doden’s, family, adoption – san francisco

It was November of 2012 that Mike and Holly had legally adopted 5 month old baby Moses from the Congo. Through many trials and visits, hurdles the size of mountains, and a lot of “in between” time Mike and Holly persevered with the hope to one day bring their baby boy home. Many have prayed for the Doden’s and Moses, as well as petitioning congress on behalf of all the pending adoptions in the Congo. On Father’s Day, June of 2014, the fruits of their exhaustive labors came to fruition as baby Moses and Holly landed into San Francisco to be greeted by both family and friends. It was a moment that I will never forget and blessed to have witnessed.

I remember the flutter of excitement that I had as I packed my gear and was driving to the airport. When I arrived I met Mike’s immediate family, as well as many familiar friends from church who were all there to show their love and support. I was so anxious, so nervous, as I didn’t want to miss those 1st moments as the Doden’s would soon be coming down the escalator towards the baggage claim where we were all waiting with great anticipation. It didn’t help that every pair of legs was a tease that it could be them. It was just a matter of time, and finally there they were with exhausted baby Moses embraced in his daddy’s arms and baby Sam in mama’s.

When Holly had taken what would end up being her last trip to the Congo, she would occasionally post updates as she fought to bring her baby home. I remember being so moved by her tenacity, by the power of a mother’s love. Both Holly and Mike had been through so much with all this, I desperately wanted to help. So I told Holly when “they” come home I want to do a family shoot.  About a week after their arrival, we headed to Golden Gate Park to capture there golden smiles and celebrate Moses and his new family, and what would be the beginning of a new chapter in all their lives.



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#tbt – colette new born – burlingame, ca

It was already two days past Em’s due date, before I would get a text about the arrival of baby Colette. She was Born at 12:03am on April 14th 2014 at Mills Hospital in Burlingame CA. This would be the setting of our shoot. Originally Em and I talked about doing  the new born shoot at her home, I also offered her a quick 1hr. session at the hospital in addition to the shoot at home. Glad we did the hospital session, because the following several weekends would get filled with other obligations with both her family’s schedule as well as mine. By this time Colette will have changed quite a bit, so we decided to cancel the home shoot.

Leaving my day job, I navigated through the rush hour traffic towards Mills Hospital. Collette was less than 8 hours old when I finally found Em’s room which happened to be right down the hall from where my son was born 5 months earlier. The room was filled with joy and awe as friends and family gathered to meet the newest edition to the Tognozzi family. Though there wasn’t a lot of room, and the light was quickly fading, we made the best of it. Here’s what we came up with.


Bungau Monica - Congratulation for all your work ! You have at least one fan , from Romania, in my person. Your photos made me cry .

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#tbt – stewart family – san francisco

I met Andrea Stewart, of Andrea Montgomery Designs, and her family back in 2011 when I volunteered helping out in the nursery at our church in San Francisco. When I met them, their first born young William was only 6 months old, and he was the youngest child in the nursery at the time. So of course he caught everyone’s attention with his big, round, lady swooning brown eyes and his bright life giving smile. During that time I became friend’s with the Stewarts and began shooting family sessions for various occasions. The Stewarts had become both dear friends, and faithful clients. Now pregnant with number 3 the Stewarts decided to make the move back to Texas where they are originally from. This shoot late last summer was bitter sweet as it was the last family shoot before moving back. We headed to a couple significant and iconic locations that I had Andrea select for them to remember their chapter of living on San Francisco. We had a great time! Young William really lit up behind the camera, and baby Montgomery also started to come out of his shell. They are missed.

Linda - Beautiful family photos.

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kim family, maternity – pacifica

When Ruthie Kim, founder of Because Justice Matters, asked me to shoot her maternity/family photos I was more than honored to oblige her request. Ruthie and Brian are some of the sweetest, kindest, and giving people you’d ever meet. “Kiwi” the Kim’s handsome first child, whom I’ve know for a few years now, really knew how to work the camera making my job much easier. One of the challenges of this shoot was finding a three hour slot during the weekend now that I have a newborn and a toddler, but we manage to slot it in. On the day we were set to shoot, the rain was supposed to have cleared by 1pm. It didn’t, but that wasn’t gonna be a barrier for Ruthie and Brian. No raining on this parade, and I was game to shoot in the rain as well. Thankfully it was a light rain, and it made for a really beautiful, ethereal atmosphere for our quaint Pacifica, CA backdrop. I can’t wait to meet baby Kim #2, as he or she will make a beautiful addition to this already lovely family.

Elena Bowman - What a great photoshoot!

Brian Kim - Thanks Gus! We had such a good time doing the photo shoot with you and we’re so happy with the photos.

Andrea Montgomery Stewart - LOVE…this family, your work, this setting…ALL of it!

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chasin terris dizon – burlingame, ca

Five months after we adopted our beautiful newborn son Ayden we found out Mercy was pregnant. Her pregnancy had been pretty rough as her nausea went well past the first trimester. We kept hoping that the next week it’ll go away, then the next, and so on. One particular day at around nine weeks Mercy had this horrible bout with nausea. For several hours she was vomiting and had become very weak. Thankfully it was towards the evening when baby Ayden was already down and I was home from work. After a trip to the emergency room that night, ends up she was diagnosed with having Hyperemesis Gravidarum. Once she was re-hydrated and given anti nausea medicine, they sent us home with a prescription of Zofran to help her navigate through her symptoms that lasted the majority of her pregnancy. Ironically any mother that has Hyperemesis Gravidarum has a much greater chance of having a successful full term pregnancy. Great news for us after having a couple miscarriages over the years. Though her pregnancy was challenging we have no regrets as the results far exceed the pain.

Three days after Mercy’s due date (Nov. 15th) I convinced her to let me do a quick photo shoot to try and capture a few moments of her pregnancy. Though tired and ready to have baby come on out she allowed me a brief 15 minutes. Little did I know that in less than 12 hours Mercy’s water would break, and we would make our way to the hospital for our first experience with labor and delivery. It was an intense 36 hours, and as a guy I was very grateful to have the care of our doula Jess there to guide us through this new experience. I never really new exactly why they called it “labor” and delivery. I get it now. Our room was the battle ground between contractions, brief rest periods, exhaustion, and the miracle of life entering into this world. It was one of the most intimate and intense experience that I will never forget, and I’m glad I was able to capture some of what we were seeing and feeling. I look forward to getting to know Chasin and I’m sure I’ll be posting photos of him in the near future. Thank you God for the gift of another son, and to all our friend’s and family that have been an amazing help to us. We are truly grateful and are so blessed. We are so in love with our precious Chasin Terris who is a wonderful edition to our growing family.

gus - Harriette, you are so sweet and encouraging. Thank you so much for your affirming words. Now I see where Elisa get’s her beautiful personality from. Blessings.

Harriette Hardy - Made me cry to read your story! I knew the first time I met you and your family that you guys were very special! The Lord is soooo good!! His timing is always perfect! He knows the beginning thru the ends of our stories and had orchestrated each step!!it took Alsn and Me 7 years before our first child. So I do understand many of the feeling you and your precious wife were feeling!!! Children are gifts from God any way they are received! Now you are passing along a heritage of a Christ centered home!! How blessed we have been to have been given this great privilege and responsibility! Lord bless your dear family in this coming year thanks also for the blessing you both are to my baby girl Elisa and her family in SF

Liz Allgaier Britain - so precious

Teresa O'Brien Nguyen - So beautiful Gus! I’m glad our paths crossed and to witness your beautiful family. Blessings to all of you. And huge kudos to Mercy for 36 hours!! She beat me by 6 hours so I know how tough it is.

Fe'ao N Haitelenisia Bloomfield - Congratulations We’ve been praying and God answered thanks for sharing your story and pictures God bless Sela Soana and family teacher janes sabbath school girls

Helen Lane - So beautiful! Tears in my eyes as I viewed this journey! (Monica Thom”s mom)

Renee Cerda Walker - Gus, you always manage to make me cry with your amazing stories and photo’s. Thanks for sharing!

Paulette Martinez - What a beautiful family!!

Joy Bianchi Brown - LOVE these!!!

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