Riley is a Senior graduating from Casa Robles this year. We celebrated his upcoming next chapter with a session in Old Folsom last week.
I had never met Riley before but know his mom, Heather. I found him to be charming and sweet, although I’m sure no teenage boy wants to be called sweet by one of his mom’s friends. He definitely has an “edgy” edge to him too that made him fun and easy to photograph, a cool swagger, comfortable in his own skin. But underneath you get that the essence of him is… sorry… yeah, sweet.
I tried to capture all the sides of Riley: sweet and savory.
Here are some of my faves.
Limited Availability this Fall
I have limited spots available through November 24th for sessions. Please get in touch soon if you would like to schedule a session for your graduating Senior, or your family this Fall.
OMG, Jon is just the cutest five-year-old boy ever and the son of my much-loved hairdresser Jess (shoutout to Jess who is continually reinventing my hairstyle and hair color, appointment-by-appointment.)
Initially feeling a bit shy when he got out of the car for our session, Jon quickly warmed up with some fun games and, before we knew it, he was jumping, dancing, running, and making up his own poses.
But, like all boys his age, you can’t beat a good fart for a total belly-laugh. (See last photo.)
Got a kid whose milestone birthday needs celebrating and commemorating?
Get in touch and let’s schedule a fun and playful session just for them!
When your photography mentor, the person who has pushed you the hardest throughout your career to up your game, has believed in you and your potential even when you were ready to throw in the towel, and who herself has a successful decades-long photography business built on a reputation for beautiful, high-quality images, asks you to take her family photos… first, you vomit into the toilet, then you hover over the “n” button on your keyboard, before scolding yourself for being a coward and then saying “absolutely, I would love to!” (Closely followed by a large glass of Chardonnay to slow down your heart rate.)
Lisa Richmond is an incredible person: caring, driven, creative, dedicated, funny, a true professional. And, in truth, despite my nerves, I was honored to have been asked to photograph her and her family this past December.
Lisa is also a take-charge type person (we have this in common) which meant that I had to walk into this session ready to run it and run it my way. We are both awfully nice people but, when we sense that their is a vacancy of leadership, we’ll step into the space and do our thing. So, I was determined that, no matter what she and her family ended up thinking of the photos I delivered, I would succeed or fail on my own merits. That meant no doubt, no jitters, no second-guessing myself, forgetting who was in front of the camera and focusing on getting in the flow.
It helped that Lisa chose the location (I had to give her something, hehe) and that the light there on this particular winter afternoon was absolutely magical. It also helped that her entire family laughed more than any family I have ever photographed, ever. Sure, there was some element of awareness around how their position and reactions would play to the camera but, in general, I don’t think I have ever been with a family for whom laughter was so clearly a natural part of who they are together.
Jaz and Ember are both in boarding school on the east coast (cool fact: the same boarding school that Lisa attended as a teenager) and so I know this session came at an important time for her, coming to terms with the empty-nest syndrome earlier than many moms who typically don’t see their kids fly the coup until college.
I also know that the girls miss home. They love spending time with their friends but not being able to “escape” (their words) from the drama of school can sometimes be hard
I hope these photos give them all a little comfort when they’re missing one another.
Our session ended with some photos of Lisa for her website, camera in-hand, as I’m usually experiencing her.
I loved every minute of photographing Lisa and her family. They made my job easy. The best reward was Lisa’s smile and thanks at the end of our session, her appreciation and recognition for the energy I put into my sessions to help my clients be in the moment, let go, and have fun.
This morning, I got an email from her after she saw her photos for the first time…
omg… just took a quick run through. I am absolutely never letting another year go by without doing this. I LOVE SEEING my family….we’ve grown so much, we’ve worked so hard. and we are still laughing.. and you caught it all. Thank you from the bottom, top and middle of my heart.
Now booking newborn sessions and weddings for 2019
I have known this family since their oldest, Atticus, was a baby. I worked with his father, Brett, at Lyon Real Estate’s head office more than a decade ago now. I remember Atticus frequently sauntering up to my cubicle, his red-cheeked little face alive with curiosity and displaying a huge, naughty grin. Brett would follow shortly after, laughing, and yet a little proud at how social his son was.
He would tell me stories of “losing” Atticus in Starbucks while he was ordering, his son off at a table somewhere, conversing with a stranger. Brett loved his family and we would share many end-of-workday conversations in the spaces between cubicles talking about them and about life in general. We disagreed on politics but jovially so. Brett had an amazing wit and generosity of spirit that I always enjoyed.
When my daughter was born, Brett, his wife, Jessica, Atticus, and the then terrible-twos Micah, came to visit us in the hospital. I remember laughing so hard that it hurt because Micah wanted to grab and play with and climb on anything that wasn’t screwed-down (and possibly some things that were.) The main casualties were the barf bags. I remember her being obsessed with the barf bags, which we allows her to abscond with.
And then, one day, Brett was with us no more. Gone far too soon and far too suddenly. His Facebook page is still active and, occasionally, I will go to tag a friend on a post or something and a photo of him and Atti, taken by a good friend and fellow photographer of mine, will pop up. It still doesn’t seem real that he is no longer here.
I see him now in Atti’s smile and Micah’s cheekiness. I feel him in the innate joy and playfulness that he gave them. And I am thrilled that their family has once again been made complete with Whitney, who I met for the first time during this session.
Whitney’s warm, quiet, but large presence makes me feel like he has arms and heart enough to wrap around the whole family. You can see from the obvious easy affection between him and the kids that this is true. I know that Brett would want nothing more than that: to know his family is loved and cared for.
I am so thankful for the opportunity to reacquaint myself with this family after too long being strangers, to meet Whitney, and feel the beautiful colliding with past and present, held together by so much love and joy.
Now booking newborns and intimate weddings for 2019
Know of someone having a baby or getting married next year? Please connect me. I have wonderful packages for newborn photo sessions in the Sacramento area that include gift registries and albums, as well as affordable coverage for smaller weddings in the Sacramento region and beyond. Get in touch here.
The Fongs, simply put, are family. Watching these kids grow for the last 13 years has been magical. Photographing that for the last 10 has been an honor.
If you would like to follow their journey, you can see their sessions from 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013by clicking on the years.
Which is your favorite? Mine is the 2014 session. I loved that one because it was so playful. I also enjoyed my latte at the end 😉 Not that I don’t like this year’s session. I particularly love how Noelle is part-teenager, part-kid still and how that comes through in these photos, some mature and sophisticated and then silly faces with her brother and the love for her little Poo Bear.
Here are the 2019 Fongs…
I still have a few weekend spots open before Christmas. If you’re looking for some updated family photos for Holiday cards or gifts, Contact Me Here.
“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These people have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”
– Elisabeth Kübler-Ross
You don’t get to the ripe old age of 41 without having met some pretty incredible people. In my 41 trips around the sun, I’ve been fortunate to have met many and. by virtue of being a woman myself, many of them women. What I’ve learned and seen and experienced, especially by standing beside those friends who have struggled with fear, grief, loss, abuse, and health issues, is that a woman’s beauty shines brightest through her tears. All of us carry with us hurts and scars that shape and transform us, that we fight to transcend, forgive, and live beyond. Some of us have scrapes and others deep wounds that cut us to the core; it’s not the depth of the injury that dictates the transformation.
Like a butterfly emerging from the broken shell of the cocoon, the moment of joyful, beautiful, colorful flight into the sunlight comes after days of darkness, a seeming brokenness, an end.
It’s this moment, this flying toward the light with sunshine blinding you, that I have been so transfixed by lately. There is wholeness to those people who have moved beyond their experience and into a new space for themselves, a transference of energy that, if you pay attention, has a physicality to it. The leaning in, the reaching out, the steady and loving gaze that says “it’s ok, I’ve been there, me too.”
And through that I have envisioned photographing women in what I feel is a completely different way from much of what we see and consume in daily media: women as whole, complete, messy, people; courageous, sexy, strong, vulnerable, defiant, and imperfect.
When my friend, Mala, and I tossed around some ideas about photographing her post-divorce, I felt that there were two ideas slowly drawing together like magnets but I didn’t exactly know what it would look like when the two ends met. Mala wanted to do a photo session around re-purposing and re-claiming her wedding sari, a defiant and powerful gesture both culturally and personally. We started there and let the rest fall into place.
Mala has her own story and her own, beautiful way of telling it. You can read more from her directly here. I see her as fun, artistic, passionate, flamboyant, bold, adventurous, emotional, strong, powerful and, you’ve probably guessed by now, brave, defiant, and sometimes controversial (you can see why we’re friends.) I also know that she has a lot of pain and hurt that she continues to deal with. So I literally had tears streaming down my face when I looked at these pictures and felt that I had captured all of that in our Saturday afternoon together.
I feel these are some of the most honest photos I have ever taken. And, I hope (KNOW), this is just the beginning. (See more below the slideshow for more on that.)
I am offering free sitting fees for other women who want this experience and these images to celebrate their beauty with, inside and out. They don’t have to look like this. In fact, I have no idea what YOUR photos will look like. They’ll look like how I experience you and that’s all that I can say. If you’re the quiet, thoughtful type, for sure I would never photograph you this way. I envision these sessions as a conversation, much as this was for me and Mala. We talked as much as we shot. We played with light, locations, poses, ideas, thoughts, and feelings. (There may also have been wine involved.) That’s all I can say and can promise: it will be a fun exploration. Please get in touch with me if you want to chat about why a session like this interests you and what that might look like.
I'm Michelle and I love vampires (before they were cool), peanut butter and that deliciously off-balance feeling you get when you step off a plane in a new country. I'm also a mum, a writer and a visual storyteller.
Click here to learn more about all that.
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