Portraits

Fort Bragg, California Ten Mile Dunes Adventurous Couple Session | Mandy & Sean

Anytime I get a wild hair and want to try a new location for photos, I think of Mandy & Sean. They have been posing in front of my lens for 8+ years and I feel like the luckiest photographer alive to be blessed by their friendship and love story.

I have been dreaming about a sand dune session and Mandy had a perfect dress in her cart at Lulus, so when I asked if she and her hubby were up for a session, she jumped on the chance. These two were perfect the weirdos to model for this session because they weren’t afraid to let loose, get silly (we’re talking goofy folks), and have all the fun! Even though at times they probably thought my directions were cray cray, they accepted the challenge and went all out to create beautiful and authentic moments together.

And as if all of that isn’t enough, their love story! It’s so goooood ya’ll.

Mandy & Sean are high school sweethearts, but have known each other since they were little tykes. Nearly 20 years ago at the age of 14, they knew. Despite what the adults told them, they knew that they would spend the rest of their lives loving each other. Together they have face some insurmountable struggles and come out on the other end loving each other more than ever. You may remember Mandy from this post. Almost 7 years ago now, she battled cancer, and lemme tell ya, she kicked it’s butt! However, her fight didn’t come without struggle. It took everything she had to win that battle. And the best part of the story is that Sean was her biggest cheerleader. Never doubting for a moment that she could kick it. He was by her side, cheering her on the whole time.

Sean & Mandy are now living their best life in a gorgeous home on the coast with their two beautiful children. If you had asked them all those many years ago if this is the life they expected, their answer would have undoubtedly have been, “LET’S DO THIS”.

Now without further ado, I give you Mandy & Sean………

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Chelsi is a destination wedding  and couples photographer based in Fort Bragg, California. She loves to travel and will go anywhere to capture life's sweetest moments. She lives for seeing the world, capturing authentic love, and making people feel fabulous. Her style is emotive, authentic, and fun. She believes in laughing too much, singing too loud, and most importantly living life to the fullest and prefers capturing every single authentic moments that evoke emotion over perfectly posed photos.


Are you ready for an adventure with the love of your life?

5 Tips For a Successful Photo Session

So you've decided to hire your favorite photographer to capture our RAD love story. Now what?!? You're probably nervous. You're likely dreading the moment that your photographer lifts their camera and sticks their lens in your face. I GET IT!  It's kinda scary right!?! The moment that camera comes out we all of sudden we feel awkward and shy, and what the heck am I supposed do with these arms?!? Can I get an amen?!?

Not to fear, I want help you prepare so that you are more comfortable and ready to have fun during your next close up. All it takes is a little advance planning and knowledge. I have come up with 5 things to do to get comfortable for your next session. 

Let's say yes to self confidence and bye bye to shyness and anxiety. You ready?!? Let's go! 

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1. Forget about your photographer

Yes, this means you have my permission to pretend your photographer isn't there! Truth is, the less you focus on the fact there is a camera in your face and the more you think about how much you love each other, the better the photographs!  Pinkie swear, it's true. So go ahead, stare into his/her eyes, forget there is anyone else around, and focus on how much you love each other. Feel free to snuggle, hug, kiss, heck make out if that's your thing. Look what we just did! We seriously turned your photo session into a make out sesh! Now your photos will be more natural and less posed! Woot woot! 

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2. Get Your Hair & Makeup Done

I'm not saying that you can't go “au naturel” if that's your thang. What I AM saying is that no matter your style, a little of attention to your hair and makeup will go a long way in photos! Makeup is naturally smoothing to the skin and helps even out tones. Hair can be done so many different ways and depending on what style you are going for in photographs in can add an intentional vibe.  Here's a bonus tip: consider getting your hair and makeup done professionally and then going out for a day on the town all dolled up! Spa day plus a date with your lover, win/win right?!?

Mendocino California Couples Photographer

3. Plan your outfits in ADVANCE!

We've all done it. Threw together outfits 10 minutes before we needed to leave on a date or to an event. And of course, nothing looks right so it looks like a bomb went off in our closet by the time we finally choose our attire! yup. Been there! Trust me, you do not want to be doing that on the day of your photo session. It will add unneeded stress to your day. So here's my tip, PLAN IN ADVANCE. Heck, send a few outfit options to your photographer and let them help you decide if your coordinated enough! 

The clothing choices that you make for your session are EXTREMELY important. They are the center of what guides the look and feel of your session. You want to choose an outfit that is both form flattering and comfy. No one wants to be feeling like they need to adjust a too tight dress or scratching because they chose an itchy fabric. Solids are always a safe bet, but don't be afraid to go for a pattern. Just make sure that whatever color/pattern you choose that they compliment each other. IF you opt for a pattern, choose something simple, like jeans and a solid t-shirt or oxford for your partner.  Solid, neutral colors are always a good rule of thumb, but don't be afraid to play with color or patterns! For colors, make sure they are complimenting whatever your partner is wearing.  And PLEASE, don't be matchy matchy. It's awkward and really leaves something to be desired in photographs. 

CLICK HERE for my F R E E “What To Wear Guide”.

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4. Accessorize and add props

Have a fun hat that you love to wear? WEAR IT! Love statement jewelry? ROCK IT during the session. Pack a picnic. Bring flowers. Have a favorite board or card game that you like to play together? Let's do it! Anything that adds to the style and mood that you are looking for is fair game. We LOVE props! 

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5. Choose a photographer you trust

This is the most important tip that I can offer. In order for us to achieve the natural and comfortable photographs, you MUST trust the person giving you direction.  The difference between a good and GREAT photograph has little to do with you as a person and EVERYTHING to do with lighting and posing. Find a photographer who's work resonates with you. Make sure that you LOVE their style so that you can ultimately trust their direction.  Find someone who is going to capture your LOVE exactly the way you want to remember it. LOVE is RAD and it deserves to be documented awesomely. 

That's it friends. I hope that these tips and tricks help ease your fears and rock your next photo session!


Chelsi is a destination wedding  and couples photographer based in Fort Bragg, California. She loves to travel and will go anywhere to capture life's sweetest moments. She lives for seeing the world, capturing authentic love, and making people feel fabulous. Her style is emotive, authentic, and fun. She believes in laughing too much, singing too loud, and most importantly living life to the fullest and prefers capturing every single authentic moments that evoke emotion over perfectly posed photos.

Are you ready for an adventure with the love of your life?


Amy & Mandy | Mendocino, California Lymphoma Survivor BFF Portrait Session | Adventurous Northern California Destination Photographer

Imagine you are just 4 short days shy of your 30th birthday. You're preparing for a celebration, most likely with friends and family. Or maybe, an intimate affair with just your significant other. Regardless of the company, turning 30 is supposed to be a time of fun and excitement right?

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Not for Amy. Instead of celebrating her 30th birthday, Amy would be hit with some of the worst news of her entire life. Instead of unwrapping presents and popping open the bubbly, Amy was facing Stage IV Hodgkin's Lymphoma

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Hodgkin's Lymphoma would attack her lungs, chest, stomach spleen, and bones. She would go on to do six months of ABVD chemotherapy. Despite the diagnosis, Amy was determined to live her best life. She wanted to document her story and leave a legacy of hope for others. she used instagram to document her journey, not only to keep a diary for herself but to encourage others through their own diagnosis and fight, "if I could make it through so could they"! 

 

She joined an online community for Lymphoma patients. That's when she met my friend Mandy. (You've heard me talk about her before. If there is anyone that a girl with Cancer wants in her corner, it's our beautiful and courageous Mandy.) Separated only by a flight across the country, a bond was formed over their illness that is unrivaled.

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For them, "No one fights alone" isn't just a saying, it's a way of life. Each of them understands that positivity is king in the fight for one's life. "When people asked if they could pray for me, I always said yes, because I needed all the positivity I could get."  They needed all the good vibes, prayers, and positive thinking that they could muster. Surrounding themselves with loved ones wasn't enough. They needed more. Enter Leukemia Lymphoma Society's online community.  

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In my experience, when people go through hardships and struggles, there is an overwhelming need for connection with others that occurs. Not for sympathy or attention but because for inspiration and understanding. Before online forums, facebook groups, instagram, and communities, they may have been able to find a support group locally if lucky. Now, with the advancement of technology, people can connect with anyone in the world at any time day or night. For people who are fighting Cancer, the ability to talk to someone who understands at any given moment is gold.  For some it may be that they are having a bad day and others they need advise on which oncologist to see. No matter what the reason for reaching out, there is always someone out there to answer the call.

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For Amy and Mandy, it was everything. They had a whole world of friends who would laugh, cry, share, and be with them. Even now 5 years later, they are best of friends. And from what I understand, there are MORE beauties in their tribe. 

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I hope I am lucky enough to meet them all! 


Chelsi is a destination wedding  and portrait photographer based in Fort Bragg, California. She loves to travel and will go anywhere to capture your life's sweet moments. She lives for seeing the world, capturing authentic love, and making people feel fabulous. Her style is authentic, real, and emotional. She believes in laughing too much, singing too loud, and most importantly living life to the fullest and prefers capturing every single authentic beautiful moment that evoke emotion over perfectly posed photos.

Peter & Katie | Fort Bragg, California Couple Session | Adventurous Destination Northern California Photographer

Paula contacted me a few weeks ago about photographing her in-laws. Here is what she said about this very special gift: 

"This will be a birthday present for my mother-in-law and father-in-law from me, my husband, and brother-in-law. They love each other and their dogs more than anything and we would love them to have a gorgeous memory of all of them together in the place they love the most. "

When I received this inquiry, I was overjoyed that they thought of me, but also that they were doing something so special and timeless for their parents. It is so special and I was honored to be a part of it.

I met Peter and Katie at Jug Handle State Reserve in Fort Bragg, CA early in the morning. They brought their adorable pooches with them for a walk. I was enamored with their love for each other. I really enjoyed photographing these two because they couldn't keep their hands off of each other and kept laughing like it was their first date. It is refreshing and inspiring to see a couple their age still so in love. It gives me hope that we can continue to fall in love with our spouses time and time again, year after year. Marriage is hard work ya'll. These two make it look so effortless. I hope that my marriage looks this good in a few years. 

Anyway, I hope as you look through these photos that you see the joy that can be and hope for the future. These two are really living their lives with joy and it shows! 

 

 

 


Chelsi is a destination wedding and elopement photographer based in Fort Bragg, California but loves to travel and will go anywhere to capture your life's sweet moments. She lives for seeing the world, capturing authentic love, and making people feel fabulous. Her style is authentic, joyful, and hope evoking. She believes in laughing too much, singing too loud, and most importantly: authentically capturing every single  moment  to evoke emotion over perfectly posing for photographs.

Amy & Raul | Fort Bragg, California Engagement Session

I met Amy and Rual at a little coffee shop in Fort Bragg a few weeks before their engagement session. It was kismet. We had so many things in common with each other. Amy's love of tacos and margaritas. Raul's gypsy soul. I just couldn't get enough of their fun and adventurous personalities. Needless to say, they ended up booking their wedding with me.

All of my wedding and elopement packages come with a complimentary engagement session. I feel it is important for both myself and my clients that we have a chance to get to know each other prior to what will be the most significant day of their lives together. I NEVER want my clients to feel like they have a stranger at their wedding putting a camera in their face and directing them in a way that makes them uncomfortable. Enter the engagement session. 

Amy and Raul chose the location, which was their coastal residence that will also serve as their reception site. Just a days prior to their session it had been pouring down rain. God showed up big and gave us a beautiful day!   The coastal views in Fort Bragg rarely disappoint, and our day together was no exception. We spent a couple of hours together exploring the property (which is littered with beautiful trees and foliage), whale watching, and viewing one of the most beautiful winter sunsets I have seen in my lifetime. 

As we sat and watched the end of the sunset together, Raul admitted to me that he had planned on proposing to Amy while they were in Alaska. His ultimate plan was to propose to her on a glacier. Weeeelllll, that DID NOT happen. He had the ring and was terrified to propose while they were in Alaska. So, instead, he proposed to Amy at the red bench that are in these photos. Fort Bragg's coastal views are an awesome consolation prize to Alaskan glaciers if you ask me! Obviously Amy wasn't disappointed and these two love birds are due to be married this summer, so, way to go Raul! 

Enjoy this beautiful couple, the beautiful views, and the love these two share!

Do you love photos that capture laughter and love? Wanna have some fun on the coast, get wild and adventurous for some photos? You can book your engagement session with me, or shucks, it can be just because, I'm game! Let's have some fun together on the coast, or anywhere for that matter! You can book with me here

 

 

Chelsi is a destination wedding and elopement photographer based in Fort Bragg, California but loves to travel and will go anywhere to capture your life's sweet moments. She lives for seeing the world, capturing authentic love, and making people feel fabulous. Her style is authentic, real, and emotional. She believes in laughing too much, singing too loud, and most importantly living life to the fullest and capturing every single authentic beautiful moments that evoke emotions over perfectly posed photos.

Survivor || Jug Handle State Reserve|| Fort Bragg, California

sur·vi·vor

noun

noun: survivor; plural noun: survivors

  • person who copes well with difficulties in their life.
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This is Mandy.  She is one of the most inspirational people that I know. This photo was taken 5 years ago after she fought a battle with Lymphoma and won. Last week, I had the immense honor of photographing her again in celebration. 


Today, She celebrates 5 years cancer free

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A word from Mandy: 

"Let me start off like this...Cancer effing sucks! Plain and simple. I hate it and I most certainly hate what it does to people. To their lives. To their families.

But, a few things I do have to say, are, that I can appreciate life. Appreciate the little things life has to offer. For starters, my second chance. My second chance to continue to be the best damn Mom to Conner. To be the wife I'm meant to be. To have our miracle, Payton, (after beating this nasty beast). To be a good friend...and the AMAZING opportunity being a coach at my local high school guiding my girls to become not only successful in their HS basketball career but in all aspects of life.

So, with that...I'm 5 years. 5 FREAKIN YEARS CANCER FREE! 

They say that with my "disease" hitting the 5 year mark is gold. Well, come on people...who doesn't want gold.

I'm taking it. I'm taking it that 5 years means my chances of recurrence slim down to some good sounding statistics! I can say I'm officially "cured"!!!!
I get to be with my family, my friends, my teams for LONGER!
I've made some stick with you friendships through this. Even after 5 years I'm finding myself connecting and becoming the best of friends with fellow survivors...people I wouldn't have imagined being close with before. These are friendships that no one else can understand (I'd never wish my closest loves to understand it). So, for them, these girls, I'm just a little more thankful that my journey this many years out, has brought them into my life.

5 years ago I was waiting for the call. The call that would change my life. The call that would tell me I'd be "ok" and able to move forward with a bit more ease OR (the dreaded) I'd need to continue a much harder fight. That one call brought me so many happy tears. I beat it. I won that ugly ugly beast that was trying to break me down. It didn't win. I DID!

I've lost long time friends through finding myself again, which is tough, but I've also gained more from it. Those whom love you will be there. No matter life's challenges. Something I've always believed in. And something I've learned the hurtful way. 
But thank goodness for my family and friends, my tribe that I've got on my side...then and now. I love you all!

Today, 5 years later, I'm stronger.
I'm happier. I'm more frightened.
But, I am me. More so than ever before. I know what life is and how I want it to be for myself and my family.

Life isn't fair. And sometimes it's taken from people we love too soon.
So, love what you have and Love who you have! Let others know. Enjoy your life...because it will pass you by regardless of what's thrown your way.

To 5 years! To 5 more years living life! 5 is a number I'm forever continuing to strive for.💜"

We all have a plan for our lives, or at least we like to think we do. Some of us have a 3 month plan, others a 5 year plan. No where in Mandy's plan, did she ever imagine a year with cancer, but she didn't let it stop her. I had the great privilege of photographing her entire journey from start to 5 years later, and I can honestly tell you that I never heard once say anything negative. 

Of course there were days of doubt, many questions, but she was determined to survive. At the time I remember thinking about what a courageous person she was and how beautiful it would be if she got to share her story of hope and courage with the others. 

Well, she got to do that and more. That's a story for another day, but, Mandy, you are so amazing!

From our family to yours: Congratulations on today's HUGE milestone! I can't wait to travel down this road with you all for the next 5 years, and the 5 after that! Love ya girl!

 

 

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