Oakland Documentary Family Photograher

Breakfast, Love and Light- East Bay Family Photographer

I met this beautiful family to photograph them while they cooked breakfast and simply enjoyed each other on a Sunday morning. The reason I love documentary photography so much is allows me the chance to use my camera to document family memories, but it also get to hang with some really awesome people who are so interesting and so fun! 

One of the biggest things that struck me when I was with this family is how deeply connected they are. They touched each other easily and often. Kisses and hugs abound, especially between the littles. As you'll see, big brother has such a strong love for his baby sister. Enjoy the love! 

Christmas 2016- Oakland/Bay Area Family Photographer

I didn't grow up loving Christmas. Perhaps I've shared that in my blog before. My mom wasn't a fan of Christmas when I was a kid. Not exactly sure why. It probably had much to do with making ends meet and the scarcity of resources as a young single parent. Maybe it had to do with the fact that we lived far away from family and so Christmases were rather quiet. Whatever the case, it wasn't a holiday that held much meaning for me. That is, until I had children of my own.  That first Christmas after my daughter was born was almost like a light was turned on inside of me. I was suddenly all about Christmas. I wanted the tree, the perfect angel, the holiday songs, gifts, food, etc. I wanted the entire quintessential experience-for her.  Through her, I was finally able to feel the full joy of the "holiday season", and it felt good. And it still does. It probably won't  ever be my favorite holiday, but I'm in it now and having the opportunity to spend time with those I love most is worth more than the cost of admission. 

So this was December 25, 2016 and I am grateful for every minute of it. 

Jones Family- Oakland Family Storytelling Photographer

A couple years ago I put out a casting call to recruit a family that was expecting a baby so that I could do an in-hospital photo session right after the baby's birth. These sessions are generally known as Fresh 48 sessions. I got a few inquires and selected two families at random. Well, I realize now that it wasn't so random. You know how things just work out the way they were supposed to? This is one of those situations. And here's a link to their original Fresh 48 session so you can see what a difference a couple years make! 

Lily and Kevin are both are both super interesting and dynamic on their own right, and have an awesome partnership. Lily is an accomplished educator who owns Curiosity  Pack.  Curiosity Pack assists parents in supporting their child's learning by sending boxes of age-appropriate activities that teach children ages 3-10 about "letters, numbers, friendship, science, art, love, and every other intriguing subject you can imagine." Do yourself a favor and checkout her offerings. It's smart approach to supporting children and parents alike.  Kevin reports of the Bay art scene for KQED and you should see his record collection! These people are just cool. 

I am lucky to have met them, and even more honored to have photographed their family a few times. It's always a treat. 

This is their Saturday morning. Enjoy their story. 

Dreaming of Summer, Light and Inspiration


I've been in a photography rut. It happens. I've experienced it enough times in my journey to not fear it. I actually embrace it. Many times I'm typed the url address of my website and looked around at all the pretty pictures, but didn't feel an innate connection to the images. It was almost as if I was admiring the work of someone else. And that was ok with me because I knew that with time I would reconnect. And I have. In fact, if I really think about it. I haven't really stopped taking images. I shoot a lot still. But the difference has been that I've simply dumped the cards onto my hard drive and walked away. So now I am working through the pile of raw photos enjoying the discovery of a few gems. 

So here we are, back in the summer of 2015- late July to be exact. A week in San Diego surrounded by sand, surf, the ones I love most in the world. The light was golden, as was our skin. The moods were light (as light as can be when you have a 3 year old in your pack), and the living was easy.  I am looking forward to our next summer time get-away where our only job is to have fun. Until then, I have these photos. 

Mama and Baby Breastfeeding Session- Oakland Family Documentary Photographer

There are few manifestations of the bond between mother and child sweeter than the breastfeeding relationship. When I think about my children as infants and young toddlers, it's the thing that comes to mind first and the that which I miss the most. When my client, Rachel, inquiring whether I would be interested in photographing  a mama and baby breastfeeding session, I couldn't say yes fast enough. So, I spent a beautiful afternoon with them hanging out at their house, chatting about babies and life, watching them bake scones, and witnessing their precious. Here's their story. 

Indira Allegra- We Are Oakland

Indira Allegra portrait in Oakland

I met Indira about seven years ago when we both entered a yoga teacher training program offered by the Niroga Institute in Berkeley, CA.  Over the course of the next two years, we got to know each other as we also got to know ourselves through the process deepened our yoga practice.  Indira intrigued me from day one. Her quiet confidence and artistic flare inspired me to discover those qualities in myself.  

When I conceived of the We Are Oakland project, Indira was very high on my list of people to profile. She just has so much to offer her community and society as a whole.  As you'll read in the interview below, she has some knowledge to drop! You will not be disappointed. 

I interviewed and photographed Indira for this project at the end of December. Yes, almost three months ago. Sometimes life gets in the way of the best laid plans, but I am so excited to get this out to the many who know and love Indira, as well as to the new admirers I'm sure she's going to gain. This interview is a bit longer than I'd planned. I didn't want to cut out any of her inspiring words, so I've published the interview in full. Enjoy!!

Indira Allegra portrait in Oakland

What is your name?   Indira Allegra

Where are we and why did you choose this location?   We are on the rooftop of my apartment building in front of my art studio. Right now I can see the cranes by the port. I can see into downtown Oakland.  I’m looking at all of the buildings and where the buildings stop and Lake Merritt begins. I do a lot of my creative work up here and it seems like a natural place for us to collaborate on this project.

Tell me about your life's work.  I am a writer and visual artist. I do a lot of work with visual performance and textiles. So, I’ll craft the textiles that often appear in my video pieces and I’m interested in how cloth acts as a co-conspirator with me whenever I am performing. It’s not just about the body of the artist in the work. I feel like there is limitless intimacy between bodies and cloth. It is that relationship that interests me.

See more of Indira's work, click here:  www.indiraallegra.com

What is your superpower?   So even X-Men had to go to school to learn how to use their superpowers and to build them. [Laughter] What I feel like I’m in the Jean Grey School for (in the X-Men) is to learn how to communicate with everything in its own language. And maybe by the time I’m 99 I’ll have it figured out. [Laughter] I think that there is a way in which, when I’m weaving on the loom, it’s not just me making the cloth. I am in active collaboration with the boundaries or desires of the fabric. So there are certain things that cotton wants to do that silk will not. There are certain things that paper will yield itself to that linen won't. Much of my creative practice is about how I can be receptive to the ‘wants’ of my materials and how can we work together to develop something harmonious. When I think about being able to communicate with everything in its own language…I’m talking about being in intimate communion with the world. 


Indira Allegra portrait in Oakland

Why do you choose to live in Oakland?  I was born Detroit and when the crack cocaine epidemic hit we moved to Portland because I lost a lot of family members due to drug violence there.  Upon arrival in Portland, Oregon at the age of 7, I quickly realized that I really was 3% of the entire state population. That was pretty clear even as a young child. So there was always this obvious sense of not belonging. I would walk down the street (in Oregon) and people would literally ask me “Where are you from?” and “What country are you from?” As a woman of color in a predominately white environment, there were obviously lots of micro-aggressions that came up on a day-to-day basis that I had to deal with. Oakland is the only place that I’ve lived where no one asks me where I am from and no one questions my right to belong here. And that’s wonderful. 

How did you make it to Oakland?   When I first came down to the Bay, I was 11 or 12 and my Dad had taken my brother and I down here on a train trip. I remember this sense of electricity that I was feeling in my body even as a child and knowing that I had to come back here. In my twenties, I did, I got a job working at Laney College as an interpreter for the Deaf and Deaf/blind and was doing a lot of academic support for students with disabilities.

Back in Oregon, I had been the only black interpreter and one of three Native interpreters in the state. I would literally have Deaf clients saying things to me like “You are too dark I can’t even see you signing.” That's the kind of environment I grew up in. While there is obviously racism everywhere, to be in the Bay Area now is like a refuge.

Are you still working with the Deaf community?   I’m not.  My work and my primary responsibility is to my own creative practice right now. One of the things that happened for me when interpreting was that I was diagnosed with a condition called Ménière's Disease that affects my hearing and sometimes my balance. When I got the diagnosis, I learned that one of the possibilities of the condition is that one day, I too, could become deaf.  So if, in theory, my hearing could possibly have an expiration date on it (and while that is certainly not the end of the world) it does motivate me to focus solely on my own creative work and passion. 

What are you proud of?   I am proud of being able to be in a dynamic partnership for 11 years. I feel blessed.

Indira Allegra portrait in Oakland

What are you grateful for?   It’s a privilege to be able to focus on my creative work and to actually make money that way. And to have enough connection with an inner voice that tells me that I can do it. It doesn’t matter what my class background is or that I am going to be finishing my bachelor’s degree at age 35. It doesn’t really matter if I own a giant house or whatever. I don’t have to measure my achievements against anyone else’s standards. All that matters to me is that I feel like I’m growing and I feel like I’m not stuck in life. For me, that idea of being stagnant or frozen is terrifying. Being grounded is good. Being frozen is not so good. Trees are grounded because they are always open to taking in nourishment and open to giving it back. I want to be able to embody that kind of plant intelligence.

What is you hope for the Spring of 2015?   I’m thinking about other applications of #blacklivesmatter.  I’m interested in how we as black people take a stand for individual self-love and self worth in our own lives also. When I meditate on #blacklivesmatter I think about how I used to be borderline diabetic at one point and how, I had to matter enough to myself make different choices in my own diet, and to learn things that I had never been taught growing up about how processed sugars were affecting my body. I had to move beyond the shame of not knowing about all that. Acting as a grown woman often means having to teach ourselves things that we didn’t come up knowing about with regard to physical and mental health and non-violence - and that’s ok. That's a micro #blacklivesmatter movement for me.

Indira Allegra portrait in Oakland
Indira Allegra portrait in Oakland
Indira Allegra smiling in a portrait.

Boys will be Boys- Oakland Family Lifestyle and Documentary Photography

I love color. The brighter, the better in my book. So, when I drove up to this family's home, and certainly when I stepped in the door, I felt right at home. They have such a bright and happy home and it is a total reflection of the people they are. 

And boy, did we have a good time during their shoot. I following the super sweet and energetic boys around as they played with cars, blocks, balls and everything in between. It was such a beautiful day, so we also spent some time in their backyard swinging on the swing set and blowing bubbles. 

One of the things I love about the families I get to work with is the strong partnership amongst the parents. And these two were no exception. They love each other deeply and it's evident in the gentle way they interact with one another. Those interactions are one of my favorite things to photograph.

I'll stop talking and let you scroll through the photographs to see more of this super fun family. Enjoy!

Oakland-San Francisco Portrait Photographer- My Two Worlds Happily Collide

I have a day job. I should't call it that.  In addition to my photography pursuits, I have another career in public health.

Spinach and Cheese Quiche- Super Easy and Healthy Weeknight Meal!

Cooking does not come natural to me.  Actually, I didn't start cooking regularly until I had children.

Telling Stories with Lifestyle Photography Workshop Review

One of my life mottos is that there are no accidents. Life has a funny way of giving you just what you need right when you need it.

Oakland Family Photography-B Family- Lake Temescal

Oakland Family Photography-B Family- Lake Temescal

What do you do when you're a photographer and you need a family photo for the very last minute New Year's cards you plan to send-out?