My Life

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

A late holiday post from Lot116 by Julie Cruz

I posted these on my Lot116 Facebook page, but wanted to post here as well. I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season! Our holiday card this year.... This was another 5 minute shoot just in front of our house. No snow or sleds here.....so in SD, we make-do with skateboards ;)

New Years card... Since there was snow up at my sister's area (Temecula!) on New Years Eve, we headed up to check it out. In between throwing snowballs, making a "snow cat" (instead of a snowman) for her teacher...who loves cats, and writing names in the snow, we did a "New Year's shoot" even faster than our holiday card shoot. Yep....30 seconds and done :) haha...and I didn't even bother to edit the photo at all.

Visiting from Chicago by Julie Cruz

What a busy summer it has been! I've seen repeat clients, met new clients, and have even had the pleasure of being hired by other photographers from New York, San Francisco, North Carolina, and this time Chicago! Francine, Rob and their girls came out to San Diego to vacation a bit before they send off their oldest daughter to college in Atlanta, GA in the fall, and also to celebrate their 20 YEAR wedding anniversary (this year)! Their beautiful girls Lilly, Alexa and Bella were perfect and so sweet. We laughed a lot and I was honored that they chose me to be the photographer to capture their family together for the first time in over 6 years!

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! :)

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.....

Quick Update On Booking Schedule for 2013 by Julie Cruz

First things first, my blog will be quiet this week....but for good reason (more on that later this week or so). I am sharing one photo from a newborn shoot this past weekend, just because a post is always better with a photo (and because Chloe and Lilah are so darn adorable) ;)

In the meantime, I just wanted to give a quick update on my current booking schedule for 2013. As of now, here is what the remainder of 2013 is looking like for Lot116.

*Updated 8/2013* JUNE - COMPLETELY BOOKED JULY - COMPLETELY BOOKED AUGUST - COMPLETELY BOOKED SEPTEMBER - COMPLETELY BOOKED OCTOBER - COMPLETELY BOOKED NOVEMBER - COMPLETELY BOOKED

For those wanting "holiday photos", I highly suggest grabbing a September spot a.s.a.p. I do have clients that shoot in September (and some even in August) for holiday photos, and get them out of the way (which is also great so that it's not as rushed/stressful along with the holidays).

For June, July, August, I would especially LOVE to do some more in home sessions. NO, you do NOT need to have a "model home". In home sessions are about YOUR family, YOUR love, YOUR kids being kids, YOUR home, YOUR life. I also have some other ideas that i've been wanting to try at some in home sessions, so email me if you want to talk more about it :) I would love to meet your family!

Email me at julie@Lot116.com a.s.a.p to book for 2013 (or even 2014....those bookings have already started as well). Once i'm booked, i'm booked :) I look forward to meeting you (as well as seeing many of you again!)! xoxo - Julie

Favorite 12 of 2012 by Julie Cruz

Wow, 2012 just flew by! It doesn't even seem like that long ago when I was posting my "Favorite *11* of 2011"..... and here I am picking my "Favorite 12 for 2012"! It has been an absolute HONOR photographing so many of you. Some of you i've been lucky enough to photograph for years, and others I had the pleasure of meeting for the very first time. Anyway, I won't ramble any more... after all, you guys are here to see photos.... so without further adieu, here are (some of - since it was (as usual) ridiculously hard to narrow down to just 12) my "Favorite 12 of 2012" (in no particular order). Not all may be because of of the actual photo, but the *feeling* of the photo, and the emotional ties I had to many of these shoots. Thank you all, again, for the love and support you have shown myself and Lot116 throughout the years.

Wishing you all the best by Julie Cruz

.....and because I couldn't decide which photo I wanted to use, my husband was awesome enough to mock up two versions for me ;) So here is the other version as well....

Thank you all for another amazing year. I hope you all have a safe and wonderful holiday season. xoxo - Julie

*ON VACATION* by Julie Cruz

Yes, it's that time of year! Just like every year, I kill myself in August, September, October and November so that I can have everything edited, wrapped up and take the remainder of December OFF! Although I am "off" (of shoots and editing), I AM still replying to emails and booking for 2013, so don't hesitate to email me if you'd like to book for 2013! I know my poor blog has been neglected since October (yikes!), but I was busy shooting, editing, and being a mom, wife, daughter, sister and friend.... but those of you who follow Lot116 on Facebook were still seeing teasers here and there :) I'll try to blog again next week or so, but for now here are a some photos from some of the shoots I did during my "crazy season". I was lucky enough to see many familiar faces, as well as meet many new ones!

ALSO, just a quick reminder that I *DO* offer GIFT CERTIFICATES (in any denomination (or for full sessions)! So for those of you who say you "wish you could afford me"....rather than having your family give you lotions, candles, robes, pajamas, mugs, frames, etc AGAIN this year.....you can *HINT/ASK* for Lot116 GIFT CERTIFICATES to go towards a session (mini or full!) in 2013!! Or ****HUSBANDS****, if you want to be the best husband EVER....not only give your wife the gift certificate (which will already blow her mind), but show up to the shoot all happy and excited! ;) Skip the purse, shoes, jewelry, etc and give her something that will capture memories for a lifetime....YOUR family, YOUR children, YOUR life ♥ Holy smokes, I should write Hallmark cards, right? P.S - Don't wait until the last minute to purchase gift certificates (give at least 1 week (in case of mail delays) to mail the gift certificate) ♥ Thanks!

Little Red Riding Hood by Julie Cruz

With as crazy busy as i've been, I wasn't even sure i'd have a chance to take PJ's Halloween photos this year. We had a Halloween party to go to on Friday, so since she was already in costume, and since it was at our friends' house (who currently have temporary access to an awesome field with trees right next to their house right now), I decided to show up 15 minutes early and get some shots before the party started (at 6pm). So with literally 10 minutes left of light (if that), crossing/climbing a trench to get over there, "Little Red" and I rushed over and did the worlds fastest impromptu shoot ever.

5 Years... by Julie Cruz

Today marks Lot116 Photography's 5 YEAR anniversary! I almost can't believe it myself. Throughout the past 5 years, I have watched your families grow, your children grow, your companies grow, etc. All in all, I have watched your lives grow.....and it has been an absolute pleasure! I've had clients who have been with me since day one, clients who have come and gone, and clients who have gone....and come back (one of my favorite stories is of a client who left (for someone cheaper) and had a horrible experience. Her husband told her "Well, you get what you pay for! Book Julie again next time!") ;) Photographers are a dime a dozen now, and each day there are new photographers popping up, so staying in business (especially when you don't charge "peanuts") in this overpopulated industry is already an accomplishment in itself. Here I am 5 years later, still doing what I love....and luckily still booking well and have many repeat clients who come back to me over and over. From the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU to each and every one of you who have supported my business, spread the word about my business, etc. Word of mouth has been my number one source of business. I have never advertised, I don't set up at boutiques, gyms, play facilities, moms groups, etc and hold mini marathons, holiday shoots, etc, so my bookings are 100% by word of mouth or through Facebook, etc. Not too bad considering this is year 5 and i'm still booking without advertising! ;) Thank you again for showing Lot116 love! I know posts are always better with photos, so here is one of my very favorite photos, taken waaaay back in 2008 (my second year in business)...

PJ and June... by Julie Cruz

For our 3rd year in a row, Cindy (of Orange Turtle Photography) and I have taken our "babies" out for spring/Easter photos. If you missed last year's, or the previous year, you can see them *here*, *here* and *here*. I must say that now that PJ is older, a feel a lot more comfortable with her holding June. Each time I see photos of kids (especially toddlers and babies) with little bunnies (or any animal, actually), I feel really bad for the animals because babies, toddlers and some kids don't understand how fragile these little animals are, and i've heard stories of animals getting hurt and/or even killed just for the sake of "spring photos". Definitely not ok in my book. June (Cindy's bunny) was adopted from the San Diego House Rabbit Society years ago. She is by NO means a "prop". She is "family" :) June is very much like a dog or cat, and I've never seen a bunny so well behaved and sweet (and yes, growing up, we had 3 bunnies (one of whom we called "Killer" because it was crazy mean! LOL). PJ just adores June! Anyway, we had a blast at this shoot! We ended up having to move locations twice (one was WAY too windy, and another closed), but it ended up working out great and giving us a good variety of looks/location :) Plus, PJ was super excited that the "Dandelion Meadow" that she drew on the map kind of existed (tons of flowers)! Hahaha. Hopefully we can keep the annual "PJ and June" photos coming for many more years :) Oh and yes, Cindy even made June her very own aviator cap ;) This shoot was a little mix of adventure, treasure and of course one of my favorite movies, "Up". On that note, here is one of my favorite parts of the movie (with the names changed, of course):

PJ: What are you doing!? Don’t you know this is an exclusive club? Only explorers get in here! Not just any kid bunny off the street with a helmet and a pair of goggles! Do you think you’ve got what it takes? Well, do you?? June: PJ: All right, you’re in! Welcome aboard!

Birthday Balloons For PJ..... by Julie Cruz

A few years back, (I believe on Tara Whitney's blog?), I saw the adorable idea of sneaking a bunch of balloons into your kiddo's room while they slept, so that on the morning of their birthday, they would wake up to a room full of birthday balloons. I thought about doing it each year, but thought she was either still a little too young (I was always afraid one might pop in the middle of the night and scare the bejeezus out of her! LOL)...or forgot. Last year for her birthday at school, I brought in balloons for each of her classmates (along with popped popcorn in little carnival style popcorn bags). So this year, I wanted to get the most bang for my buck, by using them to surprise her....AND handing them out tot her classmates. I finally did it! I made sure to order the balloons with "Hi-Float", which makes regular balloons last up to 25 times longer (and yes, ours are still up....and I got them on Thursday evening). I wanted to make sure that they would not only last throughout the night, but also throughout the day and until it was time to pass them out. With Hi-Float, I knew they would last. Anyway, I picked up the 30 balloons (26 for classmates and a few extras, just in case any popped (which one did) and for her to give to a few of her friends who aren't in her class) on Thursday night after she went to sleep. I won't lie, I felt like Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise from Mission Impossible) while sneaking in 2 balloons at a time...trying to be as quiet as possible (and why is it that when you do that, you feel SO loud? You can hear your heart pounding, your breath (as if you were running), every body part cracking and squeaking, etc HAHAHA. Luckily, she slept through each of my knees, toes, etc cracking, the sound of balloons "hitting" the ceiling, me tripping over the ribbons a few times, the camera, etc. Here is a shot from my little point and shoot (in pitch black, so this was with the flash going off....which again, she slept through about 10 shots of flash ;)).....and you can see, she's fast asleep (with Gilbert (her giraffe) of course) in her bed ;)

Anyways, she LOOOOVED it and said it reminded her of "Up" (and like my previous blog post mentioned, she of course thanked me for them many times throughout the day :)). At lunchtime, I took her to lunch with me, and then we ran home to pick up the balloons. I only had about 2 minutes to snap photos because we needed to get back to school, but it was long enough to get the shots I needed. I just love balloons :)

....and of course, we had to do another jumping shot (like last year) before heading in the car (the balloon strings weren't working with her jumps...but oh well) :)

7 Years Old..... by Julie Cruz

Wow, wasn't I just announcing her 6th birthday? :( Tomorrow is a jam packed day/night for us, so I knew that if I didn't get a blog post up tonight, it might not make it's way up until Monday or so. PJ (Paige Jamieson, for those who have ever wondered) will officially be 7 at 12:50pm tomorrow (or today, depending on when you read this), on Friday, March 16th. I still can't believe it. If I wasn't helping in her class all day, I would stay home and cry all day. Just kidding (ok, maybe i'm not). It seems like just yesterday I was in the hospital, holding her in my arms thinking "wow, I can't believe we made this". I still remember feeling her roll and kick inside of my belly for the first time. I remember her first real smiles and laughs. I remember her "crazy rooster hair" when she was a baby. I remember the day she started crawling, and the day she started walking. I remember her first plane ride (to Maui). I remember how when she turned 2 she had to wear a princess dress, tutu, tiara, etc every.single.day. I remember the first time she really played the drums...and shocked all of us (she's got daddy's rhythm and musical talents for sure). I remember her very first modeling gig (it was for Carter's....and one of the photos took up a whole window in stores!). I remember the day she learned how to ride a bike (thanks to my niece and a $20 bribe (that if she could teach her, we would give her $20). I remember the day she jumped in a pool and swam across it. I could go on, and on, and on........but if I do, this blog post really might be posted on Monday ;) Anyways, here we are 7 years later. She loves Gilbert (her giraffe that she got after her surgery at Children's Hospital back in September after a crazy accident at school), giraffes (thanks to Gilbert), reading books (and she's at a 3rd grade reading level!...even though she's only in 1st grade!), riding her bike, Lalaloopsy dolls, clothes (oh yes, she looooves her clothes/fashion - haha), going to the beach, swimming, going to photo shoots (although things have been super slow for her lately), dancing (as you'll see in some photos below...and yes, that's the sprinkler ;)), etc. She's just an easy going kid (with a few bossy moments here and there.....but hey, she is MY kid after all ;) haha) and one of my favorite things about her is how thankful she is. I'll be the first to admit that she's spoiled....but even despite that, she always says thank you....even for the most random and small things...like "thank you for letting me get a donut today, mommy", "thank you for taking off my nail polish, mommy", "thank you for letting me watch one more show, daddy", etc. The amount of love I have for her is insane. Those of you without kids are probably rolling your eyes at this. Those of you with kiddos know exactly what I mean. The years go by fast enough as is, but when you have kids, they seem to just FLY by. Time is precious, so spend it with those you love. Happy 7th Birthday, PJ. We love you......

Happy Valentines Day! by Julie Cruz

I know, i'm a day early, but i'm helping in PJ's class all day tomorrow, so I needed to post today :) In previous years, i've done little Valentines shoots with PJ. Last year, I didn't (because I was busy doing a giveaway with Keep A Breast), but the year prior, I did a fun music themed shoot, and the year before that it was a quick cupcake/lollipop theme. This year, I threw together a last minute shoot, mainly for her Valentine cards for school. On Thursday, I put her dress and stuff in the car, picked her up after school (not knowing she had P.E that day and she was a sweaty mess since it was of course in the mid 80's that day), we grabbed a balloon, headed to the location I was thinking (turns out it was all dried up, brown and gross), then headed to another. I started out with the sun behind her, but it was so bright (and I didn't have time to wait it out since I was meeting friends for dinner and needed to run home and shower/get ready) that the balloon looked all funky (I got some cool artsy/sun flare shots (maybe i'll share some next week), but it's not what I needed/wanted for her cards), so we shot in direct sun (luckily, she's really good about it and does the "closed eyes, then open" thing just fine). Anyway, I didn't even bother editing the ones for the card (hence the Instagram sized photo), just threw them together and called it a day. You know what they say... "The shoemaker's children go barefoot" ;) It's true, i'm lazy about photographing/editing pics of my own kiddo.

Before we left, she let me take a few head shots of her. Don't let her "grown up" look fool you. She is still a silly and crazy kid, with some missing teeth and jokes for days ;) Again, I didn't bother editing (this was done through Instagram (which I LOVE)...

Favorite 11 of 2011... by Julie Cruz

Yep, it's that time of year again! The time when I *try* and choose some of my favorite images from the year. Each year I pick the amount of photos to go with each year. There was 8 for 2008, 9 for 2009, 10 for 2010, this year is 11 for 2011, etc ;) Here were 2009 and 2010 if you'd like to see. Just like every year, I choose a select group of family and friends to help me narrow down the choices...since it's close to impossible to select just a few favorites. Also, I just want to take a few minutes and thank all of my wonderful clients. Without you, there wouldn't be "Lot116 Photography". Many of you have been with me since day one. I have had the honor to watch your kids grow up, and capture them each and every year. Nowadays, everyone seems to be a photographer, and many start out dirt cheap (like I did), so to know that I have a wonderful group of clients that are still with me (even though "Joe Schmoe only charges $200 for everything") is a HUGE honor. I have also had a few clients who had/have decided to use someone else at one point (because I was already booked, because of pricing, etc). Many of those clients have come back to me afterwards (like a phone call I received yesterday from a family I love) and said that they regretted it, had a horrible experience, bad photos, etc.....and that "you get what you pay for".....and most importantly... "never again" and were coming back to me :) I know i'm not the cheapest photographer by any means, nor am I the most expensive (I have friends who make around $3,000 PER SHOOT and tell me that i'm "too cheap"). Since day one, I wanted to charge what A) I thought was fair, and B) What I needed to make to keep my business going (for clients, keep in mind that there are MANY costs in running/keeping up this biz - business taxes, cost of cameras, lenses, bags/backpacks, props, computers, hard drives, websites, gallery sites, etc, etc). I started out *EXTREMELY* low (like many do) to build my business. Within the past year or so, Lot116 is finally where I want it. I have learned to only schedule what I can physically and mentally handle (long gone are the days of doing up to 15 full shoots in ONE month) without getting burnt out. Also, as some of you might have noticed, instead of two, I only offer ONE type of session now. I no longer offer the "session fee + purchase of prints" option. Why? Well because in my 4+ years of business, only ONE client did NOT purchase the session that comes with the disc (they purchased prints only instead - which basically ends up costing the same...which is why I always push for the disc). It was basically pointless to even offer that option since everyone chose the higher package....so that other option is now gone, and I have simplified my pricing even more than it already was ;) I know many photographer's "hate me" for offering a disc (especially for "so cheap"), but my reasoning is simple: Many photographers don't offer a disc, just prints/canvases (usually at very high prices). With a disc, you can upload them to your favorite photo site, pop them onto your hard drive and throw the disc into a fireproof safe. Let's say your house burns down and you barely have time to get out alive. Your prints/canvases, etc on the walls are now GONE. Those photos of your family are now non-existent (most photographers delete your photos within a few weeks, months or a year, tops). With a disc, you will still have those photos as long as you did any of the 3 things I mentioned above. I'm not in this business to make a killing. Yes, I could switch to "boutique pricing" like many do, but for me, I offer what *I* would want.

Ok, sorry to have rambled and derailed a bit, but I just wanted to tell a bit about why I do things the way I do :) It has worked for 4.5 years now....so I must be doing something right ;)

Thank you all again.....and here they are, the "Favorite 11 of 2011" (in no particular order)!!

Happy Holidays!! by Julie Cruz

Ok, ok....so I waited until the last minute (even though I had gotten the outfit months ago and knew what I wanted to do) and shot in 15 min....but hey, at least I got something up....right? ;) Wishing you all the best!! :)

Twilight With A Classic Twist... by Julie Cruz

A few weeks ago, my sister called me excitedly to tell me that she found an awesome kid's Werewolf costume (for my nephew, Isaac) at Marshall's for under $20. She already had a Dracula costume that she bought for my nephews' carnival party (Mason wore the suit as a Ringmaster's outfit). And with PJ's Bride of Frankenstein costume, we thought it would be fun to take some pictures of the kids together as these "classic" Halloween monsters. Then, since I had already done PJ's Bride Of Frankenstein pics, I thought it would be fun to do sort of a take on the werewolves versus vampires themes of Twilight or True Blood. So PJ became our "Bella" (but minus the jeans and flannel shirt ;) haha). The boys' costumes happened to have a lot of red/black...so we went the olden day/victorian style with PJ and I had her wear a vintage dress that she already had (which she wore in this little "at home" shoot) and added a red ribbon and apple for the final touch ;)

Getting a 5, 6 and 7 year old to "stay serious" for longer than a few seconds (especially with costumes) was tricky....so as you can see, there were lots of laughs and giggles as well ;)

So here are our little monsters, "Twilight with a classic twist"...

Happy (early) Halloween (again)!