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.

Samuel (9 days old) and Penelope (13 months old)... by Julie Cruz

This shoot was actually for Sam's newborn photos, but big sister, Penny decided that she was going to be the star of the show that day. From the moment she came to greet me, she had the biggest smile ever....and that smile lasted throughout my time spent with this wonderful family. Baby Sam was so easy going and barely made a peep the entire shoot. He happily posed for us and just hung out. On top of being an adorable and perfect family, they had a super awesome home as well. I think that's another reason why Penny did so well. Kids are more relaxed in their own environment. Sometimes when we take them out of their element and toss them in a random location, they are so overwhelmed by what's going on around them, that the last thing they want to do is take photos (and/or smile). I love in home shoots, so if you have a fun, cute home, let's shoot at your place ;) Anyway, check out this gorgeous family of four.....

Rhett (5 days old)... by Julie Cruz

A perfect couple, a perfect home, a perfect dog, and now a perfect baby! This adorable family was an absolute dream to shoot. If you follow my Lot116 Facebook page, you might have seen my post, bragging about showing up at a shoot where homemade cookies were waiting for me. Yes, this was the home....and how anyone who JUST had a baby, also had time to make beyond me. On top of her amazing cookie making skills (I had to stop myself from eating PJ's! ....and when PJ ate hers, she kept saying (make sure you say this with a full mouth) "Mmmmm....this cookie is soooo goooooood"), Nena looked AMAZING! I told her during the shoot that women all over the world were going to be cursing her name and saying "HOW did she just have a baby!....let alone FIVE *DAYS* ago!?" ;) hahaha. Along with perfection comes the most perfect little boy. Oh my goodness, Rhett is just so adorable, so sweet and soooo handsome already! I can't wait to see him again in a few months! Oh and I can't forget to mention the two other awesome "guys" of the house, Rhett's daddy (who was SO sweet and awesome and helped me so much!), and Rusty, their adorable black lab who showed off his swimming and diving skills for me. On to the adorableness.....

They didn't find out the sex of the baby, so since it was a surprise, so were the final touches of their nursery. Their designer was actually coming over later that afternoon to finish adding "boy" touches to the nursery, but even "not complete"....his nursery was awesome...and the light in there was amazing!

Gage (3 weeks old)... by Julie Cruz

You might remember this adorable family from their maternity session back in January. Well, their newest little guy, Gage, arrived on March 7th....and man, oh man, is he a sweetheart. He was the perfect newborn model for me! Big brother Ashton (age 2) was SO cute, because as I was loading up my car, he saw me carrying a basket (which Gage was in a few minutes before), and he pointed to it and asked for Gage. I told him I was taking him home with me....and Ashton let out the most adorable and worried "Nooooooo!" :) Of course I told him I was kidding, and he immediately smiled...but it was just so cute that he was worried and wanted his brother. Mom borrowed a little wagon that she wanted photos of Gage in, got an adorable little bunny hat (for a few Easter pics), and along with a perfect wall & table in their dining room, we had an instant backdrop ;) You'll also see a few photos with a Dodgers baseball helmet....that's because their grandpa (Dave Stewart) once played for the Dodgers, as well as a few other MLB teams :) Oh and of course I had to include Lucky (their dog) if a few shots ;)

Luke (2 weeks and 1 day old)... by Julie Cruz

This story goes back to the year 2008. Lot116 was still new, and I was portfolio building. I knew from day one that I did not want to do weddings, and each time someone contacted me about engagement photos, I did what I still do....which is tell them that "engagement photos usually come with wedding packages, so save your money and get the whole package instead". However, Eveleen and Bob were clients of my *sister*. She had done their wedding invites, etc and they wanted engagement photos....but they were getting married in Texas (so it all worked out and I said yes since I knew it was just the engagement photos (however they did ask me about shooting their wedding in Texas, but I kindly declined since I had never shot a wedding and knew that they needed someone with experience)). Anyway, so I did their engagement shoot and we had a blast. 3+ years later, I get an email letting me know that they are expecting their first baby, and wanted me to shoot the newborn photos. Wow. What a surprise and honor to know that they came back to me after all these years! Just for are a few of their engagement shots from waaaay back in 2008 ;)

So months go by and i'm waiting to hear of baby Luke's arrival. His due date was January 3rd, I was expecting to get an email or call around mid-late December. December comes and goes, and I email around his due date to check in....and nope, he's not here yet. Can you believe that he was almost 2 weeks LATE? Yep, he took his sweet time and finally arrived on January 16th! Well i'll tell you right now, he was "cooked" to perfection. He is such a gorgeous and sweet boy.

I know the crate thing is overly done for newborns (so i've avoided them), but I saw this at the swap meet for suuuuuper cheap, and let's be honest, anything that says "Fresh" on it is...well.... fresh! ;) ...and since newborns are fresh outta the oven, it's perfect!

San Francisco - Owen (2 weeks old)... by Julie Cruz

Owen was the reason I went up to San Francisco to begin with :) His mom contacted me as soon as she found out that she was pregnant and asked if I would be interested in going up to SF for a shoot. Of course I said yes, and I couldn't have asked for a more perfect baby. Owen just might be the most laid back (and smiley!) baby I have ever photographed. Even on a somewhat cool/windy SF day, up on the rooftop of a high-rise building, he didn't make a peep. I think I must have said "ok, seriously :) ??" at least 20 times throughout the shoot. On top of having the perfect baby to shoot, it was so much fun to shoot around their building. Such a cool place. Check out this adorable and squishy little guy. Oh and Amy & Doug - It was wonderful meeting you guys. Thank you for making all of my travel accommodations (and kick ass ones at that!) and allowing me to capture your adorable baby boy. He is perfect in every way! :)

Liam (9 days old)... by Julie Cruz

You might remember Liam's super cute parents from their maternity mini session a few months back. Well the apple doesn't fall far from the tree! Adorable Liam was my 3rd newborn shoot within a 8 day span....and luckily he took it easy on me ;) He was such a sweetheart...and barely made a peep. Oh and his "sister", Kelsey, was quite the model as well ;) The outdoor shots were mid-day, in direct sun....but we made it work :)

Miranda (12 days old)... by Julie Cruz

At just 12 days old, baby Miranda was by far the most alert, wide awake and funny newborn I have met. I kid you not, she was not only awake for 90% of the shoot.... but she followed me with her eyes and didn't go down without a fight ;) She literally had one eye watching me at all times! Haha. One of the nicknames they have given her is "serious bear". She had the best serious scowl ever and had me cracking up left and right. She also had a super cute smile though....and I got lucky enough to get one shot where I swear she looked right at me and gave a little smile (I didn't even touch her cheek or anything!). It was too cold to venture outside that day, so we stayed inside. How cute is she?......

Lennon (11 days old)... by Julie Cruz

We all thought for sure that this little girl was going to be here in March or April (I really thought that she would arrive while we were gone to the Bahamas!). Since 2 of her sisters were preemies and since she is baby #4, we figured she would definitely arrive early. Well Lennon definitely took her time and made us all freak out with lots and lots of false when the time REALLY came, her mama thought it was just another false alarm. To make a long story short, they barely made it to the hospital in time and she was ALMOST born on the floor! Thank goodness her daddy picked up mama and got her in a bed, because just minutes later, Lennon arrived. Shoot-wise, we didn't have the weather gods on our side this time around. For the maternity shoot, it was super warm, the sun was shining, you name it! Well this time it was COLD, the sun only peeked in once or twice, it was windy....AND the bugs were out (one which put me out of work for the past 4 days because my right (working) arm was swollen and achey from a bite). We all know that newborns and cold don't work well together, but we all wanted to make it we went for it...and it was definitely tricky. We got the shots we needed/wanted and then called it a wrap :) Anyway, I'm off to another newborn shoot, but here is a quick post of sweet little Lennon..........

Edited to add one last pic. I had posted this as a teaser on Facebook, so I forgot to add it here (until now). Since I am headed out the door and don't have time to pull another to add to the side of this one, i'll just post this one a little bit bigger for now...

And Lennon Makes SIX..... by Julie Cruz

Once again, one of my favorite and most popular families is back! If you're new to my blog, you can check out some of their last sessions here, here and here. This time it was a quick shoot to capture their them before the arrival of their newest little girl (yes, girl number 4!), Lennon. Kristen (mama) and I talked about a tire swing ages ago.....and Michael (daddy) did an amazing job getting it up (special thanks to their friends at Hawthorne Tire for the tire!). Just like all of their shoots, they were easy! Beautiful people, an amazing yard to shoot in, gorgeous light and a family who is always willing to go out of their way to make my visions (this time a tire swing) a reality? You just can't go wrong. I love this family! Anyway, before I start crying (haha), let's get to the teasers.......

..........and the next time you see this line-up, there will be a teeny tiny baby girl in that tire ;)

Waiting For Liam (*mini session) by Julie Cruz

I truly think that mini sessions are ideal for maternity shots. It's the perfect amount of time to get just the right number of photos you need/want to remember the beauty of pregnancy. This couple was PERFECT. Super cute, super sweet, naturals in front of the camera, etc. I can't wait to meet baby Liam in May! Oh and in case you're wondering about the helicopter, daddy is a helicopter pilot ;)

Audrey (12 days old) by Julie Cruz

It's rare to leave a newborn shoot without ever hearing what their cry sounds like, but this was one of those shoots. Audrey was perfect in every way. Her hair, her eyes, her lips, her temperament, her name, you name it. Looks apparently run in the family, because big brother Jaden (2) was so adorable. He had the most awesome eyes. I got plenty of smiles out of him too, but i'm posting mostly the serious shots because his eyes and pouty lips melt my heart. Anyway, let's start with an early Valentines Day-ish shot of miss Audrey.....