The summer before co-vid hit, we traveled from California to Oklahoma and back to visit family and friends. It was a trip that I have made dozens of times. As a child, it was always about getting to our destination (my grandparents' home in northern Oklahoma) as fast as we could. However, this time my husband pointed out that traveling with our kids (who are both on the Autism Spectrum) meant that we needed to have a plan ( and a schedule) that we could explain to them. Scheduled stops at a local park or playground to help them get some energy out and also allow us to enjoy the sights needed to be added to the trip. So we got to do some tourist stuff! I was a little sad to see that most of the road-side attractions of my youth are long gone, but we did find a few things to take advantage of- many of which were new to me as well.
This little pit stop on the side of the road was such a fun experience! If you are traveling through the Texas panhandle make sure to stop... and it doesn't hurt to bring along some spray paint (but if you don't, many of the people there offer it to you after they are done.)
What is it? A public art installation and sculpture in Amarillo, TX named "Cadillac Ranch" and it's just off of the Interstate for you to visit. We almost missed it, but it caught my husband's eye and we turned around so the kids (and I) could check it out.
Family is everything, and this family wanted to celebrate all that had happened during the lockdown. Love, marriage, a new baby, and a big move all happened while the world was turned upside down. It was such an honor to photograph this beautiful family.
The day set record high temperatures in the California Central Valley (over 110 degrees!) but it was a beautiful ceremony filled with love, family, and smiles. The venue is located at the foot of the Sierra Nevada Mountains and the views from the ceremony site were gorgeous.
This day was special in so many ways- it would have been the bride's maternal grandparents' 50th anniversary and the whole day was about family- the bride's Uncle officiated, and her stepfather and father walked her into the ceremony. Many of her siblings (and one of the groom's) and her cousins made up the wedding party. The groom's family traveled from Texas to be a part of the big day. Huge congratulations to Kaitlin and William!
Has it really been over a year?
While it has been a trying time, I have to admit that my family really bonded and came together throughout this last year and a half. My kids got to spend WAY more time together than they ever had before, and I watched as their bond grew immensely. I documented all the little stuff, The tree blossoms in the first photo are from our walk the first day of quarantine. We took our time and looked at all the colors of the spring blossoms. A few weeks later, we drove to the foothills to enjoy nature. This last year, we have had front yard picnics, backyard dinners, read hundreds and hundreds of books, and just slowed down from our normal everyday hustle and bustle. Has it been hard? Yes. Have tears been shed? Oh, yeah. But overall, the slowdown of it all was kind of a strange gift that made me understand how much I should appreciate the life I get to have.
I can't believe I never published this blog entry. This session literally happened weeks before everything went topsy-turvy with co-vid 19. I am sharing it now because it was such a fun and amazing session and I can't wait to start taking portraits once again!
Megan wanted her Senior session to take place in her Grandmother's almond orchard while it was in bloom. For those of you unfamiliar with almond bloom season- it is quick! You get a week or two before the blooms are gone. It's gorgeous and I get excited about our county's blossom trail every single year.
We were in luck because we got beautiful weather and blue skies for her portraits. Her Mom and Grandma let us wander around, taking our time being creative. Unlike many of the other seniors I have photographed, Megan had done her homework and knew what kind of posing she wanted to try and was was very comfortable having her pictures taken.
The session was entirely shot on film. developed and scanned by The FIND Lab.
With co-vid 19 quarantine and stay-at-home orders, I have only been photographing and documenting my family. However, our oldest and his family moved to our area right before the world turned upside down and they also found out they were expecting. We remained in each other's "bubble" during quarantine (watching the kids when needed) so we planned to take a few maternity photos at Thanksgiving. We knew the boys probably wouldn't cooperate with us, so we didn't expect too much and just wanted to make sure that baby Joy was documented. All images were shot on expired Focal film (it's what was already loaded in my Pentax K-1000) and developed and scanned by The FIND Lab.
Before we left Oklahoma, we made a stop in Oklahoma City to see the Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial. The last time I was there was the night it was opened to the public, at the 5 year anniversary April 19, 2000. So many emotions hit as soon as we drove up, it was the first visit for my husband and it was just as difficult for him. It's hard to believe that this year will mark 25 years since that terrible day when 168 lives were lost. Some may ask why we made a stop there, but I think it is very important that we remember this day and the people that were lost.
I had meant to share these pictures last year, but as usual, time got away from me. But this trip meant so much to me that I don't want to just forget about it, so here they are. I hope you enjoy!
Stillwater, Oklahoma is the place of my birth. My parents met at Oklahoma State University and then moved out to California (where my Dad is from) when I was about 3. I am Oklahoma born and California raised... and both states have a big part of my heart.
I returned to Oklahoma at 19 to attend OSU and to be closer to my Mom's side of the family. This part of Oklahoma still feels like home to me, even though it has been nearly 20 years since I moved back to California. I loved watching my kids explore and fall in love with it as much as I have. While visiting, I took everyone to the University and we wandered around the campus. Visiting the library, student union and Theta pond brought back so many memories! Of course we had to make a stop at Eskimo Joe's (a local bar and grill)... if you live in Oklahoma, you know Joe's. My Mom also let us know about a couple of new sites to go check out. The two transformers were a hit with my kids, they thought that we should go look for more! I'm hoping we make another trip this summer so I can show my family that there is so much to love about Oklahoma.
The route from our home in California's San Joaquin Valley to my grandparents and my mother's homes in northern Oklahoma is one that I have traveled many times, However, this summer was very different- instead of driving to get to our final destination, our family took some of the scenic routes and found adventures along the "mother road".
I plan on sharing these summer adventures here on the blog in the next few weeks along with the pictures I took (mostly film). We didn't get to see everything we had planned on, but we also took the time to go see sites that our kids would enjoy and remember. So many of the experiences were brand new to me as well. We are planning on taking another trip next summer and I plan on doing a little more research of the fun things that may be a little off the beaten path- but well worth the time. I hope our adventures inspire you to find the hidden gems in your area and beyond.
She said yes on Christmas Day, a week or so later we met at the park to get some portraits to celebrate. Congratulations to my beautiful niece/goddaughter, Kaitlin, and her beau, Will. It is such an honor to share this happy time with the both of you!
All images were shot on film with Pentax K1000 and Mamiya 645J. Developed and scanned by The FIND Lab
Hi, I'm Melissa. I am a wife, mother, step-mother, Gigi (step-grandma) and a photographer. I started out as the family member always asked to bring my camera along and it has turned into my life dream. I just love being able to capture moments for others that they can always cherish.This is my little corner to share my sessions, projects, and a little piece of our daily life. Thanks for stopping by!