A Love Built To Last..

I was surprised when Vicky called and said” “I want you to photography Mike and I”. After all, she lived 3 hours away in Apple Valley, why call me, I thought? They had just completed 4 weddings within all their children…again, why me? Of course, I was flattered, humbled actually when she told me she loved my style of photography, and she really wanted me, my heart melted.

As I interviewed her as to why she wanted photographs of her little family (the love of her life, Mike, and their 2 dogs), she told me: “We have had some really hard times, ya know? I want photographs to show my children that with the love of Christ, commitment to each other, you can get through anything and love. And that love will continue to grow”.

We scheduled the session for my favorite dog beach in Coronado. It was chilly, but not cold in December and the water was wonderful! What happened next was a bit of a fairy tale…

People are usually nervous at first when someone follows them with a camera, but after she ran with the dogs and they all played, they seemed to relax.  With minor direction,  Mike and Vicky danced in the water while the incoming waves washed over them. He twirled her, they giggled and laughed at what I asked them to do…. But, when people love each other and you ask them to dance, they start focusing on each other and the moment instead of the nut getting wet with the camera!

Next came magic, he put her on his back and twirled her around, they played like they were teenagers courting and in the moments when they kissed, they only saw each other; they were only in that moment.

Vicky had been battling cancer and while I thought she was better, she wasn’t. I spoke with her one  Wednesday and she was having a very hard time. But after talking for awhile we were laughing, sharing stories of encouragement, faith and how God planned for our humanity. God knows us better than we know ourselves and Christ said: “In our weakness He is strong”. This I truly saw in Vicky.

Mike called me the following Wednesday to tell me she had died. He started crying and blurted out: “She didn’t  place the order and we have no pictures of her”. She died and they had no photographs….my heart broke. I was calm as we went over what her favorites were, but I cried as I prepared them for printing and I cried when I called my lab and said this is special, please make this happen.

I am surrounded by her memory, her laugh, her images and her great faith in Christ. A photograph of her and Mike acting like teenagers hangs on the wall in my studio, it’s a story of great love. You see, in her passing, she left a great testimony, a family that she loved and devoted herself to and a man that was the love of her life.

Today her family, her mother, and step-dad, her children, and step-children and Mike with the dogs are all together in upstate New York, where Vicky is from. They are all together to spread her ashes in this one spot that she loved so much. They are all together to celebrate her life, her love and to say goodbye. Goodbye, a goodbye that is so very final.

I learned the power of a photograph from Vicky. Someday she will have grandchildren and all those grandchildren will hear stories of an amazing woman that was mischievous, loving and filled with laughter. An amazing woman who had great faith in a great God and made sure she shared that with every relationship she had. And while her grandchildren listen to the stories, they will her photographs and these photographs will keep those stories and memories alive.

This is what Love looks like.   A love built on the best and hardest times, filled with triumphs and defeats. A love that never quit in the face of the impossible. This is a Love built to last.



He’s such a funny guy!

Recently I had the pleasure of working with professional comedian Shawn Felipe. He came in for some photographs on one of the hottest days we had in a L O N G time! In 100 degrees he put on a suit and tie and looked as cool as a cucumber while outside; I’m sure all the ladies that saw the photographs and know he is single were thinking he was looking quite HOT!

When it came time to work inside, my dog Debo came in to say hello. You can see Debo and Shawn hit it off right away.


While I knew Shawn was very comfortable on stage, I get to see that in his new Reality show: “The Great Food Truck Race” on the Food Network. I think he is a homebody at heart. But he spends so much of his time traveling around for Comedy shows that every time we “talk” it’s via text, each time from a different airport. 

Keep a look out on the “Great Food Truck Race”, look for Aloha Plate-there you will see Shawn having a good time and being his adorable self.ImageImageImageImageImage


Caring for Professional Photographs

How to Care for Professional Photographs

The ultimate investment in the longevity of your families’ memories isn’t digital media.  While some people think it is the way to go, let’s take a minute and look at the history of the past 15 years. How many of you still have family memories on VHS cassettes? Have they been converted yet? Digital Media started off with  the floppy disk, then the small 3″ disk, then onto CD’s, DVD’s and now flash drives, portable hard drives and thumb drives. The truth is: digital media is really meant to be temporary storage. Hard drives fail, burned CDs and DVDs become inoperable, types of storage media fade into antiquity before data can be transferred, offsite storage companies go bankrupt and/or charge for every upload and download, SD (or compact flash or micro SD or Memory Sticks) have, can and will fail at eventually.  The only REAL way to achieve longevity of your images is via printed photographs. When you think about it, this is really why you commissioned portraits of your family in the first place..

In using Fine Art Printers today, professional photos labs and manufacturers like Canon, Epson, & HP (to name the top 3) say that by using a Fine Art Printer (the machine & someone trained in fine art printing) with Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) inks and OEM papers, photographs printed this way should last from between 150-200 years. Of course we can automatically conclude that the price of this equipment, inks and papers aren’t going to be cheap-and the reason for that is longevity. Investing in professionally printed photographs in just that, an investment; and this investment will  be passed onto your generations so your Grandchildren and Great Grandchildren will be able to see you, and your family as you were when you purchased these photographs. That’s why the commissioning and printing of professional portraits are more expensive. Professionals, photograph and print with your investment in mind.

So you have ordered professionally printed prints from your photographer, and you will be framing them yourself.  Or, if you are like me, you might have recently inherited all the photographs from loved ones that have recently passed, (or several boxfuls) of snap shots, personal images that tell the story of your family’s life.  What steps should you take to preserve the investment of memories?  What can you do so they precious heirlooms can be passed down to future generations?  Here are some guidelines to help you with this task:

What you should do:

Photographs should be protected from extended exposure to intense light sources, particularly direct sunlight. 

  • Sunlight causes damage to the chemical composition of photographs, resulting in color shifts and fading.  Sunlight (and its’ accompanying heat)will cause warping of your artwork. If you choose to display a wall portrait in an area that is brightly lit by sunlight, you should invest in museum-quality glass with UV protection.  This type of glass minimizes the potential for fading and color shifting.  This will help to protect it, but can’t thoroughly protect the photograph from light damage. Keep in mind the amount of light in the room your investment will be hanging and keep it out of direct light.
  • If you choose to frame your photographs under glass, always use either a mat or spacers so that the photograph does not come into direct contact with the glass. If a print is in contact with glass, over time moisture will cause the print to become permanently stuck to the glass.  A reputable professional framer will do this for you however if you buy an off the rack frame try to have a mat with it to avoid the image touching the glass surface.
  • Most damage to photographs results from poor handlingWhen handling your prints, be sure your hands are clean and dry. Always handle photographs by their edges. Never touch the image surface because the oil in your skin can damage the print.  Better yet, use white acid free gloves to handle your images. These are very inexpensive and can be picked up at your favorite art stores like Michaels or Aaron Brothers.
  • Always use albums with acid-free paper or use photo sleeves made of polyester, tri-acetate or polyethylene. Look for albums that have a neutral acidity, are labeled “acid free” or designate an acidity level of 6.0 or higher.
  • When identifying your photographs, try an acid free adhesive label. Please do not directly label your photographs with a pen; the ink will bleed through onto the image. Once your photograph is framed, consider printing on a label to be placed on the back of the frame that includes the following: Name of subject, date and place taken. This way as your precious family heirlooms are passed down your generations, they will also know who they are looking at.
  • There are a few companies out there now making acid free adhesive labels, specifically for scrap booking and photo labeling.

Some don’ts:

  • Don’t use albums that are not designated “acid and lignin free”.  Most photo albums are actually harmful to your photos and while they may keep them organized they will be prone to fading and yellowing due to the acidity of the paper and/or adhesive unless the album was manufactured for archival use.  Lignin is in all paper products but archival papers have lignin removed.  Lignin is an important compound that happens to be the second most common bio-compound on earth. BUT that makes it bad for archiving.    When lignin breaks down it turns paper brown.  If you have ever seen an old newspaper, turned brown by age – that’s the lignin breaking down.
  • Never use self-adhesive or magnetic albums. Conservators have tested the “magnetic” quality of these albums and have found that the adhesive contains very high levels of acid.  The acid from the adhesive was literally eating away at the backside of the photos tested.  Even worse, the plastic cover that covered the magnetic page to keep these photos “safe” was actually sealing in the acidic fumes causing deterioration on the front as well as the back. I have albums like this that have turned my photographs red-wish I would have known!
  • Never use adhesive tape, glue, metal paper clips, thumb tacks, or rubber bands on photographs-all will cause damage.
  • Never use pens that are not labeled acid free.  Even pens that are labeled “acid-free” can contain minute amounts of harmful acids and this will take a toll on your photos that labeled with that ink.
  • Do not include mementos such as postcards, ticket stubs, etc with your photographs. Those items are often manufactured/printed with acid containing ink which can cause photos to fade away.

These are just a few important guidelines for caring for your portraits.  Much of this information comes from discussions with my Fine Art Printers,  the professional photo labs I use, Instructors from Fine Art Printing courses I have taken and of course, research on the web.   I don’t mind sharing, but should you copy this, please remember to use my name as author. Image

About Me

My mother points out that for as long as she can remember, I have had a camera in my hand. Funny-I think that too! I saved up all my allowance money when I was in my first High School Photography class to buy the equipment to have my own darkroom. My dad built me a spot in the darkest corner of the garage. I would spend all my time there developing film and printing photographs…and doing chores to pay for the supplies. Fast forward to now-when my daughter got married not long ago, she said to me: “Mom, you have done an amazing job documenting our lives!  But mom, you are not in any of the pictures!  And darn it, she was right.

For the past 3 years I have been photographing amazing, beautiful, families in the San Diego and Orange County areas of California. Now, I  never forget the words of my daughter and I make sure to tell all these beautiful women I come across the same thing. Take a lot of pictures of your kids, they grow and they leave. But make sure to have a professional shoot your family, the way you want them to be remembered, so you can be in the pictures! Besides, as a professional, I understand posing, and lighting. I also understand you want to look your best too!

I am fortunate to capture the greatest love stories of our time-Families, as they are-casual, formal, serious, having fun or making goofy faces. So when today is gone, you can walk by that large portrait hanging in your home that you so proudly invested in, and smile… remembering that day when the whole family got together for a photo shoot-had fun-laughed, and felt goofy being in front of a camera. You can remember the kids sitting on your lap, even though they are taller than you now. You’ll have an image to remember what everyone looked like when they were young. And in the not too distant future, there will be a day when your child tells their child: “See this large portrait hanging on the wall? That’s your mommy when she was little and there is Grandma and Grandpa when they were young… What’s even better is knowing that even after your gone, the investment of those family portraits will be handed down your generations, as treasured heirlooms, and your family will always be remembered.

I’m Cindie, and I am a photographer, a visual biographer, and love story teller. The images here are just a part of some of the greatest stories ever told.

You can see more of my work at my website: http://www.ownthemoments.com