San Diego Vacation mixed with painting

via San Diego Vacation mixed with painting


Six years old ~ Holiday portrait

Abigail was charming and very well mannered for her six year old portrait. I did a similar portrait session for her older sister when she was six. The grandmother ordered a large canvas and will eventually have all three grandchildren in similar formal pose. I will have to wait a couple years for little Charlie.

Winter portraits

Reyes Family

Reyes family

Peterson Family

Peterson family portrait

Family portraits on a cold day

The Reed family include triplets who are 7 and very handsome. I have known and been shooting them since birth so its lovely to be doing their holiday portrait. We chose a day and then it rained all morning so I moved it to the end of the day. Being mid December, it was cold. I wore a stocking hat and coat. The boys didn’t seem to mind the cold at all and were bouncy enough to keep warm.

Reed family 2017a


Business portrait done at various locations

I wanted to give Becky a range of photos on locations around the little town center in Atlantic and Neptune Beach. We even got access to a bar in a restuarant that was closed because it was morning and the light was fabulous through the windows. We even borrowed a wine glass for some because Becky has a secondary wine business.
Again, making a client feel comfortable and smile naturally is sometimes tricky but Becky was great to work with.

Family portrait in 30 minutes

As a photographer, I am challenged to work with people who do not really want to be photographed. My client has five kids who fell into this category. SO I made it quick and moved along so no one felt uncomfortable. The kids did not want to do any individuals which I normally do so I would snap away in the pauses between the family groupings. One of the sons had issues with light in his eyes so squinted in most of the shots. I did more shots of the daughter since she was more receptive. It had been a very rainy day so we were lucky to have a break in the weather where the sun came out. The entire shoot worked out to 30 minutes. Most family portraits last about an hour or more.

Barbra’s portrait

Barbra is a mother of five and widow. She wanted a nice portrait JUST BECAUSE….
At first she was very shy and stiff so I gently added new directives and locations, and made her feel as beautiful as she is. Its not easy to pose and react with a camera in your face so we took it slow and had fun. The hardest part is to make someone trust you enough to relax. AT the end of the session, I had her take her hair down (a million bobby pins) and shoes off and we enjoyed the beach together.

Evolution of a Photographer: My story

I believe I was around 8 years old when my dad gave me a little Kodak Brownie camera and black-and-white film. He was an industrial designer and inventor who loved taking pictures of his eight children and also of his inventions and product models. I started making a little dioramas with my dolls with captions and shot the scenes for posterity. At a young age I excelled in the arts and music. Earning a BS degree in Fine and Applied Art from San Diego State University cemented my intent to become an artist and graphic designer. I bought a fairly good 35 mm film camera in my early 20s. I started with an Olympus and later, the Pentax Spotmatic 35mm cameras. Photography was a hobby for me for many years while my career path meandered from high school art teacher in Carmel, California to working as an art director for an advertising agency in San Diego and then later continued along that path when I move to Jacksonville, Florida. I was a Creative Director for a national direct marketing company in Jacksonville, Florida.  I also was learning Photoshop when it first came out. (I think it was Photoshop 3 then.) In the early years of my photography business, I continued to explore my fine art photography and invested in a large Epson printer to make fine art prints that were sold in galleries around the country. I was tenacious in learning as much as I could. When I didn’t feel confident, I studied on my own to learn the skills I needed.

Experience is your most valuable tool.

Early photo portraits including hand colored Black and Whites

As a graphic designer , composition and lighting product beautifully was key. Working with a half dozen studio photographers around the country and learning as much as I could about studio lighting from those talented professionals was invaluable experience. After 27 years with this company, I was downsized and had to decide where my next career was going to take me. At this point I had just reached my early 50s and decided to start my own company… and I went back to my roots as a fine artist and photographer.
I joined the national PPA and the local JPPJ club to learn photography.Purchased the best equipment that I could afford at the time. I took as many seminars as I could afford and practiced my craft. Some of my mentors were Anne Geddes, Tim Walton, Sue Bryce, Jasmine Star, Laura Jade, Lyndsey Adler, Kevin Kubota, Bambi Cantrell, Marcus Bell, Sandy Puc, among others. 

Making sure I am properly licensed and insured, tending to my finances efficiently, paying taxes monthly, concentrating on very good customer service, my business grew. I am fortunate to have my husband, a CPA handle the accounting over the last decade. He uses Quickbooks and has configured our books properly, with externals backing up everything. In my office, all of the images, raw and retouched jpgs are stored on external hard drives with DVD burns of the final images which I file in job folders. Organizing my clients alphabetically by last name first and also with sub folders for raw, retouched, with copies of invoices and payment information is done weekly. On my 27″ iMACs, I only keep current client images and stored in four main folders: Portraits, Weddings, Fine Art Photography, and Paintings. Since I am good about filing and getting back with clients quickly, its become easy to locate a photo. My rule is always to post the proofs within the week of the session. Even when I have a thousand shots to go through from a wedding, I never have disappointed a client by taking too long to post. They are always anxious to see the proofs so I don’t like to make them wait.



The key to a good portrait is making your clients feel good and gently posing them. I am a fan of natural light for much of my photographic portraits. My favorite camera for portraits is my Nikon 800E with an 85mm prime lens.

The hour goes quickly if you continually keep moving, making new groupings, concentrating on individual portraits (which gives the others in the group a break) …especially if you sense a person is uncomfortable or if a pose isn’t working. Working with children and babies is difficult at times so I keep the session moving by having several set locations worked out in advance. Also  telling jokes or talking to the little ones directly so they feel comfortable with me (without their parents urging them to smile which generally makes it worse.) Sometimes I bring toys, bubbles and noise makers to help with a little ones attention.



Studio and Location Portraits

Fine Art Fantasy Photography

As an artist who paints, I also like to explore a bit of fantasy with costumes and artistic manipulations. This requires some conversations prior to a session with your client/model. Then spending the time to locate props and costumes. I actually rented a real wolf for my Little Red Riding Hood portrait. Some are done in the studio and some on location. When I am out and about, I scout for locations continually. Once, a friend had some antique crossbows and archery bows and he was a hunter. So when I did his wife’s portrait, I made her into Diana, the goddess of the Hunt.

Professional Business Portraits

During the early years of study my photography business, I spent a lot of time and money investing in really good equipment in education. Fortunately for my years as a graphic designer, retouching and working on my images digitally came easy.  As an artist I adored spending hours manipulating my images to be a little bit more artistic and creative. Starting a business is a big challenge of finding clients that trust you to do a great job for them and then delivering on that promise. Being able to offer coffee table books is a great way to share a family’s session with friends and family. I always designed my books with traditional design methods, making thumbnails of the chosen images, design sketches and placing them on pages in Photoshop with no templates. There are many companies now who print consumer books with various templates for photographers who do not have design skills. I feel that my designs are totally unique in this regard.

Custom Designed Books

A lot of my business was word-of-mouth and I have spend a lot of capital on advertising, printed sales sheets, cards, professional folders, packaging, and everything that it took to set myself up as a professional. Because of my graphic design skills, creating custom books for my clients became a big draw. Shooting weddings, portraits, babies and families really kept me busy. I was offering something a bit different: A Traditional and classic posing mixed with tinting and artistic effects.

For the next decade I shot approximately 225 weddings locally and internationally.

Early in my photography career the pro lab that I was using, accidently destroyed two rolls of film from the wedding that I had just shot. It was the worst feeling I’ve ever had because I always wanted to do an exceptional job for my clients. That was when I switched from film cameras to digital professional gear. I’ve been using Nikon products for the last 15 years. I generally like to carry three cameras with various lenses and flashes to big shoots and scale it down to two cameras for family portraits. Having  numerous Nikon cameras, D2X, Nikon D200, D300, D600, couple D700s, D800E are part of my arsenal. I used to use zoom lenses because of the price and convenience but have found that prime lenses are now my go to LENSES. Also using a bracket for my flashes for vertical versus horizontal shots is a must. Notice in the shot above, I have a shadow to the right because my assistant did not use his bracket correctly.



Over a decade ago, I turned my two car garage into a professional portrait studio and I’ve had a lot of success being able to create images in my studio.

In the studio, I use daylight fluorescent Westcott light Banks and have a myriad of props and backdrops for portraits, children, and fantasy portraits. These Westcott lights are great because they don’t strobe and when you’re shooting a baby or somebody who is sensitive to light flash. …These really are PERFECT. By the way, because they do not flash, there is a chance to capturing a blurry shot so really planting yourself and asking client not to move much helps. For action shots, I make my ISO faster or add more light.


I have always enjoyed directing my brides and grooms into having fun,  and enjoying the experience of being photographed.

At this point in my career I’m starting to concentrate on just portraits and families. Still I do my altered fine art photography for galleries and have been concentrating on my paintings too. NEW TECHNOLOGY COMING:   Sometimes, I don’t bring my heavy camera gear and wish I did when inspired. I’m looking forward to owning the new compact Light L16 because it’s much smaller and I’m interested in low light photography. I will be able to slip this camera into my purse and always be ready to capture a scene. So many times, I have been missed getting a low light shot even with a high end digital camera. The L16 uses breakthrough optics design with the most advanced imaging engine ever created to give you the control of a DSLR with the convenience of a smartphone. With many cameras firing simultaneously, the L16 captures the details of your shot at multiple focal lengths, then fuses that information to create an incredible image with up to 52MP resolution. CHECK OUT THEIR WEBSITE LIGHT.CO.    If you go on to read some earlier posts, you can see more recent portraiture examples as well as some of my fine art photography.  Thank you for checking in.      My websites are: and

For the love of Photography

I have loved photography since I was a young girl. It wasn’t until in my 50’s that I left the corporate life as a graphic designer and Creative Director to pursue it full time. Working hard to hone my skills as a portrait photographer specializing in weddings, (over 200) learning and growing continually, I still have made time for my fine art photography. In 2009 I actually was honored as one of the noted fine art photographers internationally by Silvershotz Magazine and have also had my work in many art gallery shows over the last fifteen years. Fine art photography for me is a passion that gives me such joy. I adore adding textures and manipulating my images to create more of the mood of when I captured the image.

Sometimes I find myself in acute back pain at my computer “playing” with an image to enhance and create an effect I envision. Its addicting. There are so many photoshop actions that you can purchase and also I make my own actions of effects that I want to try on other images.

California 2016

Photographing crackling paint, water, rocks or wood textures and then softly layering  into certain areas of a photo alters the feeling sometimes dramatically. Each image calls to me to create something more special than when I originally shot it. Each become unique statements. Each image brings back memories and history.


By the way, the last photo is me.

Nicki and Jon’s Wedding at the Historic Casa Monica

Nicki and Jon had a beautiful wedding at the Casa Marina Hotel in Jacksonville Beach. I had one wonderful assistant, Nancy FLynn who helped me cover the key events as well as details to tell the entire story of their wedding in photos.