beach sessions
August 6, 2017

Ignore it! 5 things to ignore when taking your family portraits

fathollahi20A dear friend of mine (Catherine Pearlman,The Family Coach) and I were walking the hills overlooking the pacific when she announced she was writing a book. She told me this like she was announcing that she was buying new shoes, or she was going to try out the new Vietnamese restaurant down the street. And now, a few years, and many hill-walks later, she is preparing to release the baby (Ignore It!) she has been laboring all this time. Besides the joy you get from watching a good friend work so hard towards a goal and getting to the end, this is a really good idea for a book. It is a parenting book that helps take the pressure off our supposed need to nag, correct and force our kids into good behavior.

In honor of her efforts, I am writing my top five things to ignore when you are taking your family portraits. For more than 10 years I’ve watched the struggles, fights and resistance that can happen on a family photo shoot. Under all the pressure to get a perfect shot, we often resort to tactics we would NEVER even use while we are at home. We feel the urgency of getting this done and getting out of there.

It has been my joy of joys to see the final result of a beautiful photo shoot. So to help you end up with the best results with the least amount of fussing consider these five things to ignore the next time you sit down for your family portrait.

1. Ignore the attitudes- Let it go! If you see a kid acting like a pill, often times they just want a bit of attention from you. Most photographers are ok with a little attitude, and they often have a trick or two up their sleeve that might help that. Remember this is most likely not their first child with an attitude, so it is ok to relax, let them do their job, and you can take all the pressure off yourself to put all your kids in the best mood.

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2. Ignore matching outfits- The goal is to capture your kids being themselves. It may not be worth the fight to get everyone in white tops and khaki pants if it will cause a meltdown from one or more people. Try bringing extra clothes, and let them wear what you pick first. If they take a few pictures in your outfit then you can let them wear what they like. I always say, it isn’t hard to Photoshop a stain, but it is super hard to Photoshop a smile where there isn’t one.

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3. Ignore your Pinterest Board- Don’t imitate another family doing what they do. Try doing something you love as a family. Do you all love the park? Fine! Do you love the ocean? Great! Do your kids love the swings or making cookies or the water slide? Just find a way to capture the joy in your family, and ignore the idea you have in your head on what the perfect background has to be. It’s better to have a happy family doing what they love than a grumpy one copying another family.

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4. Ignore Punishments- At the least, wait till you get to the car. It’s completely impossible to get a child to smile once you offer to take their phone away for an entire week. Instead, refer to tip one on letting the photographer step in. Let them come up with a few things that might help, and save all the discipline for the ride home.
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5. Ignore your Insecurities- Ok, this one might just be for me. I have a ton of things I don’t like about myself, and when I look at a picture, that is all I see. So when I know someone is pointing a camera at me, my anxiety level rises, and I want to turn around or run away. Most of the time I just get all bunched up in the face from that anxiety and over think my smile. I look so unlike myself, and I can barely change a profile picture anywhere. My friends and I always say we had no idea how beautiful we were 10 years ago! So try and imagine yourself ten years down the line looking at how young and pretty you once were!

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June 12, 2017

New Work: Educational Insights

 

Of all the days I spent teaching in the classroom, the ones that stick out the most are the ones of discovery. It was a scene you could count on, though less than I would hope as a teacher, when you could see the light in a student’s eyes flash on brightly. It could be a book, author, subject, or simply an interesting animal, but to watch a child’s imagination wake up to something they realized, this is something I miss about that job. I remember Amy obsessing about owls, or Xingya falling in love with Beverly Cleary, or Matt asking me to find more out about space travel.

When my own children were able to be outside with thoughts of their own, the best part of the day was to be out there watching them interact with the world and nature around them. Maybe that is why the beach offers us so much joy.

It is another great joy of mine to have had the opportunity to work with Educational Insights to create lifestyle images for some of their products. For these images we were able to spend three days in three of my favorite spots, with some of my  favorite kids. It was fun to spend the time looking for tidal animals and exploring brightly colored flowers under close inspection. All of these products for this shoot were wonderful outdoor activities that encourage children to play and discover the world around them. Here are some of my favorites.

children scientist moon scope for children toddler exploring the tidepoolshermit crab observatorytide pool exploringchild photographer for commercial los angelescommercial photographer los angeleschildren photographer commercialtelescope for girlschildren's commercial photographer los angeleschemistry toys for childrenchildren curiositychildren's telescopeeducational toys for childrenchildren's commercial photographercommercial Photographer Los Angeelstelescope for toddlers children education

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October 1, 2016

More Beach Love and Water Sessions

 

Another water session that was completely good for my soul! Loved every second, especially that I love these kids like family. Watching families grow up is by far the biggest perk of this job. We couldn’t have been luckier with the sky this night! It just went from pretty to poetry at the end. We were lucky to follow Emerson’s advice and simply,

“Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air.”

kids on a rockmom and daughter huggingfamily at the beach kids reflection at the beach girl running into the waves boy in the waves kids playing in the water siblings at the beach siblings playing in the water girl being covered by white water girl watching waves at beach boy riding the waves at beach girl chasing birds ar the beach kids playing in the beach

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  1. Theresa

    Stunning work!

September 18, 2016

Summer Travels, Nicaragua

We drew an imaginary circle around Los Angeles whose radius would be about a five hour plane ride in any direction. It was summer, and we wanted to find an adventure that would satisfy the surfer, explorer, culture curious traveler without the long day in the plane with a three year old. Looking at our options, we created a pretty long list of places we could possibly go, and Nicaragua fell right near the top. It turned into an adventure that included monkeys, bumpy car rides, volcanos, butterflies, warm water, gorgeous sunsets, empty beaches, and great surf. Fortunately for us, not so many people are dying to practice their english, so it was good for the Spanish speakers in our family too! We heard friends describe Nicaragua as the Costa Rica of twenty years ago, and it was a great way to explain the underdeveloped beauty of central america.  We learned that Nicaragua at one time was a passage from the east coast to the west coast during the gold rush, and that made our beach exploring that much more interesting thinking we may happen upon a treasure of sorts hidden in the secluded caves of the shore.

This trip helped me realize the need in my camera arsenal for a much more discreet tool to capture the life of a traveler. It was not ideal to have a huge camera walking around, it felt somehow out of place. Because of that, I didn’t take my camera on too many of our adventures, and opted instead to use my iPhone.
fishing village in nicaragua toddler swimming nicaragua pig on the beach nicaragua vultures on the beach nicaragua fishermen nicaragua fishing town nicaragua dad carries son on shoulders hermit crab collection brothers playing on beach nicaragua nicaragua beachocean play boy on board

And a few from my iPhone:
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  1. Gretchen

    I LOVE this post! Should have read it sooner but it is beautiful!

May 9, 2016

Kisses, kisses.

There are three children in this family, and somehow I cannot wrap my head around the fact that they are all three and under. Baffling! I know this kind of family is totally normal, and even my own mom was juggling four of us under the age of five, but the amount of energy needed to keep up is just so inspiring. So to all you mamas out there with littles so close together, my admiration goes out to you in this post.

Lucky mama, lucky kids, lucky husband, lucky in love having all this cuteness wrapped into one home. Of all the chaos packed into one day, there are the best memories made.

So congrats on the new addition, congrats on the adorable spirits that you are in charge of, they are spunky, joyful, and loving, and I couldn’t imagine a better combo!

brother kissing sisterdaddy with baby girl laughingbaby on blanket at beachmom and daughter laughting2toddler writing on the sand beachsandy fingers mom and son family playing at the beachmom and kids walking in a dream toddlers and mom

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  1. models' Sister/Auntie/Godmother

    BEAUTIFUL! I love love love these pictures! magnificent captures! ^_^

April 13, 2016

Full circle & weathering storms

 

This family came to me when their entire life was baseball, and the kids were both in Little League. We had a baseball themed photo session, and to this day, it is my most pinned photo at over 1000 pins. Typing that in I am actually not so sure what that actually means, but I definitely know it was a fun shoot and we had a ton of fun. Fast forward almost eight years ahead, and kids grew up like they were meant to do, and this sweet family is ready to send off the oldest to College. It is a very special time for this family of four, and I am especially honored and over joyed to have been able to see them again. And how could we not bring a bat and a baseball to this family/senior shoot!??

We were also lucky enough to have had an honored spectator through our shoot, the California Seal that watched over us for a bit.

couple weathering the stormfamily at beach at sunsetbrotherssenior high school studentfamily looking out to the oceanteenage brotherssenior high school photovisitor at the beach

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March 1, 2016

Stella Cove Bathing suit Shoot

children beach commercial shootgirl playing at the beachswim suit shoot girlsbeach shoot kidsswimsuit girlsgirls bathing suit shoot mother daughter love stella Cove Commercial shootvw bus at the beach

Just before Christmas time, my eleven year old stole presents from under our tree to donate to the Toys for Tots Bin he saw pop up in our neighborhood. Believe it or not, I was a little mad. I mean, those presents were acquired most likely with a wild toddler in tote at target, representing a small portion of my todo list being checked off. Once I forced myself to see the big picture and forgive him, I followed him up to the Marine in his dress blues and watched him gleefully give them away. Parked right next to the bin was a beautiful VW bus restored perfectly. Lucky for me, the owner was the Sponsor behind the event and we exchanged info.

So after convincing a few more star studded models to meet me at the beach, we coordinated the whole day to photograph Stella Cove bathing suits in true California Style. I would like to thank all the people that helped me out this day especially all my gorgeous girls, and my super power friend Catherine Pearlman. But also Jackie, Drew, Raymona, Neda, Ciji, and Kellen who generously threw a wild rumpus party and didn’t get hurt or lost. Lastly, thank you to Pia and Kim over at Stella Cove for giving me this amazing opportunity! Hope we can work together again soon!

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  1. Liz

    Wow Noel, these images are incredible and so much fun! Gorgeous!!!

  2. Drew

    Thank you for including Kennedy! She’s still talking about it :)

  3. admin

    Thank you Liz

  4. admin

    Thank You Drew! She seriously is my fav!!!!

October 20, 2015

Top 6 Locations to Take Family Photos In Orange County

 

 

We are so lucky to live in a place as magical as this is. Orange County, California has great weather, and beautiful parks and beaches, it can be a bit overwhelming to decide what backdrop you want to have for your holiday photos. Weather you are taking them yourself, or hiring a professional, your location can have a big impact on your photos. When choosing your location, think of what best represents your family. These are my top 6 favorite places to shoot photos here in Orange County, in no particular order.

1. Peltzer Farms Christmas Tree Lot- Nothing is more holiday than a Christmas Tree Farm, that is if you are celebrating Christmas! The location is beautiful, and sure to put you in the holiday spirit with the holly smells. For a small fee you can have a professional take your photos there too!

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2. Ocean Tidepools- Of course check the tides before you head out, but it won’t even feel like photo taking to your kids, it will be like one big school field trip! Kids will have fun, and you know what happens to our faces when we are having fun right? Real natural smiles! Booya!

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3. Open Spaces- Irvine Landmarks  just invited me to see some of the expansive open spaces that they are in charge of preserving, for-like-ever! So that is good news. It may take time narrowing down where you will go,but with over 20,000 acres you are sure to find a hill or path that will be perfect for pictures. Bring a kite, wagon or bike for some added fun for the family.

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4. Piers- From Seal Beach to San Clemente, piers offer shade and variety in your beach pictures, and there is bound to be one you haven’t been to yet. Start under the pier for some fun, then end up ontop to watch the sunset. Maybe your pier will even have a Ruby’s at the end, to provide you with plenty of bribes for cute smiles!

under the pier family photography

5. Parks- Fun Orange County Parks  has done the research for you so if you need to see pictures before you go, I am sure Michelle has already taken one for you. You can also see if there are bathrooms or open trails for you to explore. Just make sure if you have young kids that you don’t start at the play structure as it will be difficult to pull them away!

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6. San Juan Capistrano Mission- The Mission is a gorgeous backdrop for your family photos. Call before hand to be sure you reserve a spot if you are going with a professional, there is a small admittance fee, but it is gorgeous and your kids will love the fish!

mission San Juan

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October 18, 2015

Backyard Pool Photography Session

boys underwater cannon ballpool photo session brothers underwater cannon ball teenage boys underwater underwater handstand portraitThis family and I have been working together for almost seven years. That is amazing luck, because they are the kindest, most amazing family that shares the same kind of values I do. Time spent with them is joyful and fun. But sadly we are running out of creative locations to shoot their family. So this years session, we thought we would do it under the water of their very own swimming pool.

They deliver what I boldly state as THE most creative christmas card in all of Orange county. I challenge you to find one more crazy and creative then the one we create together. One year they created the board game of LIFE out of their whole year, and I contributed a small piece of the puzzle by way of cover photo of the family. This year the idea will be amazing, she has already run it by me, and we are excited to work on it together. But for now, I want to share these fun photos of a pool play session that we created together. My favorite picture of the day was the selfie they took when I handed my camera over to them!underwater selfie

 

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September 30, 2015

Ocean Love- Mermaid sessions

Laguna Beach waters are so amazingly beautiful. There is a whole world down there, and it is yours for the exploring. With a little bit of courage, and a few hours time, you can find a world waiting for you to discover less than 100 feet off shore!

 

diving swimming mermaid sighting

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