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 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 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.


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 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 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.

Why I'm holed up in a SF hotel room...

Yes, I have left my family at home and I am hiding out. In my own city. Let me back up.

Every year, my busy season is August to December. (Knock on wood), I know it's coming. I plan for it with additional childcare, additional dates with my husband, additional 1:1 time with my kiddos. This year, I cut out Sundays to avoid burnout...I have the studio where I can work peacefully...I have a magical man named Razaur who helps me with aspects of editing. The gist is - I had a plan.

And yet, I am hiding out in a hotel room.

Last Wednesday, I was at my friend Shari's for our weekly "Wine Wednesday" (playdate for the kiddos, playdate for us mommies). I warned her that I may cry. You know when you feel it building inside, and you just don't know what exactly will set it off? Yep, I was there. I typically cry about twice a year. Seriously - not a cryer. My college roommates would joke that I had the heart of steel because I wouldn't crack even when we watched tearjerkers. Anyways, I know that my trigger is stress. And with 30 galleries all due (ahem, overdue), my son's 5th birthday and birthday party, my sister and family arriving on Friday and Thanksgiving next week, I had hit my stress limit. I held in those tears until Sunday when I laid down out of sheer exhaustion but instead of sleeping, I started sobbing. And sobbing. And sobbing. I went upstairs to my friend Erin (who has seen me in this state before and knows how to "handle" me!) and she just held me, let me babble every one of my stresses to her, and let me cry (and cry).

Once I semi-composed myself, she asked - if we were in a fantasy world where anything is possible, what would make this situation better? I shook my head. I didn't want any of her hippy-dippy-whatif-scenarios. I wanted a solution. I sarcastically responded that having 5 days kid-free by myself would resolve this situation (which is equivalent to saying you'd like to have lunch on the moon in my world). Five days where I could just edit uninterrupted, in my PJs, in the quiet. THEN, I would be healed.

And then it was silent. She nodded her head in an understanding manner, and just let me soak it up for a few moments. After a pause, she simply suggested we explore it. I rolled my eyes. She asked what it would take, logistically, for this to come true...even if it's a variation (1 night away...2 nights away...etc). I started pouring out the reasons it wouldn't work (I have 3 shoots Monday and Tuesday...I have responsibility to the mom is in town).

And then, the most magical thing happened. She created solutions.

We walked through the week and filled in the holes. She would take the kids in the evenings. My mom would fill in during the days. Erin would take Cal to swim lessons. I already have childcare for the other days.

I took a breath. And for the first time in hours...days...perhaps weeks...there was light at the end of the tunnel. THIS COULD WORK!

So I packed my bags on Sunday night, and left for a hotel on Monday morning. Since arriving, I have rarely gotten out of my PJs and I couldn't be happier.

Why am I sharing all of this with you? Not for pity - we all feel overwhelmed with various aspects of our lives at various times. Mine is always during busy season. In fact, after I finished doing the "ugly cry" with Erin, she smiled and said, "Hey! Look at the bright side - you made it to NOVEMBER this year before melting down...I'd call this progress!"

I am sharing this because I see my mama clients when they are overwhelmed. I see them when they are about to hit their breaking point. I see their crestfallen faces when their toddler completely melts down and we haven't even started shooting yet. I see you, mamas. And I get it. I am sharing this to remind us to take a deep remember that when we plan something (whether it be the perfect work-life-plan or the perfect family photograph), the final result may be better than our plan ever could have been, if we will just let go enough to let it unfold.

I am typing this from Hotel Rex in downtown San Francisco. I am in my PJs, listening to music and editing my heart out. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and I am happy. Those tears ultimately led me to improving my business for next year.

I will cut off family sessions on October 31st so families are not racing against holiday card deadlines.

I will plan for a 5 day workcation the first week of November.

I will allocate the time to enjoy the holidays with my friends, family and clients, so I can attend events rather than hide out editing late into the night.

I realized the tears didn't set me off...the tears set me free.


Why I Charge my Besties Full Price...

I am often asked in mentoring sessions whether I give my best friends a discount or charge them at all. Yes, I charge them full price. Every cent of it.

It's not because I'm stingy. It's not because I'm trying to prove a point. It's because I know it ultimately helps both of us for a long-term relationship.

Let me back up. When I first started out, I was building my portfolio and learning all about the ins-and-outs of family photography. I had a handful of very good friends who helped me along the way (either letting me test out a concept on their family or just patiently allowing me to bounce ideas off them when they probably wished we were talking about breastfeeding or other baby-centric topics!).

Then, fast-forward a few years.

Each of these friends has another child. And possibly another after that. They want newborn photos taken...and 6-month photos...and 1-year photos...but can't possibly ask me because they know how much time and effort I put into each session, yet they also know I won't accept their money. So they are stuck either not getting photos taken, or they feel like they are putting me out by asking me. They aren't "allowed" to hire another photographer because I would be offended and upset. They are my besties, afterall!

They are stuck. And I put them there.

So I changed my ways a few years ago and I now charge every single person that hires me. I treat them as a client and they can hire me as often as they want without feeling guilty or greedy. There are no "homie discounts" - as that too goes back to them feeling like they are allllways asking a favor, and to me feeling like my work is not respected.

Do I still do extras for my besties? Absolutely. That is the joy of working for myself and having a skill that is "giftable". Perhaps it means I send them an unexpected print in the mail. Perhaps it means I create an accordion mini that I know their parents will love. I always like to do something that shows them, in turn, how much I appreciate them choosing me. I am not their default photographer, I am their chosen photographer.


Tips for Taking Great Headshots {Behind the Scenes} San Francisco Headshot Photographer

In the age of Facebook and LinkedIn, it seems most everyone can use a professional headshot these days. From babysitters on UrbanSitter to job seekers on LinkedIn to "About Us" pages on corporate websites, conveying who we are in the form of photographs has become more and more prevalent. I'd like to share two lists with on what to wear and the other on what to expect.

What to Wear

  • Wear clothing that is comfortable and fitting. You do not want to see buttons "pulling" in your photos. Look at yourself in the mirror in various positions to see what your outfit will look like in photos.
  • Be sure your clothes are properly pressed and do not wear them the whole day leading up to the shoot...change just before your session to avoid wrinkles.
  • Choose colors that work well with your skin tone. Depending on the personality you want to convey with your headshot, stick with solid colors or small checks. The general rule of thumb is if you have a light skin tone, wear colors darker than your tone. If you have a dark skin tone, wear colors that are lighter.
  • Try to avoid blacks and whites, but instead look for other colors that can offer some personality (fuschia, deep blue, etc).
  • Men: Typically, a long-sleeve button down shirt works well in photos for a "business casual" look. You'll want to dress up without overdressing for your career.
  • Women: Layers are your friend! A simple necklace or small earrings are a nice touch without being overbearing.
  • Make-up & Hair: Getting your hair make-up professionally done is worth its weight in GOLD! Not only do you feel like a rock star, but you will look your very best. Some people prefer to do their hair themselves to make sure it looks like them and that is great too - it all depends on your style.
  • Your clothing should be professional, but it should still be you. When you meet someone in person, it should match the image conveyed on screen.

What to Expect

  • Expect for me to ask you lots of questions! This helps me understand who you are and the types of portrait that would be most appropriate for your personality/career. We can then determine how formal or casual your headshots should be.
  • I will be shooting a variety of poses and angles. Some will be sitting, some will be standing. Every person I shoot has a few angles that are more flattering than others, but until I see you and shoot you, I won't know what is best. You are hiring a professional to trust their judgement on what positions are going to bring out the best you.
  • Try, try, try to relax as much as possible! Believe me, I know it feels awkward to be solo on the other side of the lens. Keep in mind that a) 99% of my clients are not professional models and b) I am there to make you shine! I will coach you through the entire session, giving you tips and tricks along the way...this is definitely a team event!

Here are some examples of using multiple outfits and giving a variety of "looks" for the camera:

Brooke Bryand Photography-ferry building-headshots--san francisco headshot photographer exampleBrooke Bryand Photography-ferry building-headshots--san francisco headshot photographer exampleBrooke Bryand Photography-ferry building-headshots--san francisco headshot photographer example

Special thank you to Loryn Barbeau for being my model!