• Bianca Jo

We are in the 2nd month of 2020 and I am reminiscing about all of the locations I photographed in 2019. I wanted to share my favorites with you. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do and find yourself wanting to explore a new location for a future photo session.

Oak Canyon Nature Center, Anaheim

I love Oak Canyon Nature Center for a couple of reasons: 1) it has many options for backgrounds – these images were taken within eyeshot from the nature center and are my favorites as they stood out; 2) the light was just amazing with the canopy of trees and the hill to the right of the entrance. The sun wasn’t directly hitting us and it created a perfect lighting that was so gorgeous.

It's also a great place for new headshots and branding sessions.

Morning Lavender Cafe, Tustin

I found out about Morning Lavendar Cafe from a friend when we decided to meet up there. It is a great café that makes you feel fancy. It has gorgeous décor and serves yummy lavender lattes with assorted snack options. It also has a boutique in the front of the store if you need outfit ideas for date night or maybe your next photo session. I enjoy photographing here and think it would be great as a start to an engagement session before we walk the downtown area for more photo fun!

Ferndell Trail, Griffith Park

Ferndell Trail is one of those spots you dream about for a photo session. The greenery is so beautiful and has so many little corners to get great shots. You can follow this easy trail all the way up to Griffith Observatory. It ends by a café called Trails Cafe where you can stop after a photo session to rest and enjoy nature. This trail has great light for morning or evening photo sessions for clients that like that timeframe.

Malaga Cove, Palos Verdes Estates

Malaga Cove is a beach location that is perfect for sunset photo sessions. This spot is a unique beach area that has a lookout hut at the top of a paved walkway that goes down to a pebble beach. At the top, you can go to an open space that gives great views of the ocean and makes for a fantastic background especially at sunset.

Mile Square Regional Park, Fountain Valley

Mile Square Regional Park is apart of the OC Parks System and has a nature area that really makes you forget that you are in the heart of Fountain Valley. I really like this place because it is great for mini photo sessions with its many hidden pathways that give a different feel to each session based on the type of plant life around you.

Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve, Newport Beach

What I loved about the Newport Nature Preserve was the fact that it has many options for backgrounds. There is a building here that is shaded and adds a great texture to photos and nearby there are pathways to hike. You won’t find many trees to provide shade, but the place has wonderful views that make it stand out from other places.

Mason Regional Park, Irvine

Mason Regional is like most regional parks with big green open spaces and playgrounds but it has an island surrounded by a big lake and a nice bridge which would be great for group shots. By the lake are big boulders that give variety for backgrounds. In the back of the park, there is a nature area that is my favorite spot here. It has a wide variety of trees and plant life with many colorful flowers and shades of green. It is very accessible and is small enough that it functions great for family mini sessions.

Katie Wheeler Library, Irvine

Last but not least is the Katie Wheeler Library. I love this unique location as Katie Wheeler was a ranch that was turned into a park and library. It still has orange groves, barns and the houses that the ranch owners and workers lived in. I love the different looks you can get with weathered barns and nice colonial buildings.

What do you think?

The last four locations are all a part of the OC Parks system and that’s not even half of them. Each one has a unique nature type and shows how diverse Southern California is. I hope to have sessions at some of the other parks and maybe some new locations I haven’t found out about yet.

What did you think of these places? Which did you think would be a favorite of yours? Have you been to any of these locations? If so, what did you like about them? Let me know in the comments.

If you fell in love with any of these areas and need to have a photo session there, please contact me at I would love to make it happen for you. Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram @biancajophoto and see more of what the locations have to offer!

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  • Bianca Jo

I just love this time of year with all of the lights, cozy pajamas, coats and sweaters and, of course, Creme Brulée Lattes at Starbucks! It's also about the real reason for the season, Christ, and being able to share love, joy and peace with my family and friends.

I always look to see what’s new in my area so I can enjoy time and the season together with family and friends. So I thought I'd share a list of these events with you! I hope you can find some time to enjoy with your loved ones!


Deck the Cove - Crystal Cove Tree Lighting – Dec. 7th 10am - 5:30pm

This tree lighting will be like stepping back in time with a vintage look and feel to the decor. There will also be a holiday activities for handcrafted holiday gifts and fine art plus hot cocoa from The Beachcomber. Free event.

Irvine Winter Wonderland - Irvine Civic Center – Dec. 7th 4pm - 6:30pm

Activities include visits with Santa Claus, live holiday music, games, crafts, and winter-themed train route and snow fall!

Everyone who attends is encouraged to bring a new, unwrapped gift for infants or children up to age 12. Donations will help the Irvine 2/11 Marine Adoption Committee Holiday Drive, which benefits the families of Irvine’s adopted 2/11 Marine Battalion. 

Laguna Niguel Christmas Tree Lighting - Laguna Niguel City Hall – Dec. 7th 5pm - 7pm

Everything a Christmas tree lighting should be, but with a Hawaiian twist!

Capistrano Lights - San Juan Capistrano Mission – Dec. 8th to Jan. 6th 5:30pm - 9pm

There is so much to do at this event from the tree lighting, to a nativity scene, crafts, mariachi and tamales. Special activities will happen on weekends. You can find ticket prices and more details here

Opening night is Dec. 7th.

Pines Park Tree Lighting - Dana Point – Dec. 9th at 6:30pm

This event will have carolers, carnival games, free hot chocolate and cookies with the tree lighting at 5 pm. But the main reason this got my attention was the dog costume parade!

Balboa Island Tree Lighting - Balboa Island – Dec. 18th at 4pm

Tree lighting and caroling will happen in front of the fire station with cider, cookies and snow on Marine Avenue.


Holiday Movie Night - Huntington Beach – Dec. 11th & 18th at 6pm

Movies are held at Pacific City on the second level every Wednesday. They will also have a meet and greet with a character from the movie.

Dec 11 - Elf and Dec 18 - The New Grinch Cartoon

Heritage Hill Annual Candlelight Walk – Dec. 13th to 15th 5:30pm - 8:30pm

More than 1,000 luminarias will light the park’s pathways as strolling carolers and musicians fill the air with music. Admission is $5 per person and free if 3yo and under. The event tickets are while supplies last and cash only at the event.

Winter Fest OC - OC Fair – Dec. 19th to Jan. 5th

There is so much to do at this event like ice tubing, snow areas, ice skating, light mazes and fireworks. There is so much more! Find out more details and buy tickets here.

Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade - Newport Beach - Dec 18th to 22nd 5:30pm - 9pm

See homes, yachts and docks decorated with thousands of lights and 200 plus boats pass by fully decked out in holiday lights! You can even get a chance to take a cruise around the bay. Check out this site to get the best viewing spots here.

Huntington Harbour Cruise of Lights - Huntington Beach – Dec. 17th to 23rd 5:30pm - 8:30pm

Similar to the Newport Beach parade but you can do it from the yacht! See more details and purchase tickets here.

Nights of 1,000 Lights - Sherman Library and Gardens - First 3 weekends in Dec. from 6pm - 9pm

Light tunnels, disco and Elvis themes plus sweets in Gingerbread Land. You can make your very own Christmas ornament and enjoy photos, coffee, hot chocolate and even make s'mores! Check out their site for more information and ticket pricing here.


"Santa Claus Conquers the Martians" – Fullerton - Maverick Theater – Dec. weekends.

I'd want to see it just for how weird and outrageous it sounds! Santa is kidnapped by Martians and you can join him on his outer space adventure! Buy tickets here.

"A Christmas Carol" - Camino Real Play House - San Juan Capistrano – Dec. 6th to 21st

See the beloved classic with a new twist as Charles Dickens presents his famed story to you, his guests. There are multiple shows each weekend and you can purchase you tickets here.


Christmas at the Cathedral - Christ Cathedral - Garden Grove – Dec. 13th, 7:30pm - 9pm

Hear different choirs sing in English, Vietnamese and Spanish new and old Christmas carols. You can purchase tickets here.

19th Annual Live Nativity & International Celebration - Old World Huntington Beach-

Dec 15th, 6pm - 8pm

Old World Village hosts the International Celebration of Christmas, this celebrations main theme in bringing together a different group of churches, singers and dancers that highlights meaning of the holiday season. There will also be a benefit held for the Huntington Beach Police and Community Foundation. Find out more about this event here.

There are so many things to do this time of year that there is something for everyone. I hope you enjoy this list of family fun outings this season. Let me know in the comments if I missed some and if you plan on going to any of them!

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  • Bianca Jo

It seems that the more life goes on, the busier and busier you get. Choosing to have a portrait session can add not only scheduling issues, but can be a bit stressful. That is why I have created the Top 10 Mini Session Essential Tips to help take some of that stress away so you can feel ready to have an enjoyable time with your family during your session.

01- Best Time

The perfect time for you to schedule your session is, of course, when it is best for your family. If you have little ones who nap at 10 am, then scheduling the session at 10 am might not be a good idea as it could add stress and make the little ones unhappy. If that isn't something you need to worry about, then the next thing to think about is the light you'll get at the time you have your session. The best times for golden warm light is within an hour or 2 before sunset or morning light before 10 am.

02 - Pack Water & Snacks

I always suggest eating before a session so no one is hungry, but sometimes it can be a good idea to bring a snack in case little ones can't wait for the next mealtime. Water is always a great idea especially on hot days and living in Southern California means that even during the fall and winter you can have some pretty warm days!

03- Comfort Is Key

Mini sessions might have a little bit of walking (not too much, but some) to get to some ideal spots. Locations can have dirt paths so if someone is planning to wear high heels, bring walking shoes and put the high heels on when you get to each spot. You want to be comfortable in your clothes so wear clothing that you feel good in, because if you don't, it will show on your face and in your body language.

04 - Complementary Outfits

When choosing your outfits for your session you want to make sure that everyone's outfits complement each other. You don't need to match, but choosing a color theme (3-4 colors) keeps everyone looking cohesive.

05- Accessorize

Accessories are a great way to show everyone's personality whether it is with shoes, scarves, hats, and jewelry. This is also a great way to add the pop of color and texture to each outfit that fits with the color theme you chose. Layers are always a great way to bring in those fun accessories.

06 - Plan Ahead

The day before your photoshoot, you want to make sure that everyone has their outfits picked out. Once you have the clothes chosen, lay them all out together. This will help you see if you need to change something or get them cleaned first and ready for session day.

07 - Hair And Makeup

Plan hair cuts or hair do's at least a week before the session. Having a fresh hair cut the day of the photoshoot can show redness on men's hairlines or other irritations you weren't anticipating. Maybe the hairdresser cut it too short and you don't like your hairstyle. Having a week to sort that out is always a good idea. Don't forget your makeup too. Make sure you bring items that are able to be touched up and/or put on right before the session.

08 - Bringing Your Pet?

I love when families bring their fur babies, but they can be a handful. Bring a person who will not be photographed and have them on pet duty. They can watch the animal while your family gets some images without your fur baby. Also, bring a toy and snacks to help get their attention.

09 - Just Be You

Everyone has their own unique style and it is OK to choose an outfit that expresses who you are! With tips 4 and 5, you should be able to put together an outfit that expresses who you are and that goes with being a smiley person or not. My job as a photographer is to bring out you and the unique people in your family!

10 - Relax And Have Fun!

I know that relaxing and having fun should be a no brainer, but sometimes preparing for a photoshoot can get stressful. This stress can cause different emotions to rage before the session, but that's natural and normal. I won't lie, there may be meltdowns, unhappy teens or run away littles, but that is ok. Your photographer should know how to handle it kindly and professionally to help ease tension and make it fun for everyone. Embrace every moment in every stage of your family's lives before those moments disappear.

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