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  • passion projects

    I am currently working on personal projects & collaborations. I miss my family portrait clientele very much! If you are looking for a great portrait or wedding photographer, I have a couple faves I love to recommend, so just message me!

  • make time stand still

    These days, we want everything FAST, right now, hurry up already--except for these: the sweet, savory memories of real life & real love. When we're finally facing the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel, we are going to wish we could rewind & play these moments back in slow-mo. So capture what you can today--whether it's a milestone or just the daily, ordinary, no-drama quietness or laughable chaos. Make time stand still--a few hundredths of a second at a time...

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You Can’t Fake Passion–Even When You’re Good at Something

By Alice Kuo Shippee

Inspired by my kids’ amazing elementary school, The Knowing Garden, I’m embarking on a series of passion projects. At their school, students have an hour each day to work on a project of their choice; it can be to create (make something new), innovate (improve something already existing), or educate (teach others).

Their personal interests are fostered & their journey of inquiry supported by the adults in the community. The teachers help them structure their research & dig deeper with questions; parents might have something to offer in the way of experience or skills. I have always been inspired by how children so clearly know what they’re interested in; they have many questions about the world, & usually their only problem is deciding on just one on which to focus.

Last year, my husband & I worked with Tom Pitner of Zen Four, a life coach. For three months, we explored in particular our “competencies” vs. our “preferences.” Turns out, they’re not always the same thing. As a mom, I have to be competent at a lot of things; & anyone who is a parent knows that just because we can do something doesn’t always mean that we want to do it. But often, our abilities become equated with our preferences–to the people we work with, to our partners, to ourselves. In many workplaces, we will get assigned a task, we’ll do a great job on it, & then we’ll find that we get assigned that task over & over again–without any question of whether or not we want to do that task. Leadership thinks, “Hey, she was awesome at that! Let’s have her do it again next time!” That’s the smart choice for them, right? Pick the person who’s going to do the job well. And as employees, we are flattered to be picked, & we keep doing that task. In fact, because we’re no dummies, we get better at it every time; soon we’re not just doing it well, we’re hitting it out of the park! Now we’re REALLY associated with the success of that task, so the cycle continues.

But so many of us have had the experience where we start asking, “Ugh, why do they keep having me do this?” And we joke with each other, “Don’t do it too well, because then they’ll keep asking.” And resentment builds, especially when someone else who doesn’t do the task well then isn’t asked anymore & they don’t have to do it. None of us would purposefully fail at a task we know we can do well, so we just keep doing the cycle.

So, what I came to understand in my life coaching was:



Just because I can do something doesn’t mean I should do it.

But we get trapped into it–sometimes by cultural norm or our upbringing. How many of us make these “should” statements to ourselves?

“If I can bring homemade cookies to the bake sale, I should. I shouldn’t do store bought.”

“If I can do my own taxes, I should. I shouldn’t hire someone to do them.”

“If I can go to the party, I should, even though I think I’m coming down with a cold.”

Really, though. Why? Why should you?

Now, we all know that we have to do shit we don’t want to do ALL THE TIME. And we adult & just do it. It’s BECAUSE we already do this that the idea of occasionally asking oneself, “Am I passionate about it?” is important.

If you are passionate about baking, then by all means, bake those artisanal Snickerdoodles. It’s baking with a passion that brings you & others joy. You gotta be honest if you’re just trying to impress someone or trying to avoid guilt because you’re impressed by someone who bakes & you wish you would care about it as much as she does.

Are you passionate about doing your own taxes? Does it make you feel empowered & financially abundant? Then do it. If not, pay H&R Block & get over it.

Are you passionate about dressing up & going to that party? Then go! If not, I’ll bet $100 that your friend would much rather you go home & take care of yourself & not spread your germs all over the appetizer table. Real, emotionally mature friends would rather that.

Our ENTIRE lives can get filled up doing the things we happen to be REALLY GOOD at & yet DON’T want to do. Since we have so many tasks that we can do, should do, & must do, let’s all try to cut at least just those things that we can do, should do, & DON’T HAVE TO DO. That will allow us to carve out just perhaps a few hours a month to do the things we LOVE, that we also CAN do.

I always love a good matrix, so here you go. Copy this on a sheet of paper & fill it in with 2-3 items in each box.

So, for me, it looks something like this:

So guess what I have spent most of my time doing…Yup. The meh stuff. And, this explains why, no wonder, I’m usually really deflated around dinner prep time…


I still have to feed my kids. I still have to organize my home. But can I do ever so slightly less of the things that fall into that lower right quadrant, so that maybe I can do just every slightly more of the things that I’m passionate about it? I think so. But that means asking for help!

For example, I have recently been enlisting the help of my friend Suzi of Summit Organizing to help me purge my closets & garage. While I can do it myself, I lack the enthusiasm for it. I want my house to be clutter-free & organized, & I actually am good at organizing, but I just don’t have the emotional energy to put into it. This is where a pro can make all the difference! She comes with all this positive energy & provides the moral support I need to do a task that otherwise just drains me, even though I intellectually can do it. And in having her help, I can retain my own emotional spirit to put into my passions!

So maybe for you it’s hiring a babysitter for a couple hours a week that you will DEVOTE to your passions ONLY. Maybe it’s hiring a housekeeper. Maybe it’s finally getting your kids to do some of the chores they’re perfectly capable of, but you have to let go of them doing them as perfectly as you would. And if anyone tells you you’re “lucky” to have a sitter or a housekeeper, you tell them it’s not luck, it’s a choice. You do have to pay those people, after all. And in choosing how to spend your money, you’re also choosing how to spend your time.

I think that the emotional advantages & disadvantages of our choices show up in the matrix something like this:

And when you really think about the quality of the life you want, those emoji faces pretty much say it all. There will be frustrations & challenges in every box in that matrix, but they will be met with a certain energy & will that is what you carry around with you all the time. Let that be at least something better than meh. <3

Special thanks to the women of Raise Your Vibe Tribe for helping to light my fire. More on that & them in another post!!































the family f

Always looking for those perfect portraits for the grandparents during the holiday season…I think we got some good ones with these fun smiles, sweet cuddles, & joyful jumping! So grateful to catch up with my good ole friends–& once again get to chronicle their beautiful children growing up too quickly…

the family v

Had a wonderful time photographing my good friends on the University of California, Los Angeles campus. He & I attended UCLA at the same time but didn’t know each other, & we remarked how interesting an experience it is to be there 20 years after graduation. When I was about the same age as his daughter, my father (who was b-school Class of 1978) took me there to visit. We ate & visited the Sculpture Garden, & my dad told me that one day I might attend UCLA too.

November 7, 2013 - 3:52 pm

celeste thank you, alice, for capturing our family with such joy!

the hockensmith family

I am so lucky to watched & photographed as these two girls have grown up! Thank you to LeRoy & Jacque & their gals for such an easy-going session–& beautifully coordinated wardrobe by mom, as always!

ms. p • boudoir • sneak peek

There’s nothing like spending a gorgeous California afternoon with a gorgeous California woman–music on, lots of laughter, & getting creative. Had a HOT sesh with Ms. P this weekend. Here’s a little peek…

the tai-banaga-alfonso clan • taipei, taiwan

You know why I love Google? Because Google connects me with wonderful families like this one! It happens to be a family much like my own: The eldest generation, Mr. & Mrs. Tai, live in Taiwan; their daughters & their husbands live in the States. These two sweet gals wanted to celebrate their family with portraits, because Daphne & husband Dave were bringing baby Vivi to Taiwan for the first time, & Rebecca & Rommel would also be making the trip, so all three generations would be together! We had such a fun shoot at the beautiful Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall. Vivi was queen for the day, & we all had a great time chasing her around & enjoying the gardens & architecture. Here’s to what it means to be family!

ahhh…holiday cards

One of my FAVORITE things about the holidays is receiving holiday cards with photographs of all my beloved family & friends! For the past few years, we have displayed the cards in our entry way, just scotch-taped to the wall & door, & we leave them up waaaay past New Year’s, because it’s just so wonderful to see all those beautiful smiles from all over the world!

I usually try to do our own family portraits in October, so we can send out cards by Thanksgiving (which is really my favorite holiday, because what could be more important than gratitude?). This year, we are in Taiwan, so I chose the bamboo forest in Daan Park, so we had some nature that reflected our new surroundings. As usual, it was a lot of wrangling & “herding of cats,” so the combinations of who is in the pictures is just a matter of luck. So long as we get one of the children together & one of each child, I’m overjoyed!

This year, I didn’t have my tripod, so there isn’t a whole-family shot, but the unexpected bonus was that our 6.5-year-old daughter took some GREAT photos of the hubby & me! In focus, wonderfully composed, & excellently timed! Looks like someone has been paying attention at all those shoots she got to see me do. I’m a proud mama.

Also because we’re overseas this year, I’m taking advantage of Shutterfly’s stamp-&-mail service. They charge for postage & a few extra cents per card–which means we might actually get them to people on time. Totally worth it! Plus, with the great deals they have for 10 free cards & 20% off, I think we’ve offset the mailing cost.

Even though I’ve gone eco, & we send digital greetings to many friends & family, we always send real cards to the grandparents, great-grandmas, & siblings. We know how much fun it is to have those cards be part of the holiday decorations!


5×7 Folded Card
View the entire collection of cards.

ms. d • fitness & boudoir

Ms. D is an inspiration! I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know her as one of my husband’s original gym clients. Just check out her before & after, & then enjoy the celebration of her hard work & dedication over more than a year of clean eating & CrossFit. We had so much fun during our session! Coulda shot this girl allllll day…


trey • headshots

Spirited kids are my favorite subjects! This little guy is a mini-Marlon Brando with the face of a cherub–bold, dramatic, & joyful innocence.

Look at these big blue eyes!

beach memories • the mallia family • manhattan beach, ca

I have had the wonderful chance to get connected with Amy & Joe Mallia through my husband & the awesomeness that is the CrossFit community. The Mallias have three gorgeous girls, & we love looking into our future a bit & seeing how a dynamic couple manages two careers plus parenting. It was a bittersweet portrait session with them & their extended family in Manhattan Beach; the Mallia family is off to new adventures on the East Coast! Hopefully these pictures will help them remember their home by the beach…& bring them back for visits soon! Here’s to new journeys & the gift of love & family…

madeleine & her mamas • the weiss-marks family • palos verdes estates, ca

I am so, so lucky to have had the chance to take these photos for my wonderful, long-time friend Marla & her amazing wife Rachel! I can hardly believe that I’ve known Marla now since 1995! Where did the time go? I will say, I have never seen her so happy as in the past couple years–what a joy to see her with the love of her life & to see them both as moms. And I was just saying to my husband tonight that Marla & Rachel are sooooo in love–it makes me want to giggle, & it makes for great pictures! Here they are with their beautiful Maddy…

sonic fuel recording studios | composers • el segundo, ca

What great fun & a huge honor to shoot the brand-spanking-new Sonic Fuel Recording Studios today! Thank you to my warm & talented friend, Christopher Lennertz, for inviting me to chronicle their amazing place of creativity, & also to all the composers who shared their time with me & educated me about the fascinating world of music & technology. And to the assistants who made my job go so smoothly–I couldn’t have done it without you! Here’s a little sneak peek of what we captured today…

carly • high-school grad portraits • redondo beach, ca

I have always loved that the graduation ceremony is called “commencement.” How poetic & forward-thinking that person in academia was when they decided to call it that–& how glad I am that it has persisted through the ages. It was such a pleasure to do these portraits for Carly; I know her parents & little brother from my daughters’ school. Carly has the same smiling, sparkling eyes as her mother, Sandy. And in the first moments I met her, I could tell how genuinely warm & real she is. She also happens to love photography! We had a great time at the arcade on the Redondo Beach pier, & I could have shot her dazzling eyes for days…Congratulations, Carly! I have no doubt that this is the commencement of a very bright future for a truly sweet gal!

April 27, 2012 - 6:14 am

Steph Beautiful young lady! Best of luck and good fortune for your future =)

mashawnta & razzaaq • a real engagement session • los angeles

I’ve been working on this post for the last couple weeks, because this session was made truly special by Razzaaq, the man who contacted me via a mutual friend (thanks, Dina!) to set up a portrait session for himself & the woman that he loves. I’ve been dying to share these pictures, & I wanted to make sure that I could tell the story of what unfolded during our session with the kind of cinematic drama & aesthetic beauty that would do this director-designer couple justice.

So our session began as a fun, fashion-y shoot–as planned by Razzaaq, to take into consideration Mashawnta’s taste for style & architecture. She is the producer of her own magazine, MASH. And Razzaaq carefully chose our location, knowing that its urban, industrial feel would be loved by Mash, because of her native Detroit sensibilities.

Scroll on through…you’ll see: mid-shoot it became a REAL engagement session…!!

April 10, 2012 - 7:25 am

Dina Hiramanek HANDS DOWN MY FAVORITE SET OF PICTURES!!! Love the Michigan Helmet and Detroit umbrella! Congrats you two!!!!

April 12, 2012 - 6:55 pm

Carolyn Harding Razzaaq and Mashawnta,
Thank you for letting me be part of your day. Love all the pictures. They really are great shots. Again congratulations to you both
Love always,
Aunt Carolyn and Uncle Ed

April 12, 2012 - 9:13 pm

Michelle Stallings Love the pics! You two are adorable together! Can’t wait to meet Mashawnta. LU

April 17, 2012 - 4:52 pm

Steph What a beautiful couple! And what a cool place to take pictures =)

sneak a peek of stephanie p. • boudoir • fashion photography

Just had to get a sneak peek out of my session today with Stephanie Psick, one of the sweetest & most ass-kickin’ chicks you could ever meet.

I frickin’ LOVE this shot of her!

more of ms. c • boudoir • fashion photography

The gorgeous Ms. C is a good one, as I like to say.  She was a blast to shoot–fun, high energy, upbeat, & game to try new things. And all these different looks–& she rocked every one!

February 27, 2012 - 12:22 am

Katie Hot leggggs!! Love the skirt too! So sexy! 🙂

ms. c • boudoir • fashion photography

Soooo excited to finally do a sesh with the gorgeous Ms. C! She is a fit, beautiful woman who is a CrossFitter at my husband’s gym, CrossFit 1440. She has a feline look that belies her exotically mixed heritage–Italian, French, & Scottish. Here’s a little sneak of her gorgeousness…

mrs. dooley • boudoir photography

So excited to get the green light to share Mrs. Dooley’s boudoir session! Here’s a sweet sneak…more images to come!

family tree • the barlaan family • redondo beach, ca

A celebration of fun, family, & a glorious So Cal “winter” with Samantha, Orlondo, & their beautiful tikes Wyatt, Silas, & Blair! May the glow of love follow you through the New Year!

seven letter word for family • the findleys • redondo beach, ca

I couldn’t possibly write all that I’d want about my wonderful friend Dana. She’s known me through thick, thin, & just plain crazy. Dana has always been like a sister to me–someone capable & dependable & positive that I would trust to pack my house & balance my checkbook. I always say that she’s the type of gal who gets more done between 6 AM and noon than I can do all week. She’s creative, loving, thoughtful, talented, hard-working…In just the last four years, she & wonderful husband Kirk grew their marriage into a family of four! It was very special to share our pregnancies at the same time, & to be in the same phases of parenthood. We often laugh & talk about what life was like “then” (road trips, vinyl pants, discos, Olive Garden), & how it is “now” (day care, sleepless nights, Target).  I loved doing these first family pictures of theirs since the arrival of daughter & little sister, Aria, last spring. She joined big brother Race, & now Dana & Kirk have a perfect matched set. Here’s to “now” & this amazing family!