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My Top Ten 2018 Photos

Hello my Friends!

In 2018, I got crazy busy with photography as well as my other businesses and let the blog slack {to say the least!}. My goal in 2019 is to provide a wealth of content for you to check out, so keep an eye out and make sure you're subscribed to my newsletter for any new releases as well as discounts on photoshoots and more opportunities.

Before I blow your mind with amazing technique posts and behind the scenes and all the goodness, I wanted to take a moment and reflect on 2018. There were a lot of photoshoots you never saw, images with backstory that I always wanted to share, and images I just was personally really proud of.

Without further adieu, here are my top ten images from 2018!

1. The Money Dance

Traditional money dance, dollar dance, wedding reception

Would you believe me if I told you I was looking forward to Vanessa & Noe's "Money Dance" since the day they hired me? The first time I experienced this tradition was at Julia's wedding (see that beautiful soul at the bottom right?). If you don't know what it is, the Money Dance is when female guests at the wedding "pay" to dance with the groom, and male guests do the same if they want to dance with the bride. The money is pinned to the groom's suit and the bride's veil and is collected at the end to put toward the honeymoon or other newlywed goodies!

It was hard to find a lot of background on where this tradition came from, but Wikipedia says the custom originated in Poland in the early 1900s in immigrant neighborhoods. This article also gave some background for various cultures this can be found in!

There's apparently a bit of controversy around whether or not this is a tacky dance (#eyeroll). Personally, it makes me emotional to watch. You get to see them dance with sisters, brothers, cousins, childhood friends, aunts, uncles, new in-laws -- not many people miss out on this part of the reception!

I smiled through this entire wedding (so much so that my face hurt afterward on the drive home!) and just remember how sweet it was to capture these post-Money-Dance photos afterward with the bridal party, grandmother and mother helping the bride and groom collecting the money.

2. Meet the Chefs

Meet the Chefs at Casa De Amparo event

This event came from my decision to branch out into the community and see if I could put my photography to good use in the form of volunteer work. Now, about a year later, I am excited to be on the top of Casa De Amparo's list of volunteer photographers and to have formed a very happy relationship with their marketing and volunteer department. This organization, for those of you who are interested, focuses on the treatment and prevention of child abuse and neglect in San Diego County. This is a field I was very interested in right after college, which is what led me to find them!

This was the biggest event I'd ever done and it was a GIANT step outside of my comfort zone. It was held at Hilton in Del Mar, had an attendance of 350 guests including top chef's from five star San Diego restaurants, there was a live auction where guests bough luxury vacation packages and wine packages -- it was a strange kind of culture shock! I remember being quite nervous that it was right smack in the middle of the day and that I'd be dealing with harsh lighting, but every image turned out so well and the event was documented PERFECTLY (if I do say so myself!).

I chose this photo simply because I remember that specific restaurant group was incredibly kind, though I was intimidated by them! They let me sneak behind their booth, grab cups of water as I needed, and (of course) let me sample their fancy food. To say I'm excited to volunteer for this event again in 2019 is an understatement!

3. Awaiting Your Arrival

Maternity photos on the beach in white

Anytime someone I care about connects me to a client, I take it very seriously. This beautiful family was visiting from out of state and their maternity session was a surprise gift to them.

Let's just say this was a very very special baby! The momma reminded me so much of myself because she would've preferred to be on my end of the camera and NOT in front of the lens! Despite the nerves of having a camera pointed at her, she was graceful, glamorous and classy and I felt like those traits really came through in the photos we got. She was like a goddess! What do you think?

4. Doing the Damn Thing!

engagement in poway in front of barn door

This shoot was so fun! Daphne is one of my old sorority sisters and drove all the way to San Diego from Arizona to have their engagement photos done by me -- what a humbling experience! I wanted to make sure we got some rustic looking shots that brought out their flannel and cowboy boots and was elated to find this giant barn door -- and to be able to actually use it.

This location (Old Poway Park) was packed - there were two weddings in progress, one maternity shoot and a family photoshoot all in the same area. That type of busyness usually makes me very anxious and panicked, but I think I've finally reached a point where I can trust that I will get the shots I need despite how crowded a location is. Being able to trust my talent in that way was a giant step in the growth of my photography business and has helped me capture so many of my favorite images from 2018.

5. How High

Nike inspired fitness photo

Okay, real talk, I saw this idea on Pinterest and knew I had to try it out for Hannah's personal training photoshoot. Is it perfect? Hell no. Toward the end of 2018, I really wanted to break out of my comfort zone which meant using flash and shooting in spots I would've typically avoided. The lighting ended up being a real challenge during this morning shoot, so we found this bridge that was mostly in the shade and decided to give this a try.

Shooting on too high of a shutter speed and aperture would've made this image far too dark, so I swallowed hard and pulled out my external flash. I can only go up to a shutter speed of about 1/200 using my flash, but it was enough with the highest intensity flash to ALMOST catch Hannah sharp in the sky. Even though it's a little soft and the background is a bit busy, the courage and bravery and trust in my talent I put into this shot makes it one of my favorites.

6. Spooky Spooky

Smoke bomb in pumpkin, spooky blair witch type photo

I don't have a fun backstory behind this one -- it's just one of my more creative shots from the year and I love how it turned out! There were a lot of moments on this shoot where I was sure none of our ideas would work. I had a morning shoot this day and was in desperate need of a nap, so my head was not in the place I wanted it to be. Running on fumes instead of creativity was a challenge!

It didn't help that the wind was blowing like crazy and one of our smoke bombs basically exploded on us! But I was still excited to play around and see what we could get. I had no idea this shot would come out as cool as it did. And Taylor was the perfect person for this shoot. Yes, pumpkins WERE harmed in the making of this image.

7. Tropical Romance

Beach model in carlsbad california

This girl right here is one of my best friends. She's also a stone cold killer! At the time, Brit was building up to be a social media influencer and I jumped at any opportunity to be one of the many talented photographers who got to work with her.

Branching into more posed, model-esque, magazine-type work was something I was eager to try out, which made this shoot experimental on my end. Out of the many I absolutely loved, this one had to be my favorite. It just seems like such a tropical dream. I have such beautiful friends!

8. Cheers to Us

Cheers, champagne on the beach for engagement

Anytime I'm shooting someone I've never met before, there are a lot of doubts that run through my head. I worry about whether or not they'll respond well to my personality more than anything. Well, Caitlin & Kenny washed away those doubts insanely fast. These two are like the big brother and sister you wish you had, and the chemistry they have with one another makes them the perfect clients!

This was another shoot where I felt comfortable enough to whip out my external flash and try some new technique. Using "fill flash" has been a daunting technique for me since I learned about it. But it's a really important one to learn! Especially if you're in San Diego and want to capture the magic of a beachy sunset without making your subject a sillhouette. I'll put together a blog post on how I go about executing this technique in the coming weeks.

9. City Chic

City chic, model in San Diego

I dreamed of this shoot since I first got into photography over ten years ago. Some of the first photos I was ever exposed to were the glamorous, chic images in advertisements in my mom's magazines. The style of portraiture I do is traditionally more family-geared for capturing moments a couple or family can hold onto and cherish. I always thought it would be a major shift to move toward more posed, model shoots that focused on fashion. I personally have never been in touch with my feminine side, so maybe that's why I put off trying a shoot like this for so long.

This year I finally thought, "screw it!" and reached out to my good friend Megan to see if she'd brave the streets of Downtown San Diego with me for a fashion-forward shoot. I couldn't have picked a more perfect model to do this shoot with. And like I said before, shooting in crowded and public areas always triggered my anxiety so being able to take this on with a good friend relieved that substantially. We found some quiet streets that still had a big city feel and went nuts! I can't tell you how much I cherish this entire shoot.

10. Dad with Leia

Man with dog, man's best friend

Finally, this shoot with my father. The last few months of 2018 were especially difficult for me as my parents decided to move forward with the divorce process. It's all happened so fast - the paperwork, the house up for sale, my dad moving out of state. Before he left he wanted to update his LinkedIn profile photo and hired me to do a photoshoot in their backyard. I brought my Golden Retriever, Leia, because she absolutely loves my dad (can't you tell?). She wasn't planned to be in any of the photos, but I would be lying if I said the photos of the two of them weren't the best out of our entire shoot. And don't take my word for it, if you went to his LinkedIn page you'd see that this was the photo he decided on!

During this shoot, I just had this feeling "one day I will be so so happy we have these photos". And everyday since the session has been one of those days!

Do you have a favorite photo from Nettik in 2018? Let me know which photos stood out to you! And look forward to a wealth of fun new content this year!

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