The Creative Central California Family

DeAuna and Trent have created quite to life for themselves. They’re caring, compassionate, creative, and amazing parents. And it is easy to see their character traits are being absorbed by their two boys and daughter.

The Marks family take every opportunity they can to revel in their surroundings and they take the time to appreciate the little things. Whether that’s a breeze blowing through an orchard, a jam session with whatever musical instruments are handy, or a simple adventure into the trees.

This helped immensely during our portrait shoot in a walnut grove outside of Fresno, California. DeAuna and I had brainstormed some ideas on how the look and feel of the session was going to be. A few days before the session, Trent and I took a drive to an orchard where he and DeAuna had their wedding ceremony. It was a perfect setting with great light, amazing textures and ample space for the Marks family to go on an adventure as I document the moments.

“There were a few personal items we brought that reflected our home life and overall family character. There was also some thought put into our attire. We kept the colors soft and light,” DeAuna explained. “For our photo shoot we chose the location of our wedding that took place 12 years prior. It was a riverside property with old trees and an orchard. It was nice to have old and new memories there.”

The day of the session, they showed up in some snazzy ’30s style attire and some musical instruments. A quick jam session was started and the rest was history.

The boys ventured into the trees. The baby girl remained smiley and happy. And I followed along catching those moments when the boys stroll through the orchard turned into an adventure.

“The freedom to have moments with my family and laugh together all while knowing that those moments would be subtly captured by Jerome. We can look at the photos now and know that what was captured was the real us,” said DeAuna as she reflected on the session.

“Our favorite shot is definitely one of the candid shots where we are all just hanging out together. No one is looking at the camera in the shot. It feels natural and looks beautiful.”

With Trent staying busy as a firefighter this season in California, and DeAuna keeping their home running smoothly between everything she’s taking on, the Marks family has a few heirloom pieces that represent who they are as parents, the wonderment their children have with their surroundings, and who they are as a family at this point in their lives.

A few tips from DeAuna about preparing for your portrait session:

  • We would suggest keeping it personal
  • Ladies, consider wearing a pair of sentimental earrings or necklace —maybe something of your mother’s or grandmother’s. My husband brought an item that represented his mother. It was nice to have those special nuances in the photos.

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California Palm Trees, Orchards & Unappealing Water

When I met up with Deja for her senior portrait, it was my typical routine. Deja’s mom Janelle, a good friend from my high school days, was getting ready for work, and it was the first time I had met Deja.

A couple of hugs, Janelle reminding me I had her only child so I had to drive carefully (she remembers my driving habits from high school), and we were off for a few hours of great Central California sunshine.

Both Deja and her mom had followed my work over the years and appreciated my way of going about things. But what Deja wasn’t prepared for was how easy it was going to be.

At the start of any portrait session, it can be a little awkward. I don’t like to do a ton of posing because I want people to feel comfortable and look natural. Deja said she wasn’t sure what to do. I could tell she was a bit nervous about the results. Especially because we pulled into an orchard with what she described as, “those old, sick-looking palm trees.” After a few shots in front of those old, sick-looking palm trees, I showed her the results. Immediately I could see her relax a bit and the trust and comfortability factors went up a bunch of notches.

Once we were finished with our first location, we basically made a road trip out of it. Our goal was to end up at a small lake outside of the city. But there were a few good spots along the way that most high school seniors in Fresno, if any, ever utilize for their portrait sessions.

“Most of the people I know all go to Woodward Park,” Deja explained about where high school seniors end up for their portrait sessions. “They all look the same.”

Deja won’t be having that problem. With her confidence high, and her adventurous side helping me out with some shots, we were rocking her session.

“I think the best and most unexpected part of our session was when you wanted me to get into the bug covered tree that was hanging over the river!” Deja said about her session. “I had to take my heels off, get my hair out of the way, and pretend I wasn’t terrified from the thought of falling in haha. I thought I was pretty high up, but you climbed up even further! Carefully maneuvering so that you didn’t drop your very, very nice camera on my face or into the very unappealing looking water with a purple kool-aid box right below the both of us. Supa cool.”

After a few hours of chasing the sunset, climbing through trees, and navigating through fields, we were ready for a blast back down the highway into Fresno, a burger, and back to our houses to relax.


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One Big California Wedding

When Nicole’s father contacted me about documenting his daughter’s wedding, two things became clear fairly quick:

  1. He didn’t realize I lived in Coeur d’Alene and thought I was in California
  2. His daughter was going to have a huge wedding

Nicole had received my name from a coworker who was friends with my wife – word-of-mouth advertising in full-effect. When Larry called, he liked what I had to offer and decided we should meet up. That’s when the geographic realization came into play for him. It was no biggie though since a majority of my clients are from out of the area and Skype sessions are a regular thing for my consultations.

When the consultation happened, that’s when I realized the full scope of this wedding. They were planning on 400 guests, a lot of participants in the wedding party (37 people not including the bride and groom), and it was to all go down in my hometown of Fresno, California.

Fast forward to the rehearsal to get a idea of how the day will unfold, and my buddy, fellow photojournalist, and second shooter Matt Mills McKnight can introduce ourselves and meet all the key players. Remember that 400-guest quote? Well now it’s at 690!

What immediately became apparent was Nicole, Darren and all their guests are extremely spiritual, faithful to their church, and have a great support system to not only help them with this large wedding, but also with getting off on the right foot for their marriage.

And that support system came into play for the wedding day in a big way. Between the hundreds of guests, coordination of the catering and seating, transportation, and figuring out who needed to be where at any given moment was a huge undertaking.

The timeline put the bride and groom portraits at a time that followed the reception, which was a first for me. But this allowed Nicole and Darren to not see each other until the ceremony, we could get all the family photos and combined wedding party portraits done between the ceremony and reception, and then have a solid hour venturing through the Shinzen Japanese Gardens at Woodward Park in Fresno.

This was by far the largest wedding I’ve had the privilege of documenting. And had it not been for the great planning, communication, and awesome personalities of Nicole, Darren and all those who helped coordinate with me, it wouldn’t have been the success it was.

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