Why I Love San Francisco's Crissy Field + Baby Bradley Turns 1!

I have a couple of special things happening here. First -- mini sessions are nearly sold out, and I'm so happy I'll be reunited with families from last year, as well as meeting new faces! Some slots are available for the incredible, colorful, family friendly Hayes Valley, but Crissy Field is sold out. If you're still interested, let me know and I will open up a new date. stephanie@marilee.co

This brings me to the other special thing -- one of my newborns turned 1 year old! Proud parents Grace Ann and Brad brought baby Bradley to play in the late afternoon sunshine, and I was bewildered to see him walking (even chasing me!) in the blink of an eye. There is such joy from behind the camera over this past year. Thanks G&B for inviting me to cover his first year! 

If you've never visited Crissy Field before, you'll see amazing views of the San Francisco Bay, but the most prominent part of your view will be the Golden Gate Bridge. Crissy Field used to be a former U.S. Army airfield until 1974. Residents now enjoy a huge stretch of grassy field right along the water. 

We met & hung out by the Warming Hut for a few reasons: 1) great parking, 2) there's a pier! 3) beautiful proximity to Golden Gate Bridge and the downtown skyline, 4) lots of grassy fields, 5) tree line to create some shade when needed, 6) there's a little beach! All this is within stumbling distance, so it was great for baby Bradley to roam around. So if you've booked a mini session with me, you'll get to see some of these scenes. 

Here are a few of my faves! Enjoy.

How to Choose Your Wardrobe For a Family Photo Shoot

Have you ever heard of Awkward Family Photos? As much as I love the laughs, let's not land in volume 2.0, ok? :)  

When looking through your family's closets or shopping, keep these 5 tips in mind:

1) Choose a family of colors and textures, not a single shade or pattern
I absolutely looooove this family's style (see gallery below). We went for pink, but you'll see a variety of shades and brightness. We've got blush, coral, patterns and neutrals mixed together, showcasing unity between unique individuals. Some tops have patterns, some are solids, and some have texture. 


2) Add contrast with your background
My easy little formula -- if we have neutral backgrounds, we're adding great color to the wardrobe. If we're working with busy or very colorful backgrounds, we're going for neutral colored clothing. Contrast is the key... unless you're Zach Braff in Garden State. Then it's awesome. 

3) Don't be matchy matchy
I know it must be tempting to buy 4 matching sailor shirts for your kids -- my siblings have THAT photo! It might be cute, but it's not timeless. In a few decades from now, your kids will be happy to see their unique personalities early on in life. Gravitate toward relationships instead of duplicates. 

4) When in doubt, dress UP
It's easy to go casual, because everyone has tshirts and jeans, but when you're doing a family photo shoot, you will never regret wearing the dress or the button up shirt. Wear something that moves well in the wind and gives you confidence, because these photos are special and will last a lifetime. Wardrobe should reflect that as best as you can. Wear the nice watch. Put on the good shoes. And dazzle in the special occasion earrings.

5) Above all else, the clothes must fit the body
Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. When I was young, I used to hide under sweatshirts and baggy pants (don't ask for pictures, because I burned them all). Not matter what size you are, put something on your body that feels comfortable and fits well. Try to get the right waist and length for pants. 

I had an amazing time capturing the laughter and clear abundance of love in this family in their new home. The children have grown before my own eyes, and their moms have done an incredible job raising vibrant, happy kiddos. Luckily, the extended family was in town and it was definitely a party in front of my camera. :) Here are a few of my favorite shots.

5 At-Home Props & Backgrounds You Already Own for Newborn Photo Shoots

Looking for newborn props and backgrounds that you already own? If you don't have time to shop for props to use during your upcoming newborn shoot, have no fear, because you shouldn't have to.

Although I travel with a full box of wraps, baskets, blankets and wardrobes for my newborns, I always encourage mom & dads to include items that are sentimental and scenes that showcase baby's first home. Sure, we can always use photographer-supplied fuzzy white rug and cute hats, but something I like to do for at-home props/backgrounds are the following for each unique family shoot (photo gallery below): 

1) Your awesome couch and home-made blankets
Baby's going to be spending a ton of time on this couch. Whether it's grey, brown, teal, or deep blue like Maceo's, we just need a small, clean area to use as a background. When the photo ends up on the wall, it will match the decor. :) Another popular background for your baby's solo portraits include knitted blankets made by someone important in baby's life, often grandparents or aunties and uncles. These photos end up being wonderful for gifts to said family member, and the blankets may even end up being very special to baby as she/he grows. 

2) Nursery decor
Example -- grab a decorated upper-case letter to place next to baby. Their initials stick with them for life, and also work wonders for a size comparison. How big will Maceo be next to his big "M" in a year?

3) Stuffed animal that can do tummy time
The best stuffed animals for baby photos are ones that can lay flat and be positioned with loose limbs, since baby will be on his/her back. If you can prop the stuffed animal to do tummy time alongside baby doing the same pose, you'll be able to get a cute picture with the same stuffed animal you used in the newborn shoot! Baby should be strong enough for this somewhere between 2-4 months. Example:

4) Your favorite childhood book
If you have a book that meant something to you when you were a child, read it to your baby during photos. It's a unique and easy way to showcase your family's latest generation. If you don't have any of your own childhood books, pick something you'd love to introduce to baby one day. During our shoot, you'll really read the book, and it will be so special. I often get the most genuine photos from this time. Example: 

5) Play a music instrument
If mom or dad plays the piano, ukulele, guitar, this can double as an amazing prop AND a soothing sound for a fussy baby. Even if you only know a few chords, this will end up being really special. If you don't have any music instruments, putting on some tunes during the shoot will help the mood, give your baby bouncing some rhythm, and provide some smiles when mom & dad sing along.

Thanks for reading! Here are some excellent shots of baby Maceo and his parents using special props, blankets and backgrounds that showcase textures from his first home in San Francisco.