Cal Poly Black Commencement | Special Events Photography | San Luis Obispo, CA

For the past 29 years, Cal Poly (San Luis Obispo) has celebrated the graduating African American students by honoring them with a Black Commencement ceremony held on the Friday before the larger commencements. At Cal Poly, the African American student population has been less than 1% of the general student population (147 students of21,300 students according to the Cal Poly 2017 PolyView) for a few years now. The graduating committee worked really hard to make this event a success for this small and prestigious group. The theme for this graduating class was “Love, Integrity and Enlightenment.” The event started off with the Sitkoto Drummers. Their style of African drumming shaped how the rest of the commencement would be, soulful and lively. The keynote speaker was Bri Blue. Her keynote and take-aways for the graduating seniors was not just for the students, but for all who attended. One nugget of information that I will remember is “flowers wilt, be the tree” in all that you try to accomplish. The students are always so excited to receive their stoles made of kente cloth woven from Ghanaian craftsmen.The traditions of this commencement like many of the other cultural commencements (Chicana-Latino, Native American, Middle Eastern, Lavender and Asian Pacific Islander) are very heart felt and family focused. I look forward to next year’s festivities.

Tyler | Headshot Photography | San Luis Obispo, CA

As a portrait photographer, I always enjoy photographing clients who are excited with the outcome of their images. Tyler has always been that way, vivacious, strategic when posing, enjoys life and can’t wait until her online gallery is up!

Tyler is an actress who updates her headshot images bi-annually. I enjoy when she visits San Luis Obispo to hear about the fun things she is up to. During the storytelling process, I enjoy living in the moment with my clients, being that "butterfly" on the wall.

Tyler enjoy your Southern California summer, audition frequently, and let me know when you’ve scored that TV pilot or film! If there are any casting directors reading this, consider Tyler for a possible part in your project.

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Film vs Digital photography - which do you prefer?

When my father passed away, he left me one medium format film camera Mamiya 645. I had it looked over, cleaned and was ready for use; until I didn't touch it for YEARS! That beautiful camera loved by my dad stayed on my shelf. This was the time when people were putting down their film cameras and going digital all the way. I felt he would prefer for me to purchase a digital camera and use it frequently vs. using a film camera sporadically. I unfortunately sold the camera to purchase my first digital camera.

One of my former graduate students was a camera collector. When he moved from the West Coast to the Mid-West, he gave me his Mamiya 645! I cried, knowing my dad would be happy that I have the camera that he loved. I did not have it cleaned this time, and it stayed on the shelf for 3+ years before I wanted to start a relationship with it.

When I sold the first Mamiya, digital images did not have the caliber or look of a film picture. I succumbed to the digital way of life and after years of shooting digital, I am interested in using film again. There are quite a few wedding photographers in my area and in California who shoot a hybrid of half-digital/half-film and I am leaning towards that way of shooting weddings. 

I purchased my first light meter last week, so that I can make sure my lighting is correct, but it's really scary starting this new adventure. I am so excited to start this adventure! I am shooting a wedding on July 1 so please send your positive thoughts and prayers when I do this. Here are some images from my playing around with the Mamiya. My real test will be in two weeks at the wedding. I'll keep you posted. :)

Natalie | College Senior Photography Session | San Luis Obispo, CA

I met Natalie as a first year Industrial Technology & Packaging major for the Orfalea College of Business (OCOB) at California Polytechnic State University. From the first time that I met her, I had a feeling that she would make an impact on the university before she graduated. I got to know her best in her second year. She was always calm, composed, answered questions carefully, but in depth and had an amazing smile. Natalie worked with OCOB staff to help launch the Multicultural Business Program , and served as a Peer Advisor for the College of Business for two years. Congratulations Natalie on your accomplishments. I am so proud of you!

Megan + Christopher | Intimate Wedding on the Beach | Cayucos, CA

Megan + Christopher | Intimate Wedding on the Beach | Cayucos, CA

It was a beautiful day for an intimate wedding in Cayucos, CA . Not a cloud in the sky, different hues of blue ocean water, whales spouting, beautiful beach sand, and Morro Rock in the background. Megan is a medical doctor and Christopher an oceanographer. Having a beach wedding incorporated both the love for their town, love for travel and Christopher’s love for the ocean.

The bride decided that she did not want a first look. Christopher and his groomsmen got ready at their home while Megan and her bridesmaids at the wedding site. As Nadine and Theo, the wedding coordinators placed appetizers for guests before the ceremony; a sneaky spotted seagull had other ideas about the food. The seagull stayed perched on the roof loudly squawking at Theo (and signaling three other seagulls nearby). As Theo put down the appetizer tray, the seagull swooped down to steal one of the larger appetizers! It was amazing to watch! I couldn’t believe what I had just seen! Needless to say, the appetizers went back into the house until the official cocktail hour! The seagull stayed perched on that roof for an additional 15 minutes for another snack, but there was NO MORE FOOD for him and his friends!

Twenty guests stood in a semi-circle on the beach witnessing the happy couple. The groom’s oldest son, played electric guitar during the bridal procession, and during another special time in the ceremony. The wedding not only joined Megan and Christopher in marriage, but also connected two families and four children. The family of six participated in a sand ceremony to join the two families and incorporating the beach theme. It was refreshing to see the children excited for the wedding as well as family and friends. Congratulations Megan and Christopher!

Vendors:

Bridal gown:                    David’s Bridal

Hairstylist:                       Kristina Kolkowski from Fiero Hair

Make Up:                         Jennifer Hix from The Queens Bees

Floral:                              Festive Designs

Bridesmaids’ dresses:     Amazon

How photographing auto mechanic shops made me a stronger event photographer. | San Luis Obispo Lifestyle Photography | Renoda Campbell Photography

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“Photography is storytelling with visual images. “ – Renoda Campbell

Photographers show the reality in the human experience. As a Special Events photographer, I know that when I enter the event space, it will show the best representation for that event (e.g. wedding reception, awards presentation, trade show). This special event has been planned for many months usually with extreme care and detail. The host wants the photographer to capture images that were planned and created for the present and future generations to enjoy.

I believe that photographing an auto mechanic business can be more challenging to photographing a special event. There are many details to be photographed, employees to highlight and locations to showcase. More often than not, auto work is NOT pretty. It is grimy, dirty, and messy. One must be very creative in expressing positivity, good customer service and great work that this company can do for you, the customer.

When given this type of photography assignment, I look for the colorful, geometric patterns, texture of the object, and  leading lines to make a creative image. Instead of photographing invitations, lace or up lights; I photograph auto signs, dirty hands and broken engines in fluorescent lighting.

I love what I do. It could be portraying beauty or everyday life, but ensuring that the overall story is in tact. I love the challenge to find humanity in what I photograph and adding an artistic quality to my images.

Rachel + Robert | Intimate Wedding photography | Santa Maria, CA | Renoda Campbell Photography

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In all the world, there is no heart for me like yours. In all the world, there is no love for you like mine.”  --Maya Angelou

I was so happy for Rachel and Robert's wedding. Rachel is a kind, demure woman and she meets a good man,  Robert who loves her and enjoys to make her smile and laugh. Seeing the two of them together is refreshing.

It was an emotional wedding for all of the guests. As Rachel walked down the aisle, her son sang a beautiful song. To see Robert’s expression as Rachel walked down the aisle had the audience tearing up. Rachel's church members led the couple in a prayer circle. The couple participated in the sand ceremony joining both families together. All guests felt the love throughout the ceremony and reception.

Jewelry is a Photographer’s Best Friend | Carats to Karat | San Luis Obispo Lifestyle Photographer | Jewelry Photographer

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Having a small  portrait photography business, one of my goals was to work with other small businesses to enhance their visual images for their social media and websites.

I was fortunate enough to partner with a company in Texas to pursue this part of my business. Now don’t get me wrong, I truly enjoy senior portrait photography, family photography, special events photography and Intimate weddings|elopement photography, but also enjoy working with small businesses, like me.

This work started slow. I received jobs once a month, but now, this business photography has gained some traction. One of my photography sessions was with Carats to Karat in Nipomo, CA. Mary, one of the owners, was just as I imaged: creative, colorful, and LOVES jewelry (more than me!) In her store, there are two stacker rings one all diamonds, and one diamond and ruby that I hope to purchase  “someday”.

Jewelry Photography was challenging, but it made me think differently about how to present product images, and I felt empowered. In addition to jewelry photography, you will see other small businesses in the San Luis Obispo area featured.  If you are a small business in San Luis Obispo County, Let’s collaborate!

Halls + Budak | Multicultural Wedding Reception | Intimate Wedding Photographer | Lompoc, CA

I love all weddings and receptions especially when they add a multicultural addition to the details. The couple were married in Turkey, but this event was the U.S. wedding reception with close family and friends.

In the details, a part of Turkey was brought to Lompoc, CA. There were beautiful images of where they met and where were married in Turkey. There were beautiful Turkish cloths and candles, a special family handkerchief used during the dance, and pictures in frames of family members living in Turkey who could not attend.  The Turkish food was made from scratch for all to enjoy and the dessert--many variations of Baklava. So delicious. I tried baklava with chocolate for the first time!

The couple danced, and friends and family celebrated with them. Instead of the tradition of throwing rice, the group threw very light pompons. Another colorful touch.

As a San Luis Obispo intimate wedding photographer, photographing such a colorful cultural celebration was really enjoyable. I believe it’s important to incorporate your culture into your celebrations. It gives guests a chance to celebrate commonalities, learn new traditions and the world seems a little smaller with family all over the world. Congratulations to the happy couple!

Bret + Jill | CA Winery Elopement | Paso Robles, CA | Elopement photography

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I felt fortunate to be hired as Bret & Jill’s elopement photographer. The teachers from Yucaipa, CA were married at Zenaida Cellars, their favorite winery in Paso Robles, CA. Wineries in Paso Robles have beautiful destination wedding locations for couples with small or large budgets.

The love, joy, and fun from this couple were infectious. Bret and Jill remained extremely calm on their special day even though forest fires were nearby (within 100 miles) with directional winds blowing towards our area. The ceremony ran smoothly, (smoke and all) for all involved. Congratulations to the happy couple!

Family Milestones | San Luis Obispo family photography / Renoda Campbell Photography

I am a storyteller.  I look for those special “dots” along the spectrum of our lifeline that makes us who we are. As an individual, our birth is the first milestone that we experience. As a family photographer, I enjoy visually acknowledging the big and in-between milestones that some may not think are a big deal now – BUT – when you look back at your life, those special and sometimes quiet moments can be even more meaningful. Examples of special milestones are when a child takes his/her first step, when the child attends pre-school for the first time and grabs the parent’s leg and cries when they try to leave. When a child attends, Kindergarten…Middle School…High School, then graduates to college or starts the work force.

Let’s not forget about sports. Watching the 3-4 year olds chasing the soccer ball without having a clue what to do with it, or teaching a child to play basketball and watching him/her jump to make the basket. Years later, they are on the high school/college sports teams and you cry because they are so good.  Once your child is older these times are just a “blip” on the radar of life.

Let’s work together to make sure your child has his/her special story recorded. Twenty years from now, she will visit, sit down on the family couch, walk directly to her albums, and marvel at her life by seeing the positive experiences that her parents provided and letting her see that she had a good childhood. Renoda Campbell Photography is here to be that family photographer for you.

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My Three Symbols of Gratitude / Lifestyle photographer / Renoda Campbell Photography / San Luis Obispo, CA

"Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things." 

--Robert Brault

My new business office is my amazing secret place. I am humbled and excited every time I enter the room.  I appreciate the large and majestic trees standing guard outside of my window. I love my 11 foot window bringing in beautiful light, and showing the nature outside. The space is a nurturing environment; it welcomes all who enter. As I work there I hear (quietly) enjoy your time here, and show your gratitude to those whom you encounter.

The image below represents the three items on my office window sill that I am grateful:

The cameras. The camera to the right, the Canon FTb was my father’s favorite camera made in the 1970s. He owned over 100 film cameras, but this one was his “go to” camera. My dad played a major role in my love for all things photography. I honor him in this space as I work my photography business.

The camera to the left, an Agfa Optima II S from the early 1960s was given to me by a former colleague and student who loved his camera collection, but couldn’t travel with all of his treasures due to his relocation to the East coast. I look at this camera and I see the legacy of image historians.

The orchid brings the nature inside. Its beauty is simplistic and classic, in looks and in maintenance. It only needs shaded light and to be watered once a week.

These items represent me, keeper of the past, knowing that you must know your past to move forward to the future, being simplistic and classic in the manner that I do my work and hopefully live my life and providing service with a purpose as a lifestyle photographer in San Luis Obispo.

Find that special place that helps you find what you are grateful for and manifest that gratitude. Make sure others know how special they are to you, including mother nature.

Sparks family portraits | San Luis Obispo | Family Portrait photographer

“The family is one of nature’s masterpieces.”  -George Santayana

As an artist, I found this quote appropriate for the San Luis Obispo portrait session that took place over the weekend. The Sparks were a wonderful family. H+D have been married for years and S,  a successful college student. S wanted to have a special holiday gift for her parents and felt that a portrait session would be a great option.

As in many sessions, there was some intimidation with this foreign object (my camera) in their faces and asking them to pose in ways that were not what one was accustomed. I was warned that dad (aka D) was NOT a smiler and not to get disappointed if he didn’t smile. I took it as a challenge! I photograph a lot of men, so I was familiar with men who didn’t like to smile. As you see from the images, his love for his wife and daughter came through so strongly, that he could’t help but smile. They bring him so much joy. It was also touching to see him become comfortable with me, being around and including me as part of the family, as the silent participant.

Another part of this masterpiece was that I didn’t just want to take photos of the three of them. I wanted to photograph them in pairs and singles.  When I photographed the parents as a pair, tears were in my eyes. Their love for each other was still so strong! When S was also in the photos, the bond and love for their family became even stronger!

The Sparks portraits were my masterpiece. I hope to participate in many more.

Monza family | Christmas Day 2016 | Avila Beach Lifestyle Photographer

Do you give your four-legged companions a Christmas gift every holiday season?

Giving gifts to family pets is a billion dollar industry. Every year, I purchase multiple pet products for our dog at Costco. She LOVES them all year long. Around November, I return to Costco to purchase next year’s gifts. This year, I waited too long and missed the dog toys! So my poor dog will not have any “physical” toys under the tree this year. Luckily, the family knows what she would prefer as a close second to her dog toys: running at the Avila Beach Dog Park! Although colder than we’d hoped, we put her in the car and once she smells the ocean smells, she starts getting excited about where we are taking her. As soon as we park, she has to get out and be free!

The “Ambassador of the Park” named by another dog lover, greets every dog long enough to know that they are welcome and then visits the next dog. I haven’t seen a dog smile so much! She runs up and down the beach, greets dogs and soaks in the smells of the area. It couldn’t have been a better present for her. If you are in the San Luis Obispo County area and want your dog to enjoy the outside to play and socialize for a little while, come to the Avila Beach Dog Park .

In addition to it being so much fun for the dog, the family bonding that we have is priceless.  My daughters don't return to San Luis Obispo county very often, so it was a treat  and honor to have them home for the Holidays. It's so cute to watch them play with the family dog and spend time with their proud parents. They are my gifts. Merry Christmas everyone!

Monza family | Christmas Eve | San Luis Obispo Lifestyle Photographer

Do you love ritual? I do.  Especially the pomp and circumstance of our family’s traditions, like Christmas. As most families, we have 6 ginormous bins of Christmas items that come out every year. Some of those items include, multicolored lights for the house and trees, to our personalized stockings, artificial trees to be placed throughout the house except in the front window, where my husband gets a live tree every year. We have ornaments from my husband and my first year together 30 years ago, our Christmas Story Leg lamp, singing rap character toys, to ornaments from my two daughters from elementary school to current times. But...the most important ritual is spending time with family.  Now that my daughters live far away from us, it's an honor to  have them want to spend time with us during this time of year and not feel obligated.

One of our family traditions is to have hot dogs/tofu dogs on Christmas Eve. I am not a cook, so this worked out fine for me. Since I have three vegetarian/vegans during this time of year, that meal has now evolved to a more popular veggie patties/hamburger meal. Another tradition is to take family photos with our sweet dog to commemorate this special time of year. This year was no exception.

Happy Holidays to you and your family. Wishing you peace.

Minnoch Family | San Luis Obispo | Family Photographer

Have you ever met someone that you immediately felt a connection?

Heather, the mom in these photos, is that person to me. She was one of the first individuals that I met when we moved to San Luis Obispo and we have been friends ever since. Her son and my daughter are the same age and are also good friends. I felt so honored when she asked for me to photograph their family.

The session took place at the beautiful Flying Caballos property . The family requested the session to be anywhere but the beach. I figured this location would be a perfect spot.

From the first click, they were “on”! Both children model, so they knew the looks to give to the camera and listened to directions well. Mom and dad were amazing also!

We all felt very comfortable during the session. It was exciting to show them the “straight out of camera” (SOOC) images which made them feel even more comfortable. 

Wishing all of you Happy Holidays!

Dakota | High School Senior | Righetti High School | High School senior photographer

Dakota was my final senior session for the Class of 2017 Season.  As a former Academic Advisor at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, I always enjoy speaking with students about their future plans. Dakota is interested in studying Sports Management which  is such an exciting major! As one of the Varsity basketball players on the Righetti High School team, he understands what an athlete must endure to be successful.  Studying sports management will teach him how to work with athletes, negotiating salaries and he’ll need a little psychology in his background as well. I believe he has the potential to take it to the next level.

I also believe he has a modeling career in his future !

Jeff + Yovani | Couples portrait | Montana de Oro | Los Osos | Couples photographer

Love hard. Laugh hard. Play hard.

J + Y may not say this, but they are the MOST fun couple that I know. Once you know them, you will aspire for your relationship to be similar. I didn’t take as many images as I normally do during this session because I couldn’t stop laughing. This lumberjack themed holiday photo session had us driving to real pine trees to soak up the amazing smells of pine, clean air and sea water.

This amazing location, Montana de Oro, is along the Central Coast of CA in which the trees, sand, and Pacific Ocean share in the most beautiful terrain.

These images show the couples love for each other, but their playfulness as well.

Yukie + Chris + Ayako | San Luis Obispo | Family Photographer

It was a gorgeous evening to photograph the Murphy family in San Luis Obispo. It had rained 2 days prior so our surrounding hills proudly showed off it's various shades of green.

Although a little tired from the day, 2-year old Ayako was a trooper. If she wasn’t, Yukie and Chris had a secret surprise snack to get her to be more playful: RAISINS!

We took photos along an agricultural pathway, visited horses and they let her run around a bit. She only went through one box of raisins! Even more fun was finding out that Yukie is pregnant with her second child! Congratulations Murphy family! 

Warden family | San Luis Obispo, CA | Family photographer

Photographing families is really fun. It offers me a challenge that I enjoy. I like being that silent individual watching the family dynamic of the different generations: grandparents, parents, children and even pets. 

The Warden family was so welcoming. It was great having the grandmother visit from Montana to be with her daughter’s family in San Luis Obispo, CA. I knew the older children because they went through school with my children. The tween twin sons were very honest with me at the beginning of the session. One of them told me that I had 30 minutes to photograph them and that was IT! This was a challenge that I was ready to take on.

The sun was setting FAST, so I had to think quickly about poses, offering motivation, etc. I decided to try new camera maneuvers for this session. BIG Mistake! It caused too much thinking on my part and getting the ideas correct with so little light.  DING! 30 minutes are up and I lost the twins at minute 35, but was able to continue photographing the other family members for another 10-15 minutes. It didn’t matter; the Wardens were ON THEIR GAME! The poses were en pointe, great smiles, and it was refreshing to watch the fun interactions among the family members.