Portrait Series | October

san-clemente-family-photographer-0266 san-clemente-family-photographer-0331A portrait of my family once a month in 2016

Willy: Turned Van’s sour-morning-mood with a game of pull-my-finger. Also spent last night watching rats in the backyard and is gloating over his homemade rat trap.

Hooper: In recognition that I could do more at once with more hands, told me he wished I had 100 hands. Also confessed that he’s been hiding candy in his underwear.

Van: You could measure the fun he’s had in a day by how much pee you can ring out of his pants. Hashtag: pee breaks are for losers. Also called me a punk and then proceeded to ask if punk is a bad word.

Sonny: Has replaced his morning whale flaps with the cutest raspberries. And manly farts.

Me: Got called out by one of Hooper’s little friends who told a uniformed firefighter that I allow Van to have soda, pointing out the fact that soda ‘has sugar in it’ and is ‘bad’ for you.

Jimmie: Has taken to spending most nights alone in the spare bedroom. If you knew how dependent he was you’d understand why this is so perplexing.

Sonny @ 7 Months

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Growth & Appearance: You have a full head of hair that’s somewhere between blond and brown. You have way more hair than I remember either of your brothers having. Your eyes are no longer blue but aren’t quite brown either.

You’re long and despite ‘falling’ in the weight percentile, you have plenty to pinch.

You’re rockin’ the helmet and we’re noticing improvement. You don’t mind your helmet one bit and you wear it 23 hours per day. It’s made for some interesting hair-dos as your hair has learned to grow up and over it, making for an ocean wave appearance when we take the helmet off.

You’re in size 3 diapers.san-clemente-family-photographer-8676

Sleeping: We still put you in the wombie overnight but you’re outgrowing it in the developmental sense; meaning you’re squirming around enough that the thing ends up backwards on you by the time the sun is up. You’re also able to roll onto your belly and I think it’s time to give you the freedom to move about freely.

You sleep through the night most every night, with the middle-of-night wakings being a once a week or so occurrence. On average you go to sleep around 8:30pm, I wake you before I go to bed around 10pm to top you off, and you wake up around 7am. You nap around 10:30 for 2 hours or so. You tend to nod off in the late afternoon but never for very long and sometimes just during your feeding at that time; it’s far from an official ‘afternoon nap’.

You’re still in a crib in our room but now that you’re more consistently sleeping through the night, I think we’ll put you in the boys room soon enough.san-clemente-family-photographer-8233
Eating: You’re blowin’ and goin’ on solids. You have yet to find a food you haven’t devoured. You’ve had carrots, zucchini, broccoli, peas, banana, avocado, yogurt, pear, sweet potato, chicken, corn.

You love food. We often get distracted while feeding you because of everything and everyone else that needs our attention, causing you to flail about and whine until we pick up the loaded spoon and deliver the tasty morsels into your mouth. It’s a joy to feed you based solely on the fact of how happy it makes you.

We feed you with a spoon but let you practice your pincer grasp on your own, which you haven’t quite mastered. When you make a total mess of yourself, I bring you and the highchair outside and literally hose you both down.

We feed you solids twice a day, once after your second morning feed and again at dinner, when we’re all eating together.

You still breastfeed every few hours for an average, I’d guess, of 8 feedings per day.san-clemente-family-photographer-8690

Development: Within a weeks time you pushed from belly to a sitting position, then were able to scoot back but not forward, and then – just like that – you were crawling. The day after you started crawling you pulled yourself up in your crib. You crawl with ease now and have pulled to stand on a few different things.

You laugh a lot and are easily entertained.

You tend to reach for things with your four fingers and pressed together and your thumb tucked in, as if making a tight number four. Occasionally your pointer finger will bend in and it looks like you’re making an alligator shadow puppet.

You’re happy going from person to person but can’t stand watching me repeatedly come and go into a room and will ultimately cry for me. You also do the craziest squeal when you see me come home from work or from running errands.

You open and close your fingers into and out of a fist when you’re excited; it’s like you’re trying to catch excitement but haven’t quite realized that feelings aren’t tangible.

We use the playpen, which we didn’t use for either of your brothers other than for sleeping accommodations when traveling. That’s because there are so many legos and small toys everywhere and keeping you safe is nearly impossible. And so, we box you in. You don’t mind it. In fact, in the late afternoon you’ll lay down in there for a cat nap and it’s always nice to see you drift off to another land in a well lit room, with all the chaos surrounding you.san-clemente-family-photographer-8227
Favorites: With crawling, you are now able to reach beyond what we simply set in front of you. That said, you have a new found affinity for Jimmie’s dog bones and gross, dirt stained, stuffed toys.

Arizona

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My heart is here, in this little corner I’ve carved out on the inter webs, always. Finding the time, however, is always a struggle. Perhaps more now than ever. But I’ve kinda just succumbed to the fact of it and get in when I fit in. Trying to find peace with a to-do list that shows no mercy. Life slows for none of us.

And so, some pictures from our last trip out to Arizona. Over a month late, but who’s counting. A trip where we tried desperately not to melt; where the only time I had any energy to capture anything through my lens was in the comfort of air-conditioning. Or a setting sun. Where the boys left with a hue of green in their hair from the pool, which truthfully did little to quench the heat.

In any event, it was a nice time spent with cousins, grandparents, great grandparents; the boys enjoying their rides on the tractor and collecting bugs in the yard. I was able to score some nice things for the house as well, including an old wooden dresser and an antique mirror.

Hoping we’ll make it back out this fall, when the weather has cooled.

A Family Session, with The Carlsons

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I used to think that in the photography business, referrals were where it was at. Then I got a few a few referrals and changed my mind completely. It’s a totally different experience shooting someone that is familiar with your work versus someone who only hired you because their friend said you were good.

Tish has been a long-time supporter of my work and I think this shoot goes to show the value in that. She gave me just what I always yearn to receive and she did so effortlessly. It was such an easy and carefree session filled to the brim with love.

The Carlson Family, Arizona

You can see Tish’s work by clicking here

Visual Supplement: Anne Rivera

anne-rivera2Anne Rivera, on the process of wet plate collodion photography, “My camera is from the turn of the century and keeping with the traditions of the past, I use all natural light. There is no adjustable aperture and no shutter, so all exposure time must be done by keeping the lens open to light while the subject remains still for an extended time. I truly believe the lens captures something magical in that long exposure time, something that comes across through the eyes of the subject that can’t be reproduced through any other type of photography”.

You can check out more of her work by clicking here and learn more about Anne herself by clicking here. And you may spy Hooper and I up in the top corner. Always grateful to be on the receiving end of gifts from talented friends.

The Long Beach Folk Festival

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I felt the same way leading up to the Long Beach Folk Festival… questioning, once again, if we should have bought tickets and if going to the full day event would even be enjoyable with all three hooligans in tow.

And we had the best time ever.

Kids were free, there was plenty of room for the boys to run, we caught the banjo contest, had great burgers at one of the food trucks, listened to incredible music, and even got to hang for a few with Chuck Ragan, who truthfully was the main reason we bought tickets. We’ve seen him play several times and he always proves to be approachable and down-to-earth, so it was no surprise to find him enjoying a beer before his set, by himself, watching the band before him right there along with everyone else. Willy and I made a few babbling idiot comments, “I love your fish”, stumbled its way out of my mouth (in reference to all the fishing he does). We were like dyslexic teenagers at a Justin Bieber concert.

To our surprise, the boys watched his entire set right there on top of the speaker box. It’s an incredible feeling to watch your children enjoy something you love so dearly. The way music can bring strangers together strengthened further by having the boys there and entertained. There were several moments where I felt like they were feeling exactly what I was feeling; that feeling you get when you’re in the presence of something so much larger than yourself. But who knows, maybe the volume being put out from the speakers they were sitting on was just enough to keep their (at times) incessant whining at bay. Or maybe they were daydreaming of legos. Whatever the case may be, we actually got to listen to the entire set uninterrupted; no fights to break up, no trips to the portapotty, no whining because they were hungry… just pure music bliss, compliments of Chuck Ragan and his crew. Sonny slept through much of it. The icing on the cake.

We hung out for a bit afterward, caught some of The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, watched the boys flirt with two dotting older girls who enjoyed the giggles the boys antics produced, ate dessert, and then called it a night.

We’ll plan on attending next year. And I probably owe Oceanfest an apology and perhaps a second chance next year. Because sure, it ain’t ever easy with the kids but days like this one are to blame (versus credit) for the hope I hold onto for future events to run just as smoothly.

Springville

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It got me thinking about what I do value. Not that I hadn’t evaluated such prior to now, but in that moment I couldn’t think of what my equivalent to his Rolex would be. I thought about the things I own and the price tags attached and all I could come up with was camera equipment, which truthfully speaking is an avenue of income and therefore doesn’t really count.

And then I thought about what I asked for for my birthday because surely birthdays are special and gifts for such are typically heartfelt. I asked for a trip; nothing fancy, just a weekend away with all of us together. And on my birthday I unwrapped a little box that contained a folded up piece of paper with a picture of a renovated barn on it.

Experiences, memories, and even the hard, trying times that come with traveling with littles are what make my heart pitter patter. And so, over summer (man I’m reminded of how behind I am on sharing stuff here), in celebration of my birthday, we loaded up the van and headed up to Springville, at the base of the Sequoias, with no plans in particular because, well, itineraries – and the people who make them – scare me.
We stopped at Walmart once we got into town, stocking up on breakfast items, a few snacks, and some fishing rods for the boys. Fishing rods we’d grow to detest in due time. I met Willy and the boys in the store after having fed Sonny in the car and upon walking into the ginormous store, I heard Willy screaming for Van. A few seconds after that I heard the announcement that a blond boy, in a black shirt, was lost and to keep an eye out. There is no feeling that can adequately describe the feeling of potentially having lost your child or, worse yet, having your child taken from you. I made a dash for the exit and frantically scoured the parking lot. I came back into the store, heard “code Adam canceled”, and found the boys; my heart trying hard to settle back to it’s ordinary position in my chest.

Down a dirt road, past a field of cows, we came up on the barn; the outside adorned with cobwebs and scorpions, the inside eclectic and kitchy.

We ate that night at a roadside dive bar; the kind of place you have to poke your head in and ask if kids are even allowed and when they tell you they are you’re directed to a table, the only table, in the corner of the bar. A bar filled only with locals. A bar we entered knowing no one and left knowing everyone, thanks really and truly to Willy, who is always the social butterfly of our clan. Not to mention the parting gifts we received, including fresh grapes from someones local vineyard and a tip on the trees the neighboring llamas enjoy most. We fed the llamas before heading down to the lake, the sun setting just behind the mountain as we got there.

We returned to the lake the next day, the 110 degree weather causing us to want to turn around nearly as soon as we got there. We settled in anyway, a few cold beers and some good tunes allowing us to sink our feet into the mud and forget, momentarily anyway, about how miserable triple digit weather can be. Unphased by the weather or the muggy water, the boys broke out their fishing poles, played with the worms, and practiced their casting. A thousand tangled lines and hundreds of lost bait later had us questioning Walmart’s return policies. And truthfully I thought it was all fun and games until Hooper came running up from the shoreline, a small fish dangling from the end of his line. Pride beaming from every orafice of his being and jaw dropping bewilderment on the faces of Willy and I. And tears, oh the jealous tears, streaming from Van’s eyes. Willy has the best picture on his phone of Hooper holding his treasured fish and Van, in the background, crying a cry that would lead one to believe a shark bit his hand off. Classic moments in brotherhood.

We returned to the lake later in the evening; the boys with a new found excitement about fishing and a new found determination to catch another. Chasing the dragon, if you will. Which, as life would have it, didn’t work out a second time. But there were frogs and they proved to be a welcomed distraction.

The following day we had intentions of making the short drive up the mountain and into the Sequoias as, truthfully, being amongst the trees is more what I had envisioned when we initially planned our trip. The road up the mountain, however, looked more like the way a drunk man would draw a straight line if blindfolded and using his non-dominant hand. Point being, it was a super winding road and given Hooper’s history with yacking – the latest culprit being the mere turnabouts in downtown Tijuana – we opted to skip the trees and head for another body of water instead.

We’re not the best planners and by the time we got out the door the following morning, it was verging on nap time, aka our-saving-grace, and so leaving when we did truly was a gamble. There were more tangled lines, this time accompanied with more tears and whining from Van (who needs a nap like a banker needs money). Not even a small catfish found on the end of his line, that Willy caught in an attempt to level the I-caught-my-first-fish playing field (and much to my dismay because hey, you win some and you lose some / life lessons) could brighten his day. We hung on for as long as we could before packing up and keeping our fingers crossed that we’d make it back in time to at least get an hour of downtime. And we did. Actually I found Hooper (who thankfully agreed to a nap despite it not being a part of his regular routine these days) curled up in the pack-n-play we brought for Sonny. Oh my mama heart…

That evening we returned to the same bar we had fell in love with prior; the food nothing to write home about but the faces familiar, the welcome warm, the beer cold, and the tunes spot on. We got to talking to two young cowboys and the boys were all kinds of impressed to see the videos of them riding bulls. Hooper requested a picture with them and of course I obliged. We hung with the locals, mostly transplants from other areas of California, while the boys flung the pool balls about and attempted to befriend the llamas out back.

We left in the morning. Our last adventure before the dreaded, though not-so-dreaded, start of school. But more dreaded than not dreaded because summer has our hearts.

Childhood Unplugged

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We’re not big on celebrations over here; well, not in the traditional way, anyway. Take birthdays, for example. More specifically, my birthday. Where the only gift I opened from Willy was a box with a folded piece of paper with a picture of a barn located just outside of Sequoia. Presents by way of experiences, if you will. And some chocolate covered caramel.

We had intentions of making it up the mountain until we saw the outline of the road, which resembled the scribble scrabble of a two year old more than it did a paved path. And given our past experiences with Hooper and his upheavals from the mere turnabouts in Tijuana, we opted to stay lakeside instead. And when taking the majestic sunset each night, I can’t say it felt like we missed out.

I’ll be sharing more from our trip to Springville soon. Still trying to get caught up here with all we’ve had going on as of late.

And on the Childhood Unplugged front, you may be interested in our latest feature of Deborah Parkin, which you can check out here.

Please join me in supporting the other photographers participating in the Childhood Unplugged movement by clicking here to see all our submissions. You can also follow us on instagram (@childhoodunplugged) and be sure to use #childhoodunplugged for a chance to be featured on our Instagram feed.