Category Archives: Nature

Family Portraits at the UCLA Botanical Garden

Growing up just a few miles from UCLA, I somehow never visited the Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Gardens while I was a kid. I was excited to go there with a friend and her family over a year ago (hey, I’m still catching up with blog posts over here!) for a family session in the California sunshine.

From bamboo forests to native desert plants, this garden has a variety of landscapes to explore and enjoy, and two-year-old C. loved romping through it all in her party dress. Enjoy this smiling family!

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Though I’m based in Seattle, I’m in L.A. to visit family all the time, so think of me for photo things down here, too!

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Filed under California, Kids, Nature, Portraits

Florida Fun: Vizcaya

Amidst wedding madness and taking in the view, Tyler and I spent a day at Vizcaya while we were in Miami. Vizcaya is now a museum, but was once the estate of industrial bajillionaire James Deering in the early part of the 20th century. The mansion is incredible; it was built to look old and monied even when it was new. Unfortunately, interior photographs were not allowed, but I took full advantage of photographing the grounds with their endless gardens and seaside promenades.

We arrived at Vizcaya on the Miami metro (very convenient) and traversed a covered walkway across the highway before entering a wilderness of greenery. It was like entering another world:

There was lots of rustling in the forest as we walked a winding path to the estate – it turned out to be hundreds of little lizards!

Tyler and I had our own little photoshoot throughout our visit to Vizcaya – the estate was too gorgeous not to. I just so happened to be wearing the perfect color to coordinate with the pink stone throughout the gardens!

The ocean front of the main house looks out onto a beautiful bay; a stone barge sits about twenty feet off shore and can be accessed on foot during low tide. How romantic!

An orchid garden abuts the main house and statuary is everywhere:

While we were touring the grounds, we saw no fewer than three quinceñera photoshoots taking place and one wedding portrait session and you can see why! Of course Vizcaya is the go-to location for a beautiful photo setting. I would LOVE to shoot portraits of any kind here. It is just so lovely! I highly recommend a visit to anyone and everyone coming through Miami.

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Filed under Architecture, Nature, Personal, Travel

Happy February!

Happy Feb. indeed, world. I cannot believe it’s already almost Valentine’s Day. I’m the lovey-dovey type no matter what the time of year, but I especially love V-day and all the hearts and flowers that come along with it, corny as it may be. I know, I know, Hallmark made this holiday up, but I think any holiday that expressly encourages love and affection and appreciation of others is okay in my book.

With Valentine’s Day in mind, I have a new set of cards in my Etsy shop! Check out Julie Sterling Studios to purchase these beauties, perfect for Valentine’s, especially, but great for everyday, too.

Wouldn’t you want to get one of these in the mail (I LOVE mail!)?

Show someone how much you love them today!

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Filed under Art, Julie Sterling Studios, Nature, Personal, Product

Thanksgiving 2011, or, Owain is 4 Months Old!

My Thanksgiving in Kalamazoo with my husband’s family was full of great food, late night board games, trips to such wonderful establishments as Chocolatea, Confections with Convictions, and the Kalamazoo Nature Center, but it was mostly full of THIS:

Yes folks, that is Owain, our smiling 4-month-old nephew! You’ll remember O from his 4-week-old photoshoot, and from his time on the inside with gorgeous mama Gwenn (here and here). O was definitely the star of Thanksgiving!

Things we know about Owain: he likes to wear stripes; he is very vocal; he eats a lot; he loves bath time; he likes looking out windows; he loves going for rides in his stroller; he is cute. AND he likes the dinosaur hat I knitted him!

O is a good sport and handles being dragged all over town very well. We all especially loved Chocolatea with their gorgeous walls of loose leaf teas, and their awesome tea car outside:

(This last one is Chocolatea again, plus a very scary pumpkin still surviving from Halloween.)

Owain also enjoyed a quick trot about the Kalamazoo Nature Center. We even found the Williams family brick!

One of the perks of being the first grandchild, nephew/niece, kid in general is, everyone wants a piece of you! This kid did not go hungry for attention:

It was a wonderful holiday, made all the better because of this little face:

(And Tyler, too, helping me test my light!)

I hope all of your holiday weekends were as good as mine!

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Filed under Babies, Kids, Michigan, Nature, Personal, Portraits

Mount Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge

Early November still has a spooky holiday vibe to it, with Halloween just past and Day of the Dead and All Souls’ Day and whatnot. What better time to go visit one of the most beautiful cemeteries in the country? No better time, I say.

I’m currently working as a teaching assistant for the photography school I attended, and as a break for my class’s computer-intensive Photoshop II module, we set off for Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge for a shooting assignment. As the TA, I get to come along, help out, and photograph to my heart’s content. And I LOVE cemeteries, especially old ones. Mount Auburn was founded in 1831 and landscaped to 19th-century perfection. I’ll let its beauty on a New England autumn day speak for itself:


Mount Auburn Cemetery is BIG – 174 acres big. There are hundreds of named paths and walkways, all nature-related, to wander. I could have explored all day and still had more to see.


There are many significant memorials, sculptures, and architectural gems in the cemetery; I captured just a few of them.

Here’s a sphinx Civil War Memorial and the gorgeously gothic Bigelow Chapel:

And here’s the Mary Baker Eddy memorial:

The Visitors’ Center lives in the lovely red-stone Story Chapel:

The Washington Tower looms over the entire place and offers great views of the Boston skyline in the distance:


The fall foliage was truly incredible; the leaves reflecting in the various ponds around the grounds looked like watercolor paintings. Amazing.


Artistic stonework is everywhere, in delicious states of disrepair:



Who wants to come back with me in awesome outfits to stage a full-on photoshoot here?


Happy November!

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Filed under Architecture, Art, Boston, Landscape, Nature, Personal

Sisters in the Garden – The Stevens-Coolidge Place, North Andover

Last week I had a delightful summer morning with sisters Mia and Arianna and their parents. We met up at the Stevens-Coolidge Place in North Andover to take advantage of the beautiful grounds.

These two were lots of fun, and too cute for words in their matching outfits!

So many smiles, all around! We wandered across the lovely gardens at this historic venue, delighting in the plants, the greenhouse, the pond, and more.

Big sister Mia is an exuberant three-years-old …

… and little sister Arianna is just one!

Mom and Dad got their photograph taken, too:

A garden setting is great place to spend some time in the summer – everything is blooming and it all smells lovely. Just be careful not to get stung by a bee like I did! (No worries, I’m not allergic!)

Both girls were really into their parents’ sunglasses, to my great amusement:

Altogether, it was a perfect Sunday morning!

Thank you, Mia and Arianna, for letting me play!

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Filed under Babies, Kids, Nature, Portraits

June Blooms

After a rainy Boston May (which gave us a lovely, droplet-y garden), we’ve had, well, a rainy Boston June! Though it’s sunny this week, we had decidedly gloomy weather for most of the month. The one upside of copious rainfall is always our glorious garden!

It was a windy day, and I love the effect of the slightly motion-blurred petal edges. I think it makes these pinky flowers look like a watercolor.

I was quite obsessed with this one plant – too gorgeous!

Again, I take absolutely no credit for these beautiful plants and flowers; they all flourish under the loving care of our upstairs neighbor. But I do enjoy them!

We have an unbelievable rose bush in our front yard; the roses are creamy pink and orange. The other day I witnessed someone snap one off and put it on her hat! I didn’t say anything, but I thought it was pretty ballsy, stealing a flower in broad daylight… not that I blame her – they are so lovely.

The summer brings out all these saturated colors in the natural world, at least until late summer when they go all sun-drenched and bleached. I’m reveling in the deep hues while they last.

There is one lone white blossom hanging on in the front yard … so brave!

Do any of you have summer gardens?

Long live summer!

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Filed under Boston, Nature, Personal

Mother’s Day/Father’s Day: Max & Colby at the Arnold Arboretum

Last fall I photographed our friends’ adorable children, Max and Colby. For Mother’s Day this year, I did so again, in the fantastic spring setting of the Arnold Arboretum. And, just in time for Father’s Day, I’m finally posting them!

Is there anything better than a spring afternoon in the park with smiley faces like these?

Colby is now about seven months old, and such a happy fellow. He’s so strong and mobile and loves his big brother Max! They are the sweetest pair.

Max is three, and he is interested in everything, but especially rugby and maps. Oh, he loves maps! We could barely get him to leave the park when it was time to go because he found a guide to the Arboretum by the side of the path, and all he wanted to do was look at it!

I love this family! They are the nicest people, the nicest kids, and so much fun to spend an afternoon with. Thanks, guys, for letting me share Mother’s Day with you!

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Filed under Babies, Boston, Kids, Nature, Portraits

A Rainy Boston May in the Garden

If you’ve been around Beantown this spring, you may have noticed that we haven’t seen the sun much. This spring has been rain, rain, and more rain! My California soul is getting very sad without sunlight, but I’m hopeful that we’ll see it again sometime soon … in the meantime, I’m keeping myself happy by enjoying the byproduct of loads of rain: flowers!

Our backyard is an explosion of greenery; we’re very lucky that a woman in our condo association loves gardening! We all reap the benefits of her hard work. The bleeding hearts are my absolute favorites.

I recently purchased my very own macro lens, mostly for engagement rings and the like for weddings, but also for nature! I took it into the yard to experiment and loved the results.

Everything looks a little different up close! The world really opens up in a different way through this lens.

With all this rain, everything in the garden’s looking very shiny and fresh, covered in gorgeous little droplets.

I suppose I should get used to this weather, since we had nine rainy days in a row, followed by one of partial sun, one of clouds, and now another week of rain in the forecast …

At least I can enjoy the greenery amidst the ongoing precipitation!

I hope spring is treating all of you well!

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Filed under Boston, Nature, Personal