Meeting City Danika for the First Time

We’re going to skip the long paragraph where I talk about how bad I’ve been at consistently blogging in the midst of all the changes with our move, jobs, baby…and the list could go on.

Instead, I wanted to share these sweet moments that I had the privilege of capturing recently!

After our niece, City Danika, was born and her parents had a few quiet nights to themselves, my husband and I took all three of her siblings back home to meet her!

Their Dad brought each of them upstairs — one by one, oldest to youngest — to introduce them to the family’s newest addition. Rock, the oldest, prayed for City and then took his other two sisters by the hand, with their eyes closed and lead them to the edge of the bed where they’d find a new baby!



Key, the second oldest, was so funny when Rock brought her into the room. She nervously backed away, step by step, eyes locked on her little sister but afraid to get too close.
Then came Story, the one who used  to be the baby of the family! I was thinking her reaction might be more like Key’s but she walked in all excited and with the highest voice of compassion that you’ve ever heard, looked at her baby sister and said “Oh! She’s so cute Abba!” MELT. MY. HEART.






Seeing how these little ones love City makes me so excited for not just our own baby but for many more after him! And seeing how my husband just lights up around his brother’s kids was one of the “deal-makers” for me when we were dating. There’s something so attractive about guys with “baby fever”! Well…to me, anyways.

It’s easy to imagine how MUCH he’ll love our little guy when I see him with a baby in his arms!

“Behold, children are a gift of the Lord,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
So are the children of one’s youth.
How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them”



City Danika Tibayan: April 1, 2013








City Danika Tibayan
April 1, 2013 at 12:54pm
7 lbs 13 oz — 21 in

I had the privilege of photographing the birth of my newest niece at the beginning of April! It was such an incredible experience to be a part of her first few moments in her parents arms.

Now we’re in the hospital waiting for City’s best friend, Jordyn, to make her own entrance into this world!


What an exciting time for our family! Praise God for all of these blessings and new additions!

Nancy + Bill: Wedding Day Morning

It was the morning of their Wedding Day and excitement filled the air as people were coming and going through what seemed like every door of the Bride’s house! The kitchen and the bedrooms were filled with the wedding party members getting their hair and makeup done now that every available table and mirror had been turned into a beauty station.

Nancy, this morning’s Bride, sat calmly downstairs as her makeup artist, Bic, added the finishing touches to her glowing skin. I have never seen a Bride so peaceful and collected as Nancy! One of many sisters, she was very familiar with the “getting ready” routine but this morning was unlike any morning she had ever experienced. On this day, March 30th, she would marry the love of her life, Bill!

PicMonkey Collage

PicMonkey Collage2


















I had the best time spending the day with Nancy, Bill and their families last weekend! I just couldn’t wait to share some of the images from the morning of their wedding! More of their special day is on it’s way!

Turnaround Road Trip: Santa Barbara









From LA to Palm Springs to Santa Barbara, I’m making my rounds in Southern California! Last week Ruby and I decided to take a last minute road trip up past Santa Barbara to pick up a bench for my orchard in her backyard. Yes, my orchard! When we were in the process of moving from Minneapolis to LA we didn’t have any of the details worked out. At the same time her sweet husband, Ben, was tearing apart their backyard to build this extensive orchard. I always said that if worse comes to worst we would always just move to the orchard and live off the land – thus, becoming my orchard.

Really, I think I got the great end of this deal! They spend their Saturdays toiling in the hot sun digging trenches for proper soil moisture and I have a fool-proof way of feeding my growing family in the event of a major economic collapse. Oh and did I mention the super cute bench? 😉

We left at 5 am, beat the traffic, drove up the coast, had brunch at the cutest little cafe and continued on through the mountains and canyons north of Santa Barbara. It was glorious day to explore outside of the city – I had no idea how bright the wildflowers were that covered whole mountainsides!

It really was such a blessing to spend the day together talking about our lives and spurring each other on to love our husbands better. Ruby grew up with my husband so in a lot of ways she knows him better than me so it was good to get her perspective on a lot things. It was also a perfect getaway for me to externally process some big decisions that needed to be made regarding work, baby and ministry.

Since that trip it feels like life hasn’t slowed down one bit so I’m thankful for the time we had to just rest and enjoy the view!

Venice Canals Engagement: Renee + VJ


Last week I had the privilege of second shooting the sweetest couple with Allure Studios. We spent the day exploring the Venice Canals and all of the beautiful architecture and landscape it holds. Renee and VJ are so adorable! From the first moment I met them, I loved how genuine they were. It felt like we were just hanging out with friends as we spent the day talking and laughing – a perfect Sunday afternoon.



This gorgeous couple ties the knot in September.






I love the way Renee’s nose would crinkle when she burst out laughing! Her whole face would just light up with her expression.



This shoot was not only just a great time working up an appetite for sharing our lives over Mexican food after our adventure but it was a great development opportunity. I learned lots of valuable lessons about composition (or lack thereof) like not cutting off a great pair of stilettos from the photo or cropping out the groom-to-be’s hard-earned bicep (above)! Oops!



Still, I was able to walk away from the experience with a whole list of things that I learned, things I enjoyed and things I’d do differently. I’m thankful that Art from Allure Studios, a family friend of ours, was so gracious to bring me along and give me feedback and direction on the fly.

Here’s to lessons learned and progress!

Still, He Waters My Soul

I love that in LA you can drive two hours north to the mountains and these glorious hills covered in bright wildflowers and green grass or you can drive southeast to the desert where the hills are decorated by millions of uniquely cut rocks and boulders.

In the desert, the heartiest of wildflowers and trees grow up from beneath the dry soil as if to offer just a glimpse of hope and beauty.






Sometimes so much of life is like this where hope springs up from solid ground. In the middle of the desert, still we say “The Lord has done great things!”.

As streams renew the desert, as life rises from the most unexpected places, so He restores our soul.


He is the rain and I am the desert
He is the hand that holds my seeds together
He is the breath and I am the dry bones
Oh, He makes me come alive
I’m coming alive

(Sarah McMillan)

A Night at The Saguaro

I had one of the best birthdays this year! Eric’s parents were generous enough to let us use their time share in Palm Springs for my birthday week! More on that later.

On the night of my birthday we all left to check out what I liked to call “The Color Hotel” before we hit the Palm Springs (tiny) strip for dinner.

The Saguaro is the most colorful hotel I’ve ever seen in my life! It was renovated in 2011 with 14 different hues naturally found in the desert. The bold color and modern design make this a perfect getaway in the middle of the desert.




We just shot around the outside of the hotel and walked around the lobby with our jaws gaping wide. The furnishings, lighting fixtures, architecture and design of the lobby alone were a great first impression! I didn’t even have a chance to get to the inside like this girl!

All of the rooms are designed with each color as it’s theme. I’m already having a mini-decision-crisis dreaming up the color of the room I want to stay in. Lively hot pink or calming ocean blue? I think I have time…



This was such a beautiful place to be and a perfect place to practice with exposure, color, white balance and post-processing. Now I’m putting “a night at The Saguaro” on my bucket list.

Beautiful Hour

It’s only March but we’re already having to buy blackout window treatments to keep our room cool when the afternoon sun shines in. This also means that I got to practice with the beautiful southern California light.

This is Faye. Today I taught her how to detail her car and find hidden car wash deals in “little Tijuana”. It sounds like I’m really knowledgable about the area but it’s actually just because I got lost trying to find a gas station today. It paid off when I found a $5.95 hand wash!


When this girl laughs she laughs with her whole body. I was thanking God this afternoon for how easily our friendship has progressed. She is such a gift to my life with her genuine encouragement, involvement, and vulnerable, challenging conversations.

Today I learned how quickly the light changes during this time of day! Actually lots of lessons learned this afternoon as I was experimenting with different lenses and lighting.

This next photo was taken when I switched to a 50mm. I love the lens flare and how dramatic it looks with the lowest aperture (experimenting) but I had some exposure issues with all of this light coming through. Still, it’s hard to make someone this beautiful look unfortunate.
I’m thankful for beautiful people and beautiful places, it makes practicing that much more fun!

Promises of Hope

Today our POD arrives with all of our belongings from Minnesota. We’re slowly adjusting, getting situated and discovering our new routine with a lot of changes taking place.

I’m enjoying having these days off of work to transition. It’s given me more time with the family, to help plan a wedding and to venture into the new territory of photography. I’m having so much fun learning about my camera and getting my hands on anything that will teach me more.



After playing around with the available light in the house – super beautiful, white, fresh light comes through our bedroom window – I thought it would be a good idea to walk around my usual “loop” in the neighborhood and take some photos along the way.


There’s a spot in our route, right before you start heading downhill, where you have this incredible view of the neighborhoods set up in the hills across the way. Sometimes you’ll see single houses built on top of a giant hill with no visible way of accessing it. The first time I visited out here it reminded me of the verse “a city set on a hill cannot be hidden” and the light that we should be to the world around us but it also reminded me of the protection that was provided for things that are set on high places. I still see those houses and think of how God not only sets us apart but he hides us.

“For he will conceal me there when trouble comes; he will hide me in his sanctuary. He will place me out of reach on a high rock.”

“When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”


I also found a beautiful gate along the way. It seems to me that the theme of my walk this afternoon was intent on reminding me of the protection of God over my life even in uncertain times. Little things like this hill or that gate remind me of the promises of plans filled with hope for the future.


The Cutest Things: Little League & Little People

By now I’ve figured out that living in California has it’s perks. One of those perks are that we get to go to LA to watch our nephew’s basketball games. We spent Saturday hanging out with the family and cheering him on. Seriously, little league sports are one of the cutest things! Rock was the second tallest out on the court and very agressive – I’m hoping he’ll grow up and go pro, otherwise we’ll have to adopt a future-NBA player.

I decided to take my camera along to play with the kids. The girls love having their pictures taken and they’re so adorable when the camera is out – striking up poses and asking to see themselves. They know they’re cute!

The lighting was this awful old-gym halogen glare. It makes everything under it a funky color and difficult to photograph (so be a little forgiving here!) but it was fun to experiment and kept the girls occupied.


Story is sassy! She’s the baby in the family (for the next two weeks or less) with the highest-pitched voice you’ve ever heard. She’s bubbling over with so much personality and cocks her head to the side with her whole body when she poses for photos.


Rock is so sensitive and the level of compassion and leadership he already carries in dealing with his younger sisters is incredible. He’s been raised to value and protect the girls in his role as a (little) man in the family. I tear up when I think about Frances, his mom, giving a speech on our wedding weekend about how she got to watch my husband, Eric, fall in love with this little boy. The connection they share is so precious.


Key is the sweetest. She’s the oldest girl in a family with four kids (so far). She is so girly and is coming up with some of the most amazing fashion combinations lately! The other day she wore a polka dot skirt with floral tights and a LA Dodgers hat over her braids – perfect!


I’m so thankful that we get to live here and see these little kids (and all of the ones on the way!) grow up into beautiful people.