Having a dog in Long Beach seems to be a requirement for living in the city. I love that there are so many dog friendly patios, restaurants, and coffee shops.  I also love Long Beach dog culture, and including your fur babies in photo sessions. There are, however, some things that you can do to make taking photos with your pet a better experience.

Here are my tips;

Bring a Friend

Bring a friend or family member who your pet is comfortable with to help manage your pet. You probably won’t want to take ALL of your photos with your furry friend, and having an extra set of hands to hold a leash, or try to get their attention for a photo. Offer to buy them a drink afterward. 😉

Look at the photographer

I repeat, LOOK AT THE PHOTOGRAPHER(!!!!), not at your dog. It’s going to be tough, because your instinct is going to be to look at the dog to give them the command to look at me. JUST. LOOK. AT. ME. I will work on getting your dog’s attention while you smile calmly at me. I end up with so many photos where the dog is looking at the camera with the perfect cute expression, and every other member of the family is looking at the dog and pointing at me, trying to make the dog look my way.

Think About Your Environment

Does your dog go nuts when you take them to the park? Then you probably shouldn’t go to the park for family photos. If they’re more comfortable being walked on the street, or in a confined space, opt for some cityscape photos! Is your dog an anxious mess when they leave the house? Then consider photos in your backyard, or walking around your familiar neighborhood. Does your dog do better with no other dogs or people around? Choose a quiet spot at an off time to take your family photos.

Work Them Out!

Budget time into your day to tire your dog out. Take them on a run before you get ready, or throw the ball as much as you can before your photographer shows up for photos. Give them ample time to shake their sillies out. This works for kids too. HA!

Focus on YOUR energy

Animals are so receptive to your stress. I know that family photos can be stressful, especially with your fur family, but that will stress your dog out too. Take a deep breath, do a quick meditation, and put a happy smile on your face. Your dog will chill out, too. Hopefully.

Roof roof!

FL:R

Being born intersex isn’t something I hide, but it’s also not something I talk about often. I’m not ashamed, but it’s not a huge part of my life.  If you have questions or want to talk about it, please let me know. I speak openly about it in person, and have shared it online in the past, but it’s been awhile. I was asked to contribute to an article in Cosmopolitan (hasn’t been published yet) and thought it might be cool to share my answers to the reporter’s questions. I didn’t have a specific time I was going to share, I planned on waiting until the article had been published. The reporter is keeping the responses anonymous (being intersex is a sensitive subject for some) and I’m sure my responses will be heavily edited, so I thought it made sense to share my answers once the article was released.

Until today, when I saw some major fuckery from an idiot (who I’m not even going to name because I don’t want to drive traffic to his ignorant, bigoted, homophobic, ‘christian’ website) and decided that now would be a great time to talk about my experience. You see, there was a document called the Nashville Statement published a couple of months ago whose signatories (most of those creepy mega church people) believe that I was born intersex because I was cursed by god for Eve’s original sin and the subsequent fall of man (nope!), and that  in order to, ‘liv(e) a fruitful life in joyful obedience to Christ,’ that my genetic sex needs to match my gender identity. No one in the world knew of my genetic difference until I was 17. I’ve never questioned my gender identity, before OR after my diagnosis. And these people think they can just decide that I should switch over because of an xy instead of an xx?  Eyeroll. There are many intersex people who do change gender identities, who are gender fluid, who are gender neutral, and there is nothing wrong with that! My fuming has a lot to do with the oppressive Christian patriarchal machine I dealt with in my school years who is still trying to tell me what to do.

To this type of Christian I’d like to say;

-I am exactly who I’m supposed to be

-MIND ‘YA BUSINESS

-STAY IN YOUR FUCKING LANE

-‘SIT DOWN. BE HUMBLE.’ -kendrick lamar

Here are two great articles to read about what’s going on in the intersex advocacy community right now;

https://www.thenation.com/article/why-intersex-patients-need-the-truth-and-doctors-need-to-listen/

http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/style/2017/10/05/the-intersex-rights-movement-is-ready-for-its-moment/?utm_term=.392b6f5cf408

Here are the questions and answers I responded to this week;

  1. So you identify as intersex. What does that mean?

 For me, in general, being intersex means being born primary or secondary sex characteristics that do not fit neatly into society’s binary definitions of male or female.  You’re born with traits and characteristics of both sexes. Somewhere in between. For me specifically, being intersex means that I was born with Swyer Syndrome. That means that I was born externally female, with a uterus and fallopian tubes, but with unformed ovaries. Genetically, however, I have XY (male) chromosomes. I’m not in the medical field, but this is how I understand my specific syndrome; When everyone is in the womb, they develop the same gonadal tissue until week nine. Although gender has already been determined depending on whether the sperm that fertilized the egg is xy, or xx, the tissue that has been growing for nine weeks is identical until week 9 when hormones are introduced. The tissue then develops into either testicles, or ovaries. My disorder made me insensitive to those hormones, so the tissue didn’t develop into testicles or ovaries. It ‘should’ have turned into testicles because I’m genetically xy, but it just stayed as it was.  

  1. How old are you?

35 (How did this happen?!)

  1. How old were you when you realized you were intersex? How did you find out?

 I was 17 when I found out. I hadn’t started my period, and every time I went to the doctor my mom or I asked about it. Because my mom didn’t start her period until she was 17, and because I was very active in school sports, they always told us that I was just a late bloomer, and not to worry about it. Toward the end of my Junior year of high school and into the summer I grew much taller really quickly, and gained a lot of weight. I hadn’t changed my eating habits and was still swimming and playing water polo, so we knew something was wrong. After dozens of blood tests and doctor appointments, I was misdiagnosed with Complete Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome. It’s very similar to Swyer Syndrome, but people with CAIS don’t have a uterus. I always wondered why I did, and (thank you google) discovered Swyer Syndrome around 2008? I then called my doctors and let them know. 😀

  1. How did you feel when you found out?

The doctor who told my mom and me the news thought that I already knew of my diagnosis from another doctor I’d seen. So after months of not knowing what was wrong, but knowing it was something, the doctor walked into the room and said, ‘So tell me what you know about your testicular feminization….’ (Side note: Like the word hermaphrodite, Testicular Feminization is an antiquated term that is no longer used) And I had no idea what he was talking about. As a 17 year old girl I definitely didn’t want what was wrong with me to have anything to do with testicles. YIKES. It was a traumatic experience and day, preceded by a lot of other traumatic poking, prodding, and behavior. Luckily, I was referred the incredible duo, Drs. Cheryl & Nicholas Saenz who took over my treatment and handled me with love, sensitivity, and kindness.

  1. What was it like going through puberty as an intersex person?

I can tell you what NOT going through puberty was like as an intersex person. It was frustrating to not go through the same things your friends are going through. Starting your period (mine didn’t start until I was 18, when it was induced with hormone replacement therapy), developing breasts, stuff like that.  I got breast implants when I was 18 and that made a huge difference in my life then and now! I love having boobs. 😀

  1. How has being intersex affected your sex life?

It hasn’t. Externally, I developed typically.

  1. Have you told partners and or friends you were intersex? Why or why

not? If so, what was their reaction like?

I’ve never gotten to the point in a romantic relationship where I felt the need or desire to tell someone. I tell friends and have become more and more likely to share as the years have gone on. It’s not something I shout from the rooftops, but it’s also not something I avoid.

  1. Has it affected your fertility?

 Yes. It is possible for some people with Swyer Syndrome to get pregnant with an egg donor. I actually have a friend with Swyer Syndrome who is expecting, and I am THRILLED for her. For me personally, I’ve gotten mixed answers from fertility specialists. I had one who said absolutely not, there’s no way you’ll get pregnant, and one who said that he can’t tell until I try an in-vitro hormone cycle.  Even before being diagnosed, I loved the idea of fostering to adopt instead of being having a family through a pregnancy, so I am not sure that I’d attempt it? Not having the choice to get pregnant like most people do has been really difficult. Especially when a lot of my friends started having babies.  It’s heartbreaking and has contributed to a lot of sad times in my life. Childbirth and pregnancy is SO cool to me (I even became a birth doula for a short time!), and a part of me really wants to experience it. We’ll see!

  1. How else does being intersex impact your life now?

Medically, I take synthetic hormones every day and am at high risk for osteoperosis. I deal with most of the issues menopausal women face.

Physically, I am really tall because my body didn’t receive the hormonal signals to stop growing. I also struggle with my weight, which is a combination of my genetic difference, and using food as comfort. I avoid dating partly because I fear telling a boyfriend about my diagnosis, and also because I feel uncomfortable with my size. I’m working on that, though. YAY THERAPY!

Being intersex doesn’t have a huge impact on my day to day life, but overall it has made me a better, more tolerant person. I am more of an advocate for the LGBT community than I would have been had I not been born this way. Although I have never questioned my gender identity, many people who identify as intersex do because a gender decision was made for them as a newborn or child in an attempt to assimilate them society’s binary boy/girl designations. Instead of accepting that not everyone is the same, and that everyone is beautiful just as they are, and should have the opportunity to explore themselves and make their own decisions, they’re often mutilated to make parents and doctors feel more comfortable. Being a part of a community where that is happening has taught me the importance of accepting others on their terms, not society’s. The next part is a little tricky for me to write and word properly because I am incredibly privileged to be someone who externally fits into societal gender definitions. I realize that my experience is not the same as someone who grew up with pain and judgement because of who they’re attracted to. I also don’t want people to misconstrue what I’m saying in a way that suggests that being gay is something medical that should be treated.…… but here it goes. I SO strongly believe in fighting for marriage equality and LOVE using my diagnosis as an argument for it. The scenario I present is as follows; I was born intersex, meaning that I’m physically female, but genetically male. What does the church and bible say about that? Nothing. SO, if I identified as a man or a woman, it would be accepted in your church as long as I was dating the opposite gender, right? Because I’m neither? Something in between that could go either way? (they usually agree) So if you can’t make a decision about who I should be and date and marry and love, then how can you make that decision and judgement for anyone else? I hope that makes sense.

  What are the biggest misconceptions you’ve encountered about

intersex people?

That it’s something that needs to be ‘fixed.’

That you need to choose between two gender identities.

There’s also a lot of sensationalism around being intersex. There are rumors of actresses and models being (GASP!) intersex, like it’s some sexually deviant thing you choose to be.

  What, if anything, do you wish had been dealt with differently

when you discovered you were intersex?

I wish that doctors had been more sensitive. My condition is rare, so I understand medical people being fascinated with it, but there are times when I’ve felt like a sideshow attraction.

FL:R

I was visiting my cousins in San Francisco this winter, looking through family photos I’d never seen before. They were from the 1950’s when most of my dad’s family lived in the Panama Canal Zone. The one that caught my attention was a glamorous black and white group wedding photograph. My grandma’s cousin’s wedding. All of the guests names were written on the back, and seeing my grandma’s name written in her cursive made my heart catch in my throat. How cool that I was holding something that she’d held. Looking at her name, and photos from that day made me feel so thankful for all of the ridiculous photos my parents have saved of us over the years. And then………

I got really sad. Because the photography work that I do is digital. We always say that we’re going to print photos, but so rarely do. Me included! A photographer! Who doesn’t print photos! Technology becomes obsolete so quickly that I KNOW how important it is to print. Our grandkids, and great grandkids aren’t going to be able to plug in a jump drive, or slide in a disc to view jpg’s. They’re going to want something tangible, something they can touch and feel to connect them with years past.

So, I decided then and there to make a change to the way I do business………and it’s been going SO well.

Here’s the deal;

We still take lovely photos, duh, and spend a fun hour or so together.

Then, we get to see each other again for my favorite part; THE REVEAL. I come to your house, or you come to my office, and you get to see your photos all printed out, and pretty.  We then go through, and choose which ones are your favorites, and talk about ordering options. The lab I use is just spectacular and I’m so happy with how rich, professional, and timeless their my work looks with their ink and paper. All packages include a set of prints in a gorgeous box for you to save for ever and ever. And ever. The rest of the package items depend on the season, and what type of session we’re doing. For holiday, it will probably include some cards to mail, and a photo gift or two for grandparents, or aunts and uncles.

You’ll always be given the option of a few different packages, at different price points.

To be honest, switching to this new way of doing business freaked me out at first. I was worried that my clients wouldn’t see the value that I do in not just paying for a session, but also paying for prints, wall art, and gifts through my new packages. But rolling this out slowly over the last six months has been nothing but wonderful. My clients are so excited to receive archival photos that will stay in their family for generations, and I’m happy that their darling photos aren’t just sitting in a cloud somewhere.

If you have any questions, or need clarification, let’s chat on the phone or meet for coffee! I can’t wait to make memories with you this year for holiday family photos, and in the future.

SMILE!

Taylor

 

FL:R

You’re engaged!?! Let’s create some photos you’ll love for a lifetime!

You’ve found the person you want to spend forever with. Way to go guys! What’s next? Well, I think you should meet with me. Let’s kick off our shoes, run in the waves, and have some fun. Or we could put on our fanciest shoes, and do some twirls. It’s up to you. Let’s plan the engagement session of your dreams.

Boy are you in luck. You just hit the jackpot in an opportunity to win a free engagement photography session. An opportunity to connect. To have fun. To be sweet. To be silly. To dress up. To dress down. To let your love shine. It’s a $300 value that includes my time and talent, with no minimum purchase.

What do you need to do to win? Just send me an email, HI{AT}TAYLOR-K.COM and tell me that you want to win a free engagement session! Include some information about you and your beloved; I’m a sucker for a good love story. Hit send. And done.


 

 

 

Do you want photographs of the two of you that you’ll love for decades to come? Photographs that will bring back memories of this exciting time in your lives? Photographs that will capture that special nose crinkle you get that he loves. Or the mischievous raise of an eyebrow he gets when he’s trying to get you riled up?

Yes?

Have you entered to win yet?

Yes? Good for you! Winners will be notified via email. Can’t wait!

 

 

FL:R

Here’s a sneak peek of last weeks beautiful backyard wedding in Arizona.

Kelli has been a long time online friend (with a splash of in person interaction) and I was THRILLED to find out that she was engaged to Jason! I was even more excited when she asked me to photograph their big day.

Kelli is a talented everything-er, but is a most talented writer. She not only writes a great blog, African Kelli, but is also a published author.

Jason and Kelli’s wedding was full of sweet, personal touches that showed their love for each other, and for their friends and family.

Enjoy!
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FL:R