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  • Welcome to Our Journal

    Keith is a photographer who believes that kids are nearly perfect and that great images capture a bit of that perfection for all eternity. He loves that children don’t filter their emotions. Living loud is their power. And his job is to capture a moment of their uncontained imaginations: your children, unscripted.

    Melissa is the studio manager, adoring wife, busy mom and occasional writer that believes she is living the most beautiful life in the whole world.

    Keith and Melissa have two amazing daughters, Isabella and Gabriella and a little Jack Russell named Pooch.

    This journal is our personal blog about our family, photography, travel and how we are inspired by children in all their authenticity, one beautiful photograph at a time.

santa photos: Smiles and hope | phoenix children’s photographer

the economy of christmas

It’s not Santas fault.

As any family photographer knows, this is a very busy time of the year. We have been booking holiday sessions since August – photographing children and their families for their holiday cards and gifts for the grandparents. During the season we also take Santa photos at a few resorts and for some charities. All part of the charm of the season. I just love the nostalgia of Santa photos.

This year we had back to back dates with Santa and the setting could not have been more different. This past Sunday, we were photographing Santa and Mrs Claus at a beautiful private club. Families dressed in their gorgeous holiday outfits, hair perfectly coiffed, lists for Santa that included every electronic gadget you could think of, a warm fireplace, Santa and the Mrs in beautiful leather chairs, the perfect Christmas setting that has been written about in countless Christmas songs. Santa asked every child what they wanted, he asked them to narrow it down to two choices. He then, in his Santa way, instructed the kids to be good to their brothers and sisters, making no promises, these kids walked away all smiles and hope.

And then Monday we were at an apartment complex in North Phoenix. The two settings could not have been more different. A Charlie Brown Christmas setting (the words of the amazing man playing Santa that does everything he can to help the kids that live in these apartments have some sort of a normal childhood). Santa takes holiday pictures with all the kids and their families then prints them up and gives each family a framed photo at their holiday party. A community room in the complex office, a white tablecloth taped to the wall, a not so fancy Santa outfit, a small sparsely decorated tree, a bucket full of tiny candy canes and some Christmas music playing in the background. The kids were called in one family at a time, sat on Santa’s lap with smiles from ear to ear. There was no talk about what the kids wanted for Christmas, because Santa knew they weren’t going to get it.

The man behind Santa is just incredible – on his own he raises money to help these families, especially the kids in an effort to give them some sort regular childhood. The majority of the residents of this apartment complex are refugees from places like Rwanda (one girl listened while her family was butchered in another room), Liberia, Iran and Iraq. Each family has their own story of an atrocity or religious persecution. They have scars, physical and emotional. They came to the US to start a new life, but that has its own set of challenges.

This man tries to make it a bit easier for them. He does such an amazing job of doing this. In small ways that add up. Many of the kids from this complex now go off to college. One is about to graduate from NAU with a 3.2 GPA in Criminal Justice. This man has taken on this personal mission to help, to give without any strings attached. A beautiful story.

When we were driving the other day, Isabella asked me why Santa likes to give more to rich kids. She wanted to know why poor kids had to have people donate presents to their families instead of Santa just giving them the same amount to every family. Well that’s a really hard question to answer to a small child. I really did not have a good answer.

Having these opportunities certainly puts things in perspective for Keith and I. But after getting to know the families and kids at this special apartment complex I can tell you this much, these kids are so special. They also walked away from Santa with smiles and hope.

Tis the Season. Give where you can – a small gesture can make such a difference in the life of a child.

how high can they jump: children unscripted | scottsdale family portrait photographer

“Never tell me the sky’s the limit when there are footprints on the moon” – unknown

I just love how children never seem to see life’s boundaries. They run as at full speed. They laugh so hard. They play like they have never played before. The jump as high as they can. They never think that something can’t be done. Kids don’t think in terms of boundaries, they just enjoy themselves without taking themselves too seriously. That’s why children journey within a huge world of possibilities.

Every family portrait session to me is as memorable and unique as the children and their childhood. Children bond with their surroundings and perceive their world in such a beautiful way. Keith’s job is to capture these fleeting moments of childhood and preserve these memories for mom and dad, forever.

These kids were in the present, they weren’t bothered by the fact that we were there to take their family photographs. They don’t hear the noise that we hear. These siblings took the opportunity to run around and be themselves somewhat aware that Keith was following them with his camera but not really letting him get in the way of them playing together. The kids did the mandatory family shots and then they were off, being themselves. Running, climbing, rolling, laughing and jumping.

Kids being kids. Children unscripted.

rush to windsor | phoenix family photographer

Several months ago, I received a text from Rhonda about booking her family session for the day after Thanksgiving. I think this is the third year that Rhonda has had that coveted spot on Thanksgiving weekend – the first morning spot on Black Friday. She mentioned that she thinks of these things she needs to take care of in the middle of the night. Oh how I can relate. Sometimes I wish there were working hours from about 3 am – 5am and then I could go back to sleep for a nap. I think of all sorts of great ideas and things that I need to do around 4am – glad I’m not alone!

I love that Rhonda and her husband Jason decided to have their session take place at Windsor the cool local Phoenix restaurant/bar brought to you by Upward Projects (the owners of Postino in Arcadia). The session quickly moved next door to their nostalgic ice cream bar Churn. The perfect spot to put a real smile on a child’s face!

{In case you don’t recognize this hot mama, she the owner of Impact-Events, a full service event planning firm based in Scottsdale specializing in gorgeous weddings and social occasions.}

thomas - November 30, 2012 - 9:04 pm

OMG! Those photos looks amazing !!
I really love color and light.
So much happiness !!
I am glad i am your subscriber.
May I ask how did you get that nice color? Is it white balance?

Keith - December 5, 2012 - 10:49 pm

Hi Thomas, Thanks for the kind words.The color was is aided by a great plugin that I have used for years called Exposure. It emulates various film stocks and then you can tweak from there. There are other methods but this is my favorite. This particular look is easy to over due so it’s best to use it only sparingly.

thomas - December 5, 2012 - 11:28 pm

Thank you Keith thats is really kind of you :)
I have seen your last pictures ( last you uploaded :)) )
Title is Ho high they can jump :)
They are very energetic.
I like very much first image in particular.
Would you mind if I ask you, how you photograph eyes and faces so sharp and bright when sun behind them?
Are you using film camera or digital?
Kind Regards Thomas

Keith - December 14, 2012 - 5:56 pm

Hi Thomas, to answer the question about sharp backlit images, just meter off of the face. Either spot meter or incident meter. When focusing, make sure the lens isn’t flared to the point that you can’t focus. If that happens then shield the lens from the direct light while you focus. If you are using an SLR then you should get roughly what you see in the lens. I am using a digital camera in this case (Canon 5D mkII). I also use film for some images but not here.

thomas - December 14, 2012 - 9:09 pm

Thanks a lot for replay Keith. This is really good help. I will try to use your Tip as soon i get some sun:) I am using Nikon D 200. Have a Happy family Christmas.

Photo of the week | children’s portrait photography phoenix

It is certainly holiday portrait season around here. We have a good amount of family portrait sessions to edit. But I just had to share this picture of Gabby.

Last week we were at our dear friend’s house making preparations for Thanksgiving. The kids were about to each make their own desert – Isabella was making Apple Crumble, her friend Malia was making Pumpkin Pie, I was making the crust and Gabby was making her world famous gingerbread cookies.

This photo was taken by Keith just before they started baking. This little girls kills me. She is the most special little thing in the world. She is vivacious, she is a snuggler, she is so kind, she has the biggest heart in the whole wide world. I see her beautiful huge blue eyes and I see into her soul. This photo captures her little girl beauty, her sometimes shyness, it just captures her!

Oh how I love her!

Camera: Zeiss Rangefinder
Film: Kodak BW 400 CN

(I don’t know what you think, but I think that film just seems to capture a little bit extra. A little more depth. I can’t put my finger on it exactly, but this photo just seems deeper to me than if it was shot digitally.)

a beautiful birthday gift | scottsdale, arizona children’s portrait photographer

This mom had such a thoughtful idea. Her husband was turning 40 around Thanksgiving and she wanted to surprise him with a thoughtful gift. They had a new addition to the family six or so months ago – an updated family portrait with the new little guy was that perfect gift for dad. I love a sentimental gift – especially one that includes photographs of your children.

This couple had their wedding at The Four Seasons some years ago. So the resort has a special spot in their hearts. What better place to have a family portrait session than where it all started? I love the thought put behind these photos. And so pleased to know that dad had a tear in his eye when we saw the beautiful museum mounted prints on his birthday.

Click here to see how this family has grown. The kids just keep getting cuter and cuter!!

A great surprise gift for a 40th birthday!