even within the first few shots. It's like my nerves are staggering any type of creative flow.

And happens.

With each shot fired on my lil' ol Canon during a photoshoot, that fear slowly loses it's grip on my mind. I like to think that that  God's creative spirit beat down Mr. Fear and said you got no business here, so get the steppin'. And it's in those moments do I slowly feel a courage to direct each photo, to direct my subject's poses, to smile and enjoy this wonderful medium of creativity called photography.

It's freakin' great.

I'm a firm believer in the fact that God can use anything, (like, ANYTHING) for His glory. And after spending some time with these wonderful friends of ours, I can see how God is using my camera as a way to reconnect with friends my husband and I have not seen in a while. The weather was amazing for a city shoot and so we capitalized on all the grit and concrete the city has to offer and blended it with the style and edge that is Claire and Jon.

I love details and so the colors and accessories Claire chose along with the amazing tattoos that both of them sport (gosh, I wish I were tough enough to get a, even a itty bitty one) made for great photographs. Jon had new a tattoo in the works (you'll see it in the shots) and it just blended so well with the urban theme we were going for. After the shoot the four of us had dinner, caught up on life, chatted about God, and laughed a ton. It's been too long since we'd seen them and I'm so glad something as simple as a photoshoot became a way for friends to spend time together.

With that being said, below are a few of my favorites from our time with Claire and Jon. You can view the entire album on my Facebook page here, under Claire and Jon's album.


Ray and Sarah. 2011.

You’re my unfathomable precious unimaginable joy
And you’re exceedingly exciting and abundantly more than I could ask for
With your hand in mine we will pass through time and space
                                          -Jimmy Needham, “Unfailing Love”

I get giddy watching a moment captured through a photograph. I get even giddier when my camera captures a moment between two people who have been given the blessing of each other, the opportunity to love and share life together. Man has written songs time and time again to express, as Jimmy Needham puts it, that “..unfathonable, precious, unimaginable joy” that the love of another can give.

Meet Sarah and Ray. I asked them to be my subjects, because there’s nothing funner (and yes, I said funner) than doing a photoshoot of two individuals in love. Though the locations we shot at were just a little too close to the smell of city marsh waters, these two proved to be great sports as they continued to smile and say “cheese” long enough for my camera to make a photo.
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