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cole carter

A few weeks ago, I posted a picture to Instagram of the first set of photos that I was mailing out from a newborn session.  My cousin's good friend, Blair, saw the photo and reached out to see if I could do her newborn pictures.  She was due in less than a week.  Of course I would love to document such a precious time for such a dear friend.

Blair and I met a few years ago. We were both going to be bridesmaids in my cousin's wedding and knew of each other but had not yet met. A month or so before the wedding, I was working at Simmzy's {aka delicious} and in walks a blonde asking for quarters. I look at her and say "Blair?" She looks at me and says "OMG, Erin?" We squealed and hugged and our friends and co-workers looked on in confusion, "Wait, you two have never met?"  Clearly we were meant to know each other.

For Cole's newborn session, we spent a sunny Sunday in their beautiful home full of dreamy light.  Blair and her husband Amir are such a warm and loving couple who know how to enjoy life, and Cole is a very lucky little man to join such a wonderful family.

Introducing Cole Carter, at five days old.  Handsome little heart-breaker.

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stigile family

On the heels of taking newborn pictures for Tate, Leah asked if I could get some shots of the whole family. We started on the bluff in Santa Monica and worked our way down the California Incline to the beach.  I'm excited to see what they use for their holiday cards.

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santa fe

When my friend Lauren asked if I was free at the end of October, I quickly replied yes.  She was my sidekick and better half for the two years I spent in Boston. All thanks to her brother, my b-school classmate, who insisted that we meet.  She is one of the most fun, funny, genuine and warm-hearted friends you can know in life.  We are very much alike in that both of us are a bit reserved when meeting new people. So it took a few tries by her brother to kick things off before we were almost inseparable, especially when it came to drinking through our beer cards at Parish Cafe.

So when she asks if I'm busy, I'll pretty much clear my calendar to see her. Turns out she was getting married. Not in her current city and hometown of Chicago, but in Santa Fe, NM. Always up for an adventure, I quickly booked tickets for the family. My mom is obsessed with Santa Fe, so she quickly booked a ticket as well.  Now I know why.

Lauren & Josh chose the perfect time of year for their vows.  It was fall on the plaza - crisp, cool air, beautiful blue skies, and breathtaking foliage, all at 7,500' elevation. If you have the opportunity, take the trip.

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tater tot

Tater tot. I'm whisked away to 1986. Who didn't love a good tater tot casserole as a kid? Ore-Ida tots baked to a perfect crisp, over top of a delicious mixture of ground meat and cream-of-something-soup. No veggies, no problem.

Back to 2014. We're talking about sweet, handsome Tate, affectionately called Tater Tot by his parents.  He was almost four weeks old for our session, just barely sleepy enough to let me get some fun poses.

I love crying pics. I want one of every baby. My husband doesn't think these shots are sweet enough for newborns. But babies are only this tiny and vulnerable for a split second of their lifetimes.  While they may cry for hours now, and new parents will do anything to soothe the tears, I already miss seeing this raw emotion from our kids, who really aren't that old yet.

Welcome to the world Tate.  The fun has just begun.

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oh hey, ojai.

Ojai. It’s a little slice of heaven. Before moving to LA, I had only heard about Ojai on Brothers & Sisters. Remember that show? Rob Lowe, Sally Field. I don’t know why I love it, but I do. I love Ojai even more.

Nestled in the hills just inland from Santa Barbara and only two hours, give or take, from LA, the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa is a breath of fresh air. Literally. People ask us what we do up there, and I just can’t explain it. The weather, the food, the pool, the light, everything always seems perfect.  We spent a New Years there, we got engaged there, escaped for a mini-moon immediately following our wedding. It holds a very special place in our hearts. We finally got to return with the kids, and somehow it was even more amazing.

Kenzie was particularly enamored with Casper and Annie, the resident Australian Cockatoo and African Grey Parrot and can’t stop talking about them. Much like how Annie can’t stop talking. Hopefully we get back again soon.

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just max

This guy was the reason I finally invested in my camera.  I want to capture these moments as art, not just iPhone snapshots.  Don’t get me wrong, iPhone snaps can be fab, but a real camera captures a whole different perspective on real life. As a promise to myself to capture these moments and to reconnect with my creative side, I grabbed my camera to document one of Max’s favorite things: eating.

He’s an easy little man, but an intense little kid.  It’s so hard to describe, maybe it’s just being a boy.  He eats hard, he sleeps hard.  And he wants to do both on a regular and consistent schedule.  Just like his papa, I suppose.  His whole body tenses up when he eats, knees up, feet in, and chubby little fists gripping whatever the food source.  He is all in.


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little layla

A ridiculous number of my friends in LA are having babies in the next few months. At least one baby per month. Craziness. After dreaming of the Canon 5D for ages, I finally mustered up the courage to order it a week before my son was born this past February. A day or two after placing my order, the store called and said that I purchased the imported version and asked if that was really what I wanted. I had no idea what they were talking about, and they conveniently called while I was in the car on the way to the hospital. To give birth! So I panicked and cancelled the order. It took me almost six months to finally get the courage to order it again, hopefully knowing what I was doing the second time around. Then it took another month just to open the box. I hedge.  A lot.

Anyways, since all of my friends are having babies, it kind of seems like a sign that I should get my act together and start taking pictures like I used to so very long ago, pre-digital. Yeah, the 90s. Take that, Millennials.

First up? Baby Layla. She was already 7 weeks, so not exactly newborn, and not exactly sleepy or easy to position. She was also not in the mood to be unswaddled. But we had fun, and it was great practice. Her bedroom rug? Deliciousness. Shades of pinks and yellows in a chic shag rug. The kind of textures every photographer wants. I want one!  Except I have no space to keep it.

The lighting in her room was creamy and perfect, and her mama exudes gorgeousness without even trying. Introducing little Layla.

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grandma candy

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grandma candy

No, not special candy for grandmas. Grandma Candy.  The baker of cinnamon rolls.  The mender of clothing.  Give her a sewing machine, and she can stitch up just about anything so fast that sometimes the sewing machine catches on fire.  Seriously. She came to visit in September shortly after I finally opened up my new camera and took my first family session without it. A little less terrified and a lot more determined to get to know my Canon 5D, I kept it on the kitchen counter while she was in town, and this is what happened – magical creamy deliciousness.  And I’m not just talking about her cinnamon rolls.

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i can do hard things.

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i can do hard things.

So this is it. In July I finally bought the camera I had dreamed of for nearly a decade. The box arrived quickly but sat unopened for over a month. I was scared. What if I don’t use it enough to make it worth the cost? What if I take ugly pictures? I’m so out of practice with manual cameras, where do I start? I can still return it, right?

Thanks to the unwavering support of family and friends, in particular one friend who insisted that I get started by doing a family portrait session with her husband and kiddos over Labor Day weekend. I was completely terrified. How do I take natural, beautiful photos of this amazing family? The day of the shoot, I opened the box, dug out the camera and charged the battery. I can do this. I can do hard things.

Within minutes of charging the battery, I realize, with panic, that something is wrong. Very wrong. I can’t focus the camera on anything closer than 10′. I also realize that I’m beyond the 30-day return/exchange policy for defective equipment. With mounting terror, I wonder how I can explain to B&H Photo that why yes, I have had the box for weeks, but I didn’t open it because I was too scared and could they pretty please help me with my new and very expensive broken camera? Total panic. I can do hard things.

Thankfully it was just the 50mm lens I had bought three years ago in anticipation of buying the Canon 5D. But I had never used the lens, so now I was mad. And still panicking because I needed to get to the photo shoot. On my way out the door, another friend let me borrow her Nikon. I don’t use Nikons. Never have. I had no idea what I was doing, what file format I was shooting, nothing. But I had a family excited to romp around the park and the beach, so I had to get out there and just hoped the camera was set on automatic. I can do hard things.

At 3pm, the day was still too hot, the sun was way too bright, the kids were hungry, so was the husband, but you know what? I got out there, I got some snaps, and after weeks of studying Lightroom, I now had something to edit. It all starts somewhere, right?

I can do hard things.

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