Fall Portraits in Presidio Park

It's been about a year and a half since I started shooting professionally, and one of the great things about this second year has been getting the chance to work with some past clients. It's a lot of fun to watch kids grow and change over time, but more than that, it's a real honor to know that these families loved their previous sessions enough to come back. This family came to my very first mini-sessions last spring, and even though I've seen them a bunch since then (their son goes to the same preschool as mine), seeing the difference between this year's pictures and last was pretty amazing to me. This time around we met in Presidio Park, and I got quite a workout keeping up with them, especially with all the energy that their son had! I don't often get the chance to play hide-and-seek during my sessions, but that's what I love about working with kids: you never know what to expect, but it's always a lot of fun.

Family Friday #25

No props or fancy backgrounds, no divan in the middle of a field or flapper headbands. Just a bit of light and a shy little smile, and I have a beautiful photo--and a memory of my daughter that I can hold onto.

Happy weekend, everybody!

Family Friday #24

I just love moments like this. I love the concentration on Jason's face. I love the fact that he's holding the mixer himself, but Juliette's hand is still there just a little bit to guide him. I love the interested look Eva has as she watches him. I love that things are a little chaotic, because that's what having young children is like. And yet, despite the mess, there's still a sort of quietness to the image, and beauty, and that's what having children is like, too.

Happy weekend, everybody!

Family Photos in Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve

Considering how close I live to Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve, it's kind of amazing that I'd never shot there before. I've always wanted to, though, so I suggested it to my first clients of the season, and was thrilled when they said yes! The canyon has some great trails for hiking and mountain biking, and, as you can see, for photos. This little guy was super cute--outgoing and full of energy. As a parent and a photographer, I just love getting to see kids exploring and playing, and the natural setting of the canyon preserve was perfect for that.

Family Friday #23

As a parent and photographer, I find that each day with my children is filled with moments that I want to document, to hold onto and remember forever. Some of these moments are the sweet, gentle, quiet moments, like the way my daughter softly pats me on the back when she hugs me. Some are the raucous, energetic, fun kind, like the peals of laughter--from both of us--when I tickle my son.

And some are the kind of moments where we're at another kid's birthday party and I've just stuck a mustache on my 1-year-old daughter.

Happy weekend, everybody!

Family Friday #22

Secure Over the past few years, a trip to the pumpkin patch at Bates Nut Farm in the fall has become a bit of a family tradition. This year we decided to go on their opening weekend, hoping that by getting there earlier in the season we'd beat the crowds. (It worked, by the way.) On our way out to Valley Center, Jason rattled off a long list of things he wanted to do--jump in the bouncy castle (which he calls a "jumpy"), run in the straw maze, ride a pony, and so on. Once we were there he excitedly pulled us from one thing to the next, and once he'd set his mind on what the next activity was to be, he couldn't be dissuaded. The prospect of a pony ride, for example, was sufficient to distract Jason from both the availability of ice cream cones and my willingness to purchase them. Say one thing for this kid, he's got focus.

Mind you, as soon as the pony ride was done, it was time for ice cream.

Happy weekend, everybody!

Family Friday #21

I mentioned last week that we were recently on the East Coast for a family wedding. The bride was Juliette's niece, and I was able to help out by shooting her bridal preparations on the morning of her wedding day. I was, of course, so happy to be able to participate and help make the day a special one, and, as always, very grateful to be entrusted with the responsibility of capturing these memories. Even more than that, though, was the opportunity to spend time with family--so much of both my and Juliette's family live far enough away that we don't get nearly as much chance to see them as we'd like, but somehow when we do finally come together, we find that the miles that are normally between us are not enough to dampen the feelings of closeness and belonging. And that's what it's all about.

Congratulations, Hannah and Dan. We love you!

Fall Holiday Portrait Sessions and New Referral Program!

Saturday was the first official day of fall, which means many things here in San Diego: the leaves are looking just the same as they did in August, the weather is in the mid-80's, and it's time for fall holiday portraits! To help out with that last one, I am offering a special discount on family portrait sessions if you sign up early. Make your reservation for a 1-hour family portrait session before October 14th and you'll receive $50 off your session fee (regularly priced at $150). This is a great way to get a head start on those holiday cards, since all portrait sessions include three digital files!

Not sure of your fall schedule just yet? No problem: reservations made between October 14th and October 31st will still receive a $25 discount. Once November hits, though, we'll only have full-price sessions available, so be sure to take advantage of this great opportunity for savings!

Contact me for your reservation by email at mike@michaelsakphoto.com or by phone at (858) 722-2738.

I'm also very excited to announce my new referral program. If we've worked together before and you love the family portraits that we've made, why not spread the word? Tell a friend, a family member, or a co-worker, and for each of the first five who mention your name when they make their reservation, I'll send you a free digital file of your choice from any of your previous sessions!

Let's make this fall one to remember with some great family portraits. I can't wait to hear from you!

Family Friday #20

This past week we were in New England for a family wedding, which both of the kids got to be a part of--Jason as a "ring horsie" (instead of a "ring bear") and Eva as a flower girl. All in all, the trip was fantastic and the kids loved it. Still, they did struggle a bit with the time change. Just before this picture, Eva was fussing and rubbing her eyes, clearly ready for a nap. It only took a few minutes of rocking her before she was out. The weight of her head on my shoulder, the tickle of her hair against my cheek, the peaceful look on her sleeping face--I don't know if these are the best things about being a dad, but they're up there.

Happy weekend, folks.

Family Friday #19

If there is anything better than seeing my baby daughter beaming with joy when I come home from work or laughing uproariously as I tickle her, then I suppose it would have to be the smile she gives her brother when they play together. Last weekend the four of us took a trip over to Liberty Station to have lunch at one of our favorite San Diego bakeries and afterwards we headed over to the nearby playground to let the kids have some fun before their nap time. Eva had a lot of fun on the swing, but what she really loved was when Jason took a turn pushing her. A huge grin spread across her face and with every push she let out a little shriek of joy.

They have their bad moments too, and I'm sure that as they get older the sibling rivalry will get on my nerves, but it's also obvious that they truly love each other, and for getting to witness that I am truly grateful.

Happy weekend, everybody!

Family Friday #18

My father-in-law's birthday was last weekend, and to celebrate, we along with the rest of his kids got together and spent the weekend with him. I always love going back home (Juliette and I are from neighboring towns) not only for the memories and the people and the natural beauty, but also because the kids love it so much. On Saturday morning the whole family took a walk along the beach near Juliette's parents' house, and Jason had a ball running up and down the sand, throwing a ball for my in-laws' dog, picking up rocks, and doing all the other things you'd expect a kid to do on a Big Sur beach. The whole weekend was just about perfect--the only bad part was having to say goodbye after it was over.

Here's wishing you all a great weekend surrounded by family.

Family Friday #17

Jason had a birthday party last weekend, and since he's been so into Jake and the Neverland Pirates lately, he decided he wanted to have a pirate party. Eva was, as usual, quite willing to participate.

It's funny sometimes, how context makes up so much of our perception. For the past few weeks when we've looked at Eva, Juliette and I have felt like she's been looking older and larger, that her bottomless appetite has finally gotten her to start filling out a bit. But, of course, she was still the smallest baby at the party, despite the fact that she was one of the oldest. When Jason was a baby we both fretted about how small he was, but this time around I'm mostly just happy that she's easier to carry.

Happy weekend!

Family Friday #16

I think a picture like this nicely sums up both the experience of childhood and of parenthood. Innocent and eternally present, a child doesn't dwell on the past or wait for the future. What the moment brings--whether it's a day at the pool or just bath time--commands full attention and engagement, and what came before is dropped, and left where it lies.

A parent, of course, mostly notices the mess. And--in my case--takes a picture.

Happy weekend, everybody!

Family Friday #15

My favorite pictures are always the ones that feel honest, the ones that tell a story or reveal something true about the people in them. Visually, there's a lot I like about this picture: the smoothness of his skin, and the textural contrast between his face and hair and the fabric of the upholstery he's leaning against. I love the subtle gradations of tone in his eyes and the softness of the light. But what I really love is how his expression shows you something about him.

See, when Jason watches TV--as he's doing here--he tends to lose track of the whole rest of the world. In order to get his attention you typically have to stand right in front of him and speak loudly. (It's no mystery where he gets this, since I'm exactly the same way.) I don't remember what he was watching when I took this picture, but I do remember that I took three or four frames and he barely even batted an eye. That intense concentration, the way he loses himself in the program, it's all there in his expression in this photo. And that's him, and I love it.

Happy weekend, everyone!

Family Friday #14

Parenthood is always a bit of a balance between utter chaos and quiet profundity. Sometimes both at once.

If we let him, Jason would put his entire room into his bed before going to sleep--he'd fall asleep on top of a giant pile of books and toys, which he would then proceed to kick onto the floor over the course of the night. It's looking like Eva will be the same way.

Juliette and the kids are coming home tomorrow, and I can't wait.  I hope you all have a very happy weekend--I know I will.

Family Friday #13

Juliette and the kids are away right now, visiting her family in Canada. The house feels big and empty without them, and very, very quiet. But the nice thing about having photographs is that even when they're 2500 miles away, I can still see them and smile.

Happy weekend, everyone.

Family Friday #12

"I want it to be deeper, Daddy."

"OK, let's get the hose.  There we go."

"Now I want Eva to be in with me."

"Well, it's a little too deep for Eva now."

"Yeah, it's too deep.  We should take some of the water out."

"That's true."

"I can do it!"

(Happy weekend, everyone!)

Family Friday #11

Face Paint As we walked by the booth, Juliette leaned down and pointed it out to him. "Do you want to get your face painted?" she asked.

He did.

He clambered up onto the stool, looking at the example pictures in the frame next to him. "I want a unicorn!" he declared.

The paint was cold, and he shivered when the brush touched his cheek.  The painter had one hand on top of his head to steady him while she worked; she felt him tense up and backed away, thinking perhaps he was afraid.  He wasn't, though.  "It tickles," he said.

Less than a minute later, he hopped down and took the wad of bills I held out to him, then promptly turned and gave it to the painter.  "What do you say?" I asked.

"Thank you," he said softly, then turned to me.  "Take a picture, Daddy!" he said.  I did.

"Can I see?" he asked.

"No, buddy, it's not that kind of camera," I responded.  "I have to take the film to get developed first.  See?  There's no picture on the back."

"Oh," he said, disappointed.

Of course, Juliette already had her cell phone in hand, and she snapped a picture and showed him, much to his delight.  And off we went to see some farm animals.

Happy weekend, everybody!

Family Friday #10

When I think back to my childhood, so many of my best memories happened during the summer.  Summer was barbecues at my dad's house, Boy Scout camp, staying up late with my friends, splashing and wrestling (and occasionally swimming) at the community pool.  It was hopping from rock to rock in the river near my house, and climbing the huge bay laurel in the park on the other side.  It was hot dogs from the concessions stand at the Little League field, and jumping my bike off the big dirt pile at the end of the street, and lining up quarters on the Street Fighter machine at the convenience store at the top of the hill.  Life is different now as a grown-up, but lately summer has become a special time again because of my kids, and their summers.

Summer officially started this week, and Jason and Eva have been to the pool almost every day.  Tomorrow we're off to the fair, where I suspect a corn dog or two will be consumed.  Summer: a great time to be a kid, and to be a parent.

Happy weekend, everybody!

Family Friday #9

Eva Here's the thing: I care deeply about making beautiful photographs, and I spend a lot of time thinking about what makes an image work. And then when it's time for me to present these images to you, I take my time to consider what I want to say and how I want to say it, trying to be calm and professional, and to really craft my words to fit the picture. But, I have to admit, sometimes instead of describing a moment or talking about composition and depth of field, I just want to hit the caps lock button and shout "LOOK AT HOW BEAUTIFUL MY BABY IS! LOOK!"

This is one of those days.  PEOPLE.  LOOK!