Cheryl Bigman Photography: Blog https://www.cherylbigman.com/blog en-us Copyright (C) 2021 Cheryl Bigman Photography. All rights reserved. cheryl@cherylbigman.com (Cheryl Bigman Photography) Wed, 25 Nov 2020 19:14:00 GMT Wed, 25 Nov 2020 19:14:00 GMT https://www.cherylbigman.com/img/s/v-12/u56933787-o1009040391-50.jpg Cheryl Bigman Photography: Blog https://www.cherylbigman.com/blog 80 120 Got Kids Coming Home from College for the Holidays? https://www.cherylbigman.com/blog/2020/11/got-kids-coming-home-from-college-for-the-holidays Got Kids Coming Home from College for Winter Break?

Planning to Travel Anywhere for the Holidays?

Inviting Family & Friends over for Thanksgiving?

 

Little Girl Tossing Fall LeavesLittle-Girl-Tossing-Fall-LeavesLittle girl anticipating the joy of tossing fall leaves into the air right before Thanksgiving.

 

It's the day before Thanksgiving. Most colleges are starting Winter Break this week. I've already seen many of your posts on social, SO excited to have your kids back home for the holidays. I honestly thought I would be right there with you!

A couple of weeks ago, I asked my doctor how to safely have my daughter (yep, that's my girl ~12 years ago) back in my home after being at college, going through 2 airports, and sitting on a plane for 6 hours. Here is what she said. Take what you need and do what you feel is best for your family.

 

Protocol for Kids Coming Home from College

From my doctor...

"Safe family gatherings do get complicated in the time of Coronavirus.

The ideal plan would be for her (my daughter) to quarantine for the 14 days before she comes home.  And then wear her N95 on the airplane, no eating while on the flight, hand sanitizer etc. Bring an insulated tumbler with a hard straw that she can fill up with water after she is through security so she can sip water by slipping the straw under the mask if she needs to hydrate.   Her apartment mate should also be extremely careful during those 14 days since they live together. Do they work from home or will they have to go into work? If they have to go to work outside the home then they should be masked 100 % of the time and not be around anyone who is not masked and  keep social distance.. 

She can do a COVID  Nasal Swab 3-4 days before she leaves Michigan, so she has the results before she gets on the airplane.

When she first gets home I would advise both of you to wear masks in all common areas . Have her use a separate bathroom if available. Weather permitting eat outside.

Then she can retest after she is home for 4-5 days. Schedule an appointment for her well in advance. After her 2nd COVID test comes back negative then you can be fairly confident that you are safe to be around her without a mask.  

For visiting  your parents, having her wait 14 days after she arrives would be safest."

(Add another COVID test before getting on the plane back to Michigan. And possibly and fourth test 4-5 days after returning.)

 

Our Decision

If you've listened to the news lately, you know about the recent (and predicted) surge in COVID cases, and the recommendations not to travel for the holidays this year. But when it comes to our own kids, the thought of not having them home for the holidays is heartbreaking, and unfathomable!

My daughter and I agonized over whether or not she should come home from Michigan. I have not seen her in a year. We've NEVER gone this long without seeing each other. I miss her terribly. Her grandparents miss her terribly.

After a long tearful video chat, we both decided it wasn't worth the risk. I'm gutted. But I keep telling myself this is temporary. Vaccines are coming. And eventually, we will feel safe to travel again.

 

IMG_3811IMG_3811

 

Do What is Right for You

I'm not one to be preachy. I realize many of your kids have plans to come home or are already here. So please do what feels right for you and your family. But take precautions. This surge is no joke. Our college kids are the "wild cards" in our families. I know I would feel horrible if my daughter or I unknowingly exposed anyone to this nasty virus.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on all of this in the comments. No judgement. But I'm sure I'm not the only college parent thinking about this!

 

Wishing you all a healthy and safe Thanksgiving!

 

Much love,

Cheryl

 

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cheryl@cherylbigman.com (Cheryl Bigman Photography) college kids coming home college kids coronavirus college kids covid coming home from college coronavirus surge covid surge Real Life - Personal Stories safe holidays safe travel thanksgiving 2020 https://www.cherylbigman.com/blog/2020/11/got-kids-coming-home-from-college-for-the-holidays Wed, 25 Nov 2020 19:15:18 GMT
My Heart Attack Story - Lessons Learned https://www.cherylbigman.com/blog/2020/9/my-heart-attack-story---lessons-learned "You're a healthy, young 57-year old woman with no risk factors. Your EKG is NORMAL. You are NOT having a heart attack."

Those were the words a paramedic said to me on the way to the hospital on Sunday, September 6, 2020.

Here's the rest of the story...

My-Heart-Attack-StoryMy-Heart-Attack-StoryMy heart attack story at 57 years old due to coronary spasm (prinzmetal angina).

 

Photographing a Bar Mitzvah!

As an Event Photographer during a time when most big events have been cancelled due to COVID, I was ECSTATIC to spend my Labor Day weekend photographing a Bar Mitzvah. It was outdoors with just close family and friends in Los Gatos, CA on one of the hottest days of the year.

Outdoor-Bar-Mitzvah-During-CovidOutdoor-Bar-Mitzvah-During-CovidAn outdoor Bar Mitzvah with close friends and family during the time of COVID. By San Francisco Bay Area Photographer Cheryl Bigman.

About an hour in, I began having chest pains. I just had an EKG & Echocardiogram a few weeks prior - ALL NORMAL - so thought it was probably from the extreme heat. Plus, I just lost ~20 lbs!

But as the day went on, the chest pain and pressure became more intense, and began radiating into my neck, jaw, and down both arms. "Crushing" is such an appropriate description. I got a hotel room to cool off and rest before the evening celebration and felt a little better, but as soon as I left the room, the symptoms came back.

 

Denial

I somehow managed to make it through the event and drove myself back home (about an hour). Still not convinced I was in trouble, I took a shower and went to bed. Stupid.

The next morning, I still felt off and knew something was very wrong. I googled all my symptoms over and over again, and finally called 911. Paramedics immediately hooked me up to an EKG and told me all looked normal, and I was NOT having a heart attack. They gave me baby aspirin and Nitroglycerin spray 3x, and the chest pain subsided.

 

IMG_0826My-Hospital-Stay-Coronary-SpasmMy hospital stay after suffering a heart attack due to coronary spasm at 57 years old.

 

The ER

Once I got to the ER, things moved rather quickly. I have to mention - the paramedics told the ER admitting staff that my EKG was normal, and half-jokingly mentioned I used WebMD to look up my symptoms!

The ER doc ran labs & EKG again, and told me my heart enzymes were VERY ABNORMAL.

Troponin - the measure of damage after a heart attack - is normally < 0.5 ng/ML. Mine was 14.9! My EKG only showed a subtle abnormality.


Then came the words I'll never forget...

YOU ARE HAVING A HEART ATTACK.

You are being admitted.

We are taking you to the cath lab for an angiogram.

We will probably find at least one blockage and place a stint to fix it.

 

A swarm of people began prepping me en route to the lab, and even attached the "paddles" in case things went south. I've never been so scared in my life!

What they found was a Coronary Spasm (click on the link to learn more) in a small branch of arteries that cut off blood flow to my heart.

No other blockages found. Injected Nitroglycerin directly into the cath, the spasm relaxed, and the blood started flowing again. Crazy!

 

Hospital-Room-View-My-Heart-AttackHospital-Room-View-My-Heart-AttackView from my hospital room after heart attack at 57 years old from coronary spasm.

 

After 2 days in the hospital, I came home a bit battered and bruised, but physically ok. And feeling lucky to still be here!

 

When Your Dad Cries, You Know...

I think I finally realized the gravity of the situation when my father came over to visit. While hugging him goodbye, he broke down in tears. My father - the hard-ass, disciplinarian, perfectionist I grew up with. Turns out he is the most sensitive, caring, man I know.

 

The Mental Game

I've since learned that Coronary Spasm (also called Prinzmetal Angina or Vasospastic Angina) is rare and chronic, not a one-off event as I initially thought. Still not even sure this is what I have, but I'll know more soon.

While ok physically, the mental game is a different story. It was one of those "That will never happen to me" moments.

At first, I just couldn't process it. Didn't want to talk about it. Didn't want to write about it. Didn't want to think about it. Just wanted to go back to "normal".

After a week of rest, I've finally started coming to terms with the fact that I had a life-threatening event. A trauma. And I need to deal with it. I decided to share my experience publicly with the sole intent of possibly helping someone else prevent a disaster. The outpouring of concern and gratitude was overwhelming.

 

Cardiac Blues

I know I am not alone with feelings of fear and uncertainty after experiencing a heart attack. "Cardiac Blues" is an actual thing. For some great info/resources on Cardiac Blues, click this link - Australian Centre for Heart Health .

Here are Normal Reactions to a Cardiac Event:

  • Shock
  • Denial
  • Worry
  • Guilt
  • Anger
  • Sadness
  • Relief


For Women - Heart Disease is the #1 Killer

We don't want to leave our responsibilities, we tend to dismiss our symptoms, and we delay getting treatment. I was actually cleaning up the house and paying bills before I finally called 911! What the hell???

And sometimes, even medical staff dismiss our symptoms. I'll never forget that paramedic making light of the fact that I googled my symptoms on WebMD before calling 911.

 

Here's a few things I've learned:

  • Heart attacks are not always text book pain on the left side only. Mine was in the center of my chest and bilateral down both of my arms.
  • Heart attacks are not always caused by blockages of plaque in the arteries (atherosclerosis). Coronary Spasm is a chronic condition that occurs in only 2% of people with angina (heart pain). Most never know they have it unless it causes heart symptoms or worse like mine, a heart attack!
  • Symptoms of heart attack in women can be VERY different than men, sometimes with no pain at all.
  • Women are more likely to delay going the ER than men which can be deadly.

 

What Does this Mean for the Rest of My Life?

I still have SO many questions about how this is going to affect my life going forward. I've always believed in living life with no regrets, yet here I am, not knowing if I can still do all of the things I love to do, and pursue all of the dreams still left to pursue.

I had plans to start taking small groups on safari in Africa. My personal lifelong dream has always been to spend time with the mountain gorillas in Uganda. Gorilla trekking trips are strenuous. I've been putting it off, and then COVID hit, and now this. Am I too late???

These are the thoughts running around in my head. For now, all I can do is learn as much as possible about what I have. This week I have follow-up appointments with my cardiologist and have my list of questions ready. My number one goal is to get back to an active, healthy lifestyle. I can tell you for sure, I will never take my health for granted again!

 

Have You Experienced a Heart Attack or Other Life-threatening Event?

Do You or Someone You Know have Coronary Spasm?

Please leave a Comment here about your experience. Coronary Spasm is rare, and I would love to connect with anyone else who has it.

 

Subscribe

I will continue to update you on this personal story, along with my regular photography content. If you'd like to make sure you don't miss an update, please Subscribe by entering your email in the Subscribe Box at the top of this post. The Blog will be delivered right to your inbox.

Much love,

Cheryl

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cheryl@cherylbigman.com (Cheryl Bigman Photography) cardiac blues coronary spasm heart attack in women heart attack story life after heart attack mental health after heart attack prinzmetal prinzmetal angina vasospastic angina https://www.cherylbigman.com/blog/2020/9/my-heart-attack-story---lessons-learned Sun, 13 Sep 2020 23:20:35 GMT
How to Make your Virtual Special Event a Success - My Experience Photographing a Zoom Bar Mitzvah https://www.cherylbigman.com/blog/2020/7/how-to-make-your-virtual-special-event-a-success-tips-from-a-zoom-bar-mitzvah To Zoom or Not to Zoom Your Special Event?

Zoom-Bar-Mitzvah-Family-CelebrationZoom-Bar-Mitzvah-Family-CelebrationA family interacting with their virtual guests while live-streaming their zoom bar mitzvah. Captured candid moment by San Francisco Bay Area photographer Cheryl Bigman.

If you have a Bar or Bat Mitzvah, Wedding, or other special event scheduled this year, you may be asking yourself,

"Should I pivot to a virtual event or postpone?"

While at first it may seem disappointing to "settle" for a virtual event, the idea of postponing until next year brings a whole other set of questions:

  • Will family and friends feel comfortable coming to our big celebration with 100+ guests by next year?
  • How do we even know how far out to postpone?
  • Will we still be able to use our same venue, photographer, DJ, and other vendors on our new date? And what happens if we have to postpone again?
  • How important is it to us to have a big party?

For Bar & Bat Mitzvahs:

  • Will my child still be excited to have their Mitzvah next year after all the months of preparation?
  • Will they feel like they are "too old" by next year?

 

As a San Francisco Bay Area Event Photographer, I've had numerous conversations about this with my own Bar/Bat Mitzvah and Wedding clients. To be honest, at first I had mixed feelings about pivoting to virtual events. But it wasn't until I actually got to photograph my first Zoom Mitzvah that I realized what a great choice virtual events can be!

 

Max's Zoom Bar Mitzvah!

I photographed Max's Zoom Bar Mitzvah in June 2020 - and it was AMAZING!

In fact, it was intimate, emotional, and every bit as meaningful as the 100's of traditional Mitzvahs I've photographed.

Virtual-Zoom-Bar-Mitzvah-ServiceVirtual-Zoom-Bar-Mitzvah-ServiceProud family watches their son become a Bar Mitzvah during his virtual zoom Bar Mitzvah.

I documented his special day in my usual storytelling style. The story may have been different than originally planned, but the feelings were exactly the same.

Happy-Tears-for-the-Bar-Mitzvah-BoyHappy-Tears-for-the-Bar-Mitzvah-BoyMom gets emotional with tears of joy during a proud moment at her son's virtual zoom Bar Mitzvah. By Cheryl Bigman Photography.

Zoom-Bar-Mitzvah-Family-MomentZoom-Bar-Mitzvah-Family-MomentA Bar Mitzvah boy is surrounded by his loving family as they interact with their virtual guests during his zoom Bat Mitzvah.

And now I get to share my experience and helpful tips with all of you! Here's how our day went:

Photography Timeline for the Day:

Before the Service - Zoom Test with Clergy, Lighting/Sound Check, Photograph Decor/Details, Candid Getting Ready Shots

The Service - Very much like a synagogue service with all the same candid moments of Max and his family

After the Service - Zoom guests "unmuted" to say Mazel Tov, candids, great reaction shots!

Family Portraits - In a shaded area of the front yard! (Could also be done before the service for better light.)

Themed Photo Shoot - Max's theme was basketball, so of course, we had to create some cool street photography of him doing his thing in his favorite hoodie and Jordans! Made his day even more special!

Luncheon Candids

 

Tips for a Successful Zoom Event

Creating "All the Feels"

Invitation

Create a paper or electronic invitation announcing the change to a virtual event with date, time, and instructions on how to join. Send reminder the day before. Here are some great examples: https://www.mitzvahmarket.com/mitzvah-ideas/how-to-word-bar-bat-mitzvah-postponement-cards/

 

Decor

Use decor inside and outside your home with a theme just like you would for a traditional event. If you don't have time, an event planner can help you.

Bar-Mitzvah-Decor-Basketball-ThemeBar-Mitzvah-Decor-Basketball-ThemeBasketball themed Bar Mitzvah decor for a virtual zoom event held inside the family home. Photographed by Cheryl Bigman Photography.

Basketball-Cake-Pops-Treats-Bar-Mitzvah-DecorBasketball-Cake-Pops-Treats-Bar-Mitzvah-Decor

Basketball-Theme-Table-Decor-Bar-MitzvahBasketball-Theme-Table-Decor-Bar-MitzvahTable decorations for a basketball themed Bar Mitzvah using childhood photos. Photographed at a virtual stay at home zoom event by Cheryl Bigman Photography.

Bar-Mitzvah-Boy-after-his-Virtual-Zoom-ServiceBar-Mitzvah-Boy-after-his-Virtual-Zoom-ServiceCOVID-19 didn't stop this Bar Mitzvah boy from celebrating his big day with a virtual zoom Bar Mitzvah at his home. Balloon letter decor added to the celebration.

 

A Few Live Guests

Invite just a few close family members to be there live - SAFELY- if you're comfortable. Personal choice.

 

Special Touches

  • Gift Bags - Send to family & friends with mini-challahs, custom/themed kippahs, candy to throw, & signs to hold up.
  • Mazel Tov/Congrats Signs - Send guests a Google or Word doc with Signs they can print out themselves to hold up at the end of the Mitzvah.
  • Candy Throw - Tell guests to throw candy at their screens when prompted.
  • Micro-Hora - Whoever's there lifts the chair! Prep some traditional Hora music to play.
  • Video Montage - Play it for your virtual guests by screen sharing in Zoom.
  • Special Calls - Arrange private video or voice calls with special family and friends to "socialize".
  • Themed Photo Shoot - A talent, hobby, sport, favorite outfit change, or anything your Bar/Bat Mitzvah is into!

*** Prep your virtual guests in the invite with anything special you'd like them to do.

 

The Candy Throw and Mazel Tov Signs

Virtual-Bar-Mitzvah-Candy-ThrowVirtual-Bar-Mitzvah-Candy-ThrowA boy is surprised when all of his virtual guests throw candy to say congrats at the end of his zoom Bar Mitzvah. Zoom-Bar-Mitzvah-Congrats-SignsZoom-Bar-Mitzvah-Congrats-SignsA family holds up congrats signs at the end of a zoom virtual Bar Mitzvah along with all the virtual guests.

 

Zoom Guest Congrats

At the end of the service, unmute virtual guests so everyone can say congrats!

Zoom-Bar-Mitzvah-FamilyZoom-Bar-Mitzvah-FamilyA boy and his family interacting with all of his virtual guests during his zoom Bar Mitzvah. By Cheryl Bigman Photography.

Virtual-Bar-Mitzvah-Family-HelloVirtual-Bar-Mitzvah-Family-HelloA family says hello to all of their virtual guests while celebrating their son's zoom Bar Mitzvah.

 

Themed Photo Shoot

Max's favorite part of the day was changing into his hoodie and Jordans, and doing a basketball-themed photo shoot!

Basketball-Boy-Street-PhotoBasketball-Boy-Street-PhotoStreet photography of a boy playing basketball in his hoodie and Jordans. By Cheryl Bigman Photography.

Dribble-that-Basketball-Street-PhotoDribble-that-Basketball-Street-PhotoStreet photography of a boy dribbling a basketball in his hoodie and Jordans. By Cheryl Bigman Photography.

 

Lunch or Dinner

Order your favorite Take-Out, make a favorite homemade dessert, and do NOT forget this... It's my favorite challah in the San Francisco Bay Area from Woodside Bakery and Cafe in Menlo Park.

Giant-Frosted-Challah-with-Rainbow-SprinklesGiant-Frosted-Challah-with-Rainbow-SprinklesGiant frosted challah bread prepared for a stay-at-home Bar Mitzvah from Woodside Bakery and Cafe in Menlo Park, CA. Photo taken during a virtual zoom Bar Mitzvah by Cheryl Bigman Photography.

 

For Fun

Movie Night, Game Night, Dessert-Making Contest, and if you're comfortable, outdoor Socially Distanced Get-Together with a small group of family or friends.

 

 

The Techie Side

 

Stay-at-Home-Zoom-Bar-MitzvahStay-at-Home-Zoom-Bar-MitzvahA zoom bar mitzvah service at home with a small group of close family. Photographed by San Francisco Bay Area photographer Cheryl Bigman.

Designate a Zoom Manager

The last thing you want is to accidentally hear a Zoom guest's private conversation, or worse yet, see them doing something inappropriate! Appoint a friend or family member to manage your Zoom experience from their own laptop. Your synagogue, church, or DJ may do this for you. The Zoom Manager should:

  • Set up your Zoom event with security controls to prevent "Zoom-bombing" - just Google it for details, it's not hard :)
  • Explain Zoom rules to guests before the service starts.
  • Mute and unmute Zoom guests as appropriate - Ex. If a Zoom guest is participating in the service.

 

The Setup

This is a two-light setup with extra fill from a window. I recommend turning OFF overhead lighting.

Virtual-Bar-Mitzvah-SetupVirtual-Bar-Mitzvah-SetupA virtual zoom Bar Mitzvah with a few close family members in person and the rest on zoom. Ring light, desk lamp, and usb microphone help to make everyone look and sound their best. Custom kippahs go with the basketball theme.

Laptop

Position your laptop so the camera is at eye level or higher for the most flattering angle. You can see in the above photo how the laptop is on a few upside-down baskets.

 

Lighting... is EVERYTHING

Adequate lighting is the key to looking good on the other end of a Zoom event.

Here are some great light sources:

  • Natural Window Light - Face a large window with open-shaded light, not direct sunlight. North-facing is ideal. If it's too bright, consider hanging a light sheer drapery or bed sheet over the window to soften the light.
  • Desk Lamp or Table Lamp with shade off - These can work great, but I tend to use as a 2nd light source.
  • LED Ring Lights - Great option for even lighting and come in a wide range of prices. 

Key Features to Look for in LED Ring Lights:

  • Adjustable Brightness - dimmable lights give you more control
  • Adjustable Temperature (or filters) -  warm, natural, and cool skin tones
  • AC Power (vs. USB) - gives you more power
  • Tall adjustable light stand - most come with a stand, but make sure it's tall enough to light your face when you're standing
  • Swivel/Tilt head - gives you more options to creatively light yourselves, not just straight on.

 

Here are some Ring Light options with great reviews:

Good Quality

Neewer 18-inch SMD LED Ring Light Dimmable Lighting Kit with 78.7-inch Light Stand, Filter and Hot Shoe Adapter for Camera Photo Studio LED Lighting Portrait YouTube Video Shooting - Neewer is a well-known reliable brand and offers a whole line of ring lights.

 

Less Expensive, but Still Great Features

EICAUS 10” Ring Light with Stand and Phone Holder, Cell Phone Tripod with Ring light for Live Streaming/Makeup/Photography, Compatible with Phones and Cameras(Black)


 

 

Lighting Setups

The goal is to make sure everyone in front of the Zoom camera is evenly lit. Experiment with different setups to see what works best in your environment at the exact same time of day as your event. Here are some examples of One-Light and Two-Light Setups.

One-Light Setups:

  1. BIG window facing you with even soft light. Diffuse with a sheer panel if needed.
  2. One large LED Ring Light (14" or larger) either just to the side of your laptop at eye level OR above your laptop and pointed down slightly (works great if you need to reduce eyeglass reflections too).

 

Two-Light Setups:

Set up one light ~45° to the left and the other ~45° to the right of where you will be standing.

  1. Two LED Ring Lights
  2. One LED Ring Light, One Desk lamp or Table lamp with shade off
  3. One LED Ring Light, One big window

 

Pro Lighting Tips:

  • Do NOT have your back to a window! You will turn into a shadow.
  • Avoid direct overhead lighting. It's unflattering and can create wacky skin tones. THIS is the one thing I would have changed in Max's setup.
  • Match temperature - When using Two-Light Setups, try to match the temperature if possible. Many ring lights have a few temp settings. Ex. If you're using a tungsten table lamp, it will give you warm skin tones so adjust your ring light to a warmer setting to match the temp.
  • Stand back a bit from your laptop camera. The light emitted from your laptop is usually much cooler than your other light sources, and will cause whoever is right in front of it to have a cooler skin tone than everyone else.
  • Bounce! - Another light source - If you have a light colored wall facing you, either white or grey, use it as a reflector by pointing a light source such as a desk lamp directly at the wall. Soft light will "bounce" back onto your faces!

 

Sound

Laptop Built-in Microphone vs. External Microphone

While your laptop has a built-in microphone, and Zoom does a decent job adjusting that sound, the quality is not nearly as good as an external microphone. Zoom gives you the option to use an external mic.

The easiest to use are USB microphones that connect directly to your laptop. You can attach what's called a "Microphone Windscreen" or "Pop Filter" to eliminate or reduce that annoying noise "P' sounds make in the microphone (called "plosives").

Popular USB External Microphones:

Blue Yeti USB Mic

 

Foam Microphone Windscreen for Blue Yeti - Aedor Quality Sponge Mic Cover as a pop filter for Blue Yeti

 

Audio-Technica ATR2100x-USB Cardioid Dynamic Microphone (ATR Series) - I use this one for my own Zoom meetings, currently less expensive than the Blue Yeti

 

Studio Microphone Mic Wind Screen Pop Filter/ Swivel Mount,360° Flexible Gooseneck Holder

 

Do a Test Run!

  • Well in advance of your big day, do a test run with Zoom and all of your equipment. Make adjustments as needed.
  • Mark the exact spot(s) for placing lights and microphone with blue painter's tape.

 

Family Portraits

Just like a traditional Mitzvah, it's important to take time either before or after the service for professional family portraits, even if it's just your immediate family. We kept it simple by finding the best spot in the front yard for all of Max's portraits.

 

Bar-Mitzvah-Boy-in-BlueBar-Mitzvah-Boy-in-BluePortrait of a Bar Mitzvah boy after his virtual zoom bar mitzvah by Cheryl Bigman Photography.

Bar-Mitzvah-Family-PortraitBar-Mitzvah-Family-PortraitFamily portrait taken after a virtual zoom Bar Mitzvah service at the family home by Cheryl Bigman Photography. Bar-Mitzvah-Boy-and-GrandparentsBar-Mitzvah-Boy-and-GrandparentsProud grandparents hug for a family portrait after their grandson's virtual zoom Bar Mitzvah. By Cheryl Bigman Photography. Family-Portrait-after-Zoom-Bar-MitzvahFamily-Portrait-after-Zoom-Bar-MitzvahA Bar Mitzvah boy surrounded by his extended family celebrating after his virtual zoom Bar Mitzvah. Family portrait by Cheryl Bigman Photography. Bar-Mitzvah-Boy-and-his-CousinsBar-Mitzvah-Boy-and-his-CousinsFamily portrait of a Bar Mitzvah boy and his adorable cousins. Taken after his virtual zoom Bar Mitzvah by Cheryl Bigman Photography. Bar-Mitzvah-Boy-and-his-MomBar-Mitzvah-Boy-and-his-MomMom giving her boy a big hug after his virtual zoom Bar Mitzvah. By San Francisco Bay Area Bar Mitzvah photographer Cheryl Bigman.

 

Is a Virtual Event Right for You?

If you decide a Virtual Event is for you, I hope you now feel reassured that your event will still be just as special, and you find this Blog helpful as you plan all the details. If you know anyone who's planning a virtual event, please feel free to share this Blog with them.

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to reach out in the comments. And if you have any experience planning or attending a virtual event, please share with the rest of us!

 

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Cheryl

 

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cheryl@cherylbigman.com (Cheryl Bigman Photography) Bar & Bat Mitzvahs bar mitzvah photographer bar mitzvah photography cheryl bigman photography hosting a zoom event photography blog recommended external microphones for zoom recommended ring lights for zoom san francisco bay area bar mitzvah photographer san francisco bay area photographer virtual bar mitzvah virtual bat mitzvah virtual event tips virtual wedding zoom bar mitzvah zoom bat mitzvah zoom lighting tips zoom sound tips zoom tips zoom wedding https://www.cherylbigman.com/blog/2020/7/how-to-make-your-virtual-special-event-a-success-tips-from-a-zoom-bar-mitzvah Wed, 15 Jul 2020 16:00:00 GMT
Photographing Sunflowers near the San Francisco Bay Area - Tips & Tricks https://www.cherylbigman.com/blog/2020/6/photographing-sunflowers-near-the-san-francisco-bay-area-tips-and-tricks Photographing Sunflowers - Tips, Tricks, & Pics

Photographing fields of sunflowers in Northern California has been on my bucket list for a LONG time! But personal projects always seem to take a back seat. Can you relate?

Being a full-time Family, Senior Portrait, Bar & Bat Mitzvah, and Wedding Photographer here in the San Francisco Bay Area doesn't leave a lot of free time, but with all the recent changes in the event industry, personal projects have become my therapy.

SOOOOO, last weekend on Father's Day, I invited my dad (a photography enthusiast himself) to check off that bucket list item, and join me on a photo shoot in the sunflowers.

Sunflower-Field-Fisheye-ViewSunflower-Field-Fisheye-ViewA sunflower field at sunset with a different view. Photography tip - Use a fisheye lens to give a unique, artistic, look to your landscape photography. Try tipping the fisheye lens at different angles for even more creative fun. Use elements such as these two trees for added interest.

 

The Key to Great Sunflower Photos

Catching sunflower fields at their peak is the key to great photos. Selecting a location for our shoot took a lot of googling and searching through Instagram and Facebook. I finally selected M3 Ranches (also called Muller Ranch) in Woodland, CA.

After our shoot, I realized just how tricky photographing the fields can be. And now, you get the benefit of my experience!

Here are my top Tips & Tricks with example photos to help you get the best possible sunflower shots.

Sunflower-Panoramic-Woodland-CASunflower-Panoramic-Woodland-CAPanoramic crop of a sunflower field in Woodland, CA. Photography tip - when the sky is too bright, shoot low and fill the frame with our subject. The crop as a panoramic.

 

General Tips for Photographing Sunflowers

  • Ask permission from ranch owners whenever possible.
  • Always be respectful of their private property.
  • Bring extra shoes or rain boots - Fields can be muddy from irrigation.
  • It's HOT! Sunflowers love the heat. Bring a cooler with water, wear a hat, etc...
  • Bees - Sunflower farmers need bees to pollinate the fields which means bee hives. They are less active at sunrise & sunset. They don't bother you if you don't bother them.
  • Mosquitos - Bring insect repellent. After sunset, these guys are pesky!

 

Where to Find Sunflowers:

Yolo County is the place to be! Here are a few of the best sunflower fields.

M3 Ranches (Muller Ranch) - Woodland, CA - Great trees in the middle of the field at sunset. A bit off-the-beaten-path. Check their Facebook page for sunflower updates and dm them for permission.

Here are the exact coordinates on Google Maps to take you right there: https://goo.gl/maps/wJb5jFD8fvs62LSSA
 

Dixon, CA - 8747 Currey Rd, Dixon, CA 95620 - Check online for reviews first as I read this field was cut down early this year. But photos look amazing!

UC Davis - I've read you'll find sunflower fields driving on the outskirts of UC Davis.

 

When to Go:

July is typically when sunflowers peak in Yolo County. But this year, M3 Ranches planted early, so mid-June was ideal. Keep checking websites as peaks vary year-to-year.

 

Time of Day:

SUNSET! Colors pop, flowers are backlit, and fewer bees. Midday light is way too harsh. We arrived an hour before sunset to shoot close-ups and details until the light softened.

Sunflower Trivia (and photography tip) - Did you know sunflowers follow the sun? They actually face the direction of the sun... until sunset that is. That's when they turn back away from the sun, waiting for it to come up again the next morning. And that's why you see them facing the camera in these shots!

Backlit-Sunflower-Field-at-Dusk-Woodland-CABacklit-Sunflower-Field-at-Dusk-Woodland-CASunflowers turning away from the sun as it sets behind them. 3M Ranches in Woodland, CA has the perfect sunflower field for creating backlit shots at sunset with the benefit of trees for added interest. Photography tip - use a wide angle lens to capture the vastness of the scene in a large landscape photo like this.

 

Photography Tips for Shooting Sunflowers

Gear I used:

Camera - Canon 5D MkIII

Lenses - 16-35, 24-70, 70-200, Fisheye (and if you like super close-up shots with bees, bring a Macro lens!)

Tripod - Gitzo

Nice to Have - ND (Neutral Density) and/or Polarizing filter. I did not use filters, but with bright backlight in a cloudless sky, would be very useful.

Wish I Had - Ladder! Forgot to bring one. With tall sunflowers, would have been cool to get a higher perspective. Over the head works if you're not vertically challenged like me!

 

How to Shoot:

  • Go for Variety
  • Tight shots of small groups of flowers, play with composition
  • Closeups of individual flowers
  • Shoot Low & Fill the Frame - especially when the sky is still bright and boring
  • Wide Shots - Once the sun gets low on the horizon, go WIDE, use other elements to add to your composition (trees, buildings, fences, etc...), envision a panoramic crop
  • Starburst - When the sun is partially obstructed by trees or sunflowers, this is your opportunity to add a cool starburst to your composition. F/11 is the ticket, shooting directly into the sun
  • Look at the Sky - If you have a cloudless, bright sky, turn around and see where the best colors are as the sun sets. It may not be right in front of you. Adjust your position to have the best possible sky, and still get the sunflowers in the shot the way you want.
  • Don't Leave Too Early! - Tripods allow you to shoot when it gets darker using slower shutter speeds. Your best shots will be from the time the sun sets to when the sky dims and better matches the light on the sunflowers. All of my sunset pictures taken on a tripod were at ISO 100, F/11, with shutter speeds from 1/60 to 10 seconds
  • Rule of Thirds - Compose your shots so horizon is on a third, and any additional elements are on a third (where lines intersect). And sometimes, it's ok to break the rule!

                                 RuleofThirdsGraphicRuleofThirdsGraphic

  • Fisheye Fun! - If you have this lens, go for it! Play with tipping the lens up and down vertically for different looks. Very cool.

 

Here are some examples:

Tight Shots, Playing with Composition

Sunny-Sunflowers-Woodland-CASunny-Sunflowers-Woodland-CAComposing photos of sunflowers in a large field can be challenging, but this stalk of flowers had the perfect artistic composition. Get low with your camera when the sky is bright and fill the frame with the flowers.

 

Wide Shot - Panoramic Crop

Panoramic-Sunflower-Field-at-SunsetPanoramic-Sunflower-Field-at-SunsetA wide angle landscape photo of a sunflower field at sunset with a panoramic crop. 3M Ranches in Woodland, CA is the perfect place to capture these beautiful sunflowers. Photography tip - Get creative by composing your shot using added elements such as this tree and the rule of thirds.

 

Shoot Low - Fill the Frame when the sky is too bright

Sunflowers-at-Dusk-Woodland-CASunflowers-at-Dusk-Woodland-CAJust before sunset, sunflowers face away from the sun. Close-up sunflower photo taken at 3M Ranches in Woodland, CA by Cheryl Bigman Photography.

 

Starburst Effect

Sunflower-Landscape-with-StarburstSunflower-Landscape-with-StarburstLandscape photo of a sunflower field at sunset at 3M Ranches in Woodland, CA. Photography tip - Create a starburst effect when the sun is partially blocked by trees by setting your aperture at f/11 and shooting directly into the sun.

 

Fisheye Lens

Sunflower-Field-Fisheye-ViewSunflower-Field-Fisheye-ViewA sunflower field at sunset with a different view. Photography tip - Use a fisheye lens to give a unique, artistic, look to your landscape photography. Try tipping the fisheye lens at different angles for even more creative fun. Use elements such as these two trees for added interest.

 

My primary goal for this shoot was to get great landscape shots, but I was a little sad that I didn't spend more time getting close-up macro shots. Next time!

 

Leave a Comment

I hope you enjoyed this Blog as much as I enjoyed creating it! Have you ever spent time in the sunflower fields? Have you found a great location?

Leave a Comment and tell me all about it!

 

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Cheryl

 

 

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cheryl@cherylbigman.com (Cheryl Bigman Photography) 3M Ranches cheryl bigman photography landscape photography northern california photography northern california sunflowers photography tips and tricks sunflower fields sunflower landscapes sunflower photography sunflowers visit yolo woodland yolo county https://www.cherylbigman.com/blog/2020/6/photographing-sunflowers-near-the-san-francisco-bay-area-tips-and-tricks Mon, 29 Jun 2020 13:00:00 GMT
A 50-Something Birthday Blog - And Lavender Fields https://www.cherylbigman.com/blog/2020/6/a-50-something-brithday-blog Yesterday was My Birthday...

What is it about birthdays anyway? Especially birthdays after 50? Yesterday, mine was number 57 to be exact.

Yikes! How did this happen??? (And why did I just tell the whole world my age?)

I've always prided myself in thinking young. Doesn't hurt that I spend every weekend photographing 13-year olds dancing their faces off at Bar & Bat Mitzvah parties! I know all the current music, dances, and yes, I even like hip-hop!

But this year, all that has changed. I haven't photographed a Bar or Bat Mitzvah in almost 4 months. And I miss it terribly!

I also haven't traveled anywhere since my photo assignment in Africa last December. And I miss that terribly too!

These are my passions - my therapy. And with all the uncertainty in the world, my "photo therapy" is on hold!

 

#57 Isn't all Gloom and Doom. Quite the Opposite!

Plateau-of-Valensole-Lavender-FieldPlateau-of-Valensole-Lavender-FieldBreathtaking landscape photo of an endless lavender field at the Plateau of Valensole in Provence, France featuring a typical provencal stone building. Taken at sunrise while teaching a photography workshop.

Yesterday, I decided to take another look through all of my travel pictures and start working on adding a Fine Art section to my website. That's when I realized I never wrote a Blog about the incredible photography workshop I led in Provence!

With so much going on in our world at the moment, seems trivial to even talk about travel. But for many, travel is like therapy.

  • It takes you out of your day-to-day routine.
  • It broadens your view of the world, and the diversity of people in it.
  • And sometimes, it forces you WAY out of your comfort zone. 

 

Maybe if more of us traveled the world, we would have greater tolerance for our differences, and more empathy for injustices against those who are different from ourselves.

 

SOOOO... Here is your photo therapy for the day - Part I of the Provence Blog.

 

The Lavender Fields of Provence

Plateau de Valensole

Woke up at 4:30am to drive to this famous spot before sunrise. SO worth it! My clothes smelled like lavender for weeks. Oh, how I miss that smell!

Diagonal-Lavender-Field-Scenic-ProvenceDiagonal-Lavender-Field-Scenic-ProvenceFrench countryside with lavender field at the Plateau of Valensole, Provence, France. Diagonal leading lines in the field take you to a typical provencal stone building. Photo shot at sunrise while teaching a photography workshop.

 

Abbaye de Senanque - Our First Day, and Our First Lavender Sighting!

Abbaye-de-Senanque-ProvenceAbbaye-de-Senanque-ProvenceAbbaye de Senanque with a small field of lavender. First lavender sighting while teaching a photography workshop in Provence, France.

Abbaye-de-Senanque-Provence-LavenderAbbaye-de-Senanque-Provence-LavenderA portion of Abbaye de Senanque with lavender field in foreground. This provencal landmark is a beautiful stone structure surrounded by lavender fields. Taken while teaching a travel photography workshop in Provence, France.

Busy Bees

Bee-Pollinating-Lavender-ProvenceBee-Pollinating-Lavender-ProvenceClose-up shot of a bee pollinating lavender flowers. Shot while teaching a photography workshop in Provence, France at the Abbaye de Senanque.

Another Beautiful Lavender Field -  Love the Trees!

Lavender-Field-with-TreesLavender-Field-with-TreesScenic lavender field with lone tree in foreground and forest in background. Taken in Provence, France while teaching a travel photography workshop.

Lavender-Field-of-ProvenceLavender-Field-of-ProvenceLow angle depth of field landscape photo of a beautiful lavender field in Provence, France. Taken while teaching a photography workshop. Lavender-Field-Detail-in-ProvenceLavender-Field-Detail-in-ProvenceA close-up detail shot of a purple lavender flowers taken in Provence, France while teaching a photography workshop.

 

Provencal Market Day in Bonnieux

Bunches-of-Lavender-at-Provence-MarketBunches-of-Lavender-at-Provence-MarketThe scent of freshly harvested lavender fills the air at an outdoor market in Provence, France.

Lavender Field at Dusk

Lavender-Field-at-Dusk-ProvenceLavender-Field-at-Dusk-ProvenceLavender fields in Provence turn a deep purple color at dusk as the sun sets. Taken while teaching a photography workshop.

 

I sincerely hope you enjoyed these photos as much as I enjoyed creating them. Someday we will all be able to travel to our dream destinations once again. I will be SO ready! How about you?

Leave a Comment and tell me where you want to go first!

 

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Cheryl

 

 

 

 

 

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cheryl@cherylbigman.com (Cheryl Bigman Photography) landscape photography lavender fields photography blogger photography workshops provence travel blog travel blogger travel photography https://www.cherylbigman.com/blog/2020/6/a-50-something-brithday-blog Fri, 19 Jun 2020 22:26:43 GMT
Lessons from the Class of 2020 - A Letter to You https://www.cherylbigman.com/blog/2020/5/lessons-from-the-class-of-2020-a-letter-to-you Lessons from the Class of 2020 - A Letter to You

 

Dear Class of 2020,

First off, BIG congratulations to all of you graduating seniors (and 8th graders, kinders, and preschoolers too)! Such a huge accomplishment, especially in the midst of a global pandemic.

For many of you, this week should have been filled with all the fun senior activities leading up to Graduation Day.

Alexa - Class of 2020, San Ramon Valley High School
Senior-Portrait-Girl-Danville-CASenior-Portrait-Girl-Danville-CACustom high school senior portrait taken at Oak Hill Park in Danville, California by San Francisco Bay Area photographer Cheryl Bigman.

 

My first reaction was to feel sorry for you. I remember how exciting and fun my last week of Senior year was. Such a special time!

Being a Senior Portrait photographer here in the San Francisco Bay Area, I've had the opportunity to talk with many of you (and your parents) about how you've handled the disappointments.

I have to say, I've been SO impressed by the Class of 2020!

In fact, I think you are handling it better than us parents! We don't always give you enough credit for your resilience and ability to adapt to change because WE want to fix everything. While there's no way to take away the disappointments, most of you have accepted the things you cannot change, and found new ways to celebrate. 

Maddie - Class of 2020, Monte Vista High School

Senior-Portrait-Girl-in-PlaidSenior-Portrait-Girl-in-PlaidHigh school senior portrait of a girl dressed in red and black plaid. Taken in Danville, California by San Francisco Bay Area Senior photographer Cheryl Bigman at Hap Magee Ranch Park.

 

The Class of 2020 Advantage

Always remember that even though it wasn't what you expected, graduating in the Class of 2020 is actually a HUGE advantage. You have learned really important life lessons in a way that no other graduating class has learned.

  • How to deal with major disappointment
  • How to adjust expectations
  • How to adapt to change
  • How to persevere through adversity to reach your goals

These lessons will serve you well in college, your future career, and throughout your adult life!

 

Alysa - Class of 2020, Granada High School

Senior-Portrait-GirlSenior-Portrait-GirlRustic high school senior portrait of a girl under the arch of an old adobe building at Alviso Adobe Park in Pleasanton, California. By San Francisco Bay Area photographer Cheryl Bigman.

 

While there is still uncertainty about college campuses opening up in the Fall, hopefully you'll all be able to move on to the next chapter in your journeys as planned. I have NO DOUBT that whatever happens, you will adapt just fine. You have already proven your resilience and determination in the face of adversity!
 

So again, BIG congrats!!! I wish you all the very best, and I can't wait to see what the future holds for you!

 

Virtual Hugs,

Cheryl

 

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cheryl@cherylbigman.com (Cheryl Bigman Photography) 2020 seniors cheryl bigman photography class of 2020 determination grad pictures lessons from class of 2020 reslience san francisco bay area senior photographer senior photography senior photos https://www.cherylbigman.com/blog/2020/5/lessons-from-the-class-of-2020-a-letter-to-you Sun, 31 May 2020 19:56:03 GMT
5 Tips for Epic Senior Portraits...during a Pandemic https://www.cherylbigman.com/blog/2020/5/5-tips-for-epic-senior-portraits-during-a-pandemic Class of 2020 - This was supposed to be YOUR YEAR!

 

You were looking forward to Senior Ball, Graduation, Grad Night, and getting epic Senior Photos to share with friends...

Then came a global pandemic like nothing we could have ever imagined. And everything stopped.

By now, you may be adjusting to the new norm, but nothing can take away the disappointment of losing all the things you were looking forward to for the last 4 years.

 

Mind Shift

No doubt, it's a sucky situation! But there is another way to look at it - if you're willing. After all, graduating high school in the middle of a global pandemic after being forced to stay home, take classes online, (and see none of your friends) is a HUGE accomplishment that deserves to be recognized! So what can you do?

How about creating a Custom Senior Portrait Experience with a professional photographer! I'm not talking about studio fake drape cap & gown shots. Think cool locations, fun outfits, your hobbies, talents, sports, and maybe even the family pets! Even with current social distancing guidelines, you can still have an amazing Senior Portrait Experience!!!

 

HIgh-School-Senior-Portrait-GirlHIgh-School-Senior-Portrait-GirlCustom high school senior portrait by San Francisco Bay Area photographer Cheryl Bigman in black and white.

 

Here's what you need to know:

5 Tips for Epic Senior Portraits - from a San Francisco Bay Area Photographer

  1. Before the Session - Set up a virtual (or in person) meeting with your photographer to plan the details of your session (style, locations, clothing, etc...).
  2. Decide on Locations that match your Style (ex. natural/park/rural, urban/downtown/city, grunge/graffiti, artsy/architectural, beach, etc...)
  3. Make it Personal - Incorporate the things you're into (sports, hobbies, interests, pets), cap & gown, and college logo gear (clothes, banners, college town momentos).
  4. During the Session - HAVE FUN WITH IT!!! Your best pictures will be the ones where you're not looking stiff and posed.
  5. After the Session - Meet with your photographer for a virtual (or in-person) Ordering Appointment where you can see your pictures up on a big screen, and look at samples of all the cool things you can do with our pictures.

    * For the Girls - Do professional hair & makeup. Your pro photographer should have hair & makeup artists they regularly work with.

 

Here's a few portraits from a recent Senior Portrait Session, all done at a local park with 5 different outfits... and socially distanced.

High-School-Senior-PortraitHigh-School-Senior-PortraitCustom high school senior portrait by San Francisco Bay Area photographer Cheryl Bigman.

Senior-Portrait-StylingSenior-Portrait-StylingHigh School senior portrait girl showing off her sense of style. By San Francisco Bay Area photographer Cheryl Bigman. Monte Vista High School.

Senior-Portrait-GirlSenior-Portrait-GirlCustom high school senior portrait by San Francisco Bay Area photographer Cheryl Bigman.

Senior-Portrait-Ready-for-CollegeSenior-Portrait-Ready-for-CollegeHIgh School Senior portrait of girl proudly wearing her new college logo shirt. By San Francisco Bay Area senior photographer Cheryl Bigman.

Senior-Grad-Portrait-Cap-and-GownSenior-Grad-Portrait-Cap-and-GownCustom high school senior portrait in cap and gown by San Francisco Bay Area photographer Cheryl Bigman. Monte Vista High School grad.

Senior-Portrait-Girl-Black-and-WhiteSenior-Portrait-Girl-Black-and-WhiteCustom high school senior portrait by San Francisco Bay Area photographer Cheryl Bigman in black and white.

 

Senior-Portrait-CloseupSenior-Portrait-CloseupHIgh School Senior portrait closeup shot by San Francisco Bay Area senior photographer Cheryl Bigman.

 

Celebrating-Graduation-PortraitCelebrating-Graduation-PortraitHigh school senior portrait of a girl celebrating in her cap and gown. By San Francisco Bay Area photographer Cheryl Bigman. Monte Vista High School grad.

 

 

What to Look for when Choosing a Professional Senior Photographer

  • Genuinely interested in getting to know YOU - your personality, what you're into, style, etc...
  • Offers a pre-shoot Consultation (virtually or in person) to plan the details of your Senior Portrait Session.
  • Customizes your session vs. doing the same boring cookie-cutter shots for every client.
  • Willing to travel to multiple shoot locations, allow several outfit changes, and be flexible on time.
  • Gives you suggestions on locations that match the look and feel you're after.
  • Meets with you for an in-person (or virtual) Ordering Appointment, showing you samples of all the things you can do with your Senior Portraits.
  • Offers both Senior Portrait Packages and a la carte options that include unique high-quality custom products.

 

 

Things to Consider - Portraits in the Age of COVID-19

With restrictions slowly loosening, here are some things to consider in order to stay healthy during your portrait session:

Photography Equipment - Make sure your photographer has a long telephoto lens to get close up shots while remaining socially distant.

Location - For now, I'm choosing locations which don't typically have a lot of other people in close proximity. Consider locations closer to home.

Bring a Mask - Most seniors aren't interested in taking portraits with a mask on, but you should still keep one on hand in the event you run into other people.

Bring Hand Sanitizer/Wipes - To use before & after session. As always, don't touch your face.

Do what makes you comfortable - We all have our own comfort levels with regards to keeping healthy and safe during this unprecedented time. Do NOT do anything that feels risky or uncomfortable. A professional photographer should never put you in an unsafe situation!

 

 

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Cheryl

 

 

 

 

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cheryl@cherylbigman.com (Cheryl Bigman Photography) class of 2020 high school senior photos senior blog senior photographer senior photography senior portrait tips Senior Portraits https://www.cherylbigman.com/blog/2020/5/5-tips-for-epic-senior-portraits-during-a-pandemic Fri, 22 May 2020 00:39:39 GMT
When Life Gives you Lemons... a Bat Mitzvah Story https://www.cherylbigman.com/blog/2020/5/when-life-gives-you-lemons-a-bat-mitzvah-story When Life Gives You Lemons... at 13

Imagine being 13-years old, working hard for a year or more learning to chant from an ancient text in a foreign language, preparing to teach a lesson about your interpretation of this text to an entire sanctuary filled with your family and friends, some of whom travelled great distances, and planning an amazing party to celebrate your accomplishment. And then, a global pandemic hits. Your entire event is cancelled.

No Bat Mitzvah.

No party.

No family and friends coming together to celebrate with you.

Sadly, this is the reality for most of my 2020 clients.

For my client Naomi, this past Saturday was supposed to be the day of her Bat Mitzvah. I had already photographed Naomi's big sister's Bat Mitzvah about a year and a half ago, and I knew how much Naomi was looking forward to her turn. Heartbreaking for the entire family.

 

Making Lemonade

Thankfully, Naomi's mom reached out to me on Saturday to see if I'd be willing to do an impromptu, socially distanced portrait session in her backyard. After two months of photographing NO ONE, I could not wait to do this for Naomi and her family!

Bat-Mitzvah-PortraitBat-Mitzvah-PortraitBat Mitzvah portrait of a girl, taken on the day her Bat Mitzvah was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. By Bar Bat Mitzvah photographer Cheryl Bigman.

Rosie getting in on the action...

Bat-Mitzvah-Portrait-with-DogBat-Mitzvah-Portrait-with-DogBat Mitzvah portrait of a girl and her pet dog, taken on the day her Bat Mitzvah was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. By Bar Bat Mitzvah photographer Cheryl Bigman.

Gotta love those high tops!!!

Bat-Mitzvah-Portrait-with-Pink-RosesBat-Mitzvah-Portrait-with-Pink-RosesBat Mitzvah portrait of a girl sitting on brick steps in a rose garden on the day her Bat Mitzvah was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. By Bar Bat Mitzvah photographer Cheryl Bigman.

 

The whole family dressed in the clothes they had bought just for Naomi's big day, and the girls did their hair and makeup. While it wasn't the same as having an actual Bat Mitzvah, the portrait session definitely helped lift everyone's spirits on what otherwise would have been a sad day. Of course we had to include the family pets, Russell and Rosie, which made it even more fun (although I think they thought I was nuts with all the crazy sounds I had to make to get their attention)!

Bat-Mitzvah-Family-Portrait-with-PetsBat-Mitzvah-Family-Portrait-with-PetsBat Mitzvah family portrait with pet dogs taken on the day their Bat Mitzvah was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. By San Francisco Bay Area photographer Cheryl Bigman.

 

Mother-Daughter-Bat-Mitzvah-PortraitMother-Daughter-Bat-Mitzvah-PortraitBat Mitzvah mother daughter portrait taken on the day her Bat Mitzvah was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. By San Francisco Bay Area photographer Cheryl Bigman. Father-Daughter-Bat-Mitzvah-PortraitFather-Daughter-Bat-Mitzvah-PortraitDaddy Daughter Bat Mitzvah family portrait taken on the day their Bat Mitzvah was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. By San Francisco Bay Area photographer Cheryl Bigman. Sisters-Bat-Mitzvah-Family-PortraitSisters-Bat-Mitzvah-Family-PortraitPortrait of a girl and her big sister taken on the day her Bat Mitzvah was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. By San Francisco Bay Area photographer Cheryl Bigman.

 

How did we do It?

In order to comply with current social distancing guidelines, we made sure to stay at least 6 ft. apart which was no problem thanks to my very long zoom lens, and Naomi's large backyard. And of course, we all had masks on hand. So you know we had to do these...

Bat-Mitzvah-Family-Portrait-Coronavirus-StyleBat-Mitzvah-Family-Portrait-Coronavirus-StyleBat Mitzvah family portrait wearing face masks, taken on the day their Bat Mitzvah was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. By San Francisco Bay Area photographer Cheryl Bigman. Bat-Mitzvah-Family-Portrait-FacemasksBat-Mitzvah-Family-Portrait-FacemasksBat Mitzvah family portrait wearing face masks, taken on the day their Bat Mitzvah was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. By San Francisco Bay Area photographer Cheryl Bigman.

 

Big sister Lindsay, all grown up since I photographed her Bat Mitzvah!

Portrait-of-a-Teenage-GirlPortrait-of-a-Teenage-GirlPortrait of a teenage girl. By San Francisco Bay Area photographer Cheryl Bigman.

Teen-Portrait-Girl-in-a-Rose-GardenTeen-Portrait-Girl-in-a-Rose-GardenPortrait of a teen girl sitting in a pink rose garden with brick steps. By San Francisco Bay Area photographer Cheryl Bigman.

 

Once we finished all the dressy family pictures, it was time to change into a more casual look...

with Russell & Rosie...

NaomiKottlePre-0185-EditNaomiKottlePre-0185-Edit

Portrait-with-the-PupsPortrait-with-the-PupsSisters pose for a family portrait with their two pet dogs. By San Francisco Bay Area photographer Cheryl Bigman.

Rosie got a little camera shy...

Camera-Shy-PuppyCamera-Shy-PuppyA camera shy puppy hides her face during a family portrait session with her big sisters. Taken by San Francisco Bay Area photographer Cheryl Bigman.

 

Beautiful Naomi.

Tween-Girl-Portrait-in-PinkTween-Girl-Portrait-in-PinkBat Mitzvah portrait of a girl sitting on brick steps in a pink rose garden on the day her Bat Mitzvah was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. By San Francisco Bay Area photographer Cheryl Bigman.

 

Black & White or Color???

Sisters-Portrait-in-Black-and-WhiteSisters-Portrait-in-Black-and-WhitePortrait of two teenage sisters in black and white. By San Francisco Bay Area family photographer Cheryl Bigman.

Sisters-Portrait-in-Pink-Rose-GardenSisters-Portrait-in-Pink-Rose-GardenPortrait of two teenage sisters sitting in a pink rose garden. By San Francisco Bay Area family photographer Cheryl Bigman.

 

Last bit of golden hour light (with help from an off-camera flash).

Portrait-of-a-Tween-Girl-in-PinkPortrait-of-a-Tween-Girl-in-PinkPortrait of a tween girl casually laying on the grass during the last few minutes of golden hour light.

 

It's Part of the Story

As weird as these times are, it's part of the story of Naomi's Bat Mitzvah. A BIG thank you to Naomi's mom for asking me to do this for her.

Naomi's story will be continued on a rescheduled date later next year...

 

And these pictures will forever be a reminder of the day we chose to turn lemons into lemonade.

 

Have you had to cancel your special event this year?

I feel for you. Our lives have really been turned upside down, and I totally empathize with all of you who have been dealing with the uncertainty and disappointment of cancelling a special event. If there is ANYTHING I can do to help you and your family get through this challenging time, please don't hesitate to reach out!

 

If you have any great advice for others in the same boat, PLEASE SHARE IN THE COMMENTS!

 

And most importantly, please stay healthy!!!

 

 

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Just enter your email in the Subscribe box above. Subscribers help me keep this Blog going, and it would mean the world!

Thanks!

Cheryl

 

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cheryl@cherylbigman.com (Cheryl Bigman Photography) area Bar & Bat Mitzvahs bar mitzvah photography bat mitzvah photography bay bigman cheryl event cancellations family portraits francisco global pandemic lemons to lemonade mitzvah photography photographer photography" san https://www.cherylbigman.com/blog/2020/5/when-life-gives-you-lemons-a-bat-mitzvah-story Tue, 12 May 2020 12:04:17 GMT
The Day I Got Charged by an Elephant https://www.cherylbigman.com/blog/2020/5/the-day-i-got-charged-by-an-elephant The Day I Got Charged by an Elephant

Elephant-Herd-under-Baobab-TanzaniaElephant-Herd-under-Baobab-TanzaniaAn elephant herd enjoys the shade of a beautiful baobab tree in Tarangire National Park, Tanzania, Africa. By Cheryl Bigman Photography while on a photo assignment.

As many of you know, last November I was lucky enough to land a photo assignment in Africa which included the safari experience of a lifetime! We spent the better part of a week in Tanzania observing and photographing animals in the wild. The one animal we saw every day was the elephant. Herds of elephants! It was wildlife photographer paradise!

 

At first, I was amazed by how casually they seemed to walk right past our safari vehicles without a care in the world. Elephant-Crossing-TanzaniaElephant-Crossing-TanzaniaAn elephant crosses the road near a safari vehicle in Tarangire National Park, Tanzania, Africa while photographers take pictures from the roof. By Cheryl Bigman Photography while on photo assignment.

 

Many of them were tinged with the reddish orange color of the soil.

Elephant-Tarangire-TanzaniaElephant-Tarangire-TanzaniaA wild elephant covered in red dust from the soil in Tarangire National Park, Tanzania, Africa. Photographed on assignment by Cheryl Bigman Photography.

 

Tarangire National Park's lush green landscape and beautiful Baobab trees made the perfect setting to photograph all the wildlife. Those babies... SO CUTE!

Elephant-Family-with-Baobab-TreesElephant-Family-with-Baobab-TreesAn elephant family passes by beautiful baobab trees and lush green landscape in Tarangire National Park, Tanzania, Africa. By Cheryl Bigman Photography while on a photo assignment.

 

We were even lucky enough to stumble upon a playful group of adolescent elle's splashing about in a watering hole. Quite entertaining!

Elephant-Swimming-Hole-Tanzania-1Elephant-Swimming-Hole-Tanzania-1Juvenile elephants play in a swimming hole in Tarangirie National Park, Tanzania, Africa. Captured by Cheryl Bigman Photography while on a photo assignment with Topguides Safaris and Topguides Bush Camps.

Mama's watching... Elephant-Swimming-Tanzania-2Elephant-Swimming-Tanzania-2Juvenile elephants play in a swimming hole in Tarangirie National Park, Tanzania, Africa. Captured by Cheryl Bigman Photography while on a photo assignment with Topguides Safaris and Topguides Bush Camps.

Snorkling anyone? Elephant-Swimming-Tanzania-3Elephant-Swimming-Tanzania-3Juvenile elephants play in a swimming hole in Tarangirie National Park, Tanzania, Africa. Captured by Cheryl Bigman Photography while on a photo assignment with Topguides Safaris and Topguides Bush Camps.

The last to get out, this little guy had a full on temper tantrum complete with trumpeting when the adults told him, "Time to go!". Elephant-Swimming-TanzaniaElephant-Swimming-TanzaniaJuvenile elephant plays in a swimming hole in Tarangirie National Park, Tanzania, Africa. Captured by Cheryl Bigman Photography while on a photo assignment with Topguides Safaris and Topguides Bush Camps.

 

By the end of our safari, we all fell in love with the elephants!

But then...

 

The Moment my Heart Stopped!

My travel buddy and I were running a bit late to catch our flight out of Tanzania, so our guide Victor offered to drive us to the airport in his own personal car.

But before we could get out of the park, we hit a BIG roadblock... an elephant! She was happily snacking on a bush while standing in the middle of the road.

 

The video you're about to see pretty much says it all. In the beginning, it was funny. Victor was talking to the driver of the safari vehicle right next to us about what we should do. At one point you can hear him say, "Twende" which means "Let's Go" in swahili.

But the driver was too afraid to pass, so we all just parked.

And waited.

And waited.

And waited for this elephant to move off the road. Time was ticking away!

 

Finally, Victor decided we needed to try something else to get this elle out of our way. Elephants have very poor eyesight, but they can hear from 2.5 miles away! So began the clapping.

 

What happened next was one of the most heart-stopping moments of my life.

Here's the video I managed to shoot with my phone... go Full Screen, Sound ON!
 

 

I can't even explain how HUGE this elephant looked as she came at us in our little Toyota. It's times like these when having an expert guide like Victor is invaluable! I'm sure he knew all along it was most likely a fake charge (right Victor?), and thankfully the elephant never actually hit us.

But damn, she came close!

 

And then she went right back to enjoying her bush (and blocking the road), giving us a few side eyes before finally crossing the road.

 

So then What Happened?

What you don't see is when the other vehicle's driver decided to "go for it", and drive around us and the elephant. All I saw was the back end of this enormous beast chasing down the safari vehicle at a speed I could have never imagined. I think I was so freaked out by being charged, I didn't have the presence of mind to keep recording!

 

You Cannot Put a Price on Experience 

Needless to say, I have a whole new respect for the "wild" in the word "wildlife"! And how important it is to do your research when booking a safari like this. There are a LOT of safari companies out there with less experienced guides who do not have the same level of knowledge about animal behavior as Victor and his team at TopGuides Bush Camps and TopGuides Safaris have. I completely trusted them to keep everyone safe while getting us close enough to capture amazing photographs.

 

Guides-Topguides-Safaris-TanzaniaGuides-Topguides-Safaris-TanzaniaThe talented guides from Topguides Safaris and Topguides Bush Camps in Tanzania, Africa pose for a portrait during the last sundowner of our safari in Tarangire National Park. By Cheryl Bigman photography.

 

When are you Going Back to Africa, Cheryl?

Well.... before worldwide travel came to a screeching halt, I was offered the opportunity to take my own group of travelers on an African safari with Victor and his team! I had just started the process of putting together the trip of a lifetime for a small select group - a truly custom boutique travel experience. I honestly can't think of anything more enjoyable than sharing the incredible experience of being together on safari! Those of you who have already done it know exactly what I'm talking about. Africa is just one of those places that calls you back again and again!

 

With some patience, we will all get back to traveling to our dream destinations once again. And I will definitely be back to Africa, sharing the experience with some of you!

 

 

What's on Your Bucket List?

NOW is actually a great time to revisit your own "bucket list" of travel destinations! My list is a long one, but my #1 dream trip is Gorilla Trekking in Uganda! (I know, I'm a little crazy.)

 

Tell me what's on your list in the Comments!

 

Below is a list of questions to help you start planning your next dream vacation.

 

Until we can travel again, please stay healthy and safe!

Much love,

Cheryl

 

 

Questions to Think about when Planning your Next Travel Experience:

What time of year can you travel and for how long?

Will you travel with kids or adults only? What ages?

Do you want a high-end, mid-range, or low-budget experience?

What level of activity are you comfortable with?

What destinations intrigue you?

What are your interests?

  • art & culture
  • architecture
  • history
  • immersive experience with the locals
  • wildlife
  • volunteerism/conservation
  • adventure/sports
  • guided tours vs. on your own
  • foodie trips
  • wine experiences
  • solo travel
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cheryl@cherylbigman.com (Cheryl Bigman Photography) cheryl bigman photography elephant elephant charge Real Life - Personal Stories safari tanzania safari tanzania travel tarangire national park travel photography wildlife photography wildlife video https://www.cherylbigman.com/blog/2020/5/the-day-i-got-charged-by-an-elephant Fri, 01 May 2020 11:09:28 GMT
NEGATIVE for COVID-19 - A Lesson Learned about Community https://www.cherylbigman.com/blog/2020/4/negative-for-covid-19-a-lesson-learned-about-community NEGATIVE for COVID-19... A Lesson Learned about Community

COVIDTestResultsCOVIDTestResultsLab results after testing negative for COVID-19.

It's been a crazy few weeks! As you saw in my last Blog post, I finally got tested for the coronavirus after 2 weeks of fever, cough, fatigue, etc... To say it was a scary time is an understatement! But through it all, I learned one very important lesson.

 

COMMUNITY IS EVERYTHING!

 

I admit it - I'm stubborn. I'm independent. I'm a perfectionist.

Asking for help doesn't come easy.

When our shelter-in-place order began, I took responsibility for helping out my aging parents. I did their grocery shopping, ran errands, and yes, scored toilet paper!

But when I started having symptoms consistent with COVID-19, my doctor ordered me to self-quarantine. Suddenly, I could no longer be that person for my parents.

 

Sharing Personal Experience

The night before my COVID test, I hesitantly shared my very personal thoughts here, and then made a heart-wrenching video right after taking the test (you can view it here).

The video was raw, emotional, and captured what happens when real fear bubbles to the surface.

My intention was to emphasize the importance of staying vigilant about doing all the things we need to do to keep ourselves and those around us safe. But the response was completely unexpected. I think when something like this happens to someone you know, things get REAL!

 

My posts were flooded with comments from all of you expressing concern, sending well wishes, and offering to help. Honestly, I was overwhelmed by the love and kindness you all showed. One comment in particular really hit home:

 

"170. I think that’s what it said. 170 people pulling for you. Sending their love and strength. A community you’ve cultivated who care about you."

 

A community I've cultivated? Never thought of it that way before.

 

Over the last 15 years of being a professional photographer, I've met SO many incredible families, event industry colleagues, photography educators, and international tourism professionals. We've shared some of the most important times of our lives together.

 

While you don't all know each other, you know me. And I know you. And we are a Community!

(Ooh, that sounded way too much like a "Barney" song - Sorry!)

 

We NEED More Kindness

We NEED More Compassion

We NEED Each Other

We ALL have communities that we can lean on in difficult times. We just need to reach out and LEARN TO LET PEOPLE IN. It took a catastrophic event for stubborn me to get it. But community along with kindness and compassion is what keeps us sane during tough times.

We need each other now more than ever!

 

What Can I Do?

Since my "corona scare", I've been thinking a lot about how we can provide value to each other, and for me, it has nothing to do with taking your picture. It's all about creating connection.

Starting this week, I've been calling people in my community just to say hi and see how you they're doing. Many of you did this for me, and it meant more than you know. Most importantly, it meant none of us have to go through this alone.

 

CoronaTherapy

If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, if you need help, or if you're just F'ing DONE with all of this, maybe it's time for some "CoronaTherapy" a.k.a. reaching out! Chances are whoever you reach out to will be needing connection just as much as you, and will be SO grateful that you took the time to do it.

 

So THANK YOU for being my community!

Leave a comment even if it's just to say "Hi"!

I miss you all and look forward to the time we can all be together again.

 

And here's a little quirky CoronaTherapy Humor c/o my parents... Thanks Mom and Dad!

Kay-Pruitt-DIY-Face-Mask-TutorialKay-Pruitt-DIY-Face-Mask-TutorialKay Pruitt diy face mask tutorial humor.

 

Much love,

Cheryl

 

 

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cheryl@cherylbigman.com (Cheryl Bigman Photography) cheryl bigman photography community coronavirus covid19 covid19 test results Real Life - Personal Stories san francisco bay area photographer staying connected https://www.cherylbigman.com/blog/2020/4/negative-for-covid-19-a-lesson-learned-about-community Thu, 23 Apr 2020 22:32:34 GMT
What is it Like to be Tested for COVID-19? https://www.cherylbigman.com/blog/2020/4/what-is-it-like-to-be-tested-for-covid-19 What is it Like to be Tested for COVID-19?

Yesterday, I experienced it firsthand. In a word, AWFUL!!!

Awful not just because it's so physically uncomfortable. Awful because it plays with your mind.

I really thought I was handling all of this ok, considering I might actually have coronavirus. But after going through the test, I LOST IT!

Every emotion I'd been holding in for the last 2 weeks came rushing out like a tsunami. All I could do was drive to a local park, sit alone in my car, and sob uncontrollably.

Because I want to keep it real with all of you, I decided to record my thoughts at that very real moment on video.

 

It's personal.

It's raw.

It's emotional.

 

I can barely re-watch it myself. I debated for hours whether or not to share it. I didn't want my parents to see it, especially after my father called me this morning in tears with so much pain in his voice, worried sick about me. Heartbreaking!
 

But if sharing my personal experience gets just one of you to NOT tempt fate, STAY vigilant on social distancing, and understand why we CANNOT "open up the country" before we have appropriate testing, I think it's worth putting out there.

 

So here it is... Please feel free to share, and leave a comment with your thoughts.

 

What-its-Like-to-be-Tested-for-COVID19What-its-Like-to-be-Tested-for-COVID19I made this video after being tested for COVID-19 on April 14th, 2020. I hope by sharing my raw, emotional experience, it helps you understand what it's really like to deal with the possibility of having the virus, and why we need to stay vigilant about social distancing.

 

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cheryl@cherylbigman.com (Cheryl Bigman Photography) california coronavirus california lockdown coronavirus coronavirus testing covid19 covid19 testing personal experience Real Life - Personal Stories san francisco bay area coronavirus self quarantine stay home stay safe https://www.cherylbigman.com/blog/2020/4/what-is-it-like-to-be-tested-for-covid-19 Thu, 16 Apr 2020 01:08:18 GMT
Scared as Hell - The Night Before my Coronavirus Test https://www.cherylbigman.com/blog/2020/4/the-night-before-my-coronavirus-test I wrote this Blog post in the early morning hours before being tested for COVID-19. I had the test at 11:30am, and recorded a video of my unexpected, very emotional reaction which I'll share with you in my next post, as well as on social media as I think it's important to see what it really feels like to go through it. We're all experiencing this pandemic in different ways. How are you dealing with it? Please feel free to share in the comments.

I'd like to thank all of you who reached out to me during this challenging time. It truly means the world to me and my family. Stay well!

 

Scared as Hell - The Night Before my Coronavirus Test

Waiting-for-Coronavirus-TestWaiting-for-Coronavirus-TestSan Francisco Bay Area photographer Cheryl Bigman in self-quarantine waiting for results of her coronavirus test.

 

It's 2:27am on Tuesday, April 14, 2020. I can't sleep and I'm scared as hell. After two weeks of feeling "off", I finally had to admit to my aging parents that I can no longer do their grocery shopping or run errands, and it's time to get help. Things just got real.

 

Symptoms

My symptoms started with a weird dry sore throat that felt like I swallowed gravel. Then a low grade fever off and on, body aches, headache, fatigue, and a dry cough that got progressively deeper in my chest. Being asthmatic, I knew it was time to call my doctor. Thankfully, I have the BEST! She's been closely monitoring me for the last 6 days, and yesterday she decided I should be tested for COVID-19.

 

Is it Enough?

Keep in mind, for the last 2 weeks, I wore a mask every time I went out. I used antiviral disinfecting wipes on everything before I brought it into the house, I wiped down all surfaces in my car, in my house, even the bottom of my shoes! I washed my hands until they cracked from being so dry. But if I end up having the big one, I caught it despite following all the guidelines. And I know I'm not the only one. Can't help but wonder if we all should have started doing this much sooner.

 

2nd Guessing

I can't tell you how many times I second-guessed myself before finally reaching out for help. When that fever suddenly disappears, you think, oh, it's all in my head. I'm just being paranoid. But when my asthma kicked in and I realized my rescue inhaler (which I haven't used in 2 years) had expired, I got scared. I called my Asthma doctor's office, but was told they couldn't refill my prescription without scheduling a telemedicine appointment. The first available was in three days! Really? My primary doctor refilled it immediately. These are the times when I am SO thankful to have a proactive health care provider!

 

Deep Dive Tomorrow

Covid-19Covid-19Covid-19 the novel coronavirus.

Tomorrow morning at 11:30am, I've been instructed to drive to my local hospital where they just started offering drive-up tests this week for the dreaded deep-dive nose swab. They're telling me my doctor will get the results in 48 hours. To be honest, I'm not sure what's worse - finding out I have it and worrying about things going downhill, or finding out I don't have it and still not being able to help out my parents because I'm sick with something else.

 

Unknowns

We're all still dealing with so much uncertainty which is stressful enough. But I have to admit, this totally threw me off my game! I'm pretty good at distracting myself with work (yes, still working on your albums, etc...), but if I'm being totally honest, I've really struggled with all of the unknowns...

 

  • My daughter is still at college out of state doing online classes, and may not come home.
  • My business calendar is completely cleared through the end of July.
  • I feel for all of you who have no idea when to reschedule your events.
  • More and more of you are losing loved ones, so I'm combing through all my event photos to send you what may be the last pictures you have of them.

 

I'll Keep you Posted

I know I've been completely MIA on social media for the last 2 weeks which is not like me at all! I just needed time to focus on figuring out what to do next. I'll hop on a Facebook and Instagram Live to give you an update as soon as I get my results. In the meantime, PLEASE stay vigilant and take good care of yourselves. I'm thinking about all of you and would love to hear how you're doing!

 

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cheryl@cherylbigman.com (Cheryl Bigman Photography) https://www.cherylbigman.com/blog/2020/4/the-night-before-my-coronavirus-test Tue, 14 Apr 2020 21:10:50 GMT
When Hearts are Breaking... What to Do if Your Event is Cancelled https://www.cherylbigman.com/blog/2020/3/when-hearts-are-breaking-what-to-do-if-your-event-is-cancelled My Event is Cancelled - Now What?

Corona-SelfieCorona-SelfieSolo trail walk during the novel coronavirus lockdown shelter in place in the San Francisco bay area of California. San Ramon.

 

The last couple of weeks have been filled with heartbreak as many of you have had to cancel, postpone, or reschedule your Bar & Bat Mitzvahs and Weddings. And if you're anything like me, you've been bombarded with emails from everyone you do business with, telling you it's all going to be ok. As much as we'd like to believe that and stay positive, the truth is, we just don't know how long this pandemic will last.

I want you to know I TOTALLY understand how trying this has been for so many of you. As your photographer, there's nothing worse than having to tell you that I'm booked on your rescheduled date!

So, thought I'd share a few practical suggestions to help you navigate changing plans for your upcoming event. And if you know anyone who could use this information, please pass it on.

 

Event ReschedulingEvent ReschedulingEvent rescheduling due to the novel coronavirus pandemic of 2020.

Things to Think About When Changing Your Event Date
 

  1. Prioritize what's important to you - the date, the venue, a particular vendor you really want to work with (DJ, photographer, etc...
  2. Ask your synagogue/service venue for a list of available dates.
  3. Be flexible on how far out you are willing to postpone. I'd hate for you to have to reschedule twice if this virus hangs on through August!
  4. Contact your party venue, and all of your vendors as soon as possible to see if they are still available on your new date. If you can give them a couple of options, even better.
  5. If a venue or vendor is not available, ask for referrals. All of us here in the SF Bay area event industry know each other, and we've worked in MANY different venues, so we're happy to help you however we can.
  6. Be open to something different. Some of my favorite events have been held in non-traditional places!

 

sunshine_through_cloudssunshine_through_clouds

Be Gentle with Yourself

If there's one key piece of advice I would give you, it's to be gentle with yourself and your family. Months and months of planning have gone into your special day, and to have it all taken away is quite devastating for everyone.

Once things settle a bit, and you have a new date to look forward to, things will be better. And while the details of your event may not be exactly what you originally planned, the event itself will still be a wonderful celebration filled with the love of family and friends.

Stay safe, stay connected, and please feel free to reach out if there's anything I can help you with.

Much love,
Cheryl

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cheryl@cherylbigman.com (Cheryl Bigman Photography) bar mitzvah photography bat mitzvah photography coronavirus event cancelling event photography event planning event rescheduling wedding photography https://www.cherylbigman.com/blog/2020/3/when-hearts-are-breaking-what-to-do-if-your-event-is-cancelled Sat, 28 Mar 2020 00:28:13 GMT
Journey to Happiness - Thoughts on a Plane to Africa https://www.cherylbigman.com/blog/2020/2/journey-to-happiness---thoughts-on-a-plane-to-africa  

I wrote this blog last November 2019 while on my way to a photo assignment in Africa. It's personal. It's raw. But it's authentic. It's me. And maybe some of you can relate...

 

Thoughts on a Plane to Africa - How did I even get here?

 

Plane to Africa. Thoughts on happiness.Plane to AfricaBlog post from Cheryl Bigman Photography. Thoughts on happiness while on a plane to a dream safari in Tanzania, Africa.

 

As I sit through the final leg of my 24-hour journey back to Africa, I can’t help but feel emotional. It's kind of a miracle I'm even here! My lifelong dream has been to experience and photograph animals in the wild. I was lucky enough to co-lead a photography tour a couple of years ago in Namibia and got a taste of it, but the real highlight there is the desert landscape. This trip is all about the wildlife of Tanzania.

 

I know I don’t often share personal things here. But suffice it to say, my life has had many highs and many very low lows. It’s been a long journey of healing and finding my true calling. And the further along on this journey I go, the more thankful I am for the challenges life has thrown my way. It’s very easy to fall into the pity party trap, or the blame game when bad things happen. But at some point you realize you are so much stronger for having not only experienced those challenges, but survived them! And at that moment of realization, EVERYTHING CHANGES.

 

Fulfilling dreams has been my priority over the last 15 years. I decided a long time ago that REGRETS STINK, and I did not want to grow old having them. We all know someone who at the end of their life had regrets over things they did not say or do while they were still able. The worst!

 

Cheryl Bigman photography blogCheryl-Bigman-Thoughts-on-Happiness-BlogCheryl Bigman is a professional photographer and educator from the San Francisco Bay Area. She is a published writer, and and leads photography tours internationally. Her blog features her latest work as well as personal inspirational stories.

 

My own journey through ending a broken marriage after 19 years, depression, eating disorders, major surgery, and a huge career change took time... and patience... and more patience. And now, at 56, I see the payoff in taking whatever time you need to heal and explore how to get to your next chapter. Once you feel that twinge of excitement about the dreams in your heart becoming a reality, you become fearless. There is no turning back. Happiness is all that matters.

 

That doesn't mean I don't still struggle from time to time. I do. That is real life. But I've learned that the long view is what keeps us moving forward in the direction of our dreams, and the short-term setbacks are what is necessary to make us strong enough to get there.

 

The key to real happiness is within all of us. Inevitably, it reveals itself through our life experiences. Some take longer than others to find it. But if you are open to the possibility. If you are willing to take the journey to get there with all of its unknowns. With all of its wins and all of its losses. YOU WILL FIND IT.

 

 

I know this is not the kind of thing I usually talk about here. I hope you find it useful and if you can relate, please share your thoughts in the Comments. I truly believe that by being open and vulnerable, we create space to grow and maybe even help someone else while we're at it. Don't be shy. I'd love to hear from you!

 

And if you'd like to see more personal posts like these, simply Subscribe to the Blog using the SUBSCRIBE box above. The Blog will be delivered right to your inbox.

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cheryl@cherylbigman.com (Cheryl Bigman Photography) cheryl bigman photography blog fulfilling dreams inspirational blog inspirational stories personal blog Real Life - Personal Stories san francisco bay area photographer thoughts on happiness https://www.cherylbigman.com/blog/2020/2/journey-to-happiness---thoughts-on-a-plane-to-africa Wed, 05 Feb 2020 00:46:27 GMT
Magic and Miracles - Blackhawk Auto Museum Bar Mitzvah Planning https://www.cherylbigman.com/blog/2019/10/magic-and-miracles-blackhawk-auto-museum-bar-mitzvah-planning Planning a Themed Bar or Bat Mitzvah Party

Blackhawk Museum Event Space - Magic ThemeBlackhawk Museum Event Space - Magic ThemeThe Blackhawk Auto Museum event space decorated for a magic themed Bar Mitzvah celebration in red, black and white. Photo by San Francisco Bay Area photographer Cheryl Bigman Photography.

 

As a San Francisco Bay Area Bar Mitzvah photographer, I see a LOT of party themes! Everything from casual and fun, to elegant and classy, specific themes and color schemes.

And when you're in the early planning stages, I know it's super helpful to get ideas and inspiration by looking at pictures from other Bar & Bat Mitzvahs.

So, thought I'd share some tips and a recent favorite Bar Mitzvah that was not only done really well, but from a pro photographer's perspective, made for some really great pictures too!

But first...

 

Questions to Ask Yourself When Planning a Theme

  • Is your party a mix of kids and adults, mostly kids, or mostly adults?
  • Do you want elegant and classy, casual fun, or something in between?
  • What is your child's "thing" (sport, talent, hobby, etc...)?
  • Are you a "do-it-yourself" person, or do you need the help of an event planner?
  • And of course, What is your budget?

 

How to Execute a Great Theme

  1. Choose a venue that lends itself to the look and feel you want.
  2. Use table decor, props, and lighting to create the ambience of your theme.
  3. Provide activities around your theme for both the kids and adults.
  4. Give your DJ theme-based prizes to hand out to the kids during games.
  5. Work with your DJ if you have special theme-based music requests.
  6. Work with your caterer to create themed desserts.
  7. Create themed gifts for your guests to take home.

 

 

Magic and Miracles - Daniel's Bar Mitzvah

Daniel's "thing" is magic! And he and his mom decided they wanted a fun, but classy party to celebrate his Bar Mitzvah.

Magic Themed Bar Mitzvah PartyMagic Themed Bar Mitzvah PartyA Bar Mitzvah boy celebrates at his magic themed red, black and white party at the Blackhawk Auto Museum in Danville, CA. Photo by San Francisco Bay Area photographer Cheryl Bigman.

 

The Venue

Blackhawk Auto Museum was the perfect choice for the look and feel they were after. If you've never been, it's a must-see in the San Francisco Bay Area! "Shiny" is the best word to describe the interior. A gorgeous event space surrounded by a collection of glitzy classic cars.

Blackhawk Auto Museum Event Space - Magic ThemeBlackhawk Auto Museum Event Space - Magic ThemeThe Blackhawk Auto Museum event space decorated for a magic themed Bar Mitzvah celebration in red, black and white. Photo by San Francisco Bay Area photographer Cheryl Bigman Photography.

 

The Decor

Lights dripping from the ceiling, colored uplighting along the walls, and the cutest magic-themed table decor complete with top hats and magic wands, all came together to complete Daniel's vision. And a red, black, & white color scheme was the perfect touch.

Kid Tables

Magic Theme Party Blackhawk MuseumMagic Theme Party Blackhawk MuseumTable decor for a magic themed Bar Mitzvah party at Blackhawk Auto Museum in Danville, CA. By San Francisco Bay Area photographer Cheryl Bigman Photography.

Adult Tables Blackhawk Auto Museum Event DecorBlackhawk Auto Museum Event DecorBar Mitzvah party table decor at Blackhawk Auto Museum in Danville, CA. Photographed by San Francisco bay area photographer Cheryl Bigman Photography.

Table Placecards

Table Placecards for Magic Theme PartyTable Placecards for Magic Theme PartyTable place cards for a magic themed Bar Mitzvah party at Blackhawk Auto Museum in Danville, CA. By San Francisco Bay Area photographer Cheryl Bigman Photography.

 

In the lobby, a Step-n-Repeat for iphone photo ops included magic hats and wands for props.


Magic Theme Step-n-RepeatMagic Theme Step-n-RepeatCustom step-n-repeat for a magic themed bar mitzvah party with top hats and magic wands for props. Photo by San Francisco Bay Area photographer Cheryl Bigman Photography/

 

 

Activities

What magic-themed party would be complete without a Magician? Card tricks and slight-of-hand magic worked perfectly for mingling with the guests during cocktail hour and dinner. Both kids and adults thoroughly enjoyed it!

Magician Performs at Bar Mitzvah PartyMagician Performs at Bar Mitzvah PartyA magician entertains guests at a magic themed Bar Mitzvah party at the Blackhawk Auto Museum in Danville, CA. Photo by San Francisco Bay Area photographer Cheryl Bigman Photography. Magician and Bar Mitzvah BoyMagician and Bar Mitzvah BoyA magician added to this boy's magic themed Bar Mitzvah party at the Blackhawk Auto Museum in Danville, CA. Photo by San Francisco Bay Area Bar Mitzvah photographer Cheryl Bigman.

 

Giveaways and Gifts

Cameron and the team from Denon & Doyle ran kids games and gave magic-themed prizes throughout the evening. Decks of cards placed at each table setting for the kids to take home was another nice touch.

DJ Setup for Magic Themed Bar MitzvahDJ Setup for Magic Themed Bar MitzvahDJ setup for magic themed Bar Mitzvah party at Blackhawk Auto Museum with stuffed rabbit giveaway prizes for the kids.

Magic Theme Bar Mitzvah DecorMagic Theme Bar Mitzvah DecorMagic theme table decor for a bar mitzvah party photographed by San Francisco bay area photographer Cheryl Bigman Photography.

 

At the end of the night, guests enjoyed a red, black, and white themed candy bar with to-go boxes filled with all their favorites!

Candy Bar Decor - Magic Themed Bar MitzvahCandy Bar Decor - Magic Themed Bar MitzvahEvent decor for a magic themed Bar Mitzvah party at Blackhawk Auto Museum in Danville, CA. Candy bar with classic cars in the background. By San Francisco Bay Area photographer Cheryl Bigman Photography.

Bar Mitzvah Candy Bar - Red Black WhiteBar Mitzvah Candy Bar - Red Black WhiteCandy bar from a magic themed Bar Mitzvah party in red, black, and white. By San Francisco Bay Area photographer Cheryl Bigman. Enjoying the Candy Bar - Bar Mitzvah PartyEnjoying the Candy Bar - Bar Mitzvah PartyKids enjoying the red, black, and white candy bar at a magic-themed Bar Mitzvah party at Blackhawk Auto Museum in Danville, CA. By San Francisco Bay Area photographer Cheryl Bigman.

 

Got More Tips?

I hope you've found these tips for planning a themed Bar or Bat Mitzvah helpful. If you have any other tips or recommendations for families planning a themed mitzvah party, PLEASE DO SHARE WITH ALL OF US IN THE COMMENTS!

 

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If you enjoyed this Blog and you'd like to hear more helpful tips on event planning in the San Francisco Bay Area, or just want to follow along on all my crazy photography adventures, simply Subscribe in the box above and the Blog will be delivered right to your inbox. It helps to keep this Blog going and I'd so appreciate it!

 

 

Service Area

Cheryl Bigman Photography offers event photography services throughout the entire San Francisco Bay Area including the East Bay cities of Lafayette, Orinda, Pleasant Hill, Walnut Creek, Alamo, Danville, and San Ramon in Contra Costa County. Dublin, Pleasanton, Sunol, and Fremont in Alameda County. South Bay cities including San Jose, Los Gatos, Saratoga, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Palo Alto, and Mountain View in Santa Clara County, Peninsula cities including San Mateo, Burlingame, Foster City, Menlo Park, Woodside, Atherton, and Redwood City in San Mateo County, San Francisco, and North Bay cities in Marin County including Tiburon, San Rafael, and Sausalito.

 

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cheryl@cherylbigman.com (Cheryl Bigman Photography) Bar & Bat Mitzvahs bar mitzvah party blackhawk auto museum cheryl bigman photography event planning tips party ideas party planning party theme photography tips https://www.cherylbigman.com/blog/2019/10/magic-and-miracles-blackhawk-auto-museum-bar-mitzvah-planning Fri, 25 Oct 2019 02:25:32 GMT
Photographing Toddlers - 5 Tips from a San Francisco Bay Area Family Photographer https://www.cherylbigman.com/blog/2019/10/photographing-toddlers---tips-from-a-san-francisco-bay-area-family-photographer 5 Tips for Getting Great Professional Photos of your Toddler

Portrait of Little Girl Playing at the ParkPortrait of Little Girl Playing at the ParkPortrait of a two-year old toddler girl playing and hanging from the bar at Hap Magee Ranch Park in Danville, CA by San Francisco Bay Area family photographer Cheryl Bigman.

We've all been there -

  • Booked a professional portrait session for our adorable toddler at their "good" time - check.
  • Bought the perfect outfit - check.
  • Made sure they were all cleaned up, etc... check.

Because we DESPERATELY wanted that perfect shot, right?

 

Then, we watched helplessly as our little angel :

a) Ran away.

b) Had a full on temper tantrum.

OR

c)  Just plain ignored us!

 

In fact, I think toddlers should come with a warning - "Must have infinite patience, a sense of humor, and be in excellent physical shape to photograph me. And... you will need to run... fast!"

 

Seriously, two-year olds are the cutest, but sometimes us parents want SO badly to get that perfect shot for Facebook, Instagram, etc..., that we forget to capture who they truly are at this age. As a professional family photographer here in the San Francisco Bay Area, I've photographed lots of active toddlers, so thought I'd share a few tips to help you out. And scroll down for great examples, and loads of cuteness from sweet Natalie's Two-Year Portrait Session!

 

5 Tips for Photographing Toddlers

  1. Choose a Comfortable Location - Your own home, a favorite local park, or anywhere familiar. If the weather isn't comfortable, take it inside.
  2. Bring Toys - A brand new toy is a great way to hold your toddler's attention! And so fun to catch their excitement and curiosity with something new.
  3. Let them RUN - A good professional photographer knows how to capture them in motion, and they LOVE to run!
  4. Please do NOT do this... "Say Cheeeeeeeeese"! You will get what you asked for - a very "cheesy" smile - maybe :)  Oh ok, one or two cheesy smile pics are cute. But you will love the real smiles and silly expressions you get from just letting them play.
  5. BE PATIENT AND FLEXIBLE - As you know, sometimes it takes awhile for toddlers to warm up. If something isn't working, don't force it. Try something else - a different toy, a new activity, a treat, etc...

 

It's Just a Big Playdate

The more you and your photographer can become kids yourselves, getting down to their level, and just laugh and play, the better your pictures will be. Once a toddler realizes it's just a big play date, not a high-pressure portrait session, they'll relax (and so will you) and have way more fun. You'll get a great variety of looks too!

But toddlers move FAST and their expressions can change in a split second, so it's your photographer's job to be ready to capture anything at any moment!

 

Patience... this was Natalie's serious face which she wore for the first 20 minutes of our session... at her "good" time. Even though it's not a big cheesy smile, I still love her sweet innocent look.

Two Year Portrait of a Little GirlTwo Year Portrait of a Little GirlPortrait of a two-year old toddler girl at Hap Magee Ranch Park in Danville, CA by San Francisco Bay Area family photographer Cheryl Bigman.

 

New toys! Natalie loved playing with her brand new tea party set. Mom brought a comfy blanket for her to sit on.

Two Year Old Tea Party PortraitTwo Year Old Tea Party PortraitPortrait of a two year old girl having a tea party at Hap Magee Ranch Park in Danville, CA. By San Francisco Bay Area family photographer Cheryl Bigman.

 

I asked Natalie if she could make her mom a cup of tea... so cute.

Little Girl Two Year Tea PartyLittle Girl Two Year Tea PartyPortrait of a two year old girl having a tea party at Hap Magee Ranch Park in Danville, CA. By San Francisco Bay Area family photographer Cheryl Bigman.

 

And once the dollies got invited, Natalie was very pleased!

A Little Girl and Her Doll PortraitA Little Girl and Her Doll PortraitPortrait of a two-year old girl playing with her doll at Hap Magee Ranch Park in Danville, CA by San Francisco Bay Area family photographer Cheryl Bigman.

 

Time for a new activity! Headed to the play structure and that's when the real smiles began. This girl is strong!

Two Year Old Girl Just Hanging OutTwo Year Old Girl Just Hanging OutBlack and white portrait of a two-year old girl hanging from a bar at the playground. By San Francisco Bay Area family photographer Cheryl Bigman Photography.

 

Showing off her ninja moves... at two!

Mini Ninja Little Girl PortraitMini Ninja Little Girl PortraitPortrait of a two-year old toddler girl playing ninja at Hap Magee Ranch Park in Danville, CA by San Francisco Bay Area family photographer Cheryl Bigman.

 

And saved the running for last. Brings out the smiles every time!

Two Year Old Girl on the RunTwo Year Old Girl on the RunPortrait of a two-year old toddler girl happily running at Hap Magee Ranch Park in Danville, CA by San Francisco Bay Area family photographer Cheryl Bigman.

 

Do you have any tips for getting great pictures of the littles in your family? Please share in the Comments!

 

Subscribe

I hope you've found these 5 Tips for Getting Great Photos of your Toddler helpful. If you enjoyed this Blog and you'd like to hear more helpful tips on family portraits and event planning in the San Francisco Bay Area, or just want to follow along on all my crazy photography/travel adventures, simply Subscribe in the box above and the Blog will be delivered right to your inbox. It helps to keep this Blog going and I'd so appreciate it!

 

 

Service Area

Cheryl Bigman Photography services the entire San Francisco Bay Area including the East Bay cities of Lafayette, Orinda, Pleasant Hill, Walnut Creek, Alamo, Danville, and San Ramon in Contra Costa County. Dublin, Pleasanton, Sunol, and Fremont in Alameda County. South Bay cities including San Jose, Los Gatos, Saratoga, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Palo Alto, and Mountain View in Santa Clara County, Peninsula cities including San Mateo, Burlingame, Foster City, Menlo Park, Woodside, Atherton, and Redwood City in San Mateo County, San Francisco, and North Bay cities in Marin County including Tiburon, San Rafael, and Sausalito.

 

 

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cheryl@cherylbigman.com (Cheryl Bigman Photography) cheryl bigman photography danville photographer Family & Kids family and children portraits family photography family portrait tips family portraits photography tips for toddlers professional family photography san francisco bay area family photographer san ramon photographer toddlers https://www.cherylbigman.com/blog/2019/10/photographing-toddlers---tips-from-a-san-francisco-bay-area-family-photographer Thu, 03 Oct 2019 07:59:30 GMT
Tales from a San Francisco Bar Mitzvah Photographer - 3 Ways NOT to do the Hora https://www.cherylbigman.com/blog/2019/9/tales-from-a-san-francisco-bar-mitzvah-photographer---3-ways-not-to-do-a-hora Tales from a San Francisco Bay Area Bar Mitzvah Photographer - Top 3 Tips on How NOT to do the Hora

 

As a San Francisco Bay Area Bar and Bat Mitzvah photographer for the past 10+ years, I have experienced a LOT of Horas - the traditional chair dance done at Jewish celebrations where everyone gathers in a big circle, and the Bar/Bat Mitzvah, bride, groom, etc... is lifted up in a chair in the center while everyone joyously dances around them. SO much fun, and such a great photo op!

 

Hora-Dad-Celebrates-Bat-MitzvahHora-Dad-Celebrates-Bat-MitzvahBar & Bat Mitzvah photography of a dad celebrating while being lifted in the hora chair. By San Francisco Bay Area photographer Cheryl Bigman.

 

But Horas don't always go as planned. In this installment of Tales from a San Francisco Bar Mitzvah Photographer, I'm giving you my Top 3 Tips on How NOT to do the Hora. And keep scrolling for photos from the Trifecta of Hora DONT'S all in one Bar Mitzvah!!! 

 

How NOT to do the Hora

1. DON'T Use a Flimsy Chair - Make sure the Hora Chair is sturdy, and preferably has arms to hold onto. Avoid seats with slippery material. Typical rental dining chairs are not usually the best choice.

This chair with arms made the perfect Hora chair (especially after Max caught some air)!

Airborne-Bar-Mitzvah-Boy-HoraAirborne-Bar-Mitzvah-Boy-HoraBar Mitzvah party photography of a boy lifted airborne in the hora chair. By San Francisco bay area photographer Cheryl Bigman photography.

 

2. DON'T Let Just Anybody Lift the Chair - Make sure you have designated chair-lifters who are strong enough to do the job. Prep them ahead of time on the importance of keeping all sides of the chair even to avoid the dreaded "tipping chair".

Max's Mom felt secure enough to put hands in the air with all those strong guys in the driver's seat.
MaxGoldbergBar-1024MaxGoldbergBar-1024
 

 

3. DON'T LET GO - UNLESS YOU ARE CONFIDENT THAT YOU HAVE #1 & #2 COVERED. It is SO tempting to let go, and do "Look Ma, no hands"! This is especially true for us adults. We SO want to celebrate in front of all our friends and family. (And most Horas happen AFTER cocktail hour - enough said.)

As your photographer, I have to admit that these are the moments I live for! But PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE, make sure you are safe. There is nothing worse than having an accident and bringing the entire party to a screeching halt!

Fearless! Even with a tipping chair.

Bar Mitzvah Little Brother HoraBar Mitzvah Little Brother HoraBar Mitzvah photography of a little brother celebrating in the hora chair during his big sister's Bat Mitzvah. By San Francisco Bay Area photographer Cheryl Bigman.

 

3.5. For the girls, DON'T uncross your legs! Especially if you're wearing a short dress. I've had a few amazing Hora shots where this one tip would have saved me hours of hemline photoshopping to cover the unmentionables. Guess I can now add "Digital Seamstress" to my resume. No photo needed for this one - just keep those legs crossed!

 

The Hora DON'TS Trifecta

These tips may seem obvious, but I can't tell you how many times I've seen accidents happen that could have easily been prevented. Just a couple of weeks ago, I experienced the Trifecta of all of my DON'TS in one B'nai Mitzvah that landed this poor Dad in the ER! Here's the play-by-play...

 

Slippery Chair with No Arms AND "Look Ma No Hands"

Dad-Celebrates-in-the-Hora-Chair-DanceDad-Celebrates-in-the-Hora-Chair-DanceBar Mitzvah photography of a dad celebrating as he's lifted in the air on the hora chair. By San Francisco Bay Area photographer Cheryl Bigman Photography.

 

 

The Dreaded Tipping Chair

Dad-Celebrates-in-the-Hora-Chair-DanceDad-Celebrates-in-the-Hora-Chair-DanceBar Mitzvah photography of a dad celebrating as he's lifted in the air on the hora chair. By San Francisco Bay Area photographer Cheryl Bigman Photography.

 

 

That Moment When You Realize there is Nothing to Hold Onto!

Hora-Fail-Dad-about-to-FallHora-Fail-Dad-about-to-FallBar Mitzvah party photography of a dad about to fall off the hora chair by San Francisco Bay Area event photographer Cheryl Bigman.

 

 

The Aftermath - Dad landed on his chin and left for the ER.

Caution-After-Bar-Mitzvah-Hora-AccidentCaution-After-Bar-Mitzvah-Hora-AccidentAfter dad fell off the hora chair at his kids' bnai mitzvah. San Francisco Bay Area photographer Cheryl Bigman photography tells the story.

 

 

Dad Returns from the ER - to the tune of "Rocky". Chin all stitched up and ready to party!

Bar Mitzvah Hora FailBar Mitzvah Hora FailA Bar Mitzvah photograph of a dad returning from the ER after falling off the hora chair. By San Francisco Bay Area photographer Cheryl Bigman.

Now go celebrate your Bar or Bat Mitzvah! And give your photographer amazing Hora moments to capture.. SAFELY!!!

 

Subscribe

I hope you've enjoyed this Blog and found it helpful. If you'd like to hear more helpful photography/event planning tips for your Bar or Bat Mitzvah in the San Francisco Bay Area, and follow along on my other photography adventures in Travel Photography, Family Portraits, and Senior Portraits, you can Subscribe in the box above and the Blog will be delivered right to your inbox. It helps to keep this Blog going and I'd so appreciate it!

 

 

Service Area

Cheryl Bigman Photography services the entire San Francisco Bay Area including the East Bay cities of Lafayette, Orinda, Pleasant Hill, Walnut Creek, Alamo, Danville, and San Ramon in Contra Costa County. Dublin, Pleasanton, Sunol, and Fremont in Alameda County. South Bay cities including San Jose, Los Gatos, Saratoga, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Palo Alto, and Mountain View in Santa Clara County, Peninsula cities including San Mateo, Burlingame, Foster City, Menlo Park, Woodside, Atherton, and Redwood City in San Mateo County, San Francisco, and North Bay cities in Marin County including Tiburon, San Rafael, and Sausalito.

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cheryl@cherylbigman.com (Cheryl Bigman Photography) Bar & Bat Mitzvahs Bar Mitzvah bar mitzvah photography Bat Mitzvah bat mitzvah photography chair dance event photography event planning hora jewish hora mitzvah special events https://www.cherylbigman.com/blog/2019/9/tales-from-a-san-francisco-bar-mitzvah-photographer---3-ways-not-to-do-a-hora Wed, 25 Sep 2019 14:58:08 GMT
Exploring the Charming Town of Cassis, France https://www.cherylbigman.com/blog/2019/8/exploring-the-charming-town-of-cassis-france Charming Cassis - The Perfect Getaway in the South of France

Colorful Boats in the Port of Cassis, FranceColorful Boats in the Port of Cassis, FranceTravel photography of the charming port in the Provencal town of Cassis in the south of France. Colorful boats lined the docks ready to cruise the blue mediterranean sea.

After an incredible week of teaching photography in Provence (and a year's worth of portrait sessions, Bar & Bat Mitzvahs, and weddings), I was SO ready for a few days of rest and relaxation before exploring the South of France on my own.

 

I wanted to be somewhere by the sea without any specific agenda, and just explore. After weeks of googling (and LOTS of indecision), I finally chose the charming port town of Cassis.

 

Cassis had everything I hoped for. Beautiful turquoise blue water, Provencal-style houses, cafes, and restaurants with pastel-colored shutters, quaint shops, and the loveliest little cobblestone streets just made for endless wandering. Needless to say, no shortage of things to photograph here! And of course, there's Cassis Wine.

 

Here are a few highlights, a list of things to do, where to stay, and helpful insider tips I learned along the way during my time in Cassis.

 

Port View - so colorful!

Colorful Boats and Architecture Cassis FranceColorful Boats and Architecture Cassis FranceA travel photo of colorful boats and Provencal architecture in the charming port town of Cassis France.

 

That water!!!

Boating on the Cote d Azur Cassis FranceBoating on the Cote d Azur Cassis FranceTravel photo of one of the many boats heading out of the port of Cassis, France, enjoying the beautiful turquoise blue Mediterranean Sea.

 

Every restaurant more charming than the next!

Cassis France RestaurantCassis France RestaurantTravel photo of a charming seaside restaurant in the beautiful Provencal port town of Cassis, France.

 

Meringue Desserts at the local patisserie.

Meringue Treats in Cassis FranceMeringue Treats in Cassis FranceAmazing meringue dessert treats from a local patisserie in Cassis France.

 

Enjoying the cool water. It was HOT!

Azure Blue Mediterranean Sea Cassis FranceAzure Blue Mediterranean Sea Cassis FranceTravel photo of the gorgeous azure blue mediterranean sea along the coast of Cassis France.

 

Can't resist a decorative door... and there were a LOT of them. That knocker!

Decorative Wood Door Cassis FranceDecorative Wood Door Cassis FranceA beautiful decorative wood door of a residence with iron detail and stone framing in the Provence town of Cassis France.

 

Early morning before the tourist rush.

Colorful Restaurants in Cassis, FranceColorful Restaurants in Cassis, FranceTravel photo of a row of colorful seaside restaurants on a charming street in the Provencal port town of Cassis, France.

 

Kiddie Sailing

Every morning, these miniature sized sailboats filled with little kids headed out of the port and sailed right past my apartment. They were all strung together, being pulled by the sailing instructor. I could hear their giggles a mile away. SO cute!

Kid-Sized Sailboats Cassis FranceKid-Sized Sailboats Cassis FranceCute kid-sized sailboats at the sailing school in the port town of Cassis France.

 

Things to Do in Cassis

While I really wanted this part of my trip to be restful, Cassis had a LOT to offer and I didn't have time to take advantage of it all.

If you go (and when I go back), here's a list of Things to Do:

 

  • Calanques - Inlets that have been formed in the limestone cliffs, leaving behind a series of beautiful little bays with small beaches. Hike, take a kayak tour, hire a boat tour, or rent a boat of your own, and swim in the clear turquoise water.
  • Wineries - Several in the area, including producers of white Cassis wine.
  • Beaches - There are a few gorgeous beaches in Cassis. As with most beaches in the South of France, they are not sandy. Instead, they are covered in small pebbles. But that azure blue water is stunning!
  • Cap Canaille - Hike or drive for spectacular coastal views from the highest sea cliff in France.

 

Where to Stay

By the time I decided on Cassis, there were no hotel options left as July is the height of tourist season. But I totally lucked out and found the most beautiful apartment right on the sea! Villa Calanco.

 

If you ever visit Cassis, I highly recommend Villa Calanco. Your back terrace is literally right on the Mediterranean. I was SO happy just enjoying the view from every room, laying out on the terrace, breathing in that clean ocean air, and being lulled to sleep every night by the sound of the waves. The owner Stéfanie was so gracious, making sure everything was perfect. Check out Villa Calanco here: http://www.villacalanco.com/.

 

View from my bedroom at Villa Calanco.

Travel Photo of the Blue Mediterranean Sea in Cassis FranceTravel Photo of the Blue Mediterranean Sea in Cassis FranceView of the deep blue mediterranean sea from my terrace at Villa Calanco in Cassis France.

 

Terrace View of Cap Canaille - The highest sea cliff in France. Had to break out the tripod for some sunset shots.

Cap Canaille Cassis FranceCap Canaille Cassis FranceTravel photo of Cap Canaille headland in the Provencal town of Cassis, France at sunset. Cap Canaille is the highest sea cliff in all of France. Photo taken from my terrace at Villa Calanco, Cassis, France.

 

Travel Tips When Visiting Cassis

Best Time to Visit - May or September for the best weather and fewest tourists. June, July, August is the height of tourist season as Cassis is a popular holiday spot for Europeans, and it gets very busy. It's also very hot. That being said, I visited in July and enjoyed every minute!

 

Best Way to Get There - Fly into Marseille-Provence Airport. The quickest way to Cassis is to hire a taxi, Uber, or other car service to take you to your hotel/apartment. About a 50-minute drive from the airport. ~100€.

If you're on a budget and don't mind a longer trip, there are less expensive train/bus options. Check out Rome2rio for an easy way to see all the options in one place. Website: https://www.rome2rio.com/s/Marseille/Cassis

 

Best Way to Get Around - Walk! Everything in the port area is walkable. Hire a car if you need to venture further out. Parking is not easy in Cassis, so I don't recommend renting a car unless your hotel/apartment comes with a parking space.

 

Best Place for Tourist Info - Office de Tourisme (Tourism Office), located right in the port, has loads of info. Website: https://www.ot-cassis.com/

 

For Solo Female Travelers - I felt very safe in Cassis. As with all solo travel, be aware of your surroundings. I did not go to the port alone at night as my apartment was about a 20-minute walk through dark streets.


What's Your Favorite Travel Destination? Are You a Solo Female Traveler?

What's your favorite travel destination so far, and why? What places are still on your bucket list? Got any tips for solo female travelers? Please share in the Comments.

 

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cheryl@cherylbigman.com (Cheryl Bigman Photography) cassis colorful boats cote d azur france france tourism french tourism french toursime mediterranean sea provence architecture solo female travel solo travel south of france travel photography travel tips turquoise blue water https://www.cherylbigman.com/blog/2019/8/exploring-the-charming-town-of-cassis-france Wed, 28 Aug 2019 21:32:30 GMT
Back to School... What do You Want to be When You Grow Up? https://www.cherylbigman.com/blog/2019/8/back-to-school-what-do-you-want-to-be-when-you-grow-up Custom-High-School-Senior-Portrait-GirlCustom-High-School-Senior-Portrait-GirlCustom high school senior portrait outdoors at Hap Magee Ranch Park in Danville, CA by Cheryl Bigman Photography.

So, What do You Want to be When You Grow Up?

Ahhh, that is THE question, isn't it? And now that it’s Back-to-School time, kids in high school and college (and their parents) are feeling the pressure to have an answer. Are you feeling it? I photograph a lot of high school seniors, and it's always the hot topic of conversation.

 

We see it all over social media. Friends posting about how proud they are of their son or daughter, majoring in rocket science, at a prestigious ivy league school, and ready to change the world. I'm not in any way diminishing the accomplishments of these kids, and the pride their parents feel. But for some of us, it's hard not to feel inadequate if your kid (or YOU) hasn't figured it all out just yet, right?

 

I grew up a Baby Boomer in the heart of Silicon Valley WAY before the internet. Attending college (and even better, grad school), was considered your ticket to success. In fact, where I grew up, it was expected. I definitely felt the pressure of picking a major in a lucrative field and sticking to it. And now as a parent, I find myself fighting off the same old mentality with my kid! Working on that...

 

The ONE Piece of Advice I Wish Someone had Given Me...

Find Your Passion.

You know, the thing that gives you that little jolt of excitement deep inside.

The thing you love SO much that you never get tired of doing it.

The thing that makes you YOU.

Yes, you have to be able to pay the bills. (Parent translation, “Mommy and Daddy want you off the payroll.”). But if you take the long view, have some patience, and a bit of tenacity, you will eventually be successful doing something you LOVE. And most importantly - be HAPPY!

I am living proof. Some might say I'm a "late-bloomer". It just doesn't matter. As long as you get there and enjoy the journey.

 

Custom-High-School-Senior-Portrait-BoyCustom-High-School-Senior-Portrait-BoyCustom high school senior portrait with graffiti outdoors at Baker Beach in San Francisco, CA by Cheryl Bigman Photography.

 

Let's Talk - What's YOUR story?

Please tell me I'm not alone here. Let's talk.

  • Are you a high school or college kid who's feeling the pressure of picking a major or selecting your career path?
  • Are you a parent who followed your parents' advice and ended up in a career you didn't love? How are you handling this with your own kids?
  • Are you an "empty-nester" who's considering a mid-life career change?

 

If you can relate, I'd SO appreciate you sharing your story in the Comments. You never know who might really need to hear what you have to say. I'll be sharing the story of the biggest career change of my life in the next Blog.

 

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Thank you!

 

 

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cheryl@cherylbigman.com (Cheryl Bigman Photography) back to school career advice college bound do what you love find your passion high school seniors Inspiration living a happy life Senior Portraits https://www.cherylbigman.com/blog/2019/8/back-to-school-what-do-you-want-to-be-when-you-grow-up Thu, 15 Aug 2019 00:14:02 GMT
Gilroy, El Paso, Dayton - I don't have the answer BUT... https://www.cherylbigman.com/blog/2019/8/gilroy-el-paso-dayton---i-dont-have-the-answer-but How do we Cope?

 

It's been quite some time since my last Blog entry and I've missed connecting with all of you here SO much! I have a LOT of catching up to do, but in light of the recent tragic events in our country, I'll start with these thoughts...

 

Like most people I know, the recent rash of gun violence in the U.S. created a mixed bag of feelings... anger, sympathy, frustration, fear, and helplessness. These tragic events along with all the past mass shootings wreak havoc on so many innocent people and their families. Gilroy in particular hit a little too close to home. The only other time in my lifetime that I've felt this unsafe in my own country was during 9/11. And to know that these recent acts of violence are being committed against U.S. citizens by U.S. Citizens is even more disturbing. So how do we cope?

 

I'm not a therapist, nor do I have all the answers to this problem. But during difficult times, either personal or global, the only way I know to cope is to put something beautiful out into the universe. Something that made me feel the exact opposite – joyful, happy, and carefree. Exactly how I felt when watching this sweet little girl splashing in the water park in Nice, France without a care in the world.

 

Toddler-Girl-Jumping-in-Water-Park-Nice-FranceToddler-Girl-Jumping-in-Water-Park-Nice-FranceCandid photo of a little girl toddler splashing in a water fountain park in Nice, France.

Toddler-Girl-Jumping-in-Water-Park-Nice-FranceToddler-Girl-Jumping-in-Water-Park-Nice-FranceCandid photo of a little girl toddler splashing in a water fountain park in Nice, France. Reflection.


Can you remember a time when you felt like her? Do you have a photo, a letter, a poem, a song, or a special memory that brings up those same feelings? Please share in the comments below and put a little more beauty out into the world for others who might need it. I'd love to hear from you!

 

I hope these photos and comments bring a smile to your face, a little joy to your day, and spread good karma out into the universe.

 

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cheryl@cherylbigman.com (Cheryl Bigman Photography) candid moments childrens photography childs play coping france good karma gun violence nice reflection Travel Photography https://www.cherylbigman.com/blog/2019/8/gilroy-el-paso-dayton---i-dont-have-the-answer-but Mon, 05 Aug 2019 21:03:29 GMT
A Story of Hope - Razia's Family Portrait Session https://www.cherylbigman.com/blog/2016/1/A-Story-of-Hope--Razias-Family-Portrait-Session Razia, Abe, and Family | Family Portraits
Date | 8.21.15
Location | Hap Magee Ranch Park, Alamo, CA

 

Everyone has a story...

One of the things I love most about my job is getting to know my clients on a personal level, and telling their stories in both words and photographs. Razia's story in particular, really got my attention.

Family-Portrait-with-Two-Girls-Wearing-Matching-Plaid-DressesFamily-Portrait-with-Two-Girls-Wearing-Matching-Plaid-DressesA beautiful family portrait of an Afghan family of four with two little girls wearing matching plaid dresses. Taken at Hap Magee Ranch Park in Alamo, CA.

So first, her incredible story...

Imagine being just 3 years old and living in the midst of the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Razia's family knew they had to leave everything behind for their own safety, but leaving was no easy task. There were no planes to take them out of Afghanistan. The family had to pay perpetrators to walk them to Pakistan. Yes, walk! As Razia recalled, "Even though I was so little, I still remember hearing the sound of rockets being fired over my head." Frightening!

Razia's family finally made it to Pakistan where they moved into a crowded place with an aunt. To make matters worse, the thousands of refugees entering Pakistan were seen as illegal aliens and considered "less than" in society. Many left successful careers in Afghanistan, only to find menial jobs in Pakistan. Razia's grandparents, who previously fled to Germany, were both successful professionals in Afghanistan. Her grandmother ran the first hospital there and her grandfather was a cardiologist. Her grandparents moved to Los Angeles in the early 80's and sponsored their children. After 2 years in Pakistan, Razia's family was able to join them in Los Angeles on 3-15-83 where she spent the next 10 years.

 

Life in the U.S.

Razia knew she wanted to go to college, and eventually moved to the east bay to attend Cal State Hayward. She also knew she wanted to use her experience as a refugee to help others going through the process. She graduated Cal State and attended the California School of Professional Psychology where she was the youngest in her class. She earned her PhD at the age of 26, doing her residency at UCSF. Such an inspiration!

Razia has worked as a clinical psychologist with Jewish Children and Family Services (JCFS) since 2009, helping refugees through the resettlement process. She is the only psychologist in the entire Bay Area who speaks Dari (Afghan), Farsi (Iranian), and English which is huge in gaining the trust of the people she works with. She also appears on an Afghan TV show called "Women of the World" and recently gave a presentation in Washington DC on refugees and immigrants, and the cultural differences between South Asians and Afghans.

Interestingly, Razia's husband Abe's family also came from Afghanistan. Without knowing it, both Razia and Abe's families lived in Fremont for a time. Must have been meant-to-be.

Those of us who have grown up in the U.S., especially the San Francisco Bay Area, cannot even begin to know what it was like for Razia's family. Risking your life for your freedom, leaving everything you know behind, moving to a foreign country where you don't speak the language and have no job. It's a story that has repeated itself throughout history, most recently with the current Syrian refugee crisis. The strangest thing for me listening to Razia's story was thinking about what I was doing back in the early 80's compared to what she went through. Night and Day. Like many high school kids, I was completely oblivious.

I am so thankful I got to know Razia and create beautiful keepsake portraits to document her more recent family history. Knowing her story makes it all the more special. Razia's little girls will hopefully never experience the struggle and sacrifice their parents endured to get here, but Razia assured me that someday they would take the girls back to the places they grew up when they first arrived in the U.S.

 

And now, Razia's Family Portraits...

Afghan-Family-Portrait-Hap-Magee-AlamoAfghan-Family-Portrait-Hap-Magee-AlamoA sweet family picture of an Afghan family of four. The two little girls decided to wear matching plaid dresses. Portrait taken at Hap Magee Ranch Park in Alamo, CA.

Big-Sister-Love-and-HugsBig-Sister-Love-and-HugsA big sister wraps her arms around her little sister for an adorable portrait. Girls are wearing Burberry-style matching plaid dresses in neutral colors. Photo taken at Hap Magee Ranch Park in Alamo, CA.

I think these two like each other just a little...

Mom-and-Daughters-HugMom-and-Daughters-HugPortrait of a mother and her two young daughters of Afghan descent getting close for their photo op. The two girls are wearing matching plaid Burberry style dresses while mom wears a beautiful pastel floral print. Picture taken at Hap Magee Ranch Park in Alamo, CA.

Sister-Love-and-HugsSister-Love-and-HugsTwo sweet sisters in a loving hug for their portrait at Hap Magee Ranch Park in Alamo, CA. These adorable little girls wore matching plaid dresses and gave me the cutest smiles in every one of their pictures.

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cheryl@cherylbigman.com (Cheryl Bigman Photography) Families & Kids The Backstory family portraits https://www.cherylbigman.com/blog/2016/1/A-Story-of-Hope--Razias-Family-Portrait-Session Wed, 13 Jan 2016 21:07:25 GMT
Jodee's Fall Family Portrait Session https://www.cherylbigman.com/blog/2016/1/jodeesfallfamilyportraitsession Jodee & Robert | Family Portraits
Date | 10.30.15
Location | Family Home
 

 

Fall Family Portraits

When Jodee called me asking to do Fall family portraits, I was a little concerned. Here in the East Bay Area of San Francisco, we usually get a pretty good show of Fall colors, but with our severe draught, October was looking pretty dull. Luckily, Jodee suggested using her home for her portrait session which had an amazing wall of ivy in the backyard - ivy full of beautiful fall colors!

 

We decided to start with Jodee and her husband Robert's sweet daughter Chloe.

Girl-in-Fall-Color-SceneGirl-in-Fall-Color-SceneA young girl poses for a portrait in front of a decorative iron gate with fall color in ivy behind her.

Chloe was quite the little model and made my job so easy.

 

We also decided to include Winston, their adorable West Highland Terrier, and he did not disappoint. Such a cute boy in front of my camera!

 

Then we added the rest of the family... aren't they gorgeous!

Fall-Family-Portrait-with-DogFall-Family-Portrait-with-DogAn attractive family poses for a family portrait with their pet west highland terrier dog using a background of fall colored ivy plants.

 

It's always fun to see how kids interact with each parent separately. Snuggles with mom and dad...

Mother-Daughter-Snuggle-PortraitA young girl snuggles check to cheek with her mom while mom is holding her. This portrait was taken against a background of fall colored ivy.

Father-Daughter-Fall-PortraitPortrait of a father holding his young daughter as they pose in front of a beautiful fall colored wall of ivy.

 

and then Dad giving Chloe some air time.

Dad-Throwing-Daughter-Up-in-the-AirDad-Throwing-Daughter-Up-in-the-AirA father playing with his young daughter, throwing her up in the air and catching her. Caught her mid air in this fun portrait set against a background of fall colored ivy.

 

And of course, we had to get some shots of just Jodee and Robert. Such a beautiful couple!

Beautiful-Couples-Portrait-with-Fall-ColorsBeautiful-Couples-Portrait-with-Fall-ColorsA beautiful husband and wife couple pose for an outdoor portrait in their fall colored garden of ivy. Dressed in burgundy and blue jeans, they fit perfectly into the fall foliage.

 

After exhausting all the great backyard locations, we moved to the front of the house and Chloe changed into the most adorable new outfit. Such a fashionista she was! The grounds around Jodee and Robert's home provided endless sets for us to use.

Little-Girl-in-Red-and-Leopard-PrintLittle-Girl-in-Red-and-Leopard-PrintPortrait of a young girl dressed in a red and leopard print outfit with designer black boots. She's posing in front of a rustic wood door with iron accents.

 

Then it was back to getting shots of the whole family. 

 

One of those "unplanned moments". Chloe and Winston just happened to look at each other at the exact same time.

 

And of course, we had to have some fun with the dog, so Robert broke out the treats and Winston was all over it!

 

Thanks to Jodee and Robert for allowing me to photograph their very personal family portraits at their lovely home. Could not have asked for a better location or a nicer family to work with.

 

 

San Francisco Bay Area Family Photography

I hope you enjoy this San Francisco Bay Area Family Photography provided by Cheryl Bigman Photography, specializing in portraits of Families and Children throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.
Cheryl Bigman Photography is unique among other San Francisco Bay Area Family Portrait photographers. Each family is one of a kind, and Cheryl feels your Family Portrait photography should be one of a kind as well. Every family portrait session is treated with the utmost care and attention in order to creatively weave together the story of your special family.

 

 

Service Area Information

Cheryl Bigman Photography offers Photography of Families and Children throughout the San Francisco Bay Area including but not limited to the Tri-Valley and Contra Costa areas of Lafayette, Walnut Creek, Danville, San Ramon, Pleasanton, Oakland, Berkeley, San Francisco, San Mateo, Burlingame, Redwood City on the Peninsula, Marin County in the North Bay, and the South Bay.
Not looking for a Family Portrait Photographer? Please consider Cheryl for your custom high school senior photography and all of your special event photography needs in the San Francisco Bay Area. Destination photography outside the San Francisco Bay Area available upon request. Call for more information.

 
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cheryl@cherylbigman.com (Cheryl Bigman Photography) Families & Kids family portraits https://www.cherylbigman.com/blog/2016/1/jodeesfallfamilyportraitsession Fri, 08 Jan 2016 17:15:16 GMT
The Agony and the Ecstasy... of being a Professional Photographer that is. https://www.cherylbigman.com/blog/2015/9/the-agony-and-the-ecstasy-of-being-a-professional-photographer-that-is A Short Personal Story...

Did you see the amazing super blood moon/eclipse the other night? If not, you undoubtedly saw the pictures posted all over social media. I knew it was happening, but I had already scheduled a family portrait session and new client consult during that time, so I resigned myself to the fact that I would not be able to shoot it.

As the day went on, I couldn't stop thinking about how photographing the moon has been on my list of things to try for a very long time. The closer it got to the big event, the more anxious I became. This is the fight that goes on inside the head of a pro photographer. Do I drop everything to get the shot, or do I let the opportunity go?

I finished my portrait session in Oakland and began the drive to my consult in Marin. Once I crossed the Richmond/San Rafael Bridge, I could see people standing around with their iPhones and iPads pointed up to the sky behind me. I knew they were trying to photograph the moon, but I couldn't see it.

Then it happened - I turned onto a dark road high above the bay, and suddenly the view opened up to a wide open clear sky with the huge blood red super moon hanging over the water right in front of me! The words that spewed out of my mouth... you don't want to know. There I was with one of the best views in the San Francisco Bay Area of this once-in-a-lifetime event. I wanted to stop SO badly! Then I remembered... I had a client appointment to get to AND I had no tripod with me. Even if I wanted to photograph the moon, I couldn't.

 

Another Opportunity

The next night, I was blow-drying my daughter's hair when she said, "Mom, look at the moon! Why don't you take a picture?" Right outside my window was the coolest full moon illuminating a sea of clouds in a warm glow. That little fight inside my head began all over again. It was 10:30pm on a school night. I needed to get my daughter to go to bed. But how could I pass up another opportunity right outside my door?

My daughter rarely asks me to photograph anything when I'm with her. She hates it when we go somewhere together and I have to stop every so often to take a picture. And she knows it's never just one picture. I linger to work the scene until I get what I want. That night however, she actually encouraged me to take some shots of this amazing skyscape, so I grabbed my gear and went for it. This is the result...

Full-Moon-in-the-CloudsFull-Moon-in-the-CloudsPhotography of a bright full moon illuminating the clouds surrounding it, casting a warm glow. Photographed in San Ramon, CA by Cheryl Bigman Photography.

 

Worth it? Absolutely! I think my daughter was as amazed as I was by how clearly we could see the details in the moon. I can't think of anything better than the feeling of photographing something I've never tried before, and learning from it. That's what fills my cup. That's what ignites my passion for photography over and over again.

 

For all you photography enthusiasts, here is how I got the shot...

Gear: Canon 5DMarkIII, 100-400L IS II, Gitzo Tripod

This is actually two shots of the same scene combined in Photoshop. One is exposed for the moon, and the other is exposed for the clouds. Because the moon was so bright, there was no way to get both the clouds and the moon exposed correctly in the same shot. The clouds were also moving fairly quickly across the scene, but I decided to show some motion blur as I thought it would add a more artistic feel to the shot. Here are my settings:

Moon Exposure: ISO 100, f/5.0, 1/320, 214mm, manual mode

Clouds Exposure: ISO 250, f/5.0, 1/5, 214mm, manual mode

In order to get the moon tack sharp, I used Live View mode and zoomed in 10X on the back of the camera. I then focused manually. It was literally like looking through a telescope!

 

***To stay up to date on all my latest photography adventures, just enter your email in the box above and my Blog will be delivered right to your inbox.

 

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cheryl@cherylbigman.com (Cheryl Bigman Photography) Real Life - Personal Stories Scenics https://www.cherylbigman.com/blog/2015/9/the-agony-and-the-ecstasy-of-being-a-professional-photographer-that-is Tue, 29 Sep 2015 17:56:07 GMT
Amanda and Bobby - One HOT Wedding... Literally! https://www.cherylbigman.com/blog/2015/9/amanda-and-bobby---one-hot-wedding-literally Amanda and Bobby | Wedding
Date | 8.16.15
Location | Coyote Ranch, San Jose, CA

 

What do you do on the hottest day of the year???

Have an outdoor wedding of course! At least that's what Amanda and Bobby did, and I got to capture their entire story in pictures.

No one ever plans to get married on the hottest day of the year, especially if your wedding is outdoors. But Mother Nature was in control and decided to bring on the heat big time! The day topped out at 106° to be exact.

Amanda and Bobby are used to spending a LOT of time in ice rinks as they're both hockey coaches, so this was going to be interesting. All I kept thinking as I was driving to San Jose was, how am I going to keep everyone as cool as possible and still get all the beautiful portraits I had pictured in my head?

 

Getting Ready

My day started with Amanda and the girls getting ready at a nearby hotel - air conditioned thank goodness. I walked into their room, turned to my right, saw Amanda (or so I thought) getting hair and makeup done, turned to my left, and saw Amanda's double! I must have looked totally dumbfounded as everyone started laughing. No one told me Amanda had a twin, Marie, who was actually the one in hair and makeup! Guess the joke was on me :)

 

The Details... nothing like a little blue box from Tiffany & Co.

The-Little-Blue-Box-from-TiffanysThe-Little-Blue-Box-from-TiffanysDetail wedding ring shot with the famous little blue box from Tiffany & Co. What girl wouldn't love that!

Custom-White-Bridal-GownCustom-White-Bridal-GownDetail picture of a custom made white bridal gown hanging on custom made hangar against a black background.

 

 

A Special Moment - Amanda's sister and mom helping her put on the wedding dress she MADE for her daughter! So beautiful!!!

Mom-Helping-the-Bride-Get-ReadyMom-Helping-the-Bride-Get-ReadyBlack and white picture of a bride getting ready, putting on her wedding dress with the help of her mother and twin sister. Her mother made her dress. Photographed in natural window light.

Mother-of-the-Bride-and-her-DaughterMother-of-the-Bride-and-her-DaughterA mother of the bride looks lovingly at her beautiful daughter who is about to get married wearing the wedding dress her mother custom made for her.

Bridal-Portrait-Natural-Window-LightBridal-Portrait-Natural-Window-LightClose up black and white portrait of a bride looking down at her bouquet of flowers in natural window light. Shot from a high vantage point looking down on the bride and focusing on her eyelashes.

 

Then it was the boys's turn in the hotel next door. Both hotel rooms were very small, so I had to get creative. The boys' room had a great mirror on the wall which I thought would be fun to play with. I'm a bit vertically challenged and these boys were TALL, so I had to improvise. They all had a good laugh at me balancing on the bed to get this shot.

Groom-Before-the-Ceremony-ReflectionsGroom-Before-the-Ceremony-ReflectionsBlack and white wedding portrait of a groom anticipating the moment when he sees his bride for the first time. His groomsmen's reflections in the mirror behind him, looking proudly at their guy.

Bobby and his dad...

Loved the guys looking so cool.

Groom-and-his-Groomsmen-Getting-ReadyGroom-and-his-Groomsmen-Getting-ReadyBlack and white portrait of a groom and his groomsmen getting ready in their hotel room before the ceremony. They're looking very cool sitting on the sofa in their wedding attire, just chilling out before the wedding begins.

 

The First Look

Amanda and Bobby agreed to a very private "first look" before the actual ceremony. I had them each wait inside air-conditioned rooms until the big moment, and then it happened...

Grooms-First-Look-at-his-BrideGrooms-First-Look-at-his-BrideA groom sees his beautiful bride for the first time in a private moment before the wedding ceremony. Photographed at Coyote Ranch Park in South San Jose.

Grooms-Kiss-after-First-Look-at-his-BrideGrooms-Kiss-after-First-Look-at-his-BrideA groom is overcome with emotion on his wedding day as he sees his bride for the first time before the ceremony. He tenderly kisses her on the forehead. Sepia photo captured at Coyote Ranch Park in South San Jose, CA.

 

 

It's a Bird, It's a Plane, it's...

Every event has a funny backstory, and Amanda and Bobby's was no different. After the First Look, we started our wedding party pictures. Suddenly, Bobby's face turned from very very happy to very very angry. Everyone looked to see what was wrong. We quickly realized that a bird decided to relieve itself smack dab on Bobby's dress shoe! (And this bird was either really big, or had some tummy troubles that day.) The girls thought this was the funniest thing they had ever seen, but then cautiously looked up to make sure they were not the next target. The flower girl was obviously not amused. The boys helped Bobby clean up, and he was soon back to his happy place.

 

The Ceremony

So many great moments during the ceremony, I could hardly contain myself!

Dad giving away the bride...

Giving-Her-Hand-in-MarriageGiving-Her-Hand-in-MarriageA father sweetly gives his daughter's hand in marriage to his future son-in-law during this tender moment in their wedding ceremony. Photographed at Coyote Ranch Park in South San Jose, CA by Cheryl Bigman Photography.

Exchanging rings...

 

Party Time!

Representing the hockey contingent, Bobby's San Jose Jr. Sharks Girls team came to support.

The reception venue had these very cool rustic chic framed mirrors lining the walls which made for some unexpected reflection shots.

Reflections-of-a-BrideReflections-of-a-BrideA bridal portrait of a bride reflected in a decorative mirror at her wedding ceremony. Photograph taken under the decorative lights and rustic chic decor of Coyote Ranch Park in South San Jose, CA.

And then there was Ellery - flower girl - spinning dancer extraordinairre!

Last Dance...

Wedding-Couples-First-DanceWedding-Couples-First-DanceClose-up black and white photograph of a bride and groom's first dance as they look into each other's eyes. Photographed under the decorative lights during the wedding reception at Coyote Ranch Park in South San Jose.

 

Not even the scorching heat could dampen the spirits of this wonderful couple. Thank you Amanda and Bobby for choosing me to capture your love for each other on your wedding day. Wishing you a lifetime of happiness!

 

 

 

San Francisco Bay Area Wedding Photography

I hope you enjoy this San Francisco Bay Area wedding photography provided by Cheryl Bigman Photography specializing in weddings, Bar/Bat Mitzvahs, and other events throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.
Cheryl Bigman Photography is unique among other San Francisco Bay Area special event photographers. Each wedding, Bar/Bat Mitzvah, or other special event is one of a kind, and Cheryl feels your special event photographs should be one of a kind as well. Every special event is treated with the utmost care and attention in order to creatively weave together the story of your family and your day.

 

Service Area Information

Cheryl Bigman Photography offers wedding, Bar/Bat Mitzvah, and other special event photography throughout the San Francisco Bay Area including but not limited to the Tri-Valley and Contra Costa areas of Lafayette, Walnut Creek, Danville, San Ramon, Pleasanton, Oakland, Berkeley, San Francisco, San Mateo, Burlingame, Redwood City on the Peninsula, Marin County in the North Bay, and the South Bay.
Not looking for a special event photographer? Please consider Cheryl for your family portraits and custom high school senior portrait photography needs in the San Francisco Bay Area. Destination photography outside the San Francisco Bay Area available upon request. Call for more information.

 
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cheryl@cherylbigman.com (Cheryl Bigman Photography) Weddings https://www.cherylbigman.com/blog/2015/9/amanda-and-bobby---one-hot-wedding-literally Fri, 25 Sep 2015 23:15:21 GMT
Amanda and Bobby - An Engagement Session to Remember in Half Moon Bay https://www.cherylbigman.com/blog/2015/8/amanda-and-bobby---an-engagement-session-to-remember-in-half-moon-bay Amanda and Bobby | Engagement Session
Date | 6.28.15
Location | Ritz-Carlton Beach, Half Moon Bay, CA

 

The "Unexpected" Engagement Session

I first met Amanda when she was the head coach of my daughter's ice hockey team a couple of years ago. Bobby was also a hockey coach for another girls team at the same rink, and that is where they first met. When Amanda asked if I was available to photograph her wedding, I couldn't have been more excited!

We met to discuss the details, and decided to do an Engagement Session so Amanda and Bobby would have current pictures that were separate from their wedding day. Honestly, I thought the location was a "no-brainer" - the ice rink of course! But to my surprise, Amanda told me she wanted something different, something no one would expect. I LOVED that because most people are used to seeing these two in their hockey coaching attire at the rink (including me).

Amanda told me a great story about when Bobby took her on a surprise date to Half Moon Bay, CA, and I have to say, I was impressed to learn the softer, more romantic side of B​​obby. We decided right then and there it HAD to be Half Moon Bay!

We set out early the morning of our shoot to beat all the other San Francisco Bay Area people trying to escape the oppressive inland heat. Typical of Half Moon Bay, we had cool weather with perfect overcast skies. Many people think overcast is bad for pictures and sunny is better, but when you're at the beach, direct midday sun can be really harsh and unflattering so I was very happy - great light and no fog!

Engagement-Portrait-Half-Moon-Bay-Ritz-CarltonA couple enjoying the scenic bluff overlooking the ocean in Half Moon Bay, CA at the Ritz-Carlton golf course during their engagement portrait session.

 

Before our session, I scoured the internet looking for the perfect stretch of beach with lots of options, and decided on The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay. We began shooting on an incredibly scenic bluff overlooking the ocean. It didn't take long before Amanda and Bobby created their own amazing moments for me to capture. It's always those spontaneous, unposed moments that make my heart sing.

Romantic-Moment-Engagement-Portrait-Half-Moon-BayA loving couple taking a moment to enjoy each other during their engagement portrait session at the Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay, CA. Loving-Moment-Close-up-Engagement-PortraitAn engaged couple taking a moment to feel each other's love captured in this close-up black and white portrait.

 

We walked down to the gorgeous beach which had a perfect curved cove in the background. Because Bobby is about a foot taller than Amanda, I was looking for natural props that would even out their height a bit. Once the logistical elements were in place, I let Amanda and Bobby just enjoy each other and their surroundings (with a little direction from me).

Engagement-Portrait-Half-Moon-Bay-BeachEngagement-Portrait-Half-Moon-Bay-BeachA man and his fiance enjoying an intimate moment together during their engagement portrait session on a beautiful sandy beach cove in Half Moon Bay, California. Beach was accessible from the Ritz-Carlton hotel. Beach-Engagement-Portrait-Half-Moon-Bay-CAA man and his fiance enjoying an intimate moment together during their engagement portrait session on a beautiful sandy beach cove in Half Moon Bay, California. Beach was accessible from the Ritz-Carlton hotel.

Engagement-Portrait-Sitting-on-th-Beach-Half-Moon-Bay-CAAn engaged couple pose for a picture sitting on the beach in Half Moon Bay, CA.

 

Next, I asked Amanda and Bobby to take a leisurely stroll on the beach. Bobby may seem like a tough guy at the ice rink, but once his tender feet hit that cold pacific ocean, I saw a whole new side of Bobby. Too funny!

Tender-Feet-and-Cold-Pacific-Ocean-Funny-MomentDuring their engagement portrait session, Bobby wasn't so sure about getting his tender feet in the cold Pacific Ocean at the beach in Half Moon Bay, CA. Engaged-Couple-Strolling-the-Beach-in-Half-Moon-Bay-CACandid engagement picture of a couple strolling the beach in Half Moon Bay, CA. Engagement-Portrait-Loving-Moment-on-the-Beach-in-SepiaA man decides to pick up his fiance during this candid moment on the beach in Half Moon Bay, CA. Photo processed with sepia toning.

Engagement-Candid-Photo-Fun-at-the-BeachA couple having fun on the beach at Half Moon Bay, CA during their engagement portrait session. Candid moment in black and white.

 

As we walked down to the other end of the beach, we came across this cool outcropping of rock and decided to get a few wider angle shots of Amanda and Bobby surrounded by the powerful ocean.

Couple-Enjoying-the-Ocean-at-Half-Moon-Bay-CA-BeachEngagement session portrait of a couple standing on an outcropping of rock surrounded by crashing waves in Half Moon Bay, CA.

Engagement-Portrait-Couple-Overlooking-the-OceanAn engaged couple stand on a rock enjoying the waves of the Pacific Ocean crashing around them. Photo aken in Half Moon Bay, CA.

 

Couple-Having-Fun-at-the-BeachDuring their engagement portrait session, this girl decided to have a little fun with her fiance who was negotiating his way of a rock surrounded by the Pacific Ocean in Half Moon Bay, CA.

"Tender Foot" trying to get off the rock - LOL.

Portrait-Session-Fun-in-Half-Moon-BayDuring their engagement portrait session in Half Moon Bay, CA, a couple is trying to figure out how to get off a rock surrounded by the Pacific Ocean.

"You caught me!"

 

Eventually, the sun began peaking out through the clouds so I decided to try a different location on the beach, adding some extra fill light with off-camera flash.

Engagement-Portrait-Half-Moon-Bay-Beach-CAAn engagement session portrait of a couple in Half Moon Bay, CA on the beach below the Ritz-Carlton hotel.

 

Our last stop was this cool wooden bridge lined with beautiful cypress trees.

Engagement-Portrait-Among-Cypress-Trees-Half-Moon-Bay-CAA couple looks into each other's eyes for this engagement portrait on a wooden bridge with cypress trees in the background. Taken in Half Moon Bay, CA. Engagement-Portrait-Among-Cypress-TreesAn engaged couple lovingly looks at each other as their portrait is taken on a wooden bridge with cypress trees in the background. Picture taken in Half Moon Bay, CA.

 

After all our hard work was done, we celebrated with lunch at Sam's Chowder House (YUM!). I had SO much fun getting to know these two on a more personal level. It was great seeing this whole other side of Amanda and Bobby, and it was clear just how much they care for each other. Next weekend, I'll be photographing their wedding day and I couldn't be more happy for them. (Bobby - keep your shoes on!)

 

 

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cheryl@cherylbigman.com (Cheryl Bigman Photography) Engagement Portraits https://www.cherylbigman.com/blog/2015/8/amanda-and-bobby---an-engagement-session-to-remember-in-half-moon-bay Wed, 12 Aug 2015 17:58:19 GMT
A Surprise Portrait Session for Lolo's Birthday at Hap Magee Ranch Park, Alamo, CA https://www.cherylbigman.com/blog/2015/8/a-surprise-portrait-session-for-lolos-birthday-at-hap-magee-ranch-park-alamo-ca Nicole and Andrew | Family Portraits
Date | 4.24.15
Location | Hap Magee Ranch Park, Alamo, CA

 

What do you get your dad for his 70th birthday? - A Surprise Family Portrait Session!

Every year I volunteer to photograph the annual fundraiser for my daughter's elementary school, donating a Family Portrait Session to be auctioned off to the highest bidder. This year's winners were Nicole and Andrew, an adorable couple with two of the cutest kiddos ever!

Andrew immediately asked if I was available on the date they had planned to surprise his father with a big birthday weekend celebration. All of his siblings would be coming to town, so he asked if we could include the extended family. Of course I said YES! What an incredible opportunity to create timeless portraits of this man and his loving family.

 

The Big Day

When the day of our shoot finally arrived, the grandparents, affectionately known as "Lolo and Lola", could not have been happier to have all of their kids and grandkids in one place creating beautiful pictures together.

We decided to start with a big group family shot in case the little ones started to get antsy. I was SO impressed with the amazing job Nicole did in making sure everyone's outfits coordinated. The corals and blue denim together photographed beautifully against the greenery in the background. Just adorable!

Large-Group-Family-Portrait-in-Peaches-and-DenimA father and grandfather's family surprise him with a family portrait session with all five kids and four grandchildren. Portrait taken at Hap Magee Ranch Park in Alamo, CA.

Group-Hug-Around-Grandpa-Family PortraitA grandfather is surround by his five kids and four grandkids for a fun photo during our family portrait session at Hap Magee Ranch Park in Alamo, CA.

A-Grandfathers-Surprise-Portrait-SessionA-Grandfathers-Surprise-Portrait-SessionA family surprised their father for his 70th birthday with a family portrait session. All five of his children and their families came to town to celebrate. Family portrait taken at Hap Magee Ranch Park in Alamo, CA.

 

Then we moved on to each sibling's immediate family, beginning with Nicole and Andrew. I had to laugh as the older kids were all smiles, but little Audrey wasn't so sure. When all the other relatives tried their best to get her to smile, she got a bit overwhelmed. Then all of the sudden, somebody hit the jackpot (I still have no idea what they were doing behind my back), and Audrey busted out the most adorable smiles!

 

Andrew's parents were so cute together, I just had to get some photos of the two of them by themselves. Here's one of my favorite tender moments.

 

Once we had photographed all the smaller family groups, it was time to focus on the kids. The cousin shot was a must-have on my list, especially with these sweet faces! Again, Audrey wasn't sure why she was getting so much attention from the peanut gallery and her smile disappeared. It was time to break out the Cheryl magic. I knelt down close to the kids and quietly started asking about their favorite toys and things to do. We discussed "My Little Pony" and "Frozen", and within minutes the smiles returned. (Oh, and the peanut gallery serenaded us with their rendition of "Let it Go...".)

 

Finally it was play time! I really wanted more candid shots of the kids and I love getting silly with them, so we headed to my favorite group of trees and played a game of "Peek-a-Boo". Audrey finally let loose with her belly laughs and here is what we got...

Playing-Peek-a-Boo-Around-the-TreesPlaying Peek-a-Boo is great way to get little kids to smile for a candid portrait.

 

I also took this time to take individual portraits of all the kids as the light was just perfect.

 

Some of my favorite pictures from this session are the ones taken in those "in-between" moments. Posed pictures are important, but I can almost guarantee that right after I say, "Ok, we got it!", someone says or does something funny and we get great moments like these...

 

Then it was "Girl Time". All the girls decided they should get a picture with Lola. So first we did the posed shot...

 

...and then came the "Lola Show". Lola decided it was time to have some fun, and I think the girls were just as surprised as I was!

 

On our way out of the park, we stopped at the playground for more candid moments. Some of my favorites!

 

Nicole and Andrew's family were such a pleasure to work with. They ended up getting a beautiful wall portrait of the whole family to have as a remembrance of Lolo's special day. Happy Birthday Lolo!

Do you have a special occasion coming up?

Special occasions like birthdays, anniversaries, and graduations are the perfect time to schedule an Extended Family Portrait Session. Not only will you come away with beautiful portraits of your immediate family, but you'll also have timeless keepsakes of your extended family to pass on from generation to generation.

 

 

San Francisco Bay Area Family Portrait Photography

I hope you enjoy this San Francisco Bay Area Family Portrait photography provided by Cheryl Bigman Photography specializing in Portraits of Families and Children throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.
Cheryl Bigman Photography is unique among other San Francisco Bay Area Family Portrait photographers. Each family is one of a kind, and Cheryl feels your Family Portraits should be one of a kind as well. Every Family Portrait Session is treated with the utmost care and attention in order to creatively weave together the story of your family.

 

Service Area Information

Cheryl Bigman Photography offers Photography of Families and Children throughout the San Francisco Bay Area including but not limited to the Tri-Valley and Contra Costa areas of Lafayette, Walnut Creek, Danville, San Ramon, Pleasanton, Oakland, Berkeley, San Francisco, San Mateo, Burlingame, Redwood City on the Peninsula, Marin County in the North Bay, and the South Bay.
Not looking for a Family Portrait Photographer? Please consider Cheryl for your custom high school senior photography and all your special event photography needs in the San Francisco Bay Area. Destination photography outside the San Francisco Bay Area available upon request. Call for more information.

 
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cheryl@cherylbigman.com (Cheryl Bigman Photography) Families & Kids https://www.cherylbigman.com/blog/2015/8/a-surprise-portrait-session-for-lolos-birthday-at-hap-magee-ranch-park-alamo-ca Wed, 05 Aug 2015 17:52:19 GMT
Maya and Nomi Visit 99.7 FM Radio - A Wish Granted https://www.cherylbigman.com/blog/2015/6/maya-and-nomi-visit-99-7-fm-radio-a-wish-granted Maya and Nomi | Documentary
Date | 1.21.15
Location | FM 99.7 NOW Radio Station, San Francisco CA 
Wish Grantors | Adam Goldstein, Gatsby Entertainment, 99.7 NOW Radio
 

Good People, Giving Back

A few Blog posts ago, I told you the courageous story of Maya's Bat Mitzvah. Maya spoke so eloquently about being the bone marrow donor for her little sister Nomi who is battling Leukemia.

At the party, Maya and Nomi got the surprise of their lives when the good people from FM 99.7 NOW Radio arrived with a special message - an invitation to visit the station for a private tour and meet & greet with their favorite DJs. And thanks to our Bat Mitzvah DJ Adam Goldstein, I was invited to document the visit in pictures!

Surprise Message from 99.7 NOW DJs Fernando and Greg at Maya's Bat Mitzvah PartyA surprise message at Maya's Bat Mitzvah party from 99.7 NOW radio station DJs Fernando and Greg inviting her for a private tour.

 

When the big day finally arrived, the girls were given the royal treatment beginning with a limo ride from school to the station in San Francisco! Nomi decided to dye her hair a rock-star shade of lavender just for this occasion. Love that!

I met everyone at the station to find that one of my favorite DJs, Letty B, was in the studio. She couldn't have been nicer, signing the girls' posters and just having fun chatting them up. Gotta love those pink Beats!

DJ Letty B and Nomi Rocking Out at 99.7 NOW RadioDJ Letty B grants wish to Nomi during visit to 99.7 NOW Radio station in San Francisco. Love those pink Beats.

99.7 NOW Radio Station DJ Letty B Signs Fan PosterNomi gets her fan poster signed by DJ Letty B on her visit to 99.7 NOW radio station in San Francisco.

 

Then we toured of the rest of the studio. Maya had her "Step-and-Repeat" moment in the same spot all the big musical stars do when they visit the station. 

Step and Repeat Photo Op at 99.7 NOW RadioMaya having her step-and-repeat moment where all the big music starts do on her tour of 99.7 NOW radio station in San Francisco.

 

Cool signed memorabilia all over the place!

Ed Sheerhan signed memorabilia at 99.7 NOW radio station in San Francisco.Maya checking out all the cool signed memorabilia on her tour of 99.7 NOW Radio station in San Francisco.

 

Maya and Nomi had fun laying down some tracks with one of the station's mixmasters.

Laying Down Tracks at 99.7 NOW Radio in San FranciscoMaya and Nomi got to record their very own tracks on a tour of 99.7 NOW radio station in San Francisco. Make-a-Wish granted.

 

All giggles listening to what they just recorded.

Giggles Listening Back to their Recordings at 99.7 NOW Radio StationGirls giggle as they listen back to the voice tracks they recorded on their tour of 99.7 NOW radio station in San Francisco.

 

We headed back to the on-air studio just in time to watch infamous St. John take his shift at the controls for his afternoon show,  "St. John's Playhouse". I was AMAZED at how fast this guy works! (Although there was an empty Vente-sized Starbucks cup on his desk.) SO much fun seeing all the behind-the-scenes action.

99.7 NOW Radio Station Tour with DJ St. John for Make-a-WishMaya and Nomi get a private tour of 99.7 NOW radio station in San Francisco including a visit with DJ St. John. On Air with DJ St. John on Tour of 99.7 NOW RadioGirls watching DJ St. John from 99.7 NOW radio station do his show St. John's Playhouse.

We even got to help him judge one of those listener contests! 99.7 NOW Radio Station Tour with DJ St. JohnGirls get to participate in an on-air radio contest with DJ St. John during his show St. John's Playhouse at 99.7 NOW in San Francisco.

 

Then it was Maya and Nomi's turn at the mic. Shout-outs to all their friends at school were a must.

Girls Get a Turn at the Microphone On-Air at 99.7 NOW Radio in San FranciscoNomi and Maya get a shout out to all their school friends while on air at 99.7 NOW Radio station in San Francisco.

Girls Get On-Air at 99.7 NOW Radio During Make-A-Wish VisitGirls get to give an on-air shout out to all their school friends during their tour of 99.7 NOW radio station in San Francisco with DJ St. John.

 

Finally, Adam and the girls headed back home... limo-style of course. What a great day!

Girls Get Limo Ride to Tour 99.7 NOW Radio in San FranciscoA special limo ride to San Francisco for a private tour of 99.7 NOW Radio Station. A Make-a-Wish granted to a little girl who is battling Leukemia.

Special thanks to Adam Goldstein, Gatsby Entertainent, DJs Letty B and St. John, and all the other people at the station who went out of their way to make Maya and Nomi's day so special.

 
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cheryl@cherylbigman.com (Cheryl Bigman Photography) Documentary Real Life - Personal Stories The Backstory https://www.cherylbigman.com/blog/2015/6/maya-and-nomi-visit-99-7-fm-radio-a-wish-granted Fri, 12 Jun 2015 19:34:21 GMT
My Spring Break in St. Louis or "Angst at the Arch" https://www.cherylbigman.com/blog/2015/4/my-spring-break-in-st-louis-or-angst-at-the-arch Just returned from Spring Break and thought it was about time for a personal story on the Blog. I'm wondering if any of you can relate to what you're about to read as I'd love to know I'm not alone! Honestly, I wasn't sure if I should even write about this as it's a bit embarrassing, but here it goes...

This year I let my daughter decide where she wanted to go for Spring Break since we haven't had a mother/daughter vacation in quite a few years. It was really a pre-emptive move on my part. I figured if she chose our destination, I would avoid hearing that lovely "teenager voice" complaining about everything wrong with our trip.

So where did she choose? St. Louis! Not exactly what I had in mind for Spring Break, but I had never been, and knowing how much she loves history (and hockey), I agreed.

 

A Visit to the Gateway Arch

The one thing I knew for sure I wanted to do in St. Louis was see the famous Gateway Arch. After all, it's the first thing that comes to mind when you think of St. Louis, right? When I found out you could actually ride to the top for spectacular views of the city, I was SO excited! My daughter on the other hand was less than thrilled. It's about 640 feet high and at first she was hesitant to go. Being the adventurous type, I was determined to convince her we had to "not think" and "just do"!

We arrived at the Old Courthouse to pick up our "Journey to the Top" tickets, and walked past a few exhibits on the history of the Arch.

Side view of the Old Courthouse in St. Louis, Missouri where you can pick up tickets to the top of the Gateway Arch.Old-Courthouse-St.-Louis-MissouriSide view Old Courthouse St. Louis, Missouri.

 

This one in particular got my attention - a model of one of the original "pods" that carried passengers to the top. It looked like a tiny space capsule with 5 seats crammed inside and no windows. All I kept thinking was, thank goodness times have changed because you would NEVER get me in one of those things!

 

Gateway-Arch-Pod-to-the-TopSt. Louis Gateway Arch pod used to take people to the top of the arch.

 

We made our way to the entrance of the arch and patiently waited for our boarding time to be called.

 

Entering the tram ride to the top of the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri.Gateway-Arch-Journey-to-the-TopEntrance to the Gateway Arch tram ride to the top in St. Louis, Missouri.

 

Walking toward the boarding area felt like waiting for the Space Mountain ride in Disneyland. There were lots of interesting displays on the walls about the construction of the arch, but I never saw any photos of what the tram really looks like. We made our way down the stairs and were told to stand in front of the steel door with our boarding number on it. Here is what we saw...

 

Door-to-Enter-Tram-Ride-Gateway-ArchDoorway to enter tram ride to the top of the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri.

 

The door looked like something out of Alice and Wonderland. It was tiny to say the least. I had convinced myself that this was no big deal. Just a short 5-minute ride to the top. I was excited to hear we could spend as much time as we wanted taking in the the views (and of course taking pictures) before returning back down to earth. Camera at the ready, I heard the cars coming down to pick us up. As Door #4 opened, I stared in utter shock and disbelief at what was in front of me.

 

Tram-Pod-Gateway-Arch-St.-LouisTram pod to ride to the top of the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri.

 

The tram car looked exactly like the "pod" we had seen in the exhibit! (Note: this picture is a close-up of the pod in the museum. I was so stunned after that door opened, I forgot to take a picture of the actual pod!)

My daughter climbed in without hesitation along with another adult dad and his daughter. My heart was racing, my hands started shaking, and all I could say was, "I'm sorry, I can't do this."

I've never thought of myself as being prone to panic attacks, but there I was - completely frozen!!!

Just the thought of being closed into this thing with 3 other people sent me into a full-on panic attack. I said goodbye to my daughter (telling her to please take pictures for me), and walked away. I honestly thought I was going to cry. I was so thrown off-guard by how much this affected me.

 

Panic Attacks? - not me!

I never understood panic attacks before this. I've always thought I would never be "that person". And there I was, sitting in the lobby waiting for my daughter to come back and tell me how ridiculous I was. How could I have let the arch defeat me? Am I getting old? What the heck is wrong with me? I was so disappointed in myself.

About 20 minutes later, my daughter returned from her ride, took one look at me, and wrapped her outstretched arms around me. All she said was, "Come here. Poor mama." I think she saw the sheer terror in my face when that steel door opened.

We walked outside and she shared her iPhone pictures with me. Here's some of what I missed (Photo credits: Hallie Bigman).

 

 

 

 

Shaking it off

Once I started taking pictures outside, all of my anxiety disappeared and I was back in my happy place, looking for that unique shot of the famous arch. Here are a few of my favorites.

 

The Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri photographed from the side.Gateway-Arch-St.-Louis-Missouri-Unique-ViewA unique view of the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri.

 

Gateway-Arch-St-Louis-with-SunburstGateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri shot from one end with a sunburst.

 

Gateway-Arch-in-Spring-St.-LouisThe Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri at the beginning of Spring.

 

So that was our traumatic event at the famous Gateway Arch. I can only think of one other time in my life when I've even come close to feeling the way I did that day. I was getting ready to shoot a Bar Mitzvah party at UC Berkeley's Memorial Stadium and got stuck in a Field Club elevator. Felt like the walls were caving in!

I would LOVE to hear from anyone else out there who's experienced panic attacks or something similar. Please leave a comment and share your thoughts.

 

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cheryl@cherylbigman.com (Cheryl Bigman Photography) Real Life - Personal Stories https://www.cherylbigman.com/blog/2015/4/my-spring-break-in-st-louis-or-angst-at-the-arch Tue, 14 Apr 2015 16:56:02 GMT
Maya's Bat Mitzvah - A Lesson in Courage https://www.cherylbigman.com/blog/2015/2/mayas-bat-mitzvah---a-lesson-in-courage Maya | Bat Mitzvah
Date | 1.10.15
Service | Temple Isaiah, Lafayette, CA
Reception | The Claremont Hotel, Berkeley, CA
DJ | Adam Goldstein, Gatsby Entertainment
Decor | Balloon Thrills
Caterer | The Claremont

 

Once in awhile, someone comes into your life who touches you in ways you could never imagine. Several months ago, I met with Maya’s family for a consultation about photography for her Bat Mitzvah. As they told me their story, my heart just ached.

You see, one year ago, their youngest daughter Naomi ("Nomi") was diagnosed with Leukemia and their whole world was turned upside down. It reminded me of the first time I met Chelsea and her family (Chelsea's Hope), who many of you know I've worked with over the years. Listening to the pain in their voices as they described what the last year has been like was heart-wrenching.

 

Maya Pre-Mitzvah Portraits

 

And while Naomi's parents were focused on the endless tests, chemo, hospital stays, and complications, Maya was often left to fend for herself. She had to try and continue living her 13-year old life of school and religious studies in preparation for her upcoming Bat Mitzvah, and she did so with courage beyond her years. One of her wishes was that her little sister Naomi would be well enough to attend her Bat Mitzvah...

 

Maya's Pre-Mitzvah Portraits

 

I had the honor of photographing Maya's Bat Mitzvah a few weeks ago, and I'm happy to say Naomi made it with flying colors. To be the one to capture her and her family having this one day of “normalcy”, celebrating Maya and just being in the moment was awesome!

 

Maya's Bat Mitzvah Family Portraits

 

Maya's Bat Mitzvah Temple Isaiah, Lafayette

 

 

Nomi’s journey of recovery however is far from over, and the entire family's resilience is being tested once again. On Feb.9th, Nomi re-entered the hospital and endured 8 days of intensive chemotherapy in preparation for a bone marrow transplant. Last week, Maya entered the hospital and underwent the procedure to harvest her own bone marrow in order to donate stem cells to save her little sister's life.

 

In Maya's D'var Torah (teaching) about courage, she shared her thoughts on this next step in Nomi's treatment. Maya touched every single person listening that morning including me.

 

 

 

Tears filled Maya's eyes as she spoke so eloquently about being the bone marrow donor for Naomi, and about her fears as she and her family enter this next phase of her sister's treatment.

 

 

 

Here is an excerpt from Maya's speech:

"In new situations, we often need a push. We need someone who believes in us and helps us build our confidence to try a new experience.

Early last year, shortly after my sister, Naomi, was diagnosed with cancer, I had to have my blood tested to see if I might be a match in case she needed a bone marrow transplant. I have a phobia of needles, and I was scared to have my blood taken. My mom and I went to have this done at the same time. Even though I was scared, it helped to have my mom with me.

Even more than that, I kept thinking about Nomi and everything she was going through. I thought, if she can do all of that, then I can do this. Even though I knew I had to do it, her experience helped me build up my confidence to face my fear and do something scary.

Nomi will be getting a stem-cell transplant in February and I am her donor. When I found out, I didn’t hesitate about doing it, at all. But, I am very nervous about how uncomfortable and painful it will be, and I am anxiously anticipating the day. I know I need support to help me get through it and have the confidence in myself to be able to deal with it.

I have learned that I am capable of doing more than I might think.

We are all capable of doing more than we realize. When we come up with excuses and try to get out of doing things that are hard,  we might not ever get the chance to see that we can be good at the difficult challenges we were too scared to try."

 

Wow, what a powerful lesson for us all! Really makes you stop and think...

  • How many times have you let fear stop you from trying something new?
  • How many times have you passed up an opportunity to grow as a person?
  • How many times have you looked back at a missed opportunity in your life and said, "I should have..."

 

Maya's celebration that evening was such an incredible event, truly a celebration of life. Photographing Naomi and her family letting lose and having the time of their lives was such an amazing experience.

 

 

Maya's Bat Mitzvah Party The Claremont Hotel, Berkeley

 

Thank you to Maya’s family for sharing their inspiring story and to Maya for having the courage to share her innermost thoughts and feelings about a very difficult situation.

Thank you to Bar/Bat Mitzvah DJ extraordinaire Adam Goldstein (Gatsby Entertainment) for making so much of Maya's party possible.

 

I will continue to follow Maya and Naomi's story in a series of future Blog posts so stay tuned. In the meantime...

 

Maya's family needs our help 

A Fundraiser has been established to help the family pay for Naomi's mounting medical expenses. For the past year, they have been living off of the father's salary as an 8th grade science teacher since mom quit her job to take care of Naomi. Please read more about Naomi's story and consider making a donation today. Goal is to raise funds by Naomi's 12th Birthday on April 27th, 2015.

Find Fundraiser Ideas that Work

 

 

 

San Francisco Bay Area Bar & Bat Mitzvah Photography

I hope you enjoy this San Francisco Bay Area Bat Mitzvah Photography provided by Cheryl Bigman Photography specializing in Bar & Bat Mitzvah photography throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.
Cheryl Bigman Photography is unique among other San Francisco Bay Area Bar & Bat Mitzvah photographers. Each family is one of a kind, and Cheryl feels your Bar & Bat Mitzvah photography should be one of a kind as well. Every Bar Mitzvah and Bat Mitzvah is treated with the utmost care and attention in order to creatively weave together the story of your special day.

 

 

Service Area Information

Cheryl Bigman Photography offers Bar & Bat Mitzvah Photography throughout the San Francisco Bay Area including but not limited to the Tri-Valley and Contra Costa areas of Lafayette, Walnut Creek, Danville, San Ramon, Pleasanton, Oakland, Berkeley, San Francisco, San Mateo, Burlingame, Redwood City on the Peninsula, Marin County in the North Bay, and the South Bay.
Not looking for a Bar or Bat Mitzvah Photographer? Please consider Cheryl for your custom high school senior photography and family and children's photography needs in the San Francisco Bay Area. Destination photography outside the San Francisco Bay Area available upon request. Call for more information.

 
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cheryl@cherylbigman.com (Cheryl Bigman Photography) Bar & Bat Mitzvahs The Backstory https://www.cherylbigman.com/blog/2015/2/mayas-bat-mitzvah---a-lesson-in-courage Wed, 25 Feb 2015 20:13:02 GMT
“An Officer and a Gentleman” Comes to Life in San Ramon, CA https://www.cherylbigman.com/blog/2014/11/-An-Officer-and-a-Gentleman-Comes-to-Life-in-San-Ramon-CA Paula and Zack | Surprise Portrait Session
Date | 10.17.14
Location | San Ramon, CA

 

The Call

So I get this call from New York and I’m thinking maybe I’m finally going to fulfill my dream of photographing an East Coast Bar or Bat Mitzvah! But little did I know that the gentleman on the other end of the phone was about to give me the photography opportunity of a lifetime. Storytelling through pictures is and always has been what I love most about photography. (I think I must have been a photojournalist in a previous life.) Whether it’s a B’nai Mitzvah, a wedding, a high school senior, or families and kids, I’m always looking for the backstories, and this gentleman had one of the best I’ve ever had the honor of telling.

 

The gentleman proceeded to tell me that he was flying out to California to bring the love of his life back to New York with him, and he wanted to surprise her on her last day of work. He asked me if I was familiar with the last scene in the movie “An Officer and a Gentleman”. Well, duh, who from my generation doesn’t know that scene! Richard Gere playing the role of Zack Mayo, after graduating from the military academy against all odds, shows up in his whites at the factory where his girlfriend Paula works. He scoops her up in his arms, places his hat on her head, and carries her off into the sunset. One of the best movie scenes ever, right? So when this real-life Officer and a Gentleman asked if I’d be willing to capture the moment when he re-enacts this scene with his girlfriend, I could hardly contain myself! He told me his girlfriend works at the elementary school down the street from my house. That’s how he found me on the internet (isn’t Google awesome!). So for the purposes of this Blog, the Gentleman shall be known as Zack, and his lady, Paula.

 

We talked about all the details of the shoot, and I was already strategizing about how I was going to capture that special moment in all of about 30 seconds. No pressure! The plan was to wait down the street from the school until about 12:15pm, follow Zack into the school, and then into Paula’s classroom for the big surprise. I would then follow him as he carried her out of the school and walked down the street. For all you photographers (and photo enthusiasts), keep in mind that I was going into the classroom completely blind, no idea on white balance, lighting, etc…, and then going right into shooting outside at high noon. I decided to carry 2 cameras, one with a wider angle lens for the classroom, and one with a long telephoto lens for outside, both with flash at the ready.

 

JeffMackston-9529-Edit

 

While we were waiting down the street for the big moment, I decided to capture some portraits of Zack by himself as he was looking so sharp in his uniform. It was at this time that he shared his very special story with me and I can’t tell you how close I came to breaking down in tears…

 

JeffMackston-9530-Edit

 

 

The Story

Zack and Paula first dated in high school. Then, they each went their separate ways, and he joined the navy. They ended up marrying other people, having kids and living separate lives. As is so common, especially in my generation, they married young and as the years went on, grew apart from their spouses. They reconnected at a high school reunion and began communicating more regularly when they realized how much they enjoyed being with each other, and that they had a very special connection. Fast forward 5 years after trying to have a bi-coastal relationship, they finally decided that they did not want to spend another minute apart. Paula gave her notice at work, packed up her house, and prepared to move back to New York.

 

The Big Moment

I love surprises, but I tend to get caught up in the same emotions that my clients are experiencing, so the challenge for me was to stay focused on getting the shots. Not an easy task! We walked into the classroom and this is what I saw through my camera…

 

JeffMackston-7494

 

 

JeffMackston-7498

 

 

JeffMackston-7500

 

 

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It all happened SO fast, and Zack was obviously VERY excited as he booked out of that classroom SO fast I had to run to catch up (while shooting!). Sometimes these things don’t always go as planned. Zack hoped this would be a very private moment, but we didn’t realize it was a Minimum Day – the whole school was out at 12:15! Parents were everywhere picking up their kids. Kids watching knew something great was happening, but they had no idea what. As a result, we had a curious audience watching all of this unfold. I really love the shots that show their reactions because they help to tell the story. Can’t you just hear them saying, “Awwwww”?

 

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After…

After the big moment, I introduced myself to Paula. I’m sure she was probably wondering the whole time who this crazy lady was chasing her down the street taking pictures. I decided to do a few quick portraits of Zack and Paula at the same spot I used earlier for Zack’s portraits. I just let them be in the moment and the results were exactly what I hoped for. Every time I look at these pictures, I feel the love and the passion these two have for each other.

 

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I feel so honored that I got to be the one to capture this very special time in the life of a true Officer and a Gentleman. A turning point in both their lives for sure. Zack and Paula, I hope you will look back on these pictures years from now, and remember this moment like it was yesterday. Thank you Zack for finding me on Google. Thank you Paula for being so lovely. I wish you both a lifetime of happiness together in New York.

 

 

San Francisco Bay Area Photography

I hope you enjoy this San Francisco Bay Area Portrait Photography provided by Cheryl Bigman Photography specializing portrait photography throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. Cheryl Bigman Photography is unique among other San Francisco Bay Area portrait photographers. Each family and each story is one of a kind, and I feel your portrait photography should be one of a kind as well. Every portrait session is treated with the utmost care and attention in order to creatively weave together your story.

 

Service Area Information

Cheryl Bigman Photography offers Portrait Photography throughout the San Francisco Bay Area including but not limited to the Tri-Valley and Contra Costa areas of Lafayette, Walnut Creek, Danville, San Ramon, Pleasanton, Oakland, Berkeley, San Francisco, San Mateo, Burlingame, Redwood City on the Peninsula, Marin County in the North Bay, and the South Bay.
Not looking for a Portait Photographer? Please consider Cheryl for all your special event photography needs in the San Francisco Bay Area. Destination photography outside the San Francisco Bay Area available upon request. Call for more information.

 

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cheryl@cherylbigman.com (Cheryl Bigman Photography) Documentary Real Life - Personal Stories The Backstory military officer and a gentleman portrait photography portraits veteran https://www.cherylbigman.com/blog/2014/11/-An-Officer-and-a-Gentleman-Comes-to-Life-in-San-Ramon-CA Wed, 12 Nov 2014 07:42:00 GMT
Family Portraits – How to Make Yours Truly Unique https://www.cherylbigman.com/blog/2014/7/Family-Portraits-How-to-Make-Yours-Truly-Unique Svetlana, Douglas, Sarah, Rebecca, Joshua, Benjamin | Family Portraits
Date | 4.13.14
Location | Hap Magee Ranch Park, Alamo, CA

 

What Makes a Family Portrait Truly Unique?

We’ve all seen them – beautiful portraits of families all dressed in matching blue jeans and white shirts. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. But what if you want something a little different. Something that will remind you years later what your kids were like at this age, and how you all related to each other. That’s what custom portraits are all about.

One of the first questions I ask my clients when planning their family portrait session is, “What are your kids into right now?”. If I can find a way to incorporate each child’s “thing” into your session, we are guaranteed to come away with a great collection of natural-looking, truly custom portraits. And just the fact that they’re doing what makes them happy creates a fun session for everyone.

 

Svetlana’s Family Portrait Session

When Svetlana contacted me about doing family portraits with her four kids, we talked a lot about how to make the session relaxed and fun. The kids were all spread out in age, each with different interests and personalities. We decided to go to Hap Magee Ranch Park in Alamo, CA since it not only has a variety of environments to choose from, it has a great playground for the kids to look forward to at the end of the session.

We started with individual portraits of each of the kids. Here is Sarah.

 

 

Sarah is an artist who loves to sketch, so I thought it would be fun to place her in this tranquil forest-like setting and have her do her thing – sketch. I just love the feel of these images.

 

 

 

 

And this is Rebecca.

 

 

She brought a little surprise guest…  meet Dinah the Bearded Dragon. I’ve done lots of family portraits with pets, but this was a first for me! (And no, I’m not a big fan of reptiles, but I have to admit she kind of grew on me.)

 

 

 

Rebecca also loves gardening, so we used this cool sign in the park’s own garden.

 

 

 

And this is Joshua. He’s into reading books, but forgot to bring one. Hey, it happens. So the challenge for me was to get him comfortable in front of the camera without any added props. I asked lots of questions about his favorite things, and soon his personality came through.

 

 

 

 

And this is little Benjamin…

 

 

Ben LOVES his trucks and brought a very special red one just for his portraits. At first he was a little shy and decided it would be fun to hide it from me, but as soon as I told him how much I loved trucks too, he just had to show me.

 

 

… and it stayed with him for the entire shoot!

 

 

 

Of course, we had to get portraits of the entire family together. The first thing you’ll notice is they are not all wearing the same thing. Mom decided to color-coordinate their outfits, but she didn’t stress over getting it perfect. Definitely not “matchy-matchy”, kids were all comfortable, and it worked!

 

 

 

 

I also wanted to create pictures of smaller family groupings to add variety (mom with the girls, dad with the boys, mom & dad, etc…) I could definitely feel the love in this family and that’s what I wanted to capture.

 

 

 

 

In the end, we created a unique set of portraits that captured everyone’s personality perfectly! It’s my wish that as the kids grow older, the family will look back on these portraits fondly, and remember what they were like at this time in their lives. Thank you Svetlana, Douglas, Sarah, Rebecca, Joshua, and Ben, (and Dinah) for allowing me to document your family’s love so beautifully.

 

San Francisco Bay Area Family and Children’s Photography

I hope you enjoy this San Francisco Bay Area Family and Children’s Photography provided by Cheryl Bigman Photography specializing in Family photography and Children’s photography throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.
Cheryl Bigman Photography is unique among other San Francisco Bay Area Family and Children’s photographers. Each family is one of a kind, and I feel your Family portraits and Children’s portrait photography should be one of a kind as well. Every Family portrait session and every Children’s portrait session is treated with the utmost care and attention in order to creatively weave together the story of your family.

 

 

Service Area Information

Cheryl Bigman Photography offers Family and Children’s Photography throughout the San Francisco Bay Area including but not limited to the Tri-Valley and Contra Costa areas of Lafayette, Walnut Creek, Danville, San Ramon, Pleasanton, Oakland, Berkeley, San Francisco, San Mateo, Burlingame, Redwood City on the Peninsula, Marin County in the North Bay, and the South Bay.
Not looking for a Family and Children’s Photographer? Please consider Cheryl for your custom high school senior photography and all your special event photography needs in the San Francisco Bay Area. Destination photography outside the San Francisco Bay Area available upon request. Call for more information.

 

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cheryl@cherylbigman.com (Cheryl Bigman Photography) Families & Kids custom portraits family family photography family portraits https://www.cherylbigman.com/blog/2014/7/Family-Portraits-How-to-Make-Yours-Truly-Unique Tue, 08 Jul 2014 10:19:52 GMT
On a Personal Note – My Birthday Wish https://www.cherylbigman.com/blog/2014/6/On-a-Personal-Note-My-Birthday-Wish Yep, today’s the day – my first “post-50th” birthday. Funny how birthdays take on a whole new meaning after 50. Instead of thinking about what to wear to the party, I think about how grateful I am to still be here so I can go to the party! Seriously, I can’t believe how many friends my age have passed or are fighting the health battles of their lives. Having had a couple of health scares myself this year, I’ve grown to appreciate every moment I’m here on this planet!

Since I just returned from photographing the first ever Chelsea’s Hope Lafora Research Symposium in La Jolla, CA, this birthday carries even more meaning as I reconnected with several families whose children have lost everything to this horrible disease. The pain these families have endured is indescribable. I had the honor of photographing many of them for the first Chelsea’s Hope Fundraiser back in 2009, and it’s been heartbreaking to watch their decline ever since. Several have passed away. This is a disease with no cure.

 

Thankfully, an incredible team of researchers have put the “Hope” back into Chelsea’s Hope with groundbreaking discoveries that will eventually lead to a cure. Because it is so rare, Lafora is considered an “orphan” disease, so little or no funding is given. I’m proud to say that Chelsea’s Hope has raised an incredible amount of funds over the last few years, but it’s still not enough.

 

My Birthday Wish

My birthday wish is for you to find it in your heart to give a little something (or a big something) to Chelsea’s Hope Lafora Children Research Fund in honor of my 51st  birthday. Donations can be made through the website at : www.chelseashope.org .

Thank you!

Cheryl

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cheryl@cherylbigman.com (Cheryl Bigman Photography) Real Life - Personal Stories chelsea's hope fundraising giving back lafora lafora disease https://www.cherylbigman.com/blog/2014/6/On-a-Personal-Note-My-Birthday-Wish Wed, 18 Jun 2014 08:31:46 GMT