Highs and Lows of Life with a Newborn

I wanted to hear about the most rewarding and most difficult parts of having a newborn. I pick up little tidbits at every newborn shoot, but it’s wonderful just to have a little insight from my community.

Straight from the Aloha Zo community:

Most difficult:

  • Not being able to instantly stop them crying


  • (from big brother) Changing his diaper!

  • Getting home from the hospital and thinking, “What do I do now?”

  • The sleep deprivation and the crying. So. Much. Crying!

  • Having to inhale your food when you get the chance

  • The lack of freedom—to be alone, shower or eat

  • To do anything on your own schedule

Don’t worry! Although I like knowing realistic, don’t worry. I like to end on a high note. The goodness that make all the sleep deprivation worth while...

Most Rewarding:

  • Watching them start to interact with you and the things around them

  • (from big brother) playing with him!

  • THAT NEWBORN SMELL!! And their sleepy snuggles

  • The snuggles and the pure joy

  • Looking at this tiny human you and your partner created out of love. awwwww…

  • The slowing down, rioting into what really matters, and letting all else fade

  • The constant connection and contact

  • The love you feel for your baby is unlike any other. You’re immediately happy when you look at him

Thanks for sharing friends. I’d love to hear what else you have to share. Feel free to share in the comments. And of course I’ve got to share some of my favorites from the newborn shoots in the past year.

When it Rains for Your Family Photos

First things first--I had to be sure to protect my camera. Of course! My mind instantly went to those ridiculous umbrella hats. I still kind of want to get one... But after searching amazon, I found this camera cover from Altura. I don't shoot on a tripod, because I move too much, but this rain cover worked pretty well. I sealed in one hand and used my other to adjust the over over my lens when necessary. 

Let me say, rain and wind with your baby is tough. And when I say your baby, I mean my baby--my camera. I'm not funny, I know. But honestly, it was quite an experience. I'm so glad this family was willing though, because these shots were one-of-a-kind. I absolutely loved the falling rain caught in action. 

Here are a few of my favorites:

Baring Your Beachy Bump

I find that so many women are uncomfortable to show their bump off, let alone shimmy it around in a bikini. And rightfully so, your body feels like it's been taken over by someone else. My favorite quote was Rachel from friends:

Joey: "How does it feel?"

Rachel: "It feels like I ate a meatball sub and that meatball sub is kicking me." 

But there's something so strong about pregnant women. I think I'm just in awe of how you've completely given your body to a tiny human you haven't met yet, but you love so much. I can't say I've experienced this first-hand, but I just see it--the selfless, patient love. It's there long before your baby is born. 

And I think why I love maternity sessions so much is because I love making mothers feel beautiful. It is so rewarding for me to give just a fraction of that love back. So to my new cousin Tara, thank you for bumpin' around in your bikini. You're just the cutest and I can't wait to meet your little girl. 



Adventures in Hawaii with a Teething baby

It was a goal of mine to travel more after I got married. I feel as though I had a great college experience, but I stayed close to home. I commuted and I'm so blessed that my parents and I worked our tails off to keep me away from debt. Wouldn't change a thing. 

BUT, then I hustled right into trying every job I could for a good three years out of college. So now, it's where to? How lucky am I that I get to work literally anywhere I want? First stop? Of course, Hawaii. I'm so stoked my sister from another mister (the best SIL in the world) was able to come with me and make this trip unforgettable. She came with me and assisted/navigated/fed/modeled for me for 5 days with a teething 6-month old attached to her.

Naturally, I got some great shots of them on our adventures. There were so many, but here were my favorites:

Desert Day with the Kalamas

As a typical beach shooter, its nice to change up the scenery every once and a while, so when Sarah invited me to spend a day with her and her family in Palm Springs, I couldn't say no. Known as @hapaholiday on Instagram, Sarah and Kahana visit blog about family friendly vacation spots.

Originally from 29 Palms, Sarah showed us some of her favorite spots in Palm Desert. We started at King's Highway for breakfast, The Living Desert Zoo, and ended with a pool day at the Ace Hotel and Swim Club. Even on the mainland, the aloha is real. I had a blast with them from crazy wedding stories to their adorable little ones' expressions. 

Check out some of my favorites from this shoot below: 

Hey I heard you were a WILD ONE


Miss Katie-cakes… what a little personality she’s got on her. I absolutely loved all the faces she made during her “Wild One” shoot. Mama bear, Deanna, did an amazing job stying this shoot. It never ceases to amaze me just how much love gets put into these first year shoots. 

I was talking to a colleague of mine today—a photographer based in London. Being an Anthropology major and a native of California, we were discussing our differences in content, our favorite things to shoot, etc. I told her my favorite shoots are maternity and infants. She told me her client pool simply doesn’t place the same importance on styled maternity or infant shoots like we do here. Of course, the cultures between California and London are vastly different. But I just thought, when our loved ones pass on, all we have are their things and photos. And what a gift it is, to look back at this elaborate shoot mom or dad set up for me when I was one. So is it excessive? I would say no. You only get one first year. Why not style it out to the fullest? Am I right?

Check out some of my favorites from this shoot below: 

Sweet Session at The Pie Hole, Orange, CA

What do you remember from the first date you had with your significant other? Do you remember where you went? Do you remember what you ate? Sometimes, the answer is yes. But in my experience, I just remember being so nervous and so smitten. Oh don't you miss that delicious feeling of butterflies and hearts skipping a beats?

And so when I shoot engagements and couples, I'm always trying to recapture that feeling. It doesn't hurt that Colby and Scotty are perhaps the cutest and hippest couple you ever did see. Colby--a stylish, multi-talented creative I met in high school and reconnected with at a college Bible study group--perfectly compliments Scotty a low-key trainer from Australia. 

It gives me such joy to see young couples so grounded and balanced in their love for one another. See more of Colby's gorgeous calligraphy pieces on Instagram @colbycastruita.

Pregnant and Barefoot Remixed

I truly think your sessions should be what you make them. Jaelynn--mom of 3--is more badass than she'll ever give herself credit for. Who says "barefoot and pregnant" has to be typical. She's one of those moms that's got a sleeve and always has different-colored hair. 

I'm so glad she was open to try some edgier shots. As a commercial photographer, I shoot a lot of fashion and swim. Why not merge my style more into my lifestyle shoots, too? 

Click here to see Jae's family photos. Here's just a few faves: 


An Intimate Brunch Wedding, Laguna Beach, CA

I was so honored to be a part of this special and intimate wedding. It was a beautiful day - sunny and golden - in Laguna Beach, CA. Of course, as fate would have, there was an accident on the main highway hindering Kelsey and Dan's guest from arriving on time. Loose as a goose, the bride brushed it off. No big deal. Instead she focused on the good - the happy nature of the day. 

So touched by their vows, I could feel the intentional thoughts and love behind their words. I was casually crying behind my lens - no big deal. After an intimate ceremony overlooking the ocean, Kelsey and Dan shared a lovely brunch at Las Brisas, nearby. Here's some of my favorites from the Troups' big day: 


Family Photos, San Pedro, CA

I'm a firm believer in making your family photos exude what makes you you. Part of this is finding the perfect place. And let me tell you, the Mayers' session couldn't have represented them more. Equal parts ride or die and sweet badassery, Jae chose the train tracks across from her husband's work at the port in San Pedro.

This family is running and gunning all the time. There's never a dull moment. I have to say I've loved chasing these boys around the last few years. I can't wait to meet their little sister. All I have to say is that girl's gonna be a badass - just like her mama. 

Check out some stills from the Mayers' session below: 

Sunset Maternity Session, Laguna Beach, CA

What can I say about this maternity session? First of all, Sam is the first of my close high school friends to have a baby—so try not crying when you remember singing rap songs on the back of the bus with this girl. What an amazing experience to see her, not only be cherished by a man so perfectly balanced for her, but to see how clearly she was meant to be a mother. 

I’m absolutely in love with the name they chose for her—Piper Jane Graf—or PJ just like Sam’s grandma. Let the rad nicknames begin—Baby P, Peej, Peejees, Sweet P, Pipes… 

Check out some of Sam and Kevin’s sunset maternity shoot below. 

At Home with the Briggs

So often I shoot family sessions and ask if mom and dad would like to shoot a few with just them. Most of the time, they are surprised and say they haven't had professional photos done since their wedding. I'm always astonished. I guess as someone who documents life with photos, it is my natural instinct to want photos of everything. I am a firm believer that photos are memories captured and shared with your children and grandchildren. It's what you'll look at fondly when your hair is greying and you've got crows feet from a life full of laughter. Most skipped over is the time right after you're married--the newlywed stage. 

This stage is right past the honeymoon stage, when you've settled into your life together. This time is so sweet and meaningful, you've just got to document it. I know once you have kids, life's meaning shifts to revolve around them, but this in between time is so important to remember. Check out some photos from my at home session with Devyn and Ben. 

Family Portraits in Laguna Beach, CA

With small kids, I've learned it's best to go with the flow. If they want to play in the white wash, let them. They have their whole lives to pose for pictures, but these are the moments you'll want to remember - them laughing, splashing, and playing around. And don't forget to give mom and dad a few shots together, too. 

So in love with how these family portraits turned out. Check out some of my favorite moments from this sandy and sweet family shoot. 

Candlelit Bridal Portraits

This is has to be some of my favorite bridal portraits. Stacey had a vision of being surrounded by candles - and I just love how beautiful these turned out. Of course, Stacey looked like a princess. Check out some below.