San Diego is the city where summer almost never ends, which is why the Datska family decided to turn Alex’s fall work trip into a family beach vacation. With their two little girls in hand, I met this lovely couple at their waterfront hotel. We climbed the stairs down to the sand and slowly made our way towards the pier. And despite the fact that all of the local surfers had full wetsuits on, this family was delighted to be playing along the shoreline and wandering into the water as I snapped away at their joyful faces.
Meet my buddy Hudson. This little man is one year old and his hobbies currently include walking, laughing with Mom and Dad, and playing with dirt. So Mission Trails Park was the perfect place to capture and celebrate his first anniversary of life. We found animal statues to pose with, rocks to sit on, and trails to wobble down. This little dude with his big eyes and contagious smile is a lady killer in the making. Cheers to one year Hudson!
Meet the Smith family: three sisters, one boyfriend, one husband, three kids, a mom (now grandma), and a dad (now grandpa). And this is only part of the family! All of those who had left San Diego for various parts of the country were back, which meant a moment in time that deserved to be captured – especially given that there was a recent addition to the family.
It was a beautiful day at La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club. The sun was starting to set and everyone was busy making food, drinks, and laughing amongst themselves when I arrived. As I learned names, family relationships, and important facts (such as that it was Chase’s 4 year old birthday), I started to gather the groups: sisters, kids, couples, etc.
I have to admit, these are some of my favorite family portraits to date. And I can’t even take the credit, because a family this stunning makes my job so easy! Thank you to all of the Smith’s for inviting me to your family gathering and for being such a fun group to work with!
Mrs. Susan Lombard contacted me through Facebook a couple months ago. Her husband had plans to come to San Diego for a work conference and she was going to bring the kids along. They were spending one night at the Hotel Del and asked if I could photograph their family during their stay.
She wrote to me: “What really drew you to me was your beautiful photographs and the fact that you work with orphans. My husband and I have one biological son who is 19 and we have another son that is 3 1/2 and a daughter that will be 2 soon that we adopted through foster care. We have had both of them since birth. If my 19 year old son is able to travel with us, I would like to do our first photo shoot as a family on that day if you have it available.”
Although their oldest son was not able to join us, we were able to photograph and celebrate the babies of their family. This was especially exciting because Shiloh’s adoption just became final in March and these photos are the first to capture that momentous occasion.
So congratulations to the Lombard family on the official adoption of their baby girl, and Happy Mother’s Day Susan! Your capacity for love is what being a mom is all about, and I am so honored to have been chosen to photograph your babies.
Last weekend I had the opportunity to head down to La Gloria, Mexico with Unity 4 Orphans. U4O is an incredible organization that has partnered with an extremely needy orphanage in Mexico. A woman by the name of Edith started by taking in a couple kids. Then a few more. Then a lot more. Now the orphanage, which she runs by herself with only the help of volunteers like Unity 4 Orphans, provides refuge for 70 children. She told us that she will never tell a child that they can’t stay with her any longer, that they will never be told there’s not enough food (even if supplies are actually running short), and that she will never ever turn a child away. This woman is described as “one big heart,” and I couldn’t agree more.
Meet Brisa: 3 years old and at least part Chinese. She wasn’t at the orphanage during the trip 2 months ago. Maybe her parents have just dropped her off temporarily. Perhaps they will never return. It’s very likely that we will never know. But this little girl just wanted to be loved. She pulled on my leg to be picked up and wouldn’t let go of me for a good portion of the day.
And she is one of seventy kids that just want one thing: love. The amazing thing is that this place, which could easily be a place of sorrow, is a place filled with love. Edith loves each and every kid. The kids love and take care of each other. And the volunteers, even though it’s just for a few hours once or twice a month, bring even more love and laughter to this home. What an incredible place, organization, and experience to be a part of!
I love children. Over the years I have done my fair share of babysitting, nannying, tutoring, volunteering with kids… you name it! I love how these little humans are fascinated by things adults overlook. I love how they are still so pure and innocent and untarnished by society’s complications. And I love how simple their lives are – envious to be honest. (The adult world is not all it’s cracked up to be!)
As a photographer, I love trying to capture the essence of people in a single, frozen moment of time. That’s why portraiture is my favorite type of photography. So when the opportunity to borrow a camera and snap some shots of two little girls came up, I jumped. The girls had a blast running at the camera and posing as I figured out the unfamiliar settings.
Below are just a few of my favorite shots.