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Beachtime Holiday

I love the beach. Luckily, here in California, we can enjoy the beach in the "colder" months (yes, high 60s is cold to me.) Even better is that I get to take families to the beach for their holiday photos. And yes, a White Christmas is extremely beautiful and I long for one now and then, but really, nothing beats the beach. Thanks, California!

I love this family. They took my boys and me in when we didn't have a place to go. We lived with them for a short while and it was one of the best things that ever happened to me. At the time when we moved in, I only knew this lady's name, and the name of her oldest son. I met her husband on the driveway while I was taking a box of our belongings into their house. When we left their house, she was one of my closest friends. Funny how things happen the way they do...

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Super Mom. Super Woman. Super Human.

Single mothers are warriors. They are heroes, survivors and never give up.

I had the privilege of taking photos of Jacque and her two children. They are a beautiful family, and her kids are very fortunate to have such a strong woman as their mommy.

If you are a single parent, I offer special pricing. It's the least I can do for a superhero. Please contact me for details.

www.jenparkerphotography.com

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Love is Patient. Love is Kind.

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Love is Patient. Love is Kind.

Love is many things. It's described in songs, poems and the Bible. It's the reason why people travel long distances to see each other, why we don't mind sharing a part of our private lives with another person and why we just can't stop smiling throughout the day.

I love love. So when I was asked to be Katelyn and Chris' wedding photographer, I was overjoyed. These two people know love, and radiate it. I am so honored to be a part of that day...

Thank you Katelyn and Chris! (Don't mind me committing a no-no in this photo...I was wearing a wrist brace and was trying to hide the hideous thing!)

www.jenparkerphotography.com

 

 

 

 

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Amazing Place for an Amazing Family

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Amazing Place for an Amazing Family

I felt like I was in a novel. I could literally smell the scent of wild blackberries in the air when the breeze picked up as we walked down hiking trail. With the sun shining on my face, I followed the path until a beautiful clearing was soon discovered. And not just one beautiful place, but many breathtaking places were waiting just around the corner. I need to come here more often.

I’ve known this beautiful mama for almost 20 years. And it was such a treat to be able to take photo of her and her two handsome sons.

Thank you, Karrie, for inviting me to this beautiful spot! It’s amazing, inspiring and I’m really, really glad we didn’t run into the mountain lion that was spotted the previous day.

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Unstoppable

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Unstoppable

I have the opportunity to meet new people when I’m taking their photo. Actually, I not only get to “meet” them, I get the chance to spend time with them and see their personality crawl out. This is, by far, the best part of my job. I am truly honored to be a part of these people’s lives, if only for a few hours.

I also love seeing people in love. And these two are overflowing with love for one another. Thank you, Chris and Katelyn, for letting me peek at a sliver of your time together. It was long enough to see that the love you share is amazing, beautiful and unstoppable.

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 A Case of the What Ifs

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A Case of the What Ifs

More personal work. Another idea stirring in my brain.

I was married once before, but never had photos like these to inspire me for that big day. I guess I'm hashing out all the "what ifs" that are stuck in my head...

A big, huge thanks to everyone who was there and made this happen!

 

Models: Michelle and Karena

MUA: Martha Castro

Hair: Nichole Ray

Flowers: Irises Designs

Co-Art Director: Ricardo Delgado

Dresses: Alfred Angelo Bridal

The Really Important People: Erin Abolencia, Marisol and Jorge Trujillo, Hayde Raymond and the rest of the Irises Designs staff

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Senioritis

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Senioritis

I remember being a senior in high school. Prom..Graduation..The anticipation of college as well as hesitation of change being right around the corner... I was one of those girls in high school who actually liked going to school.

I was voted "Most Involved," was on the Homecoming Court and was the captain of the cheerleading squad. I did everything I wasted to do, except take decent senior photos. I had the ol' cap and gown photo (who knows where that is now) but really wished I took the time to have quality photos taken to preserve that time in my life.

Valarie, on the other hand, did just that. And to top it off, her photos were at the most beautiful location. Beautiful location, beautiful girl.

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Worth

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Worth

About a week ago, I was asked to give a speech. A testimony. Usually, I'd be nervous, reciting the words over and over in my head, telling the butterflies in my stomach to stop fluttering so fast and worrying about possibly stumbling over my words. Not this time.

I was in an abusive relationship for 13 years, and 9 of those years were spent married to him. I've used photography as my therapy along my journey, and this time, I was able to express my story vocally to a group of people ready and eager to learn more about domestic violence, and how real it is.

Telling my story isn't an easy thing to do for me. What drove me to do so is the thought, the hope that if I can just reach one person and have that person understand and recognize what domestic violence is, what it does and how it affects everything around us then telling my story is worth it. I don't want anyone to experience what I have, and if I can stop that from happening, I'll tell my story again and again.

I want to thank God, Eagle's Wings and the people who helped me (and continue to do so) in this journey. You know who you are.

(Bottom photo taken by Kris Lozano Photography)

www.jenparkerphotography.com

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A Valentine's Day Oldie but Goodie

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A Valentine's Day Oldie but Goodie

I have to confess. I'm a little bit behind. I realized the other day that it's already the beginning of February and I need to start working on the boys' Valentine's Day cards. Oops. So after school, I dragged them out to the brick wall behind a local elementary school and started snapping some photos. With snacks in tow. And after what felt like 6 hours of, "Are we done yet?" and "Can we go play now?" I was able to get some decent shots of my boys (I guess it was more like 25 minutes.)

I got silly shots.

And more silly shots.

And just sometimes, a serious shot snuck in. Just kidding. All silly all the way.

Although I wanted to do something different for their Valentine's Day card this year, for some reason, they always want to do the lollipop card. I suppose I should give in, since it is their Valentine's Day card (maybe next year, I'll do my own card, and pass it out to my friends. Okay, relatives. Okay, the mailman.)

If you don't feel like clicking on this to see my post on the lollipop card from years past, I'll show you how it's done.

First, take a photo of your child with him holding a fist in the air, making sure it isn't blocking his face. After snapping a picture that will work, print it out or have it developed (I chose a 4x6 size.)

Glue the photo to a piece of card stock (I'm able to fit 3 photos on one piece) and let it dry overnight.

After cutting out each photo, take an Xacto knife and carefully make two small cuts above and below his fist (I place the photo on a piece of thick cardboard before I cut, so that I don't cut into my table!)

Take a lollipop and slowly insert the stick in the two cuts, and voila!

Good luck, and Have a Happy Valentine's Day!

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Lost

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Lost

Found this one while digging through my photos the other night. It was taken last summer, when a friend of mine passed away. I had a hard time figuring out what to do and how to cope, so naturally I pulled out my camera.

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Empowering HeARTS

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Empowering HeARTS

This past weekend, I was so honored to be a part of Single Mothers Outreach's annual gala, Empowering heARTS. This year, the theme was "Empowering." Ten amazing ladies were nominated because of their amazing, empowering characteristics. Each lady is paired up with an artist, who then takes the time to learn about their honoree and their story, and creates a piece based on their experiences.

I had the pleasure of being paired up with Michele Buttelman, an incredible woman. Michele has been involved in print journalism for her entire career and it has played a huge part in her life story.

I decided to take that angle (print journalism) and the role she plays as a liaison between the media and the community. Everything in the media can be hectic, chaotic and full of turmoil, but Michele's empowerment creates a calmness, a peacefulness that translates to the community. She is able to use the media to convey information to the masses. She is the eye of the media storm.

I want to thank Single Mother's Outreach for the opportunity to be a part of this wonderful event. I also want to thank my fantastic honoree, Michele for trusting me with her life story and transforming it into a photo based on my vision.

(Photo provided by Single Mothers Outreach)

Michele wrote a short article about the event. You can see it here.

www.jenparkerphotography.com

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Another Amazing Mom

I continue my admiration for working moms.  I'd like to introduce the wonderful Nancy Ramirez-Schier.

Besides being a Mom, what do you do?

When I am not a mom of two, Sabrina (7)  and Danté (3), I am a dreamer. I have this world filled with swirls, rainbows and some great jazz music. I love to explore with textures, aging and making lost objects treasures again.  I use to paint but at the moment I'm taking a break since oil painting can be messy and the smells (though I LOVE the smell of oils.) I always knew I wanted to be an artist, I couldn't believe my options when I went to ArtCenter in Pasadena.  My problem is I love trying a little of everything.  As the illustration industry slowed down, I found that my curiosity of doing a little bit of everything paid off.  I've worked in video games, animation, the greeting card industry and fashion. And the thing is I love it all! I see how they all influence each other. My dream though is to open a gallery for families to enjoy. From children's books, fairy plays, handcrafted items, paper goods to clothing. My openings would have a circus like feeling.  Invite guest artists come share their journey, the kiddos do crafts and moms can enjoy coffee or a treat.  And maybe a family yoga class in the garden.

What have you discovered/learned in your line of work can you apply to your family life that helps you be a better Mom?

I always try to find creative solutions for my work. And now try to teach my kids to apply it to their struggles. To stay creative and try make it a game. My oldest, Sabrina (7) has to write paragraphs to learn spelling words. I told her to think of writing a story she wants to tell (usually involves animals) and then to illustrate it. Well, that made it a fun challenge rather than a boring homework assignment for her.  She loves making up stories and now looks forward to writing sentences or paragraphs. Now if I could find the same idea for math that works, bingo! I also tend to team up with my hubby on some assignments which then we come up with something totally different I would have never thought of. And with that I let the kids try to do tag drawing. Where we take turns drawing on each other doodles, Danté (3) is still figuring out how to scribble but he can think of some funny things. It teaches them to think outside the box and also teamwork.

Most memorable Mom moment:

Gosh which one do I share? A happy one, scary or believing I was going crazy? How's a funny embarrassing one that I never thought I'd experience before I know what having kids was like. Here I am about to go out. I have to change my little boy who at the time was maybe 6 months old? I am feeling good, kids fed and bathed, house is pretty clean, going out with friends (a very rare thing) and I'm actually dressed with make up on and its time to go. Kiss kids bye, hubby bye. I'm off. I still smell poopie. Clean my hands again. Get to the place, and as I am fixing my hair discover I have poopie in my hair!  Real attractive.

Best tip(s)/advice to a Mom who is struggling to balance family life and work:

Set yourself a slot that is work time for yourself. I try to make that early in the am before the kids are up and the evening. The middle of the day is all them. Especially now that it's summer (of course when there's a deadline that's all out the window right?) Enjoy and stay in the moment because it's short and they grow up faster than you can believe. Deep breaths. I found yoga to help me find my sanity and reduce anxiety.  Enjoy the silly stuff and letting go of the craziness. And most of all have fun with the kids!!! Giggle. ( I have to remind myself of this too...)

Thank you, my friend! If you'd like to ask Nancy any questions or see more of her work, you can visit her website at spiceybrain.com.

 

www.jenparkerphotography.com

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Amazing Mom

I'm a single mom who also works (although I'm convinced that more of the work is at home.) I strive to do my best at both raising my two boys and working, but some days I just want to lock myself in the bathroom for a personal time-out. Is it just me? I know of some extraordinary moms who manage being a working mom and make it, well...work. Supermom? It seems so. I've asked them to share their secret and what works for them.

Introducing the beautiful Lindsey Lassak, who is also a single mom.

Besides being a Mom, what's your job description?

I am a lady of many different hats. I currently work part-time for the City of Santa Clarita in the Child Development Department teaching preschool, I work part-time at the College of the Canyons in the Financial Aid Department processing federal loans, I have my own business assisting expectant families as a Doula and I am attending classes to become a Medical Assistant with the ultimate goal of becoming a Midwife.

What have you discovered/learned in your line of work can you apply to your family life that helps you be a better Mom?

PATIENCE!!!! Believe it or not, I am soooo not a patient person. Working with children (small or big) and women who are in labor has helped me slow down a little and not sweat the small stuff as much. My son is 9 and is constant….I know all you Mommies know what I mean by constant. It’s game time all the time and patience is truly a virtue.

Most memorable Mom moment:

Of course I would say the day that (her son) J.P. was born. I had an easy pregnancy and a long labor but a beautiful birth of an easy going, loving child. I’ll give you a funny story though…one I will never forget; I just had gotten out of the shower, standing in the bathroom with my bra and underwear on. J.P. (around 3 years old) was in the bathroom as I was getting ready. I was blow drying my hair and he was laughing hysterically at me. When I was finished he said, “Mama, your butt looks like the hippo’s butt from Madagascar!” Oh kids…they say the darnest things, don’t they?

Best tip(s)/advice to a Mom who is struggling to balance family life and work:

Life is hard. You have to go through the ropes with no expectations. Set your goals high and reach higher. Working three jobs and going to school full time leaves little time with my child but you have to make time. You set date nights with your children and your significant other, even if you have to plan it days in advance. Eat at least one meal with your family each day, read a book together, do a project, go to the park, go for a walk, play a game, write love notes and stash them in places they go to everyday. Do this all without the use of electronics…pay attention to them for a little while. Have a conversation without texting. Pick up the phone and call them when you’re working just to say hello. It really is the little things that matter most and all of these things are doable and don’t take a lot of time. Sometimes I wish there were just one extra hour in the day to get it all done (like that last load of laundry) but if you don’t, it’ll still be there tomorrow.

Thanks you for your advice, my beautiful friend! If you would like to ask Lindsey any questions, or just want to say, "Hi!" you can email her at: bijoubirth@gmail.com or visit her facebook page.

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The Best of Both Meals

I can have breakfast for lunch, dinner and well, breakfast. I consider myself a cereal connoisseur. Really. So when I had the opportunity to take photos for Ramp Creative's TypeEd Brunch, I of course gladly accepted. Sadly, cereal was not served.

Type Ed offers informative classes about typography in an encouraging, creative and relaxed environment. If you'd like more information about Type Ed, please click here.

www.jenparkerphotography.com

 

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Bump Envy

Yes, I think pregnancy is a beautiful thing. Yes, I love babies.  But no, I did not like being pregnant. At all. Maybe if I looked as good as my gorgeous client, I would have liked it more.

I love this family. They are so incredibly beautiful, down-to-earth and genuine. Really.

www.jenparkerphotography.com

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Lists

I'm a list person. I make lists for grocery shopping, lists for what to pack when I'm going on a trip and even lists of places I'd like to eventually visit. But what I really need to do is make a list of people who I care about. A list that will inspire me to call, email or visit every person I think about and tell them how much I appreciate them. Because life really can end in a moment. It sounds cliché, but it's so true. I don't realize how much I take for granted until something is missing. And then I miss it so much. Too much. It makes me want to be a better person, a better friend and a better mom.

I'm grateful to be able to use photography as an outlet, an escape. But when I turn the camera on myself, it forces me to face the feelings and emotions inside of me, making them real. Real for me to see. Real for you to see. I've taken some pretty personal self-portraits, and here's another one.

Missing you very much, my friend. RIP Jerry.

I'm lucky to have such wonderful people in my life. I thank you and love you all.

www.jenparkerphotography.com

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Complete

Sometimes you don't know what you're missing until you've discovered it. You may think you are complete until you realize that the person you've been searching, hoping and praying for adds much more to your life. Audra and Brian found each other. And now they are complete.

www.jenparkerphotography.com

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Marlene and Ben

I've known Ben since 8th grade. We were co-anchors in a classroom TV news program together. Little did I know, I'd become life-long friends with him. I've travelled to the East coast with him on a spontaneous road trip, seen him tackle his own personal health issues and had the pleasure of watching him marry his best friend.

Cheers to you both, Marlene and Ben! I wish you a future of happiness and love!

www.jenparkerphotography.com

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