I’m not even sure how to put into words the experience my family and I had this summer on the west coast. I guess I’ll try to break it down by each of the three lifestyle photography workshops I did along the coast and then come back to blog about what we did as a family. So let’s start with Cardiff-by-the-Sea in southern California. This group of ladies was so fun and up for anything. The first night, we got to venture out to the beach so I could take their headshots (all the way at the bottom of this post) and we could dip our toes in the ccccccccold waters of the Pacific Ocean (I had NO idea how chilly the water was compared to the Gulf of Mexico out here, lol).

After staying up all night covering all of the standard workshop stuff about preparing for sessions and equipment, etc. (oh, did I mention we did much of this discussion in the amazing hot tub by a fire at the house?), we got up early the next morning to head out to our first official photo session of the weekend: the in-home lifestyle newborn photography demonstration. We could not have asked for a more laid back, perfectly California cool family with which to work. And I mean, look at little guy’s hair? It just doesn’t get any better than that!

Later that afternoon, I had the long-awaited privilege of photographing my wonderful photographer friend with Caroline Martin Photography in Carlsbad, CA. I’ve “known” Caroline for several years now (she is a Pinkle Toes Photography Workshop graduate) and she also served as our amazing hostess for this workshop in Cardiff. We got to work in Caroline’s home…the place where she brought her boys home from the hospital after they were born…the place that they love and have grown up in. SO many memories there!!! It was rich with love and happiness. I teared up so many times while editing this session because Caroline radiates joy in all things she does…especially when she is around her family. She is a talented, vibrant, determined, energetic person and I feel very lucky to know her:

The next morning, we had to get up at sunrise (which is BRUTAL on the west coast) to practice all of the techniques and skills we covered on this gorgeous couple, who at the time, were expecting their third baby:
Workshops are always equally exhausting, inspiring, and cathartic…this one was no exception and the attendees who choose to attend a Pinkle Toes Workshop truly give it its own personality. Here are some of those personalities:

As always, I’m excited to follow along in this workshop blog circle to get all of their perspectives and see the images the attendees took for the very first time. Follow along with me! Next up is Brittany Lynn Portraits all the way from Milwaukee, WI!


Austin Lifestyle Family Photo Sessions Home: This family photo session once again reinforces why it is so awesome to have your pictures taken in your own home: because it’s so much easier on you!!! Especially when you have two very active twin boys and a precocious but very caring big sister! It was so great to just hang out and relax in their home, using their space, incorporating their things, taking breaks for the kiddos whenever needed. Snack time even turned into the perfect little photo vignette! Most importantly, a few years down the road when they’re out of the whirlwind of the busy, busy toddler stage and fun colorful toys are replaced with smaller, more expensive electronic devices, they are going to have photos like this that capture what their lives were like was when the kids were little…here’s where they played…here’s how they ate, etc. In fact, the images that I love most of my own family are ones that surprise me with unrealized gems when I least expect it: I’ll be flipping through some old files and one image will stop me in my tracks: oh, my word! I forgot how much my daughter used to LOVE this toy.

My favorite playtime image from this family session came right at the very beginning HERE.

Oh, and one more thing: check out how the brothers pulled off the SAME pose laying down on the bed totally on their own and not even in the same room together at the same time. Twin connection!

AT-pinkle-toes-fall-baby-photographySeriously, 9 months old is probably my favorite baby age. I love it because at this stage, babies are still, well, baby-like, but they are so incredibly aware and expressive. And then of course there’s that delicious baby chub that will sadly start to disappear as soon as she starts running around. I love how the mustard and turquoise and gold and Pinkle Toes pink and red came together to create this bright and bold and atypical fall palette. I would say it’s like a happy little rainbow of all of my most-loved colors sparkling up there. And don’t miss her perfect, charming smile in this pic HERE!

wb-pinkle-toes-austin-candid-modern-family-photography-water-creekAustin lifestyle family photos

These littles have practically grown up on the Pinkle Toes blog and that makes my heart leap. Each year, we’ve done something a little different from the last (of course, the best was when I got to be there for baby #3’s grand entrance…barely) and this year was no exception. It was great weather to go exploring around this amazing little creek and of course, the kids’ favorite part was getting to splash me! Rumor has it that someone pictured here celebrated a birthday today (September is a great month in which to be born. I should know. So should the little guy ;-) so I hope she enjoys her little birthday surprise! One of my favorite images from this family session can be found HERE.

md-pinkle-toes-austin-newborn-baby-photographer-jeweled-indian-sari[Austin lifestyle newborn photo session at home]

I’m not sure if I ever told you this before, but the sessions that sometimes make me the most nervous are those for clients that I’ve worked with repeatedly before. Why? I’m always a bit scared about successfully raising the bar. I think most photographers can relate to this, actually. But, the wonderful part (and this probably outweighs the nerve-wracking part) is that I’ve been able to get to know them more and more over the years and we are certainly more comfortable working so closely together. Our photo session rhythm just comes more naturally and it feels effortless.

Plus, I got the chance to help create and carry on some tradition photos. A few years back when I photographed their newborn son, we incorporated a beautiful blue sari that was presented to mom as a means to celebrate the arrival of her first baby. This time, we were able to revisit those images with her daughter, but she is wrapped in the sari her mom wore on her wedding day.  Now that just gets me all kinds of choked up. In fact, I kept tearing up at the session imagining these very images sitting out somewhere on baby girl’s wedding day (many, many years from now). I. Love. Tradition. My personal fav is HERE.

She was as perfect little princess and her brother was very much the loving and protective prince that day. They are going to have so many wonderful times and adventures growing up together.


Finally, I wanted to mention mom’s hair and make up. Now, she is STUNNING as it is already, but she is also smart in realizing that with a newborn baby AND a very active little boy to get ready for the session, it’s much easier to let someone else take care of getting herself done up. I cannot recommend enough (and ESPECIALLY for newborn sessions) to hire someone to handle your hair and makeup before your photo session. Trust me, it is such a burden released if you know you are not going to be facing a bad hair day. And, if you haven’t been sleeping for the past few weeks because you just had a baby, you’ve got someone who knows how to make sure you look refreshed but not overly made up Katie with Modern Muse Beauty  knows how to do just that and make moms look like brighter versions of themselves. Good teamwork, ladies! S…you truly looked all kinds of radiant!

I am so glad I had Katie come and help me do my hair and face before our session. As a new mom, it is very difficult to find the energy to do these things yourself.  Katie was prompt, fun to talk to, and made me feel a little more like my usual self, rather than an exhausted and sleep-deprived zombie. I feel she was a key player in making the newborn session successful. Plus, it was nice to have a little pampering! I would certainly recommend her to anyone, especially before a newborn session. 


Austin Lifestyle Newborn Photographer

I very much remember speaking with this mommy years ago just after she had her very first baby girl. I think my schedule was full at the time, but somehow, I managed to squeeze her in and it has been my honor to work with them every year since! Three girls now! Wow! I love “knowing” the girls well enough and for long enough to be able to see similarities and differences in their baby features. While taking these newborn images, I would have flashbacks to the other two sessions…”Oh, in this pose she looks like L. But with this expression, that’s just like T.” Even cooler than that, is having watched each of the two older girls take on the role of big sister, one at a time. Mom and dad should be very, very proud of how well these two have done in their new jobs and how much they ADORE their little sister. It is so heartwarming! When going through their images today, I literally had tears in my eyes, sharing in the joy that is so obvious with these girls and among their parents. And perhaps I was also a little wistful realizing how much their family has grown and changed in just a few short years. The passage of time, as cliché as it sounds, is so very bittersweet.

So welcome to the world, little one! You are the perfect blessing to your happy family and a beautiful soul.

(Don’t miss this sweet interaction between youngest and middle HERE ;-).

ad-pinkle-toes-senior-photos-downtown-austin-texas-class-of-2015[Austin senior portraits: Class of 2015]

I promise to get to the point of this post title in a little bit. Meanwhile, just let me tell you this young lady positively sparkles! Her smile is radiant, yes, but she was so pleasant…so confident…just easy to be around and work with. Lovely, lovely young lady! Another fav HERE!

Okay, now on to the post title: at the end of our session, as I was taking that very last image of her up there, I had been gearing up for the perfect skyline shot, but as I was about to press the shutter, a couple situated themselves just to the left of my frame. I thought I’d wait it out a bit and just decided on vertical pictures for a few. But they just weren’t leaving. They were talking. A long time. Just as I was about to move us to another location, I saw him drop to one knee. Oh, my word! They were getting engaged!!!! LOLOLOL. My frustration quickly melted away into pure joy…they were so adorable and everyone around started clapping and cheering them on. I’ve never seen a proposal before (it has always been a secret dream of mine to photograph an engagement), so on the sly, I snapped a few images for them when she said yes. My model up there was such a good sport, too, letting me share her spotlight with the happy couple for a few minutes.  I was so thrilled to have been in just the right place at just the right time! It was indeed a good interruption.


I’ve been an Austin family lifestyle photographer for how long now? Eight years? In all that time, with all of the photo sessions I’ve done, I have never had to bail in the MIDDLE of a session because of rain. Never. Let me tell you, we tried SO hard to push through the first morning I got together with this family. Kids were adorable, everyone was cheerful, we were excited to play (and for me, I was excited to explore a place in Austin I’ve never really been to before). We had all gotten up insanely early that morning to make this shoot happen and things were going SO perfectly until…

…we were a good distance from our cars (and umbrellas) when the skies just opened up on us. No lightning (thank goodness), but a rain shower just strong enough to drench clothing and to threaten my camera equipment. I raced back to my car to grab a supply of umbrellas and all-Macgyver-style, craft a shield for my camera/lens using a grocery bag and a headband. By the time I got back to this poor family, everyone was pretty much soaked. It was at that point, I knew we were not going to be able to recover to finish the session properly. Kids were starting to get tired and wouldn’t you know it, the clouds (in a rather untimely manner) completely cleared to leave us in a full, too bright, and much too hot Texas summer sun. So, we let the boys play in the water a bit and decided to cut our losses and try again another day.

And I’m so glad we did! I would not have traded the fun pictures we got on day one, but day two was even better! It was like we got to have two sessions in one, even throwing in some shots with the iconic “I love you so much” wall so synonymous with Austin now:


I want to thank these guys for being such troopers and hanging in there with me, even when Mother Nature turned against us. I know it takes so much effort to get yourself ready at the crack of dawn, let alone a family of five, and I know nobody wants to have to do it TWICE, but they did and they did not complain. And I got to have two very fun and very different little mini sessions with them in the span of just a few days.

See a collage of my favorite interaction between oldest and youngest HERE ;-). It was such a random moment, but it was REAL and sweet and 100% love.

behind-the-scenes-pinkle-toes-texas-australia-photography-workshop-retreatTHIS group…my oh my! I’m not sure I have ever laughed so much at a workshop. Some super witty ladies in this bunch and I’m quite impressed we still managed to accomplish all of our lifestyle workshop objectives in between our constant brainstorming and amusing conversations. I think that’s what so amazing about any workshop group, actually: when you get a group of women together with so much in common, there is a bond, no doubt, but we all understand we still have work to do and are incredibly eager to do it! Did you see I even earned my own Ryan Gosling “Hey Girl” meme? P.S. My underwater “assistant” would probably kill me for that last pic up there, but I couldn’t resist. I won’t out her here since you can’t tell who she is, but she knows. Oh…she knows.

Day one was spent talking all things related to the business of photography complete with headshots in the now infamous Wal-mart parking lot sunflower field:

headshots-pinkle-toes-texas-australia-photography-workshop-class-retreatThe next day, we headed over to my sister’s house for our in-home newborn photo session demonstration. I was honestly a little afraid to use the twins as my subjects for this workshop because I knew it would be hard for me to keep my emotions in check. Sure enough, as with pretty much ANY photo session I do for my baby sis, I started out so choked up, I couldn’t speak, but we worked through it:
twins-newborn-austin-lifestyle-photography-workshop-texas-sydney-australiaAren’t my twin nieces  just so deliciously adorable? And have they not changed SOOOOO much??? Oh, and did you see they’re kinda locally famous now, lol?

That afternoon, we headed out to one of my favorite spots to cool down and photograph a dear friend of mine and her beautiful family in the creek:

family-pinkle-toes-lifestyle-family-workshop-photography-photo-session-creek-austin-australia-texasAnd then we all got up before sunrise the next day to do a little practice maternity session at the greenhouse along with a bit of underwater photography:

maternity-pinkle-toes-underwater-photography-workshop-texas-austin-australia-sydneyIt was a fabulous end to the summer Texas workshops! I haven’t looked at all of the posts yet, but I can’t wait to start going through the images in our blog circle from this group. Make sure you hop over and see Beth’s take on the Pinkle Toes Workshop:  The Queen B Photography – Houston Family Photographer!


us-pinkle-toes-behind-the-scenes-texas-lifestyle-photography-workshop-australia-sydney-perthThe second Pinkle Toes Photography workshop this summer had me back at my home in Austin, Texas in early July. We spent three days learning how to connect with our clients on a deeper level to create more successful and meaningful photo sessions, finding the light in client homes, working in challenging situations (ie. HEAT!!!), and taking headshots in a Wal-mart parking lot ;-). Seriously. We ventured into the greatest little sunflower field and if you couldn’t see it in that picture up above, you would never know where we were, lol. Here are some of my shots from the in-home newborn session demonstration: 2-henry-pinkle-toes-austin-newborn-photography-lifestyle-workshop-australia-new-castle-sydney-perth And then our family demonstration later that day in beautiful downtown Austin, which happened to be with a past workshop attendee/wonderful photographer/good friend Chantal with Whimsy and Style Photography : cb-pinkle-toes-australia-photographer-lifestyle-family-workshops-class-training And finally, we were up BRIGHT AND EARLY the next morning for a sunrise maternity photo session at the greenhouse at my studio/property. We even did a little bit of underwater work: maternity-pinkle-toes-australia-photographer-lifestyle-pregnancy-workshops-class-training Another fav from the maternity session can be found HERE!   And some of the sunny faces from Pinkle Toes Austin Workshop 1: class-pinkle-toes-texas-photography-workshop-australia-sydney-perth And THIS ONE by Jessica with Periwinkle Photography just makes me giggle.

Tomorrow, I’ll be posting about the 2nd Austin workshop this summer. But until then, be sure to hop over to my DEAR friend Minnette’s page to see her take on the Austin workshop: Minnette Demafiles Photography – Houston Lifestyle Photographer

I’m back to work here in Austin right now, but I am already making plans to head overseas to Australia for workshops next fall! Lots of details to work out, but we are very excited to head over there. I’ve never been before and it will likely be the only trip I make out that way. If you’d like to get information on the Australia photography workshops (dates, pricing, locations, etc.) when they are ready, please drop a line.