Category Archives: Photography :: Saturday Mornings

As I packed up my camera, doled out goodbye hugs, and climbed into my car, I realized my heart was overheating. I had finished one of the brightest sessions of my photography career. These girls. This family. Sigh… I don’t have the words to express how I feel about this day, but I do have the photos. And there are a lot of them, so I apologize in advance. But they’re extraordinary.

With that “hard to live up to” intro, I give you an incredibly gracious and sublimely free Berkeley family.

Jennifer Chaney Family Life Photograper San Francisco East Bay Area


There is a natural, candid way about them. All of them. They are unassuming and disarming. They glide around each other as they move from one part of the day to the next.

In home family lifestyle photos San Francisco Bay Area

They’re connected and individual. Crazy and calm. Sometimes all at once.

Children Kids Baby candid family photography with Jennifer Chaney


And this. This photo above tells the complete story. The beauty in the chaos. The days are filled with sisters who are nonstop wild. Natural entertainers. Mom and dad bring their own energy to the family with their quick yet subtle humor and warm hearts. Together they create a perfection that only they can own. It’s all here. Bliss in the ordinary.


Documentary Family Lifestyle Pictures in Berkeley CA


Like many of us, we divide to conquer. Some look it as a way to survive, but I like to think it’s an opportunity to connect. Dad with one daughter and mom with the other. It’s their time and, later in the day, they will trade, creating another chance to bond. Lather, rinse, repeat.


Candid Family Photography with Jennifer Chaney


The above set of pictures is another reason I’m enamored with this family. They show the innocence and truth of dressing babies. It can be stress-filled one minute and laughter-filled the next. A microcosm of parenthood.


East Bay Family Pictures with Jennifer Chaney Photographer


In the pictures above, she refused to play the guitar for me until her dad started to sing Let It Go. And he did so unabashedly.


Casual Portraits in The Bay Area


A little girl who roughhouses with her dad, climbs trees in dresses, and wears her cowboy boots on the wrong feet is a gift to be treasured. Especially one who takes a moment to show how her hand fits neatly into the handprint her dad made in cement back in 1977.


Candid Outdoor Family Pictures in the East Bay Area


Mom and Dad walked these trails and hills in Berkeley as teenagers, making their family’s hike down to Pete’s more than just an average weekend ritual.

Family of four in Berekley casual photos by Jennifer Chaney

There was no fussing or posing. No bustling about trying to create a family portrait. Everything unfolded with ease. Naturally. One photo flowed effortlessly into the next.
They didn’t force a single picture or moment. They showed me how they live in a genuine and unconstrained way. No wonder I continue to be drawn to this session and have the same warmth of heart that I did on the day I photographed them. They’re a quiet exhale.

Lifestyle family photographer Bay Area






She carefully tucks her plastic hair brush into her purse, placing it alongside her tangled bracelets and last remaining Polly Pocket. Slinging it over her shoulder, she pads out to the living room announcing to her mom that she’s ready to go to the doctors office… again.

Since the day she was born, this wonderful light of a child has made countless visits to hospitals and specialists. At just a few days old, she was diagnosed with a genetic disorder that thankfully has had relatively mild symptoms, but already at the age of five has seen the inside of more hospitals than most of us will in our entire lives.

And she does it with gusto and grace.

Meet the Oas family. And their fiery light.

Creative Family Photography in Lafayette, CA :: Jennifer Chaney

Like all children, she’s resilient and has made the most of where she is. She shares this magic with her family. Her little brother has his own magic, too.

Creative Family Photography in Danville, CA :: Jennifer Chaney

Most Saturdays will find them huddled around the kitchen island helping dad make his family’s Norwegian pancakes. Okay, her little brother doesn’t help as much as play, but who doesn’t love dusty, little flour footprints on the floor?

Family Photography by Jennifer Chaney - Diablo CAShe flies and twirls about the world… her brother always nearby, desperately trying to keep up.

Danville CA family photographer Jennifer Chaney

He can’t help but be affected by her. He can’t help emulate the same beauty.

Family Photography by Jennifer Chaney - Blackhawk CA

The painting hanging in his bedroom was done by his dad when he was a boy. This family is about heritage, nostalgia, and connections. It doesn’t get much more touching than this.

Family Photography by Jennifer Chaney - Danville CAThis strength this little girl has is like a beacon to her family. She shines blindingly bright. You cannot help but fall in love with her.

She is symbolic of the unbelievable strength that children have. And so are her parents.

Family Photography by Jennifer Chaney - Pleasanton CA

Jenny and Brian Oas run an All Star Swim School for kids because children are their passion. They want them to be safe in the water. And Brian is an huge advocate for special needs children and goes above and beyond to teach them to swim and enjoy water therapy.

They are the perfect parents for their little girl. They embody compassion and love.

If you have a child with any health or emotional issue, you have no choice but to adjust, just like they did. You move with each day as it comes. If you have to sleep on the hard bathroom floor for countless nights because your daughter needs to be close to the toilet, you do it. And you don’t complain. Gratitude isn’t simply an idea in their family – it’s a daily practice.

It is families like this, people like this, children like this that make me pause. That make me think. That make me grateful for just knowing them. The inspire me and give me hope.

Thank you Jenny and Brian… for being they people you are and showing the rest of use what is possible.

Lifestyle family photographer Bay Area

There’s something completely magical about walking into the room of a sleeping child. It might be my favorite part about photographing a family on a Saturday morning. Their very essence is wrapped up in the lone foot poking out of the blankets, in the curl of their bodies, the fold of their arms… Whether they are completely burrowed inside the blankets, or the covers are kicked every direction, the scene is pure peace. Innocence.

Meet the Douglas family.

Walnut Creek Family Photographer

These two remind me so much of my own crazies. It was hard not to just put down my camera and let them sleep.

Walnut Creek Family Photos

Someone lost a tooth the night before and I nearly fell over when he shared how excited he was to use the same Tooth Fairy pillow that his dad had used as a boy. I’m a sucker for nostalgic keepsakes. We don’t need a zillion of them, but things like this? Yes, please.

  Walnut Creek Family Photography

Animals are central to this family.  Everywhere I turned there was a new little fuzzy being brushing up against my leg.  It was impressive how helpful the kids are with the care of their pets. They take their jobs very seriously!

Their son is in charge of feeding and caring for the dogs, the little sister tenderly cares for the family’s aging cat. She also helps mom with their little flock of free-range chickens. (Which is awesome since I can’t get my kids to water the one plant we have. If it dies, you know why.)

Walnut Creek Family Photographers

Side note: chickens freak me out. But man… watching this little girl just swoop them up and walk around with them like they were one of her hamsters was pretty impressive. I’m still not over my fear of the feathered beasts, but I’m one step closer to a little less afraid of them. Maybe.

Walnut Creek CA Family Photographers

If there is one photograph I go out of my way to get in my family photo sessions, it’s a picture of kids’ hands or feet… there is something about the ways they change throughout childhood that I find mesmerizing.  Before we know it, you realize their toes are no longer little baby toes, and their fingers become long and child-like, and eventually adult-like. Someday their hands and feet will be bigger than yours…

family photographer in walnut creek ca

While we moms invest in fancy pedicures, our toes (sadly) will never hold the charm of a little girl’s chipped nail polish, in rainbow colors we probably wouldn’t dare. And speaking of things that we moms cannot get away with… how about bedhead? So endearing and symbolic of childhood. Sigh. One more reason I am smitten with these Saturday Morning photo sessions.

It’s like I get to relive childhood over and over again.

Walnut Creek CA Family Photographer

This is their Saturday morning dance. Mom is busy here. Dad is busy there. The dog waits patiently, hoping something delicious will fall his way. And the kids sit on opposite ends of the island, eating their fill of Dad’s Saturday pancakes.

Walnut Creek CA Family Photos

So many wondrous exchanges happen in the relationships between parents and children. Their mom knows them like no one else – you can see it in her eyes. And yet dad has his own connection with the kids. His daughter sits with him and he allows her to be who she is at this very moment. He allows her to be 5… such a good reminder for us all. Let them be little.

Walnut Creek CA Family Photography

Sibling love. When it’s good, it’s amazing. The giggles, the pillow fights, the hugs, the inside jokes. And the dog there, watching over them as they play. I don’t think she’s as thrilled with the horsing around as I was… but she holds her ground regardless. I like that.

And with that my friends, I want to remind you to exhale and allow your kids to enjoy their weekend freedom. Even if that means closing your eyes or leaving the room while they run amok (as long as no one is getting maimed and your house isn’t going to get burned down, that is.)

Lifestyle family photographer Bay Area


When she told me that her kids wake on Saturday morning and dash down stairs with hopes of doughnuts or coffee cake, I instantly envisioned flowing hair and nightgowns. I could almost hear the thundering of feet as the tangle of children pour into the kitchen to see what’s for breakfast. I imagine they first smell the fresh coffee their dad has ready for their mom and if they’re all lucky, they’ll see him pouring berries into the blender as he makes one of his famous shakes.

For our Saturday Morning family photo session, I got to experience this excitement first hand.  No doughnuts on that day, but we all survived.  Just barely.

. . . . .

Life in the Edelen home is equal parts busy and beautiful.

Family Photos in Corte Madera

On that day there may not have been doughnuts or coffee cake, but the kids were still lucky – dad was poised to make shakes for his wild little brood. You’ll notice him intently working on his creation with his youngest when out of the corner of the room my very first professional photobomb came flying through the air. From that point forward I knew this kid and I would get along just fine.

Before we move on, I think it’s important to talk about the wallpaper in their dining room. Take a moment to let the gloriousness of it soak in. Sigh. I would paper my car in that if my husband would let me.

Family Photos around Corte Madera

The youngest of the family has a way about him. I can’t quite describe it, but he reminds me so much of my own crazy boy that I was instantly drawn to him. He is tender and wild all at the same time. I get him.

Family pictures in Corte Madera

Children who slink away from a busy room to go read hold a special place in my heart.  Sometimes escaping the chaos and immersing yourself in a good fiction book is what the morning calls for.

corte madera family photographers

When kids get their hands on a bucket of legos, there is little else in the world that will interest them.  They are fully in the moment and seemingly unaware of what is going on around them.

corte madera child photographers

Life is good on a deck in the sun when you’re an elderly cat.  Especially if everyone dotes on you.

child photography north bay

The photos on the left (above and below) show what happens when a photographer asks a family to snuggle up next to each other. The photos on the right are what happens when said photographer lets the kids set up the picture.

I like their creative style. I may bring them along to all of my family sessions.

family photography north bay

As we walked around the yard I noticed tiny little foot prints left on the stepping stones in the damp grass. It stopped me in my tracks.
They don’t know they have this power over us, do they?

Our kids just move along through our homes, causing us to pause here and there while our hearts swell and our minds desperately try to tuck away each meaningful moment.

Sometimes I wish my eyes were a video recorder and I could access all memories with great ease.

Family Photos in the north bay

My dear friend and client once told me that she loved how I captured the moving pieces to her family. Her comment has stayed with me and the more family photographs I take, the more I understand what she means.
The picture below is a perfect example of the moving parts of a family. Powerful in its own chaotic way. Everyone moving. Everyone doing their own thing. Yet doing it all together.

north bay photographers for families

I wrote an article about photographing the tears of a child. The picture above is one of the photos that inspired my writing. Families have many layers and honoring each one is important. I urge you to take a picture of each layer to help remind you of how authentically complex your family is.

Lifestyle family photographer Bay Area

P.S.  Saturday Morning sessions are absolutely perfect for late spring and summer – sunshine, snuggles and sleeping in!  To find out more, go to my family photography website and check out the “details” tab. Or email.  That works, too.  ;)


At 5:30 on a Saturday morning my alarm rang out through the house.  I didn’t really need the help because rising early is oddly easy for me… I love waking to a quiet, undisturbed home.   If I’m lucky, I can sit and sip my coffee while I figure out what my day will hold.  But on this day I already knew what I’d be doing… spending it with a new client and watching how their Saturday morning unfolds.   The thought gave me jitters… the good kind.

Roughly an hour or so after waking, I crossed through the Caldecott tunnel and exhaled.  There is something about the crowded streets and busy life of the Bay Area that touches my soul.   While it’s only a few miles from where I live, Berkeley and Oakland seem like a world away.  And San Francisco even farther.  I guess that’s why I treasure my visits to these places.  Each trip feels like a mini expedition.

. . . . .

Meet the McGilloways.

When I knocked on the door I was greeted by two loud fur babies and their pajama clad father.  The very first thing out of his mouth was, “my wife made me wear these.”  Instantly I knew I liked this family.

I had talked to his wife  on the phone a few times before and felt an immediate connection.  Hearing how her heart is so deeply intertwined with her family made my own heart skip a few beats.  This is what motherhood is about.

Much of our conversation from this day has stayed with me.  Her view of motherhood and how she relates to her family is refreshing.  I felt like I was talking to a old friend as she shared her thoughts on parenting, being a wife, and how she fits into the world now.

Her children and her husband mean everything to her… but she’s never lost her sense of self.  I admire that.  And am inspired by it.

Many mornings, her husband walks the dogs a few blocks to the corner store to grab a newspaper and coffee for her.  She cherishes this simple gesture because they own an espresso machine.

Family didn’t come easy for the McGilloways.  Their road to parenthood was riddled with speed bumps and stop signs.  But they they never gave up.
I think this has made them some of the best parents possible.

She told me there are three things she loves deeply about her children:

First, how their tiny, delicate hands hold and caress whatever they are playing with… they are devoted to that toy in that moment.

Second, the soft crease of their necks.  She didn’t know why for sure, but it’s the place she buries her nose and soaks in their every once of being.

Third, how they love on each other.

Spending the morning with this sentimental, devoted family made the rest of my Saturday beautiful… time with my family felt just a little more special.

Every time I photograph a family, I feel like I learn something more about mine.  This day was no different.  I’ll never look at the soft fold in my crazy babies’ necks the same way again.  And when my husband brings me my grande-half-caff-flat-soy-latte for no reason at all, I’ll take greater pleasure in knowing that we too, have an espresso machine.

Lifestyle family photographer Bay Area

P.S. Baby brothers who love on you with all of their gummy, toothless, drooly mouths are the best.

. . . . .

I went to their home to photograph a Saturday morning, but I got  so much more than just pictures… I got a peek into what deep love looks like.   I’m fascinated (in the best way possible!) by how much family, friends, and food mean to them. It shows in every word they use and every thing they do.

He wakes early to make spanakopita and pancakes.  She hangs back and lets their daughter enjoy time with dad.  

It’s a weekend morning dance they seem to have perfected.

She climbs her mom like a jungle gym.  And beams at her when she reaches the top.  Her mom doesn’t mind.  She instigates it.  Which melts my heart because there is such a short window for parent climbing… I love the feeling of those little hands on our heads and the tiny feet trying to find traction along our backs.  And laughter that accompanies it is pure gold.

After climbing on her mom, she climbed on the counter to eat her breakfast.  I got a lump in my throat when I saw this.  I let my youngest sit on the counter because I remember as a child how special it was to sit up tall.  Up where you typically couldn’t see. To have a different view point for once.  To be big.

It’s such a simple gesture, and yet it will mean the world to this little girl when she’s older.  I can guarantee that kitchens will always be special to her.  Always.

He works, and like most parents, weekend mornings are the one time of the week where playing at 9 in the morning is not only encouraged, it’s expected.   His smile says it all.  Her squeals of delight and demands of “one more time!” make it even more special.  These are the mornings to cherish… relaxing and just being who we are with our loved ones.  It really is that simple.

Every session I have one photo that causes me unexpected pause.  The spinning one above is that picture for this day.  There is something magical about it.  I can’t see either of their faces, but I can almost feel her euphoria as her dad swings her about the room… the sensation of her heart as it floats.  Like your very first ride at Disneyland.

She’s learning the Greek alphabet.  They really know how to do things right.  Heritage. Family. Food. Friends.

This was a special unique session for me.  What started out as a Saturday Morning Session turned into a Family Life session and I have more that I want to share.  But I can’t have a blog post go on for hours, so I’m breaking it up into two (maybe three!) posts.  Yes. I know.  That’s a whole lotta sharing!  But it’ll be worth it.  Trust me.

Lifestyle family photographer Bay Area

P.S. So badly I want to know what she was thinking as she looked out the window in that last picture.  She said something about a bunny and then quickly dashed off.  I’m left wondering if there really was a bunny there, or did she just want there to be one? …I almost prefer the imagination of a child over the reality of a bunny. :)

The next blog post from this session can be found HERE.