The Dogwood52 Challenge - catching up to weeks 5 through 7

Earlier this year, I heard about the Dogwood 52 challenge, created by Dale over at Dogwood Photography from a friend, and was absolutely psyched. Sure, a planned photo a week was going to take effort, but what better way to grow as a photographer? As this post title suggests, it took me all of four weeks to flop at this. 

A new job isn't really a good excuse, but it's part of it. The bigger issue is, I haven't really figured out how to fit in photography with the rest of my life. But it's a passion, and something I love doing in addition to my full time job, so I will trundle along and piece it together! I figure this challenge should be a blog series, so here's a recap of weeks 1-4, followed by the latest:

Week 1: Self Portrait

I didn't get the composition right AT ALL on this one, but I was so excited to do a self-portrait and get the focus right at a relatively shallow DoF with a manual lens that I didn't really care :) 

Week 2: Traditional Landscape

Week 3: Red

I was able to get weeks 2 and 3 in the same weekend at Yosemite - so I cheated a bit but who can resist the wonderland that's Yosemite in the winter? 

Week 4: Potrait: Headshot

This was the last one from the challenge that I posted, at the end of February. I did get weeks 5-7 in the next couple of weeks but didn't end up posting them. I wasn't entirely sure about my shots - which is a silly reason to not post them. So here's to getting back on the horse and seeing this challenge through!

Week 5: Landscape: Black & White 

I absolutely love B&W architectural shots and I hope I did San Francisco justice with this one!

Week 6: Candy

That week was the hardest so far - I saw some absolutely brilliant shots set up and captured and I already knew mine was going to fall short. My style to date has been more photojournalistic, but this week told me I was going to have to get out of my comfort zone and get creative. Good to have learnings for future weeks, right?  

Week 7: Faceless

This was also a toughie at first - "Tell someone's story without showing their face". This to me implied that it had to be captured in the moment. Luckily, while coming back from a second trip to Yosemite (where I got an amazing view of Horsetail Falls at sunset), we stopped by one of the several almond tree orchards and I got this shot. 

I'm definitely excited to go through the rest of this challenge, and though I'm behind, I'm going to stick to doing these one week at a time for the most part. Stay tuned for Week 8!

Anna & Liney

Sometimes you have a shoot where everything in the planning seems to go wrong or is difficult to work out, at least at first. Anna & Liney's engagement session was one of those. Our originally planned date had to be switched due to family commitments, then I got sick, then the Bay Area decided that rain was cool after all. With the holidays around the corner, and the couple's wedding approaching in April, it was getting tougher to pin down a date. 

So I suggested doing it at 730am on a Wednesday before I headed to work - and props to Anna & Liney, they agreed to the early morning session. 

And that's when you have one of those shoots where everything kind of goes wrong at first and then comes together beautifully. The rain, the temperature, the clouds, basically all came together to form this gem of a scene.

I just adore the reflection and early morning light highlighting this couple's gorgeous outfits.

Aren't they adorable? I loved capturing their giddiness - which I'm pretty sure was partly fueled by the early hour :)

We were limited on time so I couldn't get more than a couple shots, but I can't wait to photograph their beautiful wedding in April! Congratulations Anna & Liney!

Snigdha & Rishi

I love couple shoots. There's always so much love, and it's so much fun to see my clients interact and participate in something new. 

I met with Snigdha and Rishi last weekend - their wedding is coming up in 2 months (!!) and they wanted some engagement photos. We met up at the Legion of Honor (hands down my new favorite place in the city) early Sunday morning. 

I'm still drooling over those columns. The surrounding landscaping is nothing to sneeze at either.

Aren't they adorable? 

They had another set of outfits, so we had some fun with that. 

And then I got this sweet moment:

Rishi sheepishly mentioned that the shoot was pretty much Snigdha's idea, but they were both absolute pros. It was such a great session, and I wish them the best!

Ben + Victoria

May 30th was a typical, cloudy day in San Francisco, and I was nervous as hell. I was to capture Ben's surprise proposal to Victoria - that they'd flown all the way from Kansas City for. 

I'm grateful to Ben and his family for giving me a shot (they were my first engagement session), because I had the pleasure of photographing the sweetest couple, who were just so lovely to work with. Ben and I had been talking for a month by that point, trying to get every detail right. 

So I made my way up to Battery Spencer (Ben's choice, and a fantastic one) that morning, sharing my location details and enjoying the view as I waited. 

A selfie was a must at that vantage point - at least as a distraction for Victoria. Poor girl must have been freezing, but she was a champ. 

I don't think Ben could hold the question it in for very long :) And of course she said yes!

It was a beautiful thing to witness, and their happiness and love was just unmistakeable.

But that wasn't the end of it! Ben and I had talked about doing an engagement shoot after, and his heart was set on Crissy Field and the Palace of Fine Arts. 

They were all smiles the entire time. 

Ben really did have all of it planned out, because when we got to the Palace of Fine Arts, he pulled out a bottle of champagne, and I got this gem:

Such a gorgeous location! I especially love the stone and the landscaping around the building. But who's paying attention to the texture of the stone when there's this to behold? 

Ben also had a sweet treat for Victoria, and I absolutely had to capture that.

I had an incredible time on this shoot, and I absolutely adore this couple. They were so easy going, so much in love, and so happy - I'm happy to have been there to capture this moment in their lives. 

A lovely afternoon shoot with Rebekah

My favorite thing about living in a city is that there are always new spots to find. I met with Rebekah to do a portrait session a couple of weekends ago, and found Fay Park, a lovely little place with a gazebo tucked away near Russian Hill. My lovely model is hoping to build her modeling portfolio, and I was more than happy to help her out. I envisioned something simple and feminine for her. She was so easy to work with, and the shoot was a breeze, with the late afternoon sun giving us some fantastic lighting.

We had to move partway through the shoot, since someone was getting married at Fay Park that evening. I had a backup location a block away - a little playground and community garden area which had a variety of spots to shoot in.

I absolutely love Rebekah's smile and expression in these shots - girl is camera-ready! 

She did an outfit change for some added punch - the leather jacket and silver heels added an edge to the look.  

Rebekah was so nice to work with, and was such a natural in front of the camera! I hope her modeling career goes the way she'd like, and I'd love to shoot with her again!


Capturing Moments

When I got my first SLR, I was in love with shooting landscapes. They captivated me, I devoured others' images of incredible vistas, and I wanted to travel and explore the world and just shoot.

Then I started volunteering with a local non-profit - Sprouts Cooking Club. This involved getting photos of children as they tried their hand at cooking. Not quite as glamorous as going to Alaska, perhaps, but it opened my eyes. I suddenly realized that I loved capturing expressions and movements on my camera, and getting that perfect moment was incredibly satisfying. One of the shoots was outdoors, and there were kids running about while I looked on, and I loved it.

Which brings me to today. I just delivered an album of family portraits to a client, from a shoot that was so much fun. They wanted photos with their 3 month old puppy, Jobi, who was a joyful little thing that would not. sit. still. He was more than happy to give me a puppy smile and bound about though.

I got to explore a new park in San Francisco on an absolutely gorgeous day, and the family couldn't have been nicer to work with. The spring flowers and backdrop of tall shaded trees made the location (Pine Lake Park, off Sloat Boulevard in the city) a dream. 

Isn't he the cutest? I have a couple of my favorites saved in my portfolio:  

The flowers in the background were to die for. 

This shoot was just as fun as I expected, and I'm looking forward to a few more that I have lined up. The weather in this city rarely disappoints, can't wait!