north beach, san clemente

katrina and mike consider themselves incredibly blessed and incredibly lucky. their youngest daughter was born with only half of her heart. her prognosis at birth was very unstable and they have been through a lot this past year. surgeries, hospital stays, hope, and lots of prayers. when katrina contacted me several months ago, rylie had just come home from a surgery and was doing wonderfully. she was ready to celebrate and wanted a photo shoot so that their family could do just that. celebrate what they have, and remember this time in their lives forever.

from the moment she first emailed me, she stole my heart. which was fitting-for i would gladly share mine with miss rylie.


they are both surfers so they brought some of their boards to play with.


look at what twins these two are!


someone is ten, and bailed on us for awhile to try out the waves…


but he didnt stay away for long.


i adore everyones expressions in this one! adore.



two more i absolutely LOVE the expressions on…



and packing up and heading out…unplanned and a favorite.


i am personally so ecstatic it is friday. spending today catching up on some work, having lunch with a friend, and having more friends over tonight for a sleepover and drink off. NOW mommy gets her mcmargarita! :)

edited sunday morning-katrina emailed me some information, here is a cut/paste of that email for everyone. 

I just saw the post of our family… thanks for telling our story!! I’d be honored to have people follow our story (category: Rylie Hope Update) on my blog… and/or give out the website for CHI Fund which is an organization that raises awareness and funds for Rady Children’s Hospital (where Rylie receives her care). . (I’ll be adding Rylie’s bio soon… and it may have your picture attached to it)

We are getting ready for our annual Gala which will be in November in SD.  The theme is “work of heart”… we are auctioning art and gift packages… and all proceeds benefit Children’s Heart Institute!!  Know anyone who may be interested in a donation?? (it’s tax deductible)

I feel so blessed that we’ve come in contact with you.  You are truly an exceptional person!

Oh… and enjoy your mcmargarita!! I’m so jealous!

Thanks again,
Katrina Vredevelt

Join the Conversation


  1. You are so talented!

    That is really sad that she was born with half a heart, but I hope all the surgeries and such will be successful so she can live a long and healthy life. Do you keep in contact with the people you photograph?

  2. What an amazing story about that baby. The pictures are beautiful, as always, but I can’t get over how much the father and son look alike! That’s nuts.

    McMargarita…I love that. Have fun with your party!

  3. What a great story and photo shoot!
    Your ability to capture peoples expressions of love and affection for one another is AMAZING!
    Love the heart shot whose feetprints are those at the bottom? Too cute

  4. I LOVE the shot of Miss Rylie in the heart! Such beautiful catchlights in her eyes, and I love that you can still see your footprints! Love the shallow depth of field too! What lens did you use on that one? These images are all WONDERFUL!You captured beautiful connections in this family!

  5. someday – if i could be half the photographer you are, i would feel so fortunate. what a gift you have to catch people in “their” moment.

  6. All I can say is THANK YOU!! We absolutely LOVE our pictures… as I’ve already told you… you did such a fantastic job capturing the LOVE and JOY of our family! We have been on such a roller coaster of emotion this year… but by these photos you’d never know… we are truly blessed. We will cherish these photos and the moments they capture… FOREVER. I’m ordering my prints this weekend :-)

  7. I don’t know if it’s the story behind them or what, but those are some of the best shots you’ve ever put up here. ALL your photos are fantastic, but the emotion and personality that come through in these is indescribable!

  8. what beautiful pictures! i love them…

    i have a sweet rylee that was also born with a “broken” heart…sadly, she has passed away. what i would have given to have pictures like these…

  9. these are beautiful…but then again they always are! i’m new to photography, and i get so much inspiration from you. i just thought i would drop you a line and let you know. hope you don’t mind, i posted your link on my blog. thanks for sharing your incredible talent!

  10. Such a beautiful family. Tara, you do an incredible job of capturing people’s inner beauty. I don’t know how you do it. This family is just naturally beautiful, but you honestly can bring the beauty out of ANYONE. I love the lines on their faces on the B&Ws, showing their character, that they are living their lives. (Of course, I’m at the lines-on-the-face stage, too, so am looking to appreciate them.) What a lovely family. Do you realize that everytime you do this you are showing us yourself? Have you thought about that? For a self-proclaimed non-religious chick, that’s pretty heavy.

  11. It gives me chills the way you are able to capture families. What a beautiful session. These are some of the mose beautiful images I think that I have ever seen. The light, the angles, the ‘moments’ the EXPRESSIONS…sure genius!!! You are so talented!!!

  12. Tara, I absolutely love your work!! What program do you use to edit? I have watched your site for over a year now and it always makes me smile how you capture people! Have a blessed day!!

  13. Your work is always breath-taking. Truly. These shots are some of my new favorites from you. I love the way you cleverly used backgrounds you found (like the “men” sign and the number 10 on the wall). I must remember to keep my eye out for such possibilities. Thanks for the inspiration and sharing your talent.

  14. My son has a chronic health problem and it took many sleepless nights to learn that you can only handle it one day at a time. I see from your beautiful pictures that you have already learned that lesson. My son is now 40 years old and living a wonderful life on his own. Good Luck and keep up the good work!

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