Xilo Photography tips and tricks for preparing for a family photo session.Read More
Newborn lifestyle photography session in Antioch, CA with the Moultrie Family.Read More
Haley and William are the epitome of opposites attract: Haley is outgoing, silly, and loves to have a good time while William is more quiet and reserved. Both have a sense of humor that had me entertained the entire session.
We spent the entirety of our session at Dinosaur Hill Park in Pleasanton which is a place of great memories for them. The rocks are where they had a date and the edge of the hill is where William proposed to Haley. This session really brought them full circle to celebrate the impending birth of their new little one.
These two are going to make the greatest parents; their easy going nature and true love and commitment shines through on these photos. I'm so excited to meet their newest addition!
Newborn Photography Session in Martinez, CA with the Reuvekamp Family.Read More
Varon Family Newborn Photography Session in their home in Oakland, CA.Read More
After our surprise proposal session at Ocean Beach it was time for Round 2 of the surprises! (Click the link to check it out if you haven't!)
When David and Caitlin left me on the beach, I packed up my gear (read: fought my IKEA wind tent for 20ish minutes and then ended up dragging it along to the car) and headed over to their home.
As I settled in I got to meet their amazing family and friends and grab some detailed shots of the decorations (David had everything planned down to perfection- it was so impressive!). Luckily, David is a master of a straight face and Caitlin was shocked to see everyone in her home.
The couple popped some bubbly and the guests cheered their love. As they mingled, Caitlin got to show off her ring and relive details of the proposal.
Then, a knock on the door. Surprise round 3!
David had managed to get Caitlin’s entire family for this surprise including her sister and brother, her closest friends, and his family as well. It was an amazing session and I’m so honored to have captured it! Cheers to them!
It was a rare sunny day when I pulled up to Ocean Beach in San Francisco for a surprise proposal session. I had come disguised as a bird watcher: big blue wind tent, multiple jackets, binoculars (that I stole from my 9 year old), a J.Lo floppy hat, and my telephoto lens. I found them on the beach quickly and set up shot about 50 feet away.
While waiting, I stuck it out in my wind tent. One hand on my camera and the other was holding the binoculars that I was pretending to look through. I now have a newfound respect for paparazzi, particularly the ones who don't get caught.
David and I had done extensive planning around how this session would happen (complete with pictorial maps) so as not to miss the perfect shot. We had every detail down: arrival times, amount of time he needed to be on his knee (at least 15 seconds), which way he needed to face, and the special signal that let me know he was about to propose.
The proposal was beautiful, perfectly timed, and full of raw emotion. After he proposed, and Caitlin realized the creepy bird watching lady was actually the photographer, we walked down the beach and captured candid shots of them walking, cuddling, and chatting together. We stayed on the beach until the sun faded beneath the horizon to capture the beautiful sunset.
Thankfully, Caitlin is easily surprised and she didn't suspect the 2nd part of David's huge surprise. Stay tuned for Part II of their proposal story!
Sol Sisters, Inc is a woman-run nonprofit based in the East Bay. Sol Sisters, Inc. is dedicated to providing access to holistic health services in order to enrich, empower, and evolve women of all backgrounds. They held their amazing annual Share the Health event at the Lake Merritt Amphitheater and I was honored to be their photographer.
This event invites women of all ages to come raise their heart rate, practice self care and build community. It was an amazing place to make connections and I met some awesome women who travelled from all over (and inspired me to hit the gym more often)!
The event hosts multiple businesses that set up shop and offer products and deals. Trainers from around the Bay Area were there to host 20 minute trainings and ranged from yoga, HIIT, and hip hop. I've never seen so many women smile while squatting.
One of the booths was a mask and meditate booth that provided peace and mindfulness while nourishing your skin.
If you're interested in learning more about Sol Sisters, Inc check out their website. and get involved. They're currently looking for volunteers! Hope to see you at their next event!
San Francisco, CA Documentary Family Session with the Hicks Family.Read More
When I was asked to document a panel of authors at the Bay Area Book Festival in Berkeley I was ecstatic. Books are my jam, it must be the teacher in me. Then I found out that the panel was all authors of color and almost all women which added to my excitement. When I realized the panel was led by Maceo, the owner of Booklandia Book Box who is also a woman of color, I was literally jumping for joy. What is this divine coincidence, universe?!
Maceo's business is helping pave the way for more Spanish bilingual books, featuring characters of color and written by people of color to have more than just a single shelf in the bookstore. She has various packages available and you can choose to receive hand picked books as frequently as you'd like. The books she sends range from baby to teen and have a host of topics that can connect children of color to their characters.
The panel featured 4 authors who spoke of their now inspiration for their books, institutionalized racism in schools, their own experiences that have shaped the narrative of their characters, how to make sure you are choosing books that are not promoting racism and stereotypes, and how books can help protest the current political climate.
I walked away from the panel in awe and amazement. I can't wait to read their books so of course I'm signing up! . I highly suggest you do too!
As you know, the Hallmark of all holidays is in just a few days and if you’re like me, you’re sweating bullets because:
You haven’t ordered your Mom flowers due to some slight procrastination.
When you remembered (ahem..yesterday) your favorite flower delivery is all sold out, except for the $145 option. Love you Mom, but there are no tulips in the world that I’m dropping over $100 on.
The one thing she said she wanted you can’t find anywhere.
If you find yourself in a similar boat or you’re a Mom (and you can’t get past your 5 page to-do list to even think about what you want for Mother’s Day) then I’ve got you covered! Read on for my quick guide to Mother’s Day gifts.
1. Spend Guilty Time With Family
The Catch 22 of Mother’s Day is the Mom guilt that comes with it if we don’t spend time with our kids. So, let’s get through this lovely brunch and please, for the love of children everywhere, make a reservation so I’m not waiting outside with 2 kids badgering me about when we are going to eat.
2. No Touch Zone
Seriously, just leave us the heck alone. We are touched out. All day long we are giving, giving, giving and once in a while we just want to be by ourselves without anyone up in our personal space. To pee, to eat, to change out of our pajamas. Maybe sleep in the bed without someone taking the covers? The possibilities here are endless.
I haven’t had a full night sleep in 2 years. Let me sleep for 3 hours uninterrupted and I might regain 20% of the brain cells I lost from having 2 kids. This could be the greatest gift you can give to not only me, but to all the folks who I continually have to call and reschedule appointments with because I keep forgetting them due to sleep deprivation.
All moms are malnourished. Science says so. Somewhere right now there is a Mom who is eating a snack with one hand while: d rocking a baby and brushing crumbs off their forehead, fishing for a toy their child dropped in the backseat, or zooming around doing 10 things at once (and none of them well). Send food. We need help.
5. Something That Doesn’t Revolve Around Our Job as a Mom
Special sponge to do the dishes?
New lunchboxes for the kids?
Don’t do it. It’s a trap. Those aren’t mother’s day gifts. As Moms we are conditioned to ask for what is practical because it benefits us and fits in our budgets but don’t do it. We will resent you. If you need help then pick up the phone and call our friends to ask them what to get us. We tell them everything, so they know.
On second thought, maybe send the house cleaner while I sleep? It’s actually not that bad of an idea….
6. Something From the Kids
We love handmade items and if our kids make them we will treasure them forever. Handprints, footprints, cards, a song you record. Anything. Give us all the memories and laminate or frame them so we won’t spill our coffee on it.
I hope this guide gets you through another Mother’s Day where you aren’t making the plans yourself. If you need to, forward this link to your partner to nudge them in the right direction. Happy Mother’s Day!
When I reached out to Arlene of Arlene Easterwood Photography about a Fresh 48 session I was readying myself for a hard no. Luckily, she didn't turn me down! We started the session with just Arlene and I to get some Mama and me shots before big sister, Dad, and Grandma came to visit.
I was most looking forward to catching the moment when siblings meet for the first time. Honestly, you never know how it will go as it's such a time of great change (added on to the fact that they've got a person with a camera in their face). This big sister took it like a pro! She came bearing gifts then was ready to hold on to her brother for dear life.
There are big plans for their baby on the way and the love they share for each other was easily captured in the frame. Near the end of the session they commented that this was their baby's first day at the beach and I'm so glad they have these photos to show her! I'm so grateful to capture this special time for them!
I was invited to shoot a baby shower that was co-hosted by my great friend Denise and I sure am grateful she did! The shower took place in Menlo Park and was fun, chic, and filled with yummy food and mimosas.
When I arrived before party time I ran into the caterer who was firing up a wood pizza oven and tossing dough for vegan pies (which were SO delicious). Vegan is usually a bad word to my taste buds but these were delicious and there were about 5 different types. Who knew you didn't need real cheese?!
The beauty was in the details in this event and the hosts did not disappoint. Vegan cake, vegan donuts, and vegan mimosas. Actually, all mimosas are vegan but their mimosa bar was really impressive. The linens, place settings, and flowers were beautiful but the real kicker was the framed prints of mom and dad-to-be that were scattered around.
One of my favorite parts of the shower was the commitment to face timing the mom-to-be's sister who lives in Australia. She was passed off and carried around the entire shower and was even given her own computer outfit!
The Mama to be was absolutely glowing and she is the epitome of pregnancy goals. At the end of the party I made her grab the left over balloons and her flower crown to come pose. She was glowing!
What a fun party!
Oh, travel. So much hope. So much excitement, and looking forward to. There's nothing better than traveling to new places and it's even better when you have kids. I always feel like I'm doing something important- letting them experience new people and allowing them the opportunity to try new things and get out of the every day norm. The world is literally your oyster, until your 1 year old pukes on you on the plane.
When it comes to traveling with your kids there's some rainbows but it's not always sunshine! I really learned my lesson on our latest trip to Dallas to visit my best friend and my brand new Godson. Take my travel mistakes as your travel blessings and follow my 5 step guide to make your travel days easier.
Step 1: Pack an extra pair of clothes for you
I wasn't kidding about the puke. Here I was keeping my baby SO quiet, attending to every single squirm, squeal, and cue. Toys packed, fun snacks packed, new books, and a giant cup of coffee for me. I WAS READY. Until I wasn't. Sometimes your kid might get a bit too snack happy and take a bite of their oat bar mid nursing session. Sometimes they might choke on said bite and projectile vomit only on you. Then they might go back to nursing like nothing happened while you are covered in puke and panicking without a change of clothes. Sometimes that happens.
Step 2: Just book the cheapest flight
I booked night flights to that Max would sleep. Did he? No. Through the hustle and bustle of checking in, getting patted down by TSA, and stopping for a beer (see next step) there was no sleep in sight. Just pick the flight that is cheapest and easiest because apparently kids don't care about night time sleep and that you coughed up that extra money to follow their routine.
Step 3: Coffee and beer, on repeat.
You aren't going to get good sleep on vacation. Traveling is exhausting and new locations make it so kids aren't that comfortable. Do yourself a favor and seek out coffee when you land and treat yo self to some beer (or other fine beverage) on the plane, off the plane, in a restaurant, at your hotel....you get the idea. You've earned it, right?
Step 4: Make a dang list
Kids, work, and sleep rule my life so when it's time to pack for travel I always procrastinate even when I don't mean to. Except for my partner, who actively procrastinates and packs an hour before because he's living that lux life. Realistically, a lot of the things we need for travel you also need for daily life. Just make a list and then try to fill it as much as possible. Or, be like me and run around grabbing random items around the house that you might need up to the minute the lyft arrives. I still forgot about 5 things and that's actually a record.
Step 5: Recover
You vacation to relax but when you're with kids. It's not a vacation. I repeat, not a vacation. It's fun and different but it's hard work. Take an extra day off to recover and hope your child sleeps through the night. If all else fails, refer back to step 3 and keep those drinks on repeat.
You never know what to expect in a newborn session as parents are adapting to their newest addition. There's no schedule in newborn land and they sure don't care about any session plan that you and their parents have decided upon.
This session was filled to the brim with the unexpected: cluster feedings, poop explosions and 2 outfit changes. You know, the typical activities that happen within 45 minutes of a baby's life. Mom and Dad rode these waves like champs, they laughed and supported each other, loved on their baby and already had an innate understanding of her personality.
Oh, new life. As a parent you're never really ready for what is to come and this family took the unexpected and rolled with it. We may have started this session with some chaos but we ended it with them singing and dancing to Baby Fi while she looked on.
I'm so grateful I got to capture this family and their joy. This newborn session was gifted to them and it's going to be my go-to present to new parents from now on. One thing is always for sure with a newborn, the love just pours out and it's such an honor to witness it!
This weekend we visited the De Young Museum in San Francisco to see this year's Bouquets to Art. Leaving my house on a Saturday at 8am isn't usually my idea of fun and it took my Mom the entire week to talk me into it because I'm really a home body that only likes to leave my house if it means I'm going to get a good meal or a new pair of shoes.
I shoot people 99% of the time so aiming at something that doesn't move proved to be easier than I had imagined. Although, it sure was crowded in there and everyone and their grandpa was pointing their large iPad at the exhibit (including my Mom).
Initially, I thought the botanicals would be its own exhibit because I didn't do any research whatsoever, but it was actually dispersed throughout the museum. The exhibit showcases florists from LA to Tokyo and the floral arrangements depicted specific pieces of art or embodied its message.
There were too many beautiful arrangements for me to choose a favorite. I was amazed at the craft of the artisans who created them. They ranged from simple replications to amazing sculptures made from branches, recycled items, and woven material. Such talent!
If you ever get the chance to see this exhibit, or any at the De Young, I highly recommend it! They also have a delicious menu in their cafe, which if I had known I would have been more apt to leaving my bed at the crack of dawn. I'm so glad we made the trek over the bridge!
Between the gram, blogs, and Pinterest it feels as if every single Mama is incredibly great at throwing parties and nailing the littlest details. I wish I could do it. I know my strengths and what I can do is obsess about these details until I'm too tired to care anymore. Since tired is a constant thing I've made a step by step guide for those of you who need some guidance on nailing your kids' birthday even when you're a walking zombie.
Step 1: Choose a Theme
Have you ever browsed Pinterest for birthday party ideas with the high hopes of throwing the best party ever? Yeah, me too. Here's how it usually goes down:
Pinterest secret board created? check.
Browse "first birthday gender neutral theme" for 1 hour? check.
Fall asleep slowly, drop phone on my head and jar myself back awake? check.
Continue browsing "colorful baby boy birthday decorations" for 17 minutes until I fall back asleep? check.
Step 2: Tell Your Spouse (if applicable)
My need to plan early is a very learned response. You see I have this person I like to refer to as my "life partner". He's amazing, except sometimes he wants to make decisions about things (puts a real stick in my wheel on the regular, actually) and he's a known procrastinator. I tell him things far in advance so that when he asks me questions about the party 2 hours before it starts, I get to say "I told you this 3 months ago". It's really the only upper hand I've got on him.
Step 3: Choose an Invite
You might think that ordering a cute invite and mailing it is easy. It's not. It's expensive. It involves gathering addresses and I have to go buy stamps which is my least favorite activity. Instead of that daunting task I just used my lunchtime to browse every online invitation site possible. It took 2 days to find this one on minted, another day to create a mock up, and then I had to email it to myself 3x and mull it over for a week. I might or might not have anxiety. Who knows?
Step 4: Decorations
3 words: TARGET. DOLLAR. SECTION. I guess I got lucky because I walked into Target one day and the heavens opened and said, "Kati, take all the 3 dollar rainbow decorations you can fit in your cart". Halfway through the trip my Mom finally talked me down with her probing questions, "are you sure you need 6 tassel banners?", "I'm not sure all of these multicolored felt balls will even fit in your home", "don't you think other people want to have decorations too?" Fine, Mom. Fine.
Step 5: Take a Mental Health Day
The day before the party I took the day off to to recreate the activities I did the day before Max was born- except the OBGYN. No need to get my membranes swiped for nostalgia's sake. One massage, pedicure, and lunchtime later I went home and cleaned. Thank goodness I didn't go into labor again.
Step 6: Go To the Dollar Store at 8:30 pm
I suggest you skip this step. As it turns out, the Dollar Store doesn't sell regular balloons and they won't even blow up the balloons they sell. You also might run into someone who is so high they cackle/giggle when the cashier mentions latex balloons and won't stop talking to you about the whisk he's buying for a photoshoot. I didn't stick around to ask questions.
Step 7: Make the cake
In my previous life I was the brown Martha Stewart and I try to live up to that glory at every chance I get. I grabbed this vanilla cake recipe from Pinterest and man do those Australian Mamas always come through with the great recipes! I made an American Buttercream frosting but not before completely layering my kitchen with powdered sugar 15 minutes before the party started (see below picture...sigh).I only cursed under my breath at this point. I made Max's smash cake this banana bread with coconut cream frosting which he barely touched but I suggest it because it was delicious when I dug into it the next morning.
Step 8: Have Friends Who Check Up On You
My friends know how much of a mess I am and at least 3 of them called me the day of to see what I needed and talk me down from my ledge. Every year I forget something and every party I can count on them to pick up my missing pieces. It's even better when they come in and start running the party. Remember Aikane from my Mama Date at the Color Factory? She came in, bossed folks around, took my camera from me, and made sure the candles on the cake were lit.
Step 9: Drink All the Margaritas. Because, Stress.
The day of a party I'm not my best me. I'll own it. I'm everywhere and trying to do all of the things while yelling at decorations that won't stick to the wall and making sure people don't make a mess. Thankfully everyone knows this and will just stay away from me not making eye contact. I always underestimate how long it takes to hang decorations, shove random things in closets, and make sure that my hair is done.
Alcohol at kids' birthday parties are a must. Sure, people appreciated my Maxwell Margaritas with sparkling limeade but they were really for me. Throwing a party is really freaking stressful.
Step 10: Recover Until Next Year
Eat that left over cake, take a nap, and plan to plan earlier next year. I now have 11.75 months to do it all over again.
2 East Bay Mamas head to the Color Factory in San Francisco on a mama date.Read More
One of the greatest joys is being invited in to shoot the precious hours after a new family member is born. Fresh 48 Sessions are magical; the room buzzes with energy that can never be replicated in another setting. You are witness to the exponential change as parents, exhausted and overwhelmed, are slowly learning the newest addition and siblings are curious and overjoyed to welcome them.
Several times I had to stop and take a step back to steep in the room's energy. I could see and feel that this baby was just SO LOVED. Everyone, from Grandma to brother couldn't stop caressing or snuggling her to lull her back to sleep. I left this session in awe of humanity, the way our lives change in an instant and fall back into space rearranged in a new, unpredictable, and beautiful way.
Many thanks for inviting me in and sharing your joy! I'm still on a high from all the love!