This is me. It was so cold and foggy when we got to this location but I absolutely love the ethereal feel the weather lends to this photo. What I won’t do for a good portrait.
But really, this is me most days without the glam squad, pro lighting and photographer in the photo above.
When I’m not photographing portraits or families, I am snuggling up with these two little people. They are my world and I hope they always want to cuddle up with us together.
This is my husband and best friend. He is a sport about modeling for me when I have ideas to test out. Every day I feel so very blessed any lucky to have him by my side. He works so very hard for our little family and comes back with love and energy. The whole family comes alive when he walks in through the door from work.
This is us all together.
This woman is my mom - she goes by “Nani” which means maternal grandmother in Urdu. She lives with us and I love that my kids get to grow up with their grandmother, something I never experienced. She’s incredibly patient and loving and ridiculously silly.
This is our cat, Mimi. Despite my husband angling for a cat since we were engaged, I never imagined we’d actually have one. Or that we’d love her so much. I think she was made for our family in every way. She’s definitely the third child.
We love to travel and did quite a bit before the kids were born. But truth be told, we’ve slowed down a little. My goal this year is to get another international trip in while the youngest is still a lap baby.
We did get to do a big Europe trip with Inaya on our way to attend a wedding at a castle in Croatia. She still remembers it because basically, she’s got the memory of an elephant.
Travel is one of my favorite things and I have a long list of all the places I’d love to explore. I had the incredible opportunity to photograph portraits in Paris, Morocco and Spain (see above). My dream is to be able to photograph portraits in every country on my ever growing list. One thing we haven’t done much of and I hope to do more is hike and go camping. I didn’t grow up in a family that got outdoors much so truth be told, it is intimidating to me. But I want my kids to be in nature more so we are trying to learn.
We love to read - we have two bookshelves full of books for the kids and enjoy growing our collection. My idea of a relaxing afternoon is curling up with a huge cup of hot chai, a yummy snack and a book that I can just get lost into for hours. I love a good fiction book and used to be part of a really fun book club with my friends but it has been a while so if you have any recommendations, send them my way since my current reading involves Magic School Bus and Elephant & Piggie books (which, truth be told, I totally enjoy).
We definitely can’t turn down the opportunity for a dance party, no matter what time it is. Like me, my kids seem to just FEEL the music and their bodies just start movin’ and groovin’. First one on the dance floor, last one off - that’s me!
I love photographing families. Beyond that, I feel so strongly about families documenting their lives together in album form to pass down to future generations. I believe in hanging portraits up on the wall - it adds LIFE to a house and makes it feel more like home. And it has a wonderfully positive impact on kids’ self esteem - you can read more about that here and here.
I feel strongly about photographing families for two reasons. First, my family lost the majority of our photos during a political uprising before we moved here as refugees. I don’t have photos of my parents’ wedding and barely have a handful of photos of myself and my older siblings as children. The photo above is one of the very few I have. Second, I now have a family and I can feel every minute slipping away. That bittersweet feeling that parents have in which on the one hand, you love every new milestone and every new tooth and giggle...but you feel like it is all happening so fast and that they’ll be toddlers, big kids, teens and adults before you even realize it. Document your life together.
Photographing women for fine art glamour portraits is not something I initially set out to do. In fact, once I started doing it professionally, I realized I had been doing it during my learning experiences when I practiced with my friends. As I was learning lighting, posing and other elements of portrait photography, I’d invite my girlfriends over for a dance and photo shoot party (because, see “dance parties” above). It was perfect - they were all glammed up for the dance party and I’d pull one out at a time for photos while the rest danced and had fun. It was especially fun for me because many of my friends wear hijab, a head covering worn in public by some Muslim women, and so had not ever had portraits of themselves while in full hair and makeup. I always felt a rush of excitement and emotion as I got to reveal their photos to them and see their reactions. Years later, as I began to explore which genres I wanted to photograph professionally, I kept feeling myself drawn to photographing women. I want my portrait work to show women as beautiful, strong, determined, soft, sensual and everything in between. I want the portrait experience in my studio to be one in which women feel the center of focus for the day and are treated like amazing, valued people they are and should be recognized for. Mostly, I want women that I photograph to walk away not just with the transformational portrait experience, but also printed artwork of themselves in the form of album and framed prints. I love to tie in relationships when photographing glamour - husbands, wives, girlfriends, boyfriends, sisters, daughters, best friends.
We live in a very visual time period and our online presence is so important. We now live in a world where people curate their online presence and personality. Personal branding is no longer just for the fashion blogger or the Youtuber. Personal branding involves a curated set of photographs designed to present you in the manner you want to be perceived - for work and for other life opportunities. Actors, musicians, dancers, real estate agents, brokers, philanthropists, executives, bloggers, content creators, social media mavens - everyone can have a brand. If you have an online presence you need to find unique ways to stand out above the competition. Personal branding photos are designed to differentiate you from everyone else in your market. I combine my years of experience in the studio and on location to bring together a blend of lifestyle portraits specifically catered to your brand. We work together to find the best possible way to present you.
When I look back on my life, I want to feel that I created a positive impact on the lives of others through my photography. That my photography was able to create memories for you and your family for countless generations. I want to know that I did right by my own family and my loved ones - that I spent quality time with them and focused on the best parts of life and let the rest slide off. That I didn’t miss any opportunity to laugh, hug, dance or snuggle together. I want to look back and feel like we seized the moments we had with the people we love and traveled as much as we possibly could.
Being a photographer - working on and in my business makes my incredibly happy. As with many creatives, I sometimes find it hard to separate my personal and professional life. After I had my first child, I made a very difficult but conscious decision to take a break from work because I found myself not as present as I wanted to be - mentally, physically and emotionally. I felt like either way I was missing something - my love and passion for photography or my daughter and it was taking the joy out of being a mom. I was also experiencing postpartum anxiety and I wanted to focus on taking care of myself so I could be the mom I wanted to be. It was a challenging decision to make but for me personally, I decided I wanted to be at home with my daughter for the first few years of her life. Making the decision or work or stay home is always a challenge for any parent and I think there is no wrong answer - everyone finds joy and balance in different ways.
Two years after we had our first child, my husband and I started a joint venture by opening a pilates franchise. It was an exhilarating experience in which we made so many great friends and built amazing relationships. In fact, I am working on completing my own Pilates Teacher Certification. We both learned so much about business and about Pilates. But it was also an incredible amount of work and took quite a toll on both of us mentally. We’ve since sold the franchise for various reasons, most of which still came back to wanting time as a family after we had our second child. The beautiful thing that came out of working on the franchise was the eventual realization that I was now ready to go back to work because it had sparked something inside me - I had found a part of myself again. But I wanted to do it on my own terms. I wanted to craft my own schedule so I could find a balance between work and time with my family. And I wanted so deeply to return to photography. It took some time but as our situation and lifestyle changed, I was able to come back to my passion. There are some things we find in life that feel like a calling. I feel so very blessed because I have found three: teaching (I was an inner city middle school teacher for 8 years in South Los Angeles), photography and being a mother. Those are some of the things I pour my heart and soul into, along with my relationship with my husband, my mother and my closest inner circle of friends. Above all, I am about relationships, deep and true.