Friday, December 30, 2011

Oakland Wedding Venue: Preservation Park is a Unique Journey through East Bay History

I have been blessed with extraordinary clients throughout my 22 year career. Creating portrait art that tells their unique stories is never a "job"'s my passion and I have a lot of fun doing it!
Judi & Grason's Engagement Portrait Session at Lake Merrit

Judi and Grason are a bubbly couple that are enthusiastic and clearly in love. Creating engagement portraits for them at their Love Story Session gave me a clue of how much fun I was going to have on their wedding at Preservation Park in Oakland.
Preservation Park offers Bay Area Brides a timeless backdrop
Preservation Park is one of those unexpected jewels of is like strolling into a small portal in time that gives a glimpse of what living in Oakland was like during the Victorian era. The buildings have been restored to their full charm and are a blend of  Queen Ann, Craftsman, Colonial Revival, and Italianate Villa  architecture. The result is a magical venue for a wedding day in Oakland.
Brides dressing at Preservation Park feel like queens
Judi selected playful shades of lavendar and purple to punch up her wedding palate.  Even her lovely wedding gown had whimsical touches of purple to add a splash of whimsey. .architectur

A playful moment after the ceremony
It's always great when brides and grooms remember to have fun and enjoy their wedding day. Just like at their Love Story session (when we created engagement photographs) Judi and Grason displayed their playful sides.
A stolen kiss for the bride and groom before the reception

Check out more highlights from Judi and Grason's magical day in this video

You can probably tell I have truly enjoyed creating portraits for Judi and Grason. And would you believe I even got a bonus? On Christmas Eve, I found Grason on the the studio doorstep holding this box of homemade fudge and pistachio nut brittle that Judi made!  Did I mention that I have the most amazing clients in the world?
What a sweet way to kick off the holidays1

I would love to meet you to discuss the details of your wedding for a consultation appointment (510)832-3686...and no, you don't have to bring me fudge! lol
Feel free to browse our online Portrait Gallery at
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By: Gisele Bonds
Portrait Artist

Monday, December 19, 2011

Family Portrait Update: The Holidays Provide An Excellent Opportunity

Grant Family Portrait at Garin Park in Hayward

Holiday season is an excellent  opportunity to update family portraits. While you are gathered together from different cities, make a permanent keepsake that you will cherish for years to come.  Yes it takes some work…which is why it is so easy to keep putting a family portrait update off.  It can be painful to get a group consensus on location and clothing.  One wants casual attire another prefers formal wear.  Are we shooting at the beach or in the studio? There are many decisions to be made and work  and commitment  in order to pull it all off. 
Watson Family Portrait at Home

But one thing is for sure….you will never regret the decision to make your professional portrait session happen.  Once that finished wall portrait is hanging on your wall, you realize that it is one of the most valuable things a family can own.  That is why disaster victims risk harm to save family pictures…they are the tangible manifestations of our memories. And while no one wants to think about it....we never really know if we will all ever be gathered in the same place again.  Sometimes the miles between us become too large a burden to allow family gatherings and at other times family members pass on before the next portrait.
Jones Family Portrait at Lake Merrit in Oakland

At Positive Images, portrait artist, Gisele Bonds, uses the family portrait consultation as a tool to plan out the details of your session. We realize how valuable your time is and want to optimize the time you set aside for creating your new family portrait by carefully planning it and having a clear understanding of your family and the relationships in the group.  This way on portrait day, there is a clear game plan and the session can be fun and move with purpose.
Brown Family Portrait at Lake Merrit

A professional family portrait is one of the most meaningful gifts you can give each other this holiday. After all, when all is said and done, the only thing that real matters is family. There is still time to get on our 2011 schedule call today to schedule your consultation appointment (510)832-3686.

There are Family Portrait examples available to review in our online gallery at   You can Like us on Facebook for updates and special offers.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Romantic Portrait Session at Crown Beach in Alameda

Love Story Portraits can be created at any stage of a relationship....not just engagement time. This image was created at Crown Beach to celebrate over 20 years of commitment.

It all begins with the Consultation appointment where we brainstorm about which elements of your relationship will be featured. phone to schedule your Design Appointment at (510)832-3686.
Check our Portrait Gallery for examples of other Love Story Portraits.
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Saturday, October 22, 2011

Union Square San Francisco: Perfect Location for a Love Story Portrait Session

Why should we leave great destinations like Unions Square to the tourists? Sometimes local folk need to stop and appreciate some of the cool locations right under our noses. The San Francisco Bay Area offers an abundance of  scenic locations that showcase our lovely environment...but sometimes it is fun to use the urban landscape as a portrait backdrop.

A newly engaged couple could easily 
"Leave their Heart in San Francisco"!

Even with all the hustle and bustle around Union Square we were able to isolate some great textures and colors that coordinated with my clients clothing. They brought along a change of clothes, which allowed us to play with a casual vibe as well a dressier theme.
Trumpet serenade for our couple

Nothing like being serenaded by horn during your photo shoot.  Special thanks to this Union Square street musician for being so cooperative and coming across the street to play just for us!  This Engagement Photo Session actually tells the story of their first date which included dinner and dancing at a Union Square restaurant and the disco, Vessel.

It was fun to mimic the pose of the couple on the Macy's ad behind my clients...I love incorporating details of my environment.

But don't feel like you have to wait til you are engaged to design a Love Story Portrait...Portrait Art can pay homage to your relationship at any stage.  Just call for an appointment to plan the details of your Love Story, weather it be 6 months or 60 years old!

Give us a call...I would love to schedule a Consultation Design Appointment to plan the portrait that will tell the story of your unique relationship. (510)832-3686
Our Online Gallery has more examples of Love Story and Engagement Portrait Sessions.
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Friday, September 30, 2011

MetWest High School: A Portrait of Internship Based Learning

PAST MEETS PRESENT!!! Alumni Contribute to Current Students

Last week I had the opportunity of interviewing students from my old high school MetWest for an opportunity to intern at Positive Images and at Student of Social Media. To say I was honored would be an understatement. To think that just 6 years ago I was in that very same position, having an interview with Gisele to become her intern.
LaStarr interviews MetWest students
I started my internship at Positive Images on September 13, 2005, her first ever intern from MetWest. While there I was given tools on how to conduct myself professionally, take initiative, operate in a business and I found my passion for entrepreneurship. I had the opportunity to observe Gisele  as she ran a successful photography business, creating the most fabulous senior portraits I had ever seen. The quality and uniqueness of the portraits she took made me see why she was in such high demand from all over the Bay Area. While interning with Gisele I even had the opportunity to become a student mentor and helped with fellow interns and friends, Nicole Hall and Shannon Chase. Working alongside Gisele, her studio manager Jamie and production manager Veronica, we were all a family.

JoJo will serve as Internship Coordinator this semester
Six years later, I can still feel that family bond. Many of my fellow classmates from MetWest even get that feeling when they are around Gisele. Jovonta McGathon, a fellow class of 2006 graduate had her Senior Portraits done at Positive Images. As an intern, I learned how the entire portrait process and I did all of the final edits on her pictures. Jovonta aka JoJo is special because she has returned to MetWest to help the students as their internship coordinator. She's helping develop students the way we were developed and having gone through the whole process for many years, she knows and understands what it takes in order to have an internship you love.

 Interviewing prospective interns last Thursday was a great experience. I had the opportunity to give back and   encourage young people. Sitting and looking at the students, I saw a little of myself. I was  shy and I had no clue about photography, but once I got to know Gisele and her business I knew it was all a perfect fit. One thing that stands out to me is that Gisele has been one of the few mentors that still remains at MetWest. I am proud to say that I was her first MetWest intern.

Gisele & 2010-11 Intern, Dion
The 2010-2011 MetWest Intern for Positive Images was Dion.  Dion contributed to Positive Images in many ways last year. One of her early contributions were articles written for this blog!  Review the archieves to learn about the day Dion meet the Mayor of Oakland during a day with Positive Images.  She planned and hosted a very sucessful open house for the Class of 2011 and coordinated the 2012 Spokes Model Program.
Check out this video of Dion and Gisele on the Television Program, KDOL Community Spotlight, hosted by Ms. Shonda Scott.

Spotlight Internships from kdol360 on Vimeo.

Gisele participated in the 2011 Internship fair to begin meeting prospective interns for the 2011-12 Academic year. Additionally, several students have visited Positive Images for informational interviews and Shadow Days.

Gisele interviews candidates at MetWest Internship Fair

Stay Tuned to find out which MetWest Student will join the Positive Images Team this year...

By: LaStarr Moore
Social Media Manager
Student of Social Media

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Fall Family Portraits: East Bay Professional Family Portrait Studio

WOW! Where did the Summer go this year?  It so hard to believe that Labor Day has come and gone and soon we will be carving Jack-O-Lanterns. But as Bay Area residents September doesn't represent the dropping of Autumn leaves...for us it is the beginning of our Indian Summer. That means our most amazing weather of the year. It is the perfect time to plan a Family Portrait Session outdoors.
September is a great time for Fall Family Portraits
If you plan to order holiday cards this year, September is an excellent time to schedule a unique family portrait session. Not only do you have an opportunity to capitalize on the excellent weather, you can put the photo shoot on your "Ta-Done" list way before the holiday crunch hits. If you enjoy giving portraits as gifts during the winter celebrations, you can get some of your holiday shopping done early.
At Positive Images a great Family Portrait begins with a consultation design appointment. Phone to schedule a time to brainstorm all the details of your photo session.  The San Francisco Bay Area offers a wide variety of portrait locations from beaches and waterfalls to parks and classic architecture. Let's chat about what is the right fit for your family.
Wall Portrait Collages make excellent gifts

Phone (510)832-3686 to schedule your Consultation Design Appointment
Our Online Portrait Gallery is open 24/7 if you would like to see more examples of my Family Portrait work.
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Thursday, September 1, 2011

St. Joseph Norte Dame Senior Portrait Model, Chris, Retires & Begins Freshman Year at Howard

We have to send off another 2011 Positive Images Spokes Model into retirement in order to begin life in college. Christopher Livingston  is a very special Spokes Model because I have been taking his portraits since he was a baby and I consider him family!
A Baby picture of Chris at Positive Images in 1995
 I'm still amazed that the years have flown by so quickly.
Chris moves from high school senior to Howard Freshman
Chris's Freshman year at Howard started with a BANG! A 5+ earthquake followed up by Hurricane Irene.
The Cap and Gown Senior Portrait
Christopher has chosen to attend Howard University, in Washington D.C. on a full academic scholarship.  He plans to study political science and pursue a career in law and politics. He graduated from Saint Joseph Notre Dame High School in Alameda

Christopher was recognized by the National Achievement Scholarship Program, which honors academically talented American high school students.
Chris poses with some of his favorite books
Based on his 2009 PSAT scores, Christopher was among the highest scoring 
participants in the program, which is part of the National Merit Scholarship Corporation
 in addition, Christopher was a member of the California Honor Student Federation.  Christopher took a full load of challenging classes his senior year, including
 AP Physics, AP Calculus and AP Government
Chris's graduation picture with his baseball trophies
 He also participated on an officer level in student government for four years.  Christopher was an All League baseball player on the varsity baseball team at SJND.  He batted over .400 and led the Bay Shore League RBI’s. He is also a dedicated reader, Christopher reads on average, two books each week unrelated to schoolwork.  Christopher is a Junior Deacon at Allen Temple Baptist Church, and is a Master of ceremonies on the ATB Broadcast team.
Chris & Lolita at his presentation at Beautillion
Congratulations are also in order for Chris's parents Chester and Lolita who have done a phenomenal job preparing him for this next exciting stage of his life. The Livingstons could write a book on parenting strong black boys. We look forward to many updates on Chris's accomplishments at Howard.  The only question is how long before he moves into the White House after earning that political science degree. 
You can learn more about Chris's schools by visiting their websites at these links: St. Joseph's or Howard University    It's a great combination of campuses if you love Blue and Orange! 

If you need Family Portraits or Senior Portraits that reflect your personality visit our Website to review our Online Galleries. Or you can "Like" us on Facebook to stay in touch. Consultation appointments can be scheduled at (510)832-3686

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Back to School = Senior Portraits for 2012 Graduates

It's senior portrait time!!

Summer vacation has ended, new clothes for school have been purchased and excitement has set begun to set in for 2012 seniors.
Personalize your Senior Portrait With Your Best Friend

School is once again in session and preparations for school related events, balls, proms and all other festivities are being put together. With all this said there's one important thing that should be on your to do list and that is taking your senior portraits.

Now is the time for you to prepare to take your senior portraits and have fun doing so. If you feel glamourous, take a few glamour shots. When you want to feel the wind blow through your hair, venture outside for a few poses. Show people something unique about you and do a few pictures that are out of your zone. Whatever it is you want to do, do it. Your senior portraits are all about you!
The Name Thang: Our Most Popular Multi Pose Product

As stated in our previous blogs, make sure your senior portrait needs are met. Everyone has specific needs that need to be tended to so make sure you are treated like a king or queen when you are being serviced.
How About A Natural Background at Lake Merrit?

In addition to your needs being met be sure to excel in school. If you're going to have the best looking senior portraits in town, you have to have the best looking transcripts as well.

Call to schedule your FREE Consultation Appointment to design your Senior Portrait Session to match your personality. (510)832-3686.  Like Our Exclusive 2012 Senior Page on Facebook for hook-up on great VIP offers.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Bay Area Black Expo 2011: Oakland at it's finest...Entrepreneurs, Celebrities & Families

Bay Area Black Expo
The Bay Area Black Expo was held at the Coliseum, commemorating a 20 year tradition of Black Expo in Oakland. The 2011 Bay Area Black Expo was produced by the dynamic duo of Laura Wright and Rose Verdun Lyles. 
Oakland Mayor Jean Quan with Bay Area Black Expo
 Producers Lyles &  Wright
This year's Expo was packed with information, products and entertainment that included a Health Pavilion, Career/College Fair, Entrepreneurship Think Tank, Top Chef of The Bay Contest, and Beauty Fair.
Regina Belle Danny Glover and Oakland's own Bishop Rheems
 Vocal  performances by Regina Belle and Lenny Williams thrilled audiences on Sunday. 
Surprise performance by Lenny Willams
Regina Belle accepts roses from children after performing to packed house
Oakland saw it's share of celebrities during Black Expo. Reality TV and music personality Ray J took time out of his schedule to support Bay Area Black Expo vendors. 
Ray J, Laura Wright, and Gisele Bonds
Our own photographer, Gisele Bonds, took a few seconds to stand on the other side of the camera for this photo with Expo Producer, Laura Wright.

Black Expo is more than just is about supporting local business. Below you will find just a small sample of the many types of businesses that were exhibiting at the 2011 Bay Area Black Expo. Black Expo has always been a great way to learn about small businesses in the community that need your support.

The SereniGy Team in their booth
Contributing to the ever growing health needs of others is SereniGy, a company that specializes in organic coffee and tea. SereniGy uses its business to help the world around it including starting their foundation. The SereniGy Global Foundation. The SereniGy Global Foundation focuses on helping citizens of third world countries, individuals battle homelessness as well as assisting women and children in need. In an effort to help increase profitability and help others gain monetary success with selling SereniGy’s products, actor and humanitarian Danny Glover has volunteered his services. 
Danny Glover on stage explaining SereniGy
An increase in product sales will not only help the company’s distributors, but it will help SereniGy in giving back through its organizations by donating a percentage of each sale to the SereniGy Global Foundation. For more information please go to the company website.

Operation Hope
Operation Hope Booth
Operation Hope is an organization that aims to develop the minds of aspiring entrepreneurs. The company’s program Operation Hope Small Business Empowerment Program, helps individuals who seek to start small businesses but lack the resources to do so. The program trains aspiring entrepreneurs, educating them on various business functions and offers them financial consulting. In an effort to help jumpstart the new businesses, generate new job creation and help build the success of others, the program helps by lending resources in addition to time.
Tyrone Cosey leads Operation Hope's Home Buyer's
Seminar which  kicked off Black Expo
If you are interested in Operation Hope or want more information, obtain it at their website.

Hill Harper
Actor, activist, author, mentor, Mr. Hill Harper himself, made his presence known at the Bay Area Black Expo. 
Hill Harper shares his background with Bay Area Black Expo fans
He spoke at the Bay Area Black Expo, discussing his new book The Wealth Cure which comes out on August 23rd. In conjunction with his books purpose, Hill gave a young man in the audience enough money to clear his credit card debt. 
Hill Harper puts his money where his mouth is
& pays off  this man's credit card debt.
This highly anticipated work will discuss both financial and spiritual wealth. According to Hill, “True wealth is a balance of financial health and the spiritual aspects of life. You have to tap into that to find your spiritual wealth.” In addition to his new book, Hill has a foundation called Manifest Your Destiny where he serves as a mentor to youth, helping them reach educational success.
Hill Harper interacts with Bay Area Black Expo audience member
Be sure to catch Hill within the next few weeks at Marcus Books in Oakland, where he will be doing an official book signing. 
Hill Harper signs books at Bay Area Black Expo
Can’t wait!! For more Hill Harper news you can refer to his Facebook page, follow him on Twitter or check out the site for his foundation.

Peace and Move Forward
Peace and Move Forward is a line of products from gdove designs, a company started by Gerry Dove. 
Gerry Dove and the GDove Team
The message behind the name is simply making peace with the current state that we are in, in our lives and moving on from them. The shirts and accessories from Peace and Move Forward help contribute to Oakland’s community, with proceeds from the sales going towards the East Oakland Development Center (EOYDC). I love the message behind the product and I can’t wait to see the great things Gerry Dove and his associates do with it. 
Wrist Bands by Peace and Move Forward
Support this wonderful movement by visiting Peace and Move Forward and gdove designs.

Kingdom Builders Christian Fellowship
Kingdom Builders is a local church here in Oakland, CA that is lead by Pastor LJ and Sister Karen Jennings.
Pastor LJ introduces Kingdom Builders's dynamic choir
Their church aims to tell the community about Jesus Christ and to make unbelievers believers. The church’s choir performed at Black Expo and they rocked the house. 
The Jennings clan are no strangers here at Positive Images being that they have been clients for years. Their family portraits have been done with us 4 times, as well as their daughters, Jasmine & Lauren’s senior portraits. It’s always good to see them and we want to acknowledge their contributions to the community. You can get more information here at the church's website.

M.E. Lampkin Media Services
Mark E. Lampkin represented his company at the Black Expo. His company, M.E. Lampkin Media Services strives to capture your most cherished events on video from wedding to family barbeque so that you can always refer back to them. 
Mark of M.E. Lampkin Media captures Regina Belle's anointed  performance
Mr. Lampkin has over ten years of multimedia experience and the skills to help you not only capture precious moments, but reach out through media if you so desire. For more information please visit his website.

The Vickie A. Stephens Agency (State Farm)
Vickie Stephens is a San Jose State University alum, currently serves as an agent at State Farm and has been doing so for the last 18 years. She specializes in personal insurance such as life insurance varying between term, whole and universal, auto insurance that best fits the particular needs of clients and home insurance for those who are interested in making sure they are protected in the event of an accident. 
Your Good Neighbors at The Vickie A. Stephens  Agency
In addition to working for State Farm, Vickie serves as a member of the National Association of Insurance & Financial Advisors and is an active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., the oldest African-American sorority to date.  Feel free to visit Vickie's State Farm site for more information on insurance. If you would like more information on Vickie or AKA, you can visit Vickie's website here. And remember to follow her on Twitter and "Like" her Facebook page. (510)796-8164

Dr. Mark Wong
Grand Lake Health Center was on hand providing free screenings. If you suffer from pain caused by auto accident or work injury, perhaps chiropractic services can help. 
Dr. Mark Wong 

 Dr. Mark Wong can be reached at his website or you can find him at 3640 Grand Ave #106.

Dawnn Hills
Dawnn Hills works for Vantage Business Support and Insurance Services where they provide insurance for your every need. Their niche market is non-profits that focus on entrepreneurs as well as business women. 
Dawnn Hills and Vickie Stephens pause for a coffee break...a little insurance that their energy would stay  up  at Expo
Dawnn is currently running a special where potential clients can receive a free 30 minute consultation between August and December. The normal price for a consultation is $50 an hour. Dawnn and her associates also help with doing benefit reviews for companies that have 2-50 employees. If you want more information you can visit her website or contact her at 510-595-0928.

Save Our Youth-Fitness For Life (SOYFFL)
SOFFYL is a non-profit organization that was founded by professional athletes and business professionals. The organization focuses on reducing risk factors children exhibit and the role physical activities play. 
Michael Choice of SOYFFL 
Currently the organization is working on am Italian ice page for fundraising purposes. They call it The Original Italian Ice and it is a dairy free, fat free, cholestorol free, frozen treat. It is a healthy alternative if you want something refreshing and has a great flavor down to the last drop. There's nothing like snow cones after you sip all of the syrup. Yummmm. Currently the mango flavor is the most popular. Check out the SOYFFL website for more info.

Oakland City Councilman and Hill Harper
Presentations were made by Oakland City Council member Larry Reid and the Office of Congresswoman Barbara Lee.  
Saundra Andrews makes presentation on
behalf of Congresswoman Barbara Lee
It takes a village to bring an event like Black Expo alive.  Here are a few of the Expo Team Members who made the 2011 Bay Area Black Expo a reality.
Your 2011 Bay Area Black Expo Team
To stay on top of announcements about the 2012 Bay Area Black Expo, you can hit the Black Expo Website 

We would love to hear about your experiences at Black Expo over the past 20 years. Do you have a favorite Expo moment? Or perhaps you would like to share something about Dr. C. Diane Howell, long time Oakland Black Expo producer.  Use the comment box below.

Check our Positive Images Facebook Page for more photo highlights of the 2011 Bay Area Black Expo.
Our on-line gallery is open 24/7 at