I hate my photography website

When people ask about scheduling and I'm forced to send the link, it's all I can do not to send an apology. Something like, "I haven't updated my site or branding in six years, but I hope you can imagine how much better it could be." Or, "WARNING: mute your computer, the song I used to love which is now nails on a chalkboard comes out of nowhere. Not recommended if you're at work or holding a newborn. And if you make it through the first two songs, there's a super irritating third one at the end by that Hawaiian guy singing Over The Rainbow. You know the one we all thought was awesome for five minutes until every photographer in the universe used it as their gallery backdrop and it became a cliche?" Yeah. I have no idea how or why the kind people of this town are still scheduling with me. 

So my new years resolution is to update and overhaul everything so that it's a more accurate reflection of my current work and esthetic. 

That's a total lie. 

The truth is that I might not get to it this year... (yay for low-bar setting!). Because as much as I love studio work and being on location, I feel like there's something missing when people are dressed up in their cutest outfits smiling at the camera. For sure there's a place for that image. I just think there's a lot more to the story. And I think the other parts are equally, if not more interesting. Like the pictures of Annie and Emily above when they had no idea I was there. I want to be more of an observer, and less of a participant. I want to tell the story of your family in a more real way. 

What would this look like? Well, I've been really inspired by two photographers lately: Erika Ray can make a tossed scarf and a peeled orange seem somehow reverent. She makes the ordinary so beautiful that you suddenly become aware of how much of it exists in your own world. And Christine Pobke. Her overnight sessions are the kind of pictures I want for my own family. I don't have words to describe them; you just have to see.

So this is what I'm thinking for a new kind of session, which is basically me stealing Christine's idea minus the sleeping over part. I'd arrive at your house early enough to capture your family routine, brushing teeth, eating waffles, basically be your personal friendly paparrazzi. Or stalker... however you want to think of it. Then you and your fam can get dressed in your cutely coordinated outfits and we'll do a normal-ish session on location somewhere. That way you have the best of both worlds, including the usual of everyone smiling at the camera. For now, until I get overwhelmed, the pricing will be the same as my normal sessions. Do you love it? Me too. Want to schedule? Let me know: admin[at]relishportraitstudio[dot]com

I'm traveling a lot over the next few months, so we're probably looking at April or May right now. But I do hope to hear from you because 1. If you're reading this, you're probably one of the long time hard-core readers who has stuck it out with me throughout the last year of non-posting. For that, I love you. And 2. I miss stretching myself in different ways creatively.

And in the mean time I will at least delete the god awful music on my website. ...You're welcome.

In other news, I'm leaving for Alt Summit tomorrow. Are you going? If so, let me know. Epiphanie is sponsoring a "Dinner With" on the 18th, and a photobooth on the 19th. If you're going to be there, come have your picture taken! Or at least come say hello. Because I've never been, and that insecure feeling is starting to kick in. You know the one where you're in class and you look down to realize that you're not wearing one item from etsy or a thrift store? Yeah, that one. 

Changing the subject one more time. Have you guys been watching OWN on Sundays? Because I'm addicted. Last week, okay maybe I was pms-ing but, I cried through a marathon of Undercover Boss. But my favorite is Super Soul Sunday. It's just like church, only you don't have to get dressed or have a fight in the car. Yesterday, she interviewed Jill Bolte Taylor. You know, the Neuroanatomist who had a stroke. It was so inspiring that I pirate-recorded this part on my iPhone so I could play it the next time I'm having a bad day.

Y'all, our negative thoughts are just a peanut. 

Untitled from maile wilson on Vimeo.

My other favorite part of this video was when she said that scientifically speaking, all humans are 99.9% the same. Crazy to think that all the arguments and conflict and wars in the world are started by .1% of the parts of us that are different. You can watch the whole video here. Might be a nice way to celebrate Martin Luther King Day.

See you soon. :)


Shelly Miles and her girls

My friend Shelly came by the studio the other day. We took a few newslady-ish shots so she could update her photos at work. 

"Hello, I'm approachable yet serious interviewer Shelly Miles. Tell me all your secrets Brangelina."

She also needed a few shots for her daughter's dance competitions. They happen to be prodigy superstars who travel throughout the year winning up all the awards in Texas. 

12 years old people.  

Then we went outside and took some funner pictures. Is funner a word? Spell check is not underlining it. Weird. 

Happy hump day. Also, thanks everyone who commented on the last post to say you're still reading. I love you guys. xo


Annnd there went the holidays. 

It's misleading to call it the holiday "season" when really it's about four weeks of blur between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Four weeks. I have a still broken shelf that fell off my closet wall six months ago. I'm pretty sure four weeks is not enough to turn my life into a Pinterest board. Which, by the way, is a site you should totally avoid if you're trying to have a low key celebration, or maintain an ounce self esteem throughout the holidays. It is the insecurity-breeding meth of the internet.

Anyway, in the spirit of lowered expectations, and also because I'm pretty sure no one reads this blog anymore so who cares... here are some pictures from THANKSGIVING! Woo, only a month late!

We made our cornflake apple pie again.

I'm not sure what happens to them when they bake, but it makes for an awesome crust.
The girls preparing to become food bloggers.

We found a way to make even the vegetables unhealthy.

And then we went to the movies.
One way to get my son to let me take pictures of him is to tell him that I'm only going to photograph his sister. 

And I'm putting this random last picture in to celebrate all the rain we've been getting. Ever since we moved to Texas, I think I love it almost as much as I love the ocean. 

Hope your holidays were filled with everything that means the most to you. 



The holidays are here, along with cooler weather which is welcomed relief after spending the summer on fire. I find myself too eager to pull out boots and wishing for more reasons to be outside. But for as much as I love this season, it's also the time of year that I feel constantly overwhelmed. I know this is not unique to me. But I'm trying to be more mindful about the ways I spend my thoughts. So I'm setting two intentions for the next eight weeks: 1- to make my calendar correlate to my priorities (as much as possible), and to be in the moment (as much as possible). 

I know it's way easier said than done. I know that I won't be perfect at it. And a sense of calm actually just came over me as I typed that last sentence. We do so much, don't we? Performing. Expecting. Juggling. Planning. It's like the long way of trying to get back to ourselves.  

I'm not good at sitting still, and am the type of person who can barely go 30 seconds in the car without the radio on. For me, taking pictures has always been a kind of meditation. Because when you're taking pictures, you're forced to look at what is happening around you. When you're focused on that, there's no room for incessant voices and frenetic worrying. So yesterday, when I felt myself anticipating this seasonal overwhelm, I decided to bust out the camera again, maybe to use it as an anti-anxiety medicine. It helped me slow down. It helps me notice details. It helps me to actually be in my life. 

Even when life is as mundane and frustrating as the 5th grade homework. Dudes. I'm not even kidding, Jason spent an hour googling in order to help him, and I'm pretty sure that we are ill-equipped for the next ten years. 

The girls had to wait "ssooooooo long" before we could leave for trick-or-treating. To illustrate the extent of their boredom they spent at least half an hour rolling a marble to each other. Not like they have two entire bedrooms filled with toys or anything. 

Every year, I buy the worst candy in the neighborhood because I'm selfish and don't want to be tempted to eat whatever is left over. This year I might have gone overboard. People, I left this entire bowl on our porch while we went trick-or treating. It was full when we came back. 

Clearly not a fan favorite:

I'm not sure what Jason was. Maybe a suburban vampire. 

 Chance was Obe-Wan. I'm sure I spelled that wrong, but am too lazy to check. The Spider Countess kind of blew me away with her grown-up prettiness. These were test shots and also my favorites. I love the relaxed expressions of people when they don't think you're focusing on them. 

Emily on the other hand, had a fever for the second day in a row and was pitiful. She was TOTALLY AGAINST the idea of us leaving her at home, and was generally miserable. She couldn't bear the idea of missing out, so there she went, heated neck pad and all. 

Doug was almost as sad at the idea of staying home. 

When we got back, I let my daughter with a fever eat as much candy as she wanted. I might be a bad mother. But I've noticed that when I tell them they can eat as much as they want, they usually stop at a decent spot. Kids are amazing, and I want to be more like them.

Megan and her fiance Tyler came to see the kids. She even recycled her 70s costume from their party the prior weekend. The kids loved having them there. 

And I loved having someone to have a glass of wine and watch Housewives with. 

Good end to the day. Nice start to the season.  


Back to Cali / Mighty Summit 

I just got back from the Mighty Summit. I think people usually get to go once. But a few days prior to the event this year Maggie asked if I'd like to come again as the photographer. I think it took me about five seconds to book my flight, in large part because of the incredible time I had last year. So many friends I met there, are now an integral, cherished part of my life. I couldn't pass up the opportunity to meet new women who would no doubt be (and were) equally inspiring. 

I was also excited because it's hosted in Guerneville, which is about 30 minutes from where I grew up. So I got to visit a few best friends from high school too. 

Coming from the Texas summer inferno where everything is dead or dying or on fire, I might have been disproportionately overwhelmed by the abundance of 70 degree beauty. I might have been so overcome that I was willing to risk a car accident to grab a few snapshots from behind the steering wheel. 

Hard to believe this is someone's every day. 

This photo doesn't do an ounce of justice for how beautiful this light was setting over the hills. 

It almost took away from the fact that my phone was dead and I didn't know where I was going. Realizing it too late to buy a charger in the airport, I tried to remember my friend Lisa's address from her text a few hours before. Note: it's not helpful when you only know the street name. I thought I would drive to her road and magic butterflies might emerge from her windows guiding me to her door with trails of glitter. Instead I knocked on three unresponsive doors until I realized I was going to have to wander town hoping for a Radio Shack to jump in my lap.

I even got out of my car at a gas station like it was 1999 to ask if anyone knew where I could find a car charger. That's when the cashier flatly pointed to the rack next to me that was FILLED WITH iPHONE ACCESSORIES. Seriously? That's when you know you're in silicone valley people. That's also when I got back into my car, and while waiting for my phone to charge, looked up and saw this:

Lucky! Car chargers in gas stations and A DIAMOND IN THE PARKING LOT. For real. Fifteen(ish) years ago I was walking out of this grocery store with my mom when she saw something sparkling in the asphalt. Turned out to be a loose half carat antique diamond. I should've purchased a lottery ticket while I was there. 

After charging my phone I made my way back to Lisa's street (again), only to be greeted by possibly the most charming human in the universe. 

I know I have three children and they are adorable, and I know all kids are sweet and amazing, I'm not comparing. I'm just saying that every so often Dakota Fanning or Jonathan Lipnicki comes along to knock you on the floor. Assuming your standing. If you're sitting, maybe they knock you back in your seat, or knock your socks off or the wind out of you. My point is that their precociousness knocks the crap out of you. Which now sounds like a rogue gang that might terrorize Disneyland. This is Stella. She's actually not terrorizing Disneyland. But one day she will be on television, or curing cancer or ruling the northern hemisphere. I spent the night being mesmerized by how much she could relate to adults. It was as if, in her mind, the only thing keeping her from letting us in on all the secrets of the universe were a few vocabulary words. 

The next morning I was on a mission to SEE EVERYONE AND EVERY PLACE THAT HAD EVER MATTERED TO ME IN THE SPACE OF HALF A DAY. I had a delightful breakfast with Lisa, pictured below with Stella Bella.

Then mid-morning coffee with Melissa and her girls, who let us talk for a few hours without even getting fussy. I've written about how much I love her before. It's always great to catch up in person. And I had my first pumpkin spice latte of the season.

Crappy photo of the lovely proof that is fall upon us:

Had lunch with Vicki and Rochelle (two more HS friends). And it made me think about this weirdly awesome (albeit sometimes scary) facebook and twitter world, where even if you don't see someone for years, you pick up by talking about current events. No one needs to ask how many kids you have, where you're working, or what you've been up to all these years. We start with what we did yesterday. It makes me wonder what it will be like to be old in this world of easy connecting.  

To celebrate we took the obligatory, overly-processed, mounted-on-ceiling iphone pics of ourselves. ...You know, so we could post them on facebook.

Me and Melissa.

Rochelle, Me, Vicki.

You can check out the the photos from Mighty Summit on our flickr stream.