Fall Mini Sessions Are Here!!!

Hello friends and families! I sure hope everyone had a fantastic Labor Day weekend and stayed cool in this Southern California heat wave we've been having. Now if you're like me, this is about the time you start getting really excited, because fall is just around the corner. I mean, who doesn't love the smell of a good fireplace floating through the air, breaking out your chunky sweaters and knee high boots, the anticipation of the Holidays and of course FOOTBALL SEASON! 

Sadly, I am aware that Labor Day weekend also marks the end of summer. That can be a hard pill to swallow for some, even though the summer sun worshipers know that it is coming every year, at the exact same time. That said, I won't pretend that I have a solution that will wash away your end of summer blues, but I might have a way to get you prepared early for the Holiday season and perhaps bring a little bit of love and sunshine to your days in a round about sort of way. 

I've had requests for the past several years for mini portrait sessions and have had it on my list of to-dos and have never brought the plan to fruition. So, today I am rolling out 7 days of mini portrait sessions in various locations all over Orange County. The mini sessions are designed for families of 6 people or less and will last 20 minutes. This will be a very condensed version of my full portrait session and you will receive 10 beautifully retouched digital high resolution images on a photo sharing gallery. I would love to capture your annual family portraits and help get those long overdue portrait updates checked off your list. I look forward to capturing some new faces and reuniting with some of my favorite families!

The dates and locations are as follows:

October 15th - Salt Creek Beach - Dana Point, CA *** BOOKED ***

October 28th - Riley Wilderness Park - Mission Viejo, CA

October 29th - Riley Wilderness Park - Mission Viejo, CA

November 4th - Salt Creek Beach - Dana Point, CA

November 5th - Tree Farm - Brea, CA

November 11th - Caspers Wilderness Park - San Juan Capistrano, CA

November 12th - Peters Canyon Regional Park - Orange, CA

Book your session HERE!!!

  

Didn't know I'd be here today

Yesterday was a really special day for me. I was editing all morning in the comfort of my tiny bayside apartment with my friend and co-worker, Chico. I did a couple of loads of laundry and then headed out to pick up my nephew from his third day of Kindergarten. 

I drove out seriously early, arriving thirty minutes before he was supposed to be getting out (because those crazy Kindergarten teachers are unpredictable. I mean, what if she lets my little buddy out early and he wanders down the street and gets lost and it is all my fault) and I waited with one other very young looking father in front of the Kindergarten classrooms. It was over 100 degrees, I paced and paced and felt like a total creeper being there so early, but that was okay. I belonged there. I was there for a child. Finally, the doors opened and I saw my little nephew's head peak out the door! He ran to me and hugged me and said, "Auntie Kells! Are we going to the beach?!" "We sure are!" I replied.

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We hopped back on the freeway and took a little detour to Snow Monster, because (if we're being honest) I was in the mood for an ice cream sandwich. Orion enjoyed about three bites of ice cream with gummy worms and fruity pebbles and I tried GUINNESS ICE CREAM. You read that right!!! Side note... it tasted just like Guinness and it was delicious. 

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After our ice cream pit stop, Orion helped me fold some laundry, we sunscreened up and went out to the bay. We played in the water for a few hours on the lonely beach until the breeze kicked up and this unusual heat turned to a chill. The clouds rolled in and Orion was actually ready to go inside for a change. We made dinner together and watched Moana. It was a special day.

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You are probably wondering what made this day so special. Truly, days like this should all be special no matter what, but yesterday shook me. Maybe it was because I arrived too early to pick Orion up from school and had too much time to think. Or maybe it is because I have a ton of personal events coming up and I am overcome with emotion and this is the way it is all coming out, but I was taken aback by my own emotions yesterday. 

Two years ago, I was sitting in this same teeny bayside apartment, truly loathing life. I was working as a Litigation Specialist for a company that knew little of my existence, nor did they care about my mental or physical state. I was in and out of court, arguing with attorneys on a daily basis and dealing with people who were usually experiencing the worst times of their life. I was working 50-60 hours a week for my Lit job and was putting in 40+ hours a week shooting weddings, portraits, boudoir and editing everything as well. I had gained nearly 20 pounds in about two years and I was seriously neglecting myself and ALL of my relationships. I was miserable. I had a mini meltdown when my boss wouldn't let me leave to see my nephew's first Pre-School recital. I sat at my desk and cried pathetically into my keyboard and told myself, this isn't where you are supposed to be. That was two years ago.

Now, I spend my days shooting beautiful Boudoir clients, documenting weddings and editing and perfecting my craft. I am not at all where I want to be in my business...I don't think I ever will be. I do not have it in my makeup to be satisfied with myself. I will always strive to be better and to grow and to make something more of myself. But for now, I am happy with where I am. I have time for friends and family and for myself. I am still in a state of decompression as a residual effect of that time in my life. I am still anxious and feeling like I am playing catch-up and I still feel like I am on overdrive most of the time.  That's okay. I am learning to adapt to being happy. That sounds bizarre (I know it as I type it out and see it in front of me). I don't think it is a bizarre thing to be going through though. I spent over ten years feeling like I was in the wrong place, going through the motions, making more money year after year, doing what I thought was right and it was just so wrong. So, I am giving myself permission to be happy and live my life the way I see fit, not the way I thought I was supposed to be living it. It will continue to be an adjustment, but I will be unapologetically happy with where I am now. I've earned it. 

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I encourage everyone to dig deep this week and think seriously about the state of their happiness. If it is less than what you want it to be...what can you do to change it? If your financial, family, personal situation won't allow you to make large immediate changes, what small thing can you change today or in the short term to change the course of your happiness? I'd love to hear your thoughts! Happy Friday friends!

Diana and Dave's Malibu, California Engagement Session

Diana and Dave met at a Ballroom Dance class in college...how cute is that?!?!?! When I asked Dave why he decided to take a Ballroom Dance class, he replied that it sounded like a pretty good way to meet girls. Was he ever right! 

I can only imagine that Dave didn't anticipate meeting the love of his life in that class back in college, but here he is getting ready to embark on the greatest adventure of all with Diana. Diana and Dave will be getting married early next year and their Malibu, California engagement session was as sweet as I expected. They soaked up the sun and danced in the waves and I didn't want to put my camera down. I hope you enjoy a bit of their gallery!

So. Cal Surfer Asks The Big Question!!!

Andrew and Heather met at church in their hometown of Downey, California and have been going strong for the past 2 years. Andrew decided to ask Heather to marry him at his favorite local surf spot in Bolsa Chica State Beach in Orange County, California. 

I set out early Thursday morning to stake out my post at Tower #18 to witness the romantic proposal unfold. Andrew surfs at the same tower each time he heads out to get some early morning shredding in and likes to take sleepy Heather anytime he can. Unsuspecting Heather helped Andrew pull his board out of the bag to find the best message imaginable on the bottom side. 

Needless to say, Heather was completely surprised! Good work, Andrew!

Heather and Andrew's proposal was featured on How He Asked by The Knot...check it out!

Megan and Colby's Newport Beach, California Engagement Session

Megan and Colby met in college... Megan walked into a bagel shop, noticed Colby (handsome as all get out) and she was instantly smitten. They were both dating other people at the time...so they went about their lives. Several years later, they reconnected after college through social media and that was all she wrote! Now, they are happily engaged and planning to marry next year! I shot their engagement session around Newport Beach, California and they were totally adorable together!

Portrait of a Makeup Artist - Makeup by Sarah Kathleen

This is Sarah, friends. She is fabulous. So, I decided to follow her around Balboa Island for an hour or so to see if her fabulousness would wear off on me. I'm not sure if it worked, but regardless, I got to spend a warm spring morning over iced tea and pastries at Crocker's Abundant Table (a new addition to sister restaurant, Crocker's "The Well Dressed Frank") while chatting about life and career goals and Sarah's current studies at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising. Overall, I am super impressed with this young woman...and she's just a doll to hang out with!

Sarah is one of my favorite Makeup Artists and has been a professional Makeup Artist for over 10 years! She has trained with and worked for Paul Mitchell, Tigi, MAC, Yves Saint Laurent and Le Metier de Beaute. She is currently studying Beauty Industry Merchandise Marketing at F.I.D.M. with plans of being the Creative Director for a Cosmetic Company. Sarah says she will always do professional makeup for weddings because her passion is making women feel beautiful. I regularly send brides and clients to Sarah and she often accompanies me in studio with my Boudoir clients. My clients all adore her and her work is just flawless. Take a closer peak at her work

Sarah's edgy beach style was a breath of fresh air around the sleepy little streets of Balboa Island. She was simply beautiful in a fitted black tank, flowing floral skirt with a slit that was nearly waist high in the coolest way possible and a classic jean jacket. Ensemble on point! 

Angelica & Nick's Malibu, California Engagement Session

Angelica and Nick had a dreamy sun filled engagement session in the hills of Malibu, California. Angelica wore a pale pink flowing over dress and her long wavy hair was even more romantic. I hope this session inspires you to incorporate our beautiful California nature in your engagement session! Enjoy!

Gorgeous hair and makeup by Sarah Kathleen.

Annie's Elegant Bridal Shower at the Villa

I had the pleasure of capturing the Bridal Shower of the lovely Annie at the Villa in Woodland Hills, California. Annie's best friends and family gathered on a beautiful afternoon to celebrate her upcoming marriage to her fiancé, Matthew.

The guests were greeted with Mimosas and individual succulents that served as escort cards as they walked through the door.  The tables were adorned with gorgeous pink and peach florals by Avant Garden and personal bottles of rosemary olive oil for everyone to take home.

The ladies played some very unique (and seriously hilarious) games and enjoyed a delicious light lunch followed by a very decadent finale. The guests enjoyed and incredible hand painted, gold foil cake by Vera's Cakes in Monrovia and a dessert table filled with candy, cake pops, pastries and French Macarons. As an extra little treat, Matthew arrived with a bouquet of flowers for his bride to be! I was truly impressed with the time and thought that went into making Annie's Bridal Shower one of a kind.

This event was published in The Southern California Bride blog, so please take a look for even more lovely details on the day!

My Top 10 Images of 2015

So, there's a lot going around right now on Instagram about #2015bestnine, blah, blah, blah. Don't get me wrong, I am a willing participant. It's fun. It's an interesting little experiment. I allowed some unknown app to filter through my IG and calculate my most liked images and then put them together in a cute little square shaped collage. Every image in my #2015bestnine were images from weddings, with the exception of one commercial shoot with a mommy fashion blogger and her toddler. The popularity of these top 9 images doesn't necessarily mean they are my favorite. In fact, some of my favorite images of 2015, never even showed up on my Instagram page.

Well, I'm taking back the reins from the almighty Instagram and sharing my TOP 10 favorite images of 2015. That's right, I've stepped it up an image. Here are my top 10 images of 2015, some business, some personal.

10. Christmas in the Desert


  9. Real Life Snow White


8. Bucket List, St. Barths


7. Old Friends, New Friends


6. Lady Loves


5. Serenity, Saint Martin


4. Love At It's Finest

 

3. Milestone of a Baby Adored


2. Family


1. Wanderlust, Wanderlove


Engagement Session Giveaway!

Happy first day of November friends! The holiday season has crept up on us, and in the spirit of fall and magic and LOVE, I am hosting a photo session giveaway! I'll be gifting an engagement session to one happy couple and the winner will be announced on Tuesday, December 1st.

To enter you must complete the following:

1. Follow @kellymcdanielphoto on Instagram.

2. Tag 3 people on the Instagram Giveaway announcement and repost the announcement on your personal Instagram page. (If your personal Instagram is private, please DM me and I will add you.)

3. Lastly, send a quick email to @kellymcdanielphoto with your love story and a picture of you and your fiancé/significant other. The love story can be brief, but should tell me something meaningful about your partnership.

What you will win:

The winner will receive an engagement session as described on my website, valued at $450.00 and an 8 x 10 silver picture frame with a chosen print from the Engagement Session gallery. The winner will also receive 15% off their wedding package if they choose to book with Kelly McDaniel Photography.

There will be a second winner who will receive an 8 x 10 silver picture frame and 15% off their wedding package if they book with Kelly McDaniel Photography.

Each entrant who does not win a gift will receive 10% off an engagement session or wedding package if booked with Kelly McDaniel Photography.  

Conditions:

No purchase necessary to enter or win the giveaway. There is no obligation to book any photo session or wedding package in order to enter or win the giveaway. The winner must redeem the photo session giveaway prior to June 1, 2016. The engagement session will take place in a 100 mile radius of Los Angeles, California. Entrants need not be engaged, but should be in a committed relationship and both partners should be willing and eager to have a fun engagement session with me!

Tiny Blessings

A year ago I made the transition from working in a high pressure, high noise level, highly exhausting office to working at home. And for the past year I have heard from nearly everyone that I am sooooo lucky. Make no mistake, I realize the perks.  My commute time is zero minutes long, I can work in my yoga pants if I so please, I can listen to music as loud as I want, there's no boss breathing down my neck  and I can prepare a legitimate lunch in my own kitchen. That last one is my very favorite.  

What could possibly be bad about working from home, right? Answer: It is lonely. Plain and simple. That's my biggest problem with working from home. I feel like I am missing out on so much human connection that at times I question my own sanity. I catch myself walking in circles around my apartment, starting conversations with strangers more often than I used to (which was already quite often) and the strolling around Target 3-4 times a week has really taken a toll on my bank account.  

I've started to get a handle on the loneliness, but I must give credit where credit is due. I inherited this little guy the week before I left my office job and started working from home. My Nana adopted Chico 8 years ago after one of her doctors recommended she have a furry little companion to keep her company during the day. Chico was adopted from the spcaLA in Long Beach, California. We were all a little weary of adopting a dog that was 6-7 years old. Would he have bad habits? Would he like us? Would we like him? Would he be a good addition to my Nana's life? Chico ended up being the answer to our prayers and I can easily attribute a good deal of Nana's happiness and comfort in the late years of her life to this little guy.

8 years down the road, this little Chihuahua has become my companion and I am so very thankful for him every day. He sits with me, keeps me alert, gets me out of my house throughout the day and I'll let you in on a secret...I talk to him. Yup. I talk to a dog. It's okay though, I think he needs me too. He listens when I talk to him and cuddles up on the couch when it's time to relax. The other night my boyfriend and I came home from having dinner with his folks and realized that we spent a good portion of the dinner talking about our little furry family member. We're hooked. I hope that everyone that has room for a little pup in their life will strongly consider adoption. Visit your local shelter and try to adopt, rather than shop.

Cheers to a wonderful week!