Gamble Garden/ Palo Alto / Bay Area Photographer

Six years ago I had my FIRST paid family session at Gamble Garden in Palo Alto. I fell in love with the location and now shoot many sessions throughout the year here.

A few reasons why I love this spot…

1.     Large area- Large outdoor space so if there are other families and photographers there is plenty of room to spread out and get lost amongst the flowers.

2.     Abundance of backdrops- Each time I do a family session here I find a new spot to use. There are rows of flowers, dozens of trees, pathways, benches and even a charming little gazebo.

3.     Pet friendly- Perfect spot for families who want to include their dog. I always have clients keep their dog on a leash and there are fountains for drink breaks J

4.     All year round- the gardens are beautiful all year round. Even during our winter or rainy season you will see plenty of greenery and charm. Each season brings out different flowers, blooms, colors, and beauty.

5.     Lighting- There are tons of large gorgeous trees and foliage to filter the light. I try and schedule all of my sessions during golden hour or 1-2 hours before sunset.


Here are a few images taken at different times of the year.

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Sarah Slayton
Tips for photographing kids/ Bay area photographer

I recently had a sibling photo session so I thought I’d share some of my tips and tricks for capturing real emotion and connection. These tips work best for ages 5 and up.

  1. Break the Ice. Find one spot to have them sit or stand. I immediately break the ice with some Would you Rather Questions. For example, after I get them “posed” I’ll say, “I have a super important question to ask you. Would you rather sleep with a dirty diaper or a rotten fish tonight?” Immediate chuckles and giggles will follow. After a few of these questions the kids are more relaxed and in a playful mood.

  2. Follow their lead. Kids are adventurous and curious and will almost always wander off and find something to sit on or look at. I followed this little girl to this old stump I didn’t even notice and some of my favorite images from the session were taken there.

  3. Ask them to play. Have them skip down a path, jump on each other’s back, climb trees, collect flowers, etc. When kids are playing they are in their true element. Capturing real, raw emotion and connection is easy when kids are at play.

  4. I Bet I can Guess Game. This game never fails when it comes to getting smiles. I’ll “pose” the kids and play this game. I’ll say, “I bet I can guess your middle name. I think its….Cheeseburger? Cinderalla? French Fry?” I’ll also say, “I bet I can guess your favorite movie…I bet it’s Frozen (great for boys and then I’ll sing Let it Go!)” I’ll sing the song off key and totally terrible but it always gets laughs.

  5. Keep them moving. Kids can get impatient and bit antsy if you stay in one spot too long. Keep them moving. You can always take a break from one area/spot and come back to it.

Sarah Slayton
Post Processing/ Before and After Images / Bay Area Photographer

After I finish a photo session, I can hardly wait to get home, pop in the sim card and upload the images….because editing is my TRUE JOY. I tend to keep my editing simple and clean by adding a bit of warmth, vibrancy and sharpness. I will also do some cropping and clone out any distracting objects. I shoot 100% manual and always try to keep exposure and white balance consistent throughout the session to keep my workflow even easier. I do all of my post processing in Lightroom and tend to you use Photoshop for more intricate edits.

Straight out of camera is on the left and the final retouched image is on the right.

If you are a photographer, what is your favorite part of the photography process?

Sarah Slayton
Spring Headshot Sessions / Bay Area Photographer

With spring right around the corner, there is a new energy in the air. An energy of rebirth, new life and a fresh start. There is so much potential for NEW GROWTH in the spring so why not tap into it? Do you need a new, fresh headshot to give your business new energy, connections and business opportunities? Sometimes all it takes is a fresh image to make you shine!

Now Offering Spring Headshot Sessions

(Book a session before June 1st and receive $50 off! )


30 minute session

3 retouched high resolution images

Online viewing gallery

Sarah Slayton
Why Are Senior Portraits Important?/ Bay Area Photographer

Looking back at my own senior photos, I’m filled with the memories of chilly fall football games with friends, late night stops at Big Boy for Belgium waffles, prom dress shopping with my girlfriends, weekend bonfires out in the country and spending every spare dollar on gas for my little white Toyota Corolla. I’m also reminded of late nights studying for Physics tests, helping with the school yearbook, running track and field and working at the local pharmacy downtown.


Senior year also marked the last year at home with my parents, completing 12 solid years of school, becoming a legal adult and the start of my future.


My senior photos will always hold a special place in my heart. They bring back such precious memories of a huge milestone in my life.

 So WHY are professional senior portraits so important?

  • They document all that you have accomplished in your life thus far

  • They celebrate the future and freedom that is yet to come

  • They allow your individual style and personality to shine

  • They make parents HAPPY and PROUD

  • When you look at these photos 5, 10, 30 years down the road, your mind will be flooded with memories!

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Sarah Slayton
6 Tips to prepare for your spring photo session/ Bay Area Photographer

There is something so refreshing about spring. All of the rain, smells, budding trees and blooming flowers. I absolutely love shooting during this time of year when the grass is green and nature offers its gorgeous colors. If you have a spring session scheduled with me, here are a few tips to read to help you prepare for your session.

 1. Wear layers. Spring can be chilly especially in the evening when shooting right before sunset. I suggest wearing layers -- tank top, tee shirt, cardigan, scarf, etc. That way it’s easy to peel off or add a layer throughout the session depending on the weather.

2. Location is key. I highly recommend Gamble Garden during this time of year. There is a variety of trees, gardens, flowers and lush greenery. There is also a beautiful white gazebo nestled in the middle to add a fun element to your photos.

 3. Play into the colors of the season when choosing your family's outfits. Fresh pops of green, blue, pink and yellow are always a popular choice. I recommend choosing a color theme for the whole family, then slightly deviating from that with accessories to keep things interesting.

 4. Speaking of accessories: wear them! Jewelry, belts, scarves, light jackets, etc.

 5. Incorporate props. Spring offers some beautiful backdrops where props can blend in seamlessly. For example, old wooden chairs look charming in a field of wildflowers and a quilted blanket is lovely on the fresh, green grass.

 6. Really think about your footwear. Spring can often mean wet and soggy ground. Wear something that's comfortable and spring appropriate, like loafers, flats or boots.

Sarah Slayton
My Heart is so Full/Bay Area Photographer

It’s that day of the year again—heaps of chocolate, red roses and heart-shaped boxes for loved ones. This special day is about sharing, spreading and showing love to the ones we appreciate and hold dear. So, I want to use this special day to acknowledge the clients who have shown me love and helped my dreams come true. At the end of the day, it’s all about love, right?


When I decided to become a photographer, more than anything, I wanted clients to trust me enough to capture their most pivotal moments. You’ve allowed me to swoon over your babies, chase after your toddlers, and you’ve shared some of your most special days with me.


I’m honored to have been invited into your lives and humbled by your kindness and generosity. My heart is so full.


Happy Valentine’s Day to you all!

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Sarah Slayton
5 Reasons you Need a professional headshot/Bay Area Photographer

Professional headshots are not just for top executives anymore. Everyone needs one. Now that social media has taken on such an important role in promoting our professional abilities, having a headshot that makes an impact is more important than ever. With a great headshot your professionalism and unique personality will shine through, opening doors for new opportunities and new business. Here are 5 reasons why you should update your headshot this year.

1.     You’ll look the part- If you want to be treated like a professional, you must look like a professional. Simple as that.

2.     It will help you take yourself seriously- Making a financial investment shows that you take yourself and your career seriously. Having a photo that portrays your true self sends a message of authenticity.

3.     You’ll stand out from the crowd- Many adults still rely on an iphone photo or a photo that was taken years ago. Having a high resolution photo that is visually pleasing will make recruiters, potential employers and important contacts take a closer look.

4.     You’ll stay top of mind – Having a memorable professional photo on your social media account allows people to put a face to a name. It also allows for an immediate connection when you meet in person for the first time.

5.     This is your only shot- In this fast paced digital world, contacts are usually too busy to read more than a few lines of your resume. A good headshot is your best chance to make an instant and positive first impression. Don’t waste it!

Sarah Slayton
Why Maternity Photos Are Important/Bay Area Photographer

Pregnancy is one of the most meaningful and special times in our lives. Forty weeks of pregnancy can seem like an eternity when you have swollen ankles, extra weight and your skin is stretching daily to make room in your belly. It’s hard for many women to feel beautiful during this time when your body is going through so many changes. However, the miracle of pregnancy is such a beautiful thing. You should take the time to celebrate these changes and this amazing moment in your life. These photos will be a priceless treasure to share and pass down to your children. Showing your children just how much you loved them before you even laid eyes on them is a true gift!


So, you are WORTH IT. Document this miracle!  

Sarah Slayton
Choosing a Comfortable Location For Your Family Session/ Bay Area Photographer

Choosing a comfortable location for your family photo session is so important. You want to choose a spot where your family feels comfortable, relaxed and can have fun. Does your family like exploring the city, taking hikes in nature or chasing the waves at the beach? Think about places that reflect the personality of your family. 

Here is a family session taken at a gorgeous park I stumbled upon one afternoon. This family wanted a natural backdrop for their photos and their neutral outfits complement the vibrant green backgrounds.

 What type of location reflects your family?

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Sarah Slayton Comments
Filling My Creativity Cup/ Bay Area Photographer

A close friend of mine recently asked me, “What is something you can’t live without?” It was a question I had to think about for a few moments before I said, “For me, I love creating. If I was told I could no longer physically create and produce products, I would probably start to melt like a snowman in the sun.”  

Releasing any type of creativity whether it be making my daughters’ Halloween costumes from scratch, decorating sugar cookies, learning to write calligraphy, drawing pictures for my toddler to color, editing and taking photographs, painting rocks collected from the beach, learning to make jewelry or working on a cross stitch.  Being creative feeds my soul and is a source of true joy in my life . 

 SO, take a moment and ask yourself the same question. Think about it. And make sure you are doing things that FILL YOUR CUP!

Here are a few photos of my girls in their Halloween costumes that I put together last year. My creative cup was full after this project :)

Sarah Slayton
The Best Time of Day for a Photo Session/ Bay Area Photographer

Have you ever looked at a photo and immediately felt all warm, fuzzy and happy inside? Well, often that magical feel is because of the light. My absolute favorite time of the day to shoot a session is about an hour or two before sunset. The sun happens to be at a great angle and gives gorgeous color to play with. The light is soft, warm, dimensional and just flat out magical. This time of day is know as “Golden hour” and is the best time of day to schedule photo sessions.

During this time, the lighting is absolutely perfect and your images are bound to turn out magical.


The perks:

·       Soft light allows for haze and light flares which adds variety to your images

·       No soft shadows or squinty eyes from the blinding sun at high noon

·      Shooting later in the summer makes for cooler temperatures

·      Warmer tones are generally more flattering on people


All of these images were taken during Golden Hour. Can you feel the magic?!?

Sarah Slayton
How To Include The family dog in your next photo session/Bay Area Photographer

I grew up with Golden Retrievers and a cat so naturally animals hold a special place in my heart. Nothing makes me happier when a client asks, “Can we bring our dog too?” Dogs, in my opinion, are a huge part of the love and happiness that connect a family so lets capture those furry hugs and slobbery dog kisses. If you decide to include your dog, here are a few tips/tricks to help make the session go as smooth as possible.

1.     Practice Commands And Tricks – Brush up on any commands your dog knows. It isn’t completely necessary but “sit”, “stay” and “down” goes a long way with the success of the session.


2.     Exercise Before The Session- It’s so important that your dog gets some energy out before the session. A long walk, jog around the block, or trip to the dog park will make a world of difference. This will help your dog relax, be focused and not bouncing off the walls with excitement.


3.   Bring Treats and Toys – Break out the good stuff! Treats should be delicious enough that your dog wants to work for them but small enough that your dog doesn’t fill up. I always bring a “squeaky” toy to get those cute head tilts and great expressions. If you want your dog’s photo taken with a special toy feel free to bring it along!


4.     A Quick Grooming Session- Make sure your dog’s eyes are clean and clear of debris, especially the breeds that get tear stains. If your dog gets dandruff or sheds, make sure to give a good brush before the session. Sticky lint rollers also work well and I always have one on hand for a quick clean up.


5.     Be Mindful of Your Shoes- Since your dog will be sitting at your feet, make sure your shoes are clean and not brightly colored.

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6.     Go With The Flow- Don’t worry if your dog is not listening or acting stubborn. There are plenty of candid shots, tail wags, and tender moments I will capture!

Sarah Slayton
Preparing for your Engagement Session/Bay Area Photographer

If you want your pictures to really showcase your love story, I have some ideas to help you plan the perfect engagement session. Here are a few ideas to consider when planning your session.

LOCATION- I always recommend choosing a location that means something to the two of you, and suits your style . Maybe somewhere that you like to visit together, a hike you took on a first date, the pizza joint you love, the beach where he proposed, or the park where you spend lazy Sundays. Choosing a location with a variety of different backdrops for us to work with will give you many different photo opportunities. You can choose two different locations if you’d  like to have more contrast in your images. If you are having a hard time deciding on a location, I’m happy to give you some ideas and suggestions.


TIME OF YEAR/DAY - If you plan to use images for an engagement announcement or invitation I recommend scheduling your engagement session right away. If there is no rush you can schedule a session at any time that’s convenient for the two of you. Maybe a certain season is important to you- maybe you met at a football game in the fall or at a concert in the summer. As for the time of day, I always recommend shooting an hour or two before sunset as the light is soft, warm and beautiful.


WHAT TO WEAR - Deciding what to wear for your session will most likely be the hardest part! But don’t worry, the main thing to remember is to choose an outfit/s that make you feel comfortable and confident. Choose clothes that suit you and your style so that you feel like you are being true to yourselves when you look back at your photos. Keep in mind that your outfits should be suitable for the location and bold colors always photograph well. Feel free to bring a few options if you want to mix things up.


PROPS AND ACTIVITIES-  Feel free to bring along anything that is relevant to you both. Maybe a quilt and champagne for some toasting shots, a bouquet of your favorite flowers, a giant balloon, surfboards if you surf together or even your dog. You can also bring along things that might be featured on your wedding day, or things that tie in with your wedding theme. If there is something specific you’d like I’m sure we can make it happen! It’s great to share creative ideas!


DON’T WORRY ABOUT THE CAMERA - During the session I will give you simple directions on where/how to position yourselves. After I give you a basic posing idea, try to pretend like I’m not there! I know this is hard when I am bouncing about in front of you with my camera, but I really want to capture the interaction between the two of you – your natural personalities, the love, the laughter, the romance and the silliness. So don’t worry about me – I am just there to photograph the moments between the two of you. You can move about, chat, laugh, hold each other, dance around, kiss, whatever you feel like. I’ll help you out if you don’t know how to stand or what to do with your hands, and I’ll make sure you are always looking your best with beautiful light and backgrounds behind you!

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Sarah Slayton
Happy New Year! / Bay Area Photographer

Happy New Year! With a new year comes a fresh start to try this thing called life all over again. Maybe we didn’t quite reach our goals by the time the ball dropped, but January gifts us with another go at it, this time a year wiser.

Each year, I learn more about photography, but in a different way. When I was first starting out, the years were filled with technical classes, workshops, and freaking out over the black hole of Photoshop. But as I’ve grown as a photographer and person, I’ve recognized that the love threaded through the relationships and moments within a session is a million times more essential than any filter.

I’m ready. I’m ready to greet 2019 head-on and to focus in on the technique and the love, both in my business and my life. Here are a few images from my first session of 2019…focusing on both the technique and the love.

What are you inviting in this year?

Sarah SlaytonComment
Top 5 Tips/ Preparing for your Senior Portrait session

1.     WHAT TO WEAR? Bring 3-5 outfit changes. We may not shoot them all but it’s always great to have options. Think in terms of casual/comfortable to more formal/dressy.  All options should reflect your true personality and style. Wear clothes that you LOVE and that you FEEL good in! Here are a few other ideas to consider:

  •     Textures like denim, lace, leather, etc.

  • Layers like jackets, cardigans and even scarves.

  • Accessories and jewelry should be minimal and not distracting

2.   TRY ON! and complete each outfit. A week prior, try on each outfit and make sure they still fit well and are clean. Don’t forget to include/think about any undergarments needed (i.e no striped undershirts or black bras under white shirts!) Don’t forget to iron or press any clothes that may be wrinkled.

3.     NAILS AND EYEBROWS! This applies to both girls AND guys. Clean up your eyebrows (and or any other facial hair), trim nails, remove any chipped polish, etc.


4.     DON’T STRESS! Your senior session is supposed to be relaxing and fun! It’s time for you to shine and to celebrate your last year of high school! If you have any blemishes the day of, don’t worry! That’s what photoshop is for :)


5.     BEAUTY SLEEP! Get a good night’s rest before the session! This will help to brighten your eyes and your skin.

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Sarah SlaytonComment
Fall Mini Sessions/ Bay Area Photographer

This year I am offering Fall Mini Sessions for the first time! There are six limited spots available and scheduling will be first come first serve. These sessions are a great way to get your holiday photos/cards done early and in the mail by Thanksgiving! The sessions will be held on Sunday, October 1st and Sunday, October 22nd at Gamble Garden in Palo Alto. Each session will be 25 minutes. Below are the available time slots. Please email me directly to schedule your session, specifying your requested date/time, and a non-refundable retainer fee of $100 will be due within 24 hours of booking.

Sunday, October 1st
4:35 to 5:00
5:10 to 5:35
5:45 to 6:10

Sunday, October 22nd
4:05 to 4:30
4:40 to 5:05
5:15 to 5:40

To book, please email me directly at

New Website Launch!/Bay Area Photographer

Hi everyone! I am very excited to announce the launch of my new website and new branding! I have been working hard the past two months in designing a new logo and putting together my new site. If you haven’t joined my VIP mailing list, comment below with your email and I’ll add you to the list!  I can’t wait to hear your thoughts!

Sarah SlaytonComment
Valentine Mini Sessions/ Bay Area Photographer

Come and join me at Heritage Oaks Park in Los Altos for Valentine minis! These sessions are for children of all ages (up to 3 siblings, $20 for each additional child) but babies must be able to sit on their own! These sessions will be held outside, so if the weather is rainy we will reschedule for Sunday, January 22nd. I will have lots of fun Valentine props and a fun little treat to take home. You can email or call to book your session. Spots are limited and I am only offering one day. A $50 deposit is due when you book with me and the remainder of the session is due before you receive your images. Your deposit is non refundable and non transferable. If you need to cancel, a credit will be applied to your next session with me. I’m so excited to create some fun images and Valentine memories with you!

**** Additional digitals and products may be purchased. Pricing/products will be given upon request.

Click here for directions!

Sarah SlaytonComment