Resolutions

I'm not one to make a bunch of resolutions at the New Year.  That's not to say that I don't believe in making them. I think that anything you do with good intention is well worth the thought and  energy. My personal problem with New Year Resolutions is that I tend to think on a much broader scale and I find it hard to articulate what my resolutions are. But, I'll give it a shot...

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Be Kind.

This is something that I have tried my best to put into practice my entire adult life. My mother and grandmother always taught me to be kind before everything else. Sadly, I will admit that there have been times in my life (high school in particular) that I look back and I have to say that I was not kind. I can remember the exact day when it clicked and I realized how unkind I had been to someone that I had once called a friend. It was the day of my senior prom. From that moment on, I realized, I needed to get my act together. I'll spare you the details of that messy story, as my goal is to keep this post moving in a positive direction, but perhaps I'll find a good time to write about that in the future. 

Kindness is something that is so essential to human life and absolutely necessary for the harmony of the world. It is not always easy to do, especially when we feel hurt or wronged, but it is so incredibly important. The world needs more kindness and understanding and we all need to keep that in the very front of our minds every day. Kindness is at the top of my list this year, because I feel that at this time in our history, the world is truly in need of it. It will remain on my list of resolutions always as a reminder to be kind to others and to help others realize that kindness can eradicate all evil. 

Give Back.

There is so much out there to be done. I've donated time at food kitchens, volunteered at my neighborhood AIDS foundation and involved myself in charity races, but I haven't come close to doing my part for my community. My charitable work has been totally pathetic and I want to change that immediately. I have applied to be a volunteer tutor at a Learning Lab for underprivileged elementary and middle school aged children who are in need of guidance and extra assistance outside of school hours. I urge everyone to carve out what little time you may have in your busy work week/month/year and find an organization that speaks to you. Where can you be of help? What skill do you have to offer? If the mere thought of simply figuring out where you want to volunteer overwhelms you, start with Neighborhood of Good for some ideas.  Neighborhood of Good is a program sponsored by State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company. I am not a State Farm insured, but this program is sure making me consider switching over.  

Neighborhood of Good will provide you with numerous options and the website is a simple and easy to navigate. You will be prompted to input your city or zip code and then you will be taken to a long list of charitable organizations in your community that need your help. Organizations range from working to hand out meals at a homeless shelter to installing hand rails in showers and hallways of elderly homeowners in order to allow them to stay safe and independent while living in their own home.  I even found an organization called DOOBERT in which you sign up to drive a leg of a journey in effort to save animals by transporting them from hihg-kill shelters to no-kill shelters. So cool!

Get involved. Give back. Pay it forward. 

Stay Present.

Simple. Less television, less phone time, less computer time, less distraction. More time with every last person that I love. 

Keep Moving.

In every sense of the phrase. Physically move every day. No more sedentary work days where I stare at my computer and edit/type the daylight away. Work Hard, and continue to grow my business. Improve everything I can, one step at a time. Slow progress in a forward direction is my goal and will continue to be my goal until my last day. Move forward in a positive direction and grow in my relationships with my husband, with my family and with my friends who are pretty much family. This is a reminder not to be content or complacent in life. Always. Keep. Moving. 

I hope that everyone out there, whether making resolutions this year or not, will take some time for reflection today. Happy 2018, friends! Let's make this the best year yet! And now...I'll leave you with a snap chat of my tall Nebraskan and our teeny Chihuahua, bringing in the New Year at home on the couch. Cheers!!!

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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 *** BOOKED ***

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

November 5th - Tree Farm - Brea, CA *** BOOKED ***

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

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

Book your session by emailing me at kellymcdanielphoto@gmail.com

  

Source: https://kellymcdanielphoto.simplybook.me

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!!! (Featured on How He Asked)

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!