Twin brothers - Kai and Carter (9 months old) by Julie Cruz

When I arrived in San Clemente for their session, Carter had just woken up from a nap, and Kai was still fast asleep. We started with Carter, and he was all.over.the.place! Haha.  Not long after, Kai was awake, and although he sat for a teeny bit longer, mom, dad and I tried everything to get these little guys to smile, and they decided it would be most fun to do the serious model pose the majority of the shoot ;) Such regal gentlemen they are. Haha.  We ended the session at one of their favorite beaches, and it threw me for a bit of a loop since the sun wasn't setting water side. It's ok though, we made do with what we had and still got some beautiful shots. After all, when your family is this cute, it's hard not to! :)

River (6), Georgia (6) and Red (the pup) by Julie Cruz

Tara first contacted me back in October to book a session, but unfortunately I was already booked for the remainder of the year by then. Like everyone that I sadly have to turn away around that time of year (due to being booked up already), I apologized, gave a few suggestions and then she replied saying that maybe they would wait until after the holidays. The holidays came and went, and in January she contacted me again to set up a session. This family is so gorgeous and so much fun! They were all naturals in front of the camera, and we just did our thing and laughed a lot. River and Georgia are twins and are so dang cute! Not only are they cute, but also great listeners and super sweet. Red is their rescue pup and is one of the most well behaved dogs EVER! Even off leash, near busy streets, with people walking by, the kids all over him, etc....he stayed by their side the entire time and was perfectly behaved. I loved photographing this family. Such a fun shoot!

Josephine (11 days old) by Julie Cruz

Josephine's parents emailed me from the hospital to let me know she had arrived, and included photos (so cute of them!), so I already knew how gorgeous she was before I arrived at their home. What I didn't know was how mellow and sweet of a baby she was going to be! She barely made a peep the entire session, and gave us lots of sweet smiles of smirks. Their super cute house was just a couple of blocks from the beach, so we ended the session at the beach. Unfortunately it ended up being full sun by that time (mid day), and we didn't want Josephine out in the sun, so we snapped a few and then found one tiny shady spot for some solo photos. Oh and yes, not only are Josephine, mom and dad so sweet and adorable....but check out Sydney (yellow lab) and Frank (french bulldog)! This whole family is just perfect :)

Grayson (1 year mini session) by Julie Cruz

Grayson was all smiles from the second he got out of the car, to the second he got back in the car. He gave me a variety of expressions and was just awesome to photograph. Mom and dad weren't sure they wanted to be in photos, but I convinced them otherwise, and again, i'm so glad they did. Grayson will be so happy to have these later on in life (and I hope mom and dad will too) :) I think Grayson's favorite part of the shoot was when he got to be in nothing but a diaper (and yes, luckily the weather here has been amazing, so it was a nice warm day)!

Emilia (6) and Paulo (3) by Julie Cruz

I had my first shoot of 2014 the other day, and of course, after weeks of gorgeous, hot, summer-like weather and sunshine, the day I had a shoot, the sun was nowhere to be found. It's ok though, the weather was still nice, and I had a wonderful time with this beautiful family. Emilia and Paulo were some of the smiliest kiddos I have ever met. From the second they stepped out of the car, to the minute they said goodbye, they were smiling. I had a harder time trying to get any serious shots out of them! Haha. The funny part is that more than halfway into the shoot, as I was saying something to Paulo, Emilia giggled and said to me "Umm, he only understands spanish" (after that, his mom told me he only understands a very small amount of english right now). Yes, that's when I realized that I must be so funny (or so funny looking!) that even though he had pretty much no idea what I was saying, he still thought it was hilarious and was cracking up at me ;)  These two cuties were awesome for me!

...and Crosby makes FOUR! by Julie Cruz

Kristen first contacted me back in September of 2009 (!!) to book a shoot. In February of 2010, I met Kristen and her husband Dan for the first time, along with Jeremiah, who at the time was their (under 2 years old) foster son.....and easily one of the cutest kids I had ever laid eyes on. At that shoot, they were also fostering another baby boy (they have fostered 6 babies since August of 2009!). I knew right then and there, that Kristen and Dan were angels. I mean honestly, their hearts are made of gold! I have been lucky enough to photograph them EVERY year since then, and about 2 years ago, they went to the hospital and took in another foster baby. The little guy was already almost 3 months old and was so malnourished and sickly that he still weighed under 7 lbs!! (to give you an idea, for those who might not have children, my daughter PJ was 7 lbs 12 oz when she was BORN!). Kristen and Dan promised to nurture him back to health, love him and visit his parents twice a week to support the plan of reunification. Six months into those visits, his parents decided to relinquish their parental rights and asked Dan, Kristen and Jeremiah to adopt him into their family. I waited over a year for Jeremiah's adoption to be finalized before I posted any photos of Jeremiah (since legally, I couldn't)....and i'm so proud to say that I got the OK to post because after another very long adoption process.... as of *yesterday*, little Crosby is OFFICIALLY theirs as well. I couldn't be more happy for this amazing and gorgeous family!!!! As you can see by the photos, Crosby is no longer a tiny, malnourished infant. He is an ADORABLE little toddler (just turned 2!) with plenty of chunk on him now! :) Their looks, their style AND their hearts are amazing. LOVE this family!! Without further adieu, I would like to introduce you to Crosby and his family (and yes, I know...I'm posting a TON!...and this doesn't even include last years shoot (which i'll try and get a mini blog of up soon))......

....and a couple of shots we took for Shaney Jo of *KEEP A BREAST*!....

Kristen and Dan foster through the *Angels Foster Family Network* here in San Diego. If you or anyone you know is interested in being a foster parent, you can check out their site for more info. If you aren't able to foster, you can also donate by sponsoring a baby, donating supplies, money, etc.

Favorite 13 of 2013! by Julie Cruz

Geez! Here we are again! Another year has flown by, and here I am, with the daunting task of attempting to narrow down my favorite images of the year. Like I have every year, I choose the number of images based on the year (8 for 2008, 9 for 2009, 10 for 2010, 11 for 2011, and so on). I've been doing this tradition since 2008 (even though i've been in business since 2007)....and the good news is that at least I get one more image as each year goes on ;) You know what's really cool about some of these selections? Some of them are the SAME families from as far back as 2008, 2009 or whatever...which means that I must be doing something right for clients to stick with me for so many years. Some families have been featured favorites almost yearly (so they clearly know how to rock it for their shoots)! Thank you again to all of the wonderful families that I photographed in 2013. I enjoyed seeing so many of you again, and meeting so many of you as well! Some of you I will be seeing again in 2014 (yay!), and there are some new clients I am excited to meet as well! Happy New Year to all of you! I'm excited for 2014 and what's to come! :)

At home and at the beach with Zoey (almost 6) and Leo (almost 2) by Julie Cruz

This was my very last client shoot of 2013....and I couldn't have asked for a sweeter family. When I arrived, Leo was still asleep, so Zoey gladly showed me around a bit. Zoey is almost 6, missing her two front teeth (and a couple of others)...which is one of my favorite stages!!, and is just an adorable and sweet little girl. Cutie pie Leo woke up in a good mood and did amazingly well (for a little guy who wasn't feeling too well). He carried his beloved lion, "Da-E" (not sure if I spelled that right) around the entire shoot...and I loved it.

..... "Peace" out 2013 ;) haha....

At home with Brooklyn (almost 2) by Julie Cruz

I know i'm going to hear it again. "Seriously, do all your clients live in model homes?...and are they all models?". Haha. I honestly am extremely lucky when it comes to having such awesome clients. This was my first shoot with this family, and like many other clients of mine, they not only were adorable, but they had an amazing home as well. Their custom built home was their first baby, and then came Brooklyn, their gorgeous little girl. Brooklyn will be 2 on New Years Eve and and is such a little doll! We originally had planned to start the shoot at home and then head down to the beach (which is just a block or so from their home), but it ended up being a completely gloomy, very cold and overcast day (zero sun... so yes, the ISO was cranked for lighting indoors), so they decided we would just stick to home. We had fun at home playing with Brooklyn and just letting her be her. After all....there's really no telling little ones that age what to do... you just go with the flow and let them take the lead :)

Anya (12 days old) by Julie Cruz

I met this super sweet family back in early October for a maternity/family shoot. This time, I met their newest addition, their adorable baby girl, Anya. Big brother's Asher and Elliot were amazing (just like last time) for this shoot. They are seriously some of the sweetest, most polite, and well mannered kids ever! ....and *4* year old TWINS at that! We started the shoot at home, and then ended at the same spot we took their maternity photos (which is just a few minutes from their home). It was a nice, warm day (luckily), but still not "hot" enough to have Anya without clothes on or anything, but luckily we got some beautiful sunshine as well.

Maeve's 1st Birthday by Julie Cruz

Maeve's mom contacted me back in May for this shoot. With so many holiday family shoots being done, it was a nice little change to be doing a 1 year birthday shoot. We got gorgeous and warm weather, and pretty little Maeve LOVED her birthday cake. She also decided to show off during the shoot and stand ON TOP of the crate I had brought. It gave her daddy and I a heart attack....but I got the shot (and she didn't fall), so it was great :) Prior to the shoot, Maeve's mama had mentioned it would just be Maeve the photos. Luckily (through emails before the shoot...having NO idea what they look like (since it doesn't matter, I believe everyone should be in photos!), I was able to convince her (and her husband) to be in some of the photos, for Maeve's sake. When I saw them, I couldn't believe that they were going to skip out on being in photos. I mean, really?? Here are just a few favorites from our fun little session....

One of my most "famous" families... by Julie Cruz

Yes, you know them. The family that shot in their front yard on a bed, surrounded by ponies, goats, a pig, dogs, etc. The family that dressed up in the retro (polka dot/red) outfits and shot with their rad orange/cream truck. The family that shot in their front yard with the rad tire swing. The family that shot with the horse. The family that I shot the "car wash" shots with (just the girls). The family that jumped in the pool with all of their clothes on at the end of one of their sessions! This wonderful family is always up for my crazy ideas and never blinks an eye at anything I suggest....and on top of that...they are gorgeous, so they are such a perfect "model family" for me. Now if you're newer to my blog, they might look familiar to you for other reasons. If you've ever been to THE best breakfast spot in San Diego (yep, they won AGAIN for 2013!!), Mama Kat's Restaurant & Pie Shop, well then that's why ;) So on top of being an amazing couple, they make some kick ass food and pies! I loved this location I shot at a few weeks ago, and wanted to go back, with a vintage car/truck, and since this family has a few, I knew they'd be up for it. Again, not posting any "everyone looking/smiling" shots (my faves are always the lifestyle/fun shots, so I usually rarely blog any of those types of shots anyway) so that I don't ruin holiday cards, but here are some of my faves from the shoot. Oh and yes, I know i'm a "family photographer", but Mike and Kristen are always so awesome and natural to shoot together that it *almost* makes me think about shooting engagement/couple shoots.... but then I remind myself that not every couple has this chemistry (especially with a camera around) AND good looks ;) Oh and yes, I don't even TELL them to kiss this much, they just DO! To good not to shoot...

The sun disappeared behind the mountain quickly after that (didn't mention it above, but we had originally planned to bring the truck to the shoot, but had some technical difficulties, so luckily we had "The Chief" (Pontiac) (which honestly ended up being probably even more awesome!), but had to stop and get gas, so it set us behind schedule a little bit, so we pretty much rushed through this session like nobody's business haha), but we used up every last drop....

...and of course Mike and I had to mess with Kristen ;) hahahaaaa....

On the ride home (in pretty much dark), I snapped this one of Mike driving "The Chief"...

A session at the winery... by Julie Cruz

This was my 3rd shoot within the past year with this wonderful family. I did their family photos last November, baby Matthias' newborn photos in August...and then these family photos. It's always a huge compliment when someone books me, but when they come back (multiple times, at that)... and it warms my heart and reminds me that in this huge industry of photographers, I must be doing something right (so thank you to ALL of my awesome clients!!) :) They were running a little bit late this day (hey, I remember those days of trying to leave the house with a little one!), and Matthias needed to eat when they arrived (I remember those days too!), so we didn't have as much time as I was hoping for (since we were quickly losing light...thanks to Daylight Savings Time), but it all ended up working out just fine (phew!) :) Here are just a few teasers from the shoot (again, not showing and family shots that might be used for holiday cards ;)).....

Kruz (17 days old) by Julie Cruz

OH MY GOODNESS. I think I said those words at least 20 times while I was at the shoot. Kruz was about 10 lbs when he was born, and was literally about the size of most 2 month olds at our shoot. He is such a gorgeous little turkey! His big brother and sister were so cute with him too (not to mention super cute and super easy to photograph). Oh and i'll start with the funniest shot. Quality-wise it's not the greatest (it was pretty much dark in his nursery, so there wasn't much light at all in there), but I think he's saying "Oh my gosh!!! Am I cute or what!??"....

Canadian + Jamaican = London by Julie Cruz

This mini session was supposed to happen last fall, but we ended up getting rained out, and then they had to leave for vacation right after, so they decided to postpone til this year. Mom is an ER nurse, as well as a photographer, so like me (and many photographer parents out there), she was never in any photos (besides maybe some phone pics), so she really wanted to finally have their first real family photos, as well photos of her and their adorable little girl, London. Here are just a few teasers from our shoot.

A family filled with fun, style, good looks and LOVE. by Julie Cruz

I was first contacted by this mom (Heidi) back in 2011. She had found me through Mom Inc Daily and wanted to book me for holiday photos. When they stepped out of the car that year, I was already in love. Their style was amazing....and within minutes, I had fallen in love with their personalities as well. That first session was one that was one of Lot116's most memorable shoots. Last year, as it got closer to their shoot time, I started contacting Heidi to touch base about our upcoming shoot. Email after email, I didn't hear back. This wasn't like her, so I started to worry a bit. I wasn't sure if they had decided to cancel the shoot, or if something had happened. I finally heard back....and that's when Heidi told me that she had cystic fibrosis. My heart dropped, a lump developed in my throat, and the tears immediately started welling up. I told her we could cancel or postpone the shoot, but she insisted on shooting because it's hard to find days where all 6 of their schedules are open and she really wanted to shoot. She had just gotten done battling pneumonia and being in the hospital for that shoot, but once again, it was another Lot116 shoot to remember. Unfortunately I made the mistake of not blogging a lot of my fall sessions last year because I was so busy, but you can see a few of those photos in this blog entry (the first 2 images and the very last image) here.

For those who aren't familiar with CF, you can read more about it here and why it's so amazing that Heidi is here and fighting for her life every.single.day. She is in the hospital every 10-12 weeks for surgery, is up at 4am every single morning for breathing treatments (as well as 3-4 breathing treatments throughout the day), is only able to eat very little solid foods, etc. In her own words "I truly feel lucky to be alive. My kids are the reason I fight so hard. The toll it takes on my kids breaks my heart, but I know that they have each other. Believe me, I have many many days I feel like giving up, but then they all walk in the door & my spirit is renewed."

Please keep this beautiful family in your thoughts and prayers. They are THE sweetest family ever. These are some words that Heidi has said to me. THIS is why I do what I do... "SOOOOO looking forward to seeing you! Hanging out with you is one of the highlights of my year. You give me the gift of memories of my children and family all together captured in a way that a "selfie" or Facebook pic just cannot make possible. We LOVE you so much and feel very blessed to have found such a talented friend. I feel so lucky to have found you so that you can work your magic with my kids. They grow up so fast and your pictures are capturing a moment for me that I will always have!"

This year was another shoot to remember. They showed up with their rad style and good looks, and we shot at a super cool location that was perfect. The weather (although a teeny bit windy) ended up being perfect (even though we were pretty scared that we might get rained on, be freezing, and/or have to deal with mud since it had rained the 2 previous days before). It all ended up being perfect....just like them. I absolutely LOVE this family. They are SO fun to hang out with and are just ridiculously good looking. Major, Brittain, Reno, William, Heidi and Bill.... you guys are rad.

Impressive. Most impressive. by Julie Cruz

..... that our dog is pretty much the best model ever. Oh yes, our dear Macy Priscilla. As PJ and I were about to walk out the door and head to her school carnival on Friday, I knew it might be my only time to snap a Halloween pic (since we all know how chaotic Halloween night is), so I threw Macy's costume on super quick, put her next to PJ and literally snapped a couple of photos. I know I mention these "5 minute photo shoots" with PJ from time to time...but this was probably a 2 minute shoot since we had to be at the school to help set up the cakewalk booth, so literally, 2 minutes or less. Luckily, I didn't have to worry about any funky faces from PJ because...well... she had a mask on (hahaha!)... and Macy just sat there. It was perfect. By far the easiest shoot EVER with them. So here you have it. Darth Vader girl and Yoda. I didn't even edit it, just sharpened it a teeny bit and that's it. HAPPY (early) HALLOWEEN!I hope you all have a safe and wonderful time on Thursday!!! May the force be with you.....

Natalia (8), Tatiyana (6) and Valentina (2) by Julie Cruz

I met another new family yesterday, and like my own family (growing up), they have 3 girls. I wasn't quite sure how this shoot would go. After all, 3 girls...and ages 2, 6 and 8? It could have gone a number of ways ;) Turns out they were easy as pie and were perfect little models for me. The girls were chatty and silly with me and did awesome. The weather went from full sun (first part of our shoot) to completely ZERO sun (all clouds the second half), but it ended up being pretty cool and gave the second half a cool wintery feel (and hey, it kept the bugs away ;) haha). Check out this beautiful family....