People and Portraits

February 19th in Reedley

One month ago today, I spent the morning in Reedley, California with my children and some of our good friends. We visited four generations of their family. The oldest is about one hundred years older than the youngest.

 (bryan farley)

February 19th is the anniversary of Executive Order 9066 signed by Franklin D. Roosevelt. More than 100,000 Japanese Americans were “relocated” to camps during WWII. Some of my friends’ family were removed from their homes and sent to camps. Aunt Thelma, who is almost 102 now, was one of those people.

 (bryan farley)

I met Aunt Thelma four years earlier at a weekly card game. I realized that she was short, but she was full of life. Life’s circumstances had not appeared to diminish her enthusiasm for life.

 (bryan farley)

Thelma helped raise her niece and nephew, so Thelma is closer than an aunt.

 (bryan farley)

All the relatives seem closer when they are around Aunt Thelma. (I feel closer when I am around her too.)

 (bryan farley)

Even my son wanted to discuss Thelma’s energy afterwards.… Read the rest

A Kaleidoscope of Resolutions

New Year’s Eve, 2017

Pt. Richmond, California


“A day is a span of time no one is wealthy enough to waste.” – from my son’s fortune cookie after our photo shoot

This year is the fourth year that I have photographed Christine Findley and her daughter. Each year I photograph them around Christmas. It has become our tradition. The first year, we met in Clayton, California on Christmas day. The last three years, we have met in the East Bay. I create a photo book and give it to them.

2017 Findley Family Photos

 (bryan farley)

I am pretty sure that I get more out of our outings than I give. This year my son Mason joined us, and in the spirit of New Year’s Eve, I began creating resolutions.

 (bryan farley)

I often look at the world through my camera. Some people question if I am missing out on something, but when look through my camera, it’s as if I am viewing the world through a kaleidoscope.… Read the rest

Farley Family Photos – The Orchards

My kids and I have taken photos every year at the same Walnut Creek location for almost ten years. When we started, we called our spot “the meadow.” Recently, “our meadow” has been developed and named “The Orchards.”

 (bryan farley)

We visited our meadow again last weekend after my son’s baseball game. It was the first day of the “time change,” which gave us an extra hour of sunlight. The 2017 Annual Farley Family Photos.

 (bryan farley)

My kids were not happy with the change.They missed the open space. They felt that something special had been taken, but they made it work.

 (bryan farley)

Last weekend my son played with a little boy; the little boy has recently become a big brother.
 (bryan farley)

Watching my son, reminded me of this picture from 2010. Mason was about the same age as the boy he met last weekend.

 (bryan farley)

Even though my daughter was sad about the changes, I was proud that she noticed some of the new trees had not been planted correctly.… Read the rest

A Letter to a Teenager

Today my daughter is 13 years and 13 days old. As she approached thirteen, we discussed the significance of her becoming a teenager… and we both realized that we did not feel anything different. It felt like just another year.

 (bryan farley)

When she was ten, I collected photographs from her first ten years. One of the photographs is below. This year I collected photographs from age 10 to 13 years and 13 days.

 (bryan farley)

When I wrote three years ago in the ten years post, I said “there is nothing better than being a father.” That is still true.

 (bryan farley)

For age 10 to 13, I collected a gallery of 131 photographs. We have visited some of the same places for the last several years. Emily and her brother have helped me create new memories too. Thirteen may not feel older, but it looks older.

 (Bryan Farley)

I have been lucky to be a father to two wonderful children.… Read the rest

Mason Farley – And The Family Stone

Today is my birthday. My son’s birthday was six days ago. (I am a little older than he is.)

 (bryan farley)

Just as I did with my daughter on her tenth birthday, my son and I returned to the hospital where he was born ten years earlier for a photo shoot reunion. This time my daughter joined us since she had also been there when my son was born.

I also created a photo gallery of some of my favorite photos from his first ten years.

 (bryan farley)

My daughter called the hospital “Magic Land,” because it gave life. (You can see and read more here.) Mason did not seem as reverential as his sister, but that does not mean he dismisses magic or life.

 (bryan farley)

When we visited the Magic Kingdom six years ago, it rained much of the weekend. Mason found life where many of us found disappointment.

 (Bryan Farley)

Mason likes magic. Unfortunately, I could not find the old photos of “Mason the Magician,” but I found many wonderful memories.… Read the rest

2016 Farley Family Photo Transition

We have a family photo tradition that mirrors our family. My two children and I have gone to the same location since 2008 and taken photos in an urban meadow. During the last two years, the meadow became a construction site. While our meadow became a shopping mall, our family split into two households in two cities. I guess there is a metaphor here, but I am not sure which is which. I really miss our meadow and the kids are dealing with the family transition better than I had feared.

 (bryan farley)

When we visited the meadow last year, we were surprised to find the fence surrounding our site. This year we assumed that our meadow had disappeared, although we hoped that the construction fences were only temporary. I could feel us going through the stages of grief.

 (bryan farley)

I haven’t reached the final DABDA stage yet. I haven’t accepted that our meadow is gone forever.… Read the rest

Birthday Dozen

My daughter turned twelve last week. She held a “Cupcake War” birthday party and created original desserts. Before the party, I reminisced about my twelfth birthday and shared some of the memories with her. During the party, I photographed Emily and her friends and the “guest judges,” including her nine year old brother. I photographed her the next day on her birthday in our downstairs basement/ballet/photo studio. The studio is a work in progress.

 (bryan farley)

I am still connected to many of the people I invited to my twelfth birthday party. There were times when some of us lost contact, but we eventually reconnected. I imagine it will be the same for my daughter. Many of her current friends will remain in her life. The adults will provide the ingredients, but she will decide what to incorporate.

 (bryan farley)

In the future, Emily and her friends will share stories about cupcake wars and other messy battles. … Read the rest

Classy Senior

Last week I photographed my friend’s daughter Haylie. Haylie is a high school senior. I was a high school senior when her mother Kimberley started 9th grade. We had met several years earlier when we were just kids, but we did not become friends until high school. Even then, I could have been a better friend.

 (bryan farley)

I have always considered myself a good friend, but I had a selective short term memory. After I graduated, I stayed in touch with Kimberley for a few years, but then I became busy with … I don’t know. Kimberley started a family and I went in another direction. All the time I thought that I was being a good friend.

 (bryan farley)

Eventually I married and had my first child. Shortly after my daughter was born, I received a phone call that changed my life. Then, as Tim McGraw sings, “I became a friend a friend would like to have,” but not before suffering.… Read the rest

Farley Family Photography Pilgrimage

My two children visited our regular location with me for our annual photo adventure. This year the meadow had been replaced by a construction site. (bryan farley)

For the last seven seasons, my children and I have visited the same location for family portraits. We bring at least two cameras and take photos of each other. My daughter took the picture of me that might still be at the top called the “featured image.” In 2010 I called this trip the “Farley Photo Pilgrimage.” A high school friend and her children joined us the first year; another high school friend and his daughter joined us last year. The kids’ mother joined us once or twice. Every year we visited the same meadow… until this year.

My two children visited our regular location with me for our annual photo adventure. This year the meadow had been replaced by a construction site. (bryan farley)

This year the meadow became a construction site.

My two children visited our regular location with me for our annual photo adventure. This year the meadow had been replaced by a construction site. (bryan farley)

We visited our new construction site on my birthday this year. It seemed appropriate to visit a construction site at the beginning of a new year since our family is being rebuilt. Families and meadows are constantly changing.

 (bryan farley)

If you are interested, you can view more photos from the 2010 trip that ended with a visit to the doctor for stitches.… Read the rest

Christmas Portraits in Clayton California

Christmas Day 2014

Clayton, California

  (bryan farley)

To be natural is such a very difficult pose to keep up

Oscar Wilde, from The Importance of Being Earnest

 (bryan farley)

On Christmas Day, I visited a mother and her daughter in Clayton, California. I brought my camera and received the gift of their company. During the drive, I wondered whether I should spend part of my holiday away from my family. The images confirm that I chose wisely.

 (bryan farley)

On Christmas morning, my children opened their presents in our home. In the evening, our family was together again in the Santa Cruz Mountains. After I photographed Christine and her daughter, they left Clayton for their family dinner. Still, I became aware that many people do not have family to visit on Christmas. We were lucky.

 (bryan farley)

I hope that I can articulate how much I enjoyed playing with Christine and her daughter. Christine held a container designed with an Oscar Wilde book cover.… Read the rest

Tanner Family Aloha

When I photographed the Tanner family last Sunday, the parents and two kids had just returned from a Hawaiian vacation. I have known Nicole since we both attended UC Santa Barbara (more than) a few years ago. Now we both live about three miles from each other in the Bay Area. While I was taking pictures, I kept thinking about the different definitions of the Hawaiian word “aloha.” It means hello and good-bye and something in between. I think that also describes my relationship with Nicole and her family. We keep showing up for each other. I expect that it will always be that way… some cosmic Aloha.

 (bryan farley)Here is the slideshow again from the December 2014 photo visit.

Two years ago, I photographed the Tanners the first time shortly after they moved from the Central Coast. You can find the slideshow in the post.


 (bryan farley)

Sometimes I think I am a good photographer.… Read the rest

Everyone is Adopted

Everyone is adopted… some of us are more adopted than others.

 (bryan farley)


I was adopted 46 years ago today on July 3, 1968. As long as I have known my life story, I have known that I was adopted. I have always loved being adopted. I wish that every child could be adopted, even if each child were adopted by their biological parents.

 (bryan farley)

I like my birthday too, but my actual birthday is more of a myth than my actual adoption day. Obviously, I know that I was born. I have a birth certificate with a birth date, but I feel that I am lacking some evidence. (I can already hear my mother’s voice in my head, “What are you saying Bryan? Are you saying that you do not believe you were born on May 16th in Riverside, California?)

I am saying that it does not really matter.

By the time I was six weeks old, my life story had provided me with important life-long life lessons.… Read the rest

Emily Farley – Yesterday and Today

Tonight my daughter Emily and I visited Alta Bates Summit Medical Center where she was born ten years ago. Emily called the hospital “Magic Land,” because it “gives life.”

 (bryan farley)

Ten years ago today was the best day of my life, because it was the day I started being a father. There is nothing better than being a father. Ten years ago today I also started taking photographs of my daughter. The gallery I created for Emily’s 10th birthday contains about 100 photographs as of tonight.


 (bryan farley)

Today is also the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ American Invasion. (Their first concert was in Washington, D.C. on February 11, 1964.) While I celebrated the Beatles and an R&B musician who inspired Emily’s middle name, I also listened to a George Strait song during my morning commute. When Emily was four, “I Saw God Today” was the CMA Single of the Year.… Read the rest

From Mexico with Gold

When I traveled to Mexico City four years ago, I never expected that I would meet Olympic Gold medalist Tommie Smith one day. Four years ago, I was thrilled to see the outside of the Estadio Olimpico Universitario during a family vacation to Mexico. This year I met Tommie Smith.

Estadio Olímpico Universitario-2009

The 1968 Summer Games were important athletically and culturally. Bob Beamon won the long jump with a world record he held for more than 22 years. In the high jump, Dick Fosbury introduced the “Fosbury Flop.” Czech gymnast  Vera Caslavska won four gold and two silver medals becoming the all-time most successful Olympic gymnast. The 1968 Games are also known for the Tommie Smith and John Carlos Black Power salute.

The 2013 Tommie Smith Youth Track Meet was held at Edwards Stadium on the University of California Berkeley campus on Saturday and Sunday June 1-2, 2013. Tommie Smith broke the world record at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics and became an international symbol for human rights when he received his Gold Medal. (bryan farley)

Last December I attended an event at San Jose State. There is a statue of Tommie Smith and John Carlos. When I saw the statue, I did not know that either athlete was still alive.… Read the rest

Family Portraits at Mills College Oakland

Last month I started teaching photography at Pittsburg High School in Pittsburg, California. I love teaching, but I miss being a photographer. Fortunately, I was able to be a photographer last weekend when a friend asked me to photograph her family. We met at Mills College in Oakland, California for a portrait session with her husband and three children.

 (bryan farley)

When Libertad (Libby) Rivera asked me if I were still available to take family portraits, I had just started my new teaching position. At the time, I did not realize that I needed to take pictures more than Libby needed to have her picture taken.  I did not need the money. I needed to know that I could still take a decent picture.

 (bryan farley)

Sometimes I know if I have taken a good picture before I see it on my monitor. Last Sunday, I did not know if I had any good pictures, but as soon as I saw the first photograph uploaded to my screen I felt alright.… Read the rest

Peace, Love, Happiness and Nashville


When I started writing  A Letter to Fathers Considering Suicide in the Digital Age, I knew that there were no good days for a father to commit suicide. I quickly realized that there were not any good days to discuss suicide. I eventually published on my mother and step-father’s 25th wedding anniversary. I could have waited another day. I love my mom and my step-father, but every other day is horrible. Yesterday was the birthday of one of my father figures who I talk to regularly, including every Father’s Day. I could have posted on the 22nd, but 22 reminds me of Taylor Swift (which reminds me of my daughter), and I did not want to ruin any more music. I could have written on the 20th, but there was an event honoring my father’s good friend. I could have posted on Mother’s Day, or my birthday (the 16th), or my son’s birthday (the 10th)… I could have written on Sunday, but who wants to ruin Sundays?… Read the rest

The Effect of Butterfly Suicides And Maroon 45

“The moment that you feel that just possibly, you are walking down the street naked exposing too much of your heart and your mind … that’s the moment you may be starting to get it right.” “Sometimes life is hard… and when things get tough this is what you should do… Make Good Art

– Neil Gaiman, University of the Arts 2012 Commencement Address

I may not make good art now, but I am definitely walking in the middle of the street exposed. Many of my friends and colleagues have watched me recently and been unable to recognize me. I have wondered too. I have heard the whispers behind my back… even when I am alone. What has happened to Bryan? Granted, he is usually a little socially awkward, but has he lost it? Well, yes. I had.

And I did not know how TO FIND IT. On Sunday while wandering through a bookstore, I found Neil Gaiman’s book about Making Good Art.… Read the rest

Sausal Creek Trail Field Trip for Melrose Leadership Academy

I often tell my son, “Today is a good day. Do you know why?” He does. If he is having trouble, he reluctantly answers, “Because you get to spend it with me.” And it is true. Every day I spend with my boy (or my daughter) is a good day. Yesterday, was a great day, because the first graders from Melrose Leadership Academy went to Sausal Creek to study the restoration project and habitat.

My son loves animals and habitats. For a first grader, he is either obsessed with living creatures or really smart. He studies animals the way I studied dinosaurs. We argue about whether insects are animals. (He believes that insects are in fact animals.) He has taught me that “water spiders” are actually “water striders,” and that the largest dolphin is… ? Wait for it? Just when you thought nothing was new… the killer whale. (look it up!)

 (bryan farley)

I learn as much during the field trips as the students, and I suspect that the other parents learn too.… Read the rest

Dancing Across The Curriculum

A year after I interviewed writers for my March 2010 Open Heart Insert Foot series, I began a similar project with photographers. The 2011 series had the “inspiring” (and misleading) title, March Portfolio and Social Media Project. While the interviews began in March 2011, they continued into mid-May 2011. By new technology standards, I marched slowly. Photographers had already moved away from print portfolios to online photo galleries. Flash was becoming outdated. SEO mattered. A lot. Everything was moving so fast. Facebook, Google, mobile, Twitter … well, maybe not Twitter (this was way back in March 2011). Oh, and the worst joke for photographers? We had to blog! That’s right. We were expected to write. A LOT!

Despite the crazy pace, I met some of the coolest people in the photography business. For this post, I am highlighting Denise Gamboa, the Director of Marketing at SmugMug, and Kathryn MacDonald the former Marketing & Development Manager at… Read the rest

Super Secret Marketing Plan

Super Bowl Sunday is the one day that Americans forget we hate television commercials. Companies will pay at least 4 million dollars for each thirty second advertising spot during the game. If I understood marketing, I could explain why companies continue investing more money on Super Bowl ads each year, but I do not even know how to market my own photography business.

Collosi family portraits in San Mateo, California in the Bay Area. Jaunuary, 2013. (Bryan Farley)

I am still looking for the right strategy. Perhaps I have a secret marketing plan that I am hiding from myself.

Collosi family portraits in San Mateo, California in the Bay Area. Jaunuary, 2013. (Bryan Farley)

I often tell people that I am not a real photographer. I am not a fake photographer or a bad photographer, but I am an unusual photographer. When I renewed my passport last week and I listed my profession as “photographer,” I worried that someone at the Department of State would deny my application because they know how I work. For instance, last weekend during my photo shoot at the Collosi home, I played wiffle ball indoors with their son.… Read the rest

Melrose Leadership Academy After School Assembly

When parents toured Melrose Leadership Academy during the current school year, many asked about our after school program. Parents, grandparents and guardians asked if our students learned about different cultures. We were asked if our children were engaged and challenged. Most people wondered if there were enough physical activity.

Nobody asked if the parents were expected to dance at our twice annual Expos. Until Wednesday night, I am not sure if we had been and since I am scared to dance, I probably would have remembered. My daughter would have remembered, because she is scared to watch me dance.

 (bryan farley)

When the older folks were too slow to move onto the stage, the younger people moved down onto the floor and we became more comfortable. (I think we enjoyed ourselves.) I often tell prospective families, Melrose Leadership is not for everyone. We are often pushed past our comfort zone into something magical.… Read the rest

2012 Favorite Photo Session

Each year when I review my pictures, I am surprised by how many images I have taken. This year I knew there were fewer photographs, because I was injured in an April car accident. I planned to separate the pictures into a Best of Part 1 and a Best of Part 2. Then I saw the March 11, 2012 gallery with Richard Leon’s family… Every photo was magical.

 (bryan farley)

I purposely did not title this post, “My best photo gallery,” because I did not do much. I showed up. The family welcomed me when I showed up. The family revealed their love for each other. Richard and Alice clearly loved each other and their children and grandchildren. For thirty years, they had loved each other. They worked together, probably because they wanted to work together and because they were lucky to be together.

 (bryan farley)

The family knew that there time was limited by Richard’s cancer diagnosis, but the family still seemed to understand that they were lucky.… Read the rest

Tanner Family Portraits

The last week, I have reconnected to my UC Santa Barbara past. In addition to visiting with a few former University of California Santa Barbara Gauchos, I attended the Cal-UCSB basketball game on the Berkeley campus. Before the game, the UCSB Alumni Association sponsored a Pre-Game reception.  On Saturday, I also photographed the Tanner family. The adults graduated from UCSB and recently moved to Alameda with their two daughters.

 (bryan farley)

Nicole is a managing partner of Viva Strategy, a communications consulting firm for non-profits and philanthropic organizations. I have always appreciated Nicole. She is smart, kind and considerate. In the past, I would have spent more time talking to her…

 (bryan farley)

but now she has two wonderful kids.

I brought my camera and my two kids. Everyone played.

 (bryan farley)

Nicole also has a husband who bakes bread and watches football. After my wife arrived, everyone had something to do. My wife talked to Richard about baking.… Read the rest

Alicia Stephens and her beautiful Jewel of a baby

Six months ago, Alicia Stephens became a mother. This is her daughter and their first Christmas together.


I met Alicia when both of us worked for the Upward Bound Program at the University of San Francisco. Upward Bound is a government program that supports low income first generation college bound high school students. Recently, new non-profits have started replacing Upward Bound, but few programs, if any, have been more successful.

Courtney Stout and Nick Maksimowicz were married in Carmel Valley, California on Saturday, December 10, 2011. (Bryan Farley)

Alicia graduated from college with a STEM major (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). She advised students in the Upward Bound Math and Science Program.  Alicia is still studying science, but I do not understand what she does. I am a technology and liberal arts person, so she may need to explain it.

Courtney Stout and Nick Maksimowicz were married in Carmel Valley, California on Saturday, December 10, 2011. (Bryan Farley)


I have included this slideshow of the day. There is even a photo of our friend Reginald Moore, one of the best college advisers I know.… Read the rest