9 Lives [San Diego Lifestyle Portraits]



Imagine this familiar scenario: you're having a special get together with friends, a night on the town, or maybe a birthday bash. The time comes to take a group picture. This usually means one person skipping out on the photograph to snap the shot, or entrusting your camera to a stranger to capture the image. You might even program the camera's timer, make a mad dash into frame, and hope for the best. But remember, this is a special occasion. Once in a lifetime perhaps. You're dressed to the nines, looking sharp, and among cherished company. Shouldn't your photographs be equally special?

Marlina had this exact idea in mind when planning a long-overdue reunion with her second cousins: Melissa, Jiji, Tina, Aimee, Monique, Tatiana, Nina, and Ginger. Among them, they share four grandmothers who are sisters, and these beloved family matriarchs -- through constant nurturing and love -- blessed these nine young women with a sense of sisterhood all their own. As teenagers, Marlina and her cousins would gather for parties and holidays, but one or two of the girls would always be absent -- always falling short of that special magic that happens when family comes together as a whole. Separated across the miles and by obligations, this would be the first time the nine of them would reunite as adults.

San Diego was the destination, many flying into town. The girls treated themselves to new dresses, professional make-up and hair styling, and I was the photographer entrusted to commit the day to film. Smoke from the recent forest fires and the prospect of rain threatened to damper our event, but the overcast sun was ideal for photography, and the haze made for some wild heavenly skies. It was a time to celebrate -- Melissa was recently engaged, and Marlina surprised her by gifting everyone a giant candy diamond ring. It was also a time for remembrance -- honoring the passing of their youngest grandmother, Pat, her memory reminding them of the importance of family and keeping in touch.

I could not have asked for a more enjoyable shoot, nor a better group to spend the afternoon with. Truly, this was a blast! Everyone looked like stars, and their commitment to life-long friendship is inspiring. Who knows when the next reunion will be. Life is busy, life is fast. One thing is certain -- no matter the distance between them, this special nine will always be reunited everyday in pictures, forever.

Enjoy, everyone!