Welcome to MY BLOG: A collection of RECENT sessions, FEATURES, current SPECIALS, TRAVELS and other exciting news - and occasionally a personal project here and there. ENJOY, and don't be too shy to leave a little love about what you see! XXO, Chele
Allow me to introduce you to one of my FAVORITE sessions EVER! I love all senior and teen sessions for the individuality and creative vibe that is different based on each kid and who they are and what they love - but THIS one....just slayed the scope of creativity in ONE session and shows what is possible with meticulous planning and a crew that vibes together SO well!
Our first and second set you see is mom's special request. She wanted that quintessential classic smiling senior portrait. And mom is a photographer, too, so we totally got it! But the senior, a ballerina, had been photographed as a dancer for years and REALLY really wanted the Platinum experience we offer and her biggest request was to be photographed in her OTHER favorite element: Fashion!
So Nicole (makeup artist) and I set out to create an amazing creative fashion experience that would be UNFORGETTABLE! As you can see our second set was PROM. Olivia totally slayed the look with some amazing color pop shoes she scouted especially for her session - along with two sweet locations especially scouted just for this look. Nicole gave her a soft glam look with cascading waves of blonde to compliment her floral designer gown.
We went from classic beauty portrait to street style glam in a matter of minutes just by crossing the street and and using an old church for a street chic vibe.
But LOOK what we did just 3 blocks away!!! THIS is why I love shooting in Austin Texas so much! You can change your scene from glam to edgy street style in a matter of 3 blocks. Our next set was BOLD and VIBRANT and Olivia took it to the next level with one of our purple smoke bombs we ordered when customizing her session!
Our next look was one of my absolute favorites and the two locations planned for this look were perfect in every way! Olivia has impeccable style and fashion sense and looked amazing in a draped silk kimono finished off with a gorgeous fae-like headpiece that really helped set the scene as more of a saturated, painterly, dreamscape than the reality of mid-town Austin.
With cool tones and plum hues complimenting her soft flowing look, it just doesn't get any dreamier than this!
One of the looks I've been dying to do, fit Olivia's style perfectly and that was inspired by the infamous Coachella festival and all of it's fashion. Coachella happened to be going on simultaneously the same week of Olivia's Platinum session. This little number has been on my style rack for a year just waiting for the right senior to come along and slip into it! We ordered a red smoke bomb to go with this epic street scene taking place at this ICONIC wall in downtown Austin.
Be sure and catch the hilarious "behind the scenes" of Olivia's senior story video at the end of this post, to see what she did with her platform heels after this set!
Now we come to Olivia's number one passion: BALLET! She has worked tirelessly on her dream toward professional ballet and it's amazing to watch her in her element and see the passion and dedication she has to the art of dance and all it's beautiful forms.
BTS fact: We planned to use a red smoke grenade at this Austin skyline location, but in the weeks leading up to this shoot, there was a crazy package bomber on the loose in Austin. The last thing we wanted to do was cause a scare while everyone was still so on edge. So we opted for the flowy red fabric instead, and couldn't be happier with how it came out! Her pointe shoes are simply spray painted to match the color pop of red fabric.
And last, but not least: more fun with color! After we wrapped our dance set up and the sun went down on the Austin city lights, we finished off our skyline shoot with a change back into something edgy, to finish off with colored powders (inspired by my first published shoot) and some glitter and sparkles!
Be sure to check out Olivia's premier video below to see what an entire shoot with us is like! Olivia and her mom booked our Platinum Experience and added one hour of extra time and drone footage to her session to complete her amazing day with a video and 6 different looks and 7 locations!
Hair and makeup by the very talented Nicole Gonzales! It still blows my mind that Nicole, Olivia, and I fit that many looks into ONE entire shoot, but we amazingly did it! The Platinum Experience is definitely the way to go! So much fun for all of us!
Olivia S: Fashionista Ballerina
Every once in a while (ok, a lot more than that) I see something that immediately inspires me - it could be a color, a flower, a structure or mural, or the way the light flows through a field of grass at a certain time of day... it could be a myriad of things that inspire in me the need to create a photograph or see about bringing that vision to life.
Most often it happens when I make a wrong turn or get a little lost looking for something else - there it is in front of me: a scene that likely not many others could even see but in my mind's eye I see something beautiful as I begin to piece together all the elements that make up my vision and how to put it together.
When it happens I just HAVE to get it out of my system. I have to tell that story of the colors I see and how they speak to me! You will often catch me saying at every photoshoot...."THIS session is my favorite!" And I mean that from my very soul because I am in the element and moment of the greatest gift of inspiration!
On this particular scene, I had made a wrong turn looking for a taco shop in Santa Ana, CA. While making my way back to the street with the correct location I could see in the distance these beautiful purple trees peaking above the rooftops. After eating my tacos, I ventured back to that neighborhood and drove all the way down the street looking at how the light played on the petals and the direction from which it came.
It was just a local city street of neighboring families, flanked with parked with bumper to bumper parked cars, but I loved how the street was lined with mature purple flowering trees all the way down both sides.
Being new to Southern California, I had seen trees in my neighborhood beginning to flower but not like this - not from top to bottom - like the these tall majestic beauties!Back at the office, in our style closet, I had a yet-to-be chosen ruffled purple crop-top that looked just like these flowers. A little spark was planted!
Once home, that evening, I posted a model call with my idea, for local high school seniors that followed me on instagram, to see who else thought this was a pretty idea! And that was that. A personal project was underway!
My favorite thing about my personal projects is how I don't have to worry about making sure I'm getting specifics for the client - I am totally in my own personal zone of creativity and adventure. Some of it is planned meticulously - like the outfits and location - but a lot of it is totally whimsical - like the wonderful Woodbridge High School seniors who answered the model call and were just as excited as I was, to make this vision come to life!
Most of my model calls don't involve the style closet, as they are reserved for Gold or Platinum sessions, but because this was more of a personal project, it was a go and we had a blast going through clothes and piecing together fun outfits and accessories (including the ruffle purple top modeled by Shiphalika) to go with each location.
The ease at which creativity flows and how fast my ideas come is incredible when in this zone! We shot with back light, we shot through stuff, we shot with prisms and mirrors. We got incredibly artsy and just had fun with it. All the while my seniors were killing it with their fashion model vibe and having a blast!
Next stop was the Santa Ana Art District (just for fun) to finish off our afternoon of creativity.
I absolutely love this area! It's full of gourmet food, craft beverages, festivity, live music, and best of all: lots and lots of colorful murals and architecture!
We changed our look from purple and whimsical, to street chic and showgirl, and used the gorgeous backdrop of these art district murals and shops as our on-location set to set the vibe for these colorful scenes.
I'm so glad Sylvia and Shiphalika answered the model call because they were perfect for both of these locations and outfits. Anytime you shoot with me you are welcome to bring a friend! BFF sessions are the BEST! Not only that...Having a friend along means having someone who gets the inside jokes, more laughter, more at ease in front of the camera, and even better is having that bestie there to cheer you on while you slay the scene!
Don't miss out on our current special: Book now for anytime this year and get a $100 or $200 print credit toward any collection! Both of our regular sessions include personal styling and planning consultation, access to our style rack and accessories, personalized location scouting, and professional hair and makeup artist, along with your session and gallery premiere video session! There is no other experience quite like ours in this area!
Complimentary consultations are always available by appointment, to see if we are all a fit for each other and we have room for 50 Gold or Platinum spots up for grabs each school year!
Our session-end shenanigans included more dancing in the streets and Shiphalika's cartwheels! Until next time!
What is a "Rock the Dress" session (also known as "Trash the dress")? Ooooooh just give me a quick visual minute to explain! This is one of my favorite times of year for exactly this reason! So much creativity goes through my mind, my heart nearly explodes! And let me strike through the phrase "Trash" and replace it with "CELEBRATE!"
I love love love all these prom pictures being posted on the weekends this time of year! Obviously, being a senior portrait photographer, I like to take prom pictures to a whole other level of fun and fantasy when I get the chance. In Southern California, these gorgeous designer dresses do NOT disappoint in front of the camera and I can hardly wait for the next one!
Think Prom dress or any formal dress - and an outrageously fun or dramatic concept you would never even think of actually doing in a prom dress! Now that prom is over, you CAN!
You'd never think of getting on your horse in that dress, or running into the ocean, or dancing in the desert, or going anywhere near a waterfall in that amazing frock you just spent days searching for the big night,. But, afterward, you will likely never wear that dress again (because, who doesn't want a NEW dress for the next big formal? Right?).
It's just going to sit in your closet - just in case you get a chance to wear it again (but you won't). And your sister doesn't want it - she wants her own dress. Maybe you try to sell it online but you won't even get half of what you paid, even though it was "only worn once." And where is the fun in that when you could be wearing it in an enchanted forest or field of flowers or on a sandy beach with waves crashing all around you at sunset?
Senior prom is a nostalgic milestone you will want to remember forever! You and your badass dress deserve so much more than to sit in the back of a dark closet!
So what do you do with that fabulous dress after prom is over and the finish line to high school graduation is on the horizon? You book a Rock The Dress session with me and we go and do something outrageous and fun for your pictures, that you would never risk in that beautiful gown before prom night! You can book one of these separately or work it into a regular senior portrait experience as your finale!
So, ROCK THAT DRESS! Wear it outrageously, and do something magical with it! It's quite liberating and exhilarating, and so far - all the dresses have survived their rocking, and cleaned up just fine with a little TLC. Call me and let's create something amazing together, that you will cherish and remember forever.
Oh! And by the way....if you don't yet have a dress worthy of rocking, or a prom or formal to warrant buying that dress, you can still work a "rock the dress" set into your regular session or book one on it's own! We have several dresses right here at the studio just for that purpose!
Sometimes a small random photoshoot comes out of nowhere with a big bang! Huntington Beach High School Senior, Rhiannon's session, was a quick model call that just had all the best ish encapsulated into 2 square city blocks of the Santa Ana art district, and 90 amazing minutes (that were an absolute BLAST), and I've GOT to show it off, I'm just so in love with these portraits and so is her family!
This is was just a random high school senior portrait model call posted to my facebook and instagram, because we had just relocated to Irvine, California, and I needed local faces on my blog to get the word out. A Huntington Beach mom volunteered her rockstar daughter (pictured here) and the rest...well, you can see for yourself (SWOON).
Be sure to check out her senior film at the end of this post - I still can't believe I got enough material to build an entire film from one little model call session and it's truly one of my favorite sessions I've ever captured!
I work really hard to prepare and customize portrait sessions from the moment I meet each client, to the super-stellar session-day, itself. When a high school senior walks in the door for hair and makeup call-time, there is always a printed timeline, complete with each outfit, location, and theme or idea, ready to go for each team member including the makeup artist and the senior.
But, when I do model calls, they are super-simple and very on-the-fly. They are meant to be quick, easy and fun - while we still plan a little bit of a theme - it might just be ONE theme or ONE location, instead of 4 or 5 locations and outfits that come with a full CJ Seniors platinum or gold portrait experience. Also, there is no hair and makeup available for model calls - that is reserved for the full experience, as well.
For this session, I asked mom how her daughter stands out and learned that, Rhiannon (who was named for the Fleetwood Mac song), is an artist who loves to paint and play music. In fact, she plays bass guitar for a Huntington Beach punk band called The Acid Blondie band! Both Rhiannon and her mom also happen to be huge advocates of compassion in their community - something that really speaks to my heart. Her mom describes her as " a force to be reckoned with."
After a quick video chat with Rhiannon and her mom, I got a solid idea of her sense of style, love of fashion, and what she really geeks out on.
Rhiannon has a unique style that I absolutely LOVE! The first thing noted was that I needed to find a colorful place with old walls and lots of grunge and street art to go with this teen's punky, gritty, quirky style! I scored by finding a myriad of murals all within two square blocks, giving me several amazing looks in one basic location. Perfect!
Because it was so close in proximity and we didn't need to drive anywhere, we could throw in a couple of extra clothing changes to keep it fresh! We ended up going with three outfits, total, and with all the variety of backdrops we were set for the epic mini session you are currently viewing!
Rhiannon was amazing at her photoshoot! She was actually recovering from a cold and a little nervous at first, but as soon as I started guiding her into different ideas, we were on a roll - with jumpies and squats and turns and working with the beautiful evening light and amazing art behind her, it just doesn't get better than this!
Her unique punky style of fashion was so FUN to photograph! I love styling sessions with my clients. All of our locations are carefully chosen ahead of time, based on what they will be wearing - whether it's from their closet or our own Style Closet! We often mix and match from both closets and add some fun accessories from the studio to bring each look together! But these looks are ALL Rhiannon from her own closet!
I absolutely adored Rhiannon's sparkling eyes and freckles and her bright and silly outtakes were so cute! As you can see in Rhiannon's music video, below, laughter at our sessions is not at all uncommon and we always have fun! I actually happen to be a total goofball and clutz... I think this inadvertently helps teens open up and let their own sillies out. I'm really big on authenticity, with myself, and strive to capture the same from every teen I document.
Aaaaaah... it's that time of year when every Southern California photographer dreams of, when the weather is warming, the winter rains have subsided, wildflowers are trending, and that MUCH needed break from school and responsibilities has finally arrived! What better way to celebrate Spring Break on the beautiful West Coast, than a quick Laguna Beach senior portrait photoshoot with Annie and Anika from Aliso Niguel High School?
If you haven't ever signed up for one of our model calls, they are a blast! They are short, quick sessions, compared to our regular experience, but they are a great way to get some fun new social media files, as well as some extra senior portraits added on to your full Gold or Platinum session galleries if you booked one for your senior year. Parents love seeing the extra images, too!
HINT: Watch for model call sign-ups prior to season changes, holidays, or special events like Prom - when they are announced on our social media platforms, our insta-stories, and our blog! Make sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and watch our blog for these announcements if you want to participate. Even more fun, you get to bring a friend along to be in the pictures with you, if you want to share your session, like they did! You can also check out PART ONE of their totally fun 80's retro styled session here!
For this quick set, I had Annie channel warmth (because it was freezing that day) and bring in some lovely Rachel McAdams vibes (no, not the mean girls version, but the romantic lead of a star-crossed love vibe).
Capturing Annie and Anika was a blast because both of them are very active (and multi-talented) in their high school musical theatre community! This made styling their session super-fun because I knew they could easily play two super-different parts in front of the camera and give me great variety for some amazing images. This was also my first time ever shooting on California beaches!
For Anika I wanted a fun diva date-night vibe - playing chase on the beach in the wind and surf, running and laughing, with shoes in hand and a sweet velvet dress from Forever 21. Just look at that beautiful, warm, golden-hour glow...
Anika, of course, played the part perfectly and I got these STUNNING images of her beautiful laughter and smile!
I encourage you to catch Annie and Anika, and their talented friends, in their next musical theatre production at Aliso Niguel Theatre Company. Be sure to check out Pippin coming this April 18th - 27th! Tickets are on sale now at the following link:https://www.alisonigueltheatre.com/current-season. I hope to see you there!