I’ve never really met a stage I didn’t like.

(I mean, my friend and I recently murdered Ginuwine’s Pony at her 40th bday bash. Even though it’s sideways, it’s still a gem.)

I had ballet and tap shoes on my feet about 30 seconds after I took my first steps.

I’ve danced in front of big audiences. Cheered in front of big crowds.

I even missed a few days of my senior year of high school for an 18-episode stint on MTVs, The Grind (yes, that one and yes, Eric Nies was even hotter in person)

So suffice it to say, I am not shy. But for some reason, I HATE having my picture taken. I always feel weird “posing” for the camera. My lip starts twitching from fake smiling and I have one eye that sometimes goes rogue in photos – I call it my doll eye.

doll eye

It just never feels natural. I mean come on…when are you ever casually walking down a beach with a well-behaved child giggling and skipping together while your makeup is flawless and the wind is blowing your hair into beautiful tousled beach waves.

Spoiler alert – never. Because what really happens is that you go to the beach, your child only wants to make a sandcastle while you try to sit in a way that your post-baby body rolls don’t come pop out somewhere, your expensive blowout from the night before is destroyed and some asshole preteen throws and football to his friend who kicks sand in your kid’s eye and the hysterics start which ruins the day. Am I right?

“Natural” is hard in a photography setting. So when I was talking to photographer, Courtney Ortiz about her new Chalkboard Sessions…I was intrigued.

Screen Shot 2016-04-24 at 4.38.34 PM

She covered the back wall of her Hollywood studio in chalkboard paint with the purpose of having kids come in with moms, dads, sibs, whatever, and just draw. No rules, no formality. Just pick up chalk and go with it.

My daughter loves to draw. She’s constantly doodling or engaging in some sort of art project leaving shreds of paper all over my house like she’s leading me on some cleaning treasure hunt. So I knew it could be right up our alley. When I told her what we were going to do she said, “So I can draw anything?”

“Yup! Anything?”

“No rules?”

“Nope! Whatever you feel like doing, babe”

“Can I draw someone throwing up?”

So, Courtney – maybe there should be some guidelines ;)

We get to the studio. The chalkboard wall is exactly as described and we were pumped. We strategized about what to draw, chose colors, discussed what it should look like, and just started creating. We did not sit in front of the camera and pose for an hour. We didn’t have to tilt our chin at an awkward angle or laugh at something fake funny.

We literally just drew. Every once in a while, Courtney would say, “Hey guys, turn around for a minute…or sit there…or look at me”. Other than that, she just followed our lead. Let us set the tone. She was snapping away from different angles.

And something amazing happened. When I got the pictures back I was immediately struck by the fact that every single smile and laugh was a real one. Not a contrived one. They were authentic, in the moment smiles because we were enjoying THIS moment Courtney facilitated.We weren’t there to”take pictures”. We were there for Courtney to take pictures while WE created our artwork and just spent time together.

That’s when I realized that this woman is a creative genius.

She has created a format where you are so distracted by doing something natural with your kids, that the pictures come out exuding true, organic laughter and levity. It makes so much sense! We were so into what we were making in the moment that we weren’t even paying attention to the camera. We were too busy drawing a princess castle, and deciding where to put the flowers, and what color her hair should be.

Totally in our element while Courtney was simultaneously in hers.That’s a magical equation right there!

Courtney went beyond taking our picture. She captured very REAL and loving moments between us. She captured the silliness and the fun. That’s what makes these so special. And for the record,  there are some AH-MAZING pics of us actually looking at the camera that I will no doubt print and hang on my walls (confession: my house is a shrine to my child), but the ones I loved most were the candid, action ones and I’m sharing a small sampling below that give me the feels.






And I loved it so much that I’m geeking out over what Courtney is allowing me to do.

Ready? I am giving away (like for FREE, you guys) a Chalkboard Session with Courtney Ortiz at her Downtown Hollywood studio. You will get a studio session with an 8×10 signed original print – that’s a $225 dollar value. FOR FREE.

Here’s what you need to do if you want it. It’s only two steps!

  1. Like the Whine & Cheez(its) page on Facebook (if you don’t already)
  2. Comment on my post for this blog letting me know you’ve liked the page AND tell me what you love most about your mother (or special woman in your life).

Want Extra Entries?!?

Follow Whine & Cheez(its) on Instagram  (using whineandcheezits) and do the same exact thing on the post I have up there about my session…and don’t forget to tag @CourtneyStudios!

Winner will be selected at random on Monday May 2nd!

And if you’d like to have your own “moment”, you can  book your Chalkboard Session with Courtney today! You will not regret it. I mean if you want to do Mother’s Day like a boss…I’m telling you that she will LOVE a session with Courtney.