portraits

Phoebe | 2019 | A Celebration of Phenomenal Women

I stared at the blinking cursor on my computer for awhile as I was preparing to write this post.

It wasn’t for any reason that was bad - the complete opposite. It was more like “how do I even have enough words or the right words that would accurately communicate the message and story of Phoebe’s life?”

The one thing that I think anyone can say about Phoebe is that she is all about God and not in a superficial way - rather, in a deep, heartfelt, raw and real way. The kind that makes the skeptic believe in the hope of actual miracles in this world again.

To say she has gone through a lot in her life would be an understatement and yet, what she is quick to share with anyone she meets is a message of the unwavering grace, love, and pursuit of a God that is real and alive. Despite having gone through childhood trauma, physical and mental health battles that sometime resurface even today, grace and hope collided with Phoebe’s life in ways that has changed it and continues to change to it. It is no surprise to me that Phoebe’s daily work in founding Overcoming with Grace is grounded in wanting to help others experience a life transformed as hers has been. Maybe you or someone you know could use a message of hope and life change and this is coming at the right time. Visit her website, learn about her story. You’ll see what I mean. :)

I am so very honored to share with you all the final images from Phoebe’s photoshoot. She is a woman, a devoted wife, a mother, a survivor, and living proof that God does some pretty crazy things out of a never-ending love for His people.

Happy Tuesday, everyone!

Images | Heartbox Photography

Hair & Makeup | Beautiful One Makeup

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Can you tell me a bit about your journey since your last photoshoot, what inspired you to start your company, and what you find most rewarding about your work?

Oh man, a LOT has happened. I got pregnant with our second daughter, who is now 2 and is this spunky, funny, sweet, ball of fire!

I started Overcoming with Grace, because I wanted to be an example to women of what is possible.

Whether they've experienced trauma, loss, debilitating health issues, deep negative self-talk, or any pain...they CAN recover.

Not only can they recover, but they can actually have JOY in their life again after experiencing so much heart ache and pain. They can get out of the darkness, even when it seems like there is no light.

Time and time again, God has shown me that with whatever I thought was impossible to overcome or heal, His limitless power can heal anything. We have an impossible God!

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What do you appreciate most about your life now?

I appreciate the way I view suffering and trials way more than I ever have. I used to view it as another hardship and challenge that would inevitably come, because, hey, that's the life I've been living. Always a tragedy, trauma, loss, surgery, diagnosis, struggle, failure, betrayal, etc. So what's next?

Now, it's more of: I wonder what God is going to show me, or teach me, or grow me through this? I wonder what I'm going to learn more about Him and myself? It's such a freeing way to view challenges and suffering. This came most clear to me earlier this year when my physical and mental health flared up the most it has in awhile.

It showed me a new layer of living with my conditions, where I could not only still have joy in my life, but also to show others that it is possible to do it too. It showed me a new level of letting go. And being able to LIVE with my family, friends and the other people placed in my life has been such a gift that no condition, past trauma or anything or anyone else can take away!

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The most rewarding thing about my work is seeing when the light bulbs start going off in my clients of how they don't have to be at the mercy of their circumstances...when they start being aware that they CAN take back control of their lives in a healthy, empowered way...when they start being aware that they have everything they need within them to succeed and feel loved, and it's not depending on anyone or anything else....seeing all that magic start and unfold more and more is such a gift and privilege!

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Best advice you ever received and advice you'd give to your own daughter now regarding confidence, beauty, wholeness as a human in today's day & age?

When you can view beauty and confidence WITHOUT comparing, you've gotten confidence down. (Oh, that just came to me at midnight!!! LOL!)

Even when we compare ourselves to our old self, sometimes we do it negatively and in a way where we keep unhealthily striving.

I would tell my daughter to view her beauty, confidence and wholeness from within, and not the within from herself, but from the one who created her. God is THE voice that will carry her through.

When she has God-confidence and views herself the way He does, then I know it won't matter whatever comes her way, she will be able to soar through!

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Karmen | 2019 | A Celebration of Phenomenal Women

“Love yourself for who you are, and trust me, if you are happy from within,

you are the most beautiful person, and your smile is your best asset.”

-Illeana D’Cruz

Karmen Reed is a Money-Mindset Coach and Consultant based here in the Bay Area. I had the privilege of recently photographing this lovely woman and learning not only more about her personal background but also about what inspired her to do the work that she does to help other women achieve their optimal success when it comes to their mindset and outlook on finances. She is also a devoted wife and mother with one of the warmest laughs and sunniest smiles I have ever encountered. If there is one thing I noticed about Karmen from the beginning is that she genuinely passionate about learning all that she can as well as teaching others so that they, too, can grow in their own professional and personal endeavors.

I am extremely honored to share with all of you some of the final images from this lovely woman’s photoshoot with Heartbox Photography. As always, a heartfelt thanks to Kathleen Tinney of A-List Makeup for her beautiful work on Karmen’s styling of hair and makeup for this special experience!

Here’s to celebrating phenomenal women everywhere, especially to women like Karmen who set out to help women realize their own inner-awesomeness.

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“I was born and raised on the island of Brac in a little Mediterranean country Croatia. I came to America in 1987 when I was 20 years old because I fell in love and could not see anything that is in my way of that happiness.

My journey was that of learning. I was always a very curious being, always looking for opportunities to learn more… about everything. This has really allowed me the courage to start my own entrepreneurial journey. I was never alone on that journey. I was surrounded with people who love me and they were my biggest supporters and cheer leaders.

I also always had a mentor, a coach, a community I could rely on for support and help, as much as being challenged to rise up and take steps I was afraid of. This type of environment allowed me to thrive. I was learning about myself, business and the world. This inspired me to share everything I learned, to give back to women who are on a similar journey of empowerment, financial independence, and living their best life every day.

I learned to be a masterful coach. I started mentoring and coaching women and helping them create an amazing relationship with money so they can thrive in every area of their life. I absolutely LOVE watching women go through beautiful transformations when it comes to self-awareness and empowerment.

It is my goal to help many women create an amazing relationship with money, because how we do money is how we do everything.”

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“The best advice I have ever received is from my mom when I was a child:

Go explore and find your own answers.

These words are imprinted inside my soul. I am definitely an explorer. This has become my DNA blueprint.”

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“I believe that the beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder, and that we have to be that for ourselves.

Our empowerment comes from the place of awareness about our self-talk and our emotions.

Our self-confidence comes from our self-empowerment.

We as women have so much to offer to the world, and the world is hungry all the time. When a confident woman offers her love, care, perspective, knowledge, vision to the world, the world stops and listens.”

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“My message to all women today: rise and thrive!

Create a legacy you will be proud of, step into your brave, and show the world your love. This is what beauty is in my eyes.”

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What do you appreciate most about your life now?

“I have an amazing husband, I have two adult children, I have family abroad, and my husband’s big and complicated family is near and dear with many activities, we are surrounded by great friends, and we are very active socially.

I used to think that these are my disadvantages when it comes to my entrepreneurial journey, because these are my obligations as well. Relationships that are strong require work, time, and commitment consistently.

I looked at some of my colleagues who were seemingly more successful and was envious of their freedom from close relationships, mortgage, and family, because they can focus all their time and energy into their business.

What I realized is that my envy was so unfounded. I realized that I am the one with everything I need, and my relationships are my support, my cheerleaders, my biggest fans and that was an advantage.”

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“I love my life and I want to help other

women fall in love with theirs!”

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Sarah, Anna, and Rosie | Mothers and Daughters | 2019

 

Mothers of daughters

are daughters of mothers

and have remained so in circles joined to circles,

since time began.

-Signe Hammer

Sarah is a wife, mother, and the founder/owner of Hey Presto!, a personal concierge services company based here in the Bay Area. It was my privilege to be able to not only have her come in for for updated headshots that represent her and her company, but also to capture a moment in time with her and her two beautiful daughters.

I love when women make the decision to not only step out in front of the camera for themselves, but also bring in their daughters with them for the photoshoot. A day of hair/makeup and pampering is always fun, but what makes this even more memorable is that these images are ones they will keep for a lifetime. It represents capturing a special moment in time with Sarah and her daughters, especially because time is so fleeting and children grow so fast. So why not add to the legacy and images of family memories for years to come with photos that celebrated a mother and her girls - the women of the family.

Here’s to mothers and daughters everywhere, to existing in photographs forever.

Images | Heartbox Photography

Hair/makeup | Katie Pheneger

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How has having daughters changed you as a woman?

It's a journey of course and I guess this is true of parenting in general but being a role model to any young person is both scary and a privilege.  I’m learning that each time you think you solve an issue, or get through a ‘phase', a new one takes its place.  I’ve become more patient, and have learnt to trust my instinct.  Oh, and to appreciate the small moments!

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What are some things that you would want your daughters and other young girls want to know with regards to beauty, self-confidence, and growing up as a woman in today's world?

If only all these girls knew how amazing they are, and what potential they have.  I want them to know that if you believe in yourself anything is possible.  Don’t let anyone tell you you’re not good enough, not smart enough, not pretty enough.  You will have to work hard for your opportunities, but when you see one, be fierce and bold and grab it with both hands!  Don’t regret the things you’ve done, regret the ones you haven’t!

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What are some things that you would want your daughters and other young girls want to know with regards to beauty, self-confidence, and growing up as a woman in today's world?

If only all these girls knew how amazing they are, and what potential they have.  I want them to know that if you believe in yourself anything is possible.  

Don’t let anyone tell you you’re not good enough, not smart enough, not pretty enough.  You will have to work hard for your opportunities, but when you see one, be fierce and bold and grab it with both hands!  Don’t regret the things you’ve done, regret the ones you haven’t!

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Are there things you hope will change by the time your daughters are your age?

Besides world peace, a halt to climate change, and equality for all!?!  

Actually, I find it difficult to imagine what their lives will be like in 30 years time.  Technology will surely evolve and who knows what the world will look like then.  It has made life easier in so many ways, and I love that our wider family is spread all over the world but that we are still in each others’ daily lives with the wonders of the internet, FaceTime and email.  

But at the same time I hope technology won’t make the world too ’small’ and discourage them from having real-world adventures and travel.  You can learn so much online but nothing can replace a real-life, in-person experience.  

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Can you tell me a bit about you and what inspired you to start Hey Presto!, what you find most rewarding about your work, as well as what you want others to know about your company?

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I was looking to get back to work after a career break and quickly realized that I was surrounded by people constantly on the go, stressed and overwhelmed, running from one activity to the next, trying to stay on the Bay Area merry-go-round.  

A lightbulb went on as I realized its a perfect fit for my skills and experience.  I love to organize and I love to help people, and so Hey Presto was born!  

I love that I can help people with their everyday struggles, such as running errands, or admin, but also the bigger projects like vacation planning, doing the legwork on remodeling projects and dealing with life’s events like coping with life when a baby joins the family, or moving house.  

It's so rewarding to know that I can make a difference and help smooth the path. 

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Best advice you ever received?

To follow my own path.  My own mom was a working single parent but I think her biggest lesson to my sister and I was to be fierce. By that I mean that she encouraged us to have a strong will, take pride in our work, and responsibility for our tasks.  She taught me to be practical and encouraged me to speak out if I ever wanted anything to change.

 

What do you appreciate most about your life now?

I have an amazing, supportive husband, beautiful kids, and good health and exciting opportunities.  

I love my life right now! 

 

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

Happy International Women's Day

“You may not always have a comfortable life and you will not always be able to solve all of the world's problems at once but don't ever underestimate the importance you can have because history has shown us that courage can be contagious and hope can take on a life of its own.”
-Michelle Obama

Writer, lawyer, & former First Lady

Here’s to a celebration of all phenomenal girls and women all around the world.

Happy International Women’s Day!

#internationalWomen’sDay

Birthday Celebrations

“Let us celebrate the occasion with wine and sweet words,”

– Plautus

What’s even better than helping women celebrate who they are through creating timeless images? Celebrating their life whenever a new birthday comes around. =)

Cheers to this month’s #MarchBirthdays!

Image | Heartbox Photography

Hair & makeup | Keziah Dauz

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Target Socks and Winter-themes

Tell me something about YOU before I get carried away...many of you already know I’m a contemporary glamour and portrait photographer who posts stories about the incredible women I am blessed to have as clients.

But every now and again I like to toss up a post that tells you some things about me you probably didn’t know. And since it’s properly winter outside, this posts theme will be entirely cold-weather related.

Ready?

I have a love/hate relationship with winter weather. (as in LOVE the Christmas season, the reason to eat cookies and copious amounts of cheese and chocolate treats…but, hate that it’s 50 degrees outside and tugs at my inner, hibernating bear-like ways). Rawr.

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I always crave warm soups of all kinds to to warm my soul, especially soups that contain noodles , aka CARBS.

This winter, I’m really into fleece-lined socks with penguins and animal prints on them. (HELLO, TARGET!!!)

My fave thing to do on a chilly morning is SLEEP. Surprise, surprise.

And…I love nothing more than to curl up with my fleece-lined, penguin-print socks and pajamas with a good book in the evening.

Happy New Year and happy winter, everyone!

Daniella | 2018 | A Celebration of Phenomenal Women

“I am an example of what is possible when girls from the very beginning of their lives are loved and nurtured by people around them. I was surrounded by extraordinary women in my life who taught me about quiet strength and dignity.”

-Michelle Obama

Women have broken and continue to break barriers. And as I write this post, I find myself reflecting on what I sense is a beautiful revolution today of women everywhere who are are being reminded of the positive influence they can have for change in their own home, own communities, and society as a whole. I want to always be a part of any movement that empowers women - from the young girls to the women who have walked the path ahead of them.

I recently launched a series titled “A Celebration of Phenomenal Women: Fabulous and Over 40”. This series was meant to invite women in who were over 40 years of age, proud of their story, their life, and most of all, proud to be a woman of today.

Daniella is 41 - a wife, a mother, and health, fitness, and nutrition coach. As founder and owner of DFitLife, she is a businesswoman in the Bay Area who continues helping and serving people live the healthiest lifestyle they can.

I am incredibly proud to share with you all these images and video from the first photoshoot of many photoshoots that will aim to celebrate these phenomenal women in our community.

Many thanks to Kalani Brown of Kalani Style for Daniella’s hair and makeup!

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What are you most proud of as the woman you are today and why?

“I have worked hard through many years of self-doubt and loathing to finally emerge as the woman I’ve always wanted to be.

I feel good that I am setting a strong role model for my daughter. I want her to know she should ask for the moon, because you might just get it!

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What advice would you give your own daughter as she grows up?

“Be kind to yourself and to others.

Don’t forget that life is full of laughter, but you have to choose to see it.

Choose happiness.”

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What do you believe makes a woman beautiful?

“Self-confidence for sure. This is where men have been ahead of us. Regardless of how someone looks aesthetically, if they are comfortable in their own skin, that beauty shines through.

Women of my generation have done a lot of catching up on this and I think our children will really own it!”

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

“Love yourself or no one else will! I would go back and try to embrace my quirks and imperfections.

I spent so much time trying to be perfect, that I lost sight of the moment. I was too serious for my own good. Now I try to find the humor in just about every moment of my day.”

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Thuy, 2018 | Glamour and Contemporary Portraits | Fremont, CA

 
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“There is nothing more rare, nor more beautiful, than a woman being unapologetically herself; comfortable in her own imperfection. To me, that is the essence of true beauty.”

-Steve Maraboli

Thuy is the founder/owner of 923 Design here in the Bay Area. She is a designer, a creative, a boss lady, a hustling mother who took the leap into her dream and never turned back.

In short, she is awesome and I am so proud to share with you all some of my favorite images from her photoshoot with Heartbox Photography, with hair/makeup by Miranda Villanueva of Love and Artistry.

Here’s to the women bosses out there representing the Bay Area. :)

Happy Friday!

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Preview | Eva, 2018 | Palo Alto, CA | Glamour & Contemporary Portraits | A Celebration of Phenomenal Women

You know what’s incredible about a woman?

She has this unique ability to bring glamour anywhere she goes. And part of why I absolutely love this photo of Eva is that it just exudes an enchanting classiness - a fierce beauty all her own.

Image | Heartbox Photography

Hair & Makeup | Kalani Brown

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Preview | Daniella, 2018 | Palo Alto, CA | Glamour & Contemporary Portraits | A Celebration of Phenomenal Women

 

“A strong woman understands that the gifts such as logic, decisiveness, and strength are just as feminine as intuition and emotional connection.”

- Nancy Rathburn

The continued celebration of life doesn’t stop after each year you’re given - in fact, I would think that the celebrations get even better. There’s something to be said about a woman who recognizes that and exudes that belief in all that she does, whether it’s in her work or within her family.

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Daniella is a beautiful wife, mother, and hustling business owner. As we chatted and spent time creating her images on a sunny afternoon in Palo Alto, I was inspired by her energy, drive, and confidence in not only the work that she does, but also simply as a woman who is proud to be where she is today. Here is just a small preview into Daniella’s photo shoot that I am honored to share with you all!

Happy Wednesday!

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


 

Preview | Monique, 2018 | San Jose, CA | Glamour & Contemporary Portraits

 

“Nothing makes a woman more beautiful than the belief that she is beautiful.”

-Sophia Loren

I read that quote from Sophia Loren and was reminded what a great privilege it is that I get to be a small part of that message that reminds women of their inner and outer beauty.

Monique is a wife, mother, sister, daughter, and woman-business owner here in the Bay Area and I am so proud to share just a small glimpse with you all into her photo session with Heartbox Photography below.

Happy Friday!

Special thanks to Kalani Brown for hair/makeup styling!

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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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Love Hard.

 

"She's a strong cup of black coffee in a world that is drunk on the cheap wine of shallow love."

-JM Storm

She is a lot of things.

And if I'm honest - really honest -  ALL of us women are a lot of things. We are NOT just one way, one mood, one level of depth, one way of thinking, one way of seeing, one way of feeling, one idea or one thought.

No.

We are a myriad of something far more complex and far more special.

But one thing I can absolutely attest to is this: out of the many character traits of my mom one of them is that when she loves, she loves hard.  

Maybe it's because she had to figure out a majority of her adolescence without the help of a mom. Maybe it's because she was an immigrant to this country in her mid-twenties. Maybe it's because she hustled the raising of kids along with a full-time job, a commute, and an exhaustion level that only another mother could truly understand. 

And throughout this, all she knew to do to was to give it all she could to those she cared about and throw all her heart in along with it. And if that's not loving hard, especially in a world where shallow love is more common and popular, I don't know what is.

Proud to share with you all the very first portrait of my momma. 

Special thanks to Miranda Villanueva of Love and Artistry for lending her incredible talents to the styling of my mom's hair and makeup for this shoot! 

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Preview | Azalia, 2018 | Glamour & Contemporary Portraits | Santa Clara, CA

"Nothing makes a woman more beautiful than the belief that she is beautiful."

 - Sophia Loren

Azalia is a wife, a mother, grandmother, and sister - a woman who is as beautiful and unique as her name. We had chatted briefly a few years back when I had met her through a mutual acquaintance and it is my honor to now have her in front of my camera. I love when women step out and not only get dolled up for the day, but also make that decision to celebrate their life by choosing to exist in gorgeous images that will last a lifetime.  

The light was perfect for her shoot (that gorgeous, natural daylight was ahhh-maaazing) and below is just a sneak peak into her photo session. Be sure to stay tuned for more to come!

Special thanks to Kalani Brown of Kalani Style for Azalia's hair and makeup!

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!

Vicky, 2018 | Glamour & Contemporary Portraits | Oakland, CA

 

Part of why I chose to be a photographer of women is because I believe that it is a unique way to not only bring out the beauty that I believe every woman possesses, but also because sharing their stories is a way to empower, inspire, and encourage other women and young girls. 

I was so inspired to get to know Vicky and learn more about her journey as a young, single mom to now a soon-to-be graduating DrPHC of UC Berkeley. And to learn that it was also another woman who inspired and mentored her many years ago to embark on this journey makes her story even more empowering. 

I am so proud to share with you all a few of Vicky's images and a behind the scenes look from her photoshoot with Heartbox Photography as well as the story of her journey through her own voice. 

Here's to celebrating the beauty, strength, and stories of all women.

Photography: Heartbox Photography

Hair/makeup: Kalani Brown

"Choosing to do be photographed is not something that comes naturally to me - usually I am the person who wants to hide in the shadows. For the past five years, I have been a doctoral student at UC Berkeley and I have had many challenges getting to where I am today. I haven't always had the confidence in myself that I should. The year of 2017 was about self-love and all I had to offer exactly as I am now. This new year in 2018 is about confidence and growing into the woman I know I have worked hard to become."

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"As a young, single mother at 19, I knew that I could not provide the life my son deserved if I did not receive an education. My sister was one of the first in our immediate family to attend and graduate college and I was lucky to follow in her footsteps. I went back to school when my son was a few months old and fell in love with learning again. I started at the community college level and made my way to a four year university. While at San Francisco State University, I met Dr. Velia Garcia and she told me that I would be Dr. Gomez one day. I laughed at her and said I wasn't even sure if I could graduate with my bachelor's degree. "

"It turned out that Velia saw something in me that I did not see in myself. She taught me the importance of mentoring others and helping them reach their goals in a way that honored themselves. In 2012, Velia lost her battle with cancer and it was the sign I needed to apply to obtain my doctorate degree. Over the past five years, I have mentored many students, particularly underrepresented students like myself to pursue their academic and professional goals in a new way that honors who they are."

"So many have sacrificed so much so that I could walk through these doors and accomplish my dreams and I want to continue opening the doors for others to reach theirs. This degree is not just for me but for those that came before me and for those that will come long after I am gone. I wanted to demonstrate to others that anything is possible even when you feel the deck is stacked against you."

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"My life's work is to continue mentoring others while teaching undergraduate and graduate students. My goal for this year is to take risks and be the best me I can be. Deciding to participate in this photoshoot with Maria was a vital step in my journey. I knew after seeing photos she did of a friend that she would bring out my natural beauty and confidence. "

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Preview | Hannah, 2017 | Glamour & Contemporary Portraits | Fremont, CA

AFTER.JPG

 

 

I knew immediately that Hannah was cool the second she agreed that a bowlful of noodles with nothing on it but Parmesan cheese counts as dinner.  (BECAUSE IT DOES)

And when you meet someone who shares your love for planners and calendars (the paper kind, people!!), let's just say I almost wanted to high-five her for being all sorts of awesome. (If you haven't felt the excitement of perusing the aisles of a store in search of that perfect planner for the new year, I hate to break it to you, but you've been missing out. :)  #justsaying #partyatPaperSource

This lovely soul stepped out in front of my camera and I am proud to share with you all a preview from her photo shoot with Heartbox Photography. There's more to come, so be sure to stay tuned!

Photography: Heartbox Photography

Hair/makeup: Kalani Brown

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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Preview | Portrait of a Dancer | Patience, 2017 | Glamour & Contemporary Portraits | Fremont, CA

 

"The dance can reveal everything mysterious that is hidden in music,

and it has the additional merit of being human and palpable.

Dancing is poetry with arms and legs."

-Charles Baudelaire

I once was told by another photographer that if you are looking for inspiration for your own artistic medium, look to other artistic mediums that are not your own.

Read the masterpiece created by the author who is able to form revelations, new ideas, and poetry with the words she skillfully pieces together.

Listen to way a musician blends a complex pattern of notes and rhythm to create a song that brings tears and a unforgettable sense of wonder to their audience.

Watch as the pieces of various fabrics and textures of cloth are sewn together to create an article of clothing that graces the magazine covers and runways of modern fashion.

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Witness the transformation of a seemingly meaningless lump of clay as the potter shapes, molds, carves, and colors it into beautiful pottery.

And allow yourself to be captivated and carried away by the way dance beautifully takes music, human movement, and expression to a whole new level.

I am honored and proud to share with you all a sneak peak into "Portrait of a Dancer", a photo session with a beautiful woman named Patience. 

Stay tuned for more to come!

Many thanks to Miranda Villanueva of Love and Artistry for Patience's hair/makeup!