Swingler Family Session | Los Angeles, CA by Shana Berenzweig

My morning session with the ever-so-lovely Swingler Family was ever-so-dreamy. We were having so much fun and creating so much goodness that we hung out forever. I had to force myself to stop shooting because I knew culling the gallery down so going to be hard. And good grief, it felt practically impossible. I eventually edited things down, but the family’s delivered gallery was huge! Like one of my largest ever for a family session (and wink, wink, a good reason to get my all-inclusive session, but I digress).

Here’s a little taste of the magic we created together.

Interested in your own family session? Now booking my annual once-a-year fall specials, but spots are limited, so grab one right here while they last.

Kiesel Family Session | San Diego, CA by Shana Berenzweig

Oops. Once again it’s been a little while since I’ve blogged and even longer since I’ve posted a family session. So, let’s fix that with this sweet little session from my summer roadtrip. The adorable Kiesel Family are friends of my brother and we’ve talked about doing a session for a few years now, but things never quite worked out until this summer when the stars finally aligned and we met up one morning at beautiful Balboa Park in San Diego. (If I could digress for one moment, Balboa Park is such a dreamy place to shoot at and I wish I had something even remotely as awesome as it here at home.) I had such a great time with them and could’ve shot them forever if the marine layer hadn’t disappeared making it ridiculously bright out (and if the teenagers had allowed me to as well). Here are a few of my faves from our session and I can’t wait to work with them again.

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Interested in your own family session? Now booking my annual once-a-year fall specials, but spots are limited, so grab one right here while they last.

Home, sweet car. | Part 1: Why I turned my SUV into a camper. by Shana Berenzweig

Santa Cruz Mountains, CA | August 2019

Santa Cruz Mountains, CA | August 2019

If you’ve been following my Instagram stories, then you know I got back yesterday evening from a big ol’ roadtrip across the southwest and up the west coast with my dog, Frankie. Mostly a vacation, I did work a little while I was gone, and so while I’m doing laundry and downloading all my client sessions to my desktop computer, I decided to throw together some initial thoughts about the camping part of my trip.

First, let’s backtrack a moment.

I love tent camping, but it can also be a lot of work to set-up/break-down camp, particularly by yourself, and let’s face it, it’s not always that fun or comfy, especially when the weather turns. And tent camping by yourself can be scary and leave you feeling vulnerable. So like many people, I’ve long dreamed of having of having a home on wheels for roadtrips and camping.

The reality of my bank account, though, says that’s not happening any time soon without an unexpected financial windfall. This meant I had to get creative and so inspired by the ever-growing ranks of DIY car campers, I decided to build a sleeping platform in the back of my SUV.

I’m working on another post about the actual building of the sleeping platform and the nitty-gritty reality of it all, but until then, this one is more focused on the why I chose to do this and how I feel about it now that I’ve spent 5 nights camping in it.

Santa Cruz Mountains, CA | August 2019

Santa Cruz Mountains, CA | August 2019

Like I said above, I really do love tent camping. But doing it alone for multiple nights far from home is another thing. And even though I have tent camped alone a few times, the circumstances were all very different and sleeping in my car felt like the absolute right way to go for me on this trip.

I hoped I would feel much safer as a women traveling and camping alone.

I hoped it would save me time since I wouldn’t have to set up and break down a tent, which would then allow me more time for exploring and relaxing at camp.

I hoped it would be much more comfortable and that I would sleep so much better, which is so important when you’re traveling alone and driving long distances.

I hoped the sacrifices I would make in turning my SUV into camper would be so worth it.

Santa Cruz Mountains, CA | August 2019

Santa Cruz Mountains, CA | August 2019

And I was right. All of the above (and more) was true.

I never ever for one moment felt unsafe in the car at night. Same for traveling the road in general. (Working on a blog post about safely traveling solo as a woman, so keep a look out for that.)

Right again about it being a big time saver. It took a day or two to work out what should go where and there was a little bit of a nighttime set-up for the car, but it was nothing compared to a tent and could easily be done in the dark with just a headlamp, which can’t always be said for a tent. This also meant I could get to camp a little later in the day than I normally would since I wouldn’t have to factor in the time and daylight needed for setting up camp, which in turn led to more exploration and relaxation time.

And right again about being super comfy and sleeping well. A couple adjustments after the first night and I was good to go.

There were some sacrifices I had to make, like bringing a smaller cooler since I didn’t have the same space available in the car like on my other long-distance road and camping trips, but they were definitely worth it to have the ability to sleep in the car.

There are some things I will do differently for the next trip. But the important thing is that there will definitely be another trip. Hopefully sooner rather than later.

And that’s the best thing about this little conversion. I already feel way more inspired to go away for a quick camping trip than I ever have before with solo tent camping.

It’s easier and I feel much safer. And those were the two biggest things stopping me before.

Now that I’ve got those problems solved, I can get to making some minor changes, as well as to start saving some money so I can upgrade a few other things, like getting a rooftop cargo carrier to free up room inside and reduce the amount of gear I have to move around.

I’m already planning my next adventure and can’t wait to hit the road again. Until then, stay tuned for more posts in this series about turning my car into a camper.

Currie-Erven Family Session | Venice, CA by Shana Berenzweig

I’m finally getting around to blogging this family session from late last summer with one of my oldest and dearest friends (we go all the waaay back to early elementary school). We had planned to walk over to the historic Venice Canals, making a stop at one of my favorite spots, a huge, living succulent wall. As light-lover, I’d hoped for at least a little sun to work with that morning. Instead, the good ol’ marine layer rolled in and we had to make it work since this was our only chance to shoot together while I was out there. Of course, we still created some beautiful images together and some of my very favorite of the year. Here are just a few of my session faves, starting with a few random ones I took before we left the house.

Interested in your own family session in Austin or some place else? I’m available locally now and I’ll be traveling out west in August, message me and let’s make it happen!

Now Open | The Print Shop by Shana Berenzweig

Until I started creating my own online store, I naturally had no clue how much work goes into it. Even with a website builder to help you, there is still SO MUCH TO DO.

Uploading product photos, writing copy, entering unique SKU numbers, writing email notifications, setting up credit card processing, testing and then testing again the shopping and check-out process, and on and on it goes.

And that doesn’t even take into account the inevitable delays and technical issues that crop up. I’ve got a new respect for all those little elves behind the scenes of my online shopping experiences.

All of this rambling is to say I am so happy that my Print Shop is finally online and I so appreciate those of y’all who have already made a purchase!

And don’t forget that y’all have until Sunday, April 14 at midnight to enjoy 10% off your order with the code WOOHOO10.

Happy shopping!

Neary Family Windmill Session | Palm Springs, CA by Shana Berenzweig

Man, oh man, I really dropped the ball (again) on this whole blogging thing. Geez. I’ve got some drafts in the works and I’m gonna try my bestest (again) to do better. Starting with this dreamy session.

Back in February, I attended the Photo Native photography conference in Palm Springs and took part in a mentored shoot-out. A shoot-out is great opportunity for a small group of photographers to meet and learn from a mentor, as well as each other. This session was led by the phenomenal Jayme Ford of The Paper Deer Photography in a windmill farm in a canyon wash with the lovely Neary Family.

This was my first time doing a shoot-out and wasn’t really sure what to expect while trying to shoot with 13 other photographers. Honestly? It was weird for me, especially as an introvert in these kinda situations. You want to get your shots, but also be respectful of your fellow ‘togs trying to get theirs. And even though we started off in small groups taking turns, things (inevitably?) morphed into a free-for-all — everyone jockeying for position, calling out direction, and all the while still try to learn a few things. Check out these behind the scenes shots to get a little taste of the action.

As this wasn’t a normal session, I wasn’t quite able to capture everything I would’ve during a regular client session (like more close-ups, pics of dad and little brother, and some individual portraits, for example), but other than that, I’m pretty in love with these images. These are just a few of my favorites as I edited a ton of photos and probably could go back and edit even more.

As I’d hoped, I learned a lot of during this workshop, including some unexpected lessons. I won’t bore y’all with all that stuff, but there was one thing I thought worthwhile sharing and applies to both clients and fellow photog’s —how to handle Mother Nature and her fickleness with weather.

The sunny Palm Springs of many an Instagram influencer’s feed was nowhere in sight as shoot time approached. Instead, rain clouds loomed in the distance and I thought for sure it was gonna pour (we did get some spinkles and it would start to rain even heavier later that night and proceed to dump historic levels the next day, but that’s a story for another day).

As a lover of light, sun flares, and rim light, I was pretty bummed by this less than ideal weather. But I should’ve listened to my own advice that I give to clients about the weather.

Sometimes that less than ideal weather turns into a moody and dreamy landscape that you could never ever plan for in a million years. It was a good reminder to be patient and expect the unexpected.

Interested in your own dreamy family session? Message me and let’s make it happen!

Big thanks to these fine folks.

Workshop: Photo Native

Mentor: Jayme Ford | The Paper Deer Photography

Models: The Neary Family

Dress: Reclamation Design Company

Location: Palm Springs, CA

The Do’s and Don’ts of What to Wear by Shana Berenzweig

With family photo season upon us, I’ve been working on putting together some posts to help y’all get ready. Besides questions about how to get the family ready mentally for the session and whether you should bribe your kids (that post is coming next), the most frequent question I get is about what to wear.

I love helping clients through this part and usually send some tips before the shoot and help actually pick outfits if someone asks. I also have a Pinterest board full of inspiration and advice. But despite my best intentions, I’ve never put together a blog post. And while there are no hard and fast rules, there are some tried and true tips and tricks for looking your best.  

First things first. Just be yourselves.  Wear something that makes y’all happy and feel your best.  Not to mention, something that looks like you and your family. For everything from makeup to hair to clothing, keep it somewhat natural and looking like yourselves. There’s no need to be someone y’all are not. Just polish things up a bit, you know?

I also tell clients not to feel the need or pressure to go buy anything (unless, of course, they want an excuse to go shopping).  This can often lead you down a stressful road and why add more stress to your life. I also usually suggest that whoever is the most style-conscious person in the family picks their outfit first, then plan the kiddos and the rest of the family around them.

Remember, this is just advice, won’t apply to everyone, and some rules are meant to be broken, but there are some general do’s I’ve learned over the years.

Do keep it simple. Stay with a color palette of 3-5 complementary colors and mix in neutrals like denim, khaki, white, or gray for a nice balance for each look. Personally, I think neutral color palettes with a pop of color (like yellow) photographs especially well. I’ve noticed there are also some colors to think twice about, such as large amounts of true red, bright greens and blues, and neon colors.  The key word here is large. In small amounts, you’re all good.

Do mix things up. Everyone should look slightly different and not matchy-matchy or all wearing the same thing.  

Do add some accessories, layers and patterns.  Small patterns of polka dots, plaid, florals, and stripes can photograph beautifully, just don’t over do it.

Do add some movement. This is especially good tip for the ladies. Something that will move with you and the breeze photographs really well.

Do put it all out there. Lay it all out together and see how everything looks.  Then take a few pics and text a trusted and stylish friend or me/your photographer for a second opinion.

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Now, of course, for a few don’ts.

Don’t advertise for anyone but yourselves. No big logos, text, tv/movie characters, etc, all of which can be distracting and take focus away from your lovely faces and shining personalities.

Don’t just wing it. Maybe you’re one of those cool people with effortless style and can throw together some outfits last minute. But for the rest of us mere mortals, skipping the planning step and scrambling the day of, doesn’t always result in the best look but usually adds unnecessarily stress. And who needs that?

Don’t be too casual. While you don’t have to wear your Sunday best, family photos are a special occasion and dressing too casually is discouraged. So, please no athletic wear, or Crocs, Keens, or the like as their bright colors can really stand out and be distracting.

Don’t try a new style. The week before your shoot is not the best time to try out a new haircut or makeup for the first time or wait to try on that new look or outfit. These are things to test out well before your session.

Don’t forget to check the forecast. Have an outdoor session? Stay seasonal and check the forecast and plan accordingly.

Don’t forget about your shoes. I tell my clients to keep ‘em cute but comfy.  We’re usually walking and moving around during sessions, so keep that in mind for everyone’s comfort, as well as ladies’ heel type. For the guys, converse, casual loafers, boat shoes, leather sandals, or nice flip flops are all good choices. No need to go too dressy or athletic.

Don’t be afraid to get a little dirty. You never know where your session will take you and sitting on the ground or leaning against a wall or something may make for the best shot, and you don’t want getting a little dirty to get in the way of that, now do you?

My talented friend and photographer, Megan of The Penny Gray Photography Co., recently wrote an excellent post about putting outfits together that y’all should most definitely read before your session, and if you’re in the Washington D.C. area and in need of a fantastic photog, check her out.

And to my clients, if you’re ever stumped and feeling stressed out, I am always here and happy to help.