east bay photographer

Daytrip to Ardenwood Historic Farm, Fremont, CA

Today Milo and I took a drive down to Ardenwood Historic Farm in Fremont. I've driven past it so many times, and we used to live just across the bridge on the peninsula for many years. I'm so glad we finally checked it out! 

It was a perfect California fall day. Warm enough for light layers, and a thin, soft white layer of clouds to filter the sunlight. The landscape was lush and green, and there were fall leaves everywhere! 

We spent a couple of hours walking around, saying 'hi' to the goats, rabbits, pigs, chickens, peacocks, cats, and cows that reside there. Milo enjoyed checking out the many tractors, although he kept calling them airplanes! I mostly enjoyed watching him. We both spent quite a bit of time in one patch that had a thick layer of fall leaves. He waded through them up to his knees and sat in them up to his waist. 

We got up close with the peacocks as we just sat on the ground as they roamed around the garden. Milo was a bit disappointed that neither of the two gray fluffy cats we saw stuck around so he could pet them. 

Do you see the peacock? 

He tried to find his way into the chicken coop, but finally gave up and was ready to move on to something else. Thankfully there was so much else to see. 

I'm just so in love with his hair! Sometimes it's curly. Sometimes it's wispy. Sometimes it wild and crazy. Don't hate me if I occasionally post a picture of the back of his head just to document the cuteness!

I'm looking forward to our next visit to Ardenwood in the near future! As I write this I'm hoping that Milo is having sweet dreams of crunchy leaves, tractors, green grass, goats, chickens, peacocks, and friendly soft gray cats. Now I plan to go off to have my own sweet farm dreams!

Milo's 1st Birthday Party!

As a photographer, I'm always looking for a shot. Even when I don't have a camera with me I often think, 'Man, that would make a great shot! I wish I had a camera with me.' I mean, I've usually got my phone with me, but I can't make the same kind of picture with my iPhone as I can with my Canon. 

This past weekend we celebrated our son Milo's first birthday. This was one of those times when I was constantly seeing shots in my head, whether it was the beautiful surroundings or a joyful moment, or both. And I had a camera (or 3) ready to go. Although I was often tempted to run and grab a camera to capture a particular moment, I made the choice to set the cameras down at some points and just enjoy the party. I still wanted to share some of the fun shots I did get of Milo's woodland themed birthday party at one of our favorite local spots, Castle Rock Regional Recreation Area in the Mount Diablo foothills. 

It was a small gathering but it was big fun. Milo has been walking for a couple of months now and he loves to explore. His favorite toys are rocks, sticks, leaves, and dirt - hence the dirt you may notice on his face in some shots. So he was in heaven and ready to go off and explore. But he also participated in a game of kickball with the bigger kids, ate his homemade birthday cake, and enjoyed hanging with family and friends. 

Milo is a little guy with a huge personality. Always active and most often smiling, he is the youngest of 5 children in our family. (Shannon and I have a blended family with Milo being our first together.) The older kids love engaging him and he enjoys all the attention.  

Milo is ever the explorer. 

I must admit that I enjoyed having an excuse to execute some really cute ideas I found on Pinterest to make Milo's party just a little more colorful. And tasty. 

Yes, those are s'mores pops. Marshmallows dipped in melted chocolate and rolled in graham cracker crumbs. 

Yes, those are s'mores pops. Marshmallows dipped in melted chocolate and rolled in graham cracker crumbs. 

We included Milo's birth announcement in the decor just to remind us how far we've all come together. 

We included Milo's birth announcement in the decor just to remind us how far we've all come together. 

I had also created a "Fifty Photos From Milo's First Year" project that included some of our favorite photos that was meant to hang between some trees for guests to view, but it was a bit too breezy and we ended up taking it down before I could even finish putting up all 50 photos. Oh, well. Maybe I'll use the prints to create an album. 

Below you'll see the quick and easy banner I created just to bring an extra festive feel to our picnic area. And I got the compasses as something fun for the bigger kids to play with and take home from the party. 

This was my homemade rustic, gluten free, free of refined sugar birthday cake for Milo. 

He enjoyed his birthday cake, sitting in the shade of a grand oak tree. 

I always love capturing the little details of days like this. But I also chose to participate in my little guy's big day without being behind the camera the whole time. If you have a little one with a big day coming up, or even a big day for yourself, I'd love to be the one to allow you to enjoy all the special moments knowing that I am there to capture them for you to be Kept In Time! 

Happy Birthday, Milo! I know you won't remember this party, but I'm so glad you got to spend the day surrounded by loved ones, outdoors, getting dirty, on a beautiful day. We love you very much!

Venue Spotlight: Eagle Vines Vineyards & Golf Club, American Canyon, Napa Valley

We'll be photographing a wedding late this summer at this great venue in American Canyon, Eagle Vines Vineyards & Golf Club. After booking the wedding I went to do some Internet research on the venue but didn't find a lot online. I recently made a trip up to check things out with the bride and her most important ladies. I had actually never been to the area before, but was pleasantly surprised at how close it is to the East Bay, and even more awed at how beautiful it is!

Behind the clubhouse, in the midst of views of green grass, rolling hills, and lush vineyards, they've got a great tent to hold your reception. There is a creek trickling by, a grassy open space where you can hold your ceremony, and vineyards just to the right. As you'll see below, the interior of the tent has a nice rustic vibe that can be customized to go along with your style. 

We had lunch in the clubhouse restaurant while we were there. The restaurant staff, as well as the event staff, were all extremely friendly and accommodating. See the bottom of this post for contact information.

There is a lot more to see around the grounds, but this was just a sneak peek. You'll have to check back to see the actual wedding photos some time in September!

After my visit, I am even more excited about coming back to photograph my lovely bride on her special day!

If your looking for a Napa style wedding venue I encourage you to check this place out!

Venue website: https://www.eaglevinesgolfclub.com/events_news/

Wedding & Social Events Manager: Alisa Hartman - ahartman@eaglevinesgolfclub.com

Photo Shoots with Active Children: Let Their Personalities Shine

We all love to see those wide, bright smiles from our children. The smiles where you can see the joy in their eyes. We love capturing the natural expressions of childhood. 

Sticks, rocks, dirt. This is what I'll remember about this guy at this age. My little nature boy. 

Sticks, rocks, dirt. This is what I'll remember about this guy at this age. My little nature boy. 

Recently I took two of my boys, ages 10 months and 9 years, to the UC Berkeley Botanical Garden to explore and get some fun shots of them. My 9 year old was well aware that I wanted to take photos while we were there and he was okay with that. He even helped me pick out outfits for both him and his brother the day before. 

This boy is such a trooper. Besides always being willing to help me and help with his little brother, he had a busted lip from a sports injury the day before, but still put on his best smile for some pictures. 

This boy is such a trooper. Besides always being willing to help me and help with his little brother, he had a busted lip from a sports injury the day before, but still put on his best smile for some pictures. 

But going through this with my boys always help me remember what my clients likely go through as they are preparing to come to me for a photo shoot. So I figured I would put some things out there that I think would be helpful to my clients with children as they prepare for a photo shoot. 

First, don't expect them to be excited about getting their pictures taken. Some children do get excited about it. But for many, sitting in front of a camera and being asked to smile until their cheeks are sore is not their idea of fun. (Don't worry - our goal is to make the shoots an enjoyable experience for all.)

Checking out the scene, trying to decide what to climb on first. 

Checking out the scene, trying to decide what to climb on first. 

As you're preparing for our session, don't focus on the idea that we're doing a photo shoot. You're even welcome to introduce us to the kids as friends who happen to like to take pictures.  Focus on the location we'll be visiting and the people you are with. We'll work on getting everyone focused when the time is right. 

Rocks. This boy - always with rocks. 

Rocks. This boy - always with rocks. 

Next thing: Keep in mind the location we'll be shooting at. There is a reason we chose it. Probably because it is a beautiful place, and possibly because there is some sentimental attachment to the location as well. So I'm never surprised when children want to explore. We love it. We encourage it. And we'll do our best to capture it as they move through the world with wonder and awe.

Traditionally, family portraits have often been heavily posed and smiles are forced. If you have to say "cheese" we might not see the sparkle in the eyes that we typically associate with true joy. Don't get me wrong. There's nothing wrong with posed shots. But don't forget who you're there with. Your family. Loved ones. The ones you cherish the most. Appreciate their presence. Feel that love. And let that shine through. 

Two peas in a pod. Love these two with all my heart. I'm sure you feel the same about yours. 

Two peas in a pod. Love these two with all my heart. I'm sure you feel the same about yours. 

A couple of additional tips to keep in mind with kids (and anyone else for that matter):

  • Bring a light snack along, and make sure that everyone is comfortably fed before the shoot. Hungry leads to grumpy, and grumpy faces don't usually make the best photos. 
  • Be well rested, as much as possible. 
  • Stay hydrated. Your eyes will be brighter, your skin will be clearer, and you'll feel better. 
  • Avoid colored juices or candies that might stain clothes, lips, or tongues. 
  • Bring an extra change of clothes, just in case. 
  • Relax and enjoy the environment and the experience. 
That's my boy. Naturally.

That's my boy. Naturally.

Jaquie & Jorge's Wedding

Portraits at Gamble Garden in Palo Alto

Portraits at Gamble Garden in Palo Alto

I have known Jaquie since she was in 10th grade. From a girl with an attitude in high school to a woman who demonstrates a kind heart and loving spirit, it is so wonderful to see what an amazing woman she has become! I'm so glad that Jaquie has found her life partner who loves and appreciates her for all that she is. Jaquie knew the first time she met Jorge that he was the one for her. In this world of chaos and unpredictability, I guess sometimes we just get things right, and Jaquie and Jorge sure did! 

Surrounded by family and friends at St. Francis of Assisi Church in East Palo Alto

Surrounded by family and friends at St. Francis of Assisi Church in East Palo Alto

It was obvious on their wedding day that part of the strong bond they share comes from their love and closeness with their own families. There were quite a few special elements to their day, not the least of which was Jaquie walking down the aisle and having her first dance with her father who is recovering from a stroke that had him in the hospital and rehabilitation for the past couple of months. They weren't sure what state of health he would be in for the wedding, so sharing those special moments were so meaningful to them.

Jaquie and her father share their first dance. Reception at Arrillaga Family Recreation Center in Menlo Park. 

Jaquie and her father share their first dance. Reception at Arrillaga Family Recreation Center in Menlo Park. 

And while we're talking about family, we have to talk about Jaquie and Jorge's sweet and silly children, Jaylah and Jullian. We did a family photoshoot with them a couple of years back and I just couldn't get over how tender they were with each other. Jullian, the big brother, seemed so protective and caring for his little sister. And Jaylah sure looks up to her bigger brother. Their sweet little personalities are a testament to the good nature of their parents.

Jaquie's gorgeous dress with Jaylah's sweet flower girl dress

Jaquie's gorgeous dress with Jaylah's sweet flower girl dress

Needless to say, Shannon and I felt privileged that Jaquie and Jorge trusted and chose us to capture the special moments on their big day. And that they continue to come back to us to continue to capture their family through time. Guys, we'll be here for your next adventures, which I hope include more adorable babies!...