Diving All In | Newport Beach Family Photographer

My daughter kept shouting ‘this is the most fun day of my entire life!’

I shoot at the beach so often it’s honestly the last place I generally want to go on my day off. But this one was forever worth it. This girl of mine, who in three years has never let the waves splash more than knee deep, went all in for the very first time. And the excitement as she realized her own bravery was everything. Love my little family. Love that we get to call this place our home. <3 

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Don't Stop the Photos Just Because Your Kids Are Older | Newport Family Photographer

Document your big kids! Your story together is just as beautiful. Just as needed... I honestly used to be terrified of shooting older ages. I couldn’t very well be doing rounds of ring the rosie or peekaboo. 🙈Then one day I realized the obvious: these are my own two kids before I blink. And I am this momma, with just as much crazy love, wanting so desperately to soak in every last drop of them. Of our fleeting time together... Now I shoot from a much different mindset. Now I want your big kids in my frame.

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Let Me Show You Who You Were | Laguna Beach Family Photographer

I feel like so often we take a photo to remember “we were there.” Every new place we snap another pic. The latest restaurant, vacation, school function—it didn’t quite happen without some form of documentation. And I don’t think this is a bad thing. Believe me, my phone is overflowing with my kids’ cheesy grins. 📷 But I don’t want to take your picture so you can remember ‘you were there,’ but rather, ‘who you were.’ And whose you were. And that your story was always worth documenting.

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How Does the Photo Make You Feel? | Newport Beach Family Photographer

I have one driving goal every time I pick up my camera. And it’s not to show you what it looked like, but rather, how it felt. You have iphones and dslr's to snap the scene. Selfies and even selfie sticks to get everyone in the family right there in the frame. I don't want you to choose me so that I can grab a pretty picture of bribed smiles and perfect poses. I want your messy beautiful life with kids. I want to capture the way your heart sees your babies, the way it melts right into puddles of that ocean when you see the excitement in their eyes. The joy that fills your soul as they laugh and splash in the waves. Ten and twenty years from now I want you to look back and not just remember how tiny they were, but how much their love filled your life. And in ten and twenty years from now I want those now grown babies to look themselves and see what a beautiful childhood it was. 

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Why I Only Shoot the Beach On Weekdays | Newport Beach Family Photographer

I get it, weekdays can be hard to get to the beach. There is work, school, activities, your tired and maybe even a little cranky. ;-) But as challenging as the thought may seem the pros far outweigh the cons. Having family photos taken is an investment of both your money and also time. There is so much planning involved with outfits and hair and making sure everyone has had naps and snacks, and the list goes on and on. Most moms arrive a little frazzled at first, which is totally expected and normal. They calm down within a few minutes of shooting. :-) But after all that time and effort there is no better way to be disappointed than to realize that those awesome rocks or pretty cliffs you were looking forward to having in the backdrop are now a no go because they are swarming with people. And then as you try to find a little empty corner with no where to shoot but straight out towards the water you are then being stared at by those same crowds of people as you try to kiss your wife and dance with your baby without feeling self conscience about it. Having lifestyle images taken is very personal and intimate and to make it as stress free and relaxing as possible is key. And this is why I only schedule for weekdays. The crowd factor is literally night and day difference. 

I met this beautiful family on a Thursday at a non crowded cove in Newport. They got to really relax as they enjoyed the place mostly to themselves. And I was able to allow my creative freedom to come out, using the light in the exact way I wanted to catch all that golden glow and blue skies. And getting the epic backdrops that make my heart happy. 

And so with that, let's meet for a Tuesday, and everyone can celebrate with tacos after. :-) 

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Baby Girl Coming Soon | Laguna Beach Maternity Photographer

We met at Laguna beach to capture some maternity photos for this mom and dad to be. She told me she could feel her baby girl kicking throughout our time together and all my baby fever came flooding back in. ;-) Some of the sweetest people, they are going to be such great parents. And I think the heavens totally agreed with me, showing off just for them. <3 

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E is for Ella | Orange County Newborn Photographer

E is most definitely for Ella, and I think her name should mean "happiest baby in the history of ever." And the interaction and connection between this family was so strong it totally melted me. In home sessions are some of my all time favorites. Don't get me wrong, I do love my beaches, but there is just something so raw and pure about shooting in your own home. The place you spend so many intimate hours. The rooms that are all tied together with a million sweet memories. This was their first home as a family of three. This room the first she will call her own... Ok, I will stop of all the sappy writing now, but for real, there really is no place like home. 

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Why I Choose Photography

I actually started this photography journey without even thinking about pictures. I had a mom blog, not the latest trends and foods kind, but words of encouragement to other mommas in the trenches of life with littles. After a couple of posts went “viral,” I decided I wanted better photos to go with the writings, and so I learned the in and outs of my little camera and shot my kids like a mad women. Shortly after we moved to Cali and on some crazy whim decided I would start photographing families. I wasn’t very good! I slept little and studied everything I could get my hands on. I’m not naturally talented at this—at all. I don’t have an eye for creative composition or technicals. I draw stick people with my kids and my home would come in very last place at better homes and gardens. 🙈But although I have spent the hours teaching myself the technicals, I didn’t choose photography for fancy crops or angles. I choose it because of that Mom blog. That driving passion to show women how beautiful their life of momma really is. To see the love and passion, the joy and safety their children feel when together. I think we often feel embarrassed to admit how hard it all is sometimes. The stresses and fears, the nonexistent work/play balance, the forever wondering if we’re enough... But we are. She is. And to show her this. To show her that in the middle of the wonderings and wanderings she is doing something right, that is why I still choose photography. Because every mom deserves to have her story seen.

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Sunrise For the Win | Laguna Beach Maternity Photographer

We woke up before the roosters for this. Totally worth it. 🐓 Beach sunrise sessions are understandably not my most requested time slot but oh how I love them more than just about anything! Lovely Laguna, that is forever crawling with millions of summer ready swimmers, surfers and sand castle builders was completely empty allowing for all those wide landscape shots. The only one who joined us was a lone Seal. ;-) And the colors at this time are so unmatched. Soft haze mixed with morning pinks and blues. Add to it all this momma's dress and I was the most happy, although tired, gal by the end of it!

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Which Beach To Choose For Your Family Photos (Part 3) | Orange County Family Photographer

So the most asked, and most obvious, question I get asked when its time to book a session is "what beach do you shoot at?" In the past I would maybe try to describe a spot, or send some screen shots from my Instagram. But finally, three years after moving to Orange County, I had the genius idea of putting together a couple of posts to easily show you, and let you decide what you feel would be the best fit for you and yours! And so with that, here is beach #3, in Laguna.

The tiny little cove offers such a quaint charm with its small cliff, rocks, and palm trees. Not to mention super easy access and one of the least amounts of steps in the history of Orange County beaches. :-) 

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And that one time someone took me up on a sunrise sess! ;-)&nbsp;

And that one time someone took me up on a sunrise sess! ;-) 

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Which Beach To Choose For Your Family Photos (Part 2) | Orange County Family Photographer

So the most asked, and most obvious, question I get asked when its time to book a session is "what beach do you shoot at?" In the past I would maybe try to describe a spot, or send some screen shots from my Instagram. But finally, three years after moving to Orange County, I had the genius idea of putting together a couple of posts to easily show you, and let you decide what you feel would be the best fit for you and yours! And so with that, here is beach #2, in Laguna.

The cove is a good amount bigger than my other Laguna beach which can sometimes make it easier for little ones to run and play without being confined to such a small strip. The light here is just magical and the palm tree at the end of sunset fill my beach lovers heart with everything happy. :-) Also easy access down to it, which is always a big plus! 

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And that ONE time a family took me up on my offer to shoot a sunrise session, hence why the sun is coming over the palm trees here. ;-)&nbsp;

And that ONE time a family took me up on my offer to shoot a sunrise session, hence why the sun is coming over the palm trees here. ;-) 

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Which Beach To Choose For Your Family Photos (Part 1) | Orange County Family Photographer

So the most asked, and most obvious, question I get asked when its time to book a session is "what beach do you shoot at?" In the past I would maybe try to describe a spot, or send some screen shots from my Instagram. But finally, three years after moving to Orange County, I had the genius idea of putting together a couple of posts to easily show you, and let you decide what you feel would be the best fit for you and yours! And so with that, here is beach #1, in Newport. 

I just started opening this up as a location this summer and I am now obsessed! With its winding cliffs and epic views it never gets old. There is just so much actual "beach" to it that we can run and play so easily without being restricted to a tight space. Surprisingly though, and to my hearts happiness, it is always the least crowded beaches here in Orange County giving that magical "private beach look" and in all honesty making you feel a billion times more comfortable. It's awkward enough getting your pictures taken, let alone with all the other beach goers standing there starting at you. ;-) 

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"Mini Maternity" Photos| Newport Beach Family Photographer

My kids have watched me edit so many maternity shoots these past couple months that they totally posed their own selves for these. 😆 My son first took on the role of supportive spouse but then decided spouse with a belly of his own would be much more fun. 🤣 Never a dull moment. 🤰

Also I have fell hard in love with Crystal Cove Beach here and have recently opened it up as an option for families to shoot at!! 

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Hanging at the Monarch Hotel | Orange County Family Photographer

I have lived in Orange County for three years now and thought I pretty much knew every last spot along our coastline. I was totally, and pleasantly, wrong though as last week I got to hang out at the gorgeous Monarch Hotel and beach in Dana Point! This place was the best and with a shuttle down to our own private beach--on a Saturday--I totally did a million happy dances inside! Not to mention the family I got to have behind my lens! This little guy filled me with ALL the baby fever. Seriously the sweetest thing ever. And with some sweet parents to match him too. :-) 

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Paparrazi For The Night (She Said YES)| Orange County Photographer

When I first started in photography I did a lot of posed work. I felt like it was what everyone wanted, but it left me feeling unfulfilled. Yes the photo was "pretty" but there was no connection, no rawness, no definition of what family truly is. Fast forward three years and my heart leaves almost always full as I get to now spend my time capturing real moments of love. Fast forward even more to this day where it was as real as it gets! Brian and I had talked and planned and planned some more on every last detail as to the important question. I was equal parts nervous and excited--what if I screwed this one time moment up! And I think he was equally as nervous. ;-) But it all panned out so perfectly, and most importantly, SHE SAID YES!!! These two have to be about the cutest couple ever and it filled my with all the happiness in the world to be able to capture this special day. I am SO excited for their future together! <3 

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Sister Sister | Laguna Beach Maternity Photographer

I will let you in on a real life truth: Beautiful sunny Laguna beach has been beautiful sunny freezing COLD! Well, for Orange County standards anyways. ;-) But another real truth: my families totally rock it! You would never know that by the end of this all our teeth were chattering and we drove home with our heaters set to high. But they didn't let it stop them from having a perfect evening in the sand--and water! And this sweetest, happiest (although cold) girl is about to have a little sister! And I have no doubt there is going to be overflowing amounts of love and joy passed to her newest one. 

Speaking of overflow, here is probably a total overshare of photos but I just can't help it. Each one makes me smile. 

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Something In The Water | Laguna Beach Maternity Photographer

I swear something must have been in the water about seven months back as I think I may have done more maternity sessions this month than all of last year combined! Aaand I hope the water keeps pouring, because I absolutely LOVE them! Add to it my other all time love, family, and I go to sleep smiling. Well, and spend my time smiling like I did with these three (four). Big sis was definitely unsure of all that water, and our luck it was high tide too! But as long as she could stay snuggled up close to mom and dad she was ok, which created some sweetest moments together with the sweetest family one could ever meet. I can't wait for them to add little brother to the mix. He is already so loved. <3 

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Missing Socks | Laguna Beach Family Photographer

I was going to title this one "my adventure." And then I thought about it. Because some days our adventures are finding matching socks in the never ending piles of laundry and mopping up the milk spilled across the kitchen floor. Doctors appointments and birthday parties. Middle of the night wake ups and middle of the afternoon dance parties--because the wheels on the bus never stop going around. Referee, cheer leader, hand holder, best friend... Our adventure isn't always so Laguna beachside glamorous, but at the end of the day it's all the beauty we could ever want. Love beyond measure behind every last missing sock. 

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Bellies & Beaches | Orange County Maternity Photographer

“Lucille Ball was the first woman to show off her pregnancy publicly, on-screen (in demure, wide-waist dresses). While this was a big step forward for pregnant women, bumps were far from front-and-center, and maternity-specific fashions were scarce.” ~whattoexpect.com

I love that my children are being raised in a culture that is learning to see pregnancy as something so very beautiful and childbirth as unmatched strength.

I love that someday this mom's son will be able to look back at these and see how beautiful she was. See how excited and already in love his parents were with him and one another. That they celebrated him before they ever saw his face

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Party of Six | Laguna Beach Family Photographer

Laguna had its share of a little calm, a little chaos, and overloads of love last week. I am the oldest of four girls and growing up I never considered my family a "large" one. I do remember hearing my parents complaining about everything being made for a total package of "four" though. Even at hotel rooms we had to sneek in the youngest two as they tipped us over the limit. ;-) I also remember how much constant fun we had on all our trips. Every vacation was done with your three girl friends, making each one the best yet. This "large" family of six spent one of their vacation evenings on the beach with me and I just loved getting to know them and capturing some sweet memories of their time here. 

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Joell Emoto Johnston