I can’t believe we launched Shy Heart Studios just over six years ago now. I’ve never focused on our anniversary until this year…. year six. That was not intentional, I just didn’t think much of it and was always too busy in January every year to give it any thought.

I have been photographing weddings for 12 years! That’s an even crazier number to me. In those first 6 years I picked up a few shoots on my own, but mostly worked for other photographers and even had a business partnership for a couple of years. I was grappling with whether to put my energy into someone else’s business, or pursue my own path. Even though there was a “partnership”, that business belonged to someone else and I was never in control of anything. I thought, at the time, that I needed a boss. I needed someone to keep me accountable. I didn’t really feel like I had the ability to be anyone’s boss, let alone my own. But as time went on, I realized I was so wrong about that. There was something unsettled within me throughout those years with that “partnership”; something missing; something that just didn’t feel right.

In 2014 the door to my future opened. I ran through it… I didn’t have time to put on running shoes, I went barefoot, and had no idea where I was going, but I knew I had to just keep running. I feared blisters on my feet would stop me, but instead calluses formed and protected me. Throughout that year I just went for it and by the end of it, I was building a team. In January of 2015 Shy Heart Studios was officially launched and we have never looked back.

Most businesses fail in the first 5 years. This is probably not news to anyone… I actually never worried about this. I never thought for a second, once we got moving, that we’d fail. I did, of course, fear that when I first went running barefoot out that door… but once the momentum picked up, I didn’t ever see it stopping. Maybe that was naivety, or perpetual ignorant optimism… or maybe it’s what kept me moving. I don’t know! What I do know is that we made it through those first 5 years but in year 5 we hit a hurdle that I wouldn’t have anticipated in a million years: COVID-19.

How did we survive last year? How are we still going? In large part we are still going because of the way I prepared my business for disaster. I never thought it would actually happen, but I prepared for it anyway. I had many tears in 2020 over many things including fear, anxiety, stress over my business. I felt like I was failing. I felt like I was losing something I worked so hard to build. My dream. But I wasn’t. I didn’t. I had a rock bottom moment and the stubborn side of me slapped myself across the face, and said get the hell up and keep it moving. The other large part of our lack of failure – was my team. Namely, Elaine, Ann and Alex – my core team that works the inside and behind the scenes details of this business. They kept going and kept helping this company move through such an incredibly difficult time

The future for Shy Heart Studios is bright. I am more focused and have more energy than I ever have. I’m excited about what is to come, and can’t wait to share our continued journey and growing success.

Cheers to SIX years and counting! Here are images of our team from a shoot we did last week. We photographed each other, and used a tripod for our team shots, and we had a blast.

I can guarantee you that these women are as wonderful as they look. Don’t we have a beautiful team!? I am so proud of each of them and so grateful to them. Two of our 2nd photographers were unable to make the session, but are just as wonderful and valued as all of these ladies.

Keep following us on instagram @shyheartstudios and facebook for updates, contests and specials coming your way. To get the inside scoop on these fun things FIRST, join our newsletter!

With love and gratitude all day every day,

Brianna.

Onward & Upward

After a year like 2020 I’ve decided there’s only one way to go… and that way is up. Bigger. Better. More successful. There are no other options.

I’ll be the first to admit that I lagged HARD in the inspiration department in 2020. The Pandemic ravaged my business like a hurricane, leaving me on the top of a car floating down the road not sure where or how to jump to safety. At first I just thought, hang tight… enjoy the unplanned river float… The waters will stop rising eventually, and the car will start again no problem. It can hurricane forever, right? In a couple of weeks and we’ll be just fine. I’ve got some supplies to hold me over…

Then the summer creeped up and we were ready to get back to work in July. But all of the sudden the numbers spiked again and one by one weddings dropped like flies off our calendar. As the year continued on we got our hopes up multiple times and were let down again. That roller coaster ride had me all over the place and really just not knowing what to do or how to proceed. I knew it wasn’t a matter of IF we bounced back, it was just a matter of when… but it had me feeling like I was stuck in the mud and unable to move forward. I found myself signing contracts and thinking “Yeah that wedding wont happen…” and being right about that more often that I’d like to admit. The negativity was just overflowing and growth is really hard to achieve when you’re feeling down in the dumps like that.

Then one morning some ideas started popping into my head before 4am. I started planning, and talking about my ideas with people who I love that are so good at letting me share and who only further inspire me in these times… and the ideas haven’t stopped. The inspiration is back!! I have big plans for my business and I finally feel like I have a focused vision again. 2021 is the year of growth. I can feel it. I’m already rebuilding the engine on that car that carried me through the flood like a life preserver, and it’s going to take me further than it ever has. Stay tuned.

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The couples session I am sharing today is of Leigh-Anne and Andres. I met Andres through a small business giveaway I ran at the end of the summer last year. He reached out and asked if we could trade portraits for Tacos and I was AALLLLL IN! His company, Nomada, is a gourmet taco catering service and you have never tasted better tacos. I can all but guarantee it. You can follow him @tastenomada on IG. Andres then referred me to Leigh-Anne for her portraits for her business. She is a conscious relationship and intimacy psychologist. You can follow her at @love.evolv.ed on IG. Together they are an absolute POWER couple and their love is on fire! Check them out:

For information on booking a portrait session with Shy Heart Studios please drop us a note at http://www.shyheartstudios.com

If you don’t already, please follow us on instagram @shyheartstudios

As you may or may not have noted, the change has begun. It’s been a bit weird for me combining my two brands into one, I mean I am literally about to delete an instagram account that has 9,500+ followers. That feels crazy – and I know it looks crazy too. But what’s REALLY crazy, is that those numbers don’t mean anything when that following isn’t actually booking your services, engaging with you online, or even seeing your posts. It’s just a number that literally means nothing thanks to shadow banning. But that’s a story for another time. Anyway, as weird as it feels – it also feels GOOD. Like a fresh start where we can focus on growing organically.

So what else is new besides deleting an instagram account? Well effective immediately Shy Heart Studios now offers everything you need photographically! Rather than running two brands, we are offering everything under one metaphorical roof. We photograph proposals, engagements, weddings, maternity, home newborn sessions, family portraits AND business branding portraits / headshots in Orange County and the surrounding areas. We are a one stop shop to photograph your entire love story from the beginning of it all, through the birth of your children and your growing families. If you like us, take us with you on your journey and let us capture it.

Here is a look at some of our latest orange county family sessions:

Those are just a few of the many sessions we captured at the end of 2020. We look forward to capturing more love in all of its forms in 2021. If you’re looking for any kind of portraits, business portraits, family photography, maternity, or anything else in Orange County or the surrounding areas – let us know! Tell your friends.

Visit us at http://www.shyheartstudios.com and send a message to inquire about pricing and availability.

Prior to 2020 had you ever heard the words “Micro Wedding” ? No? that’s because 2020, and the global pandemic invented them!

So what exactly is a “Micro Wedding” in Orange County and the rest of the country, and why is it trending? It’s exactly what it sounds like – a highly scaled down version of the traditional wedding. It’s not quite a regular wedding, and not quite an elopement, it falls right in the middle.

In the beginning of the pandemic everyone was just postponing their weddings by a few months. However, we all quickly came to realize that this chaos was going to last longer than anticipated, and many people stopped wanting to postpone and began preferring to find a compromise. Enter: Micro Weddings. I don’t know who coined the term, but it’s cute right?

Yes, there are still a lot of people opting to just postpone. But the vast majority is beginning to realize that there is no telling WHEN weddings will get back to “normal” and they don’t want to put their lives, and family planning on hold. Many within that vast majority are also realizing… that this has been the answer to their stress over planning a big wedding that they didn’t actually want! If you’ve been there, you know. If you are recently engaged, you also know… if you’re on your way to that sweet spot some day – let us tell you… Weddings can QUICKLY become about everyone around you, and before you know it your guest count is over 200 people and you only really want like 20 of those people there… but you’re trying to make everyone happy.

That is the way the wedding planning story goes for so many people. Too many people, if you ask me. And if there is any bright spot in all of this darkness in relation to weddings – it’s that for so many people, their forced Micro Wedding turned out to be exactly what they have wanted deep down all along: a highly intimate and romantic affair with those who are truly nearest and dearest to their hearts. The pandemic has given some people the excuse they needed to drastically cut down their guest count!

Whatever is in store for your wedding in 2021 or 2022… we are excited to capture it. Whether that’s a petite gathering where we can maximize your photography time, or a big giant extravaganza (pandemic permitting) with elephants and belly dancers – we can’t wait to tell your story. We are very much looking forward to getting back to normal here with Southern California wedding photography, but in the meantime we are very much enjoying these safe little intimate events. There is beauty in waiting for that big giant party, and there is beauty in adjusting your plans to meet the times we are in.

This couple opted to move forward with their event at the end of 2020, and it was their little dream come true. Take a look:

2020 was a strange here and forced a lot of changes… but if you look deep enough, I hope you see some beauty in it all. Cheers to 2021… onward and upward!

With love,

Brianna & the Team at Shy Heart Studios

I thought about just making a Facebook post, but I have too much to say.

My quest for the fountain of youth for Shylo…. has failed. I would never let anyone talk to me about saying goodbye to her some day because that was never going to happen. I couldn’t talk about it, I couldn’t think about it. It wasn’t going to happen. I was going to find the fountain of youth, and just let her drink from it… and then will her to some lucky person when I was old.

On Wednesday evening we said a long and painful goodbye to my best companion. I have felt some pretty major heartbreak in my life, but nothing compares to this. Shylo was a part of me. People who aren’t dog people don’t really get it… but she quickly wiggled her way into my heart and I wanted to keep her there and here on this earth forever. She was my first baby…. and as much as I didn’t want to ever acknowledge it, I knew deep down that she probably didn’t have a lot of years left…. but I thought we had a few.

Just a few weeks ago I was looking at her and thinking, “Man, I am so lucky. Shylo is definitely going to be one of those dogs that lives to be like 15.” She was so healthy. She was 11 and a half years old and kicking ass at life. She was as strong as ever, as protective as ever, and as beautiful as ever even with the ever increasing white hair on her beautiful face.

One night she yelped out in pain out of nowhere. Randy and I were alarmed and checked her out. She was shaking, as she does when she panics or hurts, but calmed down and then just went to sleep. The next day she yelped out a couple more times. So I took her to the vet… if you know Shylo, you know that is always an absolute LAST resort for me with her. I took her only when I felt absolutely necessary. She was riddled with anxiety and she would just tremble in fear, panic, try to escape the room we were in… and in these covid times, I couldn’t go inside with her, so I had to let them drag her away from me. They thought she tore her ACL on her back left knee and told me the surgery would be expensive, and the recovery would be long. But I just said ok – where do we go next? So they sent me to a specialist.

To make a very long and painful story short… it wasn’t her ACL. Shylo had a neurological disease that was paralyzing her essentially one leg at a time. We tried a lot of medication to stabilize her but she continued to plummet every day. Her body failed her. She went from completely normal, to losing all use of her back legs in a matter of two weeks. I went from hanging onto hope to saying goodbye in less than 24 hours.

I called Dr. LePere at Pacific at Home to come to our home and evaluate Shylo. She spent a lot of time getting Shylo’s charts from her vets, and fully assessing her condition. She explained every possible outcome to us, and each was very grim. We (Randy & I) decided together with Dr. LePere, my Mom, my Sister, that it was time to let her rest.

I knew I could not take her back to a place that terrified her for her final moments, so we had Dr. LePere assist her in letting go in the comfort of her own bed, and my arms in our home. It was the most painful goodbye for my heart… but I couldn’t have asked for a more loving, beautiful, gentle way for Shylo. She felt safe. She was with me.

I had the unique experience and absolute joy of witnessing Shylo come into this world and take her first breath; and I held her, kissed her, thanked her and cried over her as I listened to her take her last.

Shylo was my best friend. I know that’s cliche… but it’s true. As my Mom put it, she was my independence. When I moved out of my Mom’s house and was out on my own for the first time, I wasn’t alone. Shylo came with me. Everywhere I have lived, she was the reason I chose the homes I chose. I wouldn’t live anywhere that she couldn’t come. She protected me. She protected my home, my roomates, my family….and for the last 19 months, my sweet daughter. One time my Mom asked me when I was living with roommates, if I ever felt like I wanted a gun for protection. I replied, “I have one. Her name is Shylo.” She literally prevented a break in at my house once… maybe multiple times.

Shylo licked my tears when I cried over heartbreak, she slept at my feet when I was sick; she scared the shit out of everyone who came to my door; she made people earn her love. She didn’t just love everyone. She chose Randy for me. If Shylo wasn’t cool with you, then you were not cool with me… she knew. She always knew. She sat at my feet when I read stories to Brynlee; she let Brynlee climb all over her, kiss her, and pinch her ears (smh). She was so gentle. She was happy as long as she was in the same room as me at any given moment. That’s all she wanted. She was by my side during the biggest moments of my life, good bad and ugly. She was my constant. I named by business, Shy Heart Studios, after her. There will never be another one like her. I will miss this girl forever and ever. I am glad she is no longer suffering, but it all just happened too fast. I was not ready. My soul hurts.

Rest in Peace my sweet Bug.

If you have gotten this far, thank you. Thank you for reading through my Shylo tribute/memorial. This was therapeutic for me… and though I knew some would read through it, this was more for me and my healing than anything else.

To my Mom, my Sister Melissa, my brother Dustin and my Husband… thank you for your support through this. Thank you for being there with me on that excruciating day. Thank you for loving Shylo like you did for all of these years and understanding what she meant to me… and for what she meant to you. Thank you for mourning with me.

To my brother Adam – thank you for giving me the gift of Shylo. You are the reason I got to have this beautiful soul in my life and I will never be able to repay you for that gift.

To my friends who already know and have reached out – THANK YOU for your kind and thoughtful words. They have meant more than you know. I apologize if I can’t answer your calls right now. I just need some time.

With a deeply broken heart,

Brianna.

545.

In 2018 when I first learned about the policy enacted that separated children from their parents at the US-Mexico border, I was appalled.  I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. The photos were so painful that I refused to look.  We didn’t get to vote on this policy as US citizens, this was something our administration just decided to do in an effort to deter people from trying to cross the border illegally.

What isn’t talked about enough is that there were thousands of people already making the very deadly journey to the US border that did not hear of this new policy and did not know what awaited them at the border where they would attempt to seek asylum. These were people already left stuck between a rock and a hard place…. With two options:

  1. Stay where they were. In a country controlled by a drug cartel where their lives and the lives of their children were in danger every day.
  2. Make the exceptionally dangerous, brutal, and possibly deadly journey to the US border where they might get asylum, or might cross the border without getting caught.

Let’s pretend that they did know they could be separated from their children. Which option would you take? This was a lose-lose situation.

Last week when I learned about the 545 families who had been separated and were unable to be reunited because we LOST them… we put the parents on a plane, we shipped them back, and we can no longer locate them… I became enraged. I don’t care how you slice this – it is bad. It is inhumane. It is cruel. It is abhorrent. It is criminal. They put 1,000 people on a plane without their children and sent them back to where they come from, with out their babies… Sit with that for a moment.

As a mother… there is nothing on this earth that could bring me more pain than the loss of my precious child. As a mother, there is nothing I wouldn’t do to protect my daughter from evil, from violence, from abuse, from anything that could harm her. I would climb every mountain with her on my back, barefoot in the sun, or in the cold of winter… if it meant protecting my child. To have her ripped from my arms from a country that I thought would finally help me keep her safe… would be the ultimate pour of salt on my wounds that I earned with every step that I carried her.

That night as I lay in bed thinking about this…. I thought, “I need to go and place my hands on her.” My daughter has a sticky door. When you open it… it makes an obnoxious sound and I feared waking her…. And then I thought, “none of these parents who have been separated from their children would think about the fear of waking their sleeping child…. They would embrace that.” So I opened her sticky door… she remained asleep despite the loud noise it made… I touched her face. I felt her silky baby cheeks… I touched her sweet breathing belly…. As tears rolled down my cheeks, I touched her sweet tiny hands and I prayed for the families who don’t get to sneak into their children’s rooms at night and revel in their innocence and thank God for their safety. I prayed for the children sleeping on cots, or on the floor or wherever they are sleeping at the facility at the southern border. I thought about how they didn’t get to listen to bedtime stories from their parents, they didn’t get a snuggle before they laid down at night, they didn’t get to sleep in the comfort of a quiet room, and a bed all their own. And tomorrow, they wont get to wake up to a silly alarm clock letting them know it’s time to rise, or wake on their own, calling for their Mommies or Daddies because even if they do, they wont be able to come running to them. I sat back against the rocking chair in her room and I wept. I listened to her wiggle around and readjust herself, and I prayed for the children who have no idea what tomorrow will bring for them. I prayed for the parents who tried to save them. I prayed that they stay safe. I prayed that they keep up the fight. I prayed for their reunion.

There is nothing that will ever make this injustice ok. Someone without a heart created this policy. It doesn’t matter how you try to look at it or justify it in your minds, there is no justification for stealing children from their parents who were desperately trying to give them safety, comfort… a better life. “We are trying to locate the families” is not enough. We shouldn’t have lost them in the first place.

Hold your babies tighter today… kiss them extra… tell them you love them… whether they’re 6 days old or 16 years old… I know I have been and will continue to. And please – remember to VOTE.

I feel very strongly that I need to do something in some way to help these kids. So I will be offering two additional shoots this season and all proceeds from these sessions will be donated to https://secure.actblue.com/donate/kidsattheborder – Stay tuned for those details.

For more information on this situation:

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-44303556

https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/10/21/family-separation-parents-border-covid/

With love and compassion,

Brianna

A couple of weeks ago I was stumped on what to blog about, so I put a poll out on Instagram to see if anyone would share some things they’d like to have me touch on in my Blog. I got some really great suggestions! I still ran out of time to blog that day… and the next… and the next… but here we are. I finally have found some time!

The first suggestion I’m using is: How does the change in weather inspire your sessions?

I have to say that the change in weather inspires me in life in general. I get very sick of the summer heat every year and with a toddler, plus the pandemic, this year that has been ten fold. It has been a real challenge to beat the heat anywhere but inside our house. So having the weather FINALLY start to drop into the 80’s is an absolute God send. We can literally just go play outside… as much as I am ready for bundled up clothing and hot latte’s, I’m thankful just to feel like I can take her outside in the afternoon and let her play. I start coming up with fun ideas of ways to entertain her outside and fun things we can do together.

From a photography stand point, this year in particular I’ve been exceptionally inspired. With the change in weather comes family portrait season. As someone who is primarily a wedding photographer, I get VERY excited for the change of pace that the fall traditionally brings to my business. This year, as you know, I haven’t captured a traditional wedding in a while, so just being out working with people in this beautiful weather gets me excited about what I do all over again. It has been hard to stay inspired when we have no idea when we’ll get back to the traditional days of weddings. However, this season lifts that dark cloud a little bit for me. As a Mom myself, I love family sessions more than I ever have before. For the next couple of months I get to see smiling faces (even if they don’t get to see mine behind my mask), and play and chat and enjoy time with these families on a regular basis and feel like I have a job again! Just this boost in energy for me, this time of year, inspires me to expand my marketing, come up with new fun ideas, and just gets my creative juices flowing. I can’t tell you how wonderful that feeling is after so many months of disappointment as our country continues to combat covid-19 unsuccessfully. While many businesses have been lucky enough to be able to re-open SAFELY, the wedding industry is still at a major disadvantage and will be one of the very last, I believe, to fully recover. So in the meantime I am inspired by cooler weather and cute-ass kids, sweet little baby bumps, and dogs in costume!!

Take a look at my first round of 2020 Mini Sessions: