Abuelo Ismael

My "abuelo" died tonight. I'm sorry I won't be traveling with my Dad (and Mom) to see my abuela and other family in Mexico but my prayers are with them all.
I am so thankful that I saw both my grandparents , when they came for a visit, just recently, in April. They only come north, to the U.S., every so often for a visit or for medical reasons.

My grandfather lived in a tiny, farm town, in the state of Sonora, Mexico, called El Valle de Tacupeto. The population is less than 500 and the few roads through the town are still unpaved, hard-packed dirt. The homes are built from (adobe) mud bricks. Visiting there is quite an experience; it's like being in a completely different country! Okay, I'm kidding now; it IS another country!!! Seriously, though, visiting there felt like traveling back in time. They still light a fire to run the water heater to take a shower!

Regretfully, the last time I visited there, was 11 years ago, when I was pregnant with our first child. But, I am so thankful that our two oldest boys were able to experience the adventure of traveling there with my Mom and Dad last year.

I have fond memories of visiting "El Valle" as a child. We would ride, on the tail-gate of the pickup truck, to "Ojo de Agua" and the small house there, where my dad would spend the hot summers as a small boy. The spring, behind the old farm house, produced the sweetest water, which we'd scoop up with dried, hollowed out gourds, for a refreshing drink on a hot day. My abuelo would be sure to have a few nursing calves (and their mamas!) brought down from the hills so that we'd have fresh milk to drink. I remember being impressed, even as a child, at what a hard worker my grandfather was. Even as an old man, he would walk the few miles to the farm each day to draw water from the well, feed and water the animals, and work the land.

Some of my other favorite memories from that old town include riding horses, hiking, learning to drive my Dad's truck on the "landing strip" (I was 12 years old!), playing in the river with my brothers and cousins, and eating my abuela's home cooking, which included delicious flour tortillas (fresh every morning!)

Well now, I guess I got carried away a bit. I just thought I'd pop on here and post a picture. Surprisingly, so many memories rush into my mind. Here are just a few snapshots I took of "Abuelo" and our boys this last April.


The Perfect Breakfast

At least that's what my big boys call it! (I should, too!)

Imagine this....you've just woken up on a Saturday morning, late, I might add...after your darling husband has just let you sleep in till...well, you didn't really think I was gonna tell you the how long I slept, did you?!?!

Anyway, back to the narrative...so, you've just woken up from a good night's sleep and you wake to the sweet aroma of cinnamon and sugar wafting up past your open door, and into the bedroom. The kids are pulling their creation out of the oven. The smell of "Yaya's coffeecake," (which they made from scratch, I might add!) will pull ya right out of bed in the morning!

Yes, you read that right! The kids made breakfast, before I got out of bed, AND the kitchen was actually in pretty good shape! Big plus! LOL

Now, many of you have asked, "Are you going to try again for a girl?" and when I announced to my wonderful neighbors that we were expecting a fourth son, I definitely got a few looks of pity! Be sure not to feel and pity for me, my friends! I have been lovingly dealt "four of a kind" and they have been a blessing, every one of them, every day of their lives.

Thank you my sons for being so helpful in the house, for baking treats for us all, and for your kindness to one another. I am so thankful for each of you! I love you!

P.S. And to any of you who got this far...if you'd like the recipe for this yummy coffeecake...let me know in the comments, and I'll send it to ya! Cheers!

(Oh, and if you don't have a link in your signature, plz email me at cristina@ctpstudio.com for the recipe!)



Well, (once again!) it's going to be hard to pick JUST a few favorites from today's session, but this one is a keeper for sure! This little girlie has an awesome big brother. He was super today!

Hope you enjoy the sneak peak, guys! I had fun with you today. ;)

A few more from yesterday...


Introducing....Baby Grace

Okay, it's super late and I've got to stop working and go to bed. I just can't until I post at least one favorite from today's session with this sweet girl. She came home from the hospital last night and is just 2 days old today!

Just a few of the "little boys..."

Well, I don't often post my own kiddos here but I thought I'd share a few. We recently went to Palomar Mountain for "family camp" with our church.

The boys had fun shooting at the archery range, swimming at the pool with friends, and climbing rocks. Here are just a few photos of the youngest two...

Why does custom photography cost more?

I came across this site again recently and thought I'd post it here for reading at your leisure.

Digital technology is brilliant. The digital revolution has brought amazing flexibility and amazing amounts of control for the photographer, the hobbyist, the professional, the amateur. With flexibility comes a price though. Camera equipment is still considerably more expensive when you factor in its’ lifespan, the need for additional resources for processing those images, the time it takes to get a usable image and the effort that goes into all of this.

Even though you pay $1.99 for a print at your local drugstore and paying for film is pretty much a thing of the past (although you still pay for memory) you may be wondering why you may pay upwards of $40, 50, 70, 90 for a custom photography print. Some photographers hear this statement every once in awhile:

"How in the world can you charge $60 for an 8×10 if it costs me less than $2 to print at the local drug store?"

The answer is multifaceted and has a lot to do with the time, aforementioned equipment costs, artistic vision and reputation of the photographer, expertise and the usual costs of running a legitimate business.


Approaching it from a time standpoint, for instance let’s imagine if you will that you have hired a photographer who has work that you love and that is travelling an hour to your on location session. TIme break down:

* session prep time (30 mins - 1 hour, includes equipment and back up equipment checks + vehicle checks)
* one hour travel time TO session
* 15-30 minutes prep time at client’s home
* 90 minutes-2 hours with client photographing subject
* one hour travel time FROM session
* 30-45 minutes uploading time from digital cards from camera to computer
* 30-45 minutes time spent backing up the original images
* 2-5 hours editing time to present you with a diverse gallery of edited images
* 1 hour prep time getting ready for ordering
* 2-3 hours time with client for ordering images
* 1 hour sorting through and checking order
* 30 minutes-1 hour prep time for delivery
* 30 minutes-1 hour getting order shipped
* any additional phone time or time needed for add on ordering, shipment issues, quality issues

As you can see, average client time for a session ranges from just under 13 hours to 19 hours dependent on the photographer’s level of service. This is time dedicated only to your session. When the photographer charges $150-$300 for the photo shoot you are not just paying for the two hours of session time, you are paying the photographer for 12-19 hours complete time for your session.


Regarding equipment costs, a good quality professional camera with a selection of good optical quality lenses and digital storage mediums and computer set up can run from $10,000-$30,000 costs dependent on the photographer. Even though you can purchase a really good quality digital SLR for about $2100 there are still other costs related to photography. A good lens for portrait photography can run up $900 to $2500. A dependable computer system with software loaded for business and creative usage can run $2500 to $8000 dependent on the photographer.

Then come lab costs for specialty products. A good photographer knows the lab is integral to their success. Photography labs dedicated to the professional photographer often cost more and offer a range of products that allows the custom photographer to continually offer new, innovative products for you, the discerning client.

Discussion other costs of running a photography business could take awhile so we’ll skip the intricate details. There is of course much more: including costs of running the business, taxes, studio rental/mortgage if the photographer has ownership of a dedicated studio, vehicular costs, costs of advertising/marketing, costs of sample pieces that the photographer will likely bring to your session, etc.


Often times clients will mention to their photographer that X studio in the mall/department store only charges $25 for an 8×10 or they may mention other things related to discount photography chains. The fact is those discount chains make their money on volume, not on customized 1:1 service. According to several articles at the time, did you know that in February 2007 a rather well known discount department store that started in Arkansas closed down 500 of their portrait studios across the nation? The reason is simple, you cannot make money on 99¢ "professional" prints if you do not sell enough of them. Interestingly enough - those same studios that offer the loss leader packages often charge much much more for their a la carte pricing (as high as $40-50 for an 8×10). The whole reason the big department stores began offering portrait studios in the first place was to get you, the savvy consumer, in through their door so that you could spend more money with them in other departments. Your "PORTRAITS" are considered the true "loss leader".

Going to a chain studio, as a consumer, you don’t have the benefit of 1:1 attention for 2 hours at your home where your child is allowed to explore, play and be comfortable in their home environment, nor do you get the experience that many custom photographers are known for or the lovely captures of natural expressions. You simply get a bare bones, "SAY CHEESE" experience. Keep this in mind when selecting a photographer.


Being in demand, being well known for quality work, having a good reputation often costs time on the photographer’s part. Their expertise comes at a cost, their time learning their craft and learning the intricacies of lighting and the commitment put forth on their end to create a persona about their business that oozes professionalism. A great number of photographers go a very long time from the time that they purchase their first good camera to making money at the business of photography. Many photographers, when first starting out, rush in thinking that the business will be easily profitable in no time, how expensive could it be to get a camera and use it to create their dream? They often neglect to factor in the cost of business, the cost of equipment, software, back ups, etc..

Being of sound reputation, a better professional photographer knows that they must always reinvest in their business to create the reputation of being top notch. To create good work good equipment, reliable equipment, back up equipment is a necessity. The photographer who desires to be known as better/best/unparalelled reputation-wise knows that the most important thing they can do for their business is reliability and dependability. This is how reputations get built. Good work often is a wonderful side product of building that good reputation.

I hope this (lengthy) article helps shed some light on WHY a custom photographer is a better choice for your family’s memories. The photographs that are produced as a result of the professionalism and dedication that your photographer has will be cherished for a lifetime (or more) and great thought and consideration should be placed into hiring who is right for your family’s most precious investment.



Okay! It's about time I post a few recent sessions! Life has been so busy...busy and good!

This little sweetie was a joy to photograph!

Isn't he just magical?

He has a big brother who loves him...

He was welcomed into a beautiful family!

Thank you Bryce's family for asking me to photograph your little man!