These Are The Days | La Cresenta Family Session

This sweet family moved into their new home only months ago and also welcomed a new baby named Alexandria. In addition to being awesome parents to their son Tommy and now Alex, Tom and Jennifer are also exceptional musicians (they both play trumpet!). Look for Tom the next time you see the L.A. Phil as the principle trumpet player. You'll see Jen all over L.A. too as she teaches and performs throughout the city. You can also learn more about resources for musicians on Jen's site Ask A Performer. Congratulations to this family of four!

Emily + Romano | San Diego Maternity Session

Romano and Emily met at a work event and it wasn't long before these two became smitten with one another. Last year, they learned they were pregnant but unfortunately there was a miscarriage. I was in awe of Romano and Emily's willingness to talk so openly about their loss. "If anything it's better that people know about it, it happens, it's part of life, and it didn't deter us from trying again," Romano said. Thank you so much Emily and Romano for sharing this exciting chapter in your lives. I am grateful to be the one that helps document their journey into parenthood and becoming a family when their little girl arrives this winter!

Now Booking Fall Mini Sessions

Fallminisession

Hey, SoCal! I'm opening up my calendar for mini family portrait sessions in October and November. There are two options this year:

Option 1 - Your location of choice, either at home or somewhere local and outdoors

Option 2 - Save the date and meet me at one of the following areas:
Thurs. 10/6, San Diego, Balboa Park
Sat. 10/15, Pasadena, Arlington Garden
Sat. 11/5, Los Angeles, Griffith Observatory
Sat. 11/19, Palm Springs, Location TBD

Mini sessions will be 25 min long.  You will receive 15 edited high resolution digital files and print release approximately 1 week after your session.  The images will be available for you to download and keep via private online gallery which will have the option to purchase prints. $200

Send an email for inquires and to save your spot! mary@marygrahamphotography.com

Our Everyday Moments - August

August went by in a big fast blur. George and I have been trying to figure out what to do with our backyard. Living on a hillside has a lot of challenges when it comes to construction but we're excited to finally make that space fun and safe for the whole family. We also spent a lot of weekends visiting and catching up with friends and family. I hosted my first photography workshop at Pottery Barn Kids in Pasadena which was a HUGE learning opportunity for me. Here are a few images at home from last month...

Amelia has been fascinated with changing the diaper on her baby doll. This was a morning ritual for almost an entire week.

Burning the midnight oil. Most nights George works after the kids go to sleep. I'm so impressed with how he's been able to balance his workload and still be present with the kids.

Most nights I ask the kids to color before dinner. Amelia loves to scribble and Oliver usually draws cars, rainbows or the family driving in a car together. Some nights we'll all eat at the kids table so they can continue coloring :)

One of the last summer barbecues. It's almost impossible to get Amelia to sit down for a meal. You can't see Myles in the photo but rest assured that both dogs like to circle the table hoping for a tasty treat.

everyday august kids at piano

We finally have beautiful art above the piano thanks to Laci Fowler

5 Tips for Photographing Kids

1. Lighting

  Lighting in photography is everything. It can take a dull image and make it magical. Lighting can help set the mood of an image and be part of the story telling process. Natural light is this most flattering type of lighting. If you’re taking photos at home, make note of when and where you have the most sunlight.  Try to set up your subject near a window or doorway (wherever the light source is).  If you’re outside, taking photos early in the morning or late in the afternoon when the sun is low and provides soft lighting. If those times of days don’t work for you, find large areas of shade for your photos so that you can avoid harsh light and shadows.

Natural light coming from the window on the left and window behind them

Natural light coming from the window on the left and window behind them

2. Use the Rule of Thirds

 The "Rule of Thirds" is probably the most popular photographic composition "rule". Essentially, it's the principal that an image is most interesting if the subject is at the intersection of two horizontal and two vertical lines such as a tick tak toe board.  All cameras and most smart phones have the ability to turn on a grid so that you are able to find those intersecting lines. To learn more, view this article

The Rule of Thirds

The Rule of Thirds

3.  Change your Perspective

 People tend to take our pictures from the same height and angle. It’s comfortable, quick and easy to get stuck in this mode. To add more interest to your images, change your perspective. Move your feet and shoot from above, below or to the side of your subject.  Get down on the floor to their level. Challenge yourself to take 3 photos of the same scene but from different angles. 

Children playing with Legos. Photo taken down low on the ground.

Children playing with Legos. Photo taken down low on the ground.

Children playing with Legos. Photo taken from above.

Children playing with Legos. Photo taken from above.

Young boy plays with Legos. Photo taken at same level as child.

Young boy plays with Legos. Photo taken at same level as child.

3. (don't) Say Cheese

Growing up I think we were all conditioned to say ‘cheese’ when taking a photo. The challenge with this technique is that it creates a need to ‘perform’ in front of the camera. When you perform by saying ‘cheese’ , eyes can look closed, expressionless and mouths look stiff.  Here are a few tips to get a natural expression.

  • Make them laugh – tell a silly joke, talk in a funny voice, make a funny face. You know your child best, so appeal to whatever gets them smiling
  • Get them moving – have them run or jump. When kids are moving and having fun those smiles come out naturally
  • Do nothing. Observe your subject and wait for the right authentic expression to come.

5. Be Mindful of What's In the Frame

As the photographer, you are responsible for everything in the frame of the picture. Be sure to quickly scan the edges of your photo and double check the background to make sure that there isn't anything distracting that would take the focus away from your subject.

Ready to learn more? Join me at my Camera and Photography Basics workshop!

 

Our Everyday - July

Sharing more photos of life at home. I'm still not quite sure if I'll keep this up every month but it's a good motivator to keep shooting and help me remember these little details of life. In July.....

Oliver drew his first family portrait! From left to right : George, Oliver, Amelia and me. We're surrounded by fireworks and a few hearts. You may be wondering who that little person at the bottom is supposed to be.....sorry folks, we are not expecting a third. I am NOT pregnant. I asked O who it was and he said he didn't know :/ My best guess is that it was his practice figure. In this drawing, George, Oliver and I are sticking our tongues out. Amelia is 'just smiling'.

I don't style Amelia's hair. At best, I use a hair clip to keep her hair out of her face and on those hot summer days, I manage to put it into a ponytail. When I pick her up from daycare though, she usually comes home with some pretty cute hairstyles like this one.

We've been eating a lot of watermelon lately. Amelia was so upset because she wanted two pieces - one for each hand. So, George took her slice and broke it in half. All was right with the world again.

Oliver is so proud of his worksheets and crafts from school. On this day, he made a pair of 'sunglasses' and was very concerned about repairing the broken frames.

Amelia will sit down at the piano every once in a while. Sometimes, Oliver will join in too. These moments are a good reminders for me to continue playing. I hope to pass on my love of music and would love it if they took an interest in learning.

Amelia loves to color now. Give her something to draw with and she'll quiet and distracted for at least a few minutes. 

Oliver in a common 'I'm watching T.V.' pose

Band aids are necessary for each and every injury (real or imagined)

They can sit quietly together watching T.V.

Amelia playing peek a boo

The realities of raising a young children and building a business at the same time

My version of a family in home session. George was so helpful getting the kids ready and distracted while I set up the room and  camera. We took over 100 shots. Even though they're not quite what I had envisioned, I love having these moments of us just playing and being together.

Stella Turns Three

I can't believe Stella is 3! Seriously, where does the time go?! Here are some photos from our recent mini session.  Happy birthday, baby girl!

Mommy and Son Date

Trying to balance the needs of my young family and building a business at the same time is a challenge, to say the least. There are days where I feel like I'm on top of things and there are days where I feel like I'm a hot mess. Lately, I've felt the need to spend some quality one on one time with Oliver. I'm realizing that my window of fun random adventures is slowly closing because he'll be in kindergarten next year (I'm in such denial!!). So, one day I let go of my ever growing to do list and took Mr. O to visit the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, CA. It was a fun day with no agenda and the time together was good for both of us. 

He was thrilled to see a penguin swim over his head

He was thrilled to see a penguin swim over his head

Petting the stingrays was his favorite part of the trip

Petting the stingrays was his favorite part of the trip

White spotted jelly

White spotted jelly

When he sees something cool, he'll say "mommy, take a picture!" As often as possible, I'll give him my phone to document what he sees. I think I might have to get him an instant camera soon :)

When he sees something cool, he'll say "mommy, take a picture!" As often as possible, I'll give him my phone to document what he sees. I think I might have to get him an instant camera soon :)

Photo by Oliver :)

Photo by Oliver :)

Flower hat jellyfish

Flower hat jellyfish

Japanese Sea Nettle (or as Oliver calls them, "spaghetti jellies")

Japanese Sea Nettle (or as Oliver calls them, "spaghetti jellies")

Oliver looking at comb jellies

Oliver looking at comb jellies

Three

I just finished putting together a photo book for Oliver, full of images that either reminded me of fun times we had when he was three or that exemplify being three years old. These photos range from homework assignments to vacation pictures. Here are a few of my favorites. I can't wait to show Oliver the final book!

Our Everyday

Lately, I've been trying to document more of the everyday moments at home. So much of our time is spent here and this is where our family memories are created. These are some of the images taken in June. I'm trying not to use the tripod for now (Amelia is at the stage where she'd just knock it over) so I'd still like to play around with different angles for future photos. At this time in our lives....

 Oliver and Amelia LOVE to play with Legos

Amelia is at the age where she is crawling and standing on top of EVERYTHING. She knows she's not supposed to but I can't help laughing sometimes when I see that look of satisfaction on her face when she's up to something.

There are subtle reminders that little children live here

One of Amelia's favorite things to do lately is to read books. She turns the pages faster than I can read them, grabs the next one, and says 'dis wan'

I really wanted to document the kids brushing their teeth together. On this particular night, Amelia was too tired and went to bed before I could grab the camera. I was still able to get a few shots of Oliver being a big boy and brushing his teeth all by himself.

The next evening, George was helping the kids with their pajamas and I knew I had a min (if that) to get the bathroom ready for this photo. It took a few tries and cooperation to get them to share the step stool but I'm so glad we finally got the shot.

More photos of the kids playing and running in the house. 

Camera and Photography Basics Workshop

Camera and Photography Basics for the New Photographer

Camera basics workshop for the new photographer

Overwhelmed with what all those buttons on your camera do?

Tired of relying on camera’s “Auto” setting and hoping it captures what you want? If so, join me during this fun and informative workshop! You’ll learn how to use your camera with intention and how to take better pictures of your kids. Topics covered include:

 

·      Overview of the exposure triangle (ISO, shutter speed, aperture)

·      Choosing an exposure mode

·      White balance

·      Understanding and choosing focusing modes

·      Lenses

·      Exercises to get started

·      5 of the most impactful tips and tricks to improve your images

 

Saturday, August 27th, 2016 10am-11am, $10*

Pottery Barn Kids

511 S. Lake Ave.

Pasadena, CA 91101

RSVP to mary@marygrahamphotography.com,  seating is limited

* $10 materials cost and can be applied toward future photography services

 

12 Must Have Newborn Photos

 To preserve all of those little details of the early days, here are my twelve must have newborn photos. Whether you're doing it yourself or you hire a professional, take the time to document your new baby and life together. It really does go by so quickly !

1. Baby's face

2. Baby's hand

3. Baby's feet

4. Baby's hair

5. The nursery or wherever baby spends most of his/her time

6. A photo with mom

7. A photo with Dad

Olive-16.JPG

8. Details of the nursery

9. With a special family member (grandparent, sibling, pet, etc.)

Grandparents and great grandparents are a treasure and if you're still lucky enough to have one around, PLEASE don't miss this opportunity. 

Grandparents and great grandparents are a treasure and if you're still lucky enough to have one around, PLEASE don't miss this opportunity. 

10. With a special toy or heirloom

11. Keepsakes from baby's arrival

This one doesn't necessarily have to be done within the first month. If you hire a photographer, gather all of the items you'd like photographed such as baby's hospital bracelet or welcome home outfit and have them available. This type of photo can be during those downtimes when you're taking care of baby.

This one doesn't necessarily have to be done within the first month. If you hire a photographer, gather all of the items you'd like photographed such as baby's hospital bracelet or welcome home outfit and have them available. This type of photo can be during those downtimes when you're taking care of baby.

12. The whole family together

There you have it! Did I miss a moment that you think should be documented? Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments. :) Also, stay tuned for a future blog post where I'll be sharing my tips for photographing your own newborn.

Dana + Mike

Dana was one of the first friends I made in LA when I moved here 11 years. Over those years we’ve shared lots of meals, walks and talks. Because of her, George and I learned about the area in LA that we now call home. Dana is a great friend, who helps me with the kids when I’m in need, is a great cook and is usually the first to invite everyone over for a holiday bbq. It’s been wonderful to watch her fall in love and find happiness with Mike.

Last weekend, Dana and Mike were married at the beautiful Villa at Sunstone Winery in Santa Ynez. Here are some of my favorite photos from that fun day. Wishing the newlyweds years of health and happiness!

Amelia at 18 months

Dear Amelia,

At 18 months, we are starting to get a glimpse into your strong and feisty personality. Having an older brother, you easily stand up for yourself and always try to keep up with what he’s doing. Also, like most toddlers this age, you are extremely active. One minute you're running around the house and then the next second you've climbed on top of the coffee table or jumped on the couch - there's never a dull moment with you! You’re very eager to help out around the house. Feeding the dogs, find socks or other toys for Oliver and bringing me your empty plate are some of the things that make you proud. All three of us are trying to teach you new words and we know you understand everything we’re saying. I love to a question and hear you respond with a valley girl ‘yyyeaaaah’.  Purple is your favorite color (it's also the only color you can say).  You get really excited when you see other dogs and have the best wave (the queen's wave) when you greet people. At night, you ask for "brush?" to brush your teeth but we all know its just an excuse to eat fruity toothpaste. You love books right now. It’s sometimes hard to get you down to sleep because you pull out book after book and say, “dis wan” or “dat wan” and “more?” after we’re through. You're a big ball of energy and we couldn't love you more.

Fun at the farm

Growing up in Oregon, one of my favorite things to do was to pick berries. My mom would make blackberry pies from the berries near our mailbox and a trip to Sauvie Island Farms was always a treat. I'm excited to carry on this tradition of picking our own fruits and veggies with the kids. Last weekend, we went to Underwood Family Farms in Moorpark. I'm not really sure who had more fun, me or the kids. Not only is there an ever changing seasonal selection of yummy, ripe produce just waiting to be picked, there are also animals to pet and fun rides! Here are a few of the photos from our time at the farm.

Thanks to Katherine for snapping the photo of Oliver and I together :)

Lindsay + Scott + Elliott

Lindsay is my dear, dear friend who I first met back in 6th grade! Even though we live in different states now, we keep in touch and try to make a point of see each other whenever the opportunity arises. When Lindsay mentioned that she and her adorable 9 month old son would be in Ojai, I couldn't wait to meet up with them! Oliver came as well and we had a mommy and sons double date taking the boys to the pool and walking around the resort. I'm happy to share some of the images we captured during our fun day together at the beautiful Ojai Valley Inn and Spa!