14 November 2013

Family Pictures. For Real. {Gilbert AZ photography}

When you know a family well enough, when you know some of their struggles and triumphs, you know what a gift it can be to capture real moments. 

Real smiles and real, authentic laughs.  Real love that's grounded in shared memories and future. 

When you can get to that level of authenticity, it turns the photography into something amazing. 

I'm honored to have documented this real family.  Rachel, ya did good. 

13 November 2013

Fall Family Photos

When your family has the most fabulous skin tone ever, and eyes that make your jaw drop, you can dress in whatever colors you darn well want to.  Because anything, and I mean, anything will look amazing.  Blue, yellow, and grey.  So chic.  And the pop of pearls?  Well, we can just stop now.  :)

For more photos of this beautiful family, check out the gallery at Michelle Unscripted.  We photographed together on this one and she caught some amazing moments.




12 November 2013

Family Photo Magic "Click"

I'm not the best photographer in town.  Believe me, I am aware of that on many levels.  If you're wondering who is, I can give you a slew of names.  And I know I'm not the right photographer for every family.  And I'm quite aware that not every family here in Gilbert, AZ is the right client for me.

But once in awhile, everything just clicks.  Mom and I communicate well.  We pick just the right location together.  Her husband and kids show up excited and ready to have fun.  (well, Dad shows up with a smile on his face, really that's all I want.)  The light is right.  The colors are right.  The planets have aligned.  Mercury isn't in retrograde.  Wait, I went too far....  :)

And magic happens.  Like beautiful, awesome, memories made and documented, photo magic.  Photoshop can't put magic into photos, nor the best and most expensive cameras.  It takes the right mindset and the right "click".

We clicked.


06 November 2013

Family Pictures, Gilbert AZ

I can always count on this Mama to bring the chic-ness to any photo shoot.  She's an amazing hairdresser so she can trade services with any photographer in the East Valley.  And I'm always honored when I get my turn.  Her daughters are stunning, her husband is fun and easygoing, and hello?!  She's drop dead gorgeous. 

We tried out a fun new location for their family pictures, which happened to be blossoming in these cute little flowers.  All the better to show off three cute little girls.  Family pictures for Christmas?  Done and Done!!

31 October 2013

Family Pictures in the Desert

This is a family I love to photograph.  When I first met Jay Danek and his family, he was just getting started in the ultra-running world.  Coincidentally, my book club was reading "Born to Run", one of the most fun reads in the running genre.  I realized if these men can run 50 and 100 miles at a time, I could get off my duff and run a 5k.  So I did.

Two years later, I'm training for the Phoenix Marathon, 1/2, and Jay has written his own book about his incredible journey.  You can find it here.  And of course, it's time for new family pictures.  They picked another awesome location that's not only stunning but it has emotional value to their family as well (read the book). 

That's the best, when you can document your beautiful family in a beautiful spot that really means something to you.  Where will we photograph your family?



29 October 2013

Campo Verde Gilbert Senior {Class of '14!}

I love working with this one.  She's so real, she's going to tell you what you she thinks.  When you're being an idiot, she'll let you know with the best look I've ever seen.  And when you're being real with her, she completely opens up and shines.  She's my first senior of the season and she started it off with a huge bang!!  The bar is set high my friends, I don't know if I can top this.

22 October 2013

I'll Take It.

Two months ago, I posted about my accident that changed my reality, it's here if you're interested in the recap.  Today I want to post about something interesting that came out of it.

This accident taught me that when certain abilities are taken away, it makes me question who I actually am.  In the month after the accident, I wasn't able to be a mom, or a photographer, or even read a good book, or crochet a fun project.  Check off my top 4 ways I spend my time.  My relationship with my husband dwindled to merely suggestions on who can take care of the kids next.  And the worst part was that I wondered, What's left?  Who am I when all of that is stripped away?  Because that's not fluff.  It's a huge part of who I am.

And I found I really liked what was left.  I am a woman.  I am a daughter of God.  I am brave.  I cry when I'm scared, like horribly with all kinds of snot and tears, but I hold still and let them put the needle in anyway.  I am strong.  I can be hurt, badly.  And I can also heal. 

I am not the 25 year old that had been stuck in my head for many years.  And while I'd love her body again, I really, really love the woman I've turned into. 

To make sure I really felt that way, and wasn't just trying to convince myself of it, I hired Michelle Jones, of Michelle Unscripted, to document the Now.  Because in a photo, the context is stripped away.  There's no "Mom" or "Wife" or "Photographer" title.  There's only me.  Take it or leave it.

I'll take it.  With gratitude.

15 October 2013

Part 4: Best Family Photos of 2012 {Gilbert, AZ photography}

Time to wrap it up, kids.  Imagine you're a family photographer here in Gilbert, AZ.  And you get a phone call in the thick of the holiday season.  A family needs their photos done, All seven of them.  4 boys.  2 of them twins.  Will you squeeze them in?

When it's the Olson family, you can be darn sure I'm squeezing them in.  She's pretty much one of the kindest women I know.  They're raising an incredible family, I've worked with their boys in the Boy Scout program and it's just ridiculous how great they are. 

We basically just ran around and played for an hour and my camera happened to capture it.  So much fun and such a excellent way to kick off the Family Photo Season for 2013!!

Take it away Olsons!

10 October 2013

Part 3: Best Family Pictures of 2012 {Gilbert AZ photography}

Third times the charm!  You excited for the holidays yet?  My kids love to run to the mailbox, come December.  They take turns opening the mail and love seeing the photos of the families, even ones they don't know or recognize.  There's something about families, taking the time to document their life.  I think it really communicates to our kids:  you're valued, you're special, I want to show you off to the world, how awesome you are!

This family photo session was done right here in Gilbert at one of my favorite natural locations.  The light is gorgeous and the greenery is always lush.  The perfect frame to four beautiful young women, and their awesome parents who adore them.




08 October 2013

Part 2: Best Family Pictures of 2012 {Gilbert, AZ photography}

Continuing on with the highlights of last year, just to make sure I've really whet your appetite for the Fall Family Photo season....

I'm going to be totally honest here.  When this mom told me the colors were going to be green, blue, and peach, I was like...."well, this'll be....fun"  I seriously couldn't envision it.  Then when they showed up!  Styled to the Nines and looking all kinds of awesome!!  I realized I had no clue how fun and fab those colors could look together. 

This mama knocked it out of the park and turned it into one of the best family photo shoots of last season.

04 October 2013

Part 1: Best Family Photos of 2012 {Gilbert AZ photographer}

I'm sweating still.  You?  It's October, it's still in the 90s, and it's really hard to think about the holidays and all that they entail.  To get you in the mood (cue music), it's time to take a peek at some of the best family photos of last year. 

Some great things about this family photo shoot:  the colors were so fun, a mix of bright and fun with neutral and just the right amount of bling styling.  Just perfect for this urban location
This family had never had family photos outside of a department store studio and then walked away with some fun memories and some amazing photos to remember this special time.  Too fun!

03 October 2013

The Best Beauty Tips for the Best Family Pictures {Gilbert, AZ Photography}

So excited to announce my fabulous guest bloggers today!!  Courtney and Hillary from the Beauty Mark Girls, based here in Mesa AZ, are here to give us the lowdown on how to look chic and fab for our awesome family photos this year.
Fact:  We all want to have amazing family photographs on the wall that make us smile every time we look at them.  This is achievable!!  But that smile ain't gonna happen if we don't make the time to look and feel beautiful the day of the photo shoot.  That's a challenge when we're the only one that's able to make our kiddos and hubbies cute too.  So how do we make it happen?  With some help from the experts, of course!
So here's a little Q&A with the Beauty Mark Girls on how to make the most of our family pictures prep time.
Q: What is the most important beauty step a Mom should take for family  pictures?
A:  Being prepared. Have everything laid out and start getting ready in  advance. Get yourself ready before the kids. If Mama is in a bad mood, no one is in a good mood! (from Elena:  I suggest hiring a babysitter/friend to get those kiddoes all spiffied up while you take your time getting yourself ready.  They'll probably do the girls' hair cuter than you would anyway.  :)

Q:  Pinterest holds conflicting information. Should makeup be stronger for photos (with a digital camera) or more mild?
A:  I always think that when you do makeup for pictures it should be  stronger than usual. That said, it doesn't necessarily need to be MORE  makeup. Just stronger colors. Focus on doing more on your cheeks and  lips. Peachy-pink is a universally flattering shade that looks great in  pictures.

Q:  Is there a common mistake that you see Moms committing in their family photos?
A:  Being too matchy-matchy in photos is a no-no. Also, choose styles that represent your family. Now is not a time to try something super trendy or out of the box. Also, focus just as much attention on YOUR outfit as your family's!! Pick your outfit first and everyone else's after. You don't want to be stuck with nothing to wear.  (E:  Amen Sista!  Preach on!)

Q:  What products do you recommend to keep my hair from going completely flat before I even get the photo shoot?
A:  First, you need a good blowout using a round brush for volume. Texturizing/mattifying powder  in the roots with a little bit of tease will prolong the volume.

Q:  Can you recommend any tutorials that can help me practice my look beforehand? Good hairstyles or highlighting and contouring makeup application?
A:  On our blog we have several videos that will help you achieve classic
but fun looks! (

Q:  How do you get lipstick to stay on for awhile?
A:  For lipstick to stay better use a more matte formula and don't use

Q:  Can you recommend a good concealer for red blemishes?
A:  I like MAC Studio Finish concealer. It has great coverage while still being creamy and blendable.

Q:  When to use/not use fake eyelashes?
A:  I always recommend fake lashes for pictures. They will make your eyes look big and bright!!

Q:  How can I get my entire family looking cute, while getting myself to look pretty enough for a photograph that will hang on the wall for a long time?
A:  PREPARE everything in advance! Put yourself as the priority. If you don't like how you look in pictures ,you will never be happy with them on  the wall. Lay out clothes, accessories and anything else you will need to get ready for pictures. (Pack snacks and drinks for the kids and candy for bribery if needed!)

Q:  What would it cost (ballpark) to utilize a professional's service, makeup, hair, and/or styling, so that I just don't have to worry about it?
A:  To hire The Beauty Mark girls to beautify for family pictures it is $50 for hair and $50 for makeup (plus $5 for fake lashes). We can also style and pick out the outfits for your family for a fee based on family size. We know how overwhelming family pictures can be and we love to help make the day a little bit more stress free! If mama feels her best, her family will follow suit!
That's what I'm talking about!  Aren't they fabulous?  Hopefully these tips help make your family pictures go even smoother.  If you're going to make the investment into custom family photography, it's worth it to do it right.  The right photographer, the right styling, the right location.  If you're gonna do it, kill it.  Am I right?!
If you're interested in utilizing their services, contact the Beauty Mark girls at hello@thebeautymarkgirls.com
If you haven't scheduled your family photographs for the fall yet, hello?!  Email me at ejtcat@hotmail.com, like pronto. 

27 September 2013

Urban Location Options {Gilbert, AZ}

This is my counterpart to the Natural Locations post.  Those locations seem to be our default choice here in AZ.  I think it has a lot to do with the fact that we are just getting out of a long and hot summer during which we were stuck inside for months.  By the time Fall rolls around, all we want to do is hang out outside and enjoy nature.

But when you've done the pretty nature family photographs thing for a few years in a row, you're ready for something new.  Something modern and fresh and a little different.  That's when it's time to try some Urban family picture locations.

Many times the best part of the urban photography location is that you can get so many different looks in one small area. 

The senior boy above and the family below are in the same location.  In fact, just around the corner from each other.  But you'd never guess.  When variety is paramount (mostly senior photos) an urban location is just the ticket.

Sometimes all you need is a great wall.  It can be any solid color you want.  Or if your photographer is really tricky, it can even be a totally different material.  Hello brick!

One my favorite family photo locations, super popular as well.  But so many fun, modern looks in one spot.

Vintage meets modern.  One downtown location.  It can really make your family and their styling POP!

When modern for you is a mid-century look, this location can steal the show.  Love this spot for some fun family photography!

Using a single prop, an awesome fedora, as the inspiration for your family pictures is an excellent idea!  It can lead you to such a fun and memorable location.
So what do you think?  Which location will it be for your family pictures this year?

26 September 2013

Natural Location Options {Gilbert AZ Photographer}

As we get cranked up and ready for the fall family photo season, it's time to get organized!  When my clients and I start talking location options, I first ask them to decide between "natural" and "urban". 

Many times this is dictated by the clothing choices they've already made (because who do we dress first?  altogether now:  MOM!).  If we're going with boots and scarves and fall colors, you better believe your photographs will look best in a natural setting.  If we've got motorcycle jackets, funky jewelry, and sunglasses, only urban will really work.  (been there, tried that.  The orchard just doesn't make leather and chrome look good, friends.)

So here's a round up of some of my favorite and best au natural photography locations here in Gilbert and the surrounding areas.

(If you're looking for the Urban choices, check them out here.)

This awesome orchard is totally green in the summer and dead in the winter.  Sometimes the leaves are still on the ground, sometimes not.  No fee but they do ask for a donation.

This beautiful spot with the young lady and the cute family below is the same location.  It's huge so there are lots of different options.  No fee.

This one with the little boy is a lovely little area but it needs the exact right light.  When you get it, it's just yummy.  No fee.

This location is absolutely amazing for family portraits, truly one of the best in the area.  There is a reasonable fee, which you can also pay by buying dinner at the local (super yummy) restaurant.  This family hauled in their own couch. 

This location is stunning, mostly in the Spring though when the yellow flowers are out.  It feels like a lush desert with a gorgeous stream, waterfall, and lake.  No fee.

This is a favorite of mine.  woodsy, and beautiful, near a river.  Both sunset and sunrise light are just stunning there.  Small fee.  So beautiful. 

This place is lovely but tiny.  Be prepared to jockey for a spot with other families.  It looks so out of the way but it's really close and easy to get to.  No fee.

And my very best photography spot for families is..... well, it deserves it's own post, right here