Coast to Coast, Y'all! Moving to Raleigh

Brooke Bryand Photography | Raleigh, NC Family Photographer | Moving Announcement As of May 29th, we are moving!

Per my newsletter, I will be flying back quarterly starting with September for Fall Mini-Sessions, but there is no doubt the bi-coastal business will be different once we move.

I want to start off by thanking you for inviting me to be a part of your families over the last seven years. It has been an honor to document each and every one of your children -- whether from the time they were in your bellies or their first week of life or when they took their first steps -- I am overwhelmed with how you've welcomed me to be there for all of your family's big moments.

truthbomb_784_findtribeAs I look back at my own big moments in the last 9 years of living in SF, I am grateful for each and every tribe that has brought me to where I am today. From our original MSH (aka "Making $hit Happen") Crew pre-kids who pushed me to start this very business -- to my first mom's group who held my hand (and my tears) as I navigated breastfeeding, sleep training and so much more -- to my JCC preschool mamas who supported my transition into being a working mama and all that entails -- I. am. grateful.

There are many reasons for this move, but most of all it is about family.

I've never understood why anyone would need anything more than what this great city has to offer. And now, 9 years later, I realize it's not that I'm seeking more, I'm seeking different. I'm seeking a life for my kids where we slow down. Where they spend their summer days lounging at the pool and their nights catching fireflies. I'm seeking the privilege of helping my parents grow through their sunset years with grace, and being there for them when they need me without having to book a flight to do so. And finally, I'm seeking the joy of knowing my niece and nephew...not "Ella-likes-chocolate" knowing, but really knowing her in ways I can't yet imagine.

And please -- come visit anytime. We may even have a guest bedroom to offer (that isn't an air mattress on Cal's floor).

Sending much, much love to you, SF. brooke_signature_765px

The Anatomy of a Stylized Photo Shoot {Pillow Fight} Crissy Field

This shoot was one I had in my mind since February 2015. And it was finally executed in August 2015 with all elements in place!!! Behind the scenes | crissy field golden gate bridge | bed feather pillow fight | stylized family photo shoot | diy how to stylize a family photo session | brooke bryand photography | sarah arimura photography

This series of photos made up our family's holiday card shoot this year and I've had several questions as to how we got a bed onto Crissy Field.

NOTE: All family photos were taken by my fantastic sidekick, Sarah Arimura. Follow her here!

Quick answers:

  • Yes, it was a total pain in the rear end!
  • Yes, I had permission from the Presidio Trust/people that give out photo permits.
  • No, I couldn't do it alone (Sarah was a HUGE help in bringing this together!).

So here is how it worked including costs and time investment in case you'd like to recreate too:

1) Buy a bedframe on CraigsList: $80.00 (used) - 2 hours (after several people flaking out for the sale) I chose the Leirvik because it was fairly non-descript but white.

2) Put together frame in garage to see how many pieces were missing (several) and then time yourself to see how long it takes you to put it together.: $0 - 3 hours Then take it apart again (because, unless you have a giant pick-up truck, this ain't gonna fit in your trunk!).

Behind the scenes | crissy field golden gate bridge | bed feather pillow fight | stylized family photo shoot | diy how to stylize a family photo session | brooke bryand photography | sarah arimura photography | ikea leirvik bed frame

3) Purchase 3 bags of 14g of "turkey flats" (i.e. feathers): $19.00 - 30 minutes I used these as the inside of the pillows so we could have a true feather pillow fight. They were surprisingly easy to pick up off the ground after!

4) Procure & test double/queen air mattress: $0 - 30 minutes We happened to have an old one in the garage that had a hole in it, but would stay "up" for about 30mins at a time, which was perfect for our purposes!

5) Procure white sheets and LOTS of pillows: $0 - 30 minutes Our friend happens to have all white bedding and was generous enough to lend it all to us for the shoot. NOTE: If you borrow from someone, be fully ready to have to dry clean or replace their items if mud/grass/kids mess them up!!!

So after buying the bed, putting it together and taking it apart in our garage, my assistant Sarah and her husband then hauled the bed and air mattress to Crissy Field and put everything together (blowing the air mattress up at Sports Basement). When I arrived, I had a particular vision of where the bed should be so that the photo was framed by the Golden Gate Bridge perfectly. I then walked her through what I had in mind and she shot the entire series of family shots. When that was complete, I photographed the kids myself and the compilation of those two sets of photos together were what made up our session!

The entire session took 25 minutes and materials cost about $100.

The planning, purchasing, set-up, break-down, editing, etc took approximately 7 hours.

Behind the scenes | crissy field golden gate bridge | bed feather pillow fight | stylized family photo shoot | diy how to stylize a family photo session | brooke bryand photography | sarah arimura photography

Behind the scenes | crissy field golden gate bridge | bed feather pillow fight | stylized family photo shoot | diy how to stylize a family photo session | brooke bryand photography | sarah arimura photography

Behind the scenes | crissy field golden gate bridge | bed feather pillow fight | stylized family photo shoot | diy how to stylize a family photo session | brooke bryand photography | sarah arimura photography

Behind the scenes | crissy field golden gate bridge | bed feather pillow fight | stylized family photo shoot | diy how to stylize a family photo session | brooke bryand photography | sarah arimura photography

Why You Should Let Your Photographer Do Their Thaaaang {Behind the Scenes}

Being a professional photographer is largely comprised of three skill sets:

  • Using a camera and all of its "accoutrements": Okay, "using" is an understatement...a professional should know every knob, dial, measurement, and mathematical calculation that is associated with every photo they take...but let's keep it simple for now.
  • Running a profitable business: You wouldn't believe the amount of creative people that go out of business because they don't know how to run their numbers and are devastated to learn they were making approximately $14/hour - the average hourly wage of a professional photographer in USA
  • Creativity: It's not a skill that is easily described or easily learned, and it's not something that is tangible...it just is. It's what I feel when I unlock that special "thing" that makes a kid light up in front of the camera. It's looking at every street, bench, building, and grassy path and allowing my curiosity to evolve as to how it would photograph with a family in it/on it/running down it. I mention it because it is a skill every good family photographer must have to create and capture moments between their subjects that bring out their natural expressions.

Yes, there are about a hundred other skills that are helpful in being a photographer, but one may argue not necessary (i.e. developing photos...some would argue this is a necessity while others would argue you can outsource the entire process).

But I digress.

My job, at the end of the day, is to bottle up love between my subjects into a photograph that will tell their story...in a moment...and for a lifetime.

I photographed one of my favorite families from San Jose last week in Golden Gate Park. This is our fifth shoot together so by now we know each other quite well and it's really fun and easy-going. As I was editing their photos, I found myself GRINNING EAR TO EAR. Now, don't get me wrong...I truly adore my clients. I have special connections with each of them that makes us gel. I want to use this family in particular because a) I know mom is okay with it and b) they are awesome.

San Francisco Family Photographer | Golden Gate Park Child Photography | San Francisco Photo Locations

Sometimes when families hire me for the first time, they come with some specific requests. They vary from simple asks ("a shot with all four of us together") to the more complicated ("the kids looking at the camera while jumping off a rock and holding hands and the dog sitting nicely on the side also looking at the camera"...uhhhhh). Now let me back up...I GET IT. The parent (typically the mom) has done SO MUCH WORK to get the family to this point. She has found a photographer...scheduled a date that melds for work, school, etc...coordinated everyone's outfits AND negotiated with the kids to put ON the aforementioned outfits...and of course she also already invested a decent chunk of money "sight unseen" for the session. So yes, I know there is pressure.

But.

Similar to when I go to my accountant, I don't look over his/her shoulder and micromanage them doing my taxes. I don't ask my dentist if he/she is sure she got that last tooth sparkling clean. I let the people I hire in my life DO THEIR THANG. Does that mean they are perfect and never make mistakes? Of course not. But, for the most part, my job was complete when I chose individuals that will serve our family because I trust them.

San Francisco Family Photographer | Golden Gate Park Child Photography | San Francisco Photo Locations

For photography, not only do we need to get the logistics checked off (pic of family together looking at camera? check.), but we need to be able to do that while creating an environment that is relaxed and fun so the kids don't realize one iota of the pressure the parents are feeling.

And when parents do that - let go and let me do my thing? Now there is space for magic to be created.

San Francisco Family Photographer | Golden Gate Park Child Photography | San Francisco Photo Locations

San Francisco Family Photographer | Golden Gate Park Child Photography | San Francisco Photo Locations

So here is my plea, parents.

Talk to your photographer in advance about your concerns/requests/etc (that is what our pre-session phone consultation is for - use it!). There is nothing wrong with having an ideal shot list that you share - after all, I am a service provider here to serve YOU. But then - let go. Trust that your photographer has your wishes in his/her head and heart, and will do everything humanly possible to get you everything you need and then some. And my second plea? Remember these kids are...well...kids. If they are told to sit in a specific spot and "say cheese", they will do exactly that. But you'll have an image captured that isn't "your" kid at all...it is just a cardboard version of the adorable, active, personality-filled being that you know and love.

Thank you, BBP Families...for trusting me to capture the best versions of your selves. The crazy, the fun, the love, and the sincerity of the moments that your family shares.

Because You Matter {Contest | Newsletter}

Mamas, you will always, always have a special place in my heart. I know this is the most challenging role of my life and I think I'm not alone in that. One thing that Moms are guilty of, however, is not documenting themselves in this role. We can feed a newborn, tame a toddler and grocery shop for an entire family...simultaneously. We can keep our family organized between thank you notes and birthday parties and preschool projects...in our sleep. In a word, we are amazing (if we do say so ourselves).So why is it so hard to get in front of the camera? How many times have you shooed your hubby away when he lifts up the camera with a litany of excuses: "My hair! I don't have on any make-up! I'm in my yoga pants (again)!!". Eventually, they may stop asking. Due to our own vanity, we are not documented nearly enough. Even in preparing this campaign, I assumed it would be easy to find a picture with our "real camera" (not cell phone) of the kids and me. After all, I PREACH about Moms staying in the picture all the time! And yet, I had to search back to May 2014 to find one. A year. An entire year has passed without me realizing I wasn't documented with Cal and Lily. And that, mamas, is unacceptable. Why?Because YOU Matter. And that is why we are launching the Because You Matter Contest. It will run for one week (May 1-May 8, 2015) and on Mother's Day, we will announce 10 lucky winners of a FREE Mommy & Me Itty Bitty that will take place on June 5, 2015.Upload a photo of you and your kids to Facebook and tag/add "Brooke Bryand Photography" as the location (or tag us if you're able).

Here is my first entry...what will be yours?? Enter once a day to increase chance of winning!

Best,