In Her Element: Diana Zeng

"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters, compared to what lies within us." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

I met Diana in a photography class during my senior year of college. I always thought she was kind and cool, but we never hung outmore than walking back from the art school together. It wasn't until after college, when we got together for a delicious meal at Everest Cafe, that we totally hit it off. I am pretty sure everyone in the restaurant heard our conversation because we both get progressively louder when we talk about things we're passionate about.

At the time, I was working on a non-profit project and she was working for start-up, figuring out what she wanted to do with her post-graduation life. Both Diana and I have change what we are working on a few times since graduating, but the beauty inside her has remained constant in whatever she's doing. She has a clear desire to understand, connect and bring out the beauty in those around her.

On our most recent food date, she told me she had been painting for about two hours every day and that it was bringing her so much joy and fulfillment. Immediately, I knew I wanted to take pictures of her while she worked. Though this is not surprising to me at all, she already has multiple commissions lined up after just a few months. I am pretty sure that is a huge sign in the world of art since many people are begging others to buy their work.

Here is my beautiful friend, Diana.

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High Energy

Last weekend, I took some lifestyle, family portraits in Forest Park for this beautiful family. The parents were so awesome in letting their boys' personalities shine (note the 'High Energy' sweater). I have found that it's always better to work with the energy and silliness rather than pushing against it. I also selfishly prefer it because then I get to be silly too. Loved the real moments we captured in this session.

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Corey & Ashley

Corey and Ashley's wedding at Hilton St. Louis at the Ballpark was characterized by fun, dancing and friendship. When they first reached out to me, they made it clear that the focus of their day was on having fun and the dance floor. And trust me when I say I have never gotten so many incredible party shots at a wedding before. They were surrounded by so many people who loved them and knew how to throw a crazy party. The dance floor was full at all times and laughter and many old stories were shared. Wishing them years of fun dancing and great community.

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Special thanks to Life Events St. Louis, Everyday Elegance Photo Booth, Hilton St. Louis at the Ballpark and Mirage Entertainment for throwing an incredible wedding.

The Little Ham

This little guy was so cute it made me want to explode. I mean look at that little old man sweater! It even had shoulder patches, which you can't see in any of the pictures posted. When his mom reached out to me, she described him as a ham and she could not have been more right. He was so full of smiles and silly faces. Once he got tired, though, he clung to his mama with thumb in mouth. Kind of reminded me of myself :).

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This family portrait session was a combination of in-home and on-location at Tower Grove Park.

Aliya

I went on an adventure with one of my best friends in St. Louis last weekend. While it might look like a warm sunny day, we woke up at 7am in 30 degree weather to get these shots. Aliya is incredible for many reasons, but in this case for braving the cold to make our vision a reality. Aliya channeled her modeling experience from modeling out in the cold in China.

We had to take a few breaks to defrost in between outfits, but we had so much fun. I think at the end of it, it was worth it!

Vivek & Pabitra

I love reconnecting with old friends and was so excited when Vivek and Pabitra reached out to me to get pictures done. It's been about two years since I had seen them and I still remember the very first days of their relationship. I took their first professional pictures as a couple in a backyard when I was desperate for photo experience. Those were the days when I made about $100 per month on photography if I was lucky.

These two love birds are married now and are taking over the world with their mutual business savvy. We did a mix of professional images and fun images since their wedding had been a little bit rushed. As you can see in the pictures, we had a blast. 

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Newborn Portraits of Princess Bailey

I got to go home to New Jersey this weekend to meet my newest niece, Bailey! She is as precious as a tiny human can possibly be and it's so fun watching my big brother take on the roll of dad. My niece and nephew have always been my favorite subjects and now I am blessed with another one!

Here's a mix of some styled newborn pictures and lifestyle newborn pictures we took over the weekend!

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Julie & Gary's Wedding

Genuine, head-over-heels love can sometimes seem like a rare occasion in today's world. Yet, I have had the pleasure of seeing it over and over in this inspiring family. I was overjoyed when asked by Julie and Gary to capture their small wedding at the quaint and beautiful Park Avenue Mansion. I had not met them in person, but knew that they must be incredible based on the awesomeness of Julie's son and daughter-in-law who are dear friends of mine and who's engagement pictures I had taken months earlier.

This family has something special when it comes to love. It radiates in their relationships, in the way you instantly feel like you are part of their family,  in how they look at each other with awe and how they look at the world the same way. I am blessed to have seen this example of love and have it inspire me to love harder in all of my relationships. It was an honor to be a part of this beautiful ceremony.

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Alexa's Senior Portraits in Downtown St. Louis

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Alexa's senior portrait session was all about glamour, fun, and confidence. We started out at the Central Library and Old Cathedral for a classy, formal look. From the second I saw her step out of the car in her gorgeous blue and black prom gown, I knew it was going to be an incredible session. Alexa is one of those 18-year-olds who has the presence of someone in her late twenties. Her confidence radiated through every pose and picture.

We also took a few more casual shots at a plaza downtown and City Gardens. Again, Alexa's outfit, style and confidence was all on point. I would love to hire her as my personal fashion assistant, but she has already been accepted into her dream school studying to be a veterinarian. All around awesome lady.

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A City Museum Adventure

Five years ago, these two love birds had a 400 person wedding at the City Museum here in St. Louis. As if the City Museum is not colorful enough already, imagine all those people exploring in saris. I can't even begin to comprehend the beauty and fun, but I totally wish I had been there.

Fast forward to a day before their fifth anniversary– we were granted free rein over the City Museum for an hour before it opened to the public. Eek, this was a dream come true and I could not have hand picked a better trio to explore with.

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5 Fun Ideas for Lifestyle Family Portraits

When it comes to family portraits, lifestyle portraits are by far my favorite. They emphasize the natural chemistry of your family and really let each personality shine.

Here are some fun ideas for family portrait sessions this summer in St. Louis.

1. A Sweet Adventure- 

Imagine bright, fun and colorful shots of your family having fun at a local carnival or ice cream shop. If you love spontaneous moments of your family having fun together, this just might be a perfect location. Pick up some colorful cotton candy at the Kirkwood Sugar Shack or ice cream cones at Tower Grove Creamery!

2. Around the Campfire-

Have a fire pit in the backyard? Why not make it the centerpiece of your next family portrait session. These pictures will be full of sticky, s'more smiles and awesome fireside lighting.

3. Picnic in the Park-

Pack up some cute cupcakes, juice boxes and a blanket and head to Tower Grove Park. Parks are the perfect place to capture intimate fun in addition to some classic family portraits. Bring some toys for the kids to play with like chalk and bubbles. Make sure to bring some extra bread to feed the ducks :).

4. A Lake or River Trip- 

I am originally from New Jersey and totally a beach creature. Seeing as I now live in St. Louis, a lake or river has to suffice. The River Front and Grafton, Il are some of my favorite spots in the area to get my water fix. They provide a beautiful scenic backdrop for posed portraits as well as a great location for natural family fun.

5. Home Sweet Home-

There is nothing like a family playing in their own home. The benefits of taking family portraits at home is that the you already feel comfortable, you have lots of props (aka toys), you don't have to transport the kids and outfit changes are a breeze. *This works best for houses with great natural lighting.*