free falling

i love high school, really, i do. i loved being in it and worked really hard to get through college to go back to it. i miss the classroom; at times i get super nostalgic for it and out of nowhere will feel this sudden pang of longing; it’s weird, i know, but how i feel. when seniors contact me to take their senior portraits feel super excited to have opportunity to spend time with the age and stage for which i have an affinity.


i wrote innumerable letters of recommendation when i was teaching. the greatest compliment i could give several of these students was that i wanted my son (we only had gunnar at the time) to grow up to be just like the individual i was writing the letter for. i know all of jessica’s teachers, advisors, and counselors would echo my sentiment. i spent two hours with her, but finished our session feeling that my future, and the future of my children is safe with her.

she’s leaving high school in a few months, jumping from the nest, free falling…

i thought of tom petty’s song while i was editing her images…so much of it’s lyrical emotion is perfect for her…

“she’s a good girl, loves her mama






loves jesus and america too…




she’s a good girl, crazy ’bout elvis (and taylor swift and that other band you told me about ;)),

loves horses and her boyfriend too…




….i wanna write her, name in the sky…”




soon she will be free falling from the security of a safe nest, but she is prepared to take flight, and i know she will. her future is so bright, just like her!!

jessica, may you enjoy your last few moments in high school. may you drink in the sights and sounds of the hall during passing period, the elation of a good grade, the teacher that made a difference, the true friends you made, and all the accomplishments you worked so hard for. may you know and believe that great things are waiting for you. may you feel prepared for what awaits. now step. step outside the nest and catch your wind of opportunity and fly…

i am hugging you, wishing you the best, and getting emotional thinking of your graduation day!! :)

thank you for the opporunity to photograph beautiful YOU at this monumental time in your life!! here’s to you and the incredible chapter of high school!!

IMG_3058jblog raeann, this one’s for you…no crying now…;) alright then, someone pass her a kleenex; she’s going to need it… she might need several until jess makes it through her first semester of college! ;)(you know i think you are wonderful and such an incredible parent and friend; i loved meeting and spending time with you too!!!)


love and congratulations to you all, kj

in the simple we find the beauty

“so tell me about the bridal party.”

“you are looking at it.”


“and at the reception, everything will be standard: first dance, cake cutting, garter, bouquet, big dinner…”

“nope. just us and all the people who love us, and a few treats.”

“I LOVE THAT TOO, SO MUCH!” (i wasn’t shouting it, like the caps make it appear :), just emphasizing how much i love this idea…a wedding doesn’t have to be lavish and extreme to be the most beautiful day in your life. i really do feel that some of life’s most beautiful moments are the uncomplicated and unornamented ones.)

this wedding is going to be incredible because of its simplicity. but i love that the focus of the day and all of its celebrating will be on them. they are the major detail; they are the cake cutting; the bridal party, the toasts, the bouquet flying through the air; they are the reason time will stand still on may 28th, and they should be, because nothing else will matter that day except, them.


these two are effortlessly in love:







they will expect much out of each other in terms of commitement, loyalty, and respect, but their ways of showing love and affection will always be simplistic: a little love note, a favorite treat left in her purse, a call on a lunch break, doing a chore without being asked, a hug when he walks through the door; something so little that communicates so much and resonates the simplistic beauty of something so complicated as love.





these next two make me smile…and feel happy…and glad to have met rachael and jeff…



they will always appreciate the simplicity of a night in, a gift card instead of flowers, a pop-kiss goodnight, snuggling on the couch while reading their favorite magazines, or a walk in the fading sun at the end of a day, saying nothing, but feeling everything…








life and its moments pass way to quickly to not take advantage of the simplicity that sits waiting each day to be enjoyed. these two get that, and it inspires me:


in the middle of our shoot rachael and jeff were approached by an elderly couple walking hand in hand towards something. in no rush to reach their destination they casually walked across one of our frames then stopped to talk. it was sweet to see the juxtaposition of fresh love with wise love. they shared some advice, most of it standard (don’t go to be mad, etc.), but the most poignant piece of advice came as they were shuffling away: “tell each other, you love each other, every day.”

the most simple thing you can do, and for sure the most imporant and beautiful is to tell those you love, who are closest to your heart, that you love them. every. single. day.

i know these two have a love for the other that transcends the boundaries of their hearts. i know they simply share it, and i also know that other’s feel it and are inspired by it!!


rachael and jeff, i can’t wait to be a part of your wedding day! it is going to be perfect because it’s main ingredient will be the two of you! may you always feel the love and passion you have for each other that is present today when you are shuffling through another couples engagement pictures :), and may it grow to levels you didn’t know you could feel!!

here’s to you and the beautiful simplicity waiting to happen on may 28th! much love, kj


the market: a sneak peek

if you are in the market for love these two know where to go to buy it!!




just a few from our trip to the market and a walk through the city…

i am jumping out of skin over this couple…falling in love with them…you will too…

more soon…



everyone knows i am a teacher; that’s who i am! and i hope that everyone knows that if i were still teaching at tesoro high school i would be striking along side my fellow family of teachers. unfortunately, right now my former colleagues and some of my dearest friends are in the middle of a huge political mess; it’s spiraling into something awful! it’s gnarly and so, so sad, on so many levels!!

i grabbed this video from youtube after watching it on becker’s blog. (april, my good friend, is chris’s sister.) it explains the issue. whatever happened to playing nice on the playground? to listening to one another? to compromise? to “everything i needed to know i learned in kindergarden?” FROM A TEACHER!!!

if you live in orange county in the san juan capistrano school district, HONK when you pass these teachers. take them a box of doughnuts, pizza, or a case of water. walk by and hold their signs for a few minutes. if they ask you to sign a petition regarding the recall of two board members sign it in permanent ink!! if you believe in god offer a prayer that this will end, that these teachers can go back to what they believe in: teaching our future.

this is me carrying all of your signs. walking along beside you. honking loudly.

i am grateful for all of the sacrifices you are making (everything is going to be ok!!). resolution will come. until then…march on!

never doubt i love: mindi and alex’s wedding

enter the english teacher:

i love literature. so much! i love to read books and then talk about them later. i love words and their power and how they can evoke all sorts of feeling!! i even love the dreaded shakespeare (can you hear the audible moan from the high school peanut gallery?), his words are so incredibly genius…

i know it’s a bit cliche because it is so well known but hamlet is one of my favorites. it’s a ghost story, and a love story, and a mouse-chase story all in one! i love that play so much. the intricacies, sub-plots, characters, and themes are so detailed and profound within themselves…

let’s just discuss one…

the character of ophelia is for sure my fav in the play. she loves her man so so much, but then he starts acting funny to her and treating her weird and so it makes her crazy because she doesn’t get why this guy, who has professed his love would be so hot one minute and cold the next. needless to say she loses her senses and ends up a soggy dead drowned mess in the river at the end. hey, that’s the story…

hamlet tried to reveal to her what he could without disclosing his plan. see, he was (according to my interpretation) pretending to be mad to trap his father’s killer; he wasn’t really crazy! he couldn’t trust her with everything because he didn’t trust her dad or her bro at all…and they totally manipulated her too…see the intricacies? and is anyone getting as excited about this as i am? my brow is furrowed and i am writing so fast; i wish you could see the intensity i am typing with!! i love this stuff!! so anyway, hamlet tries to tell ophelia to go away until all of the stuff goes down at the castle and he is able to exonorate his father’s death, but instead of just saying, “look beautiful lady, i love you and am going to spend my life with you and we are going to make hamlet and ophelia babies, but you have to go away for just a bit…” he says, “get thee to a nunnery…” which makes her, like all women, start thinking and obsessing and over analyzing and she starts wondering, “why the hell would he send me to a nunnery to be a nun? i thought he loved me and wanted to live with me in the big castle together and stuff…” and so begins the downward spiral of beautiful o.

she goes crazy, legitimately, unlike hamlet, but she parallels his feigned craziness (reigning in the english teacher…) she loses all of her senses and goes mad…can you blame her? something just clicked when hot prince told her to become a nun…it happens…

hamlet tried to remind her of his feelings with all these love letters he wrote to her. (this is the part i am getting to, the part that connects to this post. i promise it relates, not just me needing to fulfill a teaching void.)

hamlet writes,

“doubt that the stars are fire;

doubt that the earth doth move;

doubt truth to be a liar,

but never doubt i love.”

it’s as plain as day, o!!! he was nut-so for you!!! you can doubt that all those things are what they are, but the one thing you were never supposed to doubt was that he freakin’ loved you!!!

had only she had her wits about her then the story would have ended a romance and not a total and complete tragedy with all of denmark either dead or wondering what the hell was happening!! ;)

my point being…

there should be no doubt from anyone who attended their wedding, from anyone who see’s these images, or from anyone who reads these words that mindi and alex love each other so deeply and profoundly, that theirs is the making of classic literature (without all the weird drama stuff! ;))



never doubt their day was one poets, even those like shakespeare, use as muses for incredibly moving work:





never doubt alex, that you married a lady. one with a kind and gentle heart. the kind of heart that would give the world for you, the kind that knows yours and holds it tightly, the kind who would go to a nunnery if you told her to, because she would understand the subtext and know you had her best interests in mind and that you would come and get her as soon as things settled in denmark…wait…i digress…;) mindi, never doubt you will always be alex’s most absolute muse.

mindi was “far more lovely and more temperate…than a summer’s day…”




mindi, never doubt you married a gentlemen who looks at you differently than he looks at anyone else. never doubt you hold his heart in your hand; never doubt he is your truest star and greatest fan.




never doubt that seeing each other before the ceremony is such a cool choice! ;) i love how it gives the couple time to just be together, away from the hustle of final details, just to soak in the pending moments. (mindi’s family has a tradition: she comes from a family of girls, that’s right, another house of phloof (mckeown’s see blog posts below to know what i am talking about… :)). the girls’ father, larry, who happens to be one of those men with such a tender spirit, especially towards his wife and daughters, walks his girls not only down the aisle, but also towards their groom for the first look. i loved it and thought it was so special and made the moment even that much more sweet.)

mindi, never doubt that your dad was the first man to love you so deeply. ;) never doubt that he has been holding your heart until he found a proper suitor to continue carrying it for the rest of your life.

alex, never doubt he approved you to be the proper suitor…


this next image makes me well up a bit…kind of like queen gertrude when she drank the poisoned cup and knew she was out-ie…just kidding…but it does make me well up thinking of my own father. i saw so many similarities between he and larry, it was uncanny. i wanted to just hug larry because he reminded me so much of my dad!!


the anticipation in this moment is so palpable! i love it! i kind of start to squeal…inside…no one can hear the squealing but me…the closer she gets…


who’s squealing???? i am again…never doubt this moment makes me squeal…inside…;) get ready….


eeeccccckkkkkkkkk!!!! i love this moment so, so, so much!!!


never doubt mindi you are beautiful and admired:


never doubt, mindi and alex, that what you have is real. your love is what author’s try to recreate in their stories and poems.  it’s this love that songs and sonnets are written about. it’s this love that each human being seeks to feel in his/her lifetime.

(alex, never doubt that you are really cool…:))






alex, never doubt you are talented beyond belief! never doubt you have a personality that invites everyone in…

(i shot the one on the left, whitty woo, another great poet and artist, grabbed the one on the right)


this in one was also whit’s; i loved it!!


mindi, never doubt that you are beautiful, and lovely, and so friendly, and also gifted (when i am in london i am scheduling an appointment):


and your personality, too, is so contagious. you are charm personified; never doubt it:


never doubt, that together you have something so special…











never doubt that the words and emotions shared at your ceremony all came from the heart. never doubt that when you said “i do” you made the most important promise of your life:




never doubt that you were surrounded by a tremendous amount of love and support on your day.



while i shot bridal party and family portraits whit shot details before our light went the way of the west:






she nabbed this one of the bouquet before the first look:


and before we lost all light i grabbed the couple for a few more alone…

never doubt that sunrise and sunset will always be a quintessentially romantic time…the light just says it has to be that way!!



never doubt that your party was a direct illustration of your vibrant connection and love:





and just when you thought it was over, kind of like the ending of hamlet, mindi and alex extended their festivities with some after wedding eats. i think poets could write about this food, for sure:




mindi and alex, never doubt that you have found the one person who will make you ultimately happy in this life. never doubt the stars will always be fire, the earth will always move, truth will never be a liar, and like the rest of these certainties never doubt, you two will always have this incredible love and affection for each other. all of your days, from now on, are like poetry, writing themselves because the two of you exist, together.

thank you so much for welcoming me into your life’s love letter. thank you for allowing me to be a part of the day when you completed the sonnet and started a new epic love story. much love to both of you, you cheekies. :) when i am in london next, let’s meet up for that yummy apple drink i love and a hob nob.

from my heart, never doubt, that i think you both are incredible people. congratulations, kj


ps never doubt that whitney is an absolute bore…and no fun to work with… thanks for being there whit; you are a talent beyond measure!! i think shakespeare would have liked you, if only you hadn’t been so non-descript, such a yawn, and a total wet blanket…(know you i am kidding…grateful for you…on so many levels!!) check out her blog; i am sure she will have a follow up post soon!!



shakespeare for sure had this face in his head while drafting his heroines…for sure my most glamorous moment. eat your heart out shakespearean muses, nothing beats this…



i know…i have left you speechless…;)

oh, i almost forgot…i meant to weave this all in prose but i was just so overwhelmed by ophelia and hamlet and such that i forgot to mention that alex and mindi were married at thornton winery in temecula. flowers provided by wineberry hill designs; cake brought to you by bocakes. i also have contact information for amy kelley: the genius behind hair (get a site amy…:)); and their incredible makeup was done by crystal (whom i can also get information on if anyone is interested!!)their dj, devaughn daniels, was incredible too.

ps this post will run through the weekend and perhaps a bit into next week…i am going to take a teeny tiny break from blogging…just for a couple of days. i have done good though right?

congrats again to mindi, alex, and their families (shout out to the mckeown’s…LOVE YOU GUYS!! BIG HUGS!!)!

it was such an incredibly poetic day!! happy to have been there! love, kamee

graduation day: a sneak peek

high school is a time you will never forget. the jump from it to life outside is filled with all sorts of emotion, mostly anticipation and hope at what’s to come.

just a few from my shoot with jessica. she’s graduating soon, and i am so happy for her! here’s to her and a great accomplishment. more to come soon…




some recipes: before and after, a little bit on photoshop

a long time ago this photographer said to me, “kamee, at the end of my life i probably won’t even know a quarter of the capacities of this program.” i thought it was crazy at first because he is so ridiculously talented and knows his stuff so well, but the more i play around with the program myself the more i realize that he is totally right: it has abysmal capabilities. i have, however, found a system the works for me, and i feel is consistent with my brand. having said that though i still like to try out new recipes on my images; it’s always fun to play around to get different “feels” with images. i use photoshop action for about 92% ( i wanted to give an original percentage instead of 90 0r 95 or 99. when does 92 get any attention? but it is still a high enough percentage for you to get the idea that i use actions the majority of the time in my post processing to get the look i am after. these are my favorites by far. worth every penny: totally rad actions (i love the revenge set), and kubota (the magic sharp action is genius) i am always interested in learning more about the “abysmal program”, and am so inspired by how so many use it and use it well; it really is such an incredible tool and when it is honed-in properly can add just that little extra “ummmfff” to your photos to make them pop.

in terms of the technicalities i shot these with my 5d and i was shooting in manual mode.

the first was shot about 30 minutes before sunset. that provides images with that really nice buttery light that is so delicious and incredible it also helps give some really great sun flare.

my settings were 50mm 1.2, 1/1300 sec, iso 200

this is the image sooc


after pulling it up in photoshop i:

ran ying/yang (on the light layer with my brush set to 13% opacity; i ran the brush over the entire image to lighten it a bit.)

then i hit pool party (i use this on almost everything ;) LOVE IT) and adjusted the opacity to 20%,

daily multi-vitamen next,


contrast 63%

and to finish it off i played a bit in curves, then i flattened the imaged, magic sharped it, sized it for web, added the watermark, and…

baammmm! not bad! ;)


for this one i shot the image in open shade, but our light was the same as above, 30 minutes before sunset. specs: 35mm 1.4 (love this lens!!), 1/800 sec, iso 200



i want my images to be consistent especially when they are from the same set, but sometimes they don’t all need the same “stuff” to make them cohesive.

i started by cropping in on the image just a bit the i touched- up just a teeny tiny bit with the clone stamp set at 10% opacity. (you want to be good to your clients, but don’t make them look fake or plastic-y. a brush set at a lower opacity will help with this for sure!! ;))

then i played yin/yang and on the light layer set the brush to 13% and brushed over the entire thing.

then pool party at 20%

contrast 45%

claire-fy at 61%

i played a bit in curves

hit magic sharp, sized it for web, slapped down the watermark, and

wa-la…something sweet…(ps this was rachael’s totally awesome idea!! ;) i thought it was fantastic!)


this one was shot in full shade, but the building’s windows behind me were providing a really cool reflector light! i loved it! specs: 35mm 1.4, 1/800sec, iso 200



i cropped it first because i wanted to get in closer to the action. (there are so many things i love about this image! even sooc it is super, ultra cool to me!! the chandellier in the window is awesome! not to mention the two of them…gheessh! so beautiful!)

then i used ying/yang to lighten the image a bit (set the brush to 20% and in the lighten layer rolled over the entire image)

pool party at 20%

contrast 30%

wish you were here (this brings out cool blues, but watch the opacity for sure) 36%

claire-ify 70%

then i played with curves, sharpened the image with magic sharp, sized it for web, watermarked it, and…


these next example isn’t from this session, but someone asked if i would show what went down behind the scenes with this image. of course, be happy to! ;)

this was from my first arizona shoot. shot with some backlight actually, but i am in so close you can’t really tell. specs: 50mm 1.6, 1/2000, iso 100



i shoot my images wide open (that means with a really small aperture (small number- large opening, everything is opposite! ;))) because i like how that helps to smooth things out a bit. it makes for really nice soft skin. like i said before you want to be good to your clients, but still showcase them how they really are.

i touched things up just a bit with the clone stamp and also with the action pro-retouch at about 12%

then i ran pool party at 40%

daily multi-vitamen (this only allows you to run at 100%)

claire-fy 15%

i played with the dials in color balance a bit to adjust the cyan and blue

pulled the curves, magic sharped it, sized for web, added the watermark, and


just a little bit of love to each image adds a certain punch!

hope this was interesting and helpful! ;)

i would love to help if you have any photoshop questions i would be more than willing to share what i know or help you find the answer in the abyss! ;)

birth, first steps… graduation, wedding…

we hit a monumental milestone in lark’s life…

she started saying “please”. and that’s music to my ears.


well, maybe she is saying please. she could just be asking for more “peas”.

happy wednesday. today i am being shot and doing some shooting (i never tire of that pun!!) super excited for it all!! hope the day is great!!

lady danger

lady danger. that’s the color of her lipstick, and i love it!!

saturday i had a kickin’ it session with three really incredible women and photographers. it was fun to hang and chat about photography and all of our goals. my friend katrina and her husband generously gave us a couple hours of their time on saturday to be our models. they rocked it! totally worked it out and were just what we needed!! i had a great time!! more from their shoot later. here’s just a taste at some serious glam and passion!!!







thank you to meredith, kristine, and kim for coming; it was so nice meeting you all!!

and a big thank you hug to kat and jeff for coming out and supporting the a-team! ;)

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