Mountain Living

Last fall, I ran family photography mini sessions in the woods above the valley. What joy! What fun! Amazing, really.

Family #1

I admire a man who carries his son like a sack of flour. That, and dresses in pajamas to please his wife who has a vision, come what come may…

bay area family photography photographer photo session lahonda skylonda mountains palo alto redwood city menlo park portola valley bradley upside down

…and makes googly eyes at his boy just because.

bay area family photography photographer photo session lahonda skylonda mountains palo alto redwood city menlo park portola valley bradley father son

Here older brother is doing what every kiddo wants to do, always: play, play, play.

bay area family photography photographer photo session lahonda skylonda mountains palo alto redwood city menlo park portola valley bradley son earnest

Younger kiddo doesn’t know it yet, but this allegory of brotherhood in three frames will set the tone for the rest of his days. When in doubt, shout. Or listen, as the case may be.

Family #2

Wrinkles the canine keeps the family together like a good herd dog.

bay area family photography photographer photo session lahonda skylonda mountains palo alto redwood city menlo park portola valley tran pup

Mother and daughter square up for a shot as golden hour paints the landscape in magical tones.

bay area family photography photographer photo session lahonda skylonda mountains palo alto redwood city menlo park portola valley tran mother daughter

Only thing better than having a brother is hanging out with a brother on a fence.

bay area family photography photographer photo session lahonda skylonda mountains palo alto redwood city menlo park portola valley tran sons fence

Rim light transfigures everyone it touches.

bay area family photography photographer photo session lahonda skylonda mountains palo alto redwood city menlo park portola valley tran rim light

Family #3

With scenes like these, every family deserves at least one…

bay area family photography photographer photo session lahonda skylonda mountains palo alto redwood city menlo park portola valley kinion trees

…OK, maybe two family portraits.

bay area family photography photographer photo session lahonda skylonda mountains palo alto redwood city menlo park portola valley kinion fence

Of course, where would Family be without Grandma? She lights up the scene!

bay area family photography photographer photo session lahonda skylonda mountains palo alto redwood city menlo park portola valley kinion grandma

Contact me for kids, teens, family, and corporate photography in the Bay Area.

Urban Chic

When I capture a candid expression like this…

bay area teen portrait photography dance graduation ring

….and a heartfelt laugh like this…

bay area teen portrait photography dance graduation laugh

…and a bookishly hip shot like this….

bay area teen portrait photography dance graduation books

…all in the space of 23 minutes, well, I’m ridiculously happy as a result.
“There’s one thing a photograph must contain,” says Robert Frank.
“The humanity of the moment.”
For what it’s worth, I agree.
Thanks for visiting.

Contact me for kids, teens, family, and corporate staff and event photography in the Bay Area.

Yes, She Said

Fellas are curious by nature.
Ray asked a question.
Ashley said yes.
Now a new phase of their journey begins.
I helped Ashley and Ray commemorate the moment at Santa Clara University.
Here are my top five favorite photos from their engagement session.

neilson family photography photographer engagement photoshoot santa clara university daisiesneilson family photography photographer engagement photoshoot santa clara university churchneilson family photography photographer engagement photoshoot santa clara university church touchneilson family photography photographer engagement photoshoot santa clara university adobe wallneilson family photography photographer engagement photoshoot santa clara university grass

Thank you for visiting.
Hope you enjoyed.

Contact me for kids, teens, family, engagement, and corporate photography in the Bay Area.

The Old Ways

For the avid reader in search of a great book, I highly recommend The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot by Robert Macfarlane.

The Old Ways explores the role of walking—or wayfaring—in seeing the world aright.

That is, in realizing a straight path is never only linear.

But before you can earn such insight, you’ve got to log some trail miles first.

So without further ado, I’d like to share some of my favorite quotes—and Neilson landscape photographs—from The Old Ways in the hopes of piquing your interest.

“The eye is enticed by a path, and the mind’s eye also. The imagination cannot help but pursue a line in the land—onwards in space, but also backwards in time to the histories of a route and its previous followers.”

landscape bay area wilderness path sky grass

“Humans are animals and like all animals we leave tracks as we walk: signs of passage made in snow, sand, mud, grass, dew, earth or moss…. Most of our journeys now occur on asphalt and concrete—and these are substances not easily impressed.”

landscape bay area wilderness henry coe path

“Paths are the habits of landscapes. They are acts of consensual making. It’s hard to create a footpath on your own.”

landscape yosemite half dome path

“An hour later I went for a walk with a flask of whisky to keep me warm.” Now that’s a gorgeous landscape photo!

bourbon

“For pilgrims walking the Camino, every footfall is doubled, landing at once on the actual road and also on the path of faith.”

landscape bay area wilderness black mountain paths

“Old paths are mediums in two senses: means of communion as well as means of motion.”

Family photography ranch boy setting sun

“Paths need walking.”

1103_Path

“Footpaths are mundane in the best sense of that word: “wordly,” open to all. As rights of way determined and sustained by use, they constitute a labyrinth of liberty, a slender network of common land that still threads through our aggressively privatized world of barbed wires and gates….”

landscape bay area wilderness black mountain path clouds

“The compact between writing and walking is almost as old as a literature—a walk is only a step away from a story, and every path tells.”

landscape bay area wilderness fremont older path

“Paths run through people as surely as they run through places.”

landscape bay area wilderness open space preserve clouds sky trail grass

Contact me for kids, teens, family, and corporate staff and event photography in the Bay Area.

 

 

Of Time and the River

landscape photography photographer ventana wilderness big sur river san francisco bay area

In the heart of Los Padres National Forest, the Big Sur River is carving steep gorges and sharp-crested ridges. Sykes campground—where I captured the image above—is a 10-mile hike through untamed canyon wilderness. It was a challenging destination to reach even when there was an established trail. But now in the wake of fires, road closures, and erosion damage, this lovely little spot is next to impossible to reach.

Contact me for kids, teens, family, and corporate photography in the Bay Area.

Fields of Gold

Meaghan had a straightforward request.
Shoot my family, she said.
Not that kind, the other.
I chuckled to myself.
I admire a woman who’s direct.
To the point.
Like this.

neilson family photography photographer outdoors bay area cupertino mcclellan ranch couples

It’s a gorgeous image.
Matt wondered about his role in the affair.
How does the back of my head look, he asked.
Splendid, I said.
He almost certainly smiled.
But I got his point.
So we turned Matt round.
And then it happened.
A hush fell.
The trees glowed.
And Meaghan’s hair went electric.

neilson family photography photographer outdoors bay area cupertino mcclellan ranch couples backlight

With chemistry like that,
Matt and Meaghan are bound to have kids, right?
Well, they do.
They’ve got two of them:
Logan and Lexie.
Lexie may be Logan’s little sister.
But she’s got big-time affection for him.
Just look at that reach!
What a handhold!

neilson family photography photographer outdoors bay area cupertino mcclellan ranch couples kids brother sister

Before long, Lexie put her generous athletic gifts to use.
She free soloed the center of the tree climbing universe in record time.

Neilson family group photography photographer outdoors bay area cupertino mcclellan ranch daughter tree fun

After she safely descended,
We hung out in a field of green and gold.
And we—including, me—smiled for the beauty of it all.

Neilson family group photography photographer outdoors bay area cupertino mcclellan ranch

Thank you, Matt and Meaghan!
It was a joy and a privilege to photograph your family.

Contact me for kids, teens, family, and corporate photography in the Bay Area.

The Great Untried

Creativity is hard. Self-criticism is easy. And slumps are inevitable as a result.

To challenge this dynamic, I’m doing something different.

When I’m on a shoot—whether it’s corporate or family photography—I do the thing that comes easily and naturally to me. It yields predictable results in a style and aesthetic clients expect.

Like this image of an executive on Maiden Lane in the City, snapped a few weeks ago.

neilson corporate photography bay area san francisco san jose executive portrait chime maiden lane

After I’ve done the easy thing, I force myself to do the hard thing. Something I haven’t tried before. Something new. Different. This, for instance.

neilson corporate photography bay area san francisco san jose executive portrait chime maiden lane black white

Not bad. In fact, pretty good, all things considered.

You might be surprised to learn that I made the image outside. Just ten yards from the spot where I snapped the first image. Both were taken on Maiden Lane, bustling with colors, shapes, and motion.

Can I experiment, I asked my subject.

You bet, he said.

He sat in a chair in the middle of Maiden Lane at high noon.

I stopped down till ambient light went black on my camera sensor. Then I placed an off-camera flash directly in front of him. Next I slowly dialed up the flash power till his silhouette magically appeared, and I got my shot.

Will the client use the image on their company website? No, probably not. But it’s an arresting effect, which I can now produce in the future with confidence.

I eagerly await the next, great untried!

Contact me for kids, teens, family, and corporate photography in the Bay Area.