Who says sensitive girls can't be Warriors too?

March 10, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

"Anastasia has changed my life by, unwittingly, forcing me to face my fears and encouraging me to overcome them - to trust all is well and as it should be."



I met Anastasia when my son was in her mother’s Kindergarten class. She was so little back then! That year, I took a photo of her at the Harvest Festival. She looked so angelic with her mass of blonde curls, holding a rabbit.


She is now a pre-teen. How did this happen? No longer a small child, yet not yet a teenager. 


The beauty in her is becoming apparent, as shown by the words that her family and friends shared about her with me.


She loves reading (Warriors is her favorite series), taking care of her cats, her family, friends, her stuffed bunny (Bun Bun), being right (!), and music. She is characterized as being thoughtful, kind, joyful, imaginative, loving, beautiful, and awesome.


Her Papa (Grandfather) passed away last year. It's wonderful to see him live on in his granddaughter:

"Like her Papa, she has a gift for music and can play songs using only her ears and intuition."


Her empathy comforts her grandmother: "When we heard a song at a concert about losing a loved one, Anastasia leaned her head on my shoulder and held my hand."


I love that these things balance out her strong will, independence, inquisitiveness, intelligence, and determination.  Above all, though, what strikes me most about Anastasia is her confidence - in herself, her family, and her ability to stand up for what, and who, she believes in.


One of her friends shared this story about her:

"I remember when I was selling Girl Scout cookies at school. Anastasia ran all over the yard asking all of the yard duties if they would buy some."


What a sweet story of friendship and loyalty. And did I mention that she skateboards?


In a world where girls "shouldn't" have strong wills, be independent, have opinions, ask questions, or have determination, it's refreshing to see the girls that are fearless and aren't afraid to show how strong they can be.


Do you know a tween that deserves to know how great she is? Nominate her for The Who I Am Project, an ongoing project that focuses on tween girls! It encourages self-confidence by exposing their inner and outer beauty via quotes and moments shared by the people that care about them the most. I accept submissions twice a year. Follow this blog and sign up for my newsletter on my website at www.joyfulpix.com to be the first to know when my next round will be! 


Excuse me, are you watching?

March 09, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

There are so many moments that may seem insignificant during the course of a day. Your morning alarm, the dog barking, changing the baby's diaper, making breakfast for your children, driving them to school, making dinner. It all blurs after a while.

Family Documentary Photography is a style of photography that records all of this - the good, the bad, the seemingly boring. While your family life may not seem all that interesting or even photo-worthy, here are some things to consider:


  • When you think of your family's everyday life, how would it feel to have photos of one of those days with everyone included (meaning, not one person is hiding behind the camera)?
  • How would it feel to have those photos to look at when your kids are grown? When you have grandchildren?
  • Are you often torn between being in the moment and capturing the moment?
  • Are you the primary photo taker and wish that sometimes you can be in the photos too?
  • How valuable is it to you to be able to share stories and memories with your children and grandchildren through photos?
  • Do you notice that the older your children get, the less photos you have?



Imagine for a minute 10 years from now...you now have a 5th grader, a high schooler, and one about to start college. You remember the little things - the stuffed bear that your daughter carried around, the boots that your son loved to wear even in the summertime, your baby's favorite spoon, the way your husband bathed them and helped you tuck them in bed.

Now imagine 30 years from now. You have grandchildren and they like to hear stories of how their mom used to play tea with her stuffed bear. You show them an old spoon that their uncle used to cat with. They ask, "Where are you, Gramma?" Now you realize that those little everyday moments were actually THE MOMENTS that make your family and everyone in it, special. You remember all of it, and part of you wishes there were at least a few photos of you, if only to prove that you were part of your family story too.



My passion is capturing everyday moments like that, for families like yours. In contrast to the view that real life is boring, your family life is full of beautiful moments that you will appreciate having a record of, years after those moments have passed. The best part is, you will be in the images. Your children will love remembering all of the moments that you shared with them, instead of always being behind the camera.


Hi! I'm Claire, a Family Documentary Photographer based in Northern California. If you want family photos reflecting your family life and the personalities of your loved ones, send me a message or call me at (916) 769-5482 for a FREE phone consultation. I would love to chat with you! Heck, if you live near Sacramento, we can even go out for coffee ;)

Tangible Heart Memories

March 06, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

Think about the memories that fill your heart to bursting...

simple ones like watching the sunset with your husband or life changing ones such as the birth of your child - these are heart memories.  


My daughter's dog passed away last year.

 It was Leap Day - she was fine in the morning, and that evening she was gone. She was quite photogenic, being a Pomeranian, so I have lots of photos of her, many of which I've posted on FaceBook.

Every so often, her photo pops up on my feed. Our Lucy in "dogpants", or playing with our other dog, or cuddling with my daughter. These are some of my heart memories. 

I still think of her...memories fade, though.

I never want to forget her sweet face, her crooked unfluffy tail, and her spirit. The more time passes, the more I appreciate the photos we have of her, especially the ones with stories. The one with her wearing her "dogpants" for instance, make me laugh every time I see it. At that time, my daughter was just learning handwork (sewing and knitting). Of course, the first thing she wanted to make were pants for Lucy and a color-coordinated scarf.  



Stories like this help our loved ones live on

I bet you have some of these yourself. If you do, I would love to hear them <3

You can either send it to me directly at claire@joyfulpix.com or post it in the comments. Thank you for allowing me to share mine. 

Rest in Peace Lucy, 6/2004 - 2/29/2016



Hi! I'm Claire, a Family Documentary Photographer based in Northern California. If you want family photos reflecting the real personalities of your loved ones, send me a message or call me at (916) 769-5482 for a FREE phone consultation. I would love to chat with you!


Let's talk cameras

March 05, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

I was asked recently about the type of camera I use by a mom who wanted to take photos of her baby for Instagram.  I told her, with the caveat that I use my camera for my living, so she most likely would not want to purchase the particular one that I have.  

With the plethora of cameras out in the market however, I figured I would share how I chose my camera over the others when I first started out. 


I have a Nikon d750, and I love love love it. 

It is the first professional camera I've had and it does exactly what I need it to do. It is a full frame camera that gives me images with Low grain at high ISOs. 

Did I mention that I LOVE it? 


That said, my previous camera was a Nikon d5200 and prior to that, a Sony Alpha a200. Both were excellent cameras; the Sony was the camera that my husband chose when my son was born. 

Now something you ought to know about my husband is that he researches before buying anything electronic and that will cost more than $100. I am not sure why he chose Sony over Nikon (or Canon for that matter) but I DO know that he chose it because it was well priced for the features and quality. Although not professional, it was a very good camera. 

Below is one of the first portraits that I took with it. Even then you can see that I steered towards documentary...

I switched brands because of the reputation of Nikon and the variety of cameras they had that were in my budget at the time. While not professional, I was impressed by its HDR capabilities and the number of photos it can take in one burst. It came with a decent zoom lens which was great because it gave me the ability to take wide shots and close ups without changing lenses. The image quality was better than what I had in my Sony and I wanted a little better than what the d3200 offered. The tilt preview screen was very handy too...it didn't only tilt, I could move it sideways, which proved to be very handy. 

I have to be completely honest though. 

What pushed me into looking at and finally purchasing the d5200 instead of looking closer at Canon was the red body option. 

Silly reason, I know. 

But I figured, in the sea of black cameras, it would be cool to stand out because I had a red one. 


So, what pushed me to upgrade? That's another story...

To follow along, subscribe to this blog and my newsletter (link on the homepage)!


I surrender

February 20, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

This "business thing"

I've been in business for almost 3 years and I still feel like I am in the same place I was 2 years ago, as far as my business is concerned. I am now surrendering to the fact that I need to market myself. UGH.

Channeling Bones from the original Star Trek - "Jim! I'm a photographer, not a marketer!" Incidentally, my husband's name is James, and when we first started dating, our favorite thing to do was watch Star Trek the Next Generation on Friday evenings - yep we were party animals.

Anyway, several things that I will be doing this year is to blog more consistently and add to my Google page. So I figured I should start out right and give a proper introduction.


Hi! I'm Claire and I am a Family Documentographer and a Child Portrait Photographer. In other words, I specialize in taking photos of families and their everyday lives as well as photographing children. I especially enjoy stylized shoots with kids, particularly in vintage and holiday clothing.

This is one of the former


And this is one of the latter

I know, very different, right?? I can't choose one over the other, so I am specializing in both. I am also involved with the Who I Am Project with Lisa Edwards and I am LOVING it. So three niches...I refuse to choose.

As I mentioned before, I am not a natural marketer, so I need all the help I can get. I found Marie Masse's Fearless and Framed community and it's been a Godsend. I am taking her marketing class and am focused on marketing my documentary sessions right now. I love that I can apply the principles that I learned through her class towards my child portrait sessions/projects.

So this is me as the "Photographer".

I am also a Christian, a mom to 2 kids and 2 dogs and wife to an amazing man. I am also lucky to belong to a small tribe of mothers from school that
forgive my shortcomings...at least I think they do, because I have alot!

In case you want to know more:

1) I used to want to be a gymnast (I grew up in the 80s and watched the Olympics with Mary Lou Retton). I'm not flexible, so that's that

2) I took 7 years of piano and hated every minute of it, but I know how to read music. My
daughter on the other hand, is an amazing pianist, only took a few months of lessons, and doesn't read music. Go figure...

3) Top Ramen is my current guilty comfort food. I add
egg to the broth while it's boiling for that extra bit of nutrition.

4) My favorite ice cream is Mint Chocolate Chip.

5) My favorite books are historical fiction - the last one I read was Ken Follett's World Without End.

6) When I was a kid, I took a career aptitude test and scored highest for Photographer. Isn't it funny how you wind up where you are supposed to be?

Want to see more? Click HERE and you will be directed to my website - click on the upper left link where it says Portfolio and choose My Family Life Sessions or Portraits. Also, sign
up  for my newsletter to get more of my tips and info on all of my special projects. 

What's coming up: Selfie tips and Let's talk cameras

Until next time...