dana pugh and her family roadtrip to CA

I met Dana in the first minute of walking into a room I was very nervous to be in. I was in that room as a guest of Cheryl Muhr’s workshop. I remember standing outside for a bit, revving myself up. Then taking a deep breath, walking in, and the first person I came into contact with was Dana. Lucky for me, because she just exudes warmth and smiles. She ushered me into the back to give me lunch, and immediately set me at ease. I fell for her immediately, and have kept in touch with her since.

When she emailed telling me about her California road trip, asking if I would photograph her family, I was literally over the moon with happiness. We met at their campsite, which was abloom with yellow daisies, and then headed to the beach. The light was spectacular. I am pretty sure that I smiled the entire time. Her family is full of energy, spunk, and laughter. Her husband just “gets it”. Together they are just the kind of people I like to be around.

They made my job so easy it should be illegal to call it a job.

To read about Dana’s thoughts on our time together, you can go here.
But only if you promise not to take her too seriously about The Beatles.



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  1. Tara, I don’t often comment on your blog, but I read every entry. I just had to comment today because the last few posts have found me literally STARING at the screen. Pausing at each image for several minutes. Taking it all in. I can’t think of any other photographer whose photos have this effect on me. These are truly a piece of art, and you are so talented. Thank you for sharing these with us.

  2. Tara, these are just beautiful. I am always in awe of your work, it amazes me. Just so you know I want you to photograph my family one day. We live in Norfolk, Va but I told my husband that one day you will photograph us. We will save up and take a vacation to California. I have never been, but my husband has and he wants us to go. Having Tara Whitney photograph my family is one of my goals in life. ;0) Thank you for sharing your work. I hope to one day be at least as half as inspiring as you are.

  3. I think this is your best shoot ever. It really does look effortless! The picture of the two kids and their footprints made me catch my breath.

  4. Man Tara how do you do it. Each photo is filled with such emotion and feeling. I love it! They just ooze with it. I have said it before but I still want to be like you when I grow up, problem is I already am…I got a lot of work to do. Thank you for sharing your talent. These are and those before them are seriously amazing. Loving you lots!!

  5. I welled up with tears a bit as soon as I saw the one with her son’s eye’s closed. Seeing her blog then I see that sure got to her too, as I would have guessed! Amazing, amazing pictures I sured loved her description of her time with you. :)

  6. oh!!!!! this session is just ADORABLE…
    dana is one my good ciber-friends and you captured her and her family just as i imagine she is, but that doesn’t surprise me, you rock every session, you are in fact what we (all family photographers) want to be when we grow up…
    beautiful session of a beautiful family

  7. I LOVE these Tara! So real and heart warming! I love your sun flare shots!!! How do you do that???!!! If you have have a FAQ sessions I would love reading that!!! Love these pictures! So cool that you had a family plan their vacation so that YOU could shoot their family pictures! AWESOME!

  8. These are divine :) I met Dana at this same workshop. She is delightful, and you captured her perfectly! Having you photography my family, is on my “bucket list” :)

  9. I love everything you ever post, Tara, but these ones gave me goosebumps. Oh who am I kidding…they ALL do! This family is so lovely. I absolutely love the mama with her gorgeous smile and beautiful energy. What a beautiful lady. They love each other and it shows. I love the ones in the yellow flowers. Thank you as always, for sharing your heart.

  10. I read Dana’s thoughts and I’m glad she was able to put into words (beautiful words!) the exact same feeling we had. Your work is indeed magnificent! My family is also very grateful for the wonderful photographs you’ve taken of us together. We’ll treasure them forever.

  11. Where do I even begin? I’ve been taking peeks at these for a couple days now. I am just overwhelmed and inspired by the beauty and love in these. Dana, your family is beautiful . . . the love is contagious. Tara, the images are breathtaking. So very special. Thanks for sharing.

  12. I love seeing you take pictures at State Park (calafia beach). We live right above the beach off Calafia and I get so happy to see it in your photo’s. One of these days we are going to hire you to do a photo shoot there:-)…I love your stuff.

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