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kristianne koch riddle photography
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surf town family


It was a gorgeous sunny day slightly warmer than it had been lately and I was excited to meet up with the Hohenester family down at Calafia for their annual family session. You can see more of their sessions with me here, here and here. We finally met up in the infamous caves just south of the parking lot. We began exploring right there and the light and textures were beautiful in this little gem of a spot. It felt like we had escaped to a treasured national park.

Then we walked across the tracks and were right on the Pacific Ocean-right there where the sand meets the sea, a small but special section of California’s 3,427 miles of tidal shoreline. This family is the epitome of San Clemente and the beach. Dad, Joe, works in the surf industry, Noah is a competitive surfer and Mom, Brandy, and daughters Morgan and Zoe practically live at the beach when the girls are not creating art, dancing or going to school. If Morgan and Zoe look familiar, they are the two girls running down the beach toward the water in one of the most well know and favorite of all my portfolio images.

When I got home I was a bit sad because the bustle of the session kept me distracted from paying attention to the details (I was also being filmed for a video during their session that is being produced for my business) and I just felt that I did not completely do my job that day. However, the images tell a different story. I had all these expectations, as I always do, about how I would set things up and create great, comfortable, real images-the professional that I am. But what I usually discover is that the ones I fall in love with are the “in-betweens:” The images that are made as life is happening, in the moment, hanging out with friends who are comfortable with themselves, where they are and with me being there with them.

I have always admired the work of Jock Sturges, as controversial as he’s always been, because of his ability to photograph real people as they really are, surrounded by things that are familiar to them. He claims:

“As to how I work with my models, that is even simpler to describe. We spend time together, know each other, family to family, for years. We are friends. And once in a while we make pictures together. I think that only about 1% of my time spent doing my “work” as a photographer consists of the actual taking of pictures. The rest of the time is dedicated to the simple social work that makes the photographs possible.”

This is how I have always seen myself as a portrait photographer and I am so fortunate to have wonderful clients like the Hohenster family and many others who have let me into their lives to be there, part of it as well as photographer of it.