Masthead header
  • 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.

My ramblings about my grandparents

nana and pep

I am part of all that I have met. – Alfred, Lord Tennyson

I have been putting off writing this post that I have wanted to write for a long time. One of my most favorite people in the whole wide world died earlier this year.

Nana (my grandmother) died in January. Pep (my grandfather) died in 1999. The home that they lived in together for the better part of their 50+ year marriage will be sold.

This day was coming I knew. My heart gets this tight pulling feeling just thinking of my grandparent’s house being sold.  Knowing that an offer has been accepted on their home has just hit me hard – the two of them are really gone forever. I will never sit in their kitchen again and listen to their stories and tell them my stories.

We were practically raised in this house. We were there all the time. We played with our cousins – silly games like Star Wars or our own made up version of the Price is Right game. We had “restaurant” evenings where we invited our parents and served them dinner that of course Nana had cooked but let us take credit. We made jello. We had talent shows with not so much talent. We had every Christmas Eve till Nana just couldn’t do it anymore. We came there after school while mom worked. Courtney ate her soup at the dining room table while she did her homework. We watched soap operas with Nana in the den. Pep came home from work like a clock every day and Nana would put on her lipstick right before he came through the door. We loved our sleepovers. We loved sleeping in the big canopy bed. Nana had our towels heating on the radiator so after our shower we would be nice and warm. We would lay on the couch watching The Lawrence Welk Show with Pep while he rubbed our heads. He made me deliciously crisp bacon in the morning. Fried bread dough oozing peanut butter as an after school snack. Funny stories. Great times. We grew older but still came back as often as we could. Old friends that didn’t know how to find us would know to call Nana for our number. Then Pep was sick and then was gone – so quickly. He died one night in the house. We never thought Nana would survive. Yet she was so strong she lived in the house all by herself till just before her last day. Her house meant everything to her. And to us.

My grandparents played such an integral role in my sister’s and my life. They were always there for us. They were constant. They guided us. The taught us. They loved us so much. I’m not sure if I can ever put into words just how much they meant to us.

Fortunately for us we had them in our lives for a really long time. Not everyone is as lucky as we are to know their grandparents as long and as well.  I never knew life without Nana in it till now and it will never be the same. I miss them so much.

Composition | Tech Assignment 2 | Melissa goes back to school

leading lines phoenix country day school IMG_9702

On to our next assignment: Composition.

Luckily I see Keith compose beautiful images all the time so I think I have a leg up on this assignment. We have to submit 8 photos from 8 different composition principles.

Above are my two personal favorites from this little scavenger hunt. The first photo demonstrates a few of these principles: line or leading lines, positive + negative space, implied line and texture, pattern or unity. The second is my asymmetrical composition or rule of thirds.

So even though Keith thinks I’m a bit of a slacker when it comes to my homework (just kidding sweetie!) – I did get it done and submitted on time! I’m back in the swing of things.

 

My Glass is Half Full | Personal

family time

“There is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way”. Buddha

There are so many great quotes that if you read them closely just mean so much. This is one of them. There isn’t a magic pill to take to be happy, you have to wake up every day and be happy. How hard is this? Very hard for some I realize. For others, not hard at all.

I consider myself a happy person. I’m not exuberant on the outside by any stretch but I’m happy on the inside. Content. In fact sometimes I just can’t believe how good I have it. I am rich in so many ways: healthy kids, an amazing husband, a business we love, great family + friends, the list goes on and on.

Keith and I have had plenty of ups and downs over the years but for some reason we rarely get discouraged. We may be disappointed but we always see through the temporary set back. We tend to find the good in the bad. We work together and get through things. I think if either of us was a pessimist, it just wouldn’t work for us. I guess it’s the way we deal with things, just let them roll off of us and that keeps us sane.

Seeing the photo above puts me in a happy place. Every day is fast paced, chaotic but fun and full of love. We wouldn’t have it any other way. This is our road.

 

First Concert | One Direction Phoenix | Personal

1D in PhoenixOne Direction Concert PhoenixOne Direction Concert Phoenix

Isabella’s first concert. Wow.

This One Direction concert seemed to be years in the making. The girls have loved these guys for what seems like an eternity. So last year when 1D announced their upcoming tour dates and Phoenix was one of their stops, my sister snatched up 4 tickets.

Keith really wanted to take Isabella. His mom had taken him to his first concert (yes Kiss in makeup) 3 decades earlier. Now it was his turn to go with his daughter. How could I say no to that. I would give up my chance to see 1D – yes I could make that sacrifice. I am that selfless. (Please I hope you hear the sarcasm).

A 2 hour drive with traffic didn’t deter Bella and her cousin Ava from screaming their heads off once they got inside. Their first concert and they jumped right in – having a great time. Keith’s phone battery died so they missed out on holding the Candle App – which Bella disappointedly mentioned to me the next morning. Wow, I remember my thumb burning from holding the lighter for so long during concerts, my how things have changed.

Thanks Courtney and Keith for taking one for the team.  The girls will look back fondly on this evening!

Why I shoot film | Personal

Gabby jumping on a hotel bed

by Keith 

It’s funny how things run in cycles. All things get old but the good things age well and come back (if they ever really left). For obvious reasons I will apply this thinking to my love of photography in general and film in particular (and those beautifully crafted machines that expose it called cameras). 

In 2001 I decided to start shooting digitally for weddings since I saw the writing on the wall. I knew this digital thing was going to be for real. I started adding it into weddings along side film and started building a digital wedding portfolio. 

Eventually when I met with potential clients, digital was my only offering. I had a hard time convincing people back then that digital would hold up as well as film and look as good as film. I told clients that they would like digital as much, showing them prints made from both digital and film and they couldn’t tell the difference. I worked hard to make that happen. 

I rode an early wave of digital success while trying hard to make it look like film. I did this for years. I bought newer and better cameras that could do more things (most of which I didn’t care if they could do) and bought newer and better software to add the film look. In the mean time, film grew more exotic to the masses and photographers sprang forth that did amazing work and had never actually touched a roll of film. Many talked about film though as if it were a magic substance that made everything turn into art (it’s not). They did all they could to make their digital files look like film types that they had never seen (difficult if you think about it).

I love film. Is it perfect? No. That’s one reason I like film more than digital. Is it harder to use than digital? Yes. That’s another reason. Do I know what I’ve got when the shutter fires? Yes and no. Digital gives instant feedback while film requires that I know what I’m doing at all times, that knowing is more of an intuitive feel. That is yet another reason. 

Digital, when done right looks bad to me. It looks too perfect. Plasticky and too smooth for a lack of a more eloquent description. To combat this I have gone to varying lengths to add elements to the files (sad that that’s what they are) to make them appear to have the same natural imperfections and unique characteristics as film. The irony here is that I’m adding these imperfections digitally, which means I can recreate them exactly from frame to frame if I want. That is the opposite of what I love about film. Digital works and can look good but it stings my creative soul every time with a feel of cheating.

Let me be clear, the only thing that really matters in the end is the image that you get. How you get it is personal and shouldn’t be questioned as long as it speaks to you (and says something nice of course). Images I capture on film speak to my soul. These images require no effort to make them look as if they were made using film. 

Film is tangible and not subject to the whims and twists of technology. Less wasted effort where creative energy could be applied to something else makes me a happy photographer.