fbpx

A Sandcastle for Sandy | Hotel del Coronado Proposal Photography

Back when social distancing and the Coronavirus were not even blips are our collective radar, James called me to set up a stealth proposal session for Valentine’s Day.

He and Sandy were planning a trip San Diego to get away from the hustle and bustle for a relaxing getaway. Unbeknownst to Sandy, James had a special surprise in mind.

More than anything, James wanted to capture an incredibly romantic moment in the history of their relationship — one neither of them would ever forget. At the hotel concierge’s suggestion, he contacted Bill Pavlacka, Coronado’s legendary Sandcastle Man, to send this proposal into absolute WOW territory.

James, Bill, and I went back and forth, exchanging maps of the beach, and deciding on the perfect location for the castle. When I arrived at the designated spot on Valentine’s Day, Bill was there to keep an eye on his creation.

The Sandcastle Man Hotel del Coronado

The castle was the subject of quite a bit of attention from passersby, and when Bill put me in charge of it so that he could check on another castle, I made sure to let the young men who stopped to admire it know, “This is how it’s done, guys.” 😂

San Diego Proposal Photographer

Right on schedule, James showed up with Sandy. She was surprised and delighted by the castle, and by James’s sweet proposal.

San Diego Proposal Photographer
San Diego Proposal Photographer

Bill and I congratulated the happy couple, and Bill offered to write Sandy’s answer in the sand.

The Sandcastle Man San Diego Coronado
The Sandcastle Man San Diego Coronado
The Sandcastle Man San Diego Coronado

From there, we set off to enjoy golden hour on the beach, making some beautiful sunset portraits that James and Sandy plan to use for their engagement photos, to frame for display, and to create save-the-dates and wedding invitations. They chose a few favorites for me to post, while keeping others private for their wedding guests to enjoy.

Photographers in San Diego
Photographers in San DiegoThe Sandcastle Man San Diego Coronado
Photographers in San Diego
Photographer in San Diego | Proposal on the Beach
Photographer in San Diego | Proposal on the Beach

For James and Sandy, a favorite memory of the evening was sitting in the sand as the sun went down, enjoying one another’s company and watching the waves crash on the shore.

Photography in San Diego

James said his favorite shot was this image with the castle and hotel in the background.

Beach Photoshoot San Diego
Proposal Portraits San Diego

Reflection Shot Walking on the Beach

Family Is Everything | San Diego Beach Photography

There’s nothing like a global pandemic to show us what’s important in life.

Before any of this coronavirus craziness was even a thought, Thersa’s family gathered in San Diego for a wonderful week at the beach, staying at a vacation property in Carlsbad.

She told me, “As the family grows it is tough to get all eleven of us together for a time away from daily life. The week consisted of long walks on the beach, the kids playing in the sand box on our private beach, cooking meals together, and just loads of family time.”

Thersa’s daughters arranged the photo session, carefully choosing their coordinating outfits. Extended family styling can be tricky, and they did an amazing job. Although the day was rainy early on, the sky cleared just enough to give us a perfect sunset.Cousins on the Beach in San Diego
San Diego Photography
Grandparents on the Beach
Grandparents on the Beach
Maternity Photos San Diego
Maternity Photos San Diego
San Diego Photography
San Diego Photography | Carlsbad CA
Mother and Child | Beach Photoshoot San Diego
San Diego PhotographersSailing a Boat on the Beach
San Diego Family Photographer
Okay, I love this one. How adorable is that??
Toddler on the Beach | Mirror Reflection

Baby cousin’s turn with the boat! We had a little trouble getting in position. 🙂

Caught by a Wave
Photographers in San DiegoSailing a Boat | Toddler Photo on the Beach
Grandma with Toddler on the Beach
Extended Family Reflection Photo on the Beach
Family Reflection Beach Photo
Walking on the Beach Reflection Shot
Walking on the Beach Reflection Shot
Beach Portraits San Diego

"Like a Mermaid who Grew Legs"
San Diego Portraits | Headshots in Coronado

Beach Portraits San Diego
Family Beach Photography
Coronado Beach Photographer
Mother and Child
Mother and Child
Kissing at Sunset on the Beach
Family at Sunset on the Beach Silhouette

I’m a fan of this dude. Very cool grandpa.

Grandpa on the Lifeguard Tower in Oceanside San Diego

One of Thersa’s favorites.

Silhouette Photos San Diego Beach

Professional Photographer Hotel Del Coronado

College Senior Beach Photos | Hotel del Coronado Photographer

Brooke’s vision for her senior year at Point Loma Nazarene University included a photo session on the beach, and I’m so glad she chose me for that adventure! I loved her style, from her outfit choices to the cute hat that added some flair to the session!

Here’s what Brooke had to say about her college senior session:

Q. What was your favorite memory from your session?
A. I think my favorite memory was the freedom of just going in the water and playing around without worrying about my clothes. On a normal day, I would NEVER let my clothes get wet; the feeling of wet, sandy clothes sticking to me I don’t like. But this session gave me the ability to just get in and not worry about it-just having fun in the beautiful water was such a gift!

Photographers in San Diego
Photographers in San Diego
Professional Photography in San Digo
Professional Photography in San Digo
Professional Photography in San Digo
San Diego Photographers
San Diego Photographers

Q. Going into your session, did you have any concerns?
A. I was definitely worried about my hair. With my curls, the beach usually doesn’t make them look too crazy but it can certainly frizz out my hair! But the photos turned out great, hair included!

Headshots San Diego
Headshots San Diego
Senior Photos San Diego
Senior Photos San Diego

Q. Did you have any favorite images?
A. I love the photos on and underneath the lifeguard tower. The light behind me and the flowy-ness of my skirt just blow me away! I love the genuine joy of these photos.

Lifeguard Tower Photos in San Diego
Lifeguard Tower Photos in San Diego
Lifeguard Tower Photos in San Diego
Professional Photographer in Coronado
Professional Photographer in Coronado

Q. What is your plan for these images?
A. I will definitely print them and give them to family members as a memory of my senior year of college and graduation. My mom also wants to print them out and use them as wall art in our house. 😊

Coronado Photography | Hotel del Coronado
Coronado Photography | Hotel del Coronado
Coronado Photography | Hotel del Coronado
Photography in San Diego CA
Photography in San Diego CA
Photography in San Diego CA

Family Reunion in San Diego | Coronado Photographer

Anjali’s extended family session on a bright, sunny day in late December was one of the biggest I’ve done, so I asked my sister Melanie to give me a hand. Between the two of us, we shot as many images as we might have for a full-day wedding. Twenty-four people is about twice the number of people in a typical extended family session, so we were both busy, running all over the beach and working hard to get all of our combinations and poses. Scroll down for Melanie’s behind-the-scenes shot of me shooting one of the largest groupings.

Photographers in San Diego
Photographers in San Diego
Photographers in San Diego
Photographers in San Diego
Extended Family Photography San Diego
Extended Family Photography San Diego
Extended Family Photography San Diego
Professional Photography in San Diego
Professional Photography in San Diego
Professional Photography in San Diego
San Diego Photographer
San Diego Photographer
Family Photographer San Diego
Family Photographer San Diego
Family Photographer San Diego
Portraits San Diego
Portraits San Diego
Portraits San Diego
Coronado Photographer
Coronado Photographer
Coronado Photographer

Behind the scenes:

Behind the Scenes | Amy Gray Photography

Coronado Photographer
Beach Photoshoot San Diego
Beach Photoshoot San Diego
Beach Photoshoot San Diego
Beach Photoshoot San Diego
Beach Photoshoot San Diego
Beach Photoshoot San Diego

San Diego Family Photographer

Morning Light on Coronado | San Diego Beach Photos

We were still enjoying Christmas festivities on December 25 when Jerad’s inquiry landed in my inbox: “At risk of sounding ridiculous, I have surprised my family with a trip to San Diego. By any chance would you have any times available for family photos?” You can tell a lot from an inquiry, and I was all over this and so excited to meet this fun and spontaneous family! I was booked up for evening sessions, but Jerad’s family was up for a morning session. I met them three days later, bright and early, and we scored some incredible light. As cold and borderline miserable as winter morning sessions can sometimes be, they are sure PRETTY.

Beach Photoshoot San Diego | Coronado Mornings
Morning Beach Photo Session | Family Photos
Morning Beach Photo Session | Family Photos
Morning Beach Photo Session | Family Photos

The thing about a morning session is that all of my usual routines where light is concerned are turned on their heads. The sun is rising instead of setting, so the photo session has to be done in reverse from what I’m used to. It really keeps me on my toes! Instead of watching the sun as it dips to the horizon, making sure to get in all of the important shots before it’s gone and it’s too dark to shoot, I’m watching the sun as it clears the buildings to the east, trying to take all the important portraits before it pops out of hiding.

Photography San Diego | Family Vacation Coronado
Photography San Diego | Family Vacation Coronado
Family Photography San Diego
Family Photography San Diego
Little Girl Headshot on the Beach
Teen on the Beach
Little Girl on the Beach

This is what it looks like to go in very cold water on a very cold morning.

Walking in the Water at the Beach
Mother and Daughter on the Beach in San Diego
Senior Portrait on the Beach | Reflection
Headshots at the Beach | Professional Photographer
Father Daughter Father Son
San Diego Teen Photos and Seniors
Siblings Walking on the Beach | Coronado Photographer
Child Splashing in the Waves | Coronado Photos
Boy on the Beach | Photos of Children in San Diego
Lifeguard Tower on Coronado | Amy Gray Photography
Running on the Shore | San Diego Photographer
Under the Lifeguard Tower | San Diego PhotographerLittle Girl on the Beach in Pretty Morning Light
Family Hugs at the Hotel del Coronado
Walking on the Beach Hand in Hand
Little Girl on the Beach in Pretty Morning LightWalking on the Beach Hand in Hand

By the end, the cold got the best of Little Miss, but the blanket helped, and so did climbing up on the lifeguard tower. I think everyone got hot chocolate that morning. I know I, for one, went straight to Starbucks. 😊🥶

Photography San Diego | Family Vacation Coronado

Camden on Camera | Hotel del Coronado Beach Photos

I really looked forward to photographing Camden and his parents and grandparents last month! It has been my honor to know his mommy Dara since she was only 13 years old, in my class in junior high. Since then, Dara was in my wedding photos (a candlelighter) and my daughter (her flower girl) was in hers, sporting a full cast on her arm from an unfortunate incident on the jungle gym at school. Dara and Josh moved to his hometown in Minnesota a few years ago, but when they came back for a baby shower a few years ago, I got to take Dara’s maternity photos in La Jolla. When she let me know they were bringing Camden out to San Diego to visit his grandparents and meet his San Diego fan-club, I was so excited to see him for the first time and photograph their sweet family. A lot of my favorite moments of our time together were about Dara’s dad. He’s really taking to this grandpa job, and I loved watching him play with Camden! Soo much joy!!

Baby Boy on the Beach
Family Photography in San Diego
Family Photography in San Diego
Photographers in San Diego
Extended Family Photography in San Diego
Photographers in San Diego, CA
Grandfather and Grandson
Grandfather and Grandson
Dad and Son walking on the beach
Dad and Son walking on the beach
Dad and Son walking on the beach
Photographers in San Diego, CALittle Boy on the Beach
Little Boy on the Beach
Little Boy on the Beach
Little Boy on the Beach
Camden on Camera
Camden on Camera
Camden on CameraCamden on Camera
Mother and Child | San Diego Beach Photos
Mother and Child | San Diego Beach Photos
Hotel del Coronado Family Photos
Hotel del Coronado Family Photos
Hotel del Coronado Family Photos
Walking on the Beach
Walking on the Beach
Walking on the Beach
Walking on the Beach
Walking on the Beach
Daddy and Child
Running on the Beach
Digging in the Sand at the Beach
Running in the Sand at the Beach
Mother, Father, and Baby Boy
Grandfather and Child
Baby Photos at the Beach in San Diego
Professional Photographer in San Diego

Curly Hair Little Girl

Exactly How I Want to Remember This Age | Coronado Beach Portraits

Family photos at the beach on Coronado served two purposes for the Brumsey family. Laura said, “We actually came to the area for the first time last year, and we fell in love with San Diego and its perfect weather. It was an easy decision to come back again. We spent our time checking out the beaches and playgrounds, and doing the typical tourist rounds of the zoo, the aquarium, and Balboa Park. It was a welcome break from the first cold snap of the year on the east coast!”

Photographers in San Diego
Photographer San Diego
Family Photography San Diego
San Diego Beach Photography
Twirling on the Beach | Little Girl Dresses

“I’m a little embarrassed to admit it, but when our daughter’s new school asked for a picture of the three of us to display in her classroom, I realized that I didn’t have many recent photos with all of us! We took a lot when my daughter was a baby, and had one special session with our elderly dog just before she passed – but I wanted something recent and happy to hang up in our new house.”

Portraits San Diego
Coronado Photographer
Photography in San Diego

Laura said that, as far as concerns going into her session, she “wondered what mood my three-year-old would be in! She is always moving, and can sense when a camera is pointed at her and stop smiling in a split second.” In spite of her mama’s worries, we had no trouble keeping her happy, catching some great shots of her on the move!

San Diego Photographers
Beach Photoshoot
San Diego Photographer | Father and Daughter
Mother and Daughter Walking on the Beach

Once of Laura’s favorite memories was “watching our little girl racing around in the surf. She just loves to run and she was so genuinely happy to be in a pretty dress, splashing in the water.”

Professional Photographers San Diego
San Diego Photography
Beach Photography San Diego
Photographer San Diego

“It’s hard to pick just one favorite image, but there are several where our daughter has her arms outstretched as she splashes in the water, and the joy on her face is just so transparent. It’s exactly how I want to remember this age.”

Professional Photographers San Diego
Professional Photography in San Diego
San Diego Beach Photography
Little Girl in the Waves | Photographers in San Diego

Laura said, “We will primarily display these images in our home. They went on holiday cards, framed gifts for the grandparents, etc. Our primary reason for getting them done was to have some keepsakes for our home.”

San Diego Photographer
Photography San Diego
Beach Photoshoot San Diego
Hotel del Coronado Photography
Photographers in San Diego
Child Playing on the Beach | Coronado Photographer

Sunny Shores for the Sundermeyer Family | San Diego Family Photographer

Before I even met Seana, I knew we had a lot in common, and I felt like I had made a new friend after our session. A military family relatively new to San Diego, the Sundermeyers were excited to capture their teens enjoying the beach. Here’s how Seana described her session:

“As a mom, worries of blowing hair, clothes panning out, and everyone enjoying themselves consumed my mind. However, these concerns just melted away at our arrival with the joy that came through in putting together a creative photoshoot! With two teenagers, it is fun to see their personalities just shine. I am loving this season with them and I am so glad we were able to capture it all in this session!”

Photographers in San Diego | Coronado Beach Photos
Sibling Photography at the Hotel del Coronado | San Diego Beach Photos
Father-Son Photos at the Hotel del Coronado | San Diego Beach Photos
Father-Daughter Photos at the Hotel del Coronado | San Diego Beach Photos
Mother-Daughter Photos at the Hotel del Coronado | San Diego Beach Photos
Mother-Son Photos at the Hotel del Coronado | San Diego Beach Photos

“Being able to capture this time together in the beautiful area of San Diego was something I really wanted to do before my daughter leaves for college this next fall. I will never forget our gorgeous session on the water…what a stunning and breath-taking sunset! What a privilege to have these images saved in my heart…and now in print!”

Senior Photos at the Hotel del Coronado | San Diego Beach Photos
Silhouette Photo at the Hotel del Coronado | San Diego Beach Photos
Fun, Splashy Photo at the Beach
San Diego Photographer of Families and Teens
Lifeguard Tower Photos on Coronado
Headshot Photos at the Beach
Headshot Photos at the Beach
Family Photos at the Beach
Kissing Silhouette Photo at the Beach
Fun Sibling Photos on Coronado
San Diego Photographer of Families and Teens
San Diego Photographer of Families and Teens

There really are so many favorites….but I think the two favorites I have are the one of my husband Troy and I with my eyes closed and he is leaning into me with the gorgeous Pacific behind us. This particular one seems to capture our relationship well — twenty years of a loving journey together! The other favorite I have is of both Kaitlyn and Tyler sitting next to each on the rocks (almost a heart-shaped rock in the background) with the beautiful light sprinkling on them. They look natural…and it truly is a precious image that I love!

Couple Photography at the Hotel del Coronado | San Diego Beach Photos

San Diego PhotographerCouple Photographer in San Diego
San Diego Photographers
San Diego Photography
Photographers in San Diego | Teen Headshots
Photographers in San Diego | Teen Headshots
Photographers in San Diego | Teen Headshots
Couple Poses on the Beach | Photographers in San Diego
Family Poses on the Beach | Photographers in San Diego
Couple Poses on the Beach | Photographers in San Diego
Fun Pictures on the Beach | Photographers in San Diego
Fun Pictures on the Beach | Photographers in San Diego
Senior Portraits on the Beach | Photographers in San Diego

“I have several plans for these beautiful pictures! I will be updating my wall with several of the family photos as well as new school pictures for my two home-school kiddos! Grandparents are anxiously awaiting some new pictures!  I am also looking forward to creating some senior prints for Miss Kaitlyn this spring for her high school graduation.”

Scroll to Top