Back at home w/ Georgia & Ryder by Julie Cruz

I'm sure many of you will recognize this gorgeous family from some of their infamous shots from our last in home session. Many of those images ended up all over the place, including Shutterfly and Pinterest. I was so glad they wanted to shoot at their house again. We definitely wanted to recreate some of the same shots, but also wanted to add some new shots as well. Georgia (now 10) and Ryder (now 5) have grown so much, but are still SO darn gorgeous and sweet! There was one new addition this time, their rescue pup, Tessa. My goodness, miss Tessa loved the camera and loved being in the shots. As you can see, it was a beautiful 80 degree day in Orange County. We started inside, played around, enjoyed donuts (of course with washing hands first), cuddled on the patio (furniture built by dad by the way!!), and then headed out for for skateboarding, bike riding, playing around with the hose and then ending with popsicles. The perfect California day if you ask me! These are my absolute favorite kind of shoots! :)

Grayson (3 years old) by Julie Cruz

I loved seeing Grayson for birthday photos again! This time he had just turned 3 a few days prior...and my oh my, he was so full of smiles and had so much to say. In fact, the only hard thing about this shoot (well besides the fact that when I showed up it the location looked NOTHING like it used to (trees gone, crappy graffiti, building gone, etc)) was trying to get Grayson NOT to smile for some shots haha. He did so awesome and is just too stinking cute!

Phoenix (almost 3) by Julie Cruz

The other morning I did some headshots one of the cutest boys in the whole wide world. Not only is Phoenix adorable, but he has the most fun, outgoing personality, is smiley, giggly and SO stinking cute all around. He ran around, showed off for me, but also listened and took direction so well. The heart melting moment of the shoot was when he grabbed my hand and said "I wuv you"... "I weaawwy wuv you". Yep, I told my husband he had competition and to pack his bags! haha. I mean, really?.....

Favorite 15 of 2015! by Julie Cruz

I'm a bit late with this post, but better late than never, right? :) Almost 9 years into business and this is one of my favorite yearly traditions.... picking out some of my favorite photos based on the year (7 in 2007, 8 in 2008, 9 in 2009, 10 in 2010 and so on)! So here we are with 15 in 2015! It's always hard to narrow down favorites since I have so many. I slacked a lot on blogging/posting in 2015 (especially since I was out of the country, traveling for a bit), so some of these were from sessions I never got a chance to blog.

Desert nomads... by Julie Cruz

Another one of my "infamous" Lot116 families.... my sister, my brother in law, my nephews (Mason (11) and Isaac (9) and my doggy nephew (Gizmo - who is a Frenchton (French Bulldog/Boston Terrier)! Last year we didn't end up shooting since their GTO wasn't ready yet (and then my sisters and I headed out of the country for Thailand and Taiwan), so we've been talking about doing this shoot since they got their Land Rover Defender (1986 LR Defender 110 SW V8) over the summer, but we always shoot in January for her Chinese New Year cards (plus it's when my sister and I finally have some down time). What I didn't know is that this location (which I hadn't been to in a loooooong time (about 2 years!)) had become way more overgrown than before.....AND had construction going on. It's not a location close enough to go scout, so we made it work. We did some serious off roading to get to spots, but had a good time and lots of laughs :)

A sunny day with River (7) and Georgia (7) by Julie Cruz

I loved seeing these stunning twins and their family again! They are seriously the cutest! They rode up on their bikes, with their awesome dog, Red, running right along side of them...and rode from one spot to another during our shoot. Our original spot didn't work out, but we still had fun and found some other spots on the whim. It was crazy bright that day, and we hadn't planned for beach shots (otherwise I would have set the time for a bit later), but we made it work (unfortunately Red wasn't allowed on the beach though (darn it!). Here are just a few from their shoot since I don't want to spoil any holiday cards (which is why i'm posting a non smiling shot of the twins instead of one of the many smiling shots. Well that and because you know I love when kids can rock the serious pose...and these two nailed it!) :)

Holiday session with Penny (4) and Sam (3) by Julie Cruz

I've had the pleasure of photographing this gorgeous family since Sam was a newborn. Not only are they gorgeous, but they are super sweet and always dressed perfectly. Penelope and Sam were SO happy and giggly during our shoot. Such easy going kids, easy to get smiles out of, super funny, and great listeners. Of course (as always this time of year) I won't post any "perfect holiday card shots" where everyone is looking/smiling, but we got plenty.

Owen (4) and Zoey (2) by Julie Cruz

These two cuties have definitely grown since last year. It was another almost 100 degree day (seriously, I would LOVE for the cool weather to come to San Diego any time now because shooting in this crazy heat is not enjoyable for anyone! haha), so my client opted for a location that not only had more green (since most other locations are dried out from the drought and lack of rain), but provided some shade as well. Amongst about 10+ other shoots going on and a wedding, it definitely was a busy day there (as always), but our main challenge was little Zoey. 2 can be a tricky age, and Zoey let us know that she didn't want anything to do with photos. Luckily we tricked her into many, despite her hardest efforts (hehehe). I won't post any of the possible "holiday card" shots, but yes, we did get plenty. Sorry Zoey, we won this round ;) Owen...oh Owen....that little guy is such a heartbreaker.

Dominic and Gabriel (2 weeks old) by Julie Cruz

I told these parents that truth be told, when I heard "newborn twins and 2 year old", my heart raced quite a bit. Newborn shoots can be tricky to begin with (same with just 2 year olds haha), but two newborns AND a 2 year old?....well yeah, in most cases that can usually be a recipe for disaster. Not in this case though! These 3 boys were complete angels the ENTIRE shoot. Big brother Luca was beyond adorable and took direction SO well. Dominic and Gabriel barely made a peep the entire shoot and just snoozed away for us. Such perfect little babies with gorgeous skin....and completely identical!

Dapper at Disney with Philip (5) and Matthias (2) by Julie Cruz

I'll start with saying that this shoot definitely was a stressful one for me. Normally it takes me less than an hour to get to Disneyland. For some crazy reason this day, traffic was *horrendous* and long story short, it took me over 3 HOURS to get there and in the park. It was insane! Our shoot started late, we were running out of light quickly, and to make matters worse, it was one of the busiest days at the park ever (no joke, they ended up shutting down the park because they reached capacity! it was lucky that I even made it in)....and about 100 degrees to top it all off. Luckily my amazing clients were more than understanding (and were having some delays of their own), but yes, it was a crazy one. I've been photographing this family for years now, and even took Matthias' newborn photos :) Matthias (being "two" haha) wanted nothing to do with photos that day, so it was definitely tricky, but somehow I managed to squeeze in a few. Mom informed me that also to top off this chaotic shoot, later on back at the hotel they found out Philip had a fever. Poor guy! He was awesome though. He showed no signs of not feeling well during our shoot and did great, so none of us had any idea. Despite the craziness and many snags, I think we still got some great shots. Not sure how we managed with literally thousands of people, 100 degree heat, close to no light and a feisty toddler....but hey....we did it ;)

Sienna (turning 1) by Julie Cruz

In home sessions and ages 6-12 months old are two of my favorite things, so I knew this shoot was going to be a great one. Add in a gorgeous family and it was perfect! Sienna was such a ham the entire shoot. I got SO many smiles from her (sometimes a little TOO close since she loved walking or crawling up to me and smiling right at was hilarious!), but her serious look was to die for as well. She also has the best "rocker hair". I loved it!

Noah, Makena and Hunter, visiting from San Francisco by Julie Cruz

The last time I photographed this sweet family, Hunter was still in their mama's belly! Somehow they managed to be down here during the hottest week ever, so in between having fun at Disneyland, Universal Studios, etc....they scheduled to squeeze in a shoot with me :) It was about 100 degrees that day, and the weather also called for some rain at our original planned location, so we scrambled to find another location in a nearby area that didn't call for rain. It was a little tricky since i'm not super familiar with shooting locations up in Orange County (most i've done have been at clients' homes or hotels), but luckily a friend of mine suggested a park and it worked out fine. Now again, I should mention it was about 100 degrees that day. Hot was an understatement ;) We knocked out the family shots first (in fall attire I might add haha), and then quickly let the kids change into cooler clothes, run wild and have fun. Honestly, there was no way stopping 21 month Hunter anyway. He is by far THE fastest 21 month old i've EVER seen. I told them that I was calling it.... he WILL be running track or using those running skills to run the bases soon enough (since they are huge baseball fans). That boy is QUICK!

Another visit from Reia (8) and Zoe (10) from Shanghai! by Julie Cruz

It's been a few years since the last time I saw this beautiful family. They live in Shanghai, but often spend summers here in California. Reia and Zoe are such sweet little girls. Quite giggly and silly, especially Reia, but also great at going into "model mode". Such gorgeous little girls. I traveled up to Irvine for their shoot and the weather ended up being quite perfect. As you can see, at the verrrry end of the shoot we finally got the perfect "golden light" (so for those who wonder why photographers like to shoot right before you know why we push to shoot so late ;) Of course this only works on perfect sunny days though).

Olivia (6 months) and family, visiting from Houston, TX by Julie Cruz

Before I start with this beautiful family, let me first apologize for my lack of blogging since mid-late January (eek!). I always take time off around the holidays (Christmas/New Years), but after that things got crazy. Besides shoots and PJ going back to school after winter break, I was prepping for a trip (getting shots, buying/packing, etc), my husband was gone on a work trip for a week, PJ started club soccer (which means practice twice a week, as well as tournaments), PJ did a few shoots for Old Navy (which meant many days up in LA), then I was gone to Thailand (Krabi and Bangkok) and Taiwan (Taipei) for 17 days on vacation. When I returned it was nearing the end of the school year and I was the room mom for PJ's class, so there was a lot of planning to do for Teacher Appreciation Week, end of the year field trips, activities, and of course our end of year party. On top of these things, I also had my nephew's high school graduation/party, plus all of my regular daily life yeah, I apologize, but planning to get back to the swing of things :) Back to this gorgeous fam....

Adorable Olivia and her family were in town visiting from Texas. During the week of their vacation, it happened to be during "non San Diego weather". We had very unusual weather due to a storm off of the coast of Baja, so instead of our typical sunny skies and dry heat, we had days of on and off torrential downpour, constant gloom/overcast, heat, and worst of all....humidity. Our friend was here and staying with us from Seattle, and I joked that he and my clients brought their weather with them!

Anyway, luckily on the day of our shoot we didn't get any rain, but the gloom, heat and humidity was still in full force. Thank goodness these clients were used to this kind of weather and didn't let it bother them. I arrived at their hotel room and they were dressed perfectly. I've mentioned before that I LOVE when people dress up for shoots, so when I arrived and they were dressed up, it was so perfect. They looked awesome! Little Olivia isn't sitting up quite yet, so that stage can be a little tricky, but she was such a trooper throughout the shoot and gave us lots of smiles. We ended the session at the beach (and the weather had gotten even gloomier there, complete with an overlay of ocean mist/fog), and not too long into it, miss Olivia fell fast asleep in her daddy's arms. It was the perfect ending to our shoot.

Favorite 14 of 2014! by Julie Cruz

Since I started Lot116 back in 2007, i've always done a post with my favorite images of the year. My posts would have been a mile long if I didn't set a number, so i've always set the number based on the year, so for instance, the first year was 7 in 2007, 8 in 2008, 9 in 2009 and so on. It blows my mind to be posting my "Favorite 14 of 2014"! Those first few years it was SO hard to pick just 7 or 8, so at least now I get to pick a good amount of photos, yet it still is crazy hard, and I always have to enlist the help of others to help to narrow it down at the end. Before I post, I just wanted to take a minute and thank each and every one of my clients. Thank you for trusting me with your families (and my sometimes silly and/or crazy ideas). Thank you for choosing me (when there are a million other photographers in the world). Thank you to those who i've had the honor of photographing for years and years (I love being "part of your family" and watching your children grow). Thank you for everything! I truly appreciate you all! - xoxo, Julie

At home with Grant by Julie Cruz

The last time I saw this little guy he was just 9 months old. He's 2 now and has grown so much! At our last shoot, he wasn't walking yet, so he just sat and smiled....and smiled.... and smiled some more the whole shoot (haha). This time it was a bit trickier ;) Grant wasn't so sure about having photos taken this time, and also has some alphabet letters that he is really attached to (especially his dear letter "O"), so his alphabet letters were a part of the whole shoot. It's ok though, we agreed that one day they would look back and realize that these letters were part of his life at this age/stage, so just like a security blanket or favorite toy, I don't mind having them in photos at all (and they didn't either)....and hey, much better to have an extra item/toys in photos rather than an unhappy kiddo ;) I still got (cropped) a few without the letter anyway ;) We did the shoot at their home in their amazing backyard, which had the coolest full basketball court, a pool (which we didn't shoot since it was gated off for Grant's safety) and golf putting green. They are also currently getting ready to build a fort/play structure for Grant. He is one lucky kiddo and I told them that all the kids are going to be begging to go play at their house all the time! Such a fun place!

A Land Rover Defender + a gorgeous family by Julie Cruz

This was my 4th year in a row shooting this amazing family......and seriously, i'm always a sucker for a rad vehicle thrown into a shoot! As always, I showed up and they were dressed perfectly, but this year they weren't sure to shoot, and they decided at the last minute to shoot up around their neighborhood in Laguna Beach. We definitely scrambled for locations (you should have seen up driving and speed walking from place to place haha), and lost light quickly towards the end, but we still got plenty of beautiful shots and definitely had our share of laughs. Oh and I got permission to post a "holiday card"-esque shot! :) I'm sure many people look at my blog/site and wonder if I take any photos where everyone is looking/smiling. The answer is yes. Although it's not always my favorite (I prefer more lifestyle shots, which is why I don't showcase those type of photos), especially around this time of year, I do try and make sure to get those shots. Oh and yes, I get plenty of smiles from everyone as well, but just like rad vehicles, i'm a sucker for serious model poses....and trust me, these kids can rock them like nobody's business.

I take this shot of them every year ;)

Kruz (1) and family by Julie Cruz

I can't believe this little guy is 1 already! Didn't I *just* do his gorgeous mama's maternity photos and his newborn pics?? Time is seriously flying! Poor Kruz is teething like crazy, so since he was happiest with his pacifier or fingers in his mouth, we had to try and work really sneakily to remove the pacifier and/or fingers to get shots before the sad lip appeared hahaha. Luckily we still got smiles as well...and oh my goodness, when he had cake for the very first time it was HILARIOUS. He is SO stinkin' cute!....and I can't handle those chubs!! He also has the best big brother and sister who were so helpful and sweet (as they always are) during the shoot. Again, no family pics so I don't ruin the surprise of any holiday cards, but we got plenty :) Here are just a few teasers from our session.

"Give me my cake...."

"YES!!!! I'm one suckas!!"

Another year with one of my favorite families! by Julie Cruz

This was session number *6* with this awesome family! I've been photographing them since Luca (who will be 6 in February!) was just a few days old! I'm very lucky to meet new clients, but i'm even more lucky to have amazing clients like these who have stayed with me for all these years. It's amazing to arrive to a shoot and have kiddos run up and give you hugs. Luca was adorable and said "Sorry, my face is a little dirty. I was at school all day". It was the cutest thing. Honestly, these two gorgeous boys could be covered in MUD and still be adorable. Rhys (almost 3) and his little smile....oh boy! He kept coming up to me during the shoot and hugging my leg. Love, love, LOVE these boys and love that i've been able to watch them grow :)Here are just a few teasers (and again, no shots that might possibly be holiday card photos ;) We got plenty!!!)

Owen (3) and Zoey (16 months) by Julie Cruz

I knew this shoot would be awesome when these two little ones greeted me with smiles and "hi"'s immediately. Owen, however, completely stole my heart. I'm not joking, just about a minute after meeting me, as we were walking to our first location, he says to me "I've really missed you". His mom and I looked at each other and laughed a bit and his mom said "But Owen, this is your first time meeting her", and he said "Yeah, but i've really missed her". HAHAHAHAHA. Throughout the shoot he was just full of personality and laughs. Not long into the shoot he asked if he could hold my hand (which a lot of kids ask to do. Maybe it's because I look big and cuddly? haha)...and again, my heart melted. Adorable little Zoey was quite into exploring, as most little ones her age are. Once they learn how to walk/run....there isn't much they want to stay still for. The trickiest part about the shoot was the mix of sun and clouds every 2 seconds it seemed. Every time I got my settings perfect...BAM...a cloud (or the sun) would come back and I would have to rush back to change them again. This family was awesome though! As usual with this time of year, I won't be posting as many sneak peeks, and I won't be posting any shots (for instance any everyone looking/smiling - which I did get a ton of with this beautiful family!) that might possibly be used for any holiday cards.