Senior portraits monte vista high | danville, ca

Justine and I met a few weeks ago for her senior portrait session and had so much fun. I had her text me shots of her outfit choices prior to our session and then I planned our shooting route based on the outfits she had lined up so that we were able to get a good variety of images while the light was still perfect. We had a gorgeous summer evening to work with, so we started in town and then ended by the water to capture the last little bits of setting sun. The sunset that night was amazing! After the sun set, the sky was such an incredible vibrant pink color, and it was reflecting on the water around us while I shot. One thing that drives me nuts about blog post is that I can't control how my images will look on every monitor they might be viewed on, so I hope the soft pastel colors are coming across on at least some of the devices out there! Here is a selection of images that Justine and her family chose to go into her folio box collection, and I know the prints will be incredible! I can't wait until they arrive!!!

seniors, uncategorizedgretchen
Summer evening by the water | larkspur, ca

I first met Meg and Jim when they were expecting their first daughter. We had a beautiful maternity session at my cottage studio back then, and now to see them as a family of four is such a special treat. It seems like just yesterday they were starting their family, and now that little baby bump is twirling circles in the fields! We had a beautiful sunset session with all four of them done by the water's edge, and here are a few favorites. I am purposely not sharing their family portrait yet because I want Meg to see it for the first time all complete when she comes to pick up their gorgeous canvas print. 

outdoor baby portraits with family | east bay, ca

I love photographing babies! Having had two myself, I can attest to how quickly they grow and change during the first year. It seems as soon as they begin walking, they suddenly lose that "baby" look and start looking like toddlers. It's amazing the changes that take place in just 12 short months! Earlier this summer, I had the pleasure of photographing this beautiful little guy, Colin, and his family. Colin was around 9 months old when his parents brought him over for his portrait session and he was such a happy little guy! Since he was old enough to sit upright, we were able to take him out into the garden and get a variety of images of him in different little nooks. We used some vintage chairs, old wagon, and my flagstone pathway and just let him be himself. This is one of my favorite images of him from our set. 

Twin sister's outdoor sunset portraits | bay area, ca

I'm very behind on blogging! This portrait session was a Mother's Day gift from these gorgeous daughters to their mother, Karen. The oldest sister, Kristin, brought her little twin sisters out for a surprise session and Karen was indeed surprised on Mother's Day with a beautiful slideshow of the images! This was a styled shoot, meaning that all Kristin had to do was meet me out on location and I provided the kids' outfits and accessories and styled their hair. It was a lot of fun and the girls were such a delight. I thought for sure the surprise would be ruined because Kristin said when she brought the girls back home they continued to talk about how nice Miss Gretchen is and that I gave them pretty dresses. Oops! Well, luckily Karen didn't catch on to their comments, so we pulled it off! Here are some of our favorites from the shoot...

Attorney Headshots

In addition to my family portraits, I also shoot a variety of professional headshot sessions during the year. My clients vary from business executives to entrepreneurs and designers. Who DOESN'T need a polished headshot these days? Just like with family portraiture, headshot sessions are always unique to your own business or personal needs. This particular session was for an attorney and was done quickly at my private studio. If your photographic needs also involve your office team, a session can be coordinated at your place or business in order to capture headshots for all team members as well as group poses. Outdoor sessions are also a lot of fun for professionals who require a more relaxed and casual headshot look. Again, every shoot is unique, so if you are in need of freshening up your online appearance or your marketing materials, give me a call at the studio and I'd be happy to chat about what I can do for you! Please check out examples from some of our current headshot sessions here.

A perfect Valentine's Day gift for your wife or mother | Walnut Creek, CA

Tomorrow is Valentine's Day! What do you have planned? Flowers die, candy gets eaten, but a portrait of your family or just your children will last generations. Why not present your wife (or your Mom!) with a beautifully packaged gift certificate for a portrait session? To help you last minute lads out a bit, I have several prepped and ready to go, and can arrange to meet you at my studio or somewhere local to your work on Thursday  (assuming it's not too late in the day, since it's MY Valentine's Day as well!) so you can go home at the end of the day with a perfect gift she will LOVE! Ladies, if you are reading this and want to give your hubby a hint, just email him this link or post it on your Facebook wall by hitting the "share" button below ;) perfect gift for valentine's day for a special family portrait in walnut creek, ca

Samantha's senior portraits | walnut creek, ca

Do you like Sami's dress? I had her come over about an hour before our shoot and I simply "made" her a custom dress with some fabric and safety pins. Voila! A couture gown made just for her! She actually just had a tank top, bike shorts and Uggs on under all of this. Then we headed out to our evening location and created some beautiful images for her senior portraits. Even though it is nearing the end of January, we had a gorgeous evening with temps around 65 degrees. I always time my shoots so that we have perfect lighting and plenty of time to work before the light disappears. I brought along an antique ladder chair to give us additional options for posing since we would just be working in an empty field. I love the classic, elegant, yet simple feel of these images. Truly timeless and gorgeous. Thanks, Sami, for being so easy going and such a wonderfully beautiful subject to photograph, as always!

Family portraits and audrey's 1st year portraits | martinez, ca

This fall was full of beautiful family portrait sessions and I’ve been dying to blog all of them! Now that the rush season is over, I am finally able to sit down and get some of my favorites up on the blog. So let’s start with Kendall, Nick and Audrey (and their adorable dog, Riley)! Aren’t they a gorgeous family? I met them when they were pregnant with Audrey and we have been friends ever since. This was our third shoot together and each one just gets better and better. Our original concept for this shoot ended up not working out this time because we had to reschedule due to Audrey not feeling well, then again for weather. Gotta be flexible when we are working with kids and mother nature! Before we knew it, the clock was ticking down for the holidays and we just had to get the shoot done quickly in time for Christmas cards and gifts. So we headed over to one of my favorite spots that I just love for way the evening light falls in the winter months. I brought my old crate and Kendall and Nick brought some peppermint hot cocoa and we had a great time! Even though this was a “pulled together last minute” session, it turned out gorgeous and we are saving our original concept for their holiday shoot next year, so watch out! ;)

What I'm thankful for

It's that time of year again...the time where we all pause to think about what we are especially thankful for in our lives. While I can't keep up with the daily facebook post that everyone else is doing right now, I do want to share what I am thankful for! And here they are...  


My little buddy

Rarely do I create a blog post about my own children, but believe me, they are photographed A LOT! I always intend to share their images, but somehow taking the time to do so never seems to happen. So since I just shot these of my youngest just today and literally JUST downloaded them onto my computer, I figured I would take a few extra minutes and actually put them on my blog! For those of you that know our family, you already recognize this sweet face as our little dude, Canon. He just turned 7 and is just the best little boy in the world (I'm biased). What might be hard to recognize is that Canon is affected by autism. Which, of course, means we are ALL affected by autism. We are affected because sometimes Canon has strong reactions to certain stimuli and that can cause strangers to stare and pass judgment on his behavior and our reaction to his behavior. But autism has also affected us in a very positive way. We have learned that each of us is wired differently and just because someone doesn't fit into the same box that we do, doesn't mean that there is something "wrong" with them that needs to be corrected. It's our reaction to people who are different from us that needs to be corrected. Canon has taught us to accept people as they come, appreciate the gifts and talents they bring, and to recognize that life would be pretty boring if we were all cut out of the same cloth! And I have to add...Canon is not only a very bright child, but he is absolutely the sweetest little boy on the planet! I overheard him telling his sister yesterday "I hurt my leg, but Mommy kissed it. Her kiss is magical!" Love that kid!!

Holiday Portraits for Shawn

Even though it is still about 8o degrees here in the Bay Area, it's not too early to start thinking about what you would like to do for your holiday card photos this year! I'm not a big fan of overly "themed" portraits, but I do love an image that will make your cards stand out. I picked up this old sled and the cute little ear flap hat and off we went to find a spot for baby Shawn that would give a holiday feel but still be "pretty"...meaning not a lot of bare trees and cold light! Because sessions are always done either first thing in the morning or right before sunset, the temperature was perfect so Shawn was not uncomfortable in his winter wear. Now we can easily use a few of the images with the hat and the sled for the cards, but because the images are nice and clean and the props are subtle, they will still make beautiful portraits that can decorate the home for years to come! I've got a few other ideas for unique cards this year and am quickly gathering my props, so expect more images to come in the next month as the holiday season gets under way!

Jen's headshots | Concord, Ca

  My beautiful client, Jen, just landed an awesome position at a lifestyle PR firm and needed a few quick headshots for her bio page on the company website. I've been photographing her and her sweet little boys for several years, and they just recently relocated down to the San Luis Obispo area to start a new and exciting chapter in their lives! Since she was going to be passing through the Bay Area over the weekend, we were able to coordinate a quick shoot over at my place so we could knock out her headshots before her first day of work on Monday. Not only is Jen a beautiful person, but she's loads of fun and her positive, ambitious attitude towards life is truly contagious.  I’m so glad I’ve gotten the opportunity to get to know her over the years! Please check out examples from some of our current headshot sessions here.

Kelli's Spring Time Portraits | Concord, CA

Miss Kelli did very well for her session! As any parent or photographer knows, the two-three age is normally not the easiest to photograph. The trick is to keep it easy, fast, and fun so the kids don’t really feel like they are on display. Even though we were able to squeeze in four different outfits, the session only lasted about an hour and all took place across the street from my home so it was very easy (and stress free for her mommy). This was a styled session, so I provided all of the clothing and accessories, with the exception of the cute little cowboy boots which my clients borrowed from a friend of theirs. I planned the outfits in a way that we would be able to just quickly change out a few key pieces as we moved through our locations to match up with the colors in the scenery. One thing to keep in mind when planning your child’s portrait session, though, is this…the kids run the show. Even though I had four outfits planned for Kelli’s session that certainly didn’t mean that we were guaranteed that she would make it into all of those changes. When working with small children, you have to be flexible. Some kids will do their best if left in just one outfit and others can handle multiple changes, but I never push it and I always watch the kids for signs that they have had enough. The goal is to end on a high note so everyone leaves happy. If this session had also included her parents, I would have tried to keep the outfits limited to no more than two to make sure we weren’t over stimulating Kelli and pushing her out of her comfort zone.


Past clients always know that I have my treasure box on hand full of little prizes and that is a wonderful incentive to keep little ones focused on our task. I usually start the session by showing the kids the treasure box and explaining to them that as soon as we are finished, they will be able to pick out a prize to bring home. Then I remind them of the treasure box throughout the session when they start getting antsy and it usually works like a charm to bring their attention right back where we need them. I also keep Pez and stickers in my pockets for extra ammo, but for Kelli’s session we didn’t even need to go there. Her mommy also thought ahead and brought her a couple of new little toys still in the package to help entice her along, and that was a big motivation for her as well!

So if you are thinking of having your little one’s portrait created, now is a perfect time as the spring flowers are all in beautiful bloom! Mother’s Day is right around the corner, and moms and grandmas love beautiful updated portraits of their little loves! I have a lot of dads contacting me this time of year to squeeze in a quick session in time for gifts for their wives and mothers. If this is something you are interested in, please call the studio at 925-676-7036 or send me an email at and I will be happy to give you all of the info and help you set it up!

Sami's ready for Prom!

This evening was a lot of fun. My best friend (for the past 25 years) brought her beautiful daughter, Sami, over to my house so I could photograph her in her prom dress. Since she hasn't found the perfect pair of shoes yet, I had to keep the shots close up, but I couldn't wait any longer as the cherry blossom trees that I wanted to photograph her under will not be holding their beauty for much longer! SO...if YOU want to capture spring time portraits that show off the blossoms, mustard fields, or wildflowers, don' t put it off much longer! I still have a few more spots available before the flowers fade, but you gotta call me ASAP! Remember, Mother's Day is right around the corner, and what mom or grandma wouldn't love a portrait of her children or grandchildren as a special Mother's Day gift! So Sami, here ya go...these are just a few of my favorites that caught my eye while I was editing, but I do have A LOT more for you to go through! Enjoy...

Welcome Erin! 8 days old

I recently had the pleasure of photographing the beautiful little Erin when she was only 8 days old. A lot of people wonder why newborn photographers like to work with the babies when they are so new, so let me shed a little light on that! During the first week or so of life, babies are their sleepiest. And I don’t mean just sleepy, but DEEP asleep. That makes it much easier to pose a baby! Babies that are awake will tend to flail their arms and legs and kick out of most poses. Another reason we like them so early is because most of the time their skin looks great! Those of us who have had newborns before know that baby acne can set it after a few weeks, as well as really flakey skin. So under best circumstances, a newborn session is arranged for before your due date to insure that the window of time that would be best for your baby’s first official portrait session is reserved for them! Because I run a boutique studio, I work with a limited clientele and that gives me the flexibility to move around session dates as need be. Normally, we schedule the session for a date approximately 6 days out from your due date and then adjust as needed based on when your baby actually decides to enter the world! The session itself runs very smoothly. All I need you to do is sit back, relax, keep the baby’s tummy nice and full, and I will handle the rest.

babies, newbornsgretchen
Don't you want a puppy??

Well this week I had been hit with a stomach bug that pretty much knocked me out for a few days. I was feeling a bit better yesterday when my friend from up the street walked by with her son and their new litter of puppies, so of course I couldn’t resist grabbing my camera and getting a few shots. Aren’t they sweet? Don’t you want one for Valentine’s Day?? Guess what…there are 5 of them and they are available! They are pure breed shih tzus and will be ready to place in homes pretty soon! If you are interested, or know of someone who might be, just send me an email and I will get the contact info over to you. And for any of you not in the SF Bay Area who are viewing this, yes, the weather has been that nice around here that the neighborhood boys can walk around shirtless! We are having a VERY mild winter so far! :-) undefinedundefinedundefinedundefinedundefinedundefined

A day at the beach | Half Moon Bay, CA

I love beach shoots, especially in the fall. The weather is so nice and mild along the coast and you just could not ask for a better landscape to photograph in than Half Moon Bay. I’m blogging a handful of images from this session to showcase a bit of what a typical beach photo shoot includes…a bit of family poses, a bit of individual poses, some groupings, and a lot of play time. Notice how the clothes go from bone dry to sopping wet? Yeah, that’s pretty typical. We always start off with the posed family shots and individual shots fresh out of the car, while everyone is looking their best and sand/surf free. After that’s in the bag, we head down to the water and grab more family poses, some interaction, and then turn the kiddos loose to play and do their thing. In my opinion, this is when the magic happens. Clean, perfectly posed children’s portraits have their place in holiday cards and gifts for family members. But the fun, sand everywhere, jeans wet, laughing kiddos are the shots that create the memories and make you smile as you walk past them in the home. It just wouldn’t be a beach shoot without it. So here’s just a small sampling to hopefully illustrate my point. Thanks Jason and Hae, for rounding up the kids, pulling together wonderful outfits, and spending the evening playing at the beach with us! Buck and I had a good time and I hope your family did as well! undefined undefinedundefined  undefined undefinedundefinedundefinedundefinedundefinedundefinedundefined

Outdoor Family Portraits | Benicia, CA

I had a great time photographing Vicki and Michael’s family portraits this past season. We did a session about 3 years ago at the beach, which was a lot of fun, so this time we decided to do something a bit different.  We met up over at my Benicia studio to capture a more urban vibe this time around!  The location was a nice complement to the set of images that are hanging on their walls from our last session. The color palette they chose for their clothing was a combo of grays, blacks, and eggplant. It looked fantastic! We were able to get in an outfit change for some variety as well. It was an unusually hot day over in Benicia, so we tried to be as quick as possible before everyone melted, but at least we had a nice breeze coming off of the water to help a bit. Benicia is usually just a bit cooler than other parts of the East Bay, but occasionally we get a hot day and we just have to go with the flow! Here’s a little sampling of what we captured that evening…

Hip Chick Designs | Benicia Arsenal

Carrie, the owner and creative brain behind "Hip Chick Design" is one of the delightful artist down in the Benicia Arsenal and her shop is just adorable. She finds and sells the most unique and vintage treasures and also a massive collection of the most gorgeous tutus you will ever find! I'm not kidding when I say "massive". There are tutus hanging from the rafters, on the vintage mannequins, on Carrie herself, everywhere! And in every color!  But not only does Carrie maintain a wonderful selection of treasures to purchase in her shop, she is also a very talented artist and the shop is also her art studio. Her art ranges from painting, to mixed media collage, and also she creates custom pet portraits that she can paint from a favorite photograph of your pet. Carrie and I recently spent an afternoon just playing around the arsenal and creating some fun shots of her tutus and her shop. I hope this gives you a little taste of the creative vibe down in this little corner of Benicia! Please check out other examples of headshot sessions here.undefinedundefinedundefined  undefined undefinedundefined undefinedundefinedundefinedundefinedundefinedundefinedundefinedundefined