Lylah | 5th Birthday Party | San Luis Obispo | Special Events Photographer

I had the pleasure to photograph this beautiful girl right after she was born. Now she is 5 years old and is even more special to me.  Lylah is smart, strong, kind, and caring. She has good friends now that she will probably be friends with for life. She was so excited to share her 5th birthday with her friends.

Her mom and dad did an amazing job organizing Lylah’s party.  I can only imagine what her Sweet 16 will look like! Balloons, cake, pizza , friends and freeze dance were the highlights of the party. Her younger sisters also seemed to have a great time at the party.

Happy birthday sweet girl! Wishing you a lifetime of love, laughter and joy!

Venue: San Luis Obispo Country Club

Birthday Girl’s dress: Amazon

Crown: Little Blue Olive

DJ: LaDell Erby - Epic Entertainment 

Photo booth: Epic Entertainment

Cake vendor: Christine's Cake Creations

Holiday Couples Session | San Luis Obispo | Family photographer

Every year Jeff & Yovani create holiday cards for their friends and families. it is not a tradition in either one of their families to send holiday cards, so they enjoy being the first. This year, they requested a rural setting that overlooked our city. We trekked up one of the smaller hills in the area to get these images. At this Open Space, there are a lot of proposals, picnics and large groups of people who get together to enjoy the city views.  There was even a Miss San Luis Obispo contestant photographing her images up there!

I also wanted for them to experiment with me and do some more romantic couples posing.They were great sports and I think their images came out great!

These two are always fun to photograph because they have fun with each other and don't mind my capturing their fun. I hope their families enjoy these images on the holiday cards!

The Erbys | San Luis Obispo Family photographer | Surprise Baby Announcement | San Luis Obispo

Katie wanted to surprise her husband LaDell alerting him in an original way that she was pregnant with their 3rd child. I called it a baby-posal! I was SO EXCITED to be part of the surprise. This was photographed in early July, but I had to wait until the end of her first trimester to blog these beautiful images.

Katie gave me the plan:

  1. She would tell LaDell that they were taking family photos (only).
  2. At the end of the family session, I would tell him that I wanted something special for my website and for him to write 3 things on a placard that he loved about her…and she would write three things that she loved about him…but Katie’s message would not quite give her 3 things, but that he was going to be a dad again!
  3. When we were done with the traditional family session, I followed the plan. LaDell was so cute carefully writing the three things that he loved about Katie. Luckily, their younger daughters could not read the placards or they would have blown the surprise.

The couple were facing back-to-back. When I finally asked the two to turn around to face each other, the first thing LaDell said was “you didn’t write down three things!” (You'll notice his thinking pattern in the images.) When he finally read Katie’s sign, he wasn’t sure if it was true and when she said it was true, I had tears in my eyes. It was the sweetest family moment. Their two daughters, ages 4 and 2 were not quite sure what was going on, but all of the adults were so excited!

Congratulations Erby family! I look forward to meeting the littlest one in 2018!

Venue: Cuesta Park, San Luis Obispo, CA

Girls dresses:  DotDotSmile

Katie’s DotDotSmile Page

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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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!

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. 

Holiday pictures 2016 | Justin + Tristen | San Luis Obispo, CA | Family photographer | Couples photographer

Two of the cutest doggies jumped down from the car hatchback for their close ups. But wait...they don’t have their outfits on…it’s raining…will they get dirty…should we wait to do this?

Justin & Tristen, the proud parents of their enthusiastic kids also wore coordinated outfits. This year, J+T wanted to incorporate their family members into the holiday card images. They are fairly new to the area and wanted to show their family and friends that all is well on the Central Coast of CA.

My mind was racing trying to figure out if we should sit in our cars until the rain stopped or just go for it, wet hair and all. We decided to go for it! This photo session had already been rescheduled twice previously and the holiday card deadlines were looming.

The dogs (Doug and Coco) sniffed around, stared down the horses and the rain turned to a drizzle. The precipitation became light enough to start the session.  These two adorable pups are rescue dogs. These are two of the most loved dogs that I’ve seen in a long time. They loved being held, received great admiration from their owners and although didn’t want to dress up, did. The five of us walked, talked/barked, and avoided the mud. It was a fun session and the drizzle enhanced our experience.

Alpha Chi Omega, Gamma Nu Chapter/ Sorority Senior Portraits / San Diego State University

This was a very exciting weekend. San Diego State University had its 2016 Spring Commencement ceremonies! My daughter was one of those graduates this year! In addition to taking her senior portraits, which you will see later on this week, I also had the honor of photographing her sorority graduating class. Everyone was so excited, me included! I was excited because we were going to photograph at a California monument, Hepner Hall AND I would share in the witness of such great and promising women from her organization moving forward to do great things! Congratulations ladies!

Location: Alpha Chi Omega house 

San Diego State University

Hepner Hall 

Your High School Junior is becoming a Senior

You are probably thinking, “Where did the time go? My baby is going to be a Senior!”

Well Congratulations! What an exciting time for all of you. I experienced my youngest child becoming a senior two years ago. As you consider scholarship applications, colleges, and graduations, take a step back for a second. Here are three (3) steps to help you prepare for your child becoming a high school senior:

1.     Listen to your child

Talk to them. They will be leaving you sooner than you think. What are they passionate about? Have you had the chance to speak with them about their majors for college, enlisting in the military or going to work full-time if that is their choice? Do they have any concerns with friends, family, college, or moving away? Listening to them could create the open communication that will be valuable in future years.

2.     Create special experiences with your child and you

Take them to coffee, lunch, dinner, or hiking one or two times per month. Alternate the events and let them choose the locations as long as the experiences vary. Your child will remember these memories when they are on their college campus, while at work or in a military bunk.

3.     Visit college campuses with your child

It is important not only for them to research their college choices, but if its in the same state, visit the campuses. You and your child will have a better experience visiting the college by buying a memento from the college, talking with current students and soaking in the college experience.

Enjoy this time with your child. They will appreciate the connections and will treasure the closeness.