Oh To Be Young, Wild & Free in California | A Cali Girl's Heart
This session is so dear to my heart. You see, I'm a Cali girl and was so thrilled to be able to photograph Carissa, my gorgeous stepdaughter, in my hometown of Vacaville, CA. I absolutely loved growing up in the rolling hills and countryside that this part of Northern California offers. And... I truly believe Vacaville has the most beautiful and vibrant sunsets - ever. It's such a perfect location, about an hour from San Francisco, Napa, Sacramento, Davis, the ocean, lakes, rivers, hiking trails - just about everything. And of course, California weather is always amazing - it's no wonder Cali will always have a special place in my heart!
This particular trip back home to visit family, I invited my stepdaughter to drive up from Chico and spend the weekend with us - after all, our family wasn't "complete" without her! It would be the perfect "girls weekend". We spent time at Lake Solano, splashing in the water, enjoying the warm weather and driving through winding backroads. We went to the Nut Tree to ride the carousel and train, get some Jelly Bellys and ice cream and of course pizza. And of course there were hours of laughing, jokes, going through old photographs and storytelling at my grandmother's home. It's not often you have 4 generations together and it was such a blessing to watch my daughters with their aunt, grandmother, and great-grandmother.
But - I wanted time with just my girls.... Before flying back home to Albuquerque, I needed time with just my two daughters. As I drove them down the backroads to my favorite childhood spots a huge sense of peace and joy came over me. Here I was, in my favorite place in the entire world with my toddler in the backseat and my grown stepdaughter in the front seat. This is the place where I spent the majority of my life, running wild and free, horseback riding, cycling, racing quads, hiking, boating, and truly loving life. My heart was full as I reflected back on these memories of my youth - was it really that long ago that I was "young"?
The radio was up and the windows down as our hair was blowing wild in the wind and we didn't have a worry in the world - just like when I was 15 years younger. Together, in that moment, we were Young, Wild & Free. I will forever cherish that trip and the fond memories I was able to share (and relive) from my childhood, while building new memories I now have with my girls in those dear-to-my-heart places.
I hadn't photographed Carissa alone before, so I took this bonding opportunity to photograph her. She's a Cali girl too and is definitely Young, Wild & Free. In a lot of way she reminded me of myself when I was her age - yet she has a fierce side and is strong, independent, and loves absolutely freely. She is not to be tamed and I admire her spirit and charisma. I hoped to photograph both daughters together in a few locations, but my youngest was fast asleep in her car seat and I knew better than to wake "the dragon". So, as we chatted about Carissa's dreams and ambitions I shared some of my favorite childhood memories and showed here a slice of my life growing up in Cali.