The Power of Passion Projects

It was just meant to be a passion project. Somehow it ended up being much more for me.

In June, my daughter's 5th grade class officially moved on to middle school. Maybe it was because I have known most of these kids since Kindergarten (and some since preschool), or perhaps I was feeling emotional at the thought of no longer have a child in elementary school (sappy mom), that I felt the need to do this project. 

But there was another compelling reason I knew I wanted to make this project happen. 

As a parent of tweenagers, I have been fascinated with this stage of childhood. Watching my own kids go through this phase of development - one in which they want more independence, yet are still very much reliant on me in so many ways - is quite an interesting journey. It's like they are on a teeter totter of transition that is constantly filled with ups and downs and gentle battles between childhood and young adulthood.

Tweens are trying to find their place in this world and make sense of who they are and who they will become. With a greater self-awareness, I wanted to give each student in 5th grade the opportunity to shine during their own five-minute photo shoot. I also wanted to incorporate my love for city life and create a more urban vibe with these images, and so the Urban Tween Photo Session idea was born. 

image_urban tween_lori fuller photography

What I loved most about this project was how relaxed and at ease most of the kids looked and felt. That five minutes of connection with each of them was important to me in being able to capture the most authentic expression possible. There was also no expectation of a "perfect" expression. The kids were encouraged to smile only if they wanted to. The ones who did smile displayed just as authentic of an expression as the ones who did not, and I absolutely loved that! 

As a photographer, having the freedom to create something where there was no expectation or rules to follow was liberating and exciting. My entire vision for this project came together better than I could have imagined. Watching the student's reactions when they saw their photos on display at the Promotion ceremony was one of the highlights of the entire project. 

I am thankful to the parents who signed their child up and made the effort to get them to an urban street corner for a five minute photo session. I am grateful for the tweens for showing up, being themselves and trusting me to make them look cool/cute/hip/stylish like the tweens that they are.

Passion projects are important for everyone because they help fuel your creativity. They can help inspire new ideas and they encourage "flow," that feeling of effortless momentum towards an ultimate goal or creation. According to Mica Gonzalez, "A passion project is something we create to enrich our lives. It keeps us creative, motivated - happy even. They're more than projects. They're an investment in ourselves."

The great news is anyone can engage in a passion project! I encourage you to think of something you enjoy doing and make the time each day to see it come to fruition. Need some ideas? Visit for passion project ideas and see which ones spark your creative side.  Share in the comments which ideas you may want to try - I'd love to hear!

The Best Gift You Can Give Your Kids

So my computer stopped working and was at the Apple store for the past six days.


In the world of a small business owner, having your computer at the Apple store for any length of time is scary. What's even scarier is potentially losing everything that is stored on that computer.

Fortunately, my tech guy (AKA husband) is smart and organized when it comes to digital systems and had multiple backup systems in place, so I did not lose a thing. Since I have a laptop, I was able to work normally. Thanks, tech guy! 

This incident has had me thinking all week about how much we rely on digital storage and how easy it is to lose it all in one failed piece of equipment. We hold some pretty valuable items on these devices. Sure, there are important documents and communications stored, but the valuable items I'm focusing on here are photos.

Imagine losing photos from important events like weddings, births, proms, or Grandma's 90th birthday celebration. What if you lost all of the milestone photos you've ever taken of your child - when he was a newborn; when she started eating solid food; his Kindergarten graduation; her middle school recital; his graduation party before he goes to get my point.

We have so many important moments that are a part of our family story living on devices that can easily crash or become obsolete. The volume of images we take and store without culling (because who has time for that?!) also makes them more tedious to view, so we spend less time enjoying the images we actually take.

Digital images are truly valuable and have their place, but holding a photograph or an album in your hand stimulates all of your senses in ways that viewing images on a screen simply can't.  By physically touching and feeling the texture of a print, running your hands across the pages of an album, hearing the noise of the binding as you crack open an album and your hands gently flip through pages, or smelling the inks and papers that hold a special moment on them allows you to experience a certain time in your life in such a different way than viewing these same images on a screen. 

According to Aisha Sulton in this article, "We rely on our visual documentation as our memory for when it fades."

As a family photographer, it is important to me to provide all my families with some form of printed product. Whether it is a collection of small prints, a statement wall art piece, or a custom-designed album, I want my clients to walk away with something tangible that they can enjoy now and for future generations to help tell their family story. 

The product I enjoy most is creating storytelling albums. Last year I switched album companies because I wanted to align my business with a vendor who was supporting children in foster care. Beautiful Together is an organization that provides resources and works on tangible products that directly improve the quality of life for children waiting for their forever homes. Besides feeling good about supporting this organization and these children, the quality of their albums is simply stunning. I have designed and delivered several albums to clients since using them and I have been highly impressed each time...and so have my clients! 

image_lori fuller photography_family album.jpg

So the next time you take photos of your family, I encourage you to think ahead and have a plan in mind for digitally storing (with backups!) those images and consider printing a few of them to enjoy outside of a device. This will be one of the greatest gifts you pass down to your children someday.



image_lori fuller photography_family album.jpg

Progress, Not Perfection

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My daughter is on a new softball team this year. She had been with a core group of players and the same coach since starting her softball career, but was selected to be part of a new team this season.

On her old team, her position as catcher was solid. She loved the position, the coaches loved how she could throw the ball to second to get an out, and she learned the skills and strategies of knowing how to make smart plays. 

On her new team, there are a couple of girls who are solid catchers. They are older, stronger and highly skilled in the position. The opportunities for her to catch seem to be limited.

What the team needs are additional skilled pitchers. While my daughter has a strong, solid arm, pitching is not her specialty. She struggles to get the ball in the strike zone consistently. She doesn't want to be a pitcher, but you will likely find her on the mound at some point relieving other talented pitchers.

As the parent, watching her pitch can be frustrating because I know it's not her favorite position and I know she's highly talented in other spots on the field. Yet, watching her pitch is inspiring because it's reminding me that progress is better than perfection.

She is making progress in getting the ball over the plate and in making accurate pitches. She is giving it her all even when she's walking more players than striking them out. She's being a team player, taking on whatever role the coach asks of her without attitude or grief. Most importantly, she's showing up, doing the work, and making progress in her own way.

As adults, it can be difficult to willingly put ourselves into situations where we might not perform at our highest level. We might struggle or strike out in our own way. We may even avoid doing things because we know we won't succeed, at least not at first. We let our thoughts about perfection rule and we may choose not to show up, do the work, and make progress in our own way.

Take this photo for example. This photo was shot through a chain-link fence which has smaller spacing than most chain-link fences. Unfortunately there is nowhere you can go at this particular field without having to shoot through ugly, tiny-spaced chain-link fence. I get frustrated about taking photos at this field and sometimes I don't even bother taking my camera out. In this shot, getting focus to stay on my daughter through the fence while she's moving and keeping her framed perfectly in the center space of the batter was just a little challenging. Despite the challenge, I'm going to learn from my daughter to keep showing up, doing the work, and making progress in my own way. Whatever that looks like for you, I hope you'll do the same.



5 Tips for Choosing the Right Photographer For Your Family

By having such easy access to photo-taking devices, we have the opportunity to photograph any and every milestone and moment we want. The problem is that we, as parents, aren't IN most of these photos. Hiring a professional photographer can not only help YOU to be present in photos with your most favorite people on the planet, but it is a wonderful way to celebrate your family and give a brief glimpse into your family life right now in all of its glorious beauty and chaos. 

With so many photographers to choose from, how do you find the right fit? Here are 5 tips for choosing the right photographer for YOUR family: 

1. Choose your style. Do you prefer the look and feel of traditional portraits with a studio backdrop? Would you and your family enjoy a more casual photo session at a local park or urban setting? Will it feel less stressful to document your family life from the comfort of your home? Each of these types of sessions have their advantages and limitations, so it helps to know which look and style you'll appreciate most. 

image_lori fuller photography

2. Browse images. Spend time navigating a photographer’s portfolio to make sure their style of work matches your taste. If you are looking for a traditional portrait session where everyone is sitting and looking at the camera in most of the photos, for example, you may not want to choose a photographer who displays images with a more photojournalistic, candid style.

image_at home family photo session_lori fuller photography

3. Learn about the photographer and the process. One of the first places I go when I am visiting a potential photographer’s website is their “about” page. You want to feel completely relaxed and comfortable with the photographer you choose, and getting to know a bit about him/her will help. You also want to understand what to expect. What type of photo session experience does the photographer offer? Do you receive helpful information in preparing for your photo session (tips on what to wear, ideas on what to do with your images, etc.)?

image_mother and boys_lori fuller photography
image_mother and son_lori fuller photography

4. Experience with children. You want to choose a photographer that not only “gets” children and knows how to interact with them, you want to be sure they know how to connect with YOUR child. Whether your child is energetic, needs more time to warm up, or has difficulty in new situations, it helps when the photographer you’ve selected understands these needs and does whatever it takes to build a relationship and form trust with your little one. When there is trust, children are much more likely to relax...which inevitably helps you as the parent to feel at ease, too. 

image_tween girl at park_lori fuller photography
image_urban family_lori fuller photography

5. How much should you spend? Most professional photographers have spent countless hours (and dollars) learning composition, lighting, posing, and honing their craft. They have also taken the necessary steps to operate a legitimate business. A dedicated photographer and professional business owner will strive to offer you a quality experience throughout the entire process. Your photographer should take the time to get to know you and your family, and understand your specific needs. When you find the right photographer whom you feel will capture the essence of your family, figure out a way to hire her/him even if the investment is higher than someone else. Start a photo session fund where you set aside a bit of money each month. Ask the photographer if there is a payment plan option. Subscribe to her/his newsletter to receive special offers. Figure out a way to make it work if you really feel a connection with a particular photographer and believe they will create a positive photo session experience for your family.

The images you create with your children today will be their most treasured possessions someday. Take the time to capture who you are as a family at this particular moment in time and get IN the photos with them by hiring a professional photographer. You'll be so glad you did.

image_father and son_lori fuller photography

It's My Birthday - Let's Celebrate with a Giveaway!

Oakland photographer_giveaway

When I was 8 years old, I had a magic birthday party. I wore my favorite shiny pink jacket, called myself Lori the Great and made water magically trickle out of my friend's arm. Don't even ask...a magician never reveals her secrets.

I remember all of the practice and planning that went into this party; the hours of reading magic books, even more hours of practicing magic tricks and preparing all of the materials. It was important to me, even at such a young age, that my friends who came to my party had a fun time. I wanted to give them the gift of a memorable experience.

I guess some things never change. For my birthday this year, I want to give one of you the gift of a memorable experience! 

Enter to win a Photo Package Giveaway for one lucky LFP follower!


  • Hair blowout and makeup application by my favorite hair and MUA, Wendy, of Mio Salon (located in Oakland’s Montclair Village)
  • Swag bag of goodies
  • Planning session over the phone 
  • Tips on what to wear
  • A short + sweet 20-minute urban photo session to use however you wish! Grab your best friend, gather your spouse and kids, update your social media profiles, OR use the time to document modern, timeless portraits of you...just for you
  • Your choice of ten high-resolution digital files
  • A custom Mobile App -  take your photos with you everywhere you go

Package value: $649

HOW TO ENTER (you must complete all three steps in order to participate):

1. Follow Lori Fuller Photography on one or both Facebook and Instagram

2. Subscribe to our newsletter here

3. Leave a comment on this blog post telling us that you’ve completed steps 1 and 2. Also, please answer this question: Imagine you are a Superhero - what is your super power? 

If you don't see the "Post Comment" button at bottom, click on the title of blog post to refresh page.

THE (MIGHTY FINE) PRINT: No purchase necessary. Giveaway ends at 11:59pm Tuesday, March 6. Winner will be randomly selected on Wednesday, March 7. Once it is verified that winner has completed all “How to Enter” steps, winner will be notified. Offer has no cash value. May not be combined with other offers. Hair blowout and makeup application will take place at Mio Salon in Oakland, CA and photo session will take place in Oakland, CA on a mutually agreed upon date in March or April 2018. Winner is responsible for all fees associated with travel to/from Oakland, CA. Requests for hair and makeup services for others being photographed require an additional fee. Spam is yucky and so are cheaters; spammers and cheaters will be disqualified. If you are under 18 years of age, please get your parent’s approval. By signing up for our newsletter, you agree to receive occasional emails from us. We think you'll enjoy the content, but you may unsubscribe at any time. Your email address will never be shared.

Good luck!

Lori...the Great :)

What I Learned From the Super Bowl Selfie Kid

By now you've heard of the Super Bowl Selfie Kid. Ryan McKenna earned instant fame this past Sunday by taking selfies with Justin Timberlake during the Super Bowl Halftime Show. As expected, McKenna became a household name - as well as a meme - and earned the hashtag #selfiekid on social media. 

The next day I was reading an article where the seventh grader described his experience:

“I just thought to myself, ‘I’ll never get this opportunity again in my whole life,'” McKenna told the Pioneer Press. “I just went for it.”

I just went for it. 

On stage at the Super Bowl with a famous pop star singing right next to him, this 13-year-old understood the value of the moment he was in...and went for it. 

It made me think about how liberating this carefree approach would feel in all of the ordinary, non-Jumbotron moments in our lives. As adults, we can get so caught up in all of those practical reasons for why we absolutely shouldn't do something. We overthink or overanalyze. We don't know where to start, so we never do. We don't have the time or the money or the support we might need. We doubt our strengths or what we are capable of. We worry that we will fail.

What if we all gave ourselves permission to not get sidelined by the practical reasons for not doing something, and actually go ahead and do them? Sure, adulting is full of responsibilities and we do sometimes have to put things off for a whole variety of reasons, but let's collectively find ways that allow us each to say, "I just went for it" more often than not. Whether you want to run a marathon, start a business, learn a new hobby, write a novel, go on a trip to Paris (my 11-year-old daughter's ultimate wish at the moment), imagine that this is your opportunity to create your own Super Bowl Halftime Show. So go ahead, take that selfie and hashtag your #justwentforit moment...I'll be over here rooting for you!


 Dreaming of a trip to Paris with my daughter...and croissants. 

Dreaming of a trip to Paris with my daughter...and croissants. 

Send a Little Note of Peace

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When was the last time you received - or sent - a handwritten note in the mail? Not a birthday card or thank you card, but an actual note that was sent...just because? I'm going to guess that it's been a while.

Maybe it seems silly to sit with paper and pen to write a note to someone when it is easier and faster (and doesn't require a stamp!) to send an email or text. 

Here's the thing. A handwritten note is intentional. It takes time, thought, and effort. It shows care and a type of thoughtfulness that just doesn't translate in the same way as an email. 

With so much going on in the news and events around the country and the world, a thoughtful note can mean the world to someone who may be feeling overwhelmed or is going through a hard time. 

This is why I want to share "Sending Peace" cards to anyone who wants to spread an encouraging word and bring a smile to someone's face. The first readers who reply "I want to send peace" will receive four blank "Sending Peace" cards. These are free and I'll even pay for postage! The only thing you need to do is send them whenever you feel inspired to share a friendly note or an encouraging word.

A handwritten note is not going to solve all of our problems, but when we all make small intentional steps to spread peace and kindness, it makes us all better.


Free Gift: Summertime Download

Whether your summer adventures take you to faraway places with miles of travel, or instead it's just a few steps to the backyard for BBQ's, swimming or pretend camping, let the journey be part of the fun. Enjoy, print, and share this complimentary download. Decorate both your real walls and your social media walls with this simple reminder to always enjoy the journey as much as the arrival. 

To download, click here. 

image_free gift_lori fuller photography

The Brown Paper Bag

Every year around this time, my kids bring home a brown paper bag overflowing with all kinds of treasures from school – writing journals, projects, half-used workbooks, photos, class work, random drawings, dioramas, art portfolios, and so on. And every year, that brown bag sits in our dining room for a week (or longer) as I ponder what to do with it all. The easiest solution, of course, is to not give it one ounce of thought and toss the whole thing in the recycle bin. But, I just can’t. Perhaps it’s the former teacher in me or just the sentimental mom, but there is so much hard work showcased in that bag. It is an entire years worth of growth and accomplishment – how can I just toss it? So, I dump everything on the table and I begin sorting through it all, one piece at a time. The kids help make decisions about what to keep and what to toss. We work until we’ve narrowed the pile down.

But, then what?

A few years ago, I would’ve gone through this process and narrowed down the keepers, and then guess what I would do with those pieces? Toss them right back into the brown paper bag and hide the bag in a closet! The problem was I didn’t have a system in place for storing the papers and projects that we all wanted to keep. That is, until I finally decided on a way to store, highlight and archive all of the amazing work and special projects done throughout the year.

A School Days Portfolio Keepsake was my solution. The binder porfolio is a system I have fully embraced because it is smart, easy to keep organized, and will be just the right size keepsake for my children to hold on to and enjoy flipping through over the years. Here’s how I do it:

create a school days portfolio keepsake_lori fuller photography

1. Gather your supplies. 

one large three-ring binder (the largest you can find) for each child
page protectors
tabbed page protectors
archival album pages (sizes 4×6 and 8×10)
tape, scissors, post-it notes, pen
pages labeled with each grade

school days portfolio_Lori Fuller Photography

2. Label the tabs.

I have one tab for each grade from preschool-8th grade. You can break this down however you would like (ie. make a K-5 binder and then a separate one for 6-8). I know that the earlier years have more paperwork than the older years, so I’m pretty confident that I’ll be able to fit all the items we want to keep through 8th grade in this one binder.

school days portfolio keepsake_Lori Fuller Photography

3. What to keep

I have a few hard and fast rules in terms of what to keep. Some of the must-include items are:

-report cards

-school photos

-class photos

-special certificates

-sports/extracurricular awards/pictures

-misc. photos from the year

-writing samples (creative writing and poems are my favorite)

-art projects


school days portfolio keepsake_Lori Fuller Photography
image_school days portfolio keepsake_Lori Fuller Photography
image_school days portfolio keepsake_Lori Fuller Photography

4. Photograph oversized art work or projects.

One of my favorite projects in the early grades is when the teachers ask the class at the beginning of the year what they hope to learn, and then ask what they learned at the end of the year. These projects don’t fit well in a three-ring binder so I just take photos of fun projects like this so we can print them and include in an album or the binder.

image_school days portfolio keepsake_Lori Fuller Photography
image_school days portfolio keepsake_Lori Fuller Photography

5. Let the kids take ownership of their portfolios

In addition to helping decide what to keep or toss, enlist your child’s help in decorating the cover, as well as the tabbed divider pages for each grade. What I love about this is not only seeing how much more sophisticated their art becomes, but since they usually draw pictures of things they are most interested in at that time (ie. Minecraft), it becomes a time capsule of sorts and lets me see how their hobbies/interests have changed (or stayed the same) year to year.

image_school days portfolio keepsake_Lori Fuller Photography
image_school days portfolio keepsake_Lori Fuller Photography

6. Include photographs from the year

I will incorporate images from the year that really tell a story about my child’s interests or favorite things. Here you see my daughter dressed as a baseball player (GO YANKS!), playing school, and holding her most precious toy, Baby Lily. I use archival-quality photo pages from Print File to safely hold and protect images. I absolutely L O V E mixing images into the binder because 1) it shows how much my kids have grown, 2) it adds great visuals, and 3) printed photos rock! #printyourphotos

Below is a sweet little note my son wrote to my daughter on her first day of Kindergarten. sniff sniff

image_school days portfolio keepsake_Lori Fuller Photography
image_school days portfolio keepsake_Lori Fuller Photography

7. Be selective in what you choose to keep. 

Set guidelines with your kids on how to decide if something is portfolio-worthy or not. A general rule of thumb is if it takes us longer than a few seconds to decide, then it probably isn’t worth keeping.

image_school days portfolio keepsake_Lori Fuller Photography

If you have a system in place and all the supplies on hand, creating a School Days Portfolio Keepsake is really a quick – and fun – project that you can do together with the whole family. It is my hope that someday my kids will appreciate my sentimental side as they browse through this book of memories and hard work.

Do you have a way of organizing all of your kid’s school work? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!