Kathleen Curto Photography: Blog http://www.kathleencurto.com/blog en-us (C) Kathleen Curto Photography kathleen@kathleencurto.com (Kathleen Curto Photography) Mon, 25 Sep 2017 20:06:00 GMT Mon, 25 Sep 2017 20:06:00 GMT http://www.kathleencurto.com/img/s12/v172/u157832922-o1060438711-50.jpg Kathleen Curto Photography: Blog http://www.kathleencurto.com/blog 120 120 Lauren + Matt | Engagement http://www.kathleencurto.com/blog/2017/9/lauren-matt-engagement After being set up on a blind date by a teacher in the school district where they both work, Lauren and Matt have enjoyed countless road trips and Netflix binges. Matt completely surprised Lauren when he proposed right before they left to meet family friends in San Jose. Now they’re planning their wedding for early next year!

And let me tell you – these two are troopers. They wanted the perfect fall engagement session. However, it’s September in Sacramento, which means it was naturally about to hit triple digits. (Let's talk about that for a minute. Where is FALL?!) Lucky for me, the weather didn’t stop them from wearing sweaters and embracing the entire session. They were laughing, smiling, and staring in to each other’s eyes every chance they got. I had so much fun taking their photos down in Elk Grove! What a beautiful couple to work with! 

kathleen@kathleencurto.com (Kathleen Curto Photography) engagement photographer http://www.kathleencurto.com/blog/2017/9/lauren-matt-engagement Mon, 25 Sep 2017 15:00:00 GMT
Tips and Tricks for a Stress-Free Wedding http://www.kathleencurto.com/blog/2017/9/tips-and-tricks-for-a-stress-free-wedding

Getting engaged is so exciting – the dress shopping, celebrating with friends and family, daydreaming of that amazing day. But planning a wedding can be a stressful endeavor. We all want stress-free days, but how do we even begin to accomplish that? Here are a few tips and tricks to make sure that your day is perfect and STRESS-FREE.


1. Make it personal!

How many times have you been to a wedding where you can tell that the couple getting married was not the biggest influence in the majority of the decisions? It happens so often that the other voices involved in wedding planning (parents, in-laws, even friends) can override the ideas that you and your fiancé have. Your wedding should represent YOU. If you aren’t happy about the decision, you should change it. Those roses your mother wants to adorn the altar with but you specifically said you didn’t want? Gone. It is YOUR day, after all. So make sure that all of the details that you decide on fit what you truly want. When you love the details and decisions, you will feel far less stress.


2. Do not DIY everything.

Seriously. It may be tempting to make a whole list of Pinterest DIY activities for you and your fiancé to do over the next however many months, but the list can become overwhelming and LONG. Before you know it, you’re swimming in ribbons and stamps and mason jars and glitter and deadlines. If you truly want to DIY, pick two or three elements that you are most passionate about and work on those. Because you’re able to be more focused on a smaller number of things, the ones you do work on will turn out better and shine on your big day. You'll still be leaving your personal touch on your day, and all of your guests will feel that.


3. Delegate.

Planning a wedding is a big undertaking. And as tempting as it is to try and do it all yourself, it’s not worth the stress. Make a list of your top priorities and have your fiancé do the same. I knew that my top priority was photography (surprise, surprise) and my husband’s top priority was music. I totally let him run wild and figure out all of the music, and he found someone phenomenal! And I didn’t have to do it myself! If there are tasks that you are willing to give to other people, do it. 


4. Have fun!

It’s easy to let wedding planning consume you, but it’s important to keep in mind that it should also be fun. Of course there are going to be stressful moments, but the majority of it should be enjoyable. If you get too stressed out or it becomes too much, take a break. Go to dinner and a movie with your fiancé, plan a weekend getaway, or simply watch a show that always makes you laugh. Once you have taken a break, you’ll be able to come back to planning with fresh eyes and a new perspective.


Planning a wedding can be stressful; there’s no doubt about it. But if you keep these tips in mind, your big day will be a breeze to plan! Maybe you'll even have time for a snow cone on your wedding day...

kathleen@kathleencurto.com (Kathleen Curto Photography) http://www.kathleencurto.com/blog/2017/9/tips-and-tricks-for-a-stress-free-wedding Wed, 13 Sep 2017 13:45:00 GMT
29 Things I Learned in My 29th Year http://www.kathleencurto.com/blog/2017/9/29-things-i-learned-in-my-29th-year

Life has a funny way of not going the way you had planned. After switching careers and moving across the country, I thought that my life had taken enough twists and turns. HA! Apparently I was wrong, and I’m ok with that. This last year has been more difficult than any other year (including last year when I gave birth and brought home a newborn). Yet despite the struggles, there is a lot of good that has happened. I’m very thankful for everything I’ve gone through, and I wanted to share some of the lessons I’ve learned. Some are big and some are small (and they are certainly in random order), but they all have merit.


  1. My husband is the greatest man I know. Ok ok, I knew this before. But it became even more apparent this year. He is an enormous part of the reason why my recovery has gone as well as it has.
  2. My son is wicked smart. Really, though… he can help with the entire laundry process (including his version of folding) and he’s only 19 months old.
  3. High fructose corn syrup is in EVERYTHING. Why? Someone please answer that question for me. Bye bye, Sweet Baby Ray’s. L
  4. Patience. I had about zero before. Now I have much more.
  5. Going gluten/dairy/soy/coconut free (or rather having extremely limited amounts) is not as difficult as one would think. Except at restaurants. Then it’s a serious hassle and a half.
  6. Running my business gives me more joy than I ever thought it could.
  7. Not Googling your own medical conditions is better than Googling them.
  8. Once Upon a Time is my favorite TV show.
  9. Outsourcing our house cleaning was one of the best decisions that we could have ever made. Worth. Every. Penny.
  10. I need to go to bed by 10:00pm every night. Whether that actually happens is a different story…
  11. Husbands just don’t understand. This may seem to contradict #1, but I promise it doesn’t.
  12. I adore my Erin Condren life planner. Seriously, there’s just something about putting your plans on paper that makes writing them down extra satisfying.
  13. Allergies are no joke. For real - take your medicine.
  14. Doctors that value you as a PERSON and not just another number are rare and amazing and the best and incredible and I love them.
  15. Keeping up with a business social media account is easier while bedridden. However, it is certainly more fun while healthy.
  16. Finding Dory can make any situation (especially plane rides) much easier and keep my son in one place for more than 12 seconds at a time.  
  17. My love for my cats surpasses my allergic reactions to them.
  18. Every single day is a gift.
  19. Flying with a toddler (i.e. a walker/crawler) is much more difficult than flying with a baby.
  20. Going to therapy is not something to be ashamed of. Ever.
  21. Henry is mellow except if you take away his food, tell him he's finished doing the laundry, or tell him he can’t use the remote control as a phone. That first part 100% makes him my child. The second part makes him an anomaly of enormous proportions (at least in our family).
  22. I still feel like a kid sometimes even though I have a kid. I wonder if next year’s birthday will change that…
  23. There are more pieces of furniture from IKEA in our house than from anywhere else, and I’m 100% ok with that. This is aided by the fact that IKEA is 10 minutes away from our house here.
  24. I’m surrounded by more support than I knew. My friends have been such a constant source of encouragement for me. They continually called, texted, dropped what they were doing to come over, and made me feel so incredibly loved.
  25. Justin’s Maple Almond Butter is LIFE.
  26. Self-care is wildly important. Whether that be swimming or getting my eyelash extensions retouched (ladies, they’re the bomb), it’s all a part of feeling like myself.
  27. My current biggest grammar pet peeve is “a part” versus “apart.” The first means to be separated from something, and the second means to be included in something. PLEASE GET IT RIGHT, PEOPLE.
  28. I can only read Peek Inside the Farm four times in a row before the book magically disappears while something exciting (and fake) happens on the other side of the room.
  29. I am so much stronger than I ever thought I was.


I’m still learning so much about who I am now. While I’m still me, there are so many aspects of my life that have changed in the last year. Sometimes it’s difficult to completely figure out this new me, but I’m enjoying the ride. Hopefully my 30th year will be full of fun and adventure and wonder! I know it’ll involve lots of learning, but I’m an eager student.

Photos by Shannon Carlsen Photography - Thank you for always capturing our moments!

kathleen@kathleencurto.com (Kathleen Curto Photography) change family learning http://www.kathleencurto.com/blog/2017/9/29-things-i-learned-in-my-29th-year Tue, 05 Sep 2017 13:00:00 GMT
Bowlsbey Ranch - Leaving a Legacy http://www.kathleencurto.com/blog/2017/9/bowlsbey-ranch---leaving-a-legacy

It’s not every day that you come across a farm-to-fork event on a former airplane landing strip on a ranch. And while that may be special by itself, that is the uniqueness that encompassed each detail of this gorgeous evening celebrating the closing of a 60-year chapter for the Bowlsbey family.

Glen (Bud) and Sally were married in their early 20s and purchased land outside of Sacramento. They had two daughters, Jennifer and Dawn. Bud grew corn and other crops, and was progressive for his time in many ways. He utilized a newfound irrigation system on the ranch that is much more widely seen today. He was a man of honor and of integrity and always fought to do the right thing in life and in business.


He loved flying his Cessna between ranches, to Tahoe, and even to Colorado to buy sheep. Sadly, he passed away when his youngest daughter was just a young child. Sally farmed the ranch for a few years, continuing the tradition of being an upstanding and strong business owner, but eventually decided to lease the land to the Schene family. These two families grew close and worked together to take care of the land and keep it thriving.


Yet every chapter in life must come to a close. This event, beautifully organized and designed by Outstanding in the Field and deliciously catered by Chef Oliver Ridgeway of Grange Restaurant & Bar, was the perfect celebration as the Bowlsbey family prepared to sell the land. There was not a detail that wasn’t personal in some way. Even the lamb that was served was from the ranch.

The event was attended by about 100 of the family’s closest friends, and it was absolutely evident how beloved Sally and her daughters are. And what was so beautiful was not only the admiration for Sally and the Bowlsbey family by the Schene family, but the admiration for the Schene family by the Bowlsbey family. Even as the Bowlsbeys prepared to sell the ranch, they sought out a buyer who would allow the Schenes to continue leasing the land. It is that kind of care that makes their collective story so special.

Throughout the night, stories were told, speeches were given, and by the end, everyone had shed at least a few tears. It was clear that this property was more than just land. It was family; it was home; it was love. That’s the kind of legacy that everyone should strive to leave.

Less than three weeks after this heartfelt event, Sally Bowlsbey passed away. While her family is hurting, they are also so grateful for the memories that were shared at this event. They did not expect to be closing an additional chapter in their family story so soon, but they know that their mom’s legacy will live on.


And although chapters may end, it doesn’t mean that the story is over. Bud and Sally built a legacy for their daughters that included far more than the ranch. Love, honor, and integrity. Those are the qualities that will extend beyond the selling of the property; that is how their legacy will continue forever. 

kathleen@kathleencurto.com (Kathleen Curto Photography) event farm-to-fork photographer ranch sacramento photographer sacramento photography http://www.kathleencurto.com/blog/2017/9/bowlsbey-ranch---leaving-a-legacy Fri, 01 Sep 2017 17:37:28 GMT
The Importance of Discussing Race With My Son http://www.kathleencurto.com/blog/2017/8/the-importance-of-discussing-race-with-my-son I’ll never forget my first Education course in college. During one of the first classes, my professor told us the following story:


When she was in the grocery store one day, a small white child turned to her also-white mom and not-so-quietly asked, “Mommy, why does that lady have such dark skin?” The mom tried to quickly shush her daughter, but my professor interrupted. “You’re right, little girl! I do have dark skin. And you have light skin. And other people have different shades of skin. But we’re all people and equally beautiful.”


That story changed the entire way I thought about discussing race. That little girl in my professor’s story was simply making an observation, and her mother was only trying to avoid a potentially awkward situation. However, this mother’s action (as well-intended as it was) demonstrated to her daughter that race was not something to be discussed. And subconsciously she was sending her daughter a message that different is not ok, that discussing race is not something to be done. This is the cycle that we have to break.


I was always taught that I should respect everyone and treat others the way I’d like to be treated. My extended family is composed of several different races and ethnicities. But that alone doesn’t mean that my son will grow up to not be racist or prejudiced; it’s my job to teach him how to see color and ethnicity as gifts and beautiful aspects of who someone is. It’s my responsibility to encourage him to learn and discuss and ask questions. If I fail, he will perpetuate the silence that has continually demonstrated is not a solution. If I succeed, he will help break the cycle and encourage his own and future generations to love and respect no matter what color one's skin is.


As parents, aunts, uncles, friends, and humans, we need to speak out and denounce racism, hate, and prejudice of any kind. We are all influencers, and it is our responsibility to help make sure that the younger generation grows up understanding that every person of every race deserves love, respect, and kindness. This is actually a lesson that many people in other generations need a refresher course on as well. 


I’ve really been struggling with how to show my support to my family members, friends, and clients of all different races. And while I still want to do more, the one thing I can do right this moment is teach my son that color exists and that he is encouraged to talk about it. I will teach him that every color skin is beautiful, and it is ok for him to talk about it. And if one day that he asks, “Why does Aunt Ade have dark skin?” my response will be straightforward. I look forward to being able to respond by explaining that God gave her gorgeous dark skin and He gave him (my son) beautiful light skin, and both are equally special because God makes each person perfectly.  


I don’t want my son to be silent. I want him to stand up and do something simple – talk.

kathleen@kathleencurto.com (Kathleen Curto Photography) family race http://www.kathleencurto.com/blog/2017/8/the-importance-of-discussing-race-with-my-son Fri, 18 Aug 2017 13:00:00 GMT
Three Ways to Create a Unique and Personal Photo Session http://www.kathleencurto.com/blog/2017/7/three-ways-to-create-a-unique-and-personal-photo-session

Every couple and family has a story. The beauty of life is that each story is unique, regardless of how similar they may seem sometimes. My husband and I met in high school, and our two best friends (who also happen to be a couple) also met in high school. While our stories may have started similarly, that’s about where the similarities end. And you know what? We love that our stories are so different from each other. Each of our stories is perfect and distinctive. Couples meet on the Internet or in college or at a bar, and each story is different from the next. It is my job as a storyteller and photographer to convey that story for you. Let’s work together to create your perfect session!


Here are three tips to help make your photo session personal to you and your story:


1. Pick a location that is special and unique to your story.

These two didn’t meet in high school or on the Internet; they met at the grocery store. It’s sincerely a modern day fairy tale. They met while Lizette was shopping for milk and cereal a few years ago and they’re getting married in just a few months. When it came time to decide on a location for their engagement session, Lizette knew precisely where she wanted to have it: exactly where they met. We may have gotten some interesting looks as we strolled around the store, but the results were fantastic and made for such a memorable session!


2. Choose your outfits carefully.

There are a few ways to pick your outfits; but no matter what you choose, you should wear something that makes you feel phenomenal. For Lizette and Aston’s grocery store session, we went back and forth discussing options for outfits. Ultimately they decided on elegant pieces so that they stood out against the backdrop of the store. It was a perfect juxtaposition.

Another way to choose your outfits for a photo session is to go with something that really defines who you are and also coordinates (not matches) your partner or family. If you’re wearing something that you’re comfortable in, you’re going to be happier and more natural in the photographs.  If you’re looking for inspiration for outfits, check out my Pinterest board of inspiration here.


3. Think about props!

We tend to think about props more with newborn or kid sessions, but I love incorporating props in with couples and whole family sessions as well. Is there a special blanket that one of you gave the other for your first Christmas together? Do you have a tandem bike that you love to ride on the weekends? Are you vinyl collectors and do you love listening to new albums together? Why not incorporate items like that into your session? Those are all thoughts to consider that could transform your session from standard to stand-OUT!


Your story is perfect and unique, and these tips will help to ensure it shines through in your photos!

kathleen@kathleencurto.com (Kathleen Curto Photography) engagement family photographer sacramento engagement photographer sacramento family photographer sacramento photographer sacramento photography sacramento portrait photographer http://www.kathleencurto.com/blog/2017/7/three-ways-to-create-a-unique-and-personal-photo-session Sun, 23 Jul 2017 22:31:48 GMT
Five Reasons to Book a Lifestyle Newborn Session http://www.kathleencurto.com/blog/2017/6/five-reasons-to-book-a-lifestyle-newborn-session

When I was pregnant with my son, Henry, I was consistently told to cherish every single magical and not-so-magical second of the newborn stage because babies are only tiny for a nanosecond.  Did I believe everyone who told me that?  Sure.  Did I understand it?  No.  But I am so thankful that I listened and had a newborn photographer lined up. 

As a photographer, I offer and love both studio and lifestyle photos for both newborn sessions.  And I also travel to clients’ homes for both (I have a mobile studio).  There really are so many wonderful things about both styles.  Studio newborn photography has become what most people think of when they hear “newborn photography,” but lifestyle photography can be a great option for some.  Here are five reasons why it might just be the perfect fit for you:

1.  Your home is the backdrop.

After having a baby, life is a little completely upside down and backwards (and sometimes so are your clothes during that stage).  Whether it’s your first or fifth baby, there’s always a period of adjustment.  Photographing at your home allows you to capture memories of your family where you spend the majority of your time.  How special to be able to look back at those moments in the nursery you carefully planned or your bedroom where you spend every 3:00am feeding?  I love capturing the tiny details of your life at home that make each family and baby unique.

2.  Lifestyle photography is centered on the connection between you and your baby.

I look at photos of Henry now and just can’t believe that he was ever the 8 pound, 2 ounce bundle of joy that had to be evicted from his cozy momma 10 days after his due date.  He has such a big personality, and we could see it even at just a few days old.  It is truly amazing to see how my husband and I interacted with him and each other during those first few weeks.  The ironic and almost cruel thing about parenting a newborn is that you’re trying to cherish these moments, but you’re so sleep deprived that it is tough to actually remember… well… anything.  Having had a lifestyle newborn session for our son has made all the difference in remembering some of those small details.

3. There is more flexibility with time.

When I schedule studio style newborn photography, I always try to photograph babies within the first two weeks after delivery.  That style of photography is much more focused on getting the baby into the perfectly squishy position, and it’s far easier to do that when babies are younger.  The beauty of lifestyle photography is that it is primarily based on the connection between the baby and his or her parents and home, so the schedule is much more flexible.

4.  Older siblings thrive at lifestyle sessions.

Even though he has a photographer for a mother, my son is still a pistol during family photo sessions in a studio environment; but at home he is his usual smiley, happy self.  Having a lifestyle session works amazingly well for older siblings of newborns.  They are usually more comfortable at home and are therefore more relaxed during the session.  In addition, there is more room to spread out once the siblings are through with photos; they can watch TV, play, take a nap in their own bed, or a grandparent or babysitter can take them outside or to the park.  When you’re at home, there is just more flexibility.

5.  If you’re hesitant about having professional photos taken, it’s a good way to ease in.

Some people are seasoned in the world of getting professional photos taken, but others are looking for the first time. I remember being so nervous the first time I hired a photographer.  (We didn’t even have engagement pictures taken because I was so nervous.)  With lifestyle sessions, it’s easy to forget that there is even someone capturing those moments.  The natural connection between you and your baby will shine through perfectly, and your nerves will melt away!

Just as with every parenting decision you will make, the style of photos you have taken is entirely up to you.  If you have any additional questions, please feel free to reach out and ask! 

kathleen@kathleencurto.com (Kathleen Curto Photography) Kathleen Curto Photography Photographer Sacramento Photographer Sacramento newborn photographer Sacramento newborn photography Sacramento photography Sacramento portrait photographer lifestyle lifestyle newborn lifestyle newborn photography lifestyle photography mom newborn photographer newborn photography http://www.kathleencurto.com/blog/2017/6/five-reasons-to-book-a-lifestyle-newborn-session Thu, 29 Jun 2017 22:59:51 GMT
Why It's Important to Celebrate the Village on Mother's Day http://www.kathleencurto.com/blog/2017/5/why-its-important-to-celebrate-the-village-on-mother-s-day

If I’ve learned anything in the last 15 months as a mother, it’s that it truly takes a village to raise a child.  And while I love being celebrated by my family on Mother’s Day, I believe it’s equally important to celebrate all of the amazing women who have helped mother me as well as my son.  Some of them have children and some do not; yet every single of them is leaving a lasting impact. 

By my account, I have the best mother in the world.  She is the most selfless person that I know, and she has set an incredible example of how to raise happy and independent children.  She was (and is) always there for us, and she is just an incredible grandma to my son. 

However, she is not the only mother figure I have in my life.  I have my mother-in-law, my California mom (who in technicality is my mom’s cousin), my best friend’s mom who basically shared joint custody of me in high school, and countless aunts – several are not even related to me.  My grandmothers have also been huge influences in my life.  All of these women have showed me courage, grace, strength, perseverance, and love throughout my whole life.  I truly believe that having so many female mother figures has shaped me into a more compassionate mother myself. 

And as I’ve traversed the first 15 months of motherhood, I’ve realized that I can’t do everything on my own.  I’ve tried.  I’ve failed.  And that’s ok.  It took a long time for me to realize that I didn’t have to be a Pinterest mom 100% of the time (helloooooo Amazon Prime).

But what I do have to be as a mom is something I didn’t expect, and in fact something that I don’t have to be – I don’t have to be the only mother figure in his life.  Of course he will always know that I’m his momma (look out, future dates), but there are so many women that are providing him with the same well-rounded mother experience that I had.  These women are providing my son with perspectives and knowledge that I may not have or simply cannot provide on my own.  The value of that gift is one that is not lost on me.

In addition to all of the women who have helped to mother me, my son also has his amazing aunts.  To clarify: I do not have any sisters, my husband doesn’t have any either, and my brother isn’t married.  Every single one of my son’s aunts are friends of mine.  They talk to him, they read to him, they FaceTime with him, they babysit him, and most importantly – they love him.  They help teach and guide him.  Each one is helping to shape him into an amazing little human.  And not only that, but they have supported and encouraged me throughout every step of this journey, even when they have been going through their own struggles.  Without these other women, my son wouldn’t be the person that he is now and will continue to become. 

So to all of the women who make up the villages in our lives and help us to raise our children – thank you thank you thank you thank you.  Please know that you are LOVED, APPRECIATED, AND NEEDED more than you can possibly imagine. 

kathleen@kathleencurto.com (Kathleen Curto Photography) Mother's Day Sacramento Photographer Village http://www.kathleencurto.com/blog/2017/5/why-its-important-to-celebrate-the-village-on-mother-s-day Sun, 14 May 2017 15:25:50 GMT
How a Childlike Joy Changed My Life and Business http://www.kathleencurto.com/blog/2017/3/how-a-childlike-joy-changed-my-life-and-business Some people are born as natural planners and creative to the core.  They can stay organized without effort and their lives just seem to always run on schedule.  Their houses are Pinterest-worthy and pristine.  I am absolutely, without a doubt not one of those people.


Don’t get me wrong; I did receive some great creative genes.  I come from a long line of talented individuals.  I have relatives that can draw, sew, knit, act, quilt, crochet, needlepoint, bake, decorate, etc.  While I inherited the ability to do a few of those things, photography is where my true creative genes enjoying hanging out.  Well, they do also reside in one other area.  In addition to being a photographer, I also happen to be a MASTER colorer.  Ask any of my college roommates; I was wayyy ahead of this adult coloring trend.  My husband even received a few colored Disney pictures instead of letters when we were dating long-distance… but that's a story for a different day.

Everyone in my family is genuinely creative in one way or another.  However, while organization comes naturally to some members of the family, it is not engrained in my genes.  I’ve really tried to get and stay organized.  Crossing items off of lists gives me more pleasure than it probably should.  Being 100% truthful, I have made lists after accomplishing tasks simply so that I can cross things out.  Please tell me I’m not alone in that!  But getting organized is SO tough.  And staying organized?  Even harder depending on how successful getting organized was in the first place.  I’ve spent a good part of my life learning how to stay organized, and I’m happy to say that I’m finally getting the hang of it.


When I was a kid, I always loved school supplies.  (It was also one of my favorite parts about being a teacher, as well.)  But my absolute favorite new item of school supplies, other than the shiny new gel pens, was my assignment notebook.  Clean, organized, and full of potential to help me avoid procrastination and keep on top of my studies.  What a wonderful fresh start at the beginning of each school year.  It was always helpful, although my procrastination sometimes consistently seemed to creep in around October and didn’t usually leave until June.  Yet despite my procrastination, having everything written down in my assignment notebook kept me organized enough to complete all of my assignments on time.  Fast forward to adulthood.  No more assignment notebook.  I seriously can’t believe I thought keeping track of my homework, swim meets, and water polo games was difficult.  Now I have client meetings, photo sessions, editing to-do lists, and other deadlines to hit.  On top of the business to manage, I also have doctor’s appointments (I've had thirteen in 2017 alone), play dates, travel, and other family appointments to keep track of.  And "mom-brain" - a very real thing - doesn't make it any easier.


Regular notebooks are fine for making lists, but they aren’t set up in a way to aid those of us that are struggling with organization.  I do know that there’s a new bullet notebook trend going on.  While several people have suggested it to me, it involves a touch more artistic ability than I was gifted with (at least to make it as awesome as I would dream up in my head).  I tried so many methods of planning, including my iCal that syncs between my devices.  Yet there was just something I missed about a physical pen and paper.  Enter in the Erin Condren Life Planner*.

I had never seen this type of planner/calendar before until last summer when THREE people posted on Facebook about it in a two-day time span.  It had the best parts of my old school assignment notebooks, but it also included all the adult updates that I never knew I had been searching for.  The feeling I got purchasing the planner and a few accessories was the same as I feel on Christmas morning. I am finally able to organize my home/family life and business details, and I have a general to-do list going at all times.  In addition, I have started using my planner to track my weekly goals, books I read, habits, and my mental health. 

After being diagnosed with several health conditions (anxiety among them), I knew I had to find a way to track how I was feeling on a day-to-day basis as part of my recovery.  Having a simple way to visually see my overall mental health each day has made an enormous difference.  I can now look back over the last few months and see patterns and what may have been potential triggers.  And when I'm having an "okay" day, I can look at my planner and see that it's only one off day in a sea of "happy" days.  Adult planners are not necessarily marketed with this type of tracking in mind, but for those that need it, it’s a huge benefit.  Even just having a designated corner each week to write down my “thankful thought” has been a phenomenal way to reflect and continue to stay positive.

My Erin Condren notebook has become my Life Planner.  I don’t go many places without it, and it has made managing a family and business infinitely easier.  Over the last year, I’ve slowly added little touches to make it genuinely mine through stickers, washi tape, stamps, the whole nine.  Even Will knows how much I enjoy sitting down and planning… after a very trying day with Henry about a week ago, Will came home with glitter washi tape from Target for me to use in my planner.  Goodness gracious; that man is amazing. 

Life is always going to be busy. Sometimes I get nostalgic for the days when I just had my elementary school homework to write down in my assignment notebook, but I’m thrilled to have found something that allows me to track all of my adult homework.  And with my newfound way of staying organized, it doesn’t even feel like homework.


*This is not a sponsored post.  I’m legitimately just raving about something that has helped me in the hopes that maybe a similar product will help someone else.

kathleen@kathleencurto.com (Kathleen Curto Photography) Business Erin Condren Life Planner Photographer Sacramento Photographer anxiety http://www.kathleencurto.com/blog/2017/3/how-a-childlike-joy-changed-my-life-and-business Tue, 28 Mar 2017 13:00:00 GMT
What Do You Do? http://www.kathleencurto.com/blog/2017/3/what-do-you-do How can such a simple question be so tough to answer?  Here’s the simple answer:  I am a stay-at-home mom and photographer.  But behind that answer are 264,957 other little answers that all contribute to what it is that I do.

The idea of what I “do” used to be so easy to answer.  I grew up wanting to be a teacher, and a teacher is what I became.  I taught junior high and high school English at two very different schools – first at a tiny high school in central Illinois, and then at the only all-girls Islamic middle school and high school in the country.  Those two experiences left a lasting impact on me.  I value these experiences so much, and love that each was brilliantly unique and meaningful.  As I had worked for most of my life to become a teacher, in my eyes my identity was simply “a teacher.”  And truthfully, I liked that.  It was easy

My classroom in 2011, My Halloween costume as Professor Trelawney from Harry Potter

Then my husband, Will, got an offer through his company to move to California and everything changed.

I found myself in a brand new state at a time when teachers were getting laid off left and right.  What was I going to do?  I had always been a teacher.  It wasn’t just what I did – it’s who I was!  All of the sudden I had to make a big decision. 

When I decided not to even attempt to get a full-time teaching job in California, a lot of people didn’t understand the decision (thankfully Will wasn’t one of them).  I mean, I don’t really blame them.  We didn’t have kids and there was no “real” reason for me not to get another full-time job.

Except I didn’t want one.

Soul Searching in the Badlands

So I did some soul searching.  And Target shopping.  And Amazon shopping.  And socializing with the same cashiers at the hardware store and Hobby Lobby day in and day out.  I had to decorate our new apartment, after all.  I thought about a lot of potential jobs to pursue.  But when it came down to it, I wanted to do something that I loved and would give me flexibility when we did decide to have kids.

I really felt like I lost a big part of my identity that summer.  For a while, I kept my toe in the teaching pool by tutoring as much as I could. In fact, I still tutor one student that I have taught for the last three years.  Teaching her brings me the same joy to see her succeed week after week as it did when I had a classroom full of students. 


During that time, I slowly let go of the idea of the teacher I thought I would be. I called my family and friends and shared my growing dreams of being a professional photographer.  Even though I had always loved photography and had been working with my DSLR since college, I knew I had a lot to learn.  I went back to school and got my Certificate in Wedding and Portraiture Photography.  As I developed my identity as a photographer, I started my own business and became a mom! My life had changed completely!

Credit: Shannon Carlsen Photography


And now that we do have a son, I am extremely grateful for the flexibility.  I get to be home with our 14 month-old, Henry, during the week, and I can go photograph clients on the weekends.  It’s the perfect setup for our current situation, but it does make answering that daunting question a little more complicated to answer. 

For perhaps the first time in my life, I genuinely want the question “What do you do?” to mean something more than an occupation.  I want it to mean what I am doing to make the world a better place.  I want the answer to the question be something my son will be proud of one day.  Sure, I’m a photographer and a mom, but I want to be more.  I am more than an occupation.

When I look back, I realize that my answer has never been simple.  It’s always been complex.  I’m just aware of that now.

My Little Henry at One Week Old

Life has really changed since moving to California.  I like to believe that I am still teaching even though I no longer have a classroom.  For my former students that I am still in touch with, I continue to try to teach them how to be kind, caring, respectful, and fulfilled people.  Most of the way I teach them is simply through being a good example; social media is a powerful tool, and I want them to see that it’s not about how you fall – it’s about how you get back up.  And when I get texts or emails from them saying that something they learned from me (either in the classroom or elsewhere) has made a difference in their lives, I know that my years in the classroom were impactful and well spent.

Photography gives me so much joy and a purpose that I am proud of each and every day.  And being a mom is sincerely the best (and most difficult) job I’ve ever had.  I love where my life has taken me.  I love the friends and connections I’ve made, the family I’ve gotten closer to, and the twists and turns in my second career path.

And most of all, I love what I do.

Beach Baby Henry at Six Months Old





kathleen@kathleencurto.com (Kathleen Curto Photography) mom occupation photographer teacher http://www.kathleencurto.com/blog/2017/3/what-do-you-do Wed, 22 Mar 2017 13:00:00 GMT
A Photographer's Preparation for Baby http://www.kathleencurto.com/blog/2016/1/a-photographers-preparation-for-baby I've been able to do a lot of reflecting this week as I sit and wait for my own due date to come and go.  I am currently pregnant with our first child and due in just a few days.  It has been a pretty easy and standard pregnancy since the beginning (other than that pesky all-day sickness the first 13 weeks).  And although I am beyond anxious for our son to arrive, I am thankful that we have been healthy and that we have one of the absolute best doctors in Sacramento guiding us.  I truly think that good doctors should be given far more credit than they get, so I'll say it again - our doctor is phenomenal.  I didn't realize how important it was to find a great doctor until my own child was involved.  I guess that's the first step in parenting!

As I've gone through this pregnancy, I've been blessed to have spent a lot of time with some fabulous new moms and other current preggos.  One of these lovely women allowed me to create a special photo project covering her time as a new mother.  The experience gave me such a special glimpse into the lives of a new family, and it made me that much more excited to meet my little guy.

Sheena and Aaron were expecting their little girl after the first week of October, so I started my project by going over to their house and taking some photos of Sheena getting ready for the baby's arrival.  It was really fun to be able to talk to her about all of the preparations that she was doing.  I was about 23 weeks pregnant at the time, so all of that information was great for me to start storing away.  I'm very glad that I went over when I did, because three days later Sheena had the baby!  

Little Ziva was born at the end of September, just two weeks early.  I was lucky enough to be able to go to the hospital to take some pictures when she was only 14 hours old.  It was particularly nice to be at that hospital since it will be where I will be delivering within the next several days.  After holding Ziva for a few minutes (because I wasn't leaving without snuggling a teeny baby), I handed her back to her mom and took a step back to start photographing.  What an incredible experience to be able to watch a loving couple get to know their newborn!

After Ziva came home from the hospital a few days later, I went back over to their house every two weeks for the next few months.  Each time I saw her, Ziva was marking new milestones and getting cuter and cuter.  It was also so interesting to see how Sheena and Aaron got to know their daughter and her patterns and personality.  I asked Sheena a ton of questions, and she gave me lots of wonderful advice about caring for a newborn and how to adjust to the life of a new mommy.  I know I was taking photos for them that would eventually go into a gift book keepsake, but they gave me such a great gift as well!  Getting advice from a brand new mom just as I head into the same journey has been priceless.

The experience of photographing Sheena, Aaron, and Ziva over the course of three months gave me a perspective on parenting that I've never been able to see before, and the timing couldn't have been more perfect.  Ziva is thriving and Sheena and Aaron are loving their new roles as parents.  I can't wait for our little guy to meet Ziva and have playdates!  And while I can't wait for Ziva to meet our son, I can't wait to meet him too!  After nearly ten months of growing this nugget, the thought of being able to hold him so soon is making me so excited!  Come on, buddy - Mom and Dad want to meet you SOON!

Check out a more complete gallery of photos from this project here.


kathleen@kathleencurto.com (Kathleen Curto Photography) Kathleen Curto Photography Sacramento baby photographer Sacramento photography Sacramento portrait photographer newborn photography http://www.kathleencurto.com/blog/2016/1/a-photographers-preparation-for-baby Tue, 12 Jan 2016 22:56:02 GMT
Comfort Zones http://www.kathleencurto.com/blog/2015/3/comfort-zones I am a true creature of comfort.  I love meeting friends and hanging out somewhere new, but I also thoroughly enjoy a quiet night at home with a glass of wine and a good movie.  In fact, my favorite nights are when I am able to combine the two and have friends come over to enjoy the wine and movie with me.  Sometimes I just have a hard time pushing myself to try something new.  It's not that I'm necessarily scared, but I simply enjoy having a routine.  Yet I've learned over the last year that photography has actually allowed me to push myself in my career as well as in my personal life.

Despite the fact that every job I've ever had has involved working with lots of people, I've been known to be a little on the shier side of the social spectrum.  Because of that, sometimes it's been difficult to put myself out there and start conversations about photography with new people I meet. Ever since I started the business, I have been trying my best to keep putting myself out there and see where it takes me.  Recently I realized just where starting conversations can lead.


A few months ago while talking to my hair stylist (Amithyst of Amithyst Boutique Salon), I mentioned a project that I wanted to work on.  I had no idea how I was going to complete it, but I knew it could be really cool.  She quickly jumped in and said that she thought it would be a great project to be a part of.  She thought it would a fun project her coworker, Mandie (Makeup by Mandie), as well.  We came up with inspiration for a four-photo project, planned a cohesive vision, and got to work!  It really became a wonderful collaborative project.  I was definitely nervous and wanted to make sure that everyone's work was highlighted.  Whatever nerves I had left after working with these women; they were so easy to work with that I was put at ease very quickly.  We recently had our first day of shooting, and I'm so excited to share the results with you!

Love, Fun, & a Touch of RainA behind-the-scenes look at our photo shoot!


The day consisted of hair styling, makeup, and mixing up some blue "ice cream" before shooting began.  What I loved most was that everyone was willing to help out with each aspect of the process.  Amithyst and Mandie helped on location as well as in the salon, making the entire day run so smoothly.  It was truly a collective effort.  I had such a wonderful time working with Amithyst, Mandie, and our two fantastic models, Kristinn and Bree.  While working, we all got the chance to hang out and enjoy a gorgeous spring afternoon in Capitol Park.  


The collective effort of everyone involved in this shoot is what made the photos what they are, and I never would have had this experience had I not started a simple conversation.  So while I still enjoy my quiet time alone, this experience has taught me more than ever that it's important to push yourself to do something new.  After all, how will we ever get to know all of the wonderful people and experiences life has to offer if we don't push ourselves?

Again, THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU to Amithyst, Mandie, Kristinn, and Bree!  

P.S.  If anyone is looking for a PHENOMENAL haircut/color/style or GORGEOUS makeup, please check out Amithyst Boutique Salon and Makeup by Mandie!  They're both on Facebook and Instagram, so go check them out today!

kathleen@kathleencurto.com (Kathleen Curto Photography) Amithyst Boutique Salon Kathleen Curto Photography Makeup by Mandie Sacramento photography Sacramento portrait photographer bridal change comfort zones wedding photography http://www.kathleencurto.com/blog/2015/3/comfort-zones Wed, 01 Apr 2015 05:25:13 GMT
What a Difference a Year Makes! http://www.kathleencurto.com/blog/2015/2/what-a-difference-one-year-makes Growing up, I swore to myself that I wouldn't become my mother.  This statement itself didn't even make sense because my mother is the kindest woman I've ever known, and I will thank my lucky stars if I eventually become half as wonderful of a mother as she is to me.  But nevertheless, as a child I didn't see it this way.  I saw my mom as a former teacher who loved to craft (knit, needlepoint, quilt, etc.).  As a teenager, I tried so hard not to become who she was because that's just what I thought daughters did.  But now here I am, a former teacher who loves to craft (photography, knitting, etc.).  It's funny how life has a way of saying, "Nice try, but I knew what was best for you."

It's crazy to think about what life was like just one year ago for me.  My husband and I had only lived in California for six months, I was still debating whether or not I should go back to teaching high school English, Chicago still felt like our only home, and I had just signed up to take some photography courses at my local community college to see how I could potentially pursue this passion of mine.  Man oh man, was I in for one crazy year!  

Now don't get me wrong. I know that just like any art or craft, photography takes a long time to finesse.  And even when it does become easier, it's still something that needs to be worked on and developed throughout one's life.  That's what happens with teaching, too.  (I spent two years trying to figure out the best way to teach high schoolers how to write without using fragments, text lingo, and abbreviations.)  The beginning stages of learning my way around my camera were exhilarating, but also extremely frustrating.  Even though I knew that I would get better at using my camera to express myself, I really didn't realize just how much my photographs and confidence would change.  It took one special little girl to do that for me.


These two photos were taken approximately one year apart.  My friend, Kristin, and her husband had their beautiful daughter, Emma, last February.  As a baby lover budding photographer two weeks into photo classes, I asked if I could come over and take some newborn pictures of her.  Kristin and Ryan kindly obliged, bless them.  After setting up my little makeshift newborn studio in their living room, I started shooting.  I'm one of those people who tends to worry in these new situations, so there were a lot of thoughts running through my head.  Kristin and I had only been friends for a few months.  Sure, we shared a perfectly healthy obsession for all things Disney and Christmas, but what if I took bad pictures?  This was her NEWBORN.  Her first child!  And she was three days old!  I didn't want to mess it up, and I surely didn't want to lose a friend.  I thankfully ended up with a few shots that I liked and edited them to the best of my ability.  

I'm happy to say that Kristin and Ryan didn't de-friend me (in real life or on Facebook) after they saw their photos; in fact, they seemed happy.  Happy clients, happy photographer.  It was a win-win.  Phew!  Looking back, I am still proud of what I was able to accomplish at that moment in time, but I'm amazed at how far I've come.  

Fast forward 12 months.  In that time, I've become a part-time nanny for Emma in between classes and work.  As a baby that I see on a very regular basis, it's safe to say that she holds a special place in my heart.  Most of the photos I end up taking of her are on my phone, but every once in a while I'll take my camera over and use her as my free model.  How can anyone resist that smile?!

Now that Emma's 1st birthday is coming up (something I can't even begin to believe), Kristin asked me to take some photos to display at her birthday party.  Right off the bat, this photo shoot was different.  I was more comfortable and confident.  And when I went through the photos with Kristin right after the shoot, she was already extremely happy with the way they had turned out.  

To some, seeing the side-by-side shots of Emma from last February to today shows how much she's grown into a little lady.  But to me, these photographs show me that I wasn't crazy when I came home and told my husband that I wanted to pursue photography as a career.  They show me that I'm learning more and more about who I am as a photographer.  They have made me so excited for this journey to continue!  Yet I've also learned that I have totally become my mother, and I'm 100% ok with that.

kathleen@kathleencurto.com (Kathleen Curto Photography) baby change family newborn http://www.kathleencurto.com/blog/2015/2/what-a-difference-one-year-makes Sun, 08 Feb 2015 19:00:08 GMT