All together | Bay Area Family Photographer

This fantastic family wanted some pictures of the eight of them all together before sending their daughter off on a two year church proselyting mission.  I know all too well that once those chicks grow up and start leaving the nest, it’s hard to gather them all together again, especially for a family portrait.  The session was full of laughter, a few tears, and a little bit of chaos thrown in for good measure.  I thoroughly enjoyed it!

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Surprise surprise | Bay Area lifestyle photographer

Sometimes life throws you a curve ball. This sweet family was surprised to find out that they were adding one more brother to the mix eight years after they thought they were all done.  It’s fun to see how  incredibly excited these boys are for this baby! He will be greeted with an abundance of love no doubt.
Documenting older kids can be intimidating but the key is to get them busy doing something together that they love.  They tend to forget that you’re there.  In this case, these boys love eating and are pretty darn good at baking chocolate chip cookies so that seemed like a natural idea for a family lifestyle session.
Once the cookies were finished and our bellies were full, we took a short drive to one of my favorite locations to shoot some more traditional family and maternity photos while the sun was going down. I can’t wait to meet this sweet baby boy soon!

Engaged | My Own

It’s true.

She’s getting married.

It’s still sinking in.

I’ve become one of those annoying people who give unsolicited advice to young mothers, “Enjoy them because they grow up waaaay too fast.”

I never thought I’d be that person.  But I am.  And it’s soooo true.

They grow up way too fast!

But he’s a great guy.  And she’s in love.  And he’s in love. And the wedding date is set.  And it’s really happening.  And I’m proud of them both and am excited to see her embarking on this new chapter in her life.

I flew up to Utah for their engagement photos in April.  In my mind I was envisioning a beautiful spring meadow in the mountains.  What we found was lots and lots of snow.  Spring had not yet happened in the middle of the rocky mountains. But it was beautiful nonetheless.


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wendy vonsosen

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Under the Surface | 8 Tips when using an Underwater Housing Unit

I’ve been intrigued by underwater photography lately and have played around a little bit with a point and shoot camera in the pool.  But when we were getting ready for our trip to Maui for Spring Break this year, I decided last minute to rent a housing unit for my DSLR.  Thanks to Borrowlenses, I rented an Aqua Tech Elite 800 for my Nikon D800 and a lens port housing for my 50mm 1.4 lens.  It wasn’t cheap but it was definitely worth it because I learned a TON.  And let me tell you, the learning curve is seriously steep.   There are some things I did that I probably shouldn’t have and some things I didn’t do that I probably should have.

If you’re considering trying out an underwater housing for their big camera, here are a few pointers to save you time and headaches:


1)  Use a wide lens.  The less water that’s between you and your subject, the clearer your subject will be and you’ll be more likely to recover skin tones in post processing.  My 50mm worked OK but my 35mm would have been much better!

2)  Don’t think you can get in the water and shoot something amazing without getting your hair wet.  You have to commit.  A snorkel and mask were essential for me.  My favorite images were made with me completely submerged under the surface of the water.

3)  Light is important.  Normally I like to shoot outdoors when the sun is setting.  Underwater photography works well with a strong light source coming through the surface of the water.  Early morning through mid day worked the best for me.  Be aware of where the light is and try to get your subject right in that light.  I also shot late at night with just the light from the pool.

4)  Be sure to check, double check, and triple check your housing for leakage before and after you insert your camera.  I was super disciplined the first few times but then I got lazy and didn’t double check.  I ended up with a little bit of water in my housing after diving down too far under the surface.  Not enough to damage anything but just enough for a mini panic attack in the middle of the ocean. Luckily I had on my fins and booked it back to the beach before any damage was done.

5)  Shoot with a high aperture.  I generally shoot pretty wide open (f/2-f/2.8) and the first time I took my housing into the water I attempted that.  I found that it was too hard to focus on my moving subject, submerge myself, and compose the shot all at the same time.  To avoid this craziness, I changed my aperture to f/16 so that everything would be in focus at all times.  That way I only had to find my subject and submerge myself at the same time.  That was plenty to think about!

6)  Use either defog or candle wax on the outside of the lens attachment so water doesn’t stick to the lens and you don’t end up with a foggy lens.

7)  Be patient.  Your ration of crap to decent shots will be extremely high at first.  Look through the “roll” after each session and determine what could have made the images better and try again the next time.

8)  Have fun!  Because after all, you’re in the middle of the ocean (or pool or lake or bathtub) with your camera doing what you love!

Here are a few of my favorites that I’ve worked on so far.  I ended up converting most of these to black and white because I love the depth it adds and the contrast between the darks and lights I captured in camera.  (Not to mention the crazy skin tones I got because I didn’t use a wide lens).  To my utter amazement, this first one was chosen by National Geographic as one of their Daily Dozen on April 24th.   I was completely surprised and thrilled and so honored!  If you haven’t been over to their website, please do yourself a favor and check out the incredible talent of people all over the world who submit their own photographs daily.  It’s a feast for the eyes for sure!

underwater photography



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