photography

A Recent Diagnosis and a Journey Upward | Osteoporosis Awareness | Guest Blogpost by Daniella Dayoub-Forrest

As many of you know, what I appreciate and value most from the women I photograph is not only their courage to step out in front of the camera, but their willingness to share their stories to encourage, educate, and empower other women on a variety of subjects. Whether it’s physical health, body image, diversity, entrepreneurship, motherhood, or leadership, the voice that women have to share their stories is something I am privileged to be a part of as a photographer and writer.

A few months ago I had the honor of meeting and photographing Daniella Dayoub-Forrest, a health, fitness, and nutrition coach and owner of DFitLife, based here in the Bay Area. You can imagine my surprise that, given her background in fitness, a social media post she shared recently revealed her diagnosis with osteoporosis. I was curious to see if she’d be willing to share a bit more about her story and she graciously agreed to shed light on not only her own personal journey with this diagnosis, but also her her journey as a woman navigating and growing through many of the body-image challenges we as women commonly encounter today.

I hope Daniella’s post below helps you or someone you may know of. You can follow Daniella’s journey through her blog www.baredbones.net . Spread the word on something that will help improve women’s health everywhere!

***

Here I sit, 42 years old, and seemingly at the peak of my health. 

I own my own health coaching business and personal training studio.  I have a thriving 8 year old daughter.  I am married to the most amazing man.  I eat my veggies and try not to overdo the wine.  I have a fabulous group of girlfriends.  Both of my parents are aging healthfully.  And I honestly like my own body when I look in the mirror. 

Basically, I have it all.  Except strong bones.  

The above paragraph sounds like I'm braggadocious.  But no.  I spent most of my life from my teen years through part of my thirties being the harshest critic of myself.  Nothing I did was smart enough.  Nothing I ate was healthy enough.  I wasn't skinny enough, or pretty enough. 

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Enough for what?! Who knows. 

But that self-criticism and need to be perfect manifested into an eating disorder.  And while outwardly I looked just like the picture of health I was selling to my clients, on the inside, my skeleton was starting to disappear.  

At 29 years old, I was attempting to snowboard (having been a skier my whole life), and struggling to say the least.  My boyfriend was really good, and I wanted desperately to ramp up to his abilities.  But as I was just getting my bearings, I caught a little air down a slope, and as my feet landed back down on the snow, my left lower leg shattered.  I knew instantly that it was a severe break.  When we finally got to the hospital, the X-rays revealed that I had indeed shattered my distal tibia like glass, and broken the adjacent fibula as well.  All from a very slight impact.  

That break took me 3 months to heal, which was much faster than the doctors thought.  But it was the alarm that finally alerted me to the fact that I was indeed in the early stages of osteoporosis.  Back then, bone density in the lower range was categorized as "osteopenia," but that term has fallen from the medical vernacular.  Now, however, I not only have low bone density, but have full-blown osteoporosis. 

Why?  Well, so many reasons, really:  

  • My first year of life was riddled with X-rays due to being born with severe hip-dysplasia.  (maybe an early warning sign of weaker bones)

  • I was raised in the 80's when most of us were told to avoid fatty foods.  You cannot absorb bone-building minerals without fat. 

  • In my teens, I developed anorexia and got down to a low of 92 pounds.  I only ate the bare minimum; calories, not nutrition being my focus.

  • I am a small woman, even at a heavier weight.  At 5'3" and an ectomorphic body type, I likely never had a chance to have truly dense bones. 

When I learned about my bone density issues, I made it my mission to fix the problem.  I did exhaustive research, and found that the medical advise I was getting to take a calcium supplement and lift some weights was just NOT enough. 

Over the next several years, I built my bones back up out of the red zone.  Even with having conceived and breast fed a baby (both calcium leaching activities), I still was in a better place with my skeletal health.  I started counseling other women on the basic things they could do to increase bone density besides the outdated suggestions of their doctors.  These included:  

  • Do impact activities with good form often (weight lifting, hiking with a pack, running, etc.)

  • Eat a nutrient dense diet with plenty of healthy fats

  • Take a multimineral supplement that includes magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, and trace minerals

  • Get plenty of vitamin D from both outdoors and supplementally

  • Take a vitamin K2 supplement to make sure the body is properly metabolizing and utilizing calcium stores

  • Don't drink alcohol in excess, and do not smoke

In fact, I had started to help so many women that I decided to put together a workshop.  I really wanted to get the word out to as many people as possible.  I spent 6 months doing research on all aspects of bone health.  I started putting together slides that would encompass three days of learning for my clients.  In fact, I had organized the information in such a way that each person could fine tune their own bone building program. 

It was really coming together into something great!  While doing my research, I came across my old DXA scans.  I thought it would be a great idea to tell about my own personal journey to add validity for my audience.  So, I contacted my doctor, and asked him to order a new set of scans to really pull it all together.  

It had been 6 years since I'd had a check up, and was due.  Just a few weeks prior, I had fallen really hard at my studio while boxing with a client.  Running sideways, and full stroke, my dog tripped me, and I had hit the floor straight on my hip.  While it hurt, I had no fear of having actually broken anything.  This made me think, "Hey, I bet my bone scan is going to be great!"  Then I got the results.  According to the scan, I had lost 11% of my bone density in the last 6 years.  I cried.  I cried so hard.  

I felt scared, surprised, incredulous, and mostly just felt like a fraud!  Who the hell was I to be telling other women what to do, when I couldn't even fix myself?!  After my husband hugged me and calmed me down, I started organizing my thoughts and my plans.  I realized that I'd become complacent, and maybe even cocky.  I had stopped lifting really heavy, and had done lighter workouts lately.  I had stopped running mostly, and was doing way too many SoulCycle classes.  My weight had been decreasing into the low 100's and my cycles has mostly ceased.  I was having a few too many glasses of wine through the week.  Etc, etc, etc.  

So, I begin anew.  I got a weight vest and use it when hiking/walking.  I started lifting really heavy again!  I have ordered blood work to check my thyroid and inflammatory markers.  I am actively gaining weight until my cycle comes back, and will make sure to stay there.  I started a new blog, to air my thoughts, and hopefully reach others with the same struggle.  

But mostly, what this latest scan has taught me is that it will be a lifelong commitment.  I cannot, ever, drop the ball on this.  I must stay vigilant.  But I have faith.  The science shows I can fix this, and I can stay fracture free my whole life. 

But it starts now!

Laura | 2019 | A Celebration of Phenomenal Women

 

"Feminism isn't about making women strong. Women are already strong. It's about changing the way the world perceives that strength."

-G.D. Anderson

I absolutely love Laura’s energy and warmth and am so excited to share with you all these stunning images from her photoshoot! She’s a budding entrepreneur with Rodan and Fields and it was so much fun being able to create fresh new headshots but also some images that were entirely for fun because with the beautiful outfits she brought - WHY NOT?

This was Laura’s first time ever doing a photoshoot like this and I am beyond honored to be able to help create images she can use as headshots but also ones that captures her class and confidence as a woman.

Cheers to phenomenal women…EVERYWHERE.

Images | Heartbox Photography

Hair & Makeup | Kalani Brown

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

“That I have created an amazing life for myself. I have amazing friends and family that support and encourage me. I live life with a a lot of gratitude!”

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What do you believe makes a woman beautiful?

“Confidence and a positive attitude.”

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“I feel like I am a half-full kind of person. I enjoy inspiring others to live life full out!”

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“I love to travel, meet new people, and experience new things as often as possible.

I believe in taking care of yourself inside and out!”

 

A Celebration of Phenomenal Women | Peggy, 2019

 

I think what made me the most excited to have Peggy in for a photoshoot was simply the story of her life thus far. She is the owner and founder of Ballet Petit, but she is a teacher and long-time investor of children who love the art of dance, she is a wife, mother, and grandmother, she is a cancer survivor, she is a woman whose smile, humor, and warm conversation make you feel like you’re talking to a long-time friend even after a few minutes of meeting her.

Peggy had never done a photoshoot like this before and as with most women, had some hesitations to step out in front of my camera. However, that did not stop her because in a very real way, this photoshoot was more than taking a few photographs - it was celebrating her journey with life on so many deeper levels.

I beyond honored to share with you all a few images from Peggy’s photoshoot, a behind the scenes video glimpse below, and most of all, a little bit about her through her own voice.

Here’s to the celebration and journey of life, both the peaks and valleys, and being able to see a deeper beauty through all the seasons.

Images | Heartbox Photography

Styling | Kalani Brown

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“About three years ago, I went to yet another doctor’s appointment to try and control my asthma. After a chest X-ray, and several more follow up appointments, it was determined that asthma was not the issue after all - I had Hodgkins Lymphoma, Stage 2B, with some extra symptoms.

It was a huge shock. I was told, due to concerns for my immune system during treatment, I was not permitted to teach school during my treatment, but was encouraged to teach ballet and take my ballet classes each week, for as long as I was able. It was a scary time. Less than a month later I started 6 months of chemotherapy every 2 weeks, followed by weeks of daily radiation treatments.

I decided the day I was diagnosed that I would do my very best to keep dancing, knowing that it would help my survival physically, as well as emotionally. I wanted to be strong for myself, and to set a good example for my students of the power and strength that comes from doing what you love. “

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“I kept my focus positive, accepted the help and love of my community, and happily kept dancing all the way through my cancer treatment year. I didn’t give up.  I made it and I am proud of that!”

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

“I was a pretty strong-willed and ambitious 18 year old. I thought that if I tried hard enough, I could make just about anything happen or not happen.

I would tell my 18 year old self, “You may think you can control your life, but you can’t. Life happens. You can, however, have some control over how you handle what comes your way in life.”

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“A beautiful woman lives her life according to her beliefs and the dreams she holds in her heart. Whatever it is that she values, desires, aspires to be or do, wants to achieve, her beauty shows through as she takes the steps necessary to fulfill herself and make her dreams become a reality.”

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“Everyone has a place. Everyone has worth. No one is perfect. We all have imperfections.

This reminds us that we are all human. Regardless, we can all try to be our best selves while seeing the best in others. We become our best selves by being honest, open, and aware of ourselves and how we share this planet with others as we navigate through our lives.”

“I have been so fortunate to have lived my life surrounded by wonderful people in my family, my schools, and in the world of the classical arts. The proverb about it taking a village to raise a child rings so strongly for me.

I am grateful for the many people who have been a part of my village from the day I was born to the present day. They have been such an important part of my life story. I have been lucky to have had such a vibrant and supportive village. They have all had some part of who I am today. It has been pretty wonderful, the ups and even the downs. All in all, I am happy with how my life has turned out.”

 

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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Tara | 2019 | A Celebration of Phenomenal Women

“If you’re lucky enough to be different, don’t ever change.”

-Taylor Swift

Tara is a mother, an ambitious go-getter, a woman dedicated to continuously learning and meeting challenges head on. Her love for fitness, passion to help and serve others through her work is evident - I even had the opportunity to see her in action as she skillfully led the organization of a local fitness fair for the community here in the Bay Area.

As part of the continuing “Phenomenal Women” series that features women from all over the Bay Area, I am so proud to share with you all a glimpse into the life of this entrepreneur, mother, and resilient go-getter - the lovely Tara, owner of Infinite Health and Fitness.

Here’s to celebrating phenomenal women everywhere who hustle hard in their own life for the purpose of serving others.

Images | Heartbox Photography

Hair/makeup | Kalani Brown

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

“Over the years I find myself more and more proud of my humble roots. I grew up in a cabin in a small town, where my doctor's office was in his house and my backyard was nature's wonders. 

For some time, I didn't know how to integrate that into having a city or suburban life once I ventured out after college. I tried to fit in. I didn't understand different cultural norms and sometimes got in "trouble" with my peers due to differences in societal conditioning.”

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

“To spend time with herself, figuring out what she likes, dislikes and being strong in the alone time.

Being alone does NOT mean no one wants to be with you.

Also, a fit woman makes everyone happy!”

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What do you believe makes a woman beautiful?

Her ability to handle what life reveals. Take it seriously, then handle it with grace snd smile back at it with gratitude.

For example, "You've been kicked out/broken up with/fired?!”

Great. Now you can find your new destiny because it's been waiting!

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“Recently, I have opened a new business - the 5th since I was 18. This time, I am armed with a business degree education and the confidence of experience. I still expect some twists and turns, but will welcome more wins this time than I ever believed could happen. “

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What would you tell your 18-year old self?

“That she will be able to get over the imperfections of life experiences, and be able to celebrate every rise after every fall. And this process will maker her stronger and more resilient, which is a space that cultivates love and not fear.

Also, that she will be able to help people like she wants to :)

But only after some adventure and healing and evolution/awakening.

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“I want her to know over and over that things do not matter, and people will disappoint.

But sometimes things can seem like they matter and sometimes people can share magical moments that change your life for the better.

And to accept it all as imperfectly perfect.”

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“When a woman puts herself aside to attend to a friend, child, senior, or clients needs, with the utmost respect, personality, attention and skill, her vibe is beautiful.”

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Monique, 2019 | San Jose, CA | Glamour & Contemporary Portrait

“To be a woman is to unapologetically resilient despite everything.”

-h.h.

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There is a sweet and calm demeanor that I immediately liked when I first approached Monique for the possibility of doing a photo shoot with Heartbox Photography.

As most of you know by now, I am a firm believer in finding ways to connect with other women who run local businesses and organizations simply for the fact that women who support women is nothing short of impactful and great. The best part is that I get to know them even beyond the work they do and learn about them as wives, mothers, daughters, and grandmothers - as the unique and beautiful person they are.

Being allowed to share in their world and learn about what inspires them, their family history, even their dreams for the future is a privilege that makes the story of each woman I photograph so fun and beautifully unique.

Monique is the founder and proud owner of Innate Sense. She is a wife, a loving mother, a daughter, and a big sister. (I even got to meet her little sister during the Image Reveal appointment and absolutely loved the sweet, sisterly dynamic of their relationship as she helped her choose her images!) During our photo session, I learned more about Monique’s Portugese ancestry and how having a desire to help people be whole and healthy are one of the factors that inspired her work.

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One of my favorite things about her photo session is her love for color, beautiful patterns, and accessories in the outfits she thoughtfully selected for her day - this probably explains why we definitely took a little longer wanting to capture the gorgeous look and feel of each outfit combined with the natural surroundings at a local park!

The sunlight was bright, the skies were clear, beautiful, and perfect for the afternoon and needless to say, I am so proud to be able to share with you all the final images and behind the scenes video from this lovely woman’s photo session with Heartbox Photography.

Here’s to celebrating the phenomenal women everywhere around us!

Many thanks to Kalani Brown for Monique’s hair/makeup styling!

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“I see beauty when a woman knows

her worth and shares her

gifts with the world.”

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

“I am most proud of taking the path that my heart led me towards for my career and to live out my soul’s purpose.

Growing up, many members of my family had jobs that they didn’t like, but tolerated them because they needed financial stability. I knew from a young age that I wanted to work in a way that I enjoyed, that allowed me freedom, and to help others.

I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do, but my heart guided me and here I am with a business where I have all those things and life that I love.”

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

“I would tell her to surround herself with a close circle of good friends and fully enjoy the season of her life with little responsibilities. I would tell her to travel more to gain a broader perspective of the world and people as a whole.

I would let her know that “success” is not a destination that she needs to TRY to get to…she will forever be evolving and becoming who she is meant to be in the world. To enjoy the journey, it all ultimately works out for her highest good.”

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

“Well, I am sure my advice would vary depending on the stage of her life she is in…but I would always tell her - you are here for a purpose, you are love,d and to always be true to herself.”

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What do you believe makes a woman beautiful?

“I believe inner peace, confidence, and self-love

makes a woman glow and shine her beauty from the inside out.”

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To the odd birds!

Productivity...how do you find it?! I’m at my personal best when the rest of the world is at actually at lunch!

I am semi-functional in the morning, but somehow manage to get a surge of great ideas right around the end of my 1 o’clock lunch break.

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So what does that make me, I often wonder. Not exactly an early bird. Not exactly a night own. But I guess whatever bird is it that thrives in the afternoons?

Here’s to the odd birds among us. :)

Happy Friday!

Eva | 2018 | A Celebration of Phenomenal Women

 “A strong woman stands up for herself.

A stronger woman stands up for everybody else.”

-author unknown

Eva is not only a wife and proud mother of 2, but she is a health advocate in the best ways. She is the owner of Eva’s Fitness here in the Bay Area and one of the things I think is especially awesome about her work is the obvious passion she has to especially help individuals who may be challenged in leading a fit lifestyle because of injuries. As I got the chance to learn more about her background, work, and family, it was clear to me that she is a woman using the education and experience she received to make a difference in people’s health and provide the best service for her clients. And perhaps that is why the quote that starts off this post is the one that I felt was most perfectly aligned with the work Eva dedicates her life to. In her own way, with the talents and abilities she uniquely possesses, Eva is helping to encourage people live the healthiest version of themselves and even more importantly, helping them see that it is indeed possible even through injuries or other ailments.

I always have been a firm believer that every woman has something to give, whether it’s in the daily grind of raising her children, to being that listening ear on the other end of a friend’s call, or being the head of a major corporation. And what every woman gives is not limited by her ethnicity, age, or size, but rather the unlimited grit and grace she possesses. Every woman is uniquely created, therefore has something unique to contribute to the table - that is what this series “Phenomenal Woman” celebrates.

It is my honor to share with you all these images and video that highlights Eva, one of the many phenomenal women out there I have been privileged to photograph.

Many thanks to Kalani Brown for the styling of Eva’s hair/makeup!

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“So far, my life has been very extraordinary and wonderful.

I come from a small town in Germany and was very fortunate to not only be able to pursue my dream career as a teacher of movement and health, but also to have met my amazing husband with whom I moved to quite a few new places in the world.

We have two beautiful children that we love and are extremely proud of.

Every day I am grateful for my husband and kids, my big family in Germany and in the US, as well as my friends and my clients.”

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“The beauty of a woman comes from the inside, her thoughts, and beliefs. But we [also] need to take care of our health, work on our athletic skills, and keep fit.

Rather than telling this to my daughter I have to be the best example that I can.”

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“Looking back, there is not much that I would tell my 18 year old self, except to wear sun screen and to keep dancing!”

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Preview | Tara | 2018 | A Celebration of Phenomenal Women

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

-Maya Angelou

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

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

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

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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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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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 | 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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Preview | Natasha, 2018 | Portrait Photography | San Jose, CA

 “It took me quite a long time to develop a voice, and now that I have it, I am not going to be silent." 

-Madeleine Albright

Outdoor summer sessions with gorgeous light and the warm smiles of client's like Natasha are the best ways to spend an afternoon "working" as a photographer. :)

Hanging out with Natasha was more like hanging out with a friend and as we took a stroll down the dirt path of a San Jose park, ducking in and out of the summer sunshine, my heart smiled to see images like the one below captured onto my camera.

This woman is simply a sweet and easygoing individual and I am so excited to capture a bit of who she is in this sneak peak below to share with you all.

Stay tuned for more to come!

And many thanks to Kat Tinney for her styling of Natasha's gorgeous hair and makeup for this shoot!

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My Wimpy Dreams

My dreams, turns out, are way too wimpy. Like, insert the *womp, womp, womp* sounds right here wimpy. Upon this realization, amazingly enough, I didn't cry. :)

It's a little more than halfway through 2018 and also that time when I like to look back and forward all at once. To assess goals, to dream up new ones, and even to stop and awaken the parts of my heart that grow sleepy and comfortable with complacency when things still seem to have a ways to go. 

I'm reading this book right now called "All In" by Mark Batterson. In fact, I've already finished it and am actually going back and reading it a second time. Yes, it's that good and I highly recommend you stop reading this for one moment, go order it on Amazon, and then come back and continue reading my blog post. :)

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The one thing that stands out about this book isn't that it gives some new and improved way to do things, to structure goals, to make dreams come true - nope. In fact, the main reason this book is phenomenal because it's actually kicking me in the @#$ in the best way possible and in fact, making me see that perhaps, JUST PERHAPS, my dreams are a bit too small. It's making me frustrated, but frustrated in a good way, frustrated in a way that makes me see that IF I say I know God, do my dreams reflect that? Am I playing offensive or defensive in my career goals, my marriage, hell, even in the my daily THINKING?!? And so far, after evaluating my lovely and structured plans for 2018, the answer is bit of an embarrassed "uh, oops. Dang, I live and dream WAAAAY too small!"

In a way this book has fanned the flame of a a fight that's been awakened in my sleepy heart, a frustration that is birthing much needed change. It's a little scary and a little exciting and a whole-lotta convicting to know that a huge chunk of me FORGOT big time that it's about charging forward to FOLLOW Jesus, not charging forward and dragging Him along to follow me. It's getting me to suddenly dream up new goals that seem impossible to achieve, but moving forward with them because in God's world "impossible/crazy" is actually the norm. 

Today I am reminded that while the idea of "reaching for the sky" is awesome, a life given over in trust to the leadership of the Almighty makes reaching for the sky seem like child's play. His plans are far greater, far grander, and ridiculously more than I can ever imagine or dream of. And while the scared/excited/frustration/fight emotions are certainly still all present in me from this huge reminder, I am finding more confidence and wholeness in what He promises of my life than even what I can dream up of my life on my own. 

P.S. Just so you know, I learned about the book "All In" from the amazing story teller and spoken word artist Hosanna Poetry - someone ya'll need to follow as well. :)