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Nightingale Portraits Blog: Walnut Creek Family Photographer bio picture

    Hi, I'm Christina Hernandez, owner of Nightingale Photography. Welcome to my new blog, celebrating candid family portraiture.

    A family portrait session is an incredible gift you can give your family. The session itself is a memorable event, whether it be at your home, a favorite park or the beach. My family sessions are relaxed and fun, with the emphasis on genuine and authentic. Capturing the candid exuberance of childhood and family is my passion. The heirloom portraits that will hang in your home will bring you and your family joy each day and remind you of what's truly important in life. In addition, these photographs will be cherished by your children and family members for decades to come. We can't stop the hands of time, but beautiful photography gets pretty close.

    I am a Bay Area native and live in the Oakland hills with my husband of 20 years, Richard, our spunky teenager, Sophia, and of course, our dogs, Roomba and Vincent. Having worked for 15 years as a staff photojournalist at the San Francisco Examiner and Chronicle, I am lucky to be able to anticipate unique moments and capture them for my clients. I believe photography is best experienced on the walls of your home and in heirloom albums, always accessible to view. Looking for my wedding and engagement photography? You can still find it here: nightingalephotosblog.com and nightingalephotos.com. I so look forward to telling your family's story! ~Christina

How Family Portraits Boost Your Child’s Self-Esteem

I wanted to share this wonderful article on the impact of family portraits in the home on children’s sense of self. Enjoy! Article and images courtesy of Design Aglow.Screen shot 2015-11-04 at 9.11.53 PM

One of the hidden but powerful aspects of family photography that moms and most photographers rarely consider is how it can help us raise children with stronger confidence in their own worth and abilities. Psychologists and experts have done some work in recent decades exploring the link.

A revealing study was conducted in 1975 with a group of fourth graders at a Tennessee school by Tulane University. During a five week period, the children took Polaroid instant photos of themselves with provided cameras in a variety of assigned poses, compositions and expressing various emotions. The children worked with the printed images of themselves and created scrapbooks once a week over those five weeks. Testing of the students and teachers at the conclusion of study revealed a significant increase of 37 percent in the students’ average self-esteem behaviors. This Murfreesboro Study shows some evidence personal photography of children seen and enjoyed in a specific way can help boost a child’s self-esteem.

But how can family photography, specifically family portraits, help boost a child’s self-esteem?  

David Krauss, a licensed psychologist from Cleveland, Ohio says, “I think it is really important to show a family as a family unit. It is so helpful for children to see themselves as a valued and important part of that family unit. A photographer’s job is to create and make the image look like a safe holding space for kids where they are safe and protected. Kids get it on a really simple level.”

Krauss is one of the earliest pioneers in using people’s personal photography and family albums to assist in mental health counseling and therapy. He co-authored “Photo Therapy and Mental Health” in 1983 that is considered a founding text for the use of photography in therapy.

“It lets children learn who they are and where they fit,” says Judy Weiser. a psychologist, art therapist and author based in Vancouver. “They learn their genealogy and the the uniqueness of their own family and its story. When a child sees a family portrait with them included in the photograph they say to themselves: ‘These people have me as part of what they are, that’s why I belong here. This is where I come from.‘”

Weiser has spent more than 20 years using all manner of personal photography to assist in the treatment process of her clients. She is considered by many to be the foremost authority on these treatment techniques, called PhotoTherapy.

When It Comes To Having The Greatest Positive Impact For Your Child, Which is Better, Digital Images or Paper Prints?Screen shot 2015-11-04 at 9.13.04 PM

Obviously, rather than print and display family photographs, families are increasingly enjoying their images in a digital form, be it a mobile device, a laptop, or simply on social media. But does an image on a tablet, computer screen or social media site have the same impact for helping families boost a child’s self-esteem?

“My bias is very simple. I think they (family photographs) should be on the wall,” says Krauss.

“I am very conservative about self-esteem and I think placing a family photo someplace in the home where the child can see it every day without having to turn on a device or click around on a computer to find it really hits home for that child this sense of reassurance and comfort. They have a certainty about them and a protecting quality that nurtures a child. It let’s them know where they are in the pecking order and that they are loved and cared for,” says Krauss.

The importance of printed photographs displayed in your living space was echoed by other experts.

“My personal and clinical bias is there is something very powerful in touching your fingers to an actual print,” says Craig Steinberg, a licensed psychologist who works with children ages five through 13 near Eugene, Ore. “Touching the photograph where a face is smiling or the shoulders, it is the same thing as touching a book when you read it. There’s a lot of stimulation of the brain when you have that sensory experience. That is a bit lost in the move to digital. You are touching a keyboard, mouse or a touchscreen but you are not touching the image.

Displaying photos prominently in the home sends the message that our family and those in it are important to one another, and we honor the memories we have experienced,“ says Cathy Lander-Goldberg, a licensed clinical social worker and a professional photographer in St. Louis, Missouri and the director of Photo Explorations, which offers workshops to girls and women using portrait and journaling for self-reflection.

Additionally, Krauss recommends having photographs of that child with their family placed in the child’s bedroom so it can be among the last things they see before sleep and the first thing they may see before beginning their day.

“It says we love you and care about you. You’re important.”

by Chris Cummins, Contributor to Design Aglow, Images by Elizabeth Messina

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Walnut Creek Family Portraits

It has been such a fun year for me because I’ve been meeting so many wonderful new families! This was my first time working with Nancy and Chuck and their two wonderful kids. They invested in a session with me in hopes of capturing the carefree spirit of their family and the love they share. I sure think we accomplished that. I was overwhelmed by the affection the kids have for each other and the nurturing energy the parents share with the kids. It was a great pleasure for me to meet this family and to make memories for them. Walnut Creek is a wonderful spot for family photography.Walnut Creek Family PhotographyWalnut Creek Family PhotographyWalnut Creek Family PhotographyWalnut Creek Family PhotographyWalnut Creek Family PhotographyWalnut Creek Family PhotographyWalnut Creek Family PhotographyWalnut Creek Family PhotographyWalnut Creek Family PhotographyWalnut Creek Family PhotographyWalnut Creek Family PhotographyWalnut Creek Family Photography

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Peninsula Family Portrait Session

This Peninsula Family Portrait Session celebrates the adorable twins, Clara and Grant. What a duo! They are energetic, inquisitive and darling. So are their parents who make it all look so easy. It was a blast capturing this close family in this beautiful outdoor setting. Because children change so quickly, I respect it so much when families invest in photography. These relaxed, candid portraits will mark this special time in their lives. Can’t wait for next year’s session!Peninsula Family Portrait SessionPeninsula Family Portrait SessionPeninsula Family Portrait SessionPeninsula Family Portrait SessionPeninsula Family Portrait SessionPeninsula Family Portrait SessionPeninsula Family Portrait SessionPeninsula Family Portrait Session

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Peninsula Family Portraits

These Peninsula family portraits were taken at the home of my clients in Menlo Park. The home is such an ideal place to make beautiful portraits of a newborn, as it is the most comfortable for everyone. I loved new mom, Andrea’s, natural style, and how she appreciates the quiet moments with her young family. Their daughter was too cute with her newborn baby brother, being extra gentle and helpful to her parents. I of course wanted to get some solo portraits of her, too! She tried on her favorite dress and ran outside, barefoot, to kick-up some leaves. Ahhh…that’s childhood. This low-key documentary approach to family sessions are low-stress and produce timeless, warm imagery. I’m just so glad I had the opportunity to meet this wonderful family!Peninsula Family PortraitsPeninsula Family Portraits Peninsula Family PortraitsPeninsula Family PortraitsPeninsula Family PortraitsPeninsula Family PortraitsPeninsula Family PortraitsPeninsula Family Portraits

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Grandparents Portrait Session-Haas Family

This portrait session was an incredible privilege for me to do. Local filmmaker, Shaleece Haas  wanted to have portraits made to document her family and truly celebrate her grandparents, ages 100 and 101. She was kind enough to write the following post:
“This portrait we hung the family portrait in my grandfather’s room today—on the far wall beside the TV, so he can see it from his bed. He’s 101 and doesn’t get out of bed much anymore, because the exertion makes it too difficult to breathe. But my grandmother, age 100, sits at his side and worries over him, making sure the caregivers know if he’s cold or uncomfortable or needs a snack.
I have had the tremendous privilege to grow up close to my grandparents and to spend lots of quality time with them over the years—planting and harvesting in the garden, making jams and jellies, and creek-walking near their tiny cabin in the redwoods.
But my favorite way to connect with my Nana & Papa has always been looking through their treasure trove of old family photographs. My Papa, the keeper of the family archive, did not believe in photo albums. So my family’s visual history, a jumble of black & white photographs, stays safe in three large cardboard boxes in the back of the closet. As a kid, my grandparents and I would sit together on their old love seat (the same one you see in their portrait), I would pull out a photograph at random, and they would tell me the story behind it. There was the story of my Papa’s beloved first Model T, which he was given in exchange for helping his uncle chop and stack 10 cords of firewood. I love the story of my grandparents’ trip to New York City for the 1939 World’s Fair when a man mistook their yellow Studebaker for a taxi and tried to climb in while they were waiting at a stop sign. And then, of course, there’s the story of their small Catholic wedding in 1938, held eight years after they first became high school sweethearts.
We looked through those pictures for hours at a time, time and time again. I loved the richness and depth of the original black & white prints and I lingered over the smallest details in their subjects’ clothing and faces. I could never get enough of the photographs, or of the stories that went with them. I’m certain those early photo history sessions with my grandparents contributed to my eventual decision to become a documentary photographer, and later a filmmaker.
A few years ago, with my grandparents’ permission, I took several of my favorite prints from the boxes, framed them and hung them on my bedroom wall. I will soon be adding another photograph, a smaller version of the one that hangs in my Papa’s bedroom. I am grateful for these images. They connect me to my grandparents, to their histories, and to the ancestors I never knew. I am grateful that my family had the means to take those early photographs (and the foresight to keep them). And I am grateful to Christina for her beautiful images, meaningful contributions to the visual story of my grandparents’ lives.”
Shaleece Haas
Director/Producer, Real Boy

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