why I photograph childhood

little Michelle, circa 1994

little Michelle, circa 1994

When I was a kid, I was hyper aware of growing up. I dreaded it. I loved childhood. I was so in tune with the fact that it was fleeting and that my life would not always allow me to run and play whenever I wanted, that my imagination would never be quite what it was then, that circumstances and responsibilities change as time passes. I used to get sad about my peers being in a hurry to grow up, thinking “you have the rest of your life to be grown up!” 

This feeling never went away. I’ve struggled with my Peter Pan complex so much. How do I keep the things I love so much about childhood in my adult life? How do I hold on to the sense of freedom and innocence of childhood amidst responsibility and awareness of horrible things in the world and the tendency of humans to over-complicate life? 

baby Lauren, 2010.

baby Lauren, 2010.

I have been drawn to babies and little kids since I WAS a little kid. I started working with kids when I was 15, because it was the most natural thing in the world for me. I never stopped. I took on part-time nanny work at 18 and I still do it to this day because it fills me up so full of love that I could explode. It wasn’t far into my nanny years that I started picking up a camera for a different reason than I ever had before: to freeze the tiny little things that the kids I loved did so that I wouldn’t forget. The kids all grew so fast that week to week, everything was constantly different. So many of the moments I was inspired by were truly split-seconds that weren’t repeated, or they only happened for a few weeks and then they were gone. Sometimes I look back at the photos I took and I can see things that the same kids still do years later, and I LOVE that. 

toddler Lauren, 2011.

toddler Lauren, 2011.

I fell in love with all of it. I fell in love with using my camera to make visual art from the moments that whisper quietly: this is childhood. The sense of wonder and the natural tendency to just BE. I fell in love with watching and playing and non-verbally training the kids to ignore my camera and just play with me. Childhood lifestyle photography. I just speak the language of it. 

Andrew & Lauren, 2011.

Andrew & Lauren, 2011.

I’m sharing this because I want to share my heart and my perspective and what I love to do. And partly because I want to encourage people to slow down. To look at little things and let those things fill them up. Sometimes I’m so full of words and stories and emotions that I don’t even know where to start sharing because the attention span of social media doesn’t have a great reputation. 

I want to be there for your family. For this moment. Because it’s not going to be exactly like this again. I want you to remember how it all felt: the snuggles and the giggles and the personalities and the emotional drama of a toddler melt-down and the tiny-ness of them and all the love. It all moves so fast and I know that life is so busy, and to me that makes it even more important to somehow preserve it. To me, life and love are art, and I just want to create as much art as possible. 

me & Declan, 2015.

me & Declan, 2015.

xo, Michelle

Follow me @maryandluna on your favorite social media: InstagramTwitterFacebook.
See my art in
my Etsy shop or on maryandluna.com

if you’re interested in a session with me for you and/or your kids in Orange County, CA, visit my website or email me! maryandluna@gmail.com


#yeahfieldtrip 3.0

Three weeks ago, I was in the middle of one of my most favorite experiences each year. Tucked away in El Capitan Canyon, just north of Santa Barbara, over 400 photographers gather to connect and to learn from each other and to play. We call it Photo Field Trip.

I’m having a harder time this year finding words for my week at field trip. I think I was more present. I was busy and I was over-stimulated with new information and socializing and the fresh air and the lack of sleep, but my mind seemed to stay quieter, in a good way. I focused on connecting with old friends and new friends and being comforted by the fact that these people are kindred creative spirits. I took some practical classes and some live-shoot classes. I scribbled notes and documented what I could while remaining conscious of the experience of it all. I navigated among the familiar settings and new faces with a little bit more ease. I laughed a lot. I took some deep breaths. I looked at the stars, guided by an astronomer. I talked to people about my hopes for my creative business and was greeted with encouragement. I asked questions. I listened and watched more than anything. There are so many options of how to fill your time at field trip, but even if you love what you chose to do, there’s always a trace of FOMO. But I very much enjoyed my time and the friends I’ve made through this wonderful community. The words and feelings I’ve collected from all three years at field trip have stayed with me and have deeply become a part of my business and philosophy. I’m so very grateful.

Here are some of my favorite photos from the week!
(click to view my posts from year 1 and year 2

I always wish I had more time. I wish that I was better at socializing. But I did my best to learn and I have good conversations with interesting people and get some images that I love. And that's more than enough.  

xo, Michelle

P.S. I did a little illustrated portrait project while I was there and I’m still working on it, so I will share those when I’m finished :)

Follow me @maryandluna on your favorite social media: InstagramTwitterFacebook.
See my art in
my Etsy shop or on maryandluna.com

if you’re interested in a session with me for you and/or your kids in Orange County, CA, visit my website or email me! maryandluna@gmail.com

norway photos: part 3, Bergen!

The last installment of my Norway photos! I'm going to live in the dream of that country forever. Our last stop: the beautiful city of Bergen and Hardangerfjord!

train from Voss to Bergen


the dream!

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tiny little streets

Bryggen, the oldest part of Bergen.

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The Floibanen, a funicular up the mountain.

view from Mount Floyen

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the top of Mount Floyen was my dream world. I was so in heaven.

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Damsgard manor.

found flower crown

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a pride parade!


fjord cruise through Hardangerfjord

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frolicking in Eidfjord

Voringfoss waterfall. a little snowy & beautiful!


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just the prettiest place...

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See parts one and two. I love you, Norway.

xo, Michelle

Follow me @maryandluna on your favorite social media: InstagramTwitterFacebook. See my art in my Etsy shop or on maryandluna.com

norway photos: part 2!

I'm continuing to share my Norway photos! It's been 3 months and I still can't believe it was a real place because it was so beautiful! Our second stop: the Oslo-Bergen railway to Voss & its surrounding fjords!

Oslo -> Bergen

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Flamsbana Railway from snowy Myrdal to the fjord town of Flam

snowy and very very cold. beginning of June!

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a little nod to beloved Field Trip (click photo for blog post)

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the lake in Voss

Do you feel swept away by the cold northern beauty yet?

Check out Part 1: Oslo if you missed them! I'll post the final set of photos next week :)

xo, Michelle

Follow me @maryandluna on your favorite social media: InstagramTwitterFacebook. See my art in my Etsy shop or on maryandluna.com

norway photos: part 1, Oslo!

Three months ago, I was wandering around beautiful Norway with my sister. What we saw of the country left me in such a state of awe, from the fluent English to the architecture & design to the unbelievably unspoiled landscapes. Norway was an absolute dream for this nature-loving-hippie-artist. When I look at these photos, I'm swept away all over again to this cold, northern place. I'll make a post on each place I went. First up: Oslo!

oslo cathedral


oslo opera house


Akershus Castle & Fortress

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chasing bubbles

the royal palace

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Radhus (city hall)

Radhus (city hall)

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Nobel Peace Center

inside the Nobel Peace Center

inside the National Gallery

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Bygdoy island

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Viking ship museum

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Fram museum

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Vigeland park


If you ever get the chance to go to Norway, do not hesitate to say a big YES.

More photos next time!

xo, Michelle

Follow me @maryandluna on your favorite social media: InstagramTwitterFacebook. See my art in my Etsy shop or on maryandluna.com