Category Archives: Photography :: Family Life

My name is Jennifer and I’m a Christmas fanatic

UPDATE 12/19/12:  Due to my awesome broken toe, I’m unable to do this session.  :(  You can read more about it HERE.  It’s very entertaining.

I’m a crazy fan of Christmas… it’s a little ridiculous, actually.  But there is such a magic around the season that I can’t help but get swept up in it.  In fact, one of the reasons I like Thanksgiving so much is because I know Christmas is next.  And I cannot wait to get the lights up and the tree trimmed!

Well the lights are now up, and I’m starting to think about this coming Christmas with my kids.  My oldest is nearly 8 and is starting to lose a bit of the holiday spirit (tonight at dinner she asked me if Santa was real… my heart fell and I quickly changed the subject – I don’t want this ride to end just yet!)

I’m not ready for her to stop believing, but I know that day is quickly approaching. This is quite possibly our last doubt-free Christmas.  I want to soak in every moment. I don’t want to be stuck behind the camera trying to make sure I’m getting the right pictures. I want to see the joy in my kids’ eyes AND remember that forever.

This got me thinking how wonderful it would be to have someone else taking the pictures.  I’d love to sit back and actually engage with my kids and enjoy Christmas morning with my family.

While I realize I can’t do this for myself, I can do it for others.  So it’s with much delight that I bring to you my new Christmas (Eve) Morning Session!

Jennifer Chaney Christmas Morning Photography

Wouldn’t this make THE perfect gift for your spouse?  

Christmas (Eve) Morning Sessions include:

2 Hour Photo Session on Christmas Eve Morning
don’t worry about what to tell the kids, together we will come up with come up with a good story. Maybe Santa is so busy he has to visit some homes a little early? _It’s just this one year and it will be totally worth it!_

1 Extra Large Coffee Table Photo Book
this is where the magic comes together! You’ll get one of my custom photo books that artfully tells the wonder of your Christmas morning in a storytelling fashion… the reader can submerge themselves within the photos and feel like they were actually there, ripping open the presents and sipping the hot cocoa!

All of the Digital Pictures
while a photo album is essential to re-live the morning, the digital files make sure that your memories are safe, no matter what.

Cost:  this year I’m offering the session for $1800. (Next year this session will start at $5000)

Because this session is new, and there is a time restriction, I can only photograph one family.

The family I’m looking for has at least two young kids who deeply believe in the magic of Santa. As a family you enjoy celebrating the free-for-all that is Christmas morning. You’re not worried about the house being a mess or your daughter’s hair being uncombed.  And yes, it’s okay for parents to get dressed for the part. Ideally you’d stay in your pajamas, but mom, you’re free to apply a little make-up and do your hair. No judging here!

Do you want to be that family? Click here:  Christmas Morning Session 2012 for more information and to tell me a little about yourself.

I’m SO excited to offer this session!  I cannot wait to witness the joy and wonder your children have on Christmas morning!

Jennifer Chaney The Family Life Photographer

Start of School Session :: necklaces, backpacks and teddy bears

There were two wonderful reasons why I was truly delighted that the Buhalis family called me for a Start of School session (aside from the simple fact that spending time with them just makes me happy)!  First, dad had to work and wasn’t able to see his kids off to school. Second, mom had gotten her daughter a very special necklace to commemorate her move into the first grade.

Being there to help them remember these shiny little moments on a day that can be a little wild, filled my heart.  Not only does dad get to look back and re-live a day that he couldn’t be there for, but his daughter will have the memories of her mom giving her the necklace that will no-doubt be treasured for life.  Ahhh… the thought of her little girl gets me a little teary-eyed.  She was genuinely emotional about the gift and repeatedly gave her mom deep hugs.

Pleasanton Family Photographer Jennifer Chaney

The backpacks lined up in the garage.  Everyone buckled up in their booster seats.  All of these things will change over the years.

Notice the teddy bear peeking out?  Priceless.  Oh, and the long walk into school with everyone in tow?  Again, priceless.  Pre-kindergarten through 3rd grade is quite possibly the sweetest time to be a parent.

Pleasanton Family Photography Jennifer Chaney

The glance over her oldest’s shoulder as she leaves the room says it all.  He likes her. Even if he’s too cool to give her a hug in public.

Ack!  First grade is the real deal.  She’s moving on from kindergarden to the big room, big playground, and big homework.  My daughter (Crazy #1) started the first grade last year and walking out of the classroom,  leaving her on her own, nearly knocked the air right out of me.

Pleasanton CA Family Photography Jennifer Chaney

But leaving your baby at school for full days has to be the hardest.  No matter how much freedom we moms get when our youngest heads off to school, it always hurts just a little (or a lot, if you’re a sissy like me.)

Being asked to be a part of events like this make waking up extra early worth every minute of missed sleep.  Every. Single. Minute.

San Francisco Bay Area

P.S. I’ll be doing a handful of these Start of School sessions next August – if you’re interested, let me know as soon as possible.  :)

One for the mommy in me

Ever since my kids started their slow transition to showers, I’ve been searching my heart for a way to embrace it.

And then I saw it.

I saw that they are still little even thought they’re doing something so grownup.

I just needed to get down on their level. 


Jennifer Chaney Child Photographer

 I’ve been patiently waiting for the right client to try this shot with.  The stars to aligned two weeks ago.

I’m head over heals for this picture and everything it represents.


Jennifer Chaney The Family Life Photographer

Start of School Session :: back to school pictures with the taylor family

About a week before school started this fall, I began planning my daughter’s first day back.  Outfits, breakfast, lunch, and pictures (shocking, huh?)  In looking over the pictures I took last year, I felt like I really captured the feelings of a child going into a new grade.  That mildly apprehensive, yet excited feeling that a 6 year old has about becoming a first grader.  While I love the photos, I sadly noticed the complete lack of me.  Since I’m always behind the camera, I don’t get the opportunity to experience and enjoy the first day of school with my kids.

I’m not alone, am I?  There are hundreds, if not thousands of moms out there that don’t get to fully be there with their kids on the first day of school.  We’re too busy trying to remember if we packed everything and if all the kids are in the car.  And, on top of that, we’re trying to take pictures of their first day.

You know what?  This is not okay.  So I did something about it.

I launched back to school sessions  purely out of my need to give other moms the freedom to put down their camera and enjoy the day. And guess what?  THEY WERE FANTASTIC!  I got so much joy out of following families around on their first day of school.  I just wish I had done these sooner.  Next year they will be back, and I promise to announce them much earlier. :)

And with that, I give you the Taylor family.  When I look at these pictures I think to myself, this is what it’s all about.  We live for our kids.  We wake them up, we help them dress, we feed them breakfast, brush their teeth, comb their hair, pack their lunches, and take them to school.

Yes, the mornings are chaotic, but they’re incredible at the same time.  Sometimes it just takes someone else to show you.

When I arrived at the Taylor home, their youngest was still asleep.  I got to witness the magic of motherhood as his mom opened one blind after the other.   Slowly her late sleeper woke and proceeded with his day.   I felt like I hit the jackpot!  Bedhead?  Getting dressed while half asleep? Mom swooping in to give one last go around with the toothbrush?  Every moment is wonderful. And all fill my heart.

Jennifer Chaney First Day of School Photography 2012

We joked about the picture below with dad doing the dishes… apparently it wasn’t his turn.  In true little brother harassment fashion, he quickly pointed out that it was his sisters turn to empty the dishwasher. Aren’t little brothers helpful?!

Jennifer Chaney 1st Day of School Photography 2012

In the picture above, he’s covering his ears because his sister loooooves to sing.  But it’s not her voice that bothers him, it’s the fact that she likes to take pop songs and sing them as elevator music.  Haha!  And with that, the brother-sister harassment goes full circle.

Ahhh… the walk into school.  This pictures says so much to me.  The bustle of the first day.  Families scurrying from one place to the next.  The long walk to a new classroom.  Mom encouraging the youngest.  Dad and the oldest hold hands and walk in silence.  There is such beauty in the simplicity of this moment.

Jennifer Chaney first Day of School Photogs 2012

Don’t get me started about the send off hug above.  She’s in 5th grade.  It’s her last year at this school.  Her dad’s kiss on the head says it all.

Below, it’s time to navigate the hallway to find his classroom.  This is the big time.  No more short days or separate playgrounds.  He is officially in 1st grade.

Jennifer Chaney first Day of School Photogs 2012

Many of you saw the image above on the left on my Facebook page.  They were waiting in line outside his classroom.  He’s holding his dad’s hand while his mom’s hand rests gently on his head.  If I had one picture of me and my kids on their first day of school, it would be this.  It actually hurts my heart a little.

The walk back to the car seems quite a bit longer with no kids in tow.  And it’s a bit freeing, too. ;)

Jennifer Chaney first Day of School Photos 2012

For years they’ve had Ben help them cross the street.  He’s loved so much by the community that people seem to look out for him as much as he does for them.

Now I’m feeling all sentimental for my own kids’ first days of school.  Anyone out there want to follow me around next fall?  Crazy #2 will be starting kindergarten.  It promises to be entertaining.  ;)


Big giant hugs to you all!

San Francisco Family Photographer

The Ocampos :: Starbucks, Trolley Cars and French Speaking Seagulls

I’ve asked this family to adopt me.  Yes, I know.  A grown woman with kids of her own asking another family to adopt her sounds odd, but once you meet the Ocampos, you’ll probably ask them, too. ;) They’re everything you imagine “family” to be.

About four years ago, I attended a photography workshop down in Orange County – a workshop that I probably would have written off as a bust had I not met Michelle.  She made the trip worth every penny!   And, today we probably talk 5 times a week… sometimes we can talk that much in a single day (please don’t ask me how much we text… that’s actually a little embarrassing!)   She’s truly one of my best friends, and I was sincerely honored when she and her family asked me to photograph them in Pacific Grove.

Meet the Ocampos.  (And watch out Italy!  They’re comin’ your way next year!)

Their Family Life session was about being who they are and celebrating how they live.  They want to move onto the next chapter in their lives remembering where they are now and what makes their hearts sing and skip a beat.  Everything was just as it should be… a little goofy, a bit loud, and filled with lots of love.

Pacific Grove Family Photography

Michelle and her family have a wonderful weekend routine.  They walk to Starbucks on Cannery Row, take the trolley back, hop off at the beach and walk the rest of the way home.  It’s such a simple way to spend a weekend morning, but so fantastic!  It makes me want to get out more with my own family!
Yes, I made traffic wait while I crouched down in the middle of the intersection to get this picture below… totally worth it.

Cannery Row Photography
 I’m so glad Michelle thought to get photos taken of one of their favorite places to live.  The Monterey Bay.  And I can say with some authority that she is right… it’s a pretty awesome place to live.  Granted it’s been quite awhile since I lived there, but I’m lucky to live close and still have family there. Oh, and for those of you in the Monterey area, Michelle is the High School Senior photographer for smart girls only… I know.  Pretty cool.  You can check out her message and work here:  Michelle Ocampo.

Monterey Family Photography

The two pictures above personify these girls!  They are loving and crazy… at the same time.

PG CA Family Photographer

Her husband is in the military, and that is a huge win in my book.  Why?  Because he doesn’t have to be, but he’s doing it to make all of our lives better.  And because my grandpa was a gunner in WWII.  I remember the passion and pain in his eyes when he talked about what he fought so hard for… what all of them fought so hard for.  Anyone related to the military has my utmost respect.

Pacific Grove Photographer

Above you can see our seagull friend, Francois. According to Michelle, he’s French.  She narrated a story of his travels for her youngest who is currently obsessed with birds.  Too bad the Ocampos aren’t headed to France… Michelle has got that accent down!

Carmel CA photographer

Once a week, they all jump into their PJs and declare it Pajama day.  Just hanging out around the house watching movies and playing games… I looooove it!  (Once you’ve seen my own family photos from Tara Whitney, you’ll understand why!)

Carmel CA photography

Their choice of pajamas got me laughing… their oldest daughter in her favorite Star Wars footies and Michelle in pink plaid pj bottoms and her prized NKOTB t-shirt!

Monterey Family Photography

I’ve saved the best series for last…

Carmel Family Photography

 Whew!  That was soooo many photos, but when you get to photograph a family like this, it’s a little hard to put down the camera.

Happy end of summer everyone – thank you for stopping by – and be sure to visit my Facebook Page… I’ve got a little something special coming up for all of my “likers”!

San Francisco Family Photographer




P.S. Holiday sessions are coming up soon, so get ready!  I’m doing something a little different this year.  Be sure to check back. :)

The Ligon Family :: Summertime Perfection

Three years ago I met Julie Ligon through The Dailey Method in downtown Danville.  Since then I’ve gone to countless classes of hers and photographed her family 5 or 6 times.  As you can imagine, we’ve become good friends and I feel like I know her pretty well.  And yet each time I’m around her, I learn something new.

Whether it’s about parenting, owning a business, or just being a good person, Julie always seems to teach me something.  I can’t really put it into words because these lessons are ongoing and I’ve been slowly soaking it in over the past few years.  But suffice it to say she’s one of those people you just aspire to be.  She has an unwavering kindness and when you are in her presence, she wraps you up in it.  Unbeknownst to her, she is a big influence on me (well it’s no longer unbeknownst now, is it?  cat.out.of.bag.)

She makes motherhood look graceful… even when she thinks she doesn’t.  When her kids don’t listen or are having their 15th spat of the day, she manages it with grace… and if for some reason she doesn’t feel that she’s doing it quite right, her honesty and desire to handle things differently the next time makes her graceful.  And I admire that on so many levels.

Julie’s family is an extension of her, and I look forward to photographing them each year… I can count on it being beautiful, goofy, and laid back.   For our session last week, Julie simply tossed a quilt onto the grass, her husband made fresh mojitos, and they let the kids run wild.

Welcome to summertime perfection, Julie style.


 The Ligons have a wonderful way of making me feel welcome… from the moment I walk through the front gate, I am treated like family.

Danville Family Photographer

With two redheaded girls and a bubbly blonde boy, the crazy level can get pretty high… I don’t think they would have it any other way.

Diablo CA Family Photographer

Above are the many faces of the youngest daughter.  I go into each session never quite knowing what she’s going to show me.  It’s like Christmas morning.  Everything is a fantastic surprise.

Even though photos don’t have sound, I can hear the eldest’s squeals of laugher and feel the pride she has in her little brother.  Some people were just meant to be big sisters.

Danville Family Photography

I envy her hair!  And her ability to make silly faces.  She has several. If you see her, just ask for a demo.

Danville Family Photography

The Ligon’s smartly have a summer bucket list. Notice the last item on the list:  ”Sanke Dads Buodum”   She proudly read the list to me and informed me that they have indeed spanked dad’s bottom. Many times. (I’m laughing as I type this because it’s just so awesome how much joy a child can get from such a simple little thing!)

Speaking of simple things… jumprope, tug of war, and hangin’ out with mom…Sigh.  (I love the on-lookers… they all wanted in on the action and slowly, each of them started inching closer!)

Danville ca  photographer

So many of my families have dance parties… but they’re all different.  The Ligons crank up the Country music and twirl around the living room.   Ahhh… they make me smile.

Danville ca  photographer

Having older sisters can be fun… and then there are the times when it isn’t.

This last image makes my heart skip a beat… this is what their dad sees everyday when he comes home from work.  I imagine that no matter how stressful your day has been, this would wipe it all away.

East Bay family photography

Want to see some outtakes from this shoot?

Click on over to my Facebook page… it’s sorta fun to see some of the chaos that happens at one of my sessions. :)

Jennifer Chaney The Family Life Photographer